I am He!

Yesterday I cleaned my house.  While cleaning, I listened to Elevation Church and watched The Gospel of John on Netflix.  I would either listen without the visualizations, or stop and watch if the passage grabbed my attention.  I played the scene in John where Jesus goes to the well and meets up with a Samaritan woman. I’ve heard many sermons, and I’ve read many Bible studies on this encounter, but seeing it with the scripture spoken brought a new emphasis:

Jesus was patient and entered into a relationship with her

Jesus allowed her to question and be honest

Jesus unraveled her pretense of what she thought she needed

Jesus spoke to her individual and unique position and said, “I am He!”

If you watched the video, you see the progression of their relationship and her realization of who Jesus is. Jesus ministered to so many women during His time on earth.  I believe even today He cares very deeply for women, and He wants to meet you at the well.

I imagined that this woman was isolated, shamed because of her behavior of having “no husband”, and physically tired and weary from it all. Can you relate? If Jesus could take away her daily walk for water to survive and satisfy her thirst, He would provide for a significant need in her life. Do you ever wish you could be free of something that daily taxes you? Are you praying that Jesus will provide?   She begs of Jesus to please give her this water so she will never thirst again or have to walk to this well. Are you asking Jesus to please take “this” from me. This life-giving well has a history.  It was the well of Jacob. She reminds Jesus of the positions in society. She is reminding him of her position–the greatness of others and her less-than position in society. Do you ever feel like Jesus has played favorites?

When she realizes that Jesus is more than another man or person asking her for something, and that He truly is Christ–the one she has heard of and trusts to come soon–she is forever changed. His love made the difference. His love transformed her to the point that she left her water jug at the well. She put down her routine to GO!

She was filled.  She was satisfied.  She was healed.  Her transformation transformed the town.  This village accepted Jesus because of her testimony, and Jesus stayed there for days ministering to the people.

Close your eyes and imagine yourself doing the daily routine.

Wake up, get the jug, walk miles, pray you don’t get into any unsafe situations or conflicts, get the water, come home, and continue my list….

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In that daily routine, my thoughts are struggling with life decisions and the journey–decisions I’ve made, or the decisions that were made for me and out of my control.

If Jesus showed up in your routine, and asked you where you were in life, and proclaimed that He wanted to set you free from barriers or personal struggles that keep you from His love, what would you say? Do?

This encounter would change you forever and could change your circle of influence. Jesus encounters you often in this way.  He is not in human form, but His Spirit is there teaching you, and He orchestrates people, circumstances, and messages to encounter and change your path.

Among the passage and video is a simple but powerful word

GO!

He calls her into action.

I pray you can GO!  I pray you can believe that you will encounter the living Christ, and He will meet you just where you are and say, “Daughter, I am He!”  I am He who can heal you, provide for you, change you, and in so doing, change those in your realm of influence and leadership.

Watch this modern day woman at the well and know Jesus is “He”! Go!

Missing pieces and the love that heals

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Yes. During Bible study with Parish, God reflected a heart on the wall.

For we know in part and we prophesy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love. I Corinthians 13:9-13

As a child, we are often excused for some of our behaviors because we are still growing and learning. We may have been disciplined within the lesson learned, but grace and mercy were a huge part of the process.

Why is it the older we become the less forgiving we are of others and ourselves?  Is it the accumulation of wrongs? Does our child-like naivety turn apathetic, or worse into self-loathing or judgment?

I Corinthians is reminding us of the responsibility to grow in Christ, but it’s also reminding us that, until we see Jesus face-to-face, we only know in part.  There will come a day when it all fits together in perfection.

My family completed a puzzle on vacation.  We started the puzzle, and throughout the week, folks would stop at the table and work on adding a few more pieces.  Looking at the details of the edges while visualizing the big picture we were creating became mentally taxing. Like most puzzle experts, we referred to the picture on the box for perspective and figuring out where colors and shapes might go.

So, all the blue colors go at the top for the sky. Green….the grass. Maybe we should do all the edges first?

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Working together as a team became a lively pursuit.  You could look across the table to see someone working on the blue and white sky and share a piece you found in your green grass. Siblings became competitive.  Amazingly, a three-year old could find a missing piece with ease.

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Our family working on a puzzle together, June 2015

Every puzzle piece of our lives, the lives before us, and after us have been created by Jesus for us to, over time, fit together.  It takes a life time and thousands of generations to bring about the final outcome.  If Jesus were to show you the box cover of His plan, we would stand amazed–the magnitude of the details would blow our minds.  That is where faith comes in.  God reveals Himself in His Word and speaks to us through the leading of the Holy Spirit, but only in part.

We worked so hard on a puzzle only to find a piece missing.  We questioned each other, thinking someone was being mischievous, or did the owners of the beach house play a trick on us?

