Today would have been Wanda’s 59th birthday. Wow! Seems so long ago now that we said “see you later” to our sweet sister. February of 2008 we celebrated having been blessed with such an amazing sister. Her quiet demeanor spoke volumes of her amazing character. She had a sense of humor that caught one off guard, mainly because you didn’t expect it. I like to imagine what she’s been up to in heaven these past 15 years…. A lot I’m sure. She is healed and whole-and no heart conditions exist in heaven.
I have been blessed-beyond measure with the siblings that God gave me–and there are several I have claimed through the years as being part of our family–even though there is a distance in many–and even though we don’t even talk as often as we would like–or should–it is still a blessing to have those in our lives who impact us in such a way, we forever carry their memories and it brings a spark of joy to an otherwise sad or gloomy day.
We have such amazing memories–and this porch and “Sister’s Retreat” was a highlight of all our sister retreats. There were the cookies and other surprises we enjoyed along the way. Tea Cakes baked by Aunt Evielean, scripture verses searched and read as I drove (not sure why–but was always the chauffeur. There were yummy meals and cozy fireside sing-alongs and prayer times. Yes, this retreat is one I will never forget. Thank you Jesus, for such amazing blessings and memories! I know everyone isn’t as fortunate.
I may not have talked about her to you lately, but I still miss her–think of her–and truly cannot hardly wait to see her. It is Jesus who made the difference in our lives and family connections. He still does.
I hope, as we prepare for March (coming to a city near YOU TOMORROW!) that you allow God to speak into your life about the hearts and souls of others.
Let us March into March with the passion and desire to tell the world…Jesus saves. Wanda would remind us tonight-HE is coming SOON!
There are days…probably for most all of us….when we feel a bit “down and out”. I remember when our girls were growing up there would be days when they would be so pitiful and say with such passion, “nobody loves me”.
Haven’t we all felt that way? We know in our deepest heart that we are loved, but somehow the pressures or stress of life so overwhelms us that we start sinking into ourselves and the enemy can cause us to believe that we are nothing special….not lovable….not desirable….completely forgettable. But sweet friend…that is not so at all.
I love to get things finished—accomplishing all the tasks in a day would be SO amazing!
There are ringing phones at all business offices and it keeps the day super busy—but often much work does not get completed. I remember one particular day in 2007 when I was busy answering a 6-line phone system and was getting frustrated. But there was one call that stopped me in my tracks and wrangled my full attention.
At exactly 3:16 p.m. the phone rang and it was a man named John.
Did you get that? The call came from John at 3:16. And the Lord’s message to my heart came through LOUD and CLEAR.
“Angie, I do love you, and I care about every detail of your life. But I need you to focus on Me. For I loved you so much….I gave My All. So that you would have ever lasting life. With Me. Do you understand child?”
This particular man named John called the office frequently. As does many other people each day.
So why did John call at exactly 3:16? Why not 3:17? Or 3:15? Because my Father had a message. For me. Since it is my custom to take down the exact time and date of each and every call… God knew I’d notice. Since we use duplicate message books, I had a copy of the message I took to prove this call came. When the call came, God’s love flooded my heart.
Weeks before this call came, I was sitting in a doctor’s office waiting to meet with the one who supposedly had the answers for my pain.
The Lord showed me exactly Who has the answers to not only my pain, but the healing as well. Not only the healing, but He has the answer to the questions in my heart. No, the answers may not come when we ask. Sometimes the answers come after a time of trial. So that we can see.
He wants us to see with eyes of the heart (spiritual), and not just eyes of the head (physical).
I saw a cross made of two nails sitting on the desk. I was thinking of all the things I should be doing rather than “wasting time” in a doctor’s office. If you know me at all….you know that going to the doctor for me is the ultimate last resort. When I have exhausted every home remedy known to mankind, then I will go to the doctor.
Do we treat our “soul needs” the same way? When we have exhausted every effort in trying to “fix” whatever the problem is our self, do we then go to the Father?
