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Revelation 19:6-9

Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting:

   “Hallelujah!
   For our Lord God Almighty reigns.
Let us rejoice and be glad
   and give him glory!
For the wedding of the Lamb has come,
   and his bride has made herself ready.
Fine linen, bright and clean,
   was given her to wear.”

   (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God’s holy people.)

Then the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” And he added, “These are the true words of God.”

 

Revelation 21:1-3

Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,”for the

first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.  And I heard a loud voice

from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.

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Thankful for my King’s crown,

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New Every Morning……

April 28th, 2011

 

Lamentations 3:22-24

Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed,
   for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
   great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion;
   therefore I will wait for him.”

As sure as the sun rises each morning is the truth that God’s compassion and faithfulness are new every morning!

Rushing a sunrise would seem so silly…..

the beauty comes from watching the sun slowly appear, new every morning……

sometimes arising over mountains,

other times amidst dark clouds,

and yet other times painting orange, yellow, and red colors over a canvas of clear blue sky..

So why do I sometimes rush God?

The beauty often comes in the waiting.

Watching Him work and create all along the way in life’s journey,

That’s how I want to live.

So, how do I wait patiently?

I repeat the words, “The Lord is my portion, the Lord is my portion, the Lord is my portion..”

Because He is!

And oh, what a portion He is!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thank you, Lord, for your love that does not consume me because  your compassion, like the sunrise, is new every morning!!!!!

You KNEW that we needed the “new!”

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Crossing the line……..

April 27th, 2011

 

Psalm 16:5-7

LORD, you alone are my portion and my cup;
   you make my lot secure.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
   surely I have a delightful inheritance.
I will praise the LORD, who counsels me;
   even at night my heart instructs me.

This is has been one of those semesters where I have allowed the boundary lines in my life to be crossed time and time again, setting me and/or my family up for some stressful moments and decisions.

I love that God, as our Shepherd, understands that we need fences to protect us……

to keep us within His will….

to keep us from being overly anxious, stressed, exhausted, and frazzled.

When we choose to step across that boundary line that takes us out of “pleasant places,” we are setting ourselves up for difficult days.

Just like children need boundaries, so do we.

If you find yourself today feeling burned out, overwhelmed, irritable, depressed, stressed, or a multitude of other negative emotions, take a good look at your life and ask, “Have I crossed any lines that have taken me out of the pleasant places God desires for me and my family?”

If so, consider today how you can move yourself back into the safety and love of the boundaries God desires for you.

Allow Him to be your portion and your cup.

Go to Him for counsel, and He will instruct you…

even in the night.

 

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When I asked my class to paint their favorite part of the book we are reading right now in class, they all looked at me like, “you’ve got to be kidding.” But as time went by, their pieces of paper became canvases displaying different parts of the same story. Slowly, what was in their mind became visible for all of us to see. I was amazed at how each student chose a different part of the story as their favorite part. With music playing, they spent the class period creating something they had never dreamed possible when class began. I smiled as I watched.

I wonder sometimes if God looks at our lives and says, “Paint me a story.”

And then smiles at what we are creating………

Psalm 107:1-3

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His loves endures forever. Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story-those He redeemed from the hand of the foe, those He gathered from the lands, from east and west, from north and south.

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The Right Box……

April 25th, 2011

 

Yesterday’s Easter message began with the story of a girl’s hope chest and how she stored inside it all the special things in which she was placing her future hope.

Our minister went on to talk about the fact that each of us has a “hope chest” in life, a box in which we place our “hope.”

The visuals he chose to use will stick with me forever.  They helped me understand how I am able to face life day after day in spite of my grief.  I had to photograph them after church so that I could share them with you.

The first box in which many people place their hope is the one that contains their finances.  Trusting in our bank account, our investments, and on and on can often bring a sense of false security.  Truthfully, at any moment what we have gained financially can be lost through falling stock markets or unexpected tragedies that deplete our funds.  While we can be thankful for the things God has given us, we do not want to place our hope in money.The second box in which people place their hope is the one that contains their achievements. Promotions and awards can bring feelings of accomplishment but like financial gains, these feelings of temporary satisfaction eventually fade leaving us longing for more.  While we should strive to be the best we can be as we serve God, we should never place our hope in the recognition we receive.The third box holds our relationships.  Being loved feels great, but needing to be loved in order to feel worth can become a trap and a disappointment.  People let us down.  People break commitments.  Earthly love can often bring pain.  While God has given us the gift of loving others, we must remember that His love is the only love that never fails or forsakes.The next box holds our identity, our image.  Placing our hope in such a temporary aspect of who we are eventually brings deep pain and anxiety.  Our bodies will eventually fail us.  Even who we are today will become a “thing of the past” tomorrow.  I think of my identity as being a “mom” and how through the years I have had to let go of so many of my “mom roles” as my kids have grown from infants to toddlers to preteens to teens and now to adults…my identity cannot rest in being a mommy.  My identity must be found in Christ.  Finally, our minister opened an empty box. 

“THIS IS WHERE YOU SHOULD PLACE YOUR HOPE!” he said.

An empty box.

Nothing to see or touch.

He went on to say that this box represented the empty tomb.

Jesus was not there!

He had risen!

And because of this, we can confidently place our hope in the power of the resurrection.

Money fades. Trophies break. Relationships come and go.  Our identity transforms.

But the empty tomb?

Its power lasts for eternity!

As the sermon ended, we were asked to take a piece of paper out of our bulletin that contained the word, “hope,” and place it in the right box…..the empty one.

Watching several hundred people come forward, holding on to “hope” and then publicly saying, “My hope is in the right box” as they placed their hope in the empty chest was very powerful.

