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. 🙂

The Other Mother

Happy Mother’s Day!

Since Mother’s Day was yesterday, it might seem as though I am late in wishing all the Moms Happy Mother’s Day. But truth be told, motherhood should be celebrated every day.

The card I sent my daughter on Mother’s Day reminded me of this: The outside of the card was optimistic: It’s mothers day and you have earned a quiet, relaxing, unstressful day. The inside of the card was realistic: You may not get, it but you sure deserve it.

Being a mom is not easy, but it is rewarding. In the midst of dirty diapers, peanut butter and jelly smeared faces, and unwelcome Crayola art exhibits on the walls, are toothless smiles, lots of impromptu hugs and kisses, and wilted bouquets of floral weeds snatched from the ground-just for Mom.

As a young mom with four children under six years of age, I often remember feeling more like a mother duck trying to keep my ducklings in line than feeling like a woman with true needs and desires. Most days I celebrated my children. I taught them, played with them, sang with them and prayed with them. But then there were those days when I felt like the worst mother on the face of the earth. I wanted to run away. Those were the days when my last bit of patience was gone, and I had to force myself to be kind. Those were the days when I wanted to wring my children’s necks instead of hugging them.

I loved my children dearly. I still do. But when I was raising them I often found myself scolding them more than celebrating them.  Sometimes, when I was singing them to sleep, I would think about the times I had lost my temper and yelled at them, and feared that I was going to permanently damage them.  Instead of being the mother I so desperately wanted to be, I feared I was becoming other mother –the one I was afraid of exposing. The mother full of fear and frustration, who merely survived each day.

Yesterday, I had the privilege of hearing from my four amazing children.  I am happy to say that through the grace of God, in spite of all of my shortcomings, they all survived me and are doing quite well. I also had the privilege of reading some of my mother’s journals. I loved my Mom and am thankful for her. She taught us about Jesus, sang to us, and invested her time and talents in her family. She was a prayer warrior. She was an amazing woman, but like the rest of us, she was not perfect. I saw incredible strength in my mother. But I also saw fear, confusion, and enabling-all things to which she wouldn’t admit.

As I read mom’s journals, I got to know my mother through different lenses-not through the eyes of a child with lots of questions, but through the eyes of a fellow mother, who had traveled the road of raising children in the midst of difficult situations. Mom’s struggles, her fears, and her frustrations opened my eyes to the other mother I had not known. The mother whose spoken words often didn’t acknowledge what was going on in her heart. The woman whose faith and trust was challenged just like the rest of us. The woman who adored her children, but also was, at times, overwhelmed. The woman who in a lot of ways was just like me.

Reading Mom’s journals, brought back memories from my childhood. Her journals also gave me clarity and answered some questions I have had for many years. I realized that most, if not all mothers, have another side they don’t share with their children. For some, it may be the hurt little girl they are hiding. For others, it might be the person they are afraid of becoming. Being introduced to my mom’s other mother reminded me of my own journey.

If you sometimes feel like a failure at motherhood, realize that you are not alone. Being a mother is not easy. But it is rewarding. You have nothing to fear. God knows all your thoughts. He loves you! He sees the mother you are on the outside and He knows about all your fears, frustrations, and questions on the inside. And He understands both. Embrace the Lord and embrace motherhood. You don’t have to be perfect. Jesus is the only perfect one. Just keep your eyes on Jesus and walk with Him daily in the beautiful journey He has blessed you with. The journey of motherhood.

May you be abundantly blessed!

Jeannie

 

Heaven’s Glory

There have been times in my life where heaven has seemed so close that I felt as if I could touch it. Once was when I was a child. I was suffering from a terrible reaction to the stings from a swarm of yellow jackets. I was dreaming that I was dying. I literally felt like my spirit was leaving my body. But it jumped back in when I was jerked awake by my mother. She had been praying and was calling my name. “Jeannie, I thought I had lost you!” She almost shouted, “You are burning up!” I don’t remember responding before I fell back to sleep. When I awoke the next morning, I had ice wrapped rags on my head and on my horribly swollen hand. Mom was still next to me. She told me I that I had been delirious, but that the fever was now gone and I would be OK. I don’t ever remember talking about it, but in my heart, I knew that I had been a moment away from Heaven’s glory.

