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His Purpose

I sit here today, looking out my window onto the world and I see shadows on the grass from the tree branches highlighted by the sun and I see wild rabbits foraging for food, fighting the squirrels for what they can find. I hear cars buzzing by on the street and here I sit in my little corner of the world, trying to figure out what is my purpose?

When I retired, I thought that God wanted me to write and share His story of love, redemption, and grace. To share the story of following Jesus is the only way to Heaven. So, I wrote a small book, sharing my story of hope and encouragement through my faith walk and a way for me to Honor the Lord. Once I accomplished that, then I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do.

Called to Peace1

So as I prayed about it, I continued to write my blogs, this one and another one I write about Living with Autism (see sidebar) and I knew there was more, I could sense it deep within me, but waiting for the answer wasn’t easy; I never have been very patient.

When our grandson was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, I knew that my being able to retire, and be at peace about it, wasn’t so much about me changing my life, but by being available to help this little guy grow and learn and advocate for him every day, which would have been harder to do if I was still working full time. I thank Jesus for this opportunity daily to be a blessing in his life and I pray Jesus will continue to guide me to make the best decisions for him.

I still feel like this is not enough, but I don’t know why I feel this way. Is God calling me to something more or am I wanting more than what I am already doing? I honestly don’t know.

As I sit and glance out my window, I know I miss the interactions with lots of people that I had on a daily basis when I was working. Now, most of my interactions happen online, because I cannot go anywhere and everywhere I would like due to being on a fixed income.  I am not complaining as I have made great friendships online, just as strong as friends I have known all my life and can reach out to at a moment’s notice.

I just want to make sure that every single day that I have breath, that I am honoring the Lord, sharing how he can turn any mess into a message of hope, how he can turn any test I face into a testimony. I want people to see so much of Jesus in my life, that they will want the same thing to and trying to convey how much He has impacted my life, isn’t always easy at a computer screen.

Even in my doubting times, God loves me. Even when I have no idea what my next step is, He loves me. He loves me when I am angry, sad, joyful, bitter, resentful and hopeful. He doesn’t care how long or short my hair is, of whether I am dressed to the nines or wearing the grungiest close I have. He cares more about the condition of my heart, than how I appear outwardly. He knows I make mistakes and falter on a regular basis, but he doesn’t give up on me; he waits for me to come to Him in prayer and seek forgiveness and shows me love that only HE can show.

1 Samuel 16:7New Living Translation (NLT)

7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

 

He can do the same for you! I will be still and wait patiently on the Lord, and until I am sure what he wants me to do, I will trust in Him. I know my work here on earth is not done, and I know He has plans for me. Never lose hope, always trust, always have faith. God is with all of us!

May you know how much Jesus Loves You! #HopeAlways#HaveFaith

Blessings to all!

 

He Never Stops Amazing Me

When I look back to a couple of years ago, I struggled with being obedient to the Lord’s voice. I knew he was nudging me to walk in faith and step outside of my comfort zone and it took several months of nudging for me to take that leap.

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I attended The Vineyard Church in Dayton, Ohio and I loved learning about and leaning into the presence of God. I grew in my spiritual walk with the Lord and I found out what it meant to be part of a church family and show God’s love in a practical way to others during outreach events. My faith grew over the 8 years I made that my church home. I was so comfortable there, I couldn’t imagine ever leaving.  I had made connections and my small community had grown quite large and I was okay with where I was.

The one thing I know, is God doesn’t want us to just stay in one place and be comfortable all the time. He wants to use us to spread his story of love, redemption and grace. He doesn’t want us to just minister to those we know, but to friends we have yet to meet. There were staff changes, people being moved to where they were called, new worship teams, lots of changes going on.  I don’t mind change, but sometimes too much change too fast, is unsettling to me, personally.  When all of this was taking place, I was feeling the nudges. I ignored them. I just kept thinking, why in the world do I feel like my time here is coming to and end?

