Let The Children Come

jesus and children

Matthew 19:14  New Living Translation (NLT)
14 But Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.”

 

This morning when I awoke to the chaos of our home, with a toddler that has his own agenda, I wanted to pull the covers back over my head and go back to sleep.  It would have been so simple, but then I would have missed out on the blessing Jesus had in store for me today.

I have always been mindful that the Peace I carry in my soul comes from God and I also know that the enemy of our souls will do anything to destroy that Peace. The devil can’t stand it when we choose to live out our Faith in our everyday lives because when we choose to trust the Lord and everything He has for us, the devil loses. And one thing that satan is really good at is making ‘mountains out of molehills’ and replacing our joy, with fear and doubt. Stealing our peace and creating chaos and he will do whatever he can to tear down our walls of Faith and Hope and crush our spirits if we don’t keep our eyes on Jesus. If we take our focus off of Jesus and all the promises of blessed assurance that He is and He will forever be for us and never against us, it’s easy to get into the wrong mindset.

So back to my story…when I awoke, I wasn’t feeling my very best. I was feeling a little poorly. A headache. And a toddler into everything and not wanting to listen to simple instructions. This toddler does have autism, but I also knew he did understand what no meant in the context it was being used and I was already thinking, we just won’t go to church today. I’ll watch the live feed of the sermon and that will just be easier. That’s what the enemy wanted me to think and I almost fell for it. Almost.

This toddler is my grandson and he LOVES going to church. On days when we drive by the church, he wants to go in, even if it’s clothed in darkness. He is so pure and innocent, and for all I know, maybe HE does understand all about Jesus, but can’t express it. Whatever the reason, he has, to want to be there, I should never squash that because I am not “feeling it” or wanting to deal with the struggle of taking him (he’s a runner and very strong).  As I waffled back and forth, deciding whether to go or stay, since my husband was out of town and that meant me taking him alone, and thinking of all the ways it could go, he kept tugging at my sweater, asking “chuch?” and I thought about promising him the night before that we would be going to church today. After a few more tugs and simple one-word questions, we got our coats on, held his hand tightly, loaded him into our vehicle and off we went….to church.  And please, understand, I also love going to church and being there, worshipping and adoring Jesus, sensing the closeness I feel of His presence, but the struggle with our grandson, sometime’s I give up because I am weary of the struggles.

As we rounded the corner, and the building came into view, he squealed with delight! I knew bringing him was the right decision, but I had no idea how right of a decision it was.

Once he was checked in to the children’s ministry area, I headed to the sanctuary, stopping to chat with other members and grabbing a cup of coffee to sip and enjoy the peace that I always find when I sit and wait for the service to start. Midway, during the Worship Set, as we sang songs to Jesus, the tears started spilling from my eyes, and I couldn’t stop them, and in that moment, I knew Jesus was there, holding me and reminding me of the verse above.  The image of letting the children come, do not stop them and in a profound moment, do not let satan stop you from coming to spend time with me. Here or anywhere else.

God knew that I needed to be amongst fellow believers and He knew that I needed to be right there, at that precise moment, when I could let my guard down. That I could sit and weep in His presence and He would hold me tight and let me know that no matter what I face in my daily life He is with me. He gives all of us The Holy Spirit to guide us, and help us in this thing we call life.

For several weeks, I’ve been battling to keep that at the forefront of my life and I am ashamed to say that for the first time in my life, ever, my unshakeable faith was a little shaky.  Not shaky in the sense that God was with me, but that I was doubting what He had placed upon my heart to do with my life.

I have always believed and known that the gifts he has blessed me with ~ encouraging others, lifting them up and sharing His Word and stories of how He has brought me to where I am, have been part of my Purpose. But in the last six months, I have felt a tug to do several other things in my life, living into His purpose for my life,  and I have been scared. Scared I would fail and fall flat on my face. That in, not fulfilling His plans for my life, I would let Him down and in living with that fear, I have been irritable, a little bit grumpier and “short” with others.  Today, though, I was reminded through the eyes of a toddler that God loves me and God will never give me desires without already going before me and giving me everything I need to accomplish them.

