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Count it ALL Joy!

Greetings my precious friends. Thank you all so much for your thoughts and prayers. The last few days have been very difficult but the Lord has given us the strength we have needed to continue down the path He has laid before us.

I am sitting in the ICU of a local hospital as I type. My Memaw has been here since very early Sunday morning. After hearing the news of the death of her husband of 58 years, her body was overcome with grief. There are a number of things that we have dealt with, too many to name, but we are seeing improvements each day and are trusting in the Lord for His plan to be carried out.

It's during times like these that we are tempted to ask "Why?", tempted to get angry, tempted to blame God, but God's plan and timing are perfect. His ways are higher than ours and His plan is to strengthen His children. I had some time to myself this morning to reflect on these truths as I cleaned my Pawpaw and Memaw's house.

Over the past few months I have been preparing to teach a Bible study on the book of James; this morning the Lord showed me why. God showed me that my digging into the book of James was not so much for the teaching of it to others, but it was to prepare my heart for what was coming my way. In James chapter 1 verses 2-4 James says the following, "My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing."

If you look at the definition of "trial" in the Greek language this is what you will find: this word connotes trouble, or something that breaks the pattern of peace, comfort, joy, and happiness in someones life. I think it would be fair to say that my family is in the midst of a trial right now- speaking from the side of human nature the pattern of peace, comfort, joy and happiness have been interrupted. Part of me has been tempted to question "why?"- "why now?", "why this way?"

God reminded me this morning, that my response was not to question, or to blame, or to get angry, but to rejoice and to count it ALL joy, because through this time He was going to increase my faith in Him and strengthen our relationship. There have been several things that I have specifically prayed in faith for over the past few days, and I've seen the Lord answer those prayers. God has bestowed His grace, mercy, strength, and comfort upon us all and I know that He isn't finished yet. He is at work in my heart and in the hearts of others. He is developing perseverance and maturity in the hearts of His children and I believe His is drawing others to Himself so that they are able to have that first time face-to-face encounter with the All-Powerful, Almighty God of the universe.

My God is at work and I am excited to see His plans completed. Yes my heart aches, but He is the lifter of my head and from Him comes help and comfort.

I would ask that you continue to lift us up in your prayers. Tomorrow we will be having visitation at the funeral home. Please pray for strength, comfort, and a peace that passes all understanding. Pray that the love of Jesus will be shared and souls will be saved. I love you all!

"I lift up my eyes to the hills— where does my help
come from? My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth."
Psalm 121:1-2, NIV


Showers of Grace & Mercy

Hello my sweet friends. Life has found me very busy lately and I've missed chatting with you all. I am passing through quickly tonight as I am preparing to travel to Florida. My Pawpaw went to be with Jesus tonight. I can imagine he is dancing on the streets of gold right now as he praises His Maker.

My mom said so beautifully last night as she was herself preparing to leave ahead of us- "We will see what awaits and pray God's grace and mercy spare him what could come to him in the future." God rained down grace and mercy tonight as He spared my Pawpaw much suffering that could have come from the disease that plagued his body. Although our hearts are aching right now, we are rejoicing that his body is healed and made whole.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I WILL fear NO evil, because the Good Shepherd has gone before me and prepared the way.

Please pray for my family this week. Many will come through the doors of my grandparents home who do not know Jesus. Pray that we are able to share Jesus with them. Pray that we are able to show each and every person who comes our way that there is hope- hope of everlasting life through Jesus Christ. Pray for those who will be traveling. Pray for God's love to fill that home and comfort all who are hurting.

Thank you sweet friends. I love you all so much and thank God for each of you.


Safe in his Savior's Hands

God has answered the prayers of His people- Baby Gabe is no longer suffering or hurting. Tonight he is safely in the hands of the Great Physician, Jehovah-Rapha. Although Gabe's life was brief, God has used him in awesome ways. Please be in prayer for Garrett and Traci, Gabe's mommy and daddy, as they grieve the loss of this precious baby. Thank you all SO MUCH for praying with me over the last few weeks for my sweet friends. I ask that you continue to lift them to the throne of grace. Here is a message from their pastor on behalf of Garrett and Traci.

By the thousands, people have prayed for Gabe. The saints of God have interceded for his little life and prayed for him when he could not pray for himself. We have sensed the mercies of God and the presence of God's Spirit in these difficult days.

God's ways are mysterious and we can not explain all that He does. We live in a fallen world but our hope is in our Lord who promised us victory over death, hell and the grave. As Charles Spurgeon said, "When you cant trace God's hand, trust His heart." We know that Gabe is in the hands of our loving Heavenly Father who has welcomed our son into his eternal home.

We gave Gabe to God before he was ever born. Every day of his life belonged to our loving Lord. His life has been a witness to many in the hospital, and around the country.

God has seen us through these days. He sustained Gabe when many gave up hope. We believe God has and had a purpose for his short life. His precious life marked us as a family, as friends and as a church.

One little life reminded us that most of what we worry and fret about does not matter. What matters is to love God and love others. At Thanksgiving, we celebrated his birth. As we look to Christmas, we celebrate the birth of our Lord who gives us hope that we will see Gabe again in heaven. We can't wait to see our little boy running down the streets of gold. That is God's promise and that is our hope. This is not goodbye -- this is, Gabe, son, we'll see you again.

We will celebrate the life of our son Gabe on Monday, December 22nd at 1pm in the chapel at Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Georgia.

The service will be in the chapel and overflow will be in the Worship Center. The graveside service is immediate family only.

Pastor Michael Catt on behalf of Garrett and Traci


Update on Baby Gabe

From Gabe's mommy, Traci.

Good afternoon ya'll. Praising the Lord for a wonderful night for Gabe.

A quick update...a sweet lady at the hospital is letting me borrow her computer so I am going to try and make this quick but thorough enough so that you all can be praying specifically. I have always heard that specific prayers get specific answers.

Mommy read Gabe his first book this morning. It is a story about a lamb named Joshua that was different but God had a special plan for his life. It was a Christmas story. I think he enjoyed the book. The NICU has a bookshelf that the March of Dimes provides for families.

Last night we were introduced to a sweet family who lives not to far from here and we were able to get a few hours of sleep at their home since it is so close by the hospital. What a blessing they are.

Gabe's incision site looks good today from his surgery yesterday. The stoma seems to be functioning well and the left one is even producing some stool. Please pray for this area not to become infected as it's pretty common for it to do.

This morining they took him off the norcuron (chemical paralization) to see if they can get rid of some of the adema.

His blood pressures are in the 30s this morning. Please keep praying for them to stay in the 30s and 40s. Hhis heart rate is a little higher than we'd like, please pray for it to settle down. Please pray for him to be able to urinate (this is a biggie). Pray for increase in his oxygen sat levels. He's been in the 80-85 range and we'd like to see it higher, like in the 90s. (This is the number that dropped so low yesterday to like 49). It was a true miracle to see those numbers increase yesterday. Praise the Lord his blood gases are looking well; please pray this continues. His lung xray even looked better today. Keep praying that he continues to recover from his surgery and gets bigger and stronger. Pray that God will continue to place that spirit of fight in our little Gabe that makes him oh so tough. He's been through so much but we know that God's holding him right in the palm of his hand.

Thanks so much for praying for Gabe. My appt is later today for my CT scan we did some bloodwork this morning. The doctor's office here is amazing. They have been so good to accomodate me and welcome me. I am so grateful for the Lord placing us right where I need to be to.


Walking in the Light

Grab your Bible, notebook and pen, and a good cup of coffee and let's continue on in our study of 1 John 1.

“This is the message which we have heard from Him (Jesus) and declare to you,
that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.
If we say that we have fellowship with Him,
and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.
But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another,
and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.”
1 John 1:5-7, NKJV

The message that John and the other disciples of Christ preached came straight from their hearts, because Christ had spoken it directly to their hearts. It wasn’t something that they sat around the campfire and thought up own their own. The message they unashamedly proclaimed came from God (Galatians 1:12). What exactly is the message John was preaching?

