A Memory

Some people have a gift of capturing beauty in photographs. Others capture beauty through their words. My friend Shelly is gifted in both. In today’s post, Shelly paints a beautiful memory with her words.

A memory:

On our way home from Dallas today, we stopped at a Wendy’s. After we sat down, a middle-aged man entered with a tiny, elderly woman. He gently guided her to the line and showed her the menu board. He carried her small purse, handles frayed, to a table and went back to retrieve her and their trays.

He helped her unwrap her food and made several trips to gather the extras for their meal.

Her back was to me, but his merry eyes lit up each time she said something. I crossed near them to dispose of my trash and I saw him reach across the table and pat her cheek gently. “Mom, you’re such a beauty. I hope you know that, ” he told her.

She smiled and dabbed her mouth as she nodded her head slightly. He steadied her shaky hand when she pulled the fork upward for another bite.

I had to stop. “You two…it’s wonderful.”

He grinned. “Well, she’s still my best girl, aren’t you, Mom? Even though you’re 94, we still enjoy our dates, don’t we?”

She nodded and her eyes crinkled softly as she patted his hand.

I don’t know what their story was before, or where the road led them after, but in that moment, they were perfection. Pure, righteous, holy.

contributed by Shelly Smith Morales

 

Stories of Gold

One of the ways God speaks to us is by reminding us of a particular story or situation in the Bible.

A few days ago, I received a phone call from a man and his wife who were asking for prayer. This couple was obeying the Lord in a difficult situation, and they were hitting a lot of opposition from their family members. As the man shared about the concerning turn of events, Jehoshaphat came to my mind.

In II Chronicles 20:15-29 we read about an unusual battle. When a vast army came to fight the people of Judah, King Jehoshaphat called all the people to fast and seek the Lord. In answer, God spoke through a prophet. “He said: “Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the Lord says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s” 20:15 (NIV.) The prophet then gives specific instructions as to when and where they will find their enemy.

This is where it gets interesting. In verse 17, God promised that they would not have to fight: “You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.”

Obviously Jehoshaphat believed the Lord, because instead of sending his strongest warriors into battle first, he sent (get this) the worshipers. They led the army singing, “Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever.”

As they sang, God turned the attacking armies against each other. By the time Jehoshaphat and his praising army arrived, all of their enemies were dead.

After sharing the story about Jehoshaphat’s unusual battle plans, I encouraged this precious couple to give their battle to God and just thank Him and worship Him. Last night, I received a phone call from one of the people who had opposed them. This person said that he realized that God was directing the couple. Within two days, God had removed their opposition and they are proceeding with the plan God has given them.

Through the years, I have learned to pay attention to the Bible stories that come to my mind, especially when I am seeking the Lord about a particular situation. Often, those stories of old have been like pure gold to me, as the Lord has spoken volumes through them.

May the Lord abundantly bless you!

Jeannie

 

 

 

Listen to Your Gut

Have you ever been in a situation that looks and sounds So Right, but the tight feeling in the pit of your stomach is telling you something might be wrong?

I used to ignore that something is not right feeling in my gut, until I realized that every time I ignored it, I was left cleaning up the consequences of bad decisions. Now I have learned that the knot in my gut is God telling me not to move forward, at least not at this time.

Whether the knot in your gut is telling you not to move forward in a relationship, not to sign a contract, or not to continue with your plans, that knot is usually an indication that you should stop and pray for wisdom and protection, or even change your course in direction.

The other day when I was thinking about trusting gut warnings, the belt of truth popped into my mind. When our hearts and souls are engaged in relationships or opportunities, it’s easy for us to get deceived or sidetracked. All lights can be flashing green so brightly that we don’t even pay attention to the stop or yield signs that are directly in our paths. The discomfort in our spiritual gut should alert us to examine our situations and ask God to reveal truth regarding His will and His timing.

Please don’t confuse the gut feeling that I am describing as being when your stomach feels as though it is tied in knots because of fear or anxiety. That is a completely different scenario. The knot I am referring to is not tied to emotions. It’s not butterflies. It’s not fear. It’s usually not even anything you can pin point. There seems to be no logical reason for it, and often we might not even be able to explain why we are feeling it.

So next time you feel that tug in your gut telling you that something is just not right. Listen to it! It very well could be God’s way of getting your attention, so He can protect you from a decision you would have regretted.

May the Lord abundantly bless you!

Jeannie

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/

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).

Testify

I used to think testimonies were about taking tests, now I see them more as testaments of God’s faithfulness.

One of the definitions of testament in the Merriam Webster’s On-line Dictionary is a tangible proof or tribute.  Since testimonies testify to the love, glory, and power of the Lord, they are given to us, not just to grow us, but to reveal who God is to others. This is why God told the Israelites to set up stones of remembrance when they crossed the Jordan.

“Then Joshua called the twelve men whom he had appointed from the children of Israel, one man from every tribe;  and Joshua said to them: “Cross over before the ark of the Lord your God into the midst of the Jordan, and each one of you take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the children of Israel, that this may be a sign among you when your children ask in time to come, saying, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’ Then you shall answer them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord; when it crossed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. And these stones shall be for a memorial to the children of Israel forever.” (Joshua 4:5-7 NKJV).

This is also why over the past 30 years I have written down testimonies of God’s faithfulness in my life.

I don’t know about you, but, many times, I have been mightily impacted through the testimonies of others. That is why I encourage people to share what God has done and is currently doing in their lives. Often, we are unaware of the treasures we are holding onto until we share them. You could be holding onto the very story that someone desperately needs.