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Doesn’t your eye focus on that missing piece? It drove us crazy. Missing pieces.  This side of heaven has missing pieces and imperfections.

Can you be okay with that? Or, will you focus solely on the missing, and be consumed with unfulfilled longings, and an insatiable appetite for perfection in yourself and others?

Please, don’t.

Recently I have been in situations and circumstances in which broken pieces were scattered everywhere.  Do I pick those up and glue them back together, Lord? Do I sweep them up and throw them in the trash and start over? Do I take the pieces and create something different? All good questions for self-reflection and change.  The best apology is changed behavior.

So, how do we live?  What do we do with brokenness in ourselves and others?

Love.

The greatest of all is love.  Jesus said so.  “For the Bible told me so”. Acts of kindness are an expression of love, but this love says, “I’m okay with me where I am in the moment, and I will love you where you are with my hurt or frustration.”

Love.

I had in my mind as I wrote the word “love”, how does one explain this type of love? My visual was the love of a parent with a teenager who is no longer wanting your advice but you love anyway. You may be worried or frustrated but you never stop loving. It’s the love that Jesus expressed to those who crucified Him and shamed Him. It’s the love when we choose to change, or love someone through their change process.

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God is calling me to love even when I hurt, or don’t understand the missing pieces.  “Love”, He says.  Don’t try to understand, fix, reason, justify, prove, or seek revenge.

When we leave the pieces to God and love who He created…

Me….

You….

…then we can walk in a love so divine it sets us free, brings peace, and unexplained joy.

I can partially know, and trust that the box cover of eternity is something beyond my comprehension and so Holy that I could not fathom it all at once if He was to show me.

Please, don’t.  I trust you Lord.

For months, perhaps years, since this little girl came into the world, I’ve been caught off guard by Jesus and His love, and I am compelled to share it and bring Hope.

I love you…

I love me…

Jesus, thank you for loving us.  Thank you that because you first loved us, we have the capacity to love beyond what we think we are currently capable of.

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Too Big? Start Small.

I love Valentine’s Day. As a child, I loved the chocolate, red hearts, and cards. I would walk around throughout the year in pursuit of heart shaped rocks.  Knowing my passion, my husband has purchased heart shaped boxes for me for special occasions during our many years of marriage.

I’m not sure why this Valentine’s Day felt different.  God, on purpose, placed a desire in me to celebrate, discover, and worship the true meaning of love.

And I have been a constant example of how you can help those in need by working hard. You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive. Acts 20:35

To receive a blessing with open hands and gratitude is just as fulfilling

We are intimately linked in this harvest work…….Accepting someone’s help is as good as giving someone help. This is a large work I’ve called you into, but don’t be overwhelmed by it. It’s best to start small. Give a cool cup of water to someone who is thirsty, for instance. The smallest act of giving or receiving makes you a true apprentice. You won’t lose out on a thing. Matthew 10:40-42

The smallest act of giving or receiving.

I believe wholeheartedly that the seemingly smallest act towards kindness, belonging, and worth provides a priceless gift.  Do you ever feel that you or what you do are never enough?  More could be done, or should be done? You leave someone who is still hurting or angry. You wake up to the same issues in your personal life.  You go to work and find that you wrestle with compassion fatigue or apathy? It’s too big. Yet, God is calling us to handle the big with the smallest act.

I visited a loved one on Valentine’s Day.  It’s too big.  My heart wants so much for her to be healed, walking around, and absent of pain.  I pray for these things, but I have no control over them. Yet, the smallest act of a Valentine’s Day blanket, a heart stuffed pillow, yogurt, and water brings hope not only to her, but to me.

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In my lent devotional on 2/13/16 this was shared: (please try to see the connection of the smallest act in something too big)

Written By Caitlin White
Communications, First Presbyterian Church
Athens, GA

Trina Davis was born and raised in New Orleans and owned a hair salon there before the storm. She had always enjoyed arts and crafts in her spare time, so when she returned after the evacuation to find her old neighborhood in ruins, she found a creative way to respond to the brokenness of her hometown. With her son Max, she began collecting broken bits of glass, nails, wire, and keys from the debris, and together they transformed these pieces of trash into beautiful mosaic windows. Now her salon also serves as an art gallery, and their work serves as an inspiration to their neighbors.

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http://www.myneworleans.com/New-Orleans-Homes-Lifestyles/July-2008/Working-on-Broken-Glass/

When I consider the story of Jesus feeding the five thousand, I am reminded of spirits like Trina’s who are able to see abundance and possibility when others are overcome by scarcity and fear. All that was needed for a miracle were little pieces, just a few loaves and fish. Jesus can take these blessed, broken pieces and transform them into something more than they are.