~Read John 8:12.
Who did Jesus say He was?
What happens if we follow Him?
As we saw from our visit to the Garden of Eden, because of man’s disobedience to God, sin had entered the world and caused one’s fellowship with God to be broken. The only way for our fellowship with God to be restored was for Jesus Christ, the Light, to come to earth and show us our sin. This is the message John was preaching. It is the Gospel message. It is the message that God so desperately wants all of us to hear and believe in so that we can walk with Him and experience fullness of joy.

In Scripture, “light” and “darkness” are very common symbols. Intellectually, light refers to Biblical truth and knowledge, while darkness refers to dishonesty and foolishness. Morally, light refers to holiness and purity while darkness refers to sin or wrongdoing. Light represents Christ in His truth, wisdom, holiness, and perfection. Darkness represents Satan, and all of his demonic forces, in his lies, schemes, rebellion, evilness, and stupidity.

What is light? What does it do?

Let’s read the following Scriptures and note what each has to say about light.

* “For You will light my lamp; the LORD my God will enlighten my darkness.”
Psalm 18:28, NKJV
In this verse, darkness comes from the Hebrew word choshek, which means misery, destruction, death, ignorance, sorrow, wickedness. Because of our sinful nature, we live in misery. Nothing we do apart from God will matter in the end. We are full of evil because we are ignorant to the Truth. The result of this life would be death, eternal separation from God. God, because He is the source of all Light and loves us so much, sent His Son to earth to reveal to us the darkness that consumes us.

* “The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.” Psalm 19:8, NKJV
God’s Word is holy, it is pure, it is right. Reading and studying His Word, brings to light our sin. His Word shows us faults that we might never recognize on our own.

* “But the light will show what these things are really like. Light shows up everything…” Ephesians 5:13-14a, CEV
Here again, light shows everything. Nothing can be hidden when the lights are turned on.

* “I (Jesus) have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me (Jesus) should not abide in darkness.” John 12:46, NKJV
Jesus is the Light of the world. He was and is the only One who can rescue us from a heart that is darkened by sin. This was His very purpose for coming to earth. To follow Him, means that we will no longer live in bondage to sin, but we can live a life of freedom.

Spend some time right now jotting down your thoughts on each of these verses. Maybe one of them stood out to you for a particular reason; begin committing it to memory.
See you tomorrow as we continue on with what light is and what it does.


The Great Revelation, Part 4

At the close of our last look at 1 John, I left you with the following question: How could man’s relationship with God be restored after the fall of Adam and Eve? Today we are going to answer that question. Our study today will once again be interactive, so grab your Bible and a good cup of coffee and let's dig in.

How could man’s relationship with God be restored? There was only one way. Only through the life and death of Jesus Christ, God’s ultimate revelation of Himself to us, can we be brought back into fellowship with Him and receive eternal life (John 3:16).

Look back at 1 John 1:3b, “truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ”. This fellowship that John speaks of is koinonia. Koinonia is a Greek word meaning partnership, participation, benefaction: - (to) communicate (-ation), communion, (contri-), distribution, fellowship. When we are restored back to fellowship with God, we become partners with Him, we are allowed to participate in His work. We must be actively participating and communicating with Him in order for our relationship to be successful and beneficial and for our hearts to be filled with joy.

Joy is a happiness based on unchanging divine promises and eternal spiritual realities. It is the sense of well being experienced by one who knows all is well between himself and the Lord. Joy is not the result of favorable circumstances, and it even occurs when those circumstances are the most painful and severe. Joy is a gift from God. All of this goes back to purposefully spending time with the Lord in prayer and studying His Word everyday.

When we have true koinonia with God, it opens up the door for us to have true koinonia with other believers. Our relationship with Christ must be right before our relationships with others will be right. As Christians, we have all been called to a common goal. That goal is to lead others to Christ and to disciple them into a deeper relationship with Him (Matthew 28:18-20). Having true fellowship with God will result in true fellowship with other believers.

Read Psalm 119:97 & 119:147-148.

How is your partnership with God right at this very moment? Is it a one-way relationship? Are you an active participant? Are you spending time in His Word, meditating on His Truths?

Is everything right between you and God? Is your heart filled with joy? Is the joy of the Lord your strength?

“Do not sorrow, for the joy of the LORD is your strength."
Nehemiah 8:10b,

When people look at you, do they see joy or do they see bitterness, anger, and hate? Is your life bearing forth the fruit of the Spirit?

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace,
longsuffering, kindness, goodness,
faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.”
Galatians 5:22-23, NKJV
Spend time right now asking the Lord to give you a desire for His Word, a desire to know Him more. Thank Him for sending His Son to this sin scared world so that you can have a relationship with Him. Ask Him to fill your heart with joy even if your present circumstances might not be exactly what you desire.


Update on Baby Gabe

Update for this evening:

Gabe had another good day. They increased his oxygen intake, for surgery, up to 90% and dropped it down to 70% tonight and hope to continue to drop it even more this evening. They have also started to decrease his blood pressure medicine. Gabe is responding very well. Doctors are very pleased with him and the results thus far. Garrett & Traci still have a tough rode ahead, but we are hoping the now that the heart is functioning properly everything else will begin to heal as well.

Today I reflected over the events from the week and still sit in amazement at God's work. I tried to wrap my mind around what Traci must be going through (one mom to another) and couldn't. However, I did realize some of the things I took for granted with my son, has been a moment of rejoicing for Traci. Such as, on Monday, as the nurses were getting Gabe ready to be transported to Augusta, one of the nurses asked Traci if she had kissed Gabe. Traci politely said no and the nurse proceeded to uncover one of Gabe's little feet and told Traci to kiss the bottom of his foot.

Traci was very apprehensive and said no, but the nurse reassured her that it was okay. So Traci kissed Gabe's, sweet, tiny foot. What a blessing and powerful moment for Traci as a mother. Traci had not had the opportunity to kiss her son since he was born and I can not imagine that strong desire to love and kiss on my child and not be able to. I remember kissing my son for the first time and how great that was, but I don't remember the first time I kissed his foot, but for Traci, simply kissing the bottom of his foot was a huge milestone and probably an overwhelming amount of emotion.

The same nurse gave Traci a blanket Gabe had been wrapped in, so Traci could hold it during the ride and wrapped Gabe in another blanket that was filled with the smell and warmth of his mommy. The nurse was definitely one of God's angels brought to Traci at that moment to love and comfort a mother and son during an emotional and unsure moment.

Please continue to lift all of them up. Pray for Garrett and Traci to keep their strength up. Pray for Gabe's intestines to heal as they need to and pray for him to get stronger each day.
Aunt Melissa


Update from this morning:

Gabe had a good night...his heart rate and blood pressure is up just a little. Garrett & Traci have not seen the doctor this morning...they slept in this morning, due to complete exhaustion.
Mimi and Pops (Garrett's parents) are coming home today, but Grandad (Traci's dad) is staying there with them. He got in late last night.

Traci is doing better...she finally felt like eating last night and Mimi made her some potatoe soup and a sandwich.

Austin & I had a chance to speak with Garrett last night and he sounded great. He is so relieved the surgery went well. Most importantly he (and family) could not get over the outopouring of love the churches in Augusta have shown them. All of that would not have been possible without each of shared the story with everyone you know and through that God continues to open doors for them as they settle to make a home away from home for their little family.

THANK YOU! Our family has been so blessed by each of you...the love you share, the prayers and words of encouragement have left all of us in tears and in awe of your faith in God. You never lost hope and made sure Garrett & Traci didn't either.

I will never be able to find the words to express my gratitude to each of you. THANK YOU!!
Aunt Melissa
P.S. Uncle Austin has given Gabe his first nickname, appropriate.


Update from yesterday afternoon:

PRAISE THE is over and Gabe did AWESOME. The doctors repaired the valve and drained the fluid off the heart. Traditionally the numbers go down, but Gabe's went up. They have left in his chest tube, just as a precaution.

