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Thank YOU!

Thank you for the gift of your time today. My prayer is each time you stop to visit you are blessed with truth, and encouraged to keep going ~ one foot in front of the other, chin up ~ simply because you've been reminded you are on the road to VICTORY!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Where's the JOY?

I've asked myself this question many times over these weeks since Thanksgiving.  Normally, it's easy for me to feel joyful and triumphant this time of year.  I LOVE the celebration of the Christmas season.  The decorating of our home, extra gatherings, candies, cookies, songs of the season, and gift giving are all a part of the enjoyment of the season.


But this Christmas season is different.  I struggled with motivation just to pull out the boxes of decorations from the basement.  And this year, I only used about half of our decorations around the house.  


Shopping is not my favorite activity any time of year, but the crowds, the stuff of commercialism, it's all just too overwhelming for me this year.  I hear myself saying, "None of us needs one more thing from a store!", and then feel guilty for sounding like the Scrooge, "Humbug!"

So, in an attempt to take a positive view of my struggle and make it worthwhile, I've determined it's more important for me to do the most with little, and to persevere through the lack of 'feelings'.  After all, obedience is a more meaningful motivator than feelings. 
(I Samuel 15:22 ...to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.)


So, where IS the JOY to be found this Christmas season?
As we move into this last week of Advent, the week of LOVE, I am realizing my desire is to celebrate Christmas as a spiritual Ebenezer - a time of remembering what God did for us when He sent His only begotten Son to us.  My desire this year is to focus on the purity and the holiness of the celebration...to magnify the One we celebrate, and not the celebration itself.

I've decided to keep an account of the moments I experience Jesus this Christmas season.  And as I ponder these moments, I recognize these are the places I have found JOY!

For many years I've wanted to have a nativity set up in our front yard.  I've wanted to offer a place of peace and tranquility and hope and safety for others to come and worship Christ with a visual remembrance of how God sent His Son into our world.  And I've wanted to say to those who would pass by, "Come and meet Jesus!  Come and adore Him Who came and is coming again...our King!"  

This year our family set up our handmade nativity, crafted and painted by my mom and dad.  My joy is full in knowing these were handcrafted in love for me.  And so, I pray this memorial is a blessing to many as it speaks JOY to my heart through this Advent season!

After setting up our nativity, we invited friends from church and from our neighborhood to gather round and sing Christmas carols.  Delightful to my heart, many came out on a chilly December evening to drink hot chocolate and sing old fashioned songs of Christmas.  There were small children trying to sneak as many sugar cookies as possible, a neighbor leading us on his guitar, a baby for me to rock and hold, and a joyful noise to fill the night air! 

Where's the JOY this Christmas season?
Our 20-something sons took the initiative for a family photo with which to create our annual Christmas card...tidings of GREAT JOY!


Setting out a giant chocolate bar wrapped in ribbon along with a Christmas thank you card for our mailman and our trash collector.

Leaving Christmas cookies with Christmas blessings in neighbors' mailboxes.
Creating a Scripture prayer card and then handing them out to random people at work. More JOY when unexpected people came and asked if I would indeed pray and bless them in the name of Jesus!

Leaving Scripture cards at restaurants, hotel, gas stations, and nursing home where we're visiting our own Mom B., my mother in love, five long months after suffering and surviving a massive stroke.  Singing Christmas carols to her, brushing her hair, anointing her dry lips with lip balm, and reading to her from Jesus Calling (Sarah Young).  

Joy fills my heart when I'm speaking to her about Jesus and she opens her eyes to look right through me; I'm sure she is seeing Jesus...present with her in her circumstances.  I keep reminding her that Jesus, her Good Shepherd is holding her close to His chest and will carry her home!

Experiencing Jesus in surprising moments...prayer and thanksgiving with a group of girlfriends...receiving birth news of a baby boy for missionary friends...receiving good news from young friends of a baby in the knitting...getting to provide for strangers who lost their wallets and needed gas money to make it home, and secretly buying the meal for a family whose young Dad was wheelchair bound.