The words on the plaque where the nails were said, “Feel the Love”. The sharpness of the nails were intended to remind us of the eternal love of God.
When you are feeling unloved, in pain, left out, alone, scared, depressed, heartsick, burdened with something you can’t seem to put a name to, place your hand on the nail. Feel the love—it came with the pain of everything we could possibly endure today….and more. For He loved us enough to die for all the sins we would ever commit. Not just you and I. But for every single human being in this entire world. Living, dead or yet to be born. All of us.
This may seem an odd devotion for Valentine’s Day, but I am sharing this today to remind you that you are loved. He proved it when He left the throne–further proved in the manger, then the cross—finally, from the tomb when He arose. His love is like none other.
So precious friend…if you are feeling unloved…. Put your hand on the nail.
Do you remember the old Heinz® ketchup commercial? The song that accompanied the slow pouring, best on fries ever—ketchup: “Anticipation”. “Anticipa-a-a-tion is making me wait”. It’s one of those songs that gets stuck in your head when you hear it—but in life—it’s one of those things we grow weary of doing. Waiting.
Well, you waited 365 days for 2023 and here she is! Bright-sparkly and brand-new! Maybe in your house—she’s not as sparkly. But 2023 is “new”, nonetheless. She’s never had footprints walk here before— but you and I are about to change that—putting our mark on 2023.
I generally begin considering what might be “my word” for the year in October or November. I always ask the Lord what He wants to say to me—or show me in the coming year. It was much later this last time. I asked mid-December. I asked—and the only thing that came to my mind in that very moment was “Anticipate”.
I’m not a gloomy person—but when I heard that word, I kind of sank inside. It meant (to me), I was about to “WAIT” for something. But couldn’t it also be…my “waiting” was over? Meaning, the things I had been seeking God about -was going to be realized this year. That’s the way I chose to see it.
Often, a big part in “anticipating” something is—letting go. Letting go can be painful. A big Band-Aid® won’t cover the pain that accompanies letting go.
Since I work at a funeral home—the letting go is something I see first-hand every single day. Letting go of someone you love is the absolute hardest—no two ways about it. Grieving happens in life with letting go of other things—but things can be replaced…people cannot.
When I began thinking of all the things that I let go of in the last 61 years of my life—I couldn’t help but recognize that to let go meant that sooner or later—I would be receiving something else. I jotted a few things down:
When company cutbacks caused Jeff to lose his job (many years ago), even though I cried and grieved about this—soon, God showed us that this was the opportunity for Jeff to do what he had always wanted to do—begin his own business. That business led Jeff to do some fill-in work at our church fellowship headquarters—and in turn—that led to a full-time job with benefits.
Years later, when we were called to the mission field, it required for us to let go of the life we had loved and enjoyed for 12+ years. Yet in doing so, that offered us the opportunity to live in two different countries, experience two different cultures and meet and love so many new people.
In life—we are all in a constant state of letting go. But do we anticipate what comes with that action? Sometimes we have to let go of our children to allow them to walk in the mission field that God has already mapped out for them. Sometimes we have to let them go “their way”—even knowing it is against all we taught them—but praying with a fiery passion that God will bring them back to the place they need to be in Him—even if it means a crushing in the process. Oh, that hurts.
In a conversation with one of our grandsons recently, I reminded him that all his decisions would affect more than just himself. And consequences of poor decisions would often follow him for the rest of his life. God forgives…yes. But our memories of rebellion are a constant reminder of the pain we caused others.
“Let go and let God”—as cliché as that sounds—it’s true. As long as we try to work the situation our way—God cannot do what is necessary to get them to the place where they surrender…even if that place is the hardest most confusing place we’ve ever been. I guess you can tell I’m speaking with experience here. Our prodigal’s journey was the most excruciating walk I’ve ever had—hot coals type of walk. 15+ years of it. But God….
We still have prodigals in our family—and I’m still praying the diligent prayer—anticipating the day when God has their full attention and they want nothing more than Him. Am I willing to endure the slow process if it takes it? Yes. The wait for Heinz® ketchup is nothing compared to this. Eternal life with all my family is worth whatever He feels necessary.