My next almost in Heaven experience was when I was in my mid-twenties. I had been praying for hours and worshipping. As I stood with my hands raised, once again surrendering all to God, I felt as if Heaven was filling the room. I sank to the floor, overwhelmed by the weight of God’s glory. I remember saying, “Lord, are you taking me home?” I didn’t go home that day but I felt so empowered by His glory that I ran to my neighbor’s apartment. As usual, she answered the door shaking because she had once again mixed alcohol with Xanax. I stepped into the room almost shouting, “Do you feel that!” God immediately touched her and she quit shaking. She responded, “Yes, I have goose bumps!” We ended up worshiping the Lord and basking in His glory. A short while later, God empowered her to walk away from her addictions.

Since that day, I have had many experiences (sometimes alone and sometimes with others) where the presence of the Lord has filled the room with the glory of God. My pastors call this experiencing Heaven on earth. But the experience that was unlike all of the others was the night my baby brother died.

For a year and a half, I had watched as cancer destroyed my brother’s body. At the end, his 180 lb muscular frame had been reduced to a mere 60 lbs. The doctors had tried everything, and friends and loved ones had prayed everything they knew how to pray. My brother was so convinced that he would live, he didn’t even make a will. My family had experienced so many miracles we all held on to the hope that God would raise him up.

The morning I got the call that he was non-responsive and en-route to the hospital, my heart sank. With tears streaming down my face I hurried to the bathroom to get dressed. Many people say that when people get close to death their spirits can visit loved ones. I can’t definitely say that is what happened, but as I was brushing my hair I heard Mark’s voice, “It’s Okay, Sis. It’s Okay.” My tears instantly dried up and peace filled my soul.

Mark was suffering so much when we arrived at the hospital, it was hard to stay in the room. As I and other family members stood next to his bed, I placed my hand on his head and prayed and sang to him.

Mark was one of those rare guys who had never met a stranger. He was also a wonderful father and had raised his two now late teen children pretty much alone. Even though Mark spent his life serving others, I was deeply concerned about whether he had had a relationship with the Lord.

My family decided to move Mark to the hospice unit where we had moved my mother a week before. As we waited for the ambulance, a dear friend of Mark’s pulled me aside. She told me that Mark had somehow managed to drive to her work the night before. In spite of his frail condition and attached oxygen tank, they had gone to see the movie God’s Not Dead. Since cancer had destroyed Mark’s ability to speak, when the movie ended, he had texted her I’m ready to go be with Jesus. My heart swelled with joy, and I hugged her.

That night, I stayed at the hospice unit with Mom and Mark, going back and forth across the hall praying and singing over them. Up until 2 a.m., a friend stayed with me. Somewhere between 3 a.m. and 5 a.m. I fell asleep in a chair in Mark’s room. I dreamed that Mark was in his hospital bed on a stage in a church. In my dream, the tumors on his body disappeared and he regained his weight and became muscular and strong. He then jumped out of bed and began running around the room. As I sat in the church watching the whole thing I said over and over again, “He is healed but he is not healed. He is healed but he is not healed.” Then I suddenly woke up.

A couple of years before, the Lord had stirred my spirit to pray for my mother to breath when she had been on life support. At that moment my mother had started breathing on her own and declared, “God still has things for me to do!” The doctor who had told us to make her funeral arrangements and the rest of the hospital staff were astounded.

I thought my dream meant that God was going to raise my brother up like He had Mom. I walked over to his bed and stood over him, getting ready to declare, “In the name of Jesus breath!” When God stopped me with a firm, No. I was perplexed. “But God, You promise us the desires of our hearts, and Mark’s desire has been to see his kids grow up and to have grandchildren!”

The Lord’s answer to me was so unexpected and so comforting it stopped all other questions: I have changed his heart’s desires. All I could think of was that Mark must have already seen Jesus.

I sat back down in the chair. I could feel the glory of the Lord fill the room.

I know this sounds far-fetched, but I saw angels. They weren’t like the warring angels I had seen before. It’s as if part of the room faded away and they were in another realm. They were laughing and singing and making preparation for my brother. The vision, or whatever it was, vanished, but the glory lingered.

I can honestly say that I have never felt more peace and joy than I did that morning. My brother went to heaven shortly afterward, My Mom joined him the next night while I was preparing for my brother’s family memorial.