Family together, sons home from college, my husband spending Christmas break with me at home while he seeks a new career assignment, parents joining us for time away at our healing place...the salted air, white sanded gulf coast, and mission work of prayer seeking to bear great and beautiful fruit in the next generation...JOY for all Jesus joins with us along our journey into a new year.

There is JOY in this Christmas season!  I've had to look a little harder than usual.  I've needed to focus in...eyes fixed on Jesus, my Savior.  I've needed to spend quiet time in His word and listen.  It's there...JOY on this journey...and I pray you experience Him too!

Blessings of GREAT JOY on your amazing adventure journey with Jesus!
Lisa

Friday, December 19, 2014

Five Minutes on Being Prepared

Several Scriptures wrestle for first place in my thinking.  Jesus telling us He has gone to prepare a place for us in Heaven.  John the Baptist, the forerunner for Jesus' ministry, preparing the way. Preparation of the Passover meal, sacrifices and thanks offerings.

Finally though, relating preparation to my own life, a personal testimony from my earlier years pushes through to the front of the line bearing the lessons of the following Scripture verses from Proverbs.

The heart of man plans his way
    but the Lord establishes his steps.
Proverbs 16:9 ESV


We humans keep brainstorming options and plans,
but God's purpose prevails.
Proverbs 19:21 MSG

And so the year was 1993, March, actually.  Our oldest son was about to turn two ~ March 14th, actually.  Additionally, I was just about 9 months pregnant with our youngest son, whose due date for arrival was March 19th.

As I went to my then weekly OB visit, I received the good report that all was well and we seemed to be right on time for our scheduled arrival date.

I was so excited.  Everything was working out for my plan.  All my ducks in a row.  We would have a 2 year old birthday party for our oldest son, and then clean up, rest up as much as possible.  Finally, we would welcome our youngest a few days later.  Perfect timing!

Perfect according to my plan...until March 13th.  Before dawn, I awoke, feeling rather uncomfortable.  Unable to go back to sleep, I wobbled downstairs to lay on the couch and watch the unbelievable winter wonderland accumulating outside.  Now if we didn't live in Atlanta, Georgia, a massive snow storm might not seem unusual in mid-March, but as our southern landscape became overwhelmed with inch after inch of fresh snow we watched in amazement!

Our son, who would be 2 the next day wandered out with his dad, eyes wide and unsure what to make of the cold white covering his normally winter brown yard.  I continued to feel uncomfortable, staying inside and resting as much as possible until...my water broke around 5 p.m.  Oh, but wait, little one; you're not due to arrive for another 5 days.  And tomorrow is your big brother's birthday.

I called my doctor's office and told the answering service my situation.  The woman on the phone took my pertinent information and told me to get prepared to go to the hospital.  My doctor called shortly after indicating I would be going to our local community hospital rather than the planned hospital since the weather was too bad to travel... and electricity was out downtown.

"Wait, so you're coming out to this hospital?", I asked dazed and confused by all the upheaval in "my plans".  My doctor told me no, and not to worry, the doctor on call would do a great job and the hospital near us would be just fine.  "Don't worry!", he said several times and then wished me the best before hanging up.

That was it!  Wait, go to the hospital early.  Go to a different hospital.  In labor, meet a doctor I've never met before, who would most certainly deliver our second child in the midst of this wintry mess! No, I was a mess.  No longer did any of my plans matter; there was a new plan, and I needed to get on board.

I truly believe this experience was a pivotal moment for me.  My Father was using circumstances for a teachable moment.  His purposes were for my good.  It was time for me to have a spiritual growth spurt, and take the next step in learning to trust Him more and more.  Father was teaching me the truth of His word in practicality.  It's fine for me to make my own plans and be prepared, as long as I hold those preparations loosely and comply willingly with His greater plan!

Suddenly new preparations spun into motion.  Dear neighbors came to care for our oldest son for the night.  My husband, who is from Ohio, skillfully navigated the snowy roads, and got us to the different hospital without incident.  We were able to get a delivery room immediately, and our youngest son was born just 2 hours later.

God is good and trustworthy.  He is Father and He knows what He is doing.  Gratefully, our delivery experience was even more wonderful and satisfying than our first experience as the doctor on duty was both skilled and careful for my desire to deliver our baby naturally.

