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BE GRATEFUL

Each one of us has choices we make every single day, consciously and unconsciously, how we respond to these choices, says a lot about each one of us.

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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!

 

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

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

 

 

 

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.

ripple

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

 

 

Relying on Jesus

Faithhopelove.png

Faith is believing when your eyes cannot see the outcome.  A pastor friend of mine, always said Faith is spelled R-I-S-K. And he is right. In order for us to walk out our faith and live it daily, we have to be willing to take risks and trust in God. In our human nature, taking risks can be scary, but in our Christian walk with the Lord, Faith is the number one belief we live out everyday.

The greatest gift in the world was given to you and me, simply because God loves us enough that he wants to spend eternity with you and me; that’s why he sent Jesus.  And we can’t get to God in Heaven without accepting Jesus as our Lord and Savior.  It doesn’t matter how much money you make or how many offerings you place in the tithe envelopes at church or if you do all the good in the world, if you fail to accept Jesus, then you can’t get in to Heaven. God sees us at our worst and  yet he still loves us and wants us to come back to him. He wants to be the one we turn to when we are broken, lonely, feeling lost. He is willing to give us eternal life once we repent of our sins, ask for forgiveness and be a light to the world and spread his message to all the nations.  All we have to do is share His story with others and lead them to a life changing relationship with his Son, Jesus Christ.

We need to put our hope in the Lord and his Word. The lessons in the Bible and the promises made over 2000 years ago, are still just as true today.  The Bible is our instruction book for life.

Look to God’s instructions and teachings! People who contradict his word are completely in the dark. Isaiah 8:20

The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the word of our God stands forever. Isaiah 40:1

But those who obey God’s word truly show how completely they love him.  That is how we know we are living in him. 1 John 2:5

Thanks for stopping by, Jesus Loves you! Blessings to all!

Do you have a favorite verse in the Bible and would you like to share it? Please do so.