Thank you so much for all of your prayers and continued support. Garrett and Traci are so grateful for each of you. Please continue to pray for Gabe to get stronger and for his little body to heal. Aunt Melissa

WHAT A MIGHTY GOD WE SERVE! Once again God has preformed a miracle right before our very eyes.


Psalm Friday

Goodness and Mercy
Psalm Friday
Psalm 23, continued

* Pray. Ask God to give you an open heart and mind to learn new truths from His Word. Read Psalm 23 through three times. Record any thoughts or questions you have in your journal. If a verse stands out to you, write it on an index card and begin committing it to memory.

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life;”
Psalm 23:6a, NKJV

Great importance has been placed on the diligent care of the shepherd for his sheep throughout Psalm 23. As we come to the end of this beautiful Psalm, I believe David has summed up for us the main idea of the entire Psalm in one statement, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.” David is boasting in his God because no matter what may happen around him, he has total confidence in the Shepherd who will lead him through.

What about us? How many of us can say that no matter what may come our way- a lost job, a wayward child, a bad report from our doctor, an ailing parent, an empty bank account, bare cupboards, _____________ (you fill in the blank)- how many of us can say with complete confidence that goodness and mercy are sure to follow?

These are the times when the rubber meets the road; these are the times when one’s trust in God’s care for His children is tested; these are the times when faith is tested. When the world around us seems to be closing in can we say with complete confidence and trust in God that “surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life”?

As I sit today and think back over my life to those valleys of death I traveled through, to those times when I've lived in the very presence of the enemy who desired to destroy me- I can say to you, that YES, goodness and mercy have followed me all the days of my life. Those valleys that I thought would never let me out of their pits and those enemies who had a tight grip on my life, could do nothing to me because my Shepherd had a much bigger plan for me; He had a different path for me to travel, a path that would lead me up the mountain to sit at the table He had prepared for me to enjoy.

Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd, my Good Shepherd IS goodness and mercy. His mercy and goodness and compassion for His sheep are new every morning. My friend, know this today- the Good Shepherd will follow you through the valley, He be with you in the fire, He will close the mouths of the lions, He will calm the storms around you, He will lead you to His land of promises for His name’s sake. Why? Because He is the Good Shepherd who gives His life for His sheep and He is all about goodness and mercy.


Update on Baby Gabe- Please continue to pray

Here is the most recent update I have on Baby Gabe. Please continue to lift up this precious family.

"Gabe's numbers look good this morning and they are planning to do surgery around 2pm. I will post as soon as they start and let you know how long the procedure will take.

Please continue to lift up this family as today and the next several days will be very difficult.

Today is 2 weeks since Gabe was born." Aunt Melissa

The Great Revelation, Part 3

Today our study of 1 John is going to be interactive. There will be Scriptures for you to read and questions for you to answer. I hope that you will take some time to engage God's Word and dig a little deeper.

Ready? Let's dig in. A third way that God reveals Himself to us is:

III. The ultimate revelation of God to us was through His One and only Son, Jesus Christ.

"And he who sees Me (Jesus) sees Him (God) who sent Me.”
John 12:45 (NKJV)

God made Himself known to us through His Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus is God’s Word of life (John 1:1; 1 John 1:1) to us. To know Jesus is to know God. To know God is to know eternal life with Him. God proved His love for us by sending His Son to earth to die the horrible death that each one of us deserved. Because of sin, the perfect relationship with God that man originally possessed was lost. The only way our fellowship with God could be restored was through the death of Christ.

Let’s take a little field trip back in time to the Garden of Eden to find out how that perfect relationship with God was broken. This garden was paradise on earth. I don’t think that we can even begin to imagine how beautiful it was, but let’s try. Close your eyes and just listen. What do you hear? Can you hear the birds singing in the distance? Do you hear the wind whistling through the trees? Do you smell the sweet aroma of the flowers? Have a seat under that big tree over there. Maybe you’d like to dip your feet into the cool waters of the river. Isn’t it the most magnificent place you have ever seen? Can you believe that God, Himself, planted every flower, every tree, every bush just for Adam and Eve to enjoy? He knew exactly what would make them happy. Life for Adam and Eve was good; in fact, it was very good. They had everything they needed. They lacked nothing.

Now turn around. Look to your left. No, your other left. Now straight ahead. Do you see those two beautiful trees standing there side-by-side? It’s the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. These trees were placed in the garden to give man a choice; a choice in whether to simply obey or disobey God’s instructions. The tree of life would sustain man’s physical and spiritual being. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil would do the complete opposite; nothing about it would sustain man; it would eventually bring about physical death and ultimately separate man from God.

~God gave Adam specific instructions about eating from these two trees. Read Genesis 2:16 & 17. What were Adam’s instructions?

The Garden of Eden was not only for Adam’s enjoyment, but it was also his responsibility to tend to it and keep it up. I guess you could call him the grounds keeper. After God took Adam to his knew home (Genesis 2:15), He saw that Adam was the only one of his kind in the Garden. Adam was alone and needed a helper. Out of Adam’s own body, God made for him and woman to walk along side him and be his companion, his wife, his friend (Genesis 2:21-25). We don’t know exactly how long Adam and his wife, Eve, were in the Garden, but at some point Adam must have shared with her God’s instructions concerning the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil because when she was confronted by Satan she knew that she wasn’t suppose to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

~Read Genesis 3:1-7. Did Adam and Eve obey God’s instructions?
Satan embodied a serpent in order to approach Eve without her being alarmed. The apostle John identifies this serpent as Satan in Revelation 12:9 and 20:2, as does Paul in 2 Corinthians 11:3. He was very wise in his advance to her because had in not been uncommon for Adam and Eve to have conversation with the animals, I think that she would have taken off like greased lightning. Satan had his eye on Eve and knew the perfect time to attack her. He had probably been watching the two of them for a while and knew that he could get to Eve, and her heart, with almost little effort. I tend to think that she was alone when Satan approached her. He specifically targeted Eve because he knew that she was the weaker one and needed the protection of her husband. He knew her weaknesses and used those to his advantage. Satan, first, made her question God’s instructions, “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?” (Genesis 3:1, NLT, italics added) He got the wheels in Eve’s mind spinning. She began questioning the truthfulness of God. Did God really mean what He said? Maybe He didn’t.

Not only did Satan make Eve question God, he also flat out lied to her face.

“Then the serpent said to the woman, "You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."
Gen 3:4-5, NKJV, italics added

Satan wanted Eve to think that God was keeping for Himself something that would be better for her than all she already had. He wanted her to think that God was holding back on her. Satan also implied that she would be like God in that she could do whatever she wanted to do. God did, in fact, know something Adam and Eve didn’t know and He was trying to keep them from it by giving these instructions. God was trying to keep them from sin. He was trying to keep them from a life of evil; a life that would separate man from God. Eve was convinced that eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil would be beneficial to her.