If you have a testimony you would like to share, I would love to post it on this site! Your story will bring to God glory and often become a part of another person’s story, when one day, they too, will say, “I read a testimony that inspired me….”

If you feel the Lord stirring you to send your testimony, please email it to me at truthrejoices@gmail.com . Be sure to let me know whether or not you would like me to include your name when I post it.

Thank you!

May the Lord abundantly bless you!

Jeannie

 

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).  

 

 

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).

 

Never Forgotten

Five years ago, I returned to Corpus Christi to care for my mother and special needs sister and to help my father with his business. At the time I had no idea that I was heading into a season of healing and restoration with my father.

Because of His critical and controlling nature, I had not felt closely connected to my father. Through the years, as the Lord revealed His Father’s heart for me, I was able to see my earthy father in a new light and forgive him for the pain he had unknowingly caused me. I was so thankful that I had made peace with my father.

But in 2012, I learned that it’s easier to have peace in a relationship separated by over a thousand miles, than in the midst of daily chaos. Over the next few years, Daddy and I ended up learning a lot about each other. I had to draw boundaries; he had to learn to respect them. I had to see beyond his habits and words into his heart full of love. He had to be reassured of my love and learn to trust me. I had to give him opportunities to express his disappointments, and He had to allow me to have an occasional meltdown. We both had to learn to work together, to extend a lot of grace to each other, and to laugh lot, even when life hurt. Together we weathered the storms, and in the midst of holding on to God and on to each other we developed a closer relationship than I ever could have imagined, this side of heaven.

That is why I was apprehensive about calling him yesterday. During the years Daddy and I bonded, I transitioned in his eyes from the daughter who could do little right, to the daughter who could do no wrong. Now, most days he doesn’t even know that I am his daughter. He just remembers me as the wonderful woman who helped him out the last few years.

Alzheimer’s can be a vicious killer of relationship!

Thankfully, when I called it was a good time, and with some coaxing, He put together that I was His daughter. That is the best I can hope for at this stage in our lives. It’s funny, often during the past few years I wanted to run away from my father’s house. But now I am so very thankful that I had the opportunity to be there.

I am aware that If his Alzheimer’s continues to progress, there will soon be a day where I will be forgotten in the mind of my father. But I will always know that I will never be forgotten in his heart.

Before I called my earthy daddy to wish him “Happy Father’s Day,” I called out to my Daddy God in prayer. As I poured out my heart to Him, I was reminded of His love and care for me. It brought me great comfort to know that although my earthly father might forget who I am, I will always be in the heart and mind of my Heavenly Father…never to be forgotten.

Earthy Father’s are just that-earthly. Some have known how to love better than others. Some have not known how to love at all. But even the best father can only love In part.

I am so thankful that you and I have a Daddy God who can love us completely!

May we always remember that we are never forgotten.

May you be abundantly blessed,

Jeannie

“Never! Can a mother forget her nursing child? Can she feel no love for the child she has borne? But even if that were possible, I would not forget you! See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands” (Isaiah 49:15-16a NLT).

“Even if my father and mother abandon me, the Lord will hold me close” (Psalm 27:10 NLT).

“Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins? And not one of them is forgotten before God. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows” (Luke 12:6-7 NKJV).

In the Midst of the Storm

A few years ago, when I was living with my daughter’s family in Maryland, I offered to babysit my grandsons and a neighbor’s son so the young moms could get away for the afternoon.  While the boys and I were hanging out on the front porch enjoying the pitter patter of rain, a strong gust of wind blew the outdoor trash containers over and sent us scurrying into the house. Within seconds, it began to downpour and the power went out. After staring at the wall of black clouds through the window I checked to make sure the storage area under the stairs was clear in case of imminent danger. Then I turned my attention to the screaming toddlers.

In the midst of the ruckus my daughter called confirming we were under a tornado warning.  As I attempted to detach the terrified trio from my appendages, I informed her of my plans in case the need arose. When the call was over I focused on calming the children by singing songs, reading books, and talking about how “cool” the rain and clouds were.  Although the storm outside continued to rage for a while longer, the storm inside quieted. After the wind and rain let up a bit, I took the kids back out on the porch, where to my astonishment, they began dancing.

Seventeen years ago I was in the midst of another storm; the storm of betrayal and  divorce. One night in order to escape the chaos, I checked into a hotel. As the winds of change blew and the rains of failure and rejection pummeled me, I turned on the Christian radio station.  In the midst of my raging storm the words to a song by Scott Krippayne “Sometimes He Calms the Storm” calmed my raging heart.

Sometimes the storms in our lives are preceded by warnings, but often they are not.  Whether it’s the doctor’s diagnosis, a financial crisis, the betrayal of a spouse or friend, a traumatic experience, or the late night phone call you wish you never received, the circumstances that rage around us can easily terrify us and overwhelm us. It’s awesome when the Lord speaks to the wind and waves and calms the storm, but, more often than not, He speaks to our hearts and calms us in the midst of our storms.

When I look back at my stormy seasons, I see God’s love and faithfulness as He held me, grew me, and taught me to dance. He might not have jumped in and immediately changed my circumstances, but He always changed me and deepened my relationship with Him in the midst of them.

If you are currently in the midst of a storm, know that God loves you and He is there for you. Let Him draw close to you and calm you. It might not seem like it right now, but there will come a day when, you too, will dance.

I pray the words to this song by Scott Kerpain would bring you comfort and peace as they did me many years ago.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3BMIJHZSavo

May you be abundantly blessed!

Jeannie