An elderly man, who struggled to keep his balance, arrived at the stairs at the same time as I did.  I held his arm as we walked to the box together.  His hands were empty, and he just looked at me and said, “I have mine.”  He came all the way down the aisle just to stand there at the box.  I guess he wanted to carry his hope home with him, but at the same time, he wanted to acknowledge that he was placing his hope in the right box.  I don’t know his name, but I know I’ll never forget watching him stand there at the right box, his feeble legs and arms shaking and tears in his eyes.

Today, I woke up early and I know it was because I wanted to write to all of you before beginning my Monday morning.

I just had to ask you, “In which box are you placing your hope?”

I hope you choose the empty one!

HEBREWS 6:19-20a

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf.

 

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When reading any article or story, a student’s ability to summarize what they have read becomes much easier when they are able to determine the “gist” of the passage. Finding the “who, what, when, where, why, and how” of a story helps students with summarizing. When writing a story, the author generally takes these basic pieces of information and adds details in order to create something interesting to read. When the reader is able to pull these facts out of the story, they can then retell the story in a short summary.

After summarizing a story, the reader has a better understanding of the purpose of the passage. When I think about the GIST of God’s story written throughout Scripture, it helps me understand His purpose and His plan.

Who? God

What? Creation and salvation of the world

When? In the beginning and then continuing until the end

Why? So that He could have fellowship with men and women who loved Him

Where? His universe, specifically the earth

How? His might, power, grace, mercy, and love-combined with His willingness to sacrifice His Son for our sins

Today we remember the climax of God’s redemptive story.

The point at which the antagonist came face to face with the protaganist.

Since that day, all efforts by the antagonist, while cunning and evil, are in vain.

Victory has already been won by Jesus.

Now, the story has been handed to us. We have become the main characters in our own stories.

We know the truth.

We have a choice.

Accept Jesus or deny Him.

In the end, our story’s conclusion rests on this one decision.

As you think about Good Friday and Easter weekend, please ponder the following questions.

Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God?

Have you accepted Him as your Savior by doing what those who accepted Him in the books of Acts did?

When asked, “What should we do to be saved?” Peter told the crowd in Acts 2:38, “Repent and be baptized, everyone of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

I am praying today for all of you who read this post. I’m praying that the decision to follow Jesus becomes the climax of your story if it hasn’t already.

When we choose to die to ourselves and live for Him, sin and death lose their grip on us and we no longer face this world’s struggles alone.

The GIST of Good Friday is this:

Jesus conquered death so that we could live forever.

Thankful that His story’s climax can also be ours,

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Sunrise…….

April 21st, 2011

 

This morning I see the glow popping up over the hills beyond our house. It begins with shades of purple and then transforms to hues of orange, yellow, and red. While it never looks exactly like the day before, one thing is certain:

Everyday, all over the world, the same sun rises.

God knew exactly what He was doing when He created such a daily symbol of what keeps our hearts beating with Hope.

Think about this:

Everyday, life is worth living, because His Son has risen!

Tomorrow is the Friday before Resurrection Sunday. The day Jesus died for our sins.

I’m so thankful the story doesn’t end there, aren’t you?

Enjoy the sun rise wherever you are today.

Thankful for His Risen Son,

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Their First Move…..

April 20th, 2011

 

We were able to go to Nashville and help Erich and Mallory move into their first home!! Now they have a fenced in yard for Hugo and Phoebe!!

I thought I’d let you see a little of the weekend!041111006

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Our friend, Rob Harris, came by to help carry a few of the heavier things! Rob is a Christian songwriter in Nashville, and I will share a link to some of his music very soon! We were listening to a CD on the way home which held about 15 songs all written by him, and Tim and I both had tears running down our cheeks. He is a gifted man and great friend! 041111011 041111018 Erich and Mallory with Erich’s friend Josh. Erich and Josh are both nurses and met at work. Josh has been such a blessing to our family and to Erich and Mallory! I love how God brings new friends into our lives for every new chapter!041111021

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Their first mailbox…….041111023

Their first furniture purchase…… 041111094

Mallory strums a little music for Todd on Sunday morning before church.

041111091 Mallory and I took time for cups of coffee and hot tea before heading to church…..041111058Peek-a-boo! 041111082 041111084 041111086 041111087 Of course Nick and our dear friend and second dad to Erich, Bill Leamon, were with us in our hearts throughout the weekend. Bill was killed in a car accident when Erich was about 17 and he will always be the one to whom I give credit for Erich’s passion for missions. We miss you, Nick and Bill.041111080

Their first home……….

The beginning of God moving our children.

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Just a branch……

April 19th, 2011

 

John 15:4-5

Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

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As spring begins to reappear around our yard, I am reminded that apart from Him I am nothing……..

Thankful for the vine,

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   As I prepared to speak on Friday evening, I set up my table with all of the things from Nick’s foundation and then placed my notes and Scriptures on the podium.

I went to walk away and looked back because I thought I saw something…..

and right there next to my notebook of verses was a penny!

I had to smile and quietly go get my camera. These moments are always special little things just between me and Nick at the time. 🙂

I may get to Heaven and find out he had nothing to do with the strange appearance of pennies right when I need them, but until then, I am going to embrace everyone of them as a little gift to keep me going!

We had a wonderful evening, and I wish I would have taken more pictures.  I wanted to share a few and say “thank you” for praying for me.    I love women so much and spending my evening with these ladies was such a blessing to my soul. Seeing tables spread so beautifully like the ones above reminds me that the banqueting table in Heaven is going to be indescribable!

Have a wonderful Monday and know you are loved by a mighty God,