~What happened when Adam and Eve disobeyed God? Read Genesis 3:6-24
Because Adam and Eve chose to disobey God, they, along with Satan, suffered some serious consequences. For Eve, and all women, (Genesis 3:16), because she gave birth to sin for the human race, she would have pain in birthing her own children and in raising them. Raising children is hard because they inherited a sin nature from Adam and have an inborn desire to rebel against what in true and right. Her relationship with her husband was meant to be one of joy and blessing, but now her husband would rule over her, by God’s design (Ephesians 5:22-25), which would cause conflict in the marital relationship. Adam, and all men, (Genesis 3:17) would now have to work for everything that had once been provided for him by God. Through sweat and hard work, he would labor to provide for his family.
The serpent, having been used by Satan, faced consequences for his actions. “So the LORD God said to the serpent, ‘Because you have done this, you are cursed more than all cattle, and more than every beast of the field; on your belly you shall go, and you shall eat dust all the days of your life (Genesis 3:14, NKJV)’”. The serpent would spend the rest of his life lower than all the other animals having to crawl around on his belly. Snakes now represent all that is hateful, sickening, and low. They are identified with disgrace and avoided with fear.
Satan, himself, had consequences of his own to deal with for deceiving man. There will be hostility between Satan and his seed, his followers, and woman and her Seed, Jesus Christ (Galatians 4:4), and His followers. Through a woman would the ultimate destruction of Satan come, for he will be defeated once and for all by Jesus Christ, who would be born of a woman (Luke 1:30-33).
God gave Adam and Eve the choice to obey His instructions or to disobey. I’ve often wondered why God even gave them a choice. Why did He make two trees? Why not just the tree of life? God loves us and wants us to freely love Him. He doesn’t want us to love Him because we have to. Wouldn’t you much rather do something you want to do than be made to do it? God didn’t want a bunch of robots walking around programmed to love Him; He wants people whose hearts are truly committed to Him and that love Him completely.
Yes, Adam and Eve had some serious consequences to pay for their disobedience, but as bad as having pain in childbirth and childrearing and having tensions within marriage and having to labor to provide for your family might be, there is nothing worse than being eternally separated from the One who created you. Because of their sin, they were banished from the perfect life and fellowship with God they once knew. There was no longer a perfect world because sin had tainted it.
~How could man’s relationship with God be restored? We'll answer that question next time.



Gabe's vital signs were down this morning...they are a little better now. The doctors believe this has to do with his heart condition and they want to repair the heart valve in the next 12-24 hours. They are waiting to hear from the surgical team.

Please continue to pray for this family and Gabe. Gabe needs to be strong in order to pull through any surgery. He has been such the fighter and I know God will continue to strengthen and guide him. Lift up Garrett and Traci as they stay strong for Gabe and each other.


Please join me in praying for some very dear friends of ours. Garrett and Traci were blessed with a baby boy born November 27. Baby Gabe was born at 28 weeks. Traci's pregnancy was a difficult one causing her to be in the hospital on bed rest for over 8 weeks of the pregnancy. Baby Gabe has had good days and bad days since his birth.

I just got an email from Gabe's Aunt Melissa pleading for all of us to get down on our knees and pray for baby Gabe. He is not doing good today. PLEASE join me in praying for this precious family. Pray for strength and wisdom for Garrett and Traci to know how best to care for Gabe. Pray for the doctors and nurses who are caring for Gabe. And, please lift up baby Gabe to the throne of grace.

Thank you so much for praying with me for this family. Our God is able to do exceedingly more than we ever ask or imagine.

WFW- Showers of Blessings

"I will make them and the places all around My hill a blessing; and I will cause showers to come down in their season; THERE SHALL BE SHOWERS OF BLESSING."
Ezekiel 34:26, NKJV

For more WFW visit the 160 Acre Woods.


The Great Revelation, Part 2

Today let's look at a second way God's reveals Himself to us.

II. He has revealed Himself to us through His Word.

“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
2 Tim 3:16-17, NKJV

God’s Word is His story about Himself to us. It is His message to us. When Scriptures speak, God, Himself, speaks (Romans 9:17; Galatians 3:8). What better way for us to know who God is than by reading His Word. I’ve often heard the Bible referred to as a road map for your life. It is our guide to teach us how to daily live godly lives. I had someone ask me not to long ago, “Do you mean that I can apply every verse in the Bible to my life?” Dear friend, everything in the Bible isn’t wrapped up in a nice pretty package with a big red bow on top, but it is all there to teach us, to mold us, to shape us, to instruct us, to discipline us so that when all is said and done we will be complete in the work that our Lord has called us to.

When was the last time you had some quite time with the Lord? Do you know what I mean when I say “quiet time”? A quiet time is simply an undisturbed time that you’ve set aside to spend time in prayer, in studying the Word, and in listening to God speak. I know that finding time to do this can be hard, but I speak from experience when I say that it will dramatically change your life. I believe that we make time for the things that are important to us and spending time with the Lord, in His Word, should be a high priority on our list of things to do.
Maybe you don’t know where to begin. I would suggest getting a devotion book or finding a copy of a Bible reading plan. Lately, I have been reading through the Book of James during my quiet time. I cannot even begin to tell you how God has spoken to me and changed me through this book of the Bible. There are many different ways you can have a quiet time. How you have your quiet time with the Lord isn’t as important as the fact that you are consistently spending time with Him. I can look back on my life and see those times when I wasn’t in His Word, spending time in prayer, or listening to Him speak to me and those are probably the most miserable periods in my life.
Spending time with the Lord results in us knowing Him better, and knowing Him better results in us knowing His will for our lives, which in the end, results in us living out our purpose and glorifying Him in all that we do and say.

I would love to hear how the Lord has been speaking to you lately in your times with Him. Leave me a comment or send me an email. Thanks!!


The Great Revelation

“the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us- that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.”
1 John 1:2-4, NKJV

Manifested is a big word, but it has a very simple definition. The Greek word for manifested is phaneroo meaning to appear, manifestly declare, to render apparent. Webster’s Dictionary defines manifested as to make clear, evident, show plainly, reveal, or to prove. Let’s begin today by looking at some of the ways God manifests or reveals Himself to us.

There are many different ways He has done this, but over the next few days we are going to look at three in particular.

I. He has revealed Himself to us through His creation.

"But now ask the beasts, and they will teach you; and the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you; and the fish of the sea will explain to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this, in whose hand is the life of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind?”
Job 12:7-10, NKJV

You can look all around you and see the mighty power of God. In every bird that flies, every fish that swims, in every flower that blooms, in every newborn baby that cries, there is evidence of the hand of God at work. Creation screams out His majesty. God created this world for us to enjoy.

My children love to play outside. Will, my youngest, just wants to run and play. Give him a stick and he’s as happy as a lark. He’d much rather squish a bug than look at it. But, my oldest daughter Hannah soaks up everything. She would sit for hours and watch a tiny ladybug crawl around in the grass if she could. And, of course, she’d ask a million and one questions. She loves to go exploring in the woods with her daddy and find new things. When she was little bedtime prayers consisted of lists of thank you’s from her. She would thank God for the clouds, and the trees, and the sun, and the birds, and she go on and on and on. At first, I would get a little irritated, but then it hit me one night as I was walking out of her room, God DID create this earth for us to enjoy and we should stop and thank Him for it. Oh, how our child often bring things into perspective for us!

When was the last time you went exploring through the woods or watched a ladybug crawl by? Stop right now and thank God for creating this earth for you to enjoy.

"The earth is the LORD's, and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell therein."
Psalm 24:1, NKJV


Psalm Friday

His Anointing
Psalm Friday
Psalm 23, continued

* Pray. Ask God to give you an open heart and mind to learn new truths from His Word. Read Psalm 23 through three times. Record any thoughts or questions you have in your journal. If a verse stands out to you, write it on an index card and begin committing it to memory.

“You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over.”
Psalm 23:5b, NKJV

The table has been prepared atop the summer mountain range. The shepherd’s precious sheep have arrived, eager to dine on the lush green pastures. But, there is a problem. Along with the lush green pastures of summertime come those ever pesky flies that will wreak havoc on the sheep as they graze. The attacks of bot flies, gnats, mosquitoes, black flies, and nasal flies, just to name a few, can disrupt any dining experience and leave a sheep totally miserable.

Nasal flies are one of the most annoying flies for a sheep. These flies will buzz around a sheep’s head, trying their best to lay their eggs in the sheep’s nose. If they are successful, the eggs will hatch, forming worm-like larvae. The larvae will work their way up the nasal passage, bury themselves into the sheep’s flesh and begin irritating the sheep, which in the end will lead to severe inflammation.

To gain relief from this agonizing pain sheep will beat their heads against trees, rocks, posts, or brush. They will rub their heads on the ground vigorously and thrash themselves against fallen branches or stumps. In the most extreme cases, sheep have been known to kill themselves during the pursuit of finding relief from the immense pain.

