Giving Thanks

One of my most memorable Thanksgiving experiences didn’t take place in the midst of festivities, family, and friends. It didn’t even take place on Thanksgiving Day.

My memorable Thanksgiving began as an ordinary day in the fall of 1992. At the time, my husband was working for a police department in a small tourist city in Arizona. I was supposed to drop him off at the station early in the morning so he could take a patrol car to a three-day seminar in Flagstaff.

While he gathered his belongings, I loaded our four small pajama-clad children into the car. Then off we went. I was expecting the trip to the station and back home to take about an hour, but when we arrived at the station no patrol cars were available, so I had to drive him up the mountain to drop him off at the seminar. I hated driving the road through the canyon. I also wasn’t thrilled about having another hour and a half of drive time.

On the way back down the mountain, the children started poking each other and whining, “Moooom, how much longer!” Since I had been teaching the kids about being flexible and practicing thankfulness, I figured it was a good time for a life lesson. At the time I had no idea that I was the one who needed the lesson the most. “Guess what kids! I exclaimed. This is a great opportunity for character building.” They knew when Mom mentioned character building it meant that we would try to make the best out of a frustrating situation. It also meant that at any moment Mom was going to erupt in song. As expected, I began to sing praise songs and practice thankfulness, which basically means saying your thankful when you don’t feel it. My six-year-old son Joshua and my four-year-old daughter Shanna sang along with me as their toddler sister Rebekah and baby brother Caleb expressed themselves by making joyful noises.

I was thankful that the kids were having fun and the ride was going smoothly, that is until I heard a guttural noise and a gushing sound. I looked over my shoulder at Joshua. He was covered with vomit. His little sisters were echoing each other with sounds of disgust. Because of the sharp curves, I had to keep my eyes on the road, but I kept my ears tuned in to the commotion in the back seat.

It wasn’t long before I heard a second guttural noise. “Oh no, Joshua! Not again!” I shouted.

He shouted back, “It wasn’t me, Mom!” As I approached the next curve, I glanced back just in time to see Shanna empty the contents of her stomach. With two of them throwing up, the stench in the car was awful. Rebekah was fussing, and baby Caleb started crying. I wanted to cry too.

I rolled the windows down and I shouted toward the back seat. “It’s okay kids. We will be home in 50 minutes. We will just keep worshipping. Let’s count our blessings!” I then began to sing another praise song. I was hoping that Joshua and Shanna would sing along, but they both threw up again. After we rounded the next curve, Rebekah joined them, and by the time we got to the base of the mountain the baby was also puking. I continued singing and offering words of encouragement, wishing that home was around the corner instead of 40 more minutes away. “Lord, help me!” I begged.

The drive seemed to take forever. I kept telling myself, “Stay focused. Stay thankful. Even if you don’t feel it, practice thankfulness.” At one point I quit singing and began laughing. What were the odds of four small children puking at the same time? I looked back at my four very unhappy vomit-encrusted passengers. The entire situation was ludicrous.

After what seemed like an eternity, I parked in front of our apartment. One by one I carried the children inside, stripped off their jammies, rinsed them off, and laid them on blankets on the floor. After placing a puke bucket next to all but the baby I removed the car seats and hosed them down and then cleaned up the car.

I then went back inside to tend to my children. A few of them had continued to vomit. Thankfully, they were using their buckets. Taking the baby in my arms I sat down in my rocking chair and prayed. I felt sorry for my sick children. I felt even sorrier for myself.

I got up and laid the baby on a blanket and emptied and resituated the buckets. Before sitting back down, I grabbed a book to read to my pathetic little pukers. I figured reading them a book might distract them from how awful they were feeling. The book I chose was one I had recently purchased about the Pilgrims and Thanksgiving.

I had learned about the Pilgrims in elementary school, but that day I got a lot more insight. I was fascinated by the information the author had accumulated from journal entries as well as history books.