I share this back story with you to see where God has brought me to.

Every week when I would go to The Vineyard, I passed several other churches on the way. One of them was Shelter Community Church. It was inside an old movie theater, and very small in comparison to the Vineyard church. Each Sunday, when returning home, as I would pass it, I felt like I needed to stop there and check it out; I also felt a little bit of guilt in thinking I needed to make a change. Guilt from the enemy telling me things like “what about your friends at the other church” “what about the women’s ministry that you are involved in” “what if you’re not welcomed” “what if you go and don’t like it”-a thousand what ifs. I tried to remember that the enemy of our souls will do anything and everything to deter us from listening and being obedient to God, our Father. For several months, I prayed, I asked God to reveal to me what he wanted me to do.  He is in control and I needed to listen.

My husband and I started attending Shelter Community Church in December of 2014. When we first walked into the lobby, there was a melodious sound of joy and laughter, people mingling with one another, chatting, small children rushing around, weaving in and out of the people in the lobby and people coming up to us and saying welcome to Shelter.

The what ifs that the devil had tried to plant in my heart, were gone. This place was a place where you could be yourself and still be loved, no matter how broken or lost or confused you were. As we sat through the service, of Worship, Announcements and the Sermon, I knew I had made the right decision to follow God’s leading and yet, I wasn’t sure that I could just leave the one church family that had been mentors to me, had helped me with food when we needed it, loved on me and my family; could I just walk away-was it that simple. After two weeks of attending Shelter, my husband wanted to change. He said he really liked this church and he felt good being there. I knew God was doing a work in both of us.

What I didn’t know, was that God was placing us right where we needed to be for what was to come. As most of you know,that follow this blog, our grandson was recently diagnosed with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) and another family member with Alzheimer’s, within a matter of weeks.  I can speak from experience that when people, who receive any kind of life altering diagnosis, say they are overwhelmed, they  feel like grieving, it really is the truth. I never imagined those first few days, as I allowed those diagnosis-es to set in, how mind-boggling it is. Instead of sinking in despair at what he might face for the rest of his life, and praying that God will show us the best way to teach him to communicate, I have read and watched videos, contacted professional organizations for help and most importantly reached out to friends and family.

By reaching out, our family is blessed to know someone who has been through all of  this that we are just learning about;a loved one that had a disability and a parent with Alzheimer’s. They’ve offered to walk along side us and help us get through all of it.

God is so good!!  And this is a prime example, of why we are not given all the details of our lives, before we are meant to know them.

I still have my friends from my old church; because our friendship doesn’t hinge on whether we  worship in the same building or not. God placed me at The Vineyard because I needed help growing, so I would be prepared for what has happened. I learned from some of the best role models of Godly men and women around. They nurtured me, helped me to learn what it means to walk out my faith and to love one another.

And our Shelter family loves us like we have always been there. Our grandson is making friends in the nursery and loves going. The Life Groups at this church are really all about life and applying the Bible to our lives and relationships. It has grown so much in attendance, that we have had to go to two services, but it still is intimate. Everyone knows everyone, hugs are shared, we cry and laugh together and we hold each other up. This is not to say it is all about the inside of the church. We love reaching out to our community in any way we can.

I cringed at the idea of leaving a church that felt so like close family members and going somewhere else and I even asked God if he was sure. What a laugh, right? I know now, that he knew what he was doing all along. Walking in obedience is part of having faith. Just because I couldn’t see the outcome of where that leap would take me, I should have known that God would never lead me astray.

When you feel like God is calling you to do something, that is not your normal; trust him. When we fail to follow his lead, we could be missing out on a blessing that he wants to give us.

Proverbs 3:5-6 New Living Translation (NLT)

Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
    do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do,
    and he will show you which path to take.

May you hear God’s voice when he tugs at your heart and may you have the courage and faith to take the leap he is asking you to.

Many blessings as always,

Carlene

 

 

 

Are You Ready?