To protect a sheep from just horrific pain, the shepherd will apply to the sheep’s head an ointment that will divert the pesky flies. Gently and with much care, the shepherd will rub this ointment over the sheep’s nose and head. Once the ointment is applied the sheep are able to continue enjoying the lush green pastures that are before them. This is not a onetime application though. A good shepherd will be ever watchful of his sheep and when the flies come a botherin’, he goes to anointin’.

Think about your life and those things that seem to irritate you the most. I don’t know about you, but there are annoyances in my life that often times get under my skin wreaking havoc on my spirit. Trying to get rid of them myself, I run around acting like the fool; throwing temper tantrums, racking my brain trying to figure out how I can rid myself of the problem. I cannot rid myself of the annoyances on my own; you cannot rid yourself of your own annoyances. It is only the continuous presence and filling of the Holy Spirit in our lives that frees us of those aggravating frustrations.

Just as with the sheep, there must be a continual anointing of God’s gracious Spirit upon my life and yours in order to counteract those irritations that can so easily plague us. In Luke 11:13, Jesus urges us to ask the Father to give us the Holy Spirit. It is the daily anointing of the Holy Spirit upon my mind that will produce in my life those traits such as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control.

Friends, our anointing comes by spending time with the Good Shepherd. During this time He fills our minds and hearts with good things until our cups spill over. Without this anointing the challenges of the day will get the best of us; we will rack our brains trying to solve problems, we will make decisions without the guidance of His counsel, and we will walk in our own strength. But, if we set aside time EVERY DAY to spend with Him, He will anoint us with blessings from above, filling us with His strength and power so that we are ready to face the day.
“Open wide your mouth, and I will fill it.”
Psalm 81:10b, NKJV


John's Joy

"That which was from the beginning,
which we have heard,
which we have seen with our eyes,
which we have looked upon,
and our hands have handled,
concerning the Word of life-"
1 John 1:1
The day Jesus walked into John’s life, was the day John’s life changed forever. His life no longer meant anything; it was now all about Jesus, his Lord, his Master, his Messiah. John had probably heard about the coming Messiah from Peter and Andrew, but never expected the Messiah to come to his home town, much less for the Messiah to call out his name. When Jesus spoke John’s name, immediately, Scriptures tell us, John dropped his net and followed Jesus. He didn’t say, ‘Hold on a minute, I need to finish getting in this net,” or “let me check my schedule, next week might be a better time for me,” or “how much are you paying and what kind of benefits are you offering?” John said nothing; he asked nothing. Immediately, do you get that, immediately he dropped what he was doing and he followed Jesus.

Oh, that we would have a heart so full of love and devotion for Christ, that we would drop everything we are doing, the kid’s ballgames, dance lessons, the laundry, the dinner plans with the neighbors, the great paying job we waited all our life to get, the world as we’ve always known it and immediately follow Christ. John did just that and the joy from that first step of obedience never left his heart. Fifty plus years later, he still remembered what it was like to walk right beside Jesus day after day, witness miracle after miracle, have intimate conversations with His Lord, learn some very valuable life lessons from Jesus, watch as His Savior was crucified on the cross, and run to the tomb on the third day only to find it empty because His Messiah had risen.

John knew what it was to hear his Master speak and to hold on to His every word. He beheld the magnificent glory of his Lord while sitting at His feet. He had touched, with his own hands, the physical body of the Lamb of God that was sacrificed for him. John followed Jesus day after day anticipating a new revelation from His Lord and he was never disappointed. John KNEW Jesus.

I can just imagine that as John sat writing this epistle his eyes welled up with tears. “How good it was to sit at my Master’s feet. How undeserving I am that He chose me to follow Him. What a true honor it is to be a servant of the Almighty God. Oh, that I may be found pleasing in the eyes of my Savior.” The joy of John’s salvation had never left his heart. He never forgot all that Christ had done for him. His life with Christ was not just a “good time” that happened years ago and now was tucked away on a shelf collecting dust. Christ WAS his LIFE. He lived and breathed the very One who had breathed life into him. John knew what it was to suffer for Christ. But suffering didn’t matter to him because he knew he was doing what God had called him to do. He LOVED God with all his heart, mind, soul, and strength.

In the original language of Scripture the Greek word for "looked" is theaomai, meaning to behold, perceive, gaze at, to look closely at, to visit. From this Greek word we get the English word theater. Think about this with me for a moment. What do you do when you go to a theater? You go in, find a nice comfy seat, get settled in, and wait, expecting to see a good movie. You don't leave until the movie is over. Your eyes stay focused on the screen watching every minute of the movie, soaking it all in. This was exactly John's experience with Jesus. He had sat at the feet of Jesus, gazing intently into the eyes of the Messiah, soaking up every word that flowed from the mouth of the Word made flesh. Those memories never left his mind or heart; he clung to them because they were his life source.

I wonder, do you remember the day you were saved? Do you still live in that moment or has it been lost? What does your salvation mean to you? When was the last time you sat at the feet of Jesus, gazed into His eyes, and waited there until you heard a word from Him? When was the last time you searched for something from God or even for God Himself? Have you taken your salvation for granted? Is it just “fire insurance” to you?

Precious Father, may we never lose the joy of our salvation. Keep us ever close to the cross. Help us to understand and never take for granted what you did for us. Thank you, thank you, thank you for saving us. We love you. Amen.


We Give Thanks Tree Turned Jesse Tree

CHRISTmas. A time for us to celebrate the birth of the Savior of the world, who left His throne in glory to live among sinful man and who willingly gave His life so that you and I might live eternally. Hallelujah! Praise His Name!...
...Giving to others has been a theme in our house lately and I hope it continues. Some of you may remember that during the Thanksgiving season, the kids and I decorated our "We Give Thanks Tree".... I found the Jesse Tree. I am so excited about this idea.!What is a Jesse Tree? The Jesse Tree is ...
Join me at Truth Christian Academy to read the rest of the story. You're gonna love it!!!


Please Join Me in Prayer

My heart has been on the heavy side today. Do you ever have those days where you wonder what in the world the Lord is doing and why things seem to be going the way there are? The last few days have been like that for me. I'm going to be selfish for a moment and ask you to all join me in praying for the following situations. I know that God is in control; His Word clearly reveals that to me, but my flesh is crying out right now, why?

~Please pray for my Pawpaw. He has been in the hospital for several days. He has suffered with Alzheimers for over a year now. He is very confused right now. Within the week, my family will be placing him in a nursing home so that he is able to get the care he needs. Please pray for my Memaw as she adjusts to him being gone. Pray for his children as they seek to do what's best for their aging parents. Pray that my Pawpaw is not resistant to this change and that his transition is smooth. Pray that he has a roommate he can relate to. I am praising the Lord that my Pawpaw knows Jesus!

~Please pray for a dear couple who just had their second son at 28 weeks (their first son they lost due to a miscarriage). Pray for protection for the baby from infections. Pray that his body will continue to grow and function as it should and for there to be no long term affects from his pre-mature delivery. Pray for his mother as she recovers from an infection and for her body to heal from the c-section. Pray for his father as he ministers to his wife and baby boy. Pray that their eyes will continue to be focused on Jesus as they share His love with those around them. Pray for the doctors and nurses who are caring for this precious baby boy.

~Pray for a family who just experienced a very horrific loss. Their oldest daughter was brutally murdered November 23. I went to college with this young girl. She was a joy to all those she met. Pray for her husband and their family as they work through this tragedy. Pray for those involved in this crime. Pray for their salvation. Pray for God to be glorified in the midst of all this pain. Praise the Lord this precious young girl knew Jesus in a real and personal way.

Thank you all so much for joining me in prayer. It means the world to me to know that I have brothers and sisters in Christ standing with me during this time. Love to all of you!

"For where two or three are gathered in My name,
there I am in the midst of them."
Matthew 18:20


Happy Thanksgiving

~Happy Thanksgiving from our house to yours!~
"Give thanks to the LORD, for HE is good;
His love endures forever."
1 Chronicles 16:34


My Favorite Holiday Memory

Christmas 2002

Every holiday has been special, each of them housing their own unique memory that I've tucked away in my heart. But, there is one particular holiday that I will forever cherish- Christmas 2002.

My husband and I had been married for four years. Up until this point, our marriage was by no stretch of the imagination happy, pleasant, good, solid, or thriving. We had recently had our second child in hopes that this bundle of joy would rekindle the love that was missing. Little did we know what awaited us in the days to come.

I was saved at the age of seven, but had definitely not lived my life in accordance with the will of God. There were many times I strayed from the path He set before me, thinking my way was better than His. Like the prodigal son, I ended up in the middle of the muck, mire, and filth of a life guided by its own selfish desires.

During all of this my husband and I met. Our relationship was not one founded on God's love, but rather on a desire to fill a need that had left both of our souls empty and longing for more. After dating for a year, we married and within our first year of marriage we welcomed our first daughter into our home. This baby girl was definitely God's gift to us because she was the glue that held our marriage together for years.

As time passed by, we grew further and further apart. He filed for divorce. I wasn't up to fighting the issue any longer. It was over. Per direction of the Christian attorney who drew up our divorce papers, we sought out Christian counseling to give our marriage one last shot. We went. It helped, but only for a season.

Two thousand and two would end up being a milestone year for us. We got pregnant with our second child, Will. He was born October of that year. In November my mother-in-law invited me to a women's conference at her church. During all my years of walking away from God, I was desperate for something and so I agreed to go. As the conference leader spoke, the hardness surrounding my heart began softening as I heard the voice of God calling out to me. I felt His presence that weekend for the first time in a very, very long time. It was as if I could see my Savior standing before me with His arms wide open, calling me to come home. In tears, I made a beeline straight to the throne of grace. My Jehovah-Rapha, the God who heals, began healing my wounded heart and promised me that night He WAS going to heal my marriage.

I began fervently praying for the Lord to change my heart, for my husband's salvation, and for our marriage to be restored. I prayed and I waited for God to work. A few weeks went by and I began witnessing miracle after miracle. My husband agreed to start going to church with me. Miracle number 1. We sat together under the teaching of the lady who lead the conference I attended. Miracle number 2. God used this women in our lives in so many ways. Because I had joined this particular church, I was invited to attend the new members class and hubs again agreed to go with me. Miracle number 3. The day we were to right out our testimonies, hubs was unable to do this because he had no personal relationship with the Lord. After church that day, I talked with the associate pastor who was leading the new members class. He had seen that hubs was unable to right out his testimony. This was my shot, so I invited he and his wife over for dinner. They could come the next day or wait until after the first of the year. The next day was great for me; I knew God was working and couldn't' wait any longer. Miracle number 4.

Hubs, knowing the "preacher" was coming to dinner, prepared all day the questions he would ask. We enjoyed a nice dinner, although it was a little tense because hubs had his defenses up. After dinner and bedtime for the kiddos came the much anticipated conversation. For hours those two men went back and forth. Hubs would ask, pastor would answer. Around midnight, pastor finally said, "What else ya got? What's stopping you from letting go and following the Lord?" We all sat there in silence for what seemed like an eternity waiting for hubs to respond, not to pastor, but to the Lord. Finally, hubs held his head up, looked straight into my eyes, and said, "Nothing is stopping me. I've done all I can and nothing has worked. I need God in my life." Miracle number 5. Tears flowed from our eyes as we knelt down beside our kitchen table on December 16, 2002, hubs praying for God to save his soul and heal our marriage. Miracle number 6.

A few weeks later we were baptized together, me having re-dedicated my life to the Lord, hubs having received Christ as his personal Lord and Savior. Miracle number 7. My husband told our pastor before the baptism that this had been the best Christmas in his life. And, I would agree.

Christmas 2002 was the best Christmas of my life. The baby Jesus who had been born so many years ago, the man Jesus who climbed Mt. Calvary and hung upon the cross for all my many sins, the man Jesus who was laid in a tomb that would be unable to quench the power of God Almighty- this man, this Jesus, resurrected two souls that were dead, He resurrected a marriage that was dead, He breathed new life into our very beings, and He filled our hearts full of love for God and for each other. Christmas 2002 will forever be a memorial in the life of our family. To God be the glory, for the things He has done!

To read more favorite holiday memories, visit Alicia at Confessions of a Snowflake.


Carpet Training 101


Hubs brought home some carpet squares from work a few weeks ago. My intention is to use them for reading time. But, this weekend I decided to put them to a different use...

Join me over here to read the rest of the Carpet Training 101.


Operation Christmas Child 2008

A few weekends ago the kiddos and I went to my parent's house for a few days. While we were there, we went shopping to purchase items for the Operation Christmas Child boxes Nana had gotten. The kids and Nana collected toothbrushes and toothpaste, hair brushes, combs, and hair bows, wash clothes and soap, socks, t-shirts, toys, jewelry, crayons, pencils, and coloring books. When we got home, the kids and Nana filled the boxes full with all their goodies. They also filled out an info sheet to be included in the box so that the little boy or girl who received the box would know something about the person who sent them their gift. After they finished filling up the boxes, they prayed for the children who would receive their gift of love.

What a beautiful picture of what Christmas is truly about- giving to others.

"For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son, that whosoever
believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
John 3:16

**I'm not sure what is going on with Photobucket. This is the second slideshow that I've uploaded into a post that won't stop loading. Does anyone know what's going on or how I can fix this?**
In the meantime, just click on 'view all images' and you can view the slideshow. Enjoy!!


Psalm Friday

He Prepared the Way
Psalm Friday
Psalm 23, continued

* Pray. Ask God to give you an open heart and mind to learn new truths from His Word. Read Psalm 23 through three times. Record any thoughts or questions you have in your journal. If a verse stands out to you, write it on an index card and begin committing it to memory.

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;”
Psalm 23:5a, NKJV

In the summer months a shepherd will lead his sheep to the high mountain country. This high mountain country is known amongst shepherds as the tablelands. One could presume that David was speaking of these high mountain ranges he would lead his flock to in the summer months when he said, “You prepare a table before me.”

The summer mountain ranges or tables were often difficult to reach because they were remote flat lands atop large mountains. The shepherd who wanted the best grazing land for his precious flock let nothing get in the way of his trek up the mountain; whether it was a large boulder or a jagged rock, the shepherd would press on through to those lands that would be best suited for his sheep.

While the snow still covered the land, the shepherd would make his way up the mountain surveying the land, prepping it for his flock. He would carefully examine the land, getting rid of any poisonous plants that might be growing there. He would also survey the watering holes, making sure they were free of debris that would hinder his sheep from having an adequate water supply. The shepherd was preparing the tablelands for his flock so that they could enjoy the richness of the food that grew there.

Even as he lead his flock up the mountain to the tablelands, the shepherd kept careful watch for poisonous weeds that might have made their way back up through the lush grasses or wild animals that might be lurking close by in hopes of pouncing on one of his wandering sheep. It is only the compassionate, vigilant care of the shepherd that would keep his sheep out of harm’s way.

The Good Shepherd has prepared a table for His flock full of the richness of the blessings of God. For us to reach that table though, it will require a trek up the mountain. There will be weeds along the way; things, people, maybe even other paths that will divert our attention away from the Shepherd who is leading us. But friends, our Shepherd has already trekked up the mountain before us; He knows what is waiting there and has already provided us a way out. He has experienced everything we will ever go through. Because Christ left His home is the heavenlies and became fully man, He has experienced sufferings; He has endured great struggles and felt great loss; He knows what it is to be tempted and taunted by the enemy. And, because of this knowledge of man, He understands and identifies with completely. The Good Shepherd has a kind of care and compassion for those belonging to His flock that you and I can never fully come to comprehend. When we struggle, we are not alone; when we experience loss, He grieves with us; when we are tempted, He will provide for us a way out.

We can be sure that He has prepared the way before us in the presence of the one who desires to defeat us. How can we be sure of this? Read what Jesus said Himself in John 10:10, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” He goes on to say, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. But a hireling, he who is not a shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep. I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep (John 10:11-16, NKJV).” We can be sure He has prepared the way before us because He laid down His own life in our stead.

Dear ones, the Good Shepherd trekked up the Mount of Calvary in order to prepare a way for you and me. He hung on the cross on top of that mountain in the very presence of His enemies in your place and in mine. After He had suffered beyond anything our feeble minds can grasp, the Good Shepherd breathed His last breath. He was buried in the borrowed tomb of a wealthy man named Joseph. But, the grave could not hold Him in. On that glorious third day He arose defeating death and the grave.

Christ made a way. He prepared the way for you and me to enjoy intimate fellowship with God Almighty atop the mountain of His holy hill. Not only has the Good Shepherd prepared the way for us in the here and now, but He is right now, preparing for us eternal blessings that are to come.
“In my Father's house are many rooms;
if it were not so, I would have told you.
I am going there to prepare a place for you.
And if I go and prepare a place for you,
I will come back and take you to be with me that
you also may be where I am.”
John 14:2-3, NIV

“Then the King will say to those on his right,
'Come, you who are blessed by my Father;
take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you
since the creation of the world.”
Matthew 25:34, NIV
“Instead, they were longing for a better country—
a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed
to be called their God,
for he has prepared a city for them.”
Hebrews 11:16, NIV

I would so love to hear how the Lord has spoken to you through this Psalm. I'm not smart enough yet to figure out My. Linky, so please leave me a comment letting me know how the Good Shepherd has worked in heart in regards to Psalm 23. If you would like to, we would love for you to post on your blog Psalm 23. I love you all so much! You are a joy to my heart!


WFW- Let the beauty of the LORD

While on vacation this summer, my family took this picture. My prayer for my precious family is that the Lord would lead and guide us in everything we do; that everything our hands touch will be blessed by Him; and that His beauty and good pleasure would rest upon us because we are following His will for our lives.
Dear Lord, may it be so.

For more WFW join The 160 Acre Woods.


Psalm Friday

His Rod and His Staff
Psalm Friday
Psalm 23, continued

* Pray. Ask God to give you an open heart and mind to learn new truths from His Word. Read Psalm 23 through three times. Record any thoughts or questions you have in your journal. If a verse stands out to you, write it on an index card and begin committing it to memory.

“Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”
Psalm 23:4b, NKJV

The rod and the staff are two very important instruments for the shepherd. One will be used to defend the shepherd and his sheep; it will be a symbol of the shepherd’s strength, power, and authority; and extension of his own person. The other will be a picture of the shepherds’ concern and compassion for his sheep; this will be the shepherd’s instrument of comfort.

In order to defend his flock of sheep, a shepherd would crave from a piece of wood a club or a rod. This rod would be whittled down until it fit the exact size of the shepherd himself. The rod would be a an extension of the shepherd’s right arm. It symbolized his strength, power, and authority. A shepherd would use his rod in a dangerous situation to protect himself and his flock. Not only was the rod an instrument of defense, it was also an instrument of correction and discipline for the wandering sheep.

For us, the human sheep, our Shepherd’s rod is the spoken Word of God recorded in the pages of Scripture. God’s Word is an extension of His strength, power, and authority. In our day and age there are many outlandish philosophies being taught which leads to total confusion and chaos in the minds and hearts of people. There is great comfort for the child of God in turning to the Word of God and seeing plainly the Shepherd’s hand of authority. There is much comfort in having the authoritative Word of God to go to for direction and instruction; and that is what the Psalmist David meant when he said, “Your rod…comfort(s) me.” It the midst of a world turned upside down in turmoil and chaos, found within the rod of the Good Shepherd, there is comfort.

Not only does the rod, God’s Word, comfort the flock, it also disciplines. It is God’s Word that comes quickly to the heart of the believer when he has gone astray, bringing correction and reproof. It is God’s Word that disciplines, brings under control, and sets the wayward sheep on the right path. It is by God’s Word, through God’s Word, and because of God’s Word that we are kept under control by Jesus Christ who desires for us to walk in His paths of righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

A shepherd’s staff is his identification to the fact that he is a shepherd. There is no other profession that carries with it the shepherd’s staff. This staff is designed especially to meet the needs of the sheep. A shepherd’s staff represents his care, concern, and compassion for his sheep.

The Shepherd’s rod represents the Word of God, while the Shepherd’s staff represents to us the Spirit of God. In Christ’s dealing with his flock, there is a sense of the gentleness, the comfort and solace, and the tender correction brought about by the gracious work of the Holy Spirit.

Just as the staff is pivotal in directing a flock, so too, is the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers. The Holy Spirit comforts believers by bringing us together to experience personal fellowship and encouragement with one another. In our walk with the Lord, it is the Holy Spirit whom Christ sent to guide us and to lead us into all truth (John 16:13). The Holy Spirit takes the Word of God and gives us understanding to its meaning for our lives. It is the Holy Spirit who leads us to walk in the way of righteousness and holiness. It is the Holy Spirit who makes Christ real within the life of the believer.

Friends, the Christian life is not about religion. The Christian life is about experiencing, firsthand the touch of the Good Shepherd. It is about sensing His Spirit rest upon your weary, troubled soul. The Christian life is an intimate relationship with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. For the flock belonging to the Good Shepherd, there is a calm, quiet rest in knowing He is there to direct every minute of one’s life. It is His rod and His staff that bring comfort to the hearts, minds, and souls and His sheep.


A Visit to our Schoolroom

I'm over here today. Come have a look.


WFW- Show me Your Path

Precious Father, show me the path that You would have me to walk in this day. Lead me in Your way so that You are glorified by my actions today. Guide my hands, my feet, my speech, and my heart. May everything I do and say honor You. I want to experiecnce Your joy today.
In Jesus Name,

For more Word Filled Wednesday, join 160 acre woods.


Thank You God

Thank You Lord for my precious family and beautiful days at the park.

"1 It is good to praise the LORD and make music to
your name, O Most High,"

Psalm 92:1, NIV


Knowledge, Wisdom, & Understanding

I've been in desperate need lately of God's wisdom and understanding. There have been a number of decisions to be made in regards to my family and God's calling on my life. There have also been those life challenges that arise every day that have lead me to seek more earnestly and with great purpose after God's wisdom and knowledge. There is absolutely NO better place to receive His wisdom and knowledge than by digging into the Word. I have sought counsel from godly mentors, but my ultimate source of understanding of God's will for my life and guidance in decisions that have needed to be made has come solely from His Word.

Today in my time with the Lord, He lead me to a beautiful passage in Colossians chapter 1 that reiterated to me the importance of His knowledge, wisdom, and understanding.

"9) For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do
not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge
of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; 10) that you may walk
worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and
increasing in the knowledge of God;"
Colossians 1:9-10, NKJV

Knowledge is the Greek word epignosis which means recognition, full discernment, acknowledgement. This is not a knowing like you would know of something or someone, rather it is a knowing that carries with it much depth and results only when one invests much time and effort into the relationship. It is a deep, intimate, personal knowledge. With God, it is a knowledge that only results from much time and energy spent delving into His Word. A purposeful pursuit of God's knowledge will lead to both "wisdom" (the ability to gather and organize principles from His Word) and "understanding" (application of the principles found in God's Word into of daily lives).

Why is it important for us to pursue the knowledge of God which leads to wisdom and understanding? We are to pursue this knowledge of God so that we are able to walk worthy of the Lord and so that we are being fruitful in every good work to which we have been called to. The spiritual fruit we produce is a by-product of a life lived according to the righteousness of Christ Himself. Spiritual fruit is produced in many different shapes, sizes, and flavors: leading others to Christ (1 Corinthians 16:15), praising God (Hebrew 13:15), living a godly life (Hebrews 12:11), and displaying a Godly attitude (Galatians 5:22-23), just to name a few.

Spiritual fruit is produced because one has experienced spiritual growth. But, spiritual growth will not occur apart from the increasing knowledge of God. Just as there are evidences of spiritual fruit, there are also evidences of spiritual growth: a deeper love and appreciation for God's Word (Psalm 119:97), a more immediate and complete obedience to His commands (1 John 2:3-5), a strong doctrinal foundation based upon God's Word (1 John 2:12-14), a growing and active faith (2 Thessalonians 1:3), and a deeper love for others (Philippians 1:9).

I so much want His knowledge and understanding. I want to make wise decisions in regards to how to be the best helpmate for my husband and how to raise godly children who love the Lord with all their hearts. I want to understand God's perfect plan for my life. I want to know Him in ways I've never known Him before. None of my desires will be met if I am not spending time delving into His Word. I've had to readjust my schedule lately to make sure that I am giving God my best time and not my leftovers. Friends, we MUST make time to dig into His Word if we are to walk worthy of the Lord.

"I am Your sevant; give me understanding, that I may know
Your testimonies."
Psalm 119: 125, NKJV


Psalm Friday

Keep Walking Through
Psalm Friday
Psalm 23, continued

* Pray. Ask God to give you an open heart and mind to learn new truths from His Word. Read Psalm 23 through three times. Record any thoughts or questions you have in your journal. If a verse stands out to you, write it on an index card and begin committing it to memory.

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.”
Psalm 23:4a, NKJV

During the summer a shepherd will begin driving his flock to the “summer range”, by way of the valley. It here that they will spend the next few months steadily climbing to the tops of hills and mountains so that they are able to enjoy the rich pastures found on the mountaintops. The valleys the flock will travel through can be dark and dangerous, but in order to receive the prize of the lush, sweet grass the shepherd must drive his flock through these valleys.

So it is in the life of the believer. We all want to enjoy those mountaintops experiences with God, we all want to go to that next level in our relationship with the Lord, we all want that very deep and intimate relationship with Him, but in order to get there, there will be valleys that we must cross through. Our valleys may be cold, dark, and extremely difficult to get through, but my friends, going through those valleys deepens are relationship with the Lord and prepares us for the ministries He has called us to.

My marriage went through a horrible valley of dishonesty, anger, bitterness, lack of trust, hate and malice. For several years my husband and I pitched our tents in this valley. Our marriage was knocking on the door of death, but our God drove us beyond that valley so that we could experience His victory and will for our lives. Because we chose to continue walking, today we are able to share with others our victory over the valley of death.

My friends, it was at the top of the mountain where Yahweh provided a ram for Abraham to sacrifice in place of his beloved son (Genesis 4); it was at the top of the mountain that Moses encountered the Lord (Exodus 3); it is at the top of the mountain where the LORD’S house will be established (Micah 4:1); and it was on the top of Mt. Calvary where our Savior was crucified for our sins (Luke 23:33). None of these individuals reached the top of their mountains except by way of the valley. Yes, the valley may hold the shadow of death, but we are not to fear, nor are we to lie down and die. We are to walk on through into the Promised Land that He has waiting for us on the top of the mountain.

Maybe you are in a valley today; sweet one, know that your valley experience will lead you to His throne of grace. Keep walking through.


It's Time

This is the day the Lord has made;
we will rejoice and be glad in it.
Psalm 118:24, NKJV

Whether or not the candidate you voted for to become the 44th president of the United States of America won or lost last night, as believers in Jesus Christ, we ALL can rejoice in this new day. Why? Because our God is the same God today that He was yesterday and He will be the same God tomorrow, and then the next day and then the next. Not only is He still God, He is God over ALL things and has ALL things in His hands.

"Oh clap your hands, all you peoples!
Shout to God with the voice of triumph!
For the LORD Most High is awesome;
He is a great King over all the earth.
For God is the King of all the earth;
Sing praises with understanding."
Psalm 47:1,2, & 7, NKJV

As I sat last night with my eyes fixated on the news realizing what the outcome of the election was going to be I couldn't help but ask myself this question: what are we as Christians going to do now? Are we going to continue to hold prayer vigils in our churches and neighborhoods? Are we going to encourage the people of our churches to continue fasting and praying for our nation? Are we going to set aside certain days when we come together in corporate prayer for our nation and its leaders? I've been excited to see, hear of and be apart of these prayer events leading up to the election, but are they going to continue? Are we, as evangelical Christians, going to continue to stand in support of the issues we've held to in this election process? Are we going to hold firmly to our convictions and trust that God is in control?


I firmly believe we have just been issued a wake up call. It's time for us to flesh out what has been said from the pulpits, prayer vigils, Sunday School classes, support rallies and the like over the past several months. The church, my friends, must move outside the fours walls of it's meeting place and engage its community for Christ.

It's time for us take off our judgemental classes that too often look down on the homosexual couple and see to the heart of a person who is in desperate need of Jesus. It's time for us to literally embrace the person and love them with the love of Jesus.

It's time for us to not just say we are Pro Life, but to prove it. How can we do this? First, we need to be doing a better job instilling in our young girls and young men that their self worth isn't found in any form of sexual activity but rather their worth is found in the work Christ did on the cross for them. Don't just tell your kids to love God and serve Him; show them how. Our kids must see us fleshing out our relationship with Christ. You and I have huge responsibilities as parents and as leaders in our churches to influence the next generation for Christ.

For those young girls and young men who do find themselves in a situation they believe can only be taken care of by choosing abortion, we need to love them, first, and then offer to them options other than abortion- that option being opening up our homes to provide their babies a family who will love them and care for them their entire lives. We also need to provide Godly counsel for these young girls and young men because they are making decisions that will affect them for the rest of their lives. Let's show the world that we are pro-life by being pro-home and opening up our homes to the little ones who are in need.

It's time for us to use our own personal resources to help those who are in desperate need of the basic necessities of life. Within miles of my home there is a lady who lives with her 15 year old son in a house that is in horrible condition. The house is full of mold; they have no heat; in the bathroom there is a flashlight mounted above the mirror to provide a little light while they shower. There is one bed for them both to sleep in and little food for them to eat. This is just one family out of many who are in desperate need of help financially, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. We claim to love Jesus. Are we going to show our love for Him by serving others and meeting their needs?

Friends, what are we going to do? My prayer is that we would fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, stand firm on the Rock of all ages, place our hope in Him, and boldly proclaim the Good News of the Cross that saves.

May God bless the United States of America and my God bless those whom He has called to take forth His light.


I Voted...Did You?

Have YOU voted?
Hubby and I decided last night that I would go vote first thing this morning. He would stay home with the kiddos and then stop and vote on his way to work. I was so excited I could hardly sleep. I woke up many times throughout the night praying for God's will to be accomplished. Our polling place opened at 6:30 a.m. At 6:33 a.m. I was walking out the door ready to exercise my right as a proud American to vote for the leaders of our nation.

When I pulled into my place to vote I was pleasantly surprised that there weren't many people there yet. Praise the Lord! I was greeted by a very friendly voter helper who directed me to the right building and informed me that I would have to give my name and address when I walked up to the table.

I received my ballot from another very nice voter helper and waited in line for my turn to cast my vote. I asked if I could take a few pictures to share, but they would not let me take any pictures inside the building. Sorry! :( I colored in the little bubbles for the candidates I was voting for, put my ballot in the vote counting machine, got my "I Voted" sticker and was on my way. The whole process took only about twenty minutes. Thank You Jesus!

Today is a monumental day in the life of the United States of America. No matter what the outcome, I'm sure this election will be recorded in history books for several different reasons. There are MANY opinions about who should be the next president and we won't know that answer for hours. BUT, my friends, God already knows. We may elect government leaders today who will sit in the many offices that make up our democracy, but it is ultimately Yahweh, God Almighty, who is in control and holds all things in His hands. May we place all our hope in God and in Him alone.