The Separatists, later known as Pilgrims, had endured persecution, imprisonment, and poverty before they had been given the opportunity to establish a colony in America. They had fled from England to Holland, but their desire to spread the gospel and for their children to prosper pushed them toward more.

They paid a high price to fulfill their God-given dream. Half of them would lose their lives before the first harvest. Some of them would die before they even reached the shore.

A couple of chapters into the book, Joshua had asked for something to eat, so I gave him a little bit of flat soda and a couple of saltine crackers. Then I sat down and resumed reading. The next chapter was about the voyage. I read about horrible sea sickness and food shortages. I was sure that my two oldest could relate a little when they heard that the Pilgrims survived on ale and stale bread.

At the request of my children, I continued to read. We learned about how Squanto had been kidnapped as a youth. After he had been educated in England he returned to his home to discover that his entire village had been wiped out from disease. God had positioned him for such a time as this to help the Pilgrims. The Pilgrims had a dream, but God had plan-not just a plan for a new colony but a new country.

When I finished the book, I thought about the sacrifices and the blessings surrounding Thanksgiving. Squanto had lost all of his family and friends. The Pilgrims had lost many of theirs. But in the midst of loss they celebrated together. As two people groups united with thankful hearts they ushered in a new beginning.

When I closed the book, I looked at each of my children and whispered a prayer of thanks. “Thank you, Lord, that they only have the flu. Thank you for our freedom. Thank you for your care. Thank you for everything!” A frustrating day had turned into an amazing one. For most, Thanksgiving was just around the corner, but in our little apartment it had already arrived.  I no longer had to practice thankfulness.  It was overflowing from my heart and coursing through my entire being.

Happy Thanksgiving!

May you be overwhelmed by the goodness of God!

God bless,

Jeannie

 

“In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NKJV).

photo by johnhain – pixabay

Wrappings

Last March, I began communicating with a man I had met on-line. He was a handsome business owner and a dedicated father who was involved in his church and community.  After a month of text messages and phone calls we agreed to meet in person. To say that I was excited would have been an understatement. Since he was coming from another city and I hadn’t agreed to date anyone for the past three years, I had already begun to lightly sketch him into my life’s painting as my possible Boaz.

As I was getting ready for my date, my hopes were high. Putting on my makeup I felt like a schoolgirl preparing for the prom. Even though it was just a lunch date, I wore a nice dress and high heels. “This might be it,” I said to myself, “After 17 years of singleness, I might be meeting the One God has been preparing for me.”

Ten minutes into our date my high hopes turned into hope deferred. Not only was there a lack of chemistry, I found him to be incredibly boring and materialistic.

I don’t cry often, but after I got home I bawled like a baby. That night I asked for prayer and my pastors prayed for me.

When I awoke the following morning, past scenarios in my life were running through my head like movie clips. Anytime I had trusted God and obeyed Him, even in the midst of difficult seasons, I was thankful because I could now see the blessings. It was the times when I had disobeyed God or made decisions based upon what looked good to me that had caused me grief and filled me with regret.

I had recited the phrase “God is good!” many times, but that morning I understood God’s goodness at a whole new level. God is not only is good, He always knows what is good for me. Even when the packaging of my circumstances didn’t look or feel good, He was always good.

I wrote the following poem during a discouraging season. At that time it was difficult for me to see God’s goodness; but I can clearly see it now. I pray it will bless you.

Wrappings

Two packages lay before me,

One elegant; one plain.

The one in finest wrapping.

The other brown with string.

With delight I grabbed the first one;

Gently removed the bows

And folded down the paper

While anticipation rose.

But disappointment surfaced

Almost immediately

As I opened up the box

And it contents I did see.

For instead of finest treasures

Of diamonds or of gold,

It was filled with thorns and thistles

And miseries untold.

So reluctantly I reached out

And placed the second on the floor.

With its drab and plain appearance

What horrors were in store?