When God places something on your heart to extend His Kingdom, are you ready and waiting to walk in obedience? OR Do you think you that you are unqualified?

God provides all the tools we need and equips us for every situation he places us in.

Just as a carpenter has special tools to fine tune his creations, Jesus has his own tools he uses on us and through us. It is not our place to question when we are called, but to have faith that whatever we are tasked to do.equip

When God asks you to do something, pray for someone, reach out to a stranger, share your testimony; he knows what he is asking. He is asking for you to trust Him with the results. It’s not our job to question or battle with the Lord. God has tugged at my heart many times and pulled me out of my comfort zone.  In the 30 second battle in my mind, telling Jesus I couldn’t do it or I was afraid I was too inexperienced, I learned one thing. Jesus doesn’t expect me to do it in my own strength. He expects me to follow his guiding Holy Spirit and trust that no matter what he has called me to, he has gone before me and prepared a way.

Remember when God called Jonah to go to Nineveh to tell them to turn back from their evil ways, but Jonah didn’t want to do it. So he ran and thought he could hide from God on a ship. And the ship was tossed by the angry seas and Jonah was thrown overboard to save the rest of the ship.  Just think if Jonah had just done what God commanded him to do, he would have never ended up in the belly of the whale. So once he was spit upon the land by the whale, he still had to go to Nineveh.  (See the book of Jonah for more specific details.)Can you imagine what Jonah must have felt, when after all he had been through, he still had to do what God wanted? And then to make matters worse for Jonah, he thought for sure once he delivered the message from God, God would destroy the evil people, but he showed compassion and Jonah was then acting as if he knew what was better, than God.

Jesus knows every battle we face, and he uses the right people at the right time, to offer hope and encouragement, to answer prayers, and by us being obedient to His call, we further His Kingdom here on Earth.  It’s not for us to question why me Lord? It’s for us to trust the Holy Spirit that lives in the hearts of all believers and to follow his prompting. He will provide what we need at just the right time.  So, the question remains, are you ready?

I pray daily that when God puts something on my heart to write that I share what he wants me to share and that it touches just one life. One person can create a ripple effect, it only takes one to listen and reach out.

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John 14:26 New Living Translation (NLT)

26 But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.

Stay in the Word, pray to God, seek His Will and trust your heart.

Many blessings to you!

Much love,

Carlene

 

 

Times of Adjustment

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All of us face changes in our lives at some point. Some may be welcome changes and others may not be, but the one thing that is true is that God is already there ahead of us, preparing a way for us to walk into that change.

As  I walk out this new journey I am on, some days are harder to get through than others. I have lived with Fibromyalgia for over 10 years, but until recently, I was able to push through the pain and suffering and keep going, even when my body told me it was time to stop.

In April, however, I decided to retire early because along with the Fibro, I have other conditions that combined together, made it a struggle daily to just put one foot in front of the other.  There are days like today, that it has been all I can do to hold the tears at bay.  My emotions are all over the place. I remember how much I used to be able to do and I didn’t need a cane and/or walker to get around.  Now, even walking in my own home is somewhat difficult.

I know I am not the only one that suffers with a chronic painful illness that is next to impossible to diagnose and just as hard for people to understand.  Both times my children were born, the pain was great, but I would rather go through that kind of pain again and again, because it is only temporary and will soon subside and you can go back to normal again.

My sleep patterns are way off the charts. When I was working, I was up very early and went to bed late in the evening. Now that I am not working outside of the home, I have insomnia and can’t go right to sleep and then struggle to become upright during the day. When I am having a good day, I can tolerate the pain.  I have tolerated it for years. I do not take pain meds at this time because I want to be able to be with it as long as I can. I know there are some that suffer from this disorder that need it and that’s okay.  But I am such a lightweight, that when it comes to medications for pain relief, two extra strength over the counter pills usually knock me out.