God does not give us a spirit of fear or timidity (shyness, being timid). He expects us to BE BOLD. To pursue those dreams and desires with a boldness only He can give. So, I am going to do my best to remember that the desires He has placed upon my heart are there to fulfill His purposes. I may not know or understand them fully, but I am to Trust Him and walk in obedience. And I am His child. I can approach the Throne and know that without a doubt, no matter whether I do something that stretches me beyond what is comfortable to me, HE WILL give me everything I need to accomplish the task. He will never set me up to fail.

And I realized as I was leaving the church building today, that I don’t have to go to a building to experience Jesus. He is with me when I am on my knees, cleaning the bathroom, or doing laundry. He walks right beside me when I am at the store picking up shopping items on a list. He is with me when a toddler is on what seems like “my last nerve” saying, it’s okay. You’re going to be okay because I’ve got you. I am not going anywhere. I will never leave you, never abandon you. No matter how small or big your need is to feel love and accepted, I am here. ALWAYS. Even til the end of the ages. I AM.

I pray that this will encourage you when satan tries to defeat you and steal your peace and joy. Peace and Joy from God is a gift. Embrace it. Live it. Don’t run from it. Be assured that whatever you are going through in this moment, He is right there with you, holding you and loving you. You are His child. At the end of the day, it isn’t about anything or anyone, except Jesus. He truly is enough.

May you know how much Jesus Loves You~right where you are. Blessings to all~Carlene

 

 

 

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Sharing Hope

Today was such a great day for me, because not only did I get to share my love of Jesus with a good friend, but I also was able to offer hope and encouragement, which is the one thing I know God has called me to do. It’s as much a part me as breathing is to other people. Faithhopelove

And God will use whatever tools are at His disposable to get His message out about forgiveness, grace, loving others and being a light in this dark world we live in. And, when I need to be reminded of the blessings I have in my life, which sometime’s, I take for granted He gently reminds me to look at the big picture-His picture.

I had plans to meet an old friend for lunch, to catch up with one another and to ultimately answer her questions about these amazing plant-based supplements that I had been taking and was seeing such powerful, amazing results from.

I did get to share with her how the chronic pain and fatigue that I have experienced for the better part of the last 10 years, was gone. Is gone. I did get to share with her how I don’t experience joint pain anymore. I was elated to tell her that not only had I dropped a size in my pants and was slimming down and had this unimaginable sustained energy all day long, but for the first time in years, I could focus and concentrate and my thinking was sharper.  And I owed it all to God for orchestrating the amazing gift of health and healing through the use of these supplements.

As I shared all this with her, I realized that the same hope that my friend shared with me, I was sharing with her. Being able to offer someone hope, when they are feeling so poorly and can’t imagine that there is anything that can make them feel alive again, alive in the sense that you don’t have to be bedridden or live on your couch or do the very bare minimum in your life, that’s huge. I know, because I was there. And that really isn’t living. You merely exist. You cry behind closed doors. You put a smile on your face and you “fake” it. Until you can’t fake it anymore.  You seek help from your doctor, specialists, diets, alternative therapies, you name it-you try it and then one day, you decide enough is enough. It is what it is. I just have to learn to live with it. Until there is a cure or a proven treatment, I’m done. Done being a guinea pig.  You modify the way you do everything. And every single day, you pray. You ask God, “Why?” and sometime’s you don’t know why, but you love God and you Trust Him. Because you know His Plan is always better. And that is where I was six months ago. I was done. I would live with what was going on in my body and I would trust God for the outcome.