Even to this day, we tease our youngest son about wanting to make his arrival the day before his brother's birthday.  We delight in having a fascinating story to tell of God's plan, which was not my own, of a baby boy born in the Blizzard of '93.  And how could I have ever prepared for two sons with birthdays one day apart?  No, that was Father's idea.  His good plan prevails, indeed!


Blessings of Greatest JOY on your amazing adventure journey with Jesus!
Lisa


Monday, December 15, 2014

JOY*Week*Advent

Reflections on JOY this third week of Advent.

Preparing for the coming of the King.

Standing on tiptoes...expectant...anticipating His arrival.


You love Him (Jesus Christ), though you have not seen Him.  And though not seeing Him now, you believe in Him and rejoice with inexpressible and glorious JOY, because you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
I Peter 1:8-9

The celebration of the coming of our King makes this a JOYous season...just this simple fact alone! The JOY of this Christmas season is not dependent on my current life circumstances.

Perhaps we (Charlie Brown, Cindy Lou Who, and I) are not the only ones wondering if it's even possible to celebrate Christmas in this current season of feeling a bit less than exuberant.  So, here we smack face first into the importance of truth - the inestimable value of God's Word sewn often in the furrows of our hearts and minds.


The reason for our rejoicing with inexpressible and glorious JOY...
we are receiving the goal of our faith...
we are receiving the greatest gift...
the salvation of our souls.

This Christmas season JOY is possible because my eyes are focused on the One through Whom I receive the greatest gift.  How about you, my friend, is JOY possible in light of or despite your circumstances?  Are you able...even willing...to pray with me?

Jesus, I love You, though I have not seen You.  And though I have not yet seen You, I believe You and I am filled with inexpressible and glorious JOY because I am receiving the goal of my faith, the salvation of my soul.
Thank You, Jesus.
Amen.

Blessings of GREATEST JOY on your amazing adventure journey with Jesus!
Lisa

Sunday, December 7, 2014

My Prayer for You*December 7, 2014*



My prayer for you and me this second week of Advent...

PEACE

Hold peace, as Mary held peace, 

The Prince of Peace in her arms.

For to us a child is born, 
to us a Son is given...
And He will be called...
Prince of Peace...
from Isaiah 9:6

Lord, Jesus, my prayer for this week of peace is that You will enlighten the eyes of our hearts with understanding through the power of Holy Spirit, to grasp the truth of Mary's testimony.  Make real to us in light of our own life circumstances the chaotic and dangerous environment You were born into.  

Reveal to our hearts and minds the power of Your presence ~Prince of Peace ~ in the flesh as Mary held You in her arms.  She was Father's obedient maid servant, and by His equipping and favor, she fulfilled the real life assignment ~giving birth to You, our Savior.


Dear Jesus, Mary was not understood, and maybe never vindicated among her own people.   Her peace came from within ~ carrying You in her virgin womb.  Her peace was found in beholding you; knowing You were given to her to be her son and Savior.

Lord Jesus, thank You for providing for Your disciples ~ even to this present day ~ the opportunity to carry and to hold peace in our chaotic and dangerous world.  Though You returned to the Father to sit at His right hand in Heaven, You sent Holy Spirit to dwell within us as we submit ourselves under Your Kingship.

Thank You for this amazing truth; we carry You.
We hold You within our earthen vessels.
~Prince of Peace~
You are our peace.
You are my peace.
Jesus, for Your glory, 
Amen!

But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.  
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.
John 14:25-27 NIV

Dear One*Five Minute Friday*

When I first began attending a Kay Arthur Bible study, Lord, Is It Warfare?, I heard her, Kay Arthur by way of video, address a whole audience of people, "Dear one..."  

I thought that was odd.  

Why would she call me, "Dear one"?  She didn't know me, so how could she refer to me with such a term of endearment?  I actually felt she was not being sincere!

Kay Arthur was not the problem.  I was...or rather, my lack of understanding of my true identity in Christ was the problem.  Quite a few years later, after the light bulb of GRACE came on in my head and my heart, I began to ask the Lord for healing in my identity.  


I read Ephesians chapter 1 with renewed vision and understanding. The eyes of my heart were being enlightened so that I began to know the hope to which He has called me, the riches of my glorious inheritance in the saints.  (Ephesians 1:18 NIV)

Though I had read them before, particular descriptive words popped off the pages of my Bible.  I wanted to know, "Lord, are these words for some of your people...your favorites?  Or, is it possible, these words are for me too?"

I heard a speaker, somewhere along the way, prompt me to read this passage with my name inserted in exchange for every pronoun in the passage.  So, I tried it out.  

As I read these words as descriptors of my name, my heart was overwhelmed with JOY and gratitude.  The word of God was transforming my understanding of my true identity.

Lies were being replaced with truth.  My heart and my mind began to comprehend...
I am blessed.
I am chosen.
I am holy.
I am blameless.
I am loved.
I am redeemed.
I am forgiven.
I am a receiver of grace.
I am marked with the seal of the Holy Spirit.

Later, I attended a women's conference, in which Kay Arthur was one of the speakers.  She addressed us as, "Dear ones...", and I didn't cringe.  I had come to understand her reason for addressing us as such.  

In Christ, we are dearly loved and accepted.  Therefore as members of God's family we should indeed refer to one another, through our true identity, with terms of endearment.

Yes, dear one, in Christ you are blessed, chosen, holy, blameless, loved, redeemed, forgiven, a receiver of grace, and marked with the seal of the Holy Spirit!  Receive this truth as your true identity in Jesus Christ, dear one, for His Glory! 

Blessings of GREAT JOY on your amazing adventure journey with Jesus!
Lisa

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

What does HOPE look like when...*Psalm 69*

What does HOPE look like when these desperate words form your prayer?

Save me, O God,
for the flood waters are up to my neck.
Deeper and deeper I sink into the mire;
I can't find a foothold.
I am in deep water, and the floods overwhelm me.
I am exhausted from crying for help;
my throat is parched.
My eyes are swollen with weeping,
waiting for my God to help me. (v.1-3 NLT)




Reading this I feel the pain, my fists clinch with the sense of desperation, and I recognize the physical response to such anxiety.  I've felt choked and drowning in my own tears.  I've cried out to God in the deep dark middle, "If You don't show me something...anything of Your presence...I'm not going to make it!"


Did Mary experience these feelings?  Surely she felt a bit anxious...in the moment...in labor...needing to see Father provide a way...a place.  Yes, Mary knew the favor of God.  She had received a personal visit from an angel - God's personal messenger.  And yet, didn't there seem to be a disconnect between God's promises and her circumstances?



Have you been here?  Do you currently live here?  I've been in this place in a season or two.  I've camped out here during holidays...the Christmas season...more than once.  It's a hard place...reflecting back to a young couple traveling a long distance with a baby's birth imminent, and private shelter seemingly non-existent for all their seeking.



I personally know quite a few people who are really hurting in this Christmas season.  They are swallowed up in grief and pain and tears and questions too hard to utter.  So, where is HOPE...in the middle...in the dark?


The humble will see their God at work and be glad.
Let all who seek God's help be encouraged.
For the LORD hears the cries of the needy;
He does not despise His imprisoned people.

Praise Him, O heaven and earth, 
the seas and all that move in them.
For God will save Jerusalem
and rebuild the towns of Judah.
His people will live there 
and settle in their own land.
The descendants of those who obey Him will inherit the land, 
and those who love Him will live there in safety. (v. 32-36 NLT)






Do you see it?  Are you catching a glimpse?  Our HOPE is Him - God, our King.  He is our Creator and the One Who saves us!  He's coming...and when He comes, we will dwell with Him in safety and in peace!

"Look! I am sending my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me.  Then the Lord you are seeking will suddenly come to His Temple.  The messenger of the covenant, whom you look for so eagerly, is surely coming, " says the LORD of Heaven's Armies. (Malachi 3:1 NLT)

"He who is the faithful witness to all these things says, 'Yes, I am coming soon!'  Amen!  Come, Lord Jesus!"  (Revelation 22:20 NLT)

Yes, stand on your tiptoes...anticipate His coming.  Our King is coming and He won't be late!


Blessings of GREATEST JOY on your amazing adventure journey with Jesus!
Lisa

Sunday, November 30, 2014

My Prayer For You*November 30, 2014*

My prayer for you and me this week...

this beginning of Advent week...

Look...with Hope.  
Anticipate...with Hope.  
Desire to see...with Hope!

The King is coming!


Lift up your heads, O you gates;
be lifted up, you ancient doors, 
that the King of glory may come in.

Who is this King of glory?
The LORD strong and mighty, 
the LORD mighty in battle.

Lift up your heads, O you gates; 
lift them up, you ancient doors, 
that the King of glory may come in.

Who is He, this King of glory?
The LORD Almighty - 
He is the KING of Glory!
Psalm 24:7-10 

My prayer for us this week...we are waiting for our blessed hope - the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ... Titus 2:13
King Jesus, we are looking, anticipating, standing on tiptoes desiring to see You coming very soon.
For Your Glory, Amen!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Who Doesn't Love a Parade?

Thanksgiving morning, as a child, I looked forward to watching the grand Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade!  I would lounge in the floor in front of our big console television anticipating the floats and balloons while enjoying the aroma of turkey and stuffing cooking. I imagined what it would be like to be standing along the path of the parade in New York City.



While I don't lounge about watching the parade anymore, I do like to have it playing in the background so I can hear the sounds of the parade as I cook and prepare for the Thanksgiving meal.  I still wonder what it would be like to experience the parade live.  Maybe, one day.

The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade culminates with the arrival of Santa in a sleigh. Children wait and watch through the entire parade anticipating the arrival of Santa. He's the Grand Finale, and the countdown to Christmas begins!


Today I read Psalm 68, and my mind imagined the scene - the most majestic parade of all.   I wonder if you will invite Holy Spirit and the Word to paint a vivid picture in your imagination.

What would it be like to be standing along this parade route witnessing this scene live and in person?  Can you imagine the excitement...waiting...standing on tiptoes trying to catch a glimpse of Him...The King?

Your procession has come into view, O God,
the procession of my God and King into the Sanctuary.
In front are the singers, after them the musicians; 
with them are the maidens playing tambourines.
Praise God in the great congregation; 
praise the LORD in the assembly of Israel.

Sing to God, O kingdoms of the earth, 
sing praise to the Lord, 
to Him who rides the ancient skies above, 
who thunders with mighty voice.
Proclaim the power of God, 
whose majesty is over Israel, 
whose power is in the skies.

You are awesome, O God, in Your sanctuary; 
the God of Israel gives power and strength to His people. 

Praise be to God!

Psalm 68:24-26 & 32-35 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Singing in the Middle...Ruth Snell

Sing and make music in your heart to the LORD, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.  
Ephesians 5:19-20


This is my favorite picture of my friend, Ruth Snell.  I think it captures her child-like JOY, which bubbles up and out of her from a deep trusting relationship she shares with Jesus!

We've known each other for a few years now.  Father crossed our paths in leadership with Community Bible Study right here in our little town.  However, serving together was just the beginning of a sister friendship we now share.  

Our friendship has been forged and bonded in prayer and sharing our testimonies of God's faithfulness in our lives all the way back then until now.  Raw vulnerability - that's what we share - walking hand in hand to Jesus!

Ruth has kindly given me the privilege to share her story.  This is God's powerful story of grace and faithfulness; teaching His daughter to sing praises in the middle...in the dark.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Ruth Taylor was born and raised in Canton, IL, near a corn field.  She recalls of God, "I remember sensing and knowing God's love as a child."

" You were my friend before I knew You."

It was in her college years at Eastern Illinois University, Ruth was confronted with the idea of a personal relationship with Jesus.  She was participating in a Bible study on campus.  Ruth describes her experience as "feeling the rub" between her heart and her head.  There was a friction between God's love, of which she felt secure, and what God would ask of her, if she were to commit to follow Him.

"You looked from afar and called my name.
You knew and lovingly have drawn me 
to Your side to walk this way."

Later, married to John Snell, they moved their family of five to Stone Mountain, Georgia.  Ruth is the loving and devoted mother of three; Ellen, Andy and Michael.  Ellen and Michael await their family in Heaven.

It happened in this season of life, John and Ruth received the hard truth; two of their three precious children, Ellen and Michael, were diagnosed with  a neuro-muscular disease, Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA)

"Oh, how I'm grateful for Your presence;
how I'm grateful You have called."

As life continued in the Snell family with a 'new normal', the needs of Ellen and Michael became overwhelming as Ruth and John became increasingly responsible for every aspect of their children's daily living.  The couple wisely made an agreement to take turns getting up in the night, giving each a full night's sleep every other night.  

Ruth recalls grumbling and complaining as she was called out of sleep on her nights to care for her children.  They were long hours on duty, sleepless nights; however, complaining came to an end as Ruth read the book, The Power of Praise and Worship by Terry Law.  Terry's real life story of learning to praise God in his difficulty challenged Ruth to turn grumbling into praise.

"Oh, how I'm grateful You have called me
 to Your side to walk this way."

In Ruth's own words from October 13, 2014:
 "I was convicted of my grumbling and complaining.  I asked God to help me practice this truth on my night to get up with the children.  When one of the kids would call, I'd immediately choose an attribute of God to praise.  He has so many; it wasn't difficult to think of just one: Love, Forgiveness, Strength, Hope, Joy, Peace, All Powerful, All Knowing, Wonderful Counselor.  I chose with my will to turn my focus from my circumstances to my wonderful Savior and praise Him.  This choice totally and forever changed my experience of this difficult place.  I look at this memory now as a sweet time where God met me in the middle (of the difficult place) with His presence.  It did not change my circumstances.  It changed me because I experienced God's presence."

"You knew my need and saw me struggling,
You knew my sorrow and my pain.
You knew and lovingly have drawn me to Your side to walk this way."

All praise to God, for He is good and His love endures forever.
Currently, Ruth enjoys being a Nana to Isabel and Caleb, fruit of her son, Andy and his wife Kristin.  Ruth has entered a new season of hearing God's call, and He is daily equipping her to be the Assistant Teaching Director for the women's evening Community Bible Study (CBS) class in Lilburn, GA.

Click here for more information on this Gwinnett Women's Evening CBS class 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The words enclosed above from Ruth's Song are a gift to Ruth from the Lord during her study of Deborah in the book of Judges through Community Bible Study.

Ruth's Song~
You were my friend before I knew You, 
Looked from afar and called my name.
You knew and lovingly have drawn me, to Your side to walk this way.

Oh, how I'm grateful for Your presence!
Oh, how I'm grateful You have called!
Oh, how I'm grateful You have drawn me, to Your side to walk this way.

You knew my need and saw me struggling,
You knew my sorrow and my pain.
You knew and lovingly have drawn me to Your side to walk this way.

Oh, how I'm grateful for Your presence!
Oh, how I'm grateful You have called!
Oh, how I'm grateful You have drawn me, to Your side to walk this way.

I praise Your name for You are worthy.
I praise Your name for You are good.
I praise Your name for You have drawn me to Your side to walk this way.
To Your side to walk this way.


Blessings of GREAT JOY on your amazing adventure journey with Jesus!
Lisa



Sunday, November 23, 2014

My Prayer for You*November 23, 2014*

My prayer for you and me this Thanksgiving week...

Father, I pray we will seek JOY this week and not confuse it with happiness.  Holy Spirit fill us with understanding.  JOY comes from You and is not a result of our circumstances.

May the God of hope fill you (and me) with all joy and peace as (we) trust in Him so that (we) might  overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

Jesus, we agree with You, in this world there is trouble.  We individually face all manner of tribulation, sadness, pain and loss; the daily realization our broken world was not Father's original design for His creation.
And hallelujah, Jesus, we REJOICE in the GOOD NEWS ~
(Jesus, You) have overcome the world!  John 16:33


So, it is in Your victory over sin and death, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we find JOY.  Through the Scripture words of Hebrews 12:2 we shift our definition of JOY...

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, Who for the JOY set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the Throne of God.

Holy Spirit, begin with me, and change my perspective on JOY, gratitude, and giving thanks.  I'm asking You to illuminate my understanding of the JOY set before JESUS that He would choose the cross.  I'm asking You Holy Spirit to empower my life with that kind of love, faithfulness and devotion to my Lord.

Through faith, trusting in Your Goodness, no matter the troubles of this life, we are able to live in victory this way...

  • (being continually) filled with Holy Spirit
  • speak to one another (as the family of God) in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs (edifying)
  • sing and make music in our hearts to the LORD (at times an overflow and others a sacrifice)
  • always giving thanks to You, God, our Father, for EVERYTHING
  • in the name of our LORD JESUS CHRIST. 
Ephesians 5:18-20

My prayer for you and me this week is to receive the true meaning of JOY through the only One who can give true JOY...Amen!

Blessings of GREAT JOY on your amazing adventure journey with Jesus!
Lisa

Thursday, November 20, 2014

7 Ways to Say, "I'm Thankful For You!"

Thanksgiving is truly one of my very favorite holidays!  

Simply because Thanksgiving is a bit understated, I think.  Other than craft and grocery stores, there's not a push to shop til you drop.  Gifts are not an expectation, and decorating is fairly minimal.

With far less stress and expectation surrounding the Thanksgiving Day festivities, I feel free to actually celebrate my many blessings - counting them one by one.  Over the years, I've prayed for opportunities and creative expressions through which to Give Thanks, and so I thought I would share a few.

1. Send handwritten notes.  
I buy note cards (blank on the inside) and make a list of people who have been involved in my life over the past year.  I write each one a personal note thanking them for the specific (positive) impact they've had on my life.

My list purposely includes people who are friends as well as those with whom I may not have the best relationship.  I've learned, through obedience in this practice, there is at least one thing each and every person has contributed to my life in a positive way...friend or not.

Jesus taught~
But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. For He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.  For if you love those who love you, what reward will you have? Don’t even the tax collectors do the same?  And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing out of the ordinary?  
Don’t even the Gentiles do the same?
(Matthew 5:44-47)

2. Thankful Business Cards
Select a "thankful" Scripture, type it in an attractive font and print on business cards.  Hand "thankful" cards out to anyone, anywhere.  I've handed them out to co-workers and neighbors in the past.  I'll be expanding distribution this year by having them available in my car or purse to hand out in stores, at the gas station, dry cleaners, etc...
The sky's the limit...be creative!

3. Treat Someone to Lunch

Invite someone to share a meal out or in your own home.  Ask the LORD to highlight someone for whom you might show appreciation by breaking bread together.  Perhaps a new friendship will be birthed!


4.  Provide Treats to Service Providers
This is one of my favorites.  Leave a bottled drink and some cookies or a candy on top of your trash dumpster on trash pick up day with a little note - "Thank you for hauling my trash away every week!"  Leave a treat in your mailbox with a note for the mail carrier.

I love to peek out the window and catch the surprised expression on the person's face when they find their treat and read a "thank you!".  Priceless!!

5.  Send a "Thankful for You" Card From Your Pet

We typically send a Thank You card to our vet's office from our two terriers - Liberty and Nole.  Usually a picture is included with words of appreciation for their tremendous care and patience!  

A card could also be sent to your pet's groomer.

6. Add a Little Extra
During the month of November, I add a little extra tip for service providers, such as waiters/waitresses, my hair stylist and nail technician.  The additional "I'm thankful for you!" is very well received by all.
Perhaps an extra tip is not possible within your budget.  Handwritten notes cost very little and mean a great deal!

7. Random Acts of Kindness
Look for opportunities to bless someone with random acts of kindness, especially the elderly, military personnel and clergy.  Put a neighbor's trash dumpster away one day, pick up trash in your neighborhood while walking your dog, mow the pastor's grass or trim bushes (with permission of course).  Be on the look out and pray for opportunity...be a blessing!

I've always been one to cheer the underdog, and it seems this national day (set aside for counting our blessings) has become somewhat of a Charlie Brown of the holiday season; which makes me appreciate it all the more!

In what ways have you expressed your thanks?  Would you share your ideas?  I'd love it if you would.

And I pray you feel inspired to say "Thank You" with creativity and heart all the way through Thanksgiving Day and beyond...

Blessings of GREATEST JOY on your amazing adventure journey with Jesus!
Lisa

Sunday, November 16, 2014

My Prayer For You*November 16, 2014*

My prayer for you and me this week...

Psalm 61:1-4

Hear my cry, O God;  
listen to my prayer.

From the ends of the earth I call to You, 
I call as my heart grows faint; 
lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

For You have been my refuge, 
a strong tower against the foe.

I long to dwell  in Your tent forever
and take refuge in the shelter of Your wings.


Oh, Father, thank You for hearing the cries of Your children.  Thank You for seeing every tear, every set of wringing hands, and every shattered piece of every heart broken right now.

Thank You for knowing the reason for every fear and doubt....for knowing why the stray sheep wander and are lost.  Thank You, Father, no one is lost from Your view.  Thank You for hearing the very first thought whispering from deep within, "I want to go home..."

How I thank You Jesus, Your Shepherd song is tender and captivating; open the ears of Your sheep to hear our names whispered out in love, beckoning, "Come to Me, and I will carry You to safe pasture."


Holy Spirit, open the eyes of our hearts to recognize Your constant presence and power within us.  As Jesus promised, You've never once left us all alone.  

SAVIOR, LORD and KING, we bow before You with grateful hearts in allegiance to Your Majesty...Amen!

Blessings of GREAT JOY on your amazing adventure journey with Jesus!
Lisa




Saturday, November 15, 2014

Five Minutes on Relationship





Relationships are important to me.  I like people.  One of my favorite pastimes is to gather with friends over coffee and conversation, and somewhere along the way (knowing Jesus is a welcome guest in our midst) to wind up in prayer and praise.

As a child I often weaseled my way into my mom's coffee clutch.  Women around a table sharing coffee and a pastry and warm conversation was a norm at our house, and sometimes in the evening the men joined in as well.  Many summer nights in South Florida were spent with dinner around the pool and dessert and conversation late into the night.

Neighbors...we knew our neighbors.  Our neighbors were our friends...and in a way, family, as we lived far from any of our blood relatives.

As an adult, it's been important to me to know our neighbors by name. We've been fairly successful.  It's taken great effort though.  Our neighbors are for the majority open and caring, friendly and agreeable.  Many of our neighbors are retired, which is a wonderful comfort; not much goes on in our neighborhood without notice!

In the last couple of years, I've been excited to welcome some younger families; young marrieds, some with young children and some new babies too!  A breath of fresh air this younger generation.

My husband and I, well, we are comfortably right here in the middle.  We strive to be mindful of our elders ~ checking on those we haven't seen out and about lately.  And we hope to be helpful (maybe even mentors of sorts) to the youngers.


Relationship is so very important to me.  How will I ever have opportunity to share the LOVE of JESUS if I don't know a name, say hello on a regular basis and offer care as circumstances arise.  I love to be the giver...the helper.

But oh the lesson I learned this week!

I suddenly became ill at work.  Once I arrived home, I went directly to bed.  My husband was out of town.  Though hours of sleep were my friend, I awoke intermittently in a fever fog, achy all over. Around 4 in the afternoon, I had an awareness...a moment of clarity...my pups, they were in their crate and I needed to get them out.  They needed to go outside.  Help...I needed help...I was too weak.


Even the idea of typing out a text was exhausting, but I managed an SOS text to a couple of neighbors.  Before I knew it two neighbor girls arrived and took the pups out for a nice walk and brought them back.  I was so grateful for the help.  The pups and I went to bed and I slept for more hours.

Fortunately, I thought to myself, I knew my neighbors by name.  I had phone numbers.  And we have relationship.  The people living around me are not just neighbors; they are friends.


The word was out.  I was sick and might need some help.  Friends offered soup.  My parents would come and bring me medicine or take care of the pups.  Prayers were spoken on my behalf.  Some sweet neighbor came by and put our trash dumpster and recycle bin away. Co-workers. as well, called to check on me.  My husband came home early from his business trip.

It is a great blessing to know....and to be known.  A great blessing to love and give...and to be loved and to receive!  With a thankful heart for relationships...and restored health...



Blessings of GREAT JOY on your amazing adventure journey with Jesus!
Lisa