I think what is so difficult is the symptoms vary in degree and severity from day to day. So, no two days are alike.  It’s hard to explain to your grandchildren, why you can’t take them to the park or do fun things anymore.  That has been on the decline for some time now. We find other ways to have fun grandma and me time, but it’s not the same.

A friend once suggested to me that being diagnosed with a Chronic Lifelong Illness, is somewhat like going through grief.  She was and is right.  I remember all the things I used to be able to do and now they are a distant memory.  Even doing dishes and cooking, are a chore because I can’t stand for any great length of time or my legs and back almost give out from the pain associated with the degenerative disc disease and arthritis in my lower spine area.

I find joy in writing and reading and spending time with God and learning His Word and sharing Jesus with anyone that asks.  I know God has great plans for me. I am just not sure where to start with these plans. It’s easy to write on topics you are familiar with or have a passion about, but how do you get ideas to write on topics you could care less about or have no idea?  So, I am slowly adjusting to this new call God has placed on my life.

Blogging helps me to see that even though it may be tough, I can make it. I see and read all the challenges that people face daily and I try to remember that no matter what I am going through, I can comfort others because I may know how they feel and I can glorify God in the process.

And last but not least today, I know that God will use what I am going through for His purpose.  Jesus said when he came, that we would face suffering and trials, but to trust in Him and with His strength, we could accomplish anything.

Blessings to you, may you still hear God speaking to your heart. And remember, any mess in your life, Jesus can take that mess and turn it into a message of hope and victory.

God loves you and He is always just a prayer away.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Work in Progress

I have said this to many people in the past, and funny how now I am hearing my own words, echoing in my mind. God isn’t finished with you yet. He still has work for you to do. images

So, as I sit here reflecting over the decisions I have made in the last month, I realize that we are all a “work in progress” daily as we walk with the Lord. He doesn’t want us to stay in one place for the rest of our lives or one position or even one church.

I attended a Vineyard church for over 8 years and thought I would never leave there. I loved it there. Loved the people, felt the presence of God and loved all the outreach and encouraging ministries there were to show God’s love in a practical way.  They were my family.  And they are still part of my family, but God had other plans for me.

At the end of my journey with the Vineyard family, I felt a tug on my heart to leave there and go to another local church, for which I have been in attendance for over a year and a half now. It wasn’t easy. It was quite painful to say goodbye. But, God equips us in many ways and has many tools to watch us grow, so we can serve Him better in advancing His Kingdom-Earth as it is in Heaven Kingdom.

Sometime’s God moves us to help us grow, sometimes he moves us to help others grow, but in the grand scheme of things, He knows so much better than we could ever hope or imagine. Our minds can’t comprehend all of his detailed plans, that’s why we get just what we need to go and grow.

I was posed the question at our Women’s Ministry Life Group (as well as other women) was there ever a time in your life when God was pruning you to be the person he chose you to be and was it painful or how did it grow you?

So, I shared this testimony with them and now I will share it with you.

About 8 or 9 years ago, while I was at work on the sales floor of the store I worked in and I was counting product to make sure the inventory counts were correct and checking pricing to make sure there were no errors, a customer turns and enters the aisle where I am working. I stood up, and asked her if there was anything I could help her with. She shakes her head no and thanks me. So, I stoop back down to the lower shelf and start recounting the items, but I notice she is still standing there, looking sad and forlorn and then I hear God saying you need to pray for her.  Now, as luck would have it, at that time, I was terrified of saying prayers out loud.  I know it sounds silly. But I was great at praying for someone in a letter, email or text message, but actually praying aloud scared me something fierce. So, I just kept counting and I kept feeling the urging to pray for her. I know that I argued  silently with the Lord, saying things like, really?? You want me to pray for her? You know this makes me really uncomfortable Lord???Why can’t someone else do it?? Why me??? But the more I kept thinking this way, the stronger the sense came that I needed to do it.

So, as I stood up, I asked God to give me the words to speak with this woman again. (This all took about 30-60 seconds to argue with God and lose.)