Now, remember, His Plans are always best. When my friend suggested that I try these supplements, I must admit, I rolled my eyes and I laughed inwardly.  Why in the world, would “vitamins” help me when nothing else had? But, and here’s the big thing, I knew that God played role in me trying them. I knew that my friend wouldn’t just suggest something if she didn’t wholeheartedly believe that was what God was telling her to share with me. And I prayed about it. And there was peace. Peace only He can give.  So, I said, ok, let’s try them.  And not only did I try them, I started seeing results within the first three weeks (this isn’t the case for everyone-but God knew I needed the reassurance that I was on the right path) and by eight weeks, I was pinching myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming and by 12 weeks, I was feeling the best I had felt in 10 years (520 weeks)!

And then I started thinking about all the things I was able to do that would seem simple to other people. For instance, going out to lunch to meet a friend. I wouldn’t have even considered that 6 months ago. By the time I would have woken up, showered, dressed and made it downstairs, my energy would have been gone. And I would have had to cancel or realistically, I wouldn’t have even set up a date for lunch for fear I would have had to cancel once again.  And if I was having a good day, back then, and I actually made it to our meeting place, sitting for over 3 hours, laughing, talking, sharing our faith with one another, the pain of sitting for that long would have definitely been something I paid for with flare-ups and agony for weeks to come.

So, yes, I am very thankful that I chose to try these supplements and I will never be without them. I am so very thankful that my friend was obedient in sharing them with me and listening to the Lord. plexus journey

I share my story because I know there are other people, much like my friend today, that have struggled with many health issues that nothing seems to help and like me, she is sick and tired of being sick and tired. I shared my story with her and offered her hope and healing her body from the inside out. We all have root issues that need to be addressed, instead of putting “band-aids” on the problem. And getting to the root of the issues is what these amazing plant-based supplements do. They focus on gut health and once your gut is healed and your body is balanced, other things fall into place. Is it a “magic pill”, nope. Everyone’s story is different. Everyone’s journey is different. It isn’t a quick fix. But they do work. And I will continue to share my story with anyone and everyone because that’s what God is leading me to do.

And in the midst of our super long lunch date, we talked about our faith and how God stretches us and grows us and pulls us out of our nice, cozy comfort zones. First thing, is we have to be willing. It’s easy to say, I am a follower of Jesus Christ. It’s another thing to truly follow Him and His leading. After walking with Him, for over 40 years now, I still falter more times than I care to admit; I struggle with some things that I know He wants me to do and yes, I even argue with Him. I never win. It usually just prolongs things to where I have to ask for His forgiveness and go and do it. Do it scared sometimes. But the blessings that I get, the amazing love that I witness, because I chose to listen to our Heavenly Father far outweighs the fear. Love casts out fear.

I was reminded today, that the enemy will do whatever he thinks is necessary to spur doubt in our minds and hearts. He definitely does not like it when believers gather and profess the love of Jesus and His unfailing mercy and grace. Light always penetrates the darkness. And as long as I have breath, I will share Jesus’ story of redemption, hope, and grace.

May you know how much Jesus Christ loves you ~ right where you are, right now. He is always available to you.

Many blessings~Carlene

 

 

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!

 

Coat of Love

1 Corinthians 13:4-7New Living Translation (NLT)

4 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

How many times have you read this passage in the Holy Bible? How many times have you heard this portion in marriage ceremonies? I have heard it, and read it hundreds of times. It is one part of 1 Corinthians 13 that I really like. It helps me remember how I should be toward others. Do you love like this? Do you love like God does? Continue reading “Coat of Love”

Let’s Be Real

Hello, dear friends! I’ve been away for a while now. I would love to say that I have just been so busy that I didn’t have the time to write. That would not be accurate or honest; anyone that knows me knows how much I value honesty.

So, I am coming clean with you. I’ve been suffering from some mild depression for a while now and instead of taking my own advice and seeking the counsel of others and pressing into the Lord, I’ve just been trying to cope with it any way I knew how. Food has become a comfort to me in such a way that I have managed to gain a significant amount of weight and have some tough decisions to make.