Then cautiously I cut

The fraying well-worn string,

Removed the plain brown paper

And opened up the awful thing.

All disappointment left

As delight filled up my soul

For in that plain and simple package

Were treasures to behold.

Sometimes God’s greatest gifts

Are hidden for a season.

It’s often later down the road

We understand the reason.

Jeannie Boatright

I have learned that sometimes the most incredible gifts come in the most unusual packages.

 May you be abundantly blessed!

Jeannie

photo from Pixabay

Masterpiece

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Always know God loves you and adores you!

Jeannie

All the More

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God bless,

Jeannie

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

Praying for My Daughter

Please pray for my daughter!

In March, when the Lord told me I would be in Virginia in June, I had no idea that my son-in-law would be deployed in June and that my daughter’s medical conditions would worsen.

For over a decade my daughter has been battling a few auto immune illnesses. In April she started vomiting so much she lost ten pounds. I appreciate the military, but their medical often leaves a lot to be desired. Each time she went to the emergency room she was given IVs and nausea medication and was sent home. It took months for her to get blood work done. Now she is waiting for her appointments with more specialists. Her appointment with the endocrinologist that was scheduled in June is coming up next month.

In July she started feeling a little better, but getting out of the house for a doctor’s appointment or going to the store is always exhausting for her. Needless to say, she is pretty much home bound.

About a week ago, my daughter began having severe stomach and back pain. She also started throwing up again. We thought it might be appendicitis. Ends up she has internal shingles. This is the third time she has had shingles since December.

I have had many health issues, but I have also experienced many miraculous healings. I mention a few of them in my books. If God could heal me of seizures, mini strokes, emphysema, a lower back injury, a congenital heart murmur, debilitating migraines and a host of other ailments, I know that He can heal my daughter.

Sometimes it’s not a matter of faith as much as it is a matter of trust. When we don’t know the answers, we have to remember that the Lord is our answer. He is our peace. He is our hope. He is our healer. He is our strength. He is our everything!

Isaiah 43:2 doesn’t say if you walk through the fire. It says when. God never promises the absence of flames, He promises us His presence in the midst of the flames. As He shields us with His all-encompassing love, we are ignited with passion for Him and for what matters to Him. The blaze that should have destroyed us sets our hearts ablaze for Him.

I have to admit, it’s hard to watch my daughter suffer, but I have comfort in knowing that the All Knowing One is watching over her. When the Lord woke me up in March and told me, “Virginia June,” He was letting me know ahead of time that He’s got it all under control. He is the God of the wind, the waves, and the flames. In the midst of the fire we might feel heat, but we shall not be burned!

May you be abundantly blessed!

Jeannie

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze” Isaiah 43:2 (NIV).

 

He’s Got You Covered

For many years, I attended a church that supported a number of missionaries. When the missionaries would come to the states on furlough, they would often share testimonies on Sunday mornings. Many of their testimonies mentioned God’s supernatural provision and protection. I always felt privileged and honored to hear the hearts of the missionaries; however, the testimony of one particular woman has stayed with me until this day.

She was a single woman who pastored a church in a very hostile area in Asia. She shared about an altercation where some men were threatening to kill one of her adopted Asian sons. When a knife was pressed against the young man’s chest, the mother bear in her took over and she jumped in harm’s way. Out of the corner of her eye, she could see a man getting ready to smash a brick into her head.

I don’t remember whether she looked up or closed her eyes, but as she prepared to die, she felt feathers brush across her shoulder and face, and she heard loud thuds. When she looked down, the men were all lying flat on the ground. When they came to, they ran away.

For many years I had tremendous fear issues. I even had night terrors. The Lord had to give me some powerful revelations to set me free from torment. One revelation was when I woke up and saw an angel at the foot of my bed. I heard in my spirit, “He will cover you with His feathers.” The next morning, I wrote down Psalms 91 in its entirety and taped it on my wall.

