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

I’m Still Here

This morning I was reflecting on God’s goodness. As I thought about all of the trials He has brought me through the following song was birthed in my heart. I seldom share songs God gives me, but I felt to share this one.

I’m Still Here

It seems I’ve fought a thousand wars in distant lands of old.

Some battles that almost took my life have now been turned to stories of gold.

The enemy that stole and crushed is now underneath my feet.

Your amazing grace that covered me has shown me his deceit.

Because of your love,

Your perfect love,

I’m still here.

 

I tried to walk on water without looking in your eyes.

When I was going under, you raised me up again to life.

The storms that raged against me are now the wind behind my sails.

You turned beauty into ashes when it seemed that all had failed.

Because of your love,

Your perfect love,

I’m still here.

 

Chorus

I’m still here because you’re still here with me,

Leading me and guiding me, setting my heart free.

I’m still here because you’re still here with me.

Living in your presence is where I want to be.

Because of your love,

Your perfect love,

I’m still here because you’re still here with me.

 

You’ve raised me up with wings of eagles; now I can truly soar.

I’ll never get enough of you; I’m always wanting more.

The truths that you have shared with me are now mighty tools in my hand.

The life that you have given me is far greater than I’d planned.

Because of your love,

Your perfect love,

I’m still here.

 

You’ve set my soul on fire with a love that’s not my own.

You’ve captivated my heart, and now my Spirit groans.

Lord, take my life and use me so all can know the true joy that you bring.

Set the captives free so they can join with me and sing.

Because of your love,

Your perfect love,

I’m still here.

Chorus

I’m still here because you’re still here with me.

Leading me and guiding me, setting my heart free.

I’m still here because you’re still here with me.

Living in your presence is where I want to be.

Because of your love,

Your perfect love,

I’m still here because you’re still here with me.

You never have forsaken me.

Because your love has awakened me

I know why I’m still here.

by Jeannie Boatright

May you know why you are still here. Be abundantly blessed!

Jeannie

 

Our Movies

 

My computer/tablet has been having major issues. The other day it wouldn’t let me open any of my word programs and today it appears to be speaking in tongues. THisbm is whadt it lyoyoks like when I tp]e yon the kebmyoadrad.

Even though my keyboard is speaking its own language, I attempted to use it anyway. After each sentence I had to go back and delete the extra letters that had been inserted into each word. The process was frustrating. It didn’t take long for me to realize that using my keyboard was stealing both my peace and my time. It was time to disconnect the keyboard. Thankfully, I can still type on the touch screen.

A couple of months ago I wrote a post about a vision God had given me about the restoration of heart’s desires. Shortly afterwards, the Lord told me that I was to work on a couple of books I had started writing quite a few years ago. One of them is about the lies that kept me in abuse and the truths that set me free.

Writing about my past can be similar to this morning’s experience with my malfunctioning keyboard. In just a few sentences a slew of memories can quickly surface, causing me frustration and stealing my peace. There were times when I was writing a few of the stories in my first two books that I was crying so hard from painful memories that I could barely see what I was typing.

Whenever painful memories used to surface I would either ignore them, agonize over them, or try to analyze them. Now, when hurtful memories kick up, instead of looking in, I look up. It’s not about introspection as much as it is about gaining a new perspective.

When I take the pain of my past to the Lord, He reveals His presence and gives me purpose. He exposes the lies I believed, helps me to forgive, and writes His truth on the tablet of my heart. As the Holy Spirit reveals the plans of the enemy and the bondages and wounds of those who hurt me, the movie script in my mind of is rewritten, and I see Jesus in every scene. Sometimes He is shielding me. Sometimes He is holding me. Sometimes He is crying. Sometimes He is fiercely protecting me. Sometimes He is speaking truth to me—even when I am not listening. At all times, Jesus is loving me and revealing His heart to me.

Rewriting my life movie writes my purpose. When I See Jesus in every scene of my past, I can clearly see Him in every scene in my future. My story becomes His story as He takes the good, the bad, and the ugly and uses it all for His glory and to bring freedom to others. I might need to process some things and even shed some tears when Jesus shows up in my past memories, but the new outlook He gives me always turn my tears of sorrow into incredible joy.

When you and I give God our pasts, He inserts His presence, His truth, and His promises to bless our futures. Have you given God your movie?

May you be abundantly blessed!

Jeannie

11 You turned my wailing into dancing;
you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
12 that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent.
Lord my God, I will praise you forever. Psalm 30:11-12(NIV)

 

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

 

These Things I Know

This past week South Texas was ravaged by Hurricane Harvey. Many small cities and towns were demolished, and Houston is still underwater.

In the last few days two of my friends have lost family members and friends to drugs and car accidents.

This past month one of my former neighbor’s husband died of cancer.

It’s so easy during times of crisis to question why?

Why did some Texas towns get destroyed while others suffered mild wind damage?

Why did some houses get gutted while others in the same area remained untouched?

Why did Houston flood, forcing tens of thousands out of their homes?

Why did some people lose their lives in the raging waters?

Why did my friend’s gorgeous, accomplished daughter die of a drug overdose when other addicts are resuscitated, just in the nick of time?

Why did two young people lose their lives in a car crash?

Why did my former neighbor lose her husband to cancer?

To each of these questions I can honestly say, “I don’t know.”

Sometimes life hits us hard, leaving us swirling in a whirlwind of unanswered questions. If you are going through a storm or a season of loss, my heart goes out to you.

I can not give you answers to your questions.

But these things I do know…

I know that you are precious to God, and the same eye that is on the sparrow never takes its focus off of you.

I know that the One who parted the Red Sea is able and willing to part the impossibilities in your current situation.

I know that when you put your hope and trust in the One who promised restoration to the children of Israel, He will move Heaven and earth to restore your life.

I know that the One who declared, “it is good!” after each day of creation, will show you His goodness in the most amazing ways.

I know that no matter how violent the storm, or how intense the heartache, the One who opened His arms wide for you on Calvary is now opening His arms to hold you close to His heart.

I know that The Lord is loving and faithful, and that He will bring beauty from the ashes in your life.

Yes! These things I know!

Let’s continue to unite in prayer for all those who have been affected by the hurricane, and for those who have suffered other losses. For I know that the prayers of the righteous avail much!

May you be abundantly blessed!

Jeannie Boatright