She was still standing there, as if she was waiting on something or possibly someone. Again, I said are you sure there isn’t anything I can do for you? I said my name is Carlene, what’s your name, if I might ask? She told me her name was Robin and then the tears started flowing and this is what she said.

“I have a brain tumor. My doctor has told me without the surgery I will die for sure. And with the surgery, there is a 50-50 chance they will get it all. I believe in Jesus. My family doesn’t.  They think that I should not do the surgery and just stay with them for the time I have left. I am so afraid right now. I have prayed and I feel like this is what I am supposed to do, but I just don’t know. “And the tears kept flowing.

I said to her, “Robin would it be okay if I prayed for you?” She said, “yes, that would be okay.” I said, “now, can I pray for you here right now?” She was overwhelmed with joy and said yes, please.  I asked God to give me the words and I asked her out loud if I could place my hand on her shoulder and pray. With her permission, I prayed. I have no idea what i said, I let the Holy Spirit guide my words. When I finished, she hugged me and thanked me and I told her she was welcome. Then the most astonishing thing happened, she said,”today as I was leaving my home to get the things I needed, I asked God to give me a sign that He was in control and that if I went through with this surgery,everything would be okay; and now I know without a doubt, I am having the surgery. Maybe, my family will finally believe in Jesus!”

And then, I cried. We hugged and she went on with her shopping and I just stood there-in awe and amazement that God had used me to increase her faith in Him and his promises.

Well, I must say that I wasn’t much good for working my normal job anymore that day. I went to my office and shared with my co-worker, what had just happened and I was so overwhelmed with joy and I can’t even begin to describe the emotions I was experiencing, just wow!

Had I not listened to the prompting to pray for her, would He have found someone that was willing to be obedient to His calling for Robin? And I would have missed out on the huge blessing it was for me to pray for her.

That day changed my life. I learned that we can stay stuck in our comfort zones or we can learn to experience what God has for us by simply trusting that His Will is so much better than we can imagine.

Fast forward 9 years, and I am without employment as I sit here and write this out. My choice, by the leading of God.  When  you have been employed somewhere for over 16 years, but know that it is time to leave for many reasons-mainly major health issues, the part of you that used to worry about making ends meet realizes that if changes are not  made you might meet your end, you start asking God what is the next step? What is His Will for your life? I know we all stay in jobs, because we have bills and responsibilities and I have always strongly believed in taking care of those priorities and still do, but when God gave me the peace I needed to leave, it was like nothing I could explain. If you don’t live with the Peace of God in  your heart, it’s hard to explain. But you just know, He has it all worked out and you just trust Him. That’s what I am doing now and where I am at now.

God has placed a call on my heart to share His story of love and grace. I am now in the final draft stage of a book that was written with His input. Am I worried that no one will like it? No, not really. I know it has been a blessing to me and the few friends I have shared it with and I know God is happy with it. Would I love to become an author that shares His Word and his promises? Well, I never really gave it much thought until God placed this on my heart. I guess I would have to say yes. I love sharing my testimonies with others. When the book is complete, I will share a link on here for anyone that is interested in grabbing a copy.

The best thing I can say now, is listen to what God is telling you. Even if you think, there is no way, Lord. No way, I can do this. Remember this – you can do ALL things through Jesus Christ, He is your strength!

God loves you and so do I! May your days be filled with blessings and may your cup overflow with love!

Until next time,

Carlene

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It Is Done

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As I shared with my readers earlier in the month, big changes were happening in my life.  So, now I am confident I can share these changes with you.

I have worked for a great company over the last 16 years and truly imagined that I would still be at that company when I reached official retirement age(which is still quite a way off).  After struggling with several medical issues that cause my body great pain and difficult in walking and moving, I started praying earnestly asking the Lord to lead me and guide me in making the decision to stay or leave.