Sure, he could have probably created a huge feast before the disciples’ eyes, shocking everyone watching with his power and skill. Yet, for Jesus, the magic is in the sharing. He invited his followers to offer what limited means they had and take part in joyful giving and the fullness of God’s grace. Likewise, we are reminded at tables of fellowship with friends and family, at tables laid out in welcome for those in need, and, most of all, at the Communion table that the broken pieces of ourselves are sufficient, blessed, and necessary for the modern-day miracles of God.

You are sufficient, blessed, and necessary!

Do you feel that way?  Even if your situation is “too big”, do you trust that God can take your broken pieces and use them?  I think the hardest challenge is looking to God for our sufficiency.  I do not want to sound irreverent. So, please, listen to my heart on this one…….

Think on that day when the fish and loaves were not enough, but in the scarcity, God provided.  Do you think there was someone in the 5,000 who complained, or would have rather had meat instead of fish? It happens. Humans complain, covet, and sometimes curse a blessing, or small act. We humanly see the “too big” and nothing seems to satisfy. So, too, it is equally important to have open hands to receive the small with joy.  We are a dissatisfied, insatiable people.

Why?

We struggle with “who” is responsible for our sufficiency. God uses His people to provide, but God is the ONLY source of lasting fulfillment.

If my small act is not accepted or deemed insufficient, I must know–truly trust–that God is my all sufficient source, and the same source to those I’m serving.  I will not judge my worth by the acceptance of mankind.  I will not judge my sufficiency by examining the scarcity in my life, or circumstances.

I will leave you with this prayer from the same Lent devotional I referenced above.

Prayer: Generous and infinite God, just as you brought the universe into existence, so you formed each of us as your unique and beloved children. You provide all things and all possibilities. Yet, we confess that we covet and complain, failing to appreciate your bountiful blessings. Teach us your mercy, justice and creativity. Open our minds to the limitlessness of your grace and goodness, and help us to share your abundance with those in need, through Jesus Christ our Lord who reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Our Valentine’s Day–

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Our daily bread

bread2Jesus told them, “I assure you, it wasn’t Moses who gave the bread from heaven to you, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 The bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

They said, “Sir,give us this bread all the time!”

Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.  John 6: 30-35

“I assure you”, said Jesus.  He reassures us that it’s HIM working in our lives, and if only we would come to Him for our daily bread, we would not go hungry.  In return, our lives will manifest a deep love–“they will know we belong to Jesus because of our love” (John 13:35).

What good is marriage, parenting, ministry, or our career pursuits without the knowledge that Jesus is our daily bread and from Him ministries exist? We can work hard and accomplish much, but in our “task driven” or “check it off the list” lives, what good is it if we don’t have the true bread that produces sincere love?

My lent devotional day asked a few questions. The first question was

“What is the deep hunger in your life?”

Another question was

“Where are people putting feet to their faith to feed the hungry in your community?  As a part of this Lenten season, what might you do to learn more about this ministry and maybe offer to volunteer. ”

A ministry that has provided not only the love of Jesus but food for the hungry in our community is Chesterfield Food Bank in Chesterfield, VA. Out of their pursuit and hunger for Jesus, this ministry pours the love of Jesus into the lives of others.

They are in need of items to help for a summer program.  Will you consider helping them? Please click on the link to go to the flyer that tells you how you can help:

Summer Food Program

Check out their website, too

http://www.chesterfieldfoodbank.org/

 

 

 

 

Your Words Matter

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http://inspiredbloggersnetwork.com/words-matter-plus-free-printable/

Today is the beginning of Lent. Last night during our time of fellowship and family we discussed the power and control of negativity and a critical spirit. From the discussion, I awoke with a passion to make a paradigm shift from death to life during this season of Lent.  Habits are broken with consistent and purposeful practice over a period of time.  If you have a habit of scanning over familiar verses, please don’t do that in this post. Read the verse below and see the following points God is making:

  1. We have a choice.
  2. Every day we will experience life and death, blessings, and curses.
  3. You will not EVER have a perfect day, but you can choose your attitude and response to the “death” or “curse” that you witness or experience.
  4. We have heaven on our side to help us with this choice because we can’t do it alone.
  5. God commands us to choose life for our best interest despite the negative or suffering we are experiencing.
  6. If you are willing to choose life and be an example, you will influence the next generation to be filled with God’s joy, and experience life! My words influence my children.

Deuteronomy 30:19   “Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live!

If you have ever been around toxic, negative people you are influenced by their words and behaviors.  When I am toxic and negative, I can feel the poison filling my mind and soul, and I witness the influence on my spouse, children, and friends.  I’ve been so angry or frustrated that I have changed the mood and direction of the day.  Choosing life may mean a sacrifice on your part.