There are some medical reasons for the weight gain, but I can’t say it’s all due to hypothyroidism. I could infer it is because of my quitting smoking, and that’s the reason for the excessive weight gain. The truth is that since I no longer work, and I am home all the time now, food is always accessible. And food choices aren’t always the best.

I’ve always battled my weight, ever since adolescence. I have never been this heavy in my life and in order to be at a healthy weight, I need to lose over 250 pounds. It really is overwhelming and depressing and this is the mindset I need to get rid of. 1398614719289

I know that I can work to eat healthier and slowly lose the weight or I can have surgery that my doctors have recommended. Either way, it will be a slow process and I am not entirely sold on the weight loss surgery.  Since I am considered to be Morbidly Obese with a BMI of over 61, I am a high-risk surgery patient already.

Hearing the words morbidly obese puts it all into perspective. Morbid meaning unhealthy and could lead to death. Truly a scary thought! I am not ready to die because I weigh too much. I need to start moving and doing. I can give anyone a pep talk, but giving myself pep talks never seem to have much of an effect.

I am blessed to have a friend that is nutritionally wise and has agreed to help me formulate a plan for me. She has offered several times over the past couple of years, and I know now is the time to take her up on the offer. And I also am aware that I need to be “all in” or “nothing”.

Addictions are hard to beat. It took me 30+ years to quit smoking. And I have to remind myself daily that I do feel better now that I don’t light up. That doesn’t mean that I don’t crave a cigarette from time to time or when I smell smoke from a passerby that I don’t want to inhale it; because that would be a lie. But I know for a fact that if I was still smoking, I would need more than weight loss surgery to make me healthier.

I never thought of food being addictive until now. The truth is I love to eat. And now that I don’t smoke, so many foods taste really good and I love flavors. Now I have to learn to eat healthy for life. Not a diet, but a lifestyle change.

I have felt spiritually attacked on many levels in my life also. Satan knows when we are down and he knows exactly what will get to us and uses that to bring us down and become discouraged. And if we don’t recognize that, we can spiral out of control. It can be a slippery slope for sure.

In John 10:10 the Bible tells us that the enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy, but Jesus came so we could have life abundantly. In

In 1Peter 5:8, we are told to be self-controlled and alert because the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

I have always been able to hold onto the Joy in my heart placed there by the Savior. I don’t know what happened or how it happened so fast; I realized that I was running on empty and needed serious refueling. My love languages are quality time and touch. I love spending time with people and giving and getting hugs.  Being in the confines of the four walls of our home, not being around others, was truly having a depressive effect on me; even though I have always been the type of person that has no desire to go “out”. I would much rather stay home with a good book.

I have heard versions of the Serenity Prayer but never seen this one until recently.
Serenity Prayer
– Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971)

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
forever in the next.
Amen.

Read more at BeliefNet

So, in accordance with that prayer, I need to change what needs changing to help me live a longer and fuller life, accept what I cannot change and be wise to know the difference. I need to remember to live one day at a time, enjoying each moment I am given and realize that the hardships that I go through help grow me and teach me to rely on the peace of the Father. I need to surrender to the Lord. I am blessed.

In Proverbs 3:5 the Bible tells me that I am not to lean on my own understanding but to trust in the Lord and he will take care of me and make a straight path for me.

In John 14:27 the Bible tells me that Jesus leaves me peace, that only He can give. I am not to let my heart become troubled or afraid.

I know that every single day I must trust in the Lord, for EVERYTHING. He gave me life and he came to earth as a man so he could die for me and I could live forever with Him in eternity. While I am here in my temporary home, I need to honor the Lord with my temple. This temple needs a good shaking and cleaning. I’ve let it go for way too long!

May I encourage you today that whatever you are in the midst of, know Jesus is there with you. He is your mighty King and creator. He loves you. Trust in Him.

Blessings to all~Carlene

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.

travelchange

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