I know that I made the right decision to resign earlier than planned.  I have HIS peace and for the first time realize that having a paycheck isn’t all there is to life. I realize we all have bills to pay and yes, we need money to survive; but when you make budget cuts and rearrange your budget, you can do it. Am I scared? I can confidently say I have no fear. Which if you knew me at all and how I have always operated, you would understand my reluctance – at first – in understanding what God was telling me to do. I have never in all my life left a place of employment, without having something lined up to go to next.

I have always been very practical in that way.  Always have had a backup plan; not this. time.

This time, I am trusting God to lead me where He wants me to go. I believe He is calling me into using my gifts of words to minister to others.  So, with that being said, I am currently working on a book to encourage others and offer hope. I will continue to write this blog, not just to share Jesus with others, but because I feel this is a small part of His plan for me.

The end of this week will signify the end of one long chapter in my life and the beginning of a new one. As always, I can’t wait to see where God leads me!

May you be blessed and know the God Loves You–right where you are! Much love,

Carlene

 

 

 

 

Stepping out in Faith

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Soon, I will be taking the biggest step of faith in my life. I have been in prayer the last several months trying to decide what is best for me in my life. Seeking God and His infinite wisdom and asking for His peace that only He can give has been a journey of sleepless nights and daytime struggles. As I write this, the peace that has permeated my soul and heart, I know I am doing what God thinks is best for me.

I have always believed that everything happens for a reason.  Always. I know God has the best plans for me.  I know that every door that has ever opened or closed was because God made it happen.

Proverbs 3:5 New Living Translation (NLT)

Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
    do not depend on your own understanding.

I am so thankful this verse is in His Word. If I only do things that make sense to me, and don’t walk in obedience, than I am not applying the Word to my life and not trusting Jesus.

I am reminded that many times, when I have been called to walk in obedience and step out in faith, that there has been discomfort and wariness. I’ve even asked God, are you sure? Which is totally ridiculous because He doesn’t make mistakes. Not one. I know that during these many times in my life, when I just couldn’t possibly see with my eyes that everything would be okay and work out; that when I decided to take that step of faith onto the ledge of the unknown , He blessed me in so many ways, that I could never have imagined it would turn out in the ways it did. Do you ever feel that way-that your plan has so many obstacles-and God laughs-and says, “trust me” or “why do you doubt that I don’t have your best interests at heart”? I used to think like that. Haven’t we all? God is the potter and I am the clay.

Isaiah 64:8 New Living Translation (NLT)

And yet, O Lord, you are our Father.
    We are the clay, and you are the potter.
    We all are formed by your hand.

Trust when you hear that small voice – from our Great God. That is why he gave us an advocate, The Holy Spirit, to be with us, to guide us on this amazing journey we call life.

As a daughter of God, I am reminded when I do something outside of His Will, the sadness that seeps into my heart and the conviction I feel, I know I am walking outside of His Will for my life. When I hear Him correctly and know through many confirmations, that I am walking in His Will, I have a Peace that cannot be explained any other way that the Peace of God.

And as this new chapter of my life (as I choose to look at) begins to be laid before me, there is a tiny bit of uncertainty as to where I am heading and what I will be doing, but there is great Peace in knowing that I am doing what He is calling me to do. Right now, I am hearing “trust me with everything”,”lean on me”, “let go of things that cause you pain” and ” trust me, I’ve got so much more for you than you can possibly fathom.”  When I, myself know the more, than I will share it with my faithful readers. God always places the right people in my life at the right times and they always know the right things to say~it never ceases to amaze me how much God loves me.

Jeremiah 17:7 New Living Translation (NLT)

“But blessed are those who trust in the Lord
    and have made the Lord their hope and confidence.

God loves you too! If you’re in the crux of making a decision that you can’t seem to find a way around. That the timing isn’t right, or you have fears about stepping out in faith and trusting God, because you just can’t see a way. Trust Him. He has great plans for all of us!

Blessings,

Carlene