It has now been three years since Mark and Mama went home to be with Jesus, and I have rarely shed a tear over their passing. Maybe this is partly due to the fact that I had watched them suffer so much. But mostly, I think it is because whenever I think about them, my heart is filled with the joy I felt the morning the glory of God filled my brother’s room. The glory I now know that they experience continuously! Whenever I think about them, I don’t see them emaciated and dying, instead, I see them whole and healthy and full of joy, dancing in Heaven’s glory.

Isaiah 60:19 “The sun shall no longer be your light by day, Nor for brightness shall the moon give light to you, But the Lord will be to you an everlasting light, And your God your glory.”

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

 

 

Rising from the Ashes

Contributed by Josette Sanchez

After my Divorce, I felt so rejected I almost didn’t feel human. I felt like a complete failure. I had worked so hard to put my husband through the Nursing program at our local community college, only for him to repay me by leaving me for a girl in the Nursing Program)

I had been left with NO CAR, NO JOB, NO CHURCH, NO HOME, AND A BROKEN HEART THAT HAD BEEN SHATTERED IN A MILLION PIECES. Consequently, I did what most broken people do, I kept moving and acting like nothing was bothering me.

When you’re broken you want everything and everyone to help you to stop the bleeding!! So my two young boys and I stayed with my mom during my separation leading to divorce. Anthony was 9 and Kris was 4.

I was so heart-broken, (which is very different than being beautifully broken by the Lord,) that I had serious depression. It was like a black cloud followed me everywhere I went. I got very sick and lost about 20 pounds. I had such a victim mentality. On top of all that, I was the most negative person you could ever meet.

One day, I was lying in my bed, once again crying and feeling sorry for myself. Out of nowhere, Joel Osteen came on the TV!! He said,” You have Royalty running through your veins. There is NOTHING you can’t accomplish with Christ WHO STRENGTHENS YOU! Something in my spirit grabbed a hold of his words!! Then it grabbed a hold of my mind.

I had had a speech impediment since I was a child and would often stutter in high anxiety situations as an adult. My old thinking pattern would say, “That’s just who I am. I’m stupid. If I speak, people will know I’m just that.” But as I heard Joel Osteen, something inside of me rose up !!! …. AKA The Holy Spirit … You do know you have Royalty running through your veins. Don’t you???  Don’t you know you’re a daughter of the Most High King who can do anything with and through Christ ???

“Yes, Lord, I Believe!!! I’m Sorry for doubting you. I may be stuttering now, but with Christ, I will be able to clearly speak!!” After that day, I still continued to have days of stuttering. I couldn’t spell or type, and I continued to have debilitating migraines about twenty-four days a month. But every time I would run into an obstacle because of spelling, math, writing, speaking, and declining health, I would no longer make agreement with what I could not do. Instead, I made agreement with who God says that I am. He says that I am a Royal Priesthood. And that royalty is running through my veins. He says that I can do ALL things—not some things, But All things through Christ who strengthens me.

It has now been about a decade since I realized that I was royalty. Throughout the years, my stuttering has decreased to almost being non-existent. My spelling has improved, and I have better understanding when reading and writing. I now have my own house and car, and I have been a successful licensed realtor in the state of Texas since 2007.

God moves in ways exceedingly and abundantly beyond what we can ask for or can imagine (Ephesians 3:20). No matter what circumstances have arisen since my divorce, God has been faithful to provide for my sons and for me. He didn’t just provide what we needed but often gave us what we wanted, because He’s just that Good of a Daddy!!!!

Years ago, God showed me I was royalty. Do you believe that you are royalty? I would encourage you to stop looking at what you can’t do and start looking at what Christ can do through you. This is part of my story. God is still transforming me and making beauty from the ashes in my life. My story for His glory! What is your story? Are you ready for your story to be His story?

 

The Net

The other day I was writing some teaching notes about the difference between encouragement and flattery. Last night I found this old journal entry from 2010 which put a different spin on the subject.

I wrote this entry after I had received my second Employee of the Quarter award at the retirement apartments where I was working in a major multitasking position known as the command center.

Journal entry from 2010

Most of my life I have been barraged by negative and destructive thoughts. My mind used to spin with these thoughts, but the past ten years I have worked hard to take these thoughts captive, submit them to Christ, and to pray for truth. But this time it wasn’t negative thoughts that tripped me up, it was positive ones.