In reading a Bible study someone referenced “The Long Defeat” from The Lord of the Rings by Tolkien. This side of heaven, life is imperfect and we work and we go to church with sinful people (I’m one of them).  We go, do, connect, and forgive, and choose life within the “long defeat” of our struggles on earth.  It is in our human nature to avoid conflict, desire victory over defeat, and to desire to be on the winning team.  In this pursuit, we abandon mercy and love for the “looser” –the person or situation you’ve placed on the list to be critical or negative about.  And, yes, your name could be placed on that list by you.  We are our worst critics.

My mouth is to be used to glorify and uplift the living God–to praise HIM!  My thoughts can be changed by calling on heaven to heal my critical nature and attitude and rejoice! It’s not a denial approach of real issues and problems, it’s your attitude in the struggle. It’s using scripture to defeat the enemy.

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29

“Lord, my job is challenging, will you help me?  God thank you for my job and the ability to pay my bills.”

“Lord, I am deeply hurt by the words of my friend. Will you guide me in forgiveness and resolution?”

God calls us to ‘bless our enemies”.  The word bless literally means to “speak well of them”.  When we can set healthy boundaries with toxic people, and “speak well of them” through prayer, we get our minds of the offense and heal.  Can you live with hurt and forgiveness? Yes.  Speaking well of our enemies is not an open door to be constantly wounded, it’s setting healthy boundaries and changing your attitude.

Here is a great video of a little boy who still experiences his sadness but chooses life.

Here is a great sermon on getting rid of our critical spirit!

 

 

“Miracle Space”

018There is this place I call “miracle space”.  It’s the space in which God’s glory is revealed in the colors of our world, the smells, shapes, sounds, contours, and textures all round us. It’s the space not found looking at the rose, but the gazing of the symmetrical layers of the rose petals, the vibrant color, and small stem that holds the flower up for all to see! God will point out the seemingly simple things I pass by every day, and His hand and heart guides me to the miracle space. It’s the complex in simplistic form. The woodwork on the banister, a hinge on the door, a bird preening, the smell of oregano versus lavender (how does God do that?!), the tears from chopping onions,

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and how the light moves into our home and illuminates an object. The light seems to emphasize and tell a story–“Look!”

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Today, I am overwhelmed with “miracle space”. Did I ever notice the mother’s hands wrapped around her child, and the contentment on the child’s face? A mother’s love revealed and cherished. I stand in awe of artists who create beauty, chef’s who cook aromatic delicacies, and the clutter in my home that is filled with threads, wood, glue, various materials and take up space.  I praise God for His handiwork and glory all around me.

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Life!  Breathe it in!  Smell it!  Feel it! Capture it in your soul and see it as a miracle!

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To my sweet sister recovering from major surgery, I pray you can look around your space and see miracles.  I pray God shines His glory through your window and illuminates a precious something and tells you a story of comfort and peace.

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Oh Jesus–thank you for being present and illuminating our miracle space.

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I am grateful for the abundance and blessings in my life.

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If you are reading this and find your miracle space–send me a picture or comment!  I’d love to hear from you.

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From my husband, the chef, he called this “Meatballs in the Sun”

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My friend Char’s Miracle Space

“Forever Thankful”

Char took these two pictures on Thanksgiving morning.  She was there praying with her dogs, and when she opened her eyes..

THERE IT WAS!

Just minutes before the sun rising, she described the area as the color grey. When she opened her eyes all the colors, God’s handiwork and love, were all around her!

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Aunt Shirley’s Miracle Space

My miracle space is my flower bed. To see it now is not much, but I know Spring is coming and from the ” nothing” it is how God will bring the dead to life! I can relax there and see the mighty hand of my Lord.

 My daughter Vivian got up to cook with me. She looked out the window and exclaimed, “Why is the sky so purple?” We joyfully ran outside to see our miracle space and capture the glory of God!

   
    
   

It’s a girl!

Last Saturday night, January 30, 2016, Victoria and Spencer shared they were having a little girl! The anticipation was thrilling, and the party a time to reconnect as a family.

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It was good to sit around the table and reminisce about pregnancies, deliveries, and how we all came into this world.  My how times have changed!  The generations shared their love and funny stories.

How did they let us know?  Vivian and Valentina cut into the cake to find pink or blue!

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CakesbyDesiree’King (on Facebook if you would like to order from her)

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The cake was fun and delicious!

Here is an amazing video of the event:

We enjoyed taking a generational picture of all the women, including sisters, who will love her:

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A Prayer for Adelaide Louise Lamb and her parents from Psalm 78

We will not hide them from their children,
but tell to the coming generation
the glorious deeds of the LORD, and his might,
and the wonders that he has done…..to teach to their children, that the next generation might know them,
the children yet unborn,
and arise and tell them to their children,
so that they should set their hope in God
and not forget the works of God,
but keep his commandments