I have personally seen God intervene many times. During some of my darkest seasons, people who had no clue what was happening in my life would come up to me or call me to tell me that they had been led to pray for me at a particular time or on a particular day. The timing was always when I had either been in danger or when I had cried out to God in the midst of desperate situations.

I don’t know what you’re going through today. But God does. The Lord loves you. He is always there for you. He will never leave you, nor forsake you. Draw close to Him and give Him your cares and worries. For He is already moving in your behalf, stirring hearts to pray for you, and dispatching His angels to cover you with His feathers.

You can place your trust Him-He’s got you covered!

May you be abundantly blessed!

Jeannie

 

Preparing for the Storm

 

Weather forecasters are predicting that Hurricane Harvey will be wreaking havoc on the Gulf Coast by early morning. Many residents have evacuated. Those who are staying to weather the storm are battening down the hatches and preparing for the worst, while hoping and praying for the best.

I have been through three hurricanes. One I was too little to remember, the other two I will never forget. Before the hurricanes came into shore, my parents made sure that we had candles and flashlights, fresh water, and enough food to weather both the storm and its after effects. They also had us clear any clutter from the yard.

I have learned to do the same when preparing for the storms of life.

Light- When Hurricane Celia’s high winds pummeled Corpus Christi in 1970, we were without electricity for almost two weeks. Thankfully, my parents had plenty of candles and a couple of lanterns to illuminate the darkness. Spending time in the Lord’s presence and keeping His promises (candles) in our hearts will illuminate our way when the “lights go out.”

Psalms 199:105 “Thy word is a lamp into my feet, and a light unto my path” (KJV). When I was growing up we often went camping. I hated going to the pit toilet in the middle of the night. On the “seemingly” mile long trek, I would point my flashlight directly in front of my feet so I wouldn’t stumble when taking my next step.  I also intermittently raised my flashlight and scanned the distance to make sure I was safe—and that I was headed in the right direction. God’s Word not only illuminates our steps to keep us from stumbling in the dark, but lights our path to bring us understanding and revelation about the present and the future.

Water- Our bodies are composed of more than 60 % water. No wonder we can get dehydrated so easily!  Since we can be surrounded by water and still be dehydrated (Just ask anyone who has been lost at sea) we not only need water—we need drinkable water. In A Shepherd Looks at the 23rd Psalm, the author, Phillip Keller, who was a shepherd by trade, explains what it means to be led “beside the still waters.”  Keller mentions how shepherds go to great links to provide good water sources for the sheep—even digging deep wells if necessary. However, even with all their effort, invariably a few sheep will try to drink from polluted puddles.  If you and I drink from the polluted water sources of the world, we will not be able to survive when the storms of life “hit us”. Jesus tells us that He is the “Living Water.” We must rely on Him to be our strength and trust in Him.

Food- After Jesus had met with the Samaritan woman, his disciples urged Him to eat. Jesus told them He had food to eat that they didn’t know about: “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work” John 4:34 (NKJ). Jesus also says in Mathew 4:4 “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God”” (NKJ). You and I need to know how to “hear” God’s voice and walk in His will if we are going to survive the storms of life.

Clean up the clutter- Besides gathering supplies and boarding windows, my parents always made sure we removed anything in the yard that could potentially become a missile.  Before we head into life’s storms you and I need to do the same.  Unhealthy patterns and mindsets, including unforgiveness and judgment, can become missiles the enemy will launch at us when the winds start kicking up. It’s best to clean them up beforehand.

Thankfully, Hurricanes are preceded by warnings so there is time to prepare. That is not always the case when it comes to the storms of life. If we keep our hearts prepared by staying in God’s presence, reading His Word, listening to His voice, letting Him clear out the clutter in our lives, and resting in His love, we will be able to weather any storm—knowing that the One who created the wind and the waves, can also calm them. 

May you be abundantly blessed!

Jeannie

 

 

 

 

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

 

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).