Yesterday, I was talking to a good friend about pride. Today, I stepped into the net and got caught in it. As soon as I arrived at work I had to clean up a co-workers mistake, which is nothing out of the ordinary. We all make mistakes, but this morning I began to congratulate myself about how dependable I was. “Hmmm Jeannie, you haven’t made any noticeable mistakes in a while. It must be good for your boss to know that she can count on you to get the job done right. That is why she keeps entrusting you with more responsibilities and projects. Good job Jeannie!”

Not long after I had given myself one last pat on my back, I realized that I had forgotten to complete an assignment that had been given to me a few days before (that sure took me down a notch.) Then I couldn’t unjam the copier and had to call maintenance for help. (one notch lower) And just when I was beginning to wonder why I couldn’t measure up to my own expectations, I was confronted by my boss about a mistake a resident had made on her rent check. Because I had not noticed the mistake before I had made the rent deposits, the checked got kicked back from the bank and the corporate office was not happy about it. As my boss stood at my desk I heard the words no employee wants to hear, “I’m sorry, but I’m going to have to write you up for this.”  Even though her tone was sweet, the words hit hard.

As I reflected on this morning’s events, Proverbs 29:5 came to mind: “A man who flatters his neighbor Spreads a net for his feet (NKJV). It’s funny, I had never before thought about the flattering lips in this verse as being MY flattering lips. But it was obvious that my self-flattery had spread a net that had tripped me up.

So what is the difference between healthy self-esteem and self-flattery?  One is Christ-centered- “Look at Him!” The other is self-centered-“Look at me!

When we have healthy self-esteem (or God-confidence) we receive our value by knowing our identity in Christ. When we flatter ourselves we are trying to receive our identity through others.

God confidence makes us thankful. Self-flattery makes us prideful.

Having God-confidence releases us to celebrate our strengths, gifts, and accomplishments. Flattery causes us to compare instead celebrating.

God-confidence causes us to build others up. Self-flattery makes us jealous and will often cause us to tear others down.

God confidence brings unity, self-flattery brings division.

Although self-flattery, may at first, seem like a friend, it can quickly become an obvious enemy. For the next step after lifting ourselves up in our own understanding is often tearing ourselves down.

One is a notch; the other is a net. I don’t know about you, but I would rather focus on Christ and let Him raise me up, then get caught in the net of pride and make myself fall.

May you be abundantly blessed!

Jeannie

“Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall”(Proverbs 16:18).

 

 

 

 

 

Looking Forward

The other day I was talking to a friend of mine who is single about the qualities she wanted in a future husband. She immediately piped up, “I want a man who works. My ex-husband was lazy and would not keep a job.”

Even though that was a good expectation, something didn’t sit right in my spirit. As I continued to talk to her I could hear myself. “I want _______ or I don’t want _______ because I don’t want someone like my ex.”

Sometimes when I am talking to people, God gives me little downloads. This was one of those times. I heard coming out of my mouth, “Instead of  making your decisions based upon what your ex didn’t do, focus on what God wants to do for you.” ” I immediately thought to myself, “That’s really good!”

One is about judgment; the other is about jubilee.

One is about problems; the other is about promises

One is about who hurt me then; the other is about who God has for me now.

Whether it stem from a family member, friend or ex, I have yet to meet anyone who has not been hurt from a past relationship. We often think if we keep our focus on the flaws of the people who have hurt us, we will be safe in our new relationships. However, I have learned that while it is true that we need to be aware of wrong patterns and wrong thinking, in order to move forward, we must also look forward. Instead of our plumb lines being based on what someone did to us in the past, they should be based on what God will do for us in the future.

The key to moving forward is to live in the now and trust God with the plans He has for us. If you and I continue to seek the Lord in the present and let Him heal us and bring us truth in His presence, then we will be ready to receive His presents (the best relationships He has for us.)

Be abundantly blessed!

Jeannie

“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise”  (Philippians 4:8 NLT).

“Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you your heart’s desires” (Psalm 34:7 NLT).

“No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead,” (Philippians 3:13 NLT).

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”( Jeremiah 29:11).

 

The Gate

Today’s post is about an inspiring encounter my dear friend Brandilynn had this Easter weekend. 

As I drove towards Tarpley, Texas on Easter weekend; an overwhelming sense of emptiness filled my heart. Like an empty cup turned upside down; I felt nothing left. I was excited for the weekend, yet felt afraid I wouldn’t fit in with the group. They all knew each other well and I was just new to this church group. They were like one big happy family that joked and bantered back and forth with inside stories I had yet to understand. The old familiar thoughts entered in. Was I good enough? Could I measure up? Would I be on the sidelines looking in? Could I make a difference? I asked God to equip me as I rounded the corner to “The Gate” that would forever change my life. I sat in front of this huge black iron gate that towered above me. As I entered the code and the gate opened; I couldn’t shake a sense of something great is about to happen.

 

I quickly unpacked my bags and got settled in. Everyone began arriving at the second of two cabins on the Lake Front Hill Country Getaway. …and so began my journey to receiving the greatest fulfillment in a group setting I can remember. This group is different I told myself. Everyone busily got situated into both cabins and later that night we sat around eating burgers and listening to Pastor Mark share a message on what it means for God to get the glory in your life. He shared that this weekend was about focusing on the Lord and leaving the worldly cares behind. We delved into discussions about God and Jesus in a way that felt different. James had been discussing feelings of LACK in the previous church meetings.He shared to take those feelings and just ask God…  “Hey, what is this Lord”?!  It amazed me that it could be simplified so easily into one action.

Problem: Feeling lack (of any kind)
Solution: Holding that up to God and asking him about it

Pretty easy concept! How I missed it all these years is beyond me.

That night, I had a lot of time to think about what God was doing in my life and in the lives of others around me. I woke up the next morning with only a few hours of sleep. I felt strangely energized as I met up with the others in the group. The day unfolded perfectly as we talked around the picnic table. Later we hiked a mountain that later became known as “Won Shoe Mountain” and at night sat around the fire in God’s presence. We laughed and cried and sang and talked. A sense of wonderment came over me when I realized that in our group of twelve. Like the disciples, Jesus sat among us! I could feel his presence like never before. I could feel LOVE, ACCEPTANCE, JOY, HONOR, HUMILITY, COMPASSION, FAITHFULNESS, COMMITMENT, ANOINTING, GENTLENESS, ENCOURAGEMENT, and DISCERNMENT, to name a few. I was amazed to hear, as we went around the campfire; the thoughts that others had formed about me. Nothing but the love of Jesus could allow them to see into my heart that way. As each person took their turn my mind ceased to function and my soul leaped forward. I realized this is a taste of heaven on earth, as I felt unending love in that moment. A sneak peak into the UNCONDITIONAL LOVE that God has in store for us all as we (in time) enter into the heavenly gates.

NO LACK existed!

The next morning I awoke feeling satisfied that I had opened my heart, mind, soul, body to God in a way that surpassed previous moments. I felt closer to God than ever before in a way that humbled; yet excited me. I drove out and back up to the gate with new purpose and an overflowing cup. I sat in front of the Gate for a moment… NOT wanting to leave.

I understand now entering the code to the gate…. symbolic for saying, God, I am here… ready to be in your presence. I leave everything behind at the gate entrance and enter into your kingdom and majesty and righteousness. I realized I had left ALL worldly things at the front of the gate. We can’t bring those things into his presence.

In closing, leaving you with one final thought. When you are sitting in front of that Gate… staring up and deciding whether to enter…  or sit back in the worldly things… will you decide to enter into God’s presence and feel his majesty and love surround you and change you in a profound way. Letting the world fall away off of you… your body, your mind, your heart, your soul. To renew and bask in the presence of God that seems to change you down to the very cells of your body… to fill your heart so full it is bursting with Love, Adoration, Kindness, and Acceptance for everyone and everything around you. …but even greater still a deepening love of the Lord your Father in heaven that cannot be contained or explained.

…as I drove out the gate… I looked on the side of the road and could see the worldly cares I had left when entering, still sitting piled up; that I had dumped right outside the gate. I paused for a split second in thought as my eyes welled up with tears of joy. I drove away… leaving the pile still sitting there. I won’t be needing those again I thought as sweet tears began flowing down my cheeks. A sense of an atmosphere shift lingered with me in the car. A heart overflowing and a feeling of pure love beyond measure.

To those that don’t know God….  the code you enter to “The Gate” is Jesus. Ask Jesus into your heart and the gate will open for anyone who will ask.

All the love in the world to you.

-Brandilynn Edgerton

Eggciting

Last Easter, a few of the ladies in my Bible study and I celebrated Easter with the women and children at our local women’s shelter. The message we shared was about the three eggs of Easter.

The first egg was empty. It represented the empty tomb.

The second egg had a marshmallow chick in it. It represented the sweetness and fullness of God’s love and new birth.

The third egg was a chocolate egg that was wrapped in gold foil. It represented restoration. After empathizing with the women concerning their current situations, and encouraging them that God could and would restore their lives, my friends and I handed each of the women a golden egg. The Holy Spirit moved hearts and tears began to fall. It was a beautiful experience!

The way I celebrated this Easter was very different from last year’s celebration. Instead of meeting with abused women in a park, I spent the weekend with my pastors and church family at the Yellow Rose Ranch. The weekend was so amazing and life giving it would take many blogs to share about it, so I will just refer back to the three eggs of Easter,

The empty egg: Although there was no Easter sermon, the message of Easter was everywhere as relationship with Jesus and the victories He has given us were present in every conversation.

The full egg: The sweetness and fullness of God’s love was mirrored in action as each person considered others better than himself/herself and truly loved his/her neighbor. Serving one another was easy because it was out of love and not duty. Protecting one another was natural because we truly cared and wanted what was best for each other.

The golden egg of restoration: There were some precious times, usually around the camp fire, when we spoke words of encouragement to one another. My church calls this “kisses from heaven”. As we affirmed each other and made agreement with the restoration God has for us, the Holy Spirit moved hearts and both laughter and tears fell. It was beautiful!

Two different Easter experiences, but the same three eggs: Victory in Jesus, the fullness of His love poured out to others, and the beautiful restoration that He brings to our lives.

Because the tomb was empty, our hearts are full!

Be abundantly blessed!

Jeannie

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters”(1 John 3:16 NIV).

You

While sitting in church one Sunday preparing to take communion, the Lord spoke to my heart. He said, “Lift up your cup.” As I raised my hand to eye-level and studied the small container of red liquid in front of me, I could clearly see the lines and swirls of my fingerprints pressed against the clear plastic. It was then I heard in my Spirit “When I was on the cross I saw your fingerprints. I knew that you would be, and I knew everything about you”

Up until that day I had acknowledged Jesus as my Savior, but I saw myself as just a speck in a crowd of millions of people. I didn’t realize that if I had been the only person who had ever lived Jesus would have died just for me. But that is exactly what He did. Jesus gave His life only for me. He also gave His life only for you.

When Jesus was dying on the cross He saw you; not just as part of a collective body of humanity, but you individually. He knew you before you were even created. As He hung on the cross in agony, He looked through time and saw you and knew that He was taking your place. As He breathed His last breath, He saw the day when you would take your first breath. He knew and loved you then, and He knows and loves you now. Do you know Him?

One of the lies that kept me from enjoying the Lord was that I thought I somehow had to earn my salvation. Realizing that it was only God’s free gift of grace and not my good works that saved me, took me off of the roller coaster of daily wondering whether I was heaven assured or hell-bound.

Have you exchanged your sins for the free gift of grace Jesus gave you when He died on Calvary? If not, then I would encourage you to pray the following prayer with me: Sweet Jesus, I need you! I am I sinner. Forgive me for all I have done. Thank you for washing away my sins and dying in my place so I can live with you for all eternity. Thank you that from this moment forward I am in

Sweet Jesus, I need you! I am I sinner. Forgive me for all I have done. Thank you for washing away my sins and dying in my place so I can live with you for all eternity. Thank you that from this moment forward I am in relationship with you. Be Lord of my life and reveal your heart to me and daily lead and guide me in all ways. In Jesus’ name Amen!

If you have given your life to the Lord but have been riding the I hope I am going to heaven roller coaster it’s time to get off. Thinking that we are responsible for our salvation is a hook of the enemy to make us feel unworthy and keep us in pride. God adores you! Take hold of His grace and walk in the joy of your salvation!

Have an amazing Easter as you reflect on Christ’s loving sacrifice and His glorious resurrection!

Be abundantly blessed!

Jeannie

“For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16 NIV).

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9 KJV).