And now—as we have anticipated, 2023 is here. What kind of mark do you want to make? I want my mark to be a mark of powerful prayer. I want it to be impacting prayer. What does that take? Practice. Daily. Not ritualistically, but as a privilege. That’s what it is to me. I get to have a conversation daily with the Creator of the universe…
What is He saying to you? Nothing, you say? You must not have asked Him…because He is always saying something. Sometimes it’s a simple, “I AM here”.
I want to close this out with a challenge: Ask Him. Anticipate a response. Wait for it. It’s the best you will ever taste.
“Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!”
The topic of “purpose”–your purpose, my purpose, it’s purpose (as in circumstances) is often discussed in Christian circles. We all want to know ours. What we’re here for, and we want to know now.
I don’t believe finding your purpose is completely like declaring you are going to medical school so that you will become a doctor–or law school to become a lawyer. I believe deep in each one of us, our purpose was a planted seed as God created us…in our mother’s womb. For some, it IS to be a doctor–or lawyer–an educator, etc. The point is, we all have a purpose. The biggest one: To be light in a dark world.
Of course there’s more to it than that.
At the end of the first chapter of Luke, he describes John’s purpose:
“… to give His people knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins. Because of our God’s merciful compassion, the Dawn from on high will visit usto shine on those who live in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
Luke 1:77-79 HCSB
These words came directly from the Holy Spirit, through the voice of Zechariah when he was no longer silent. John’s daddy declared his purpose to the world on the day he was born. He shared what had been given to him by the angel, Gabriel–that well known passage when we learned ‘ole Zechariah had some doubt about what God could do. I mean, didn’t he remember Abraham and Sarah? For real! God did an all out miracle there. But instead, his focus was on his inabilities, not God’s abilities.
But the day of declaration came and I like to believe he was LOUD with it! I believe by the time he wrote “his name is John”, I believe he cleared the cobwebs from his unused vocal cords and his voice rang out like he had a lapel mic attached to his robe. The Bible says he instantly began praising God… and after that, you just can’t praise quietly.
The last sentence of this chapter caught my attention this morning–and in truth, it’s the very reason I started typing this morning:
The child grew up and became spiritually strong, and he was in the wilderness until the day of his public appearance to Israel.
Luke 1:80 HCSB
The main part that grabbed me were these: “and he was in the wilderness until the day of his public appearance”. Another translation says “he lived in lonely places until….”
The bottom line is- that place where you and I have been–or maybe still are? That place that feels like a wilderness–that loneliness you feel even when surrounded by people? The only way out is to stay faithful to seeking His Presence and His Word. It might FEEL like a wilderness…but in fact, I believe it’s the preparation ground for what God is about to reveal–and do in and through your life. The things you are experiencing and learning through those dark days will undoubtedly be used by God to help another. I heard a minister once say that God never wastes suffering. I believe every smidgen of what we walk through, the good and the bad is able to be used by God.
So, your purpose? Declare love of Jesus Christ to those who don’t know… sometimes those who DO know–need reminders of His faithfulness. And hold on honey. If you don’t know yet—it’s coming (your purpose). Because HE is coming soon—and HE is going to use YOU!
And friend, I am ready for the revival that is on the horizon—and I want it to begin in US!
I wrote this in 2020. January to be specific. It didn’t get posted because I was so sick. (Might have been the earlier C-virus). Finding it sitting in my drafts, updated it just this morning— November 4, 2022.
As I looked back at drafts that didn’t make it to the home page this one stuck out. I want to pray effective prayers. I want to SEE God move on behalf of Believers everywhere. I want to HEAR the testimonies ringing out louder than what the news and social media’s have thrust from the gates. I want His TRUTH to come out of our lives and mouths. If you’ve got just a little minute, the 2020 devotion is below.
“ I wanted to write yesterday. I wanted to start the New Year off with words. But, I remained silent most all day- sick with fever and body aches. Wrapped up with the thickest blanket we have, sweat pants, t-shirt, socks and thick hoodie. If you know me at all— and the major hot flashes I have- you know I was indeed sick to have all this on me and around me all day. Fever finally broke last night- thank YOU Jesus!
The Lord did some amazing things in 2019. 2018-2019 were two of the hardest years for me.
Health issues escalated to a point I had to leave the mission field way early. I realize now that I have to change some of my ideas of what ministry will look like for me/us. What I thought we would be doing for the rest of our lives is not exactly all God had planned. There’s more.
It’s way more than I/we ever imagined. There’s always been some secret dreams of ours- one we’ve only talked about a scant number of times. But never with anyone outside of ourselves. We hold this one close. We are waiting on God. We’ve learned over the last several years— more than ever— His ways and thoughts are so far beyond our own, as we have been continually seeking the plan of God.
I want to share a little portion from a YouVersion devotion by Charles Stanley, “The Will of God”.
“As you journey forward, seeking assurance of His will for you, ask yourself the following questions carefully and prayerfully:
Is it consistent with the Word of God?
Is this a wise decision?
Can I honestly ask God to enable me to achieve this goal?
Do I have genuine peace about this path?
Is this decision appropriate for who I am as a follower of Christ?
Does this fit God’s overall plan for my life?
Will this decision honor God?
When you can say “yes” to these seven questions, you’ll know you’ve confirmed God’s will.”
As I have watched 2020 inch closer to us, I have been going back through some of my old prayer journals. All the way back to 2009. And in this span of time— I can see how God has orchestrated certain people in and out of our lives. I saw how His hand has guided our lives- and even our desires for more of Him. I saw how I grew. In the hardest of times.
I saw how prayers prayed have been answered. And, I see where I have prayed the same prayer for years—yet I have hope. Because- I end each prayer reminding God— it doesn’t matter what I want— “Father, You know what is best, what might become a stumbling block, and what keeps me close to You. Your will be done”.
It’s been in those hours of prayer that I have seen God work and change me. He’s still working.
It’s now 2020. I didn’t get to share this as it dawned a new decade. But it’s still early in the year. And God is doing some amazing things. I feel in my heart and spirit that the “more of HIM” we have sought is here. 2020. And today, I pray it with more urgency than ever— because we still have an assignment here— and there— whenever “there” might be.
Bolivia is still so very important to both of us — and there are so many other things I want to see God do. I may not get to do all the things I wanted. I may get to do MORE.
I prayed for HIS plan. And He has many other people in line to be part of this. They just may not know what they’re in line for yet. They may be like I am— in line, ready to do what He asks. No matter what- where- or when.
As 2020 dawned, I pictured God standing up, rubbing His holy hands together, gleam in His eyes, saying, “Okay y’all, get ready. This next segment is bringing all My children home.” (Yep, I just gave God a southern accent.)
What’s it going to look like? And how long is this segment going to last? Who knows. Only God. But we are set and ready to finish up what He began in us. The work He has called us to; leading more to know Him- the call to shine His light into the forgotten lives. The call to GO wherever He leads. The call to BE whatever He has lined up to fulfill His purpose. The call to DO whatever He desires and had planned since before we drew a breath.
“For I know the plans and thoughts that I have for you,’ says the LORD, ‘plans for peace and well-being and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call on Me and you will come and pray to Me, and I will hear [your voice] and I will listen to you. Then [with a deep longing] you will seek Me and require Me [as a vital necessity] and [you will] find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:11-13 AMP https://www.bible.com/1588/jer.29.11-13.amp
Are your prayers changing for 2020? Are they more about Him and less about your wants? Do your prayers involve the word, “Yes”?
I want to leave you with one last quote from the devotion:
“And finally, always be willing to do whatever your heavenly Father says—no matter how big or small, practical or unreasonable, easy or difficult, popular or unpopular, rewarding or costly.
Always say yes to Him.
Even when you don’t want to, are afraid, don’t understand His direction, or when it’s painful—remember that Jesus is the One who saves you, forgives your sins, sanctifies you, provides for you, protects you, gives you a home in heaven with Him, and loves you unconditionally and eternally.”
I can guarantee there will be those who don’t “get it”— but trust the voice of God over the voices of doubt. He never fails.
And wherever He calls you- leads you— He will continue to guide and provide.
This year?… it just might stretch you.
Are you willing?
God is faithful. We have been able to lead and host teams every year since 2011 with the exception of 2020-21 (due to C-Bug). God is always faithful.
“And we know [with great confidence] that God [who is deeply concerned about us] causes all things to work together [as a plan] for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to His plan and purpose.” Romans 8:28 AMP
This team. Oh my goodness. If I had a dollar for every time I laughed, I would have come home a millionaire. (Maybe not quite a millionaire, but close.) This group of excited travelers were the BEST group we have ever hosted. I know. I say that each time–but this time…truly. Can you pick out the five NEW ONES?? They soon became favorites of all of us! (What happens on the mission field-stays on the mission field–right Ms. Jessie? Ms. Wanda? )
The tests and trials to get each of them to where they were standing on the day we left, was nothing short of miraculous for all. Our youngest team member, who had felt the call to go years before, had saved her money for the 2019 trip and then we had to cancel. 2020 brought all mission projects of ours to a stand-still. 2021, we began to see light at the end of the c*v1d tunnel. In 2020, when “Pajama Church” was in full swing, I sought God about how this would all effect missions.
Once people began to come back to church, the effects of c*^|d had injured the church body. Not just because of the deaths that had occurred, but because it seemed to have made a viral impact in attendance. Many churches suffered great loss of lives. Not just here…but all over the world. We heard from our pastor friends in Bolivia….same.
Fear had slithered in and set up a class room. People began to fear “gathering” as a body of believers. However, once the doors were fully open, masks made optional, those who could- began to come back to the house of God. There is strength found in gathering as one.
In all that strength, I saw in so many, and felt in my own life, the hunger to get out and do more than ever before -while we can- for the work of the kingdom of God. The trip was on!
We had the opportunity to visit some new schools, as well as return to our favorites, share the Gospel, play games and love on everyone. The number of kids and adults for the week was well over 2000. April Pettis, (our crusade pastor) with Chase Curti (crusade team leader, and secretary/treasurer of Focus Forward Ministries, Inc.), and our crusade team were the recipients of hundreds of hugs in those four days and new souls were committed to Christ as each message ended with an opportunity to invite Jesus to be Lord of their lives. *Enter crocodile tears*. I get emotional when I see those hands go up. When I know that no matter what the next day brings for these, they made a commitment to serve a God who will be with them no matter what.
For the FIRST time, I didn’t carry the camera! A new little missionary friend of mine did; Autumn Howell. She snapped pictures of everyone and soaked in every single minute of the sweet days filled with precious people!
If you’ve ever “thought” you would like to go on a mission trip…we are going again end of May- or first of June of 2023, if God is willing. We are so excited about what God is doing!
Contact Jeff, Chase, Floyd or myself. We love and appreciate ALL the prayers!
First, I cannot tell you how excited we are about the upcoming mission trip. Sneads First Assembly is partnering with Focus Forward Ministries, Inc. to build a church and host kids crusades! There has not a single day gone by since I left in 2018 that I have not had thoughts of Bolivia. It was so much more than words can express. My heart is still so marked by what God has done in our lives since 2011, when we first began building churches and hosting kids crusades in schools.
I scanned pictures from several years worth of crusades looking for one particular picture this evening–and when I found it –it was like the day just unfolded in my mind all over again.
While the puppets were singing “loudly”, and the games were being played with much excitement and squeals from the elementary children in the front yard of a school, a family, walking down the road stopped to see what all the excitement was about. They stayed for the story.
At the end of the story, our daughter, April gave an invitation to all the children to raise their hand if they wanted to ask Jesus to come into their heart and forgive them of their sins. A simple Gospel message meant for children, but it touched the heart of a daddy outside the fence. As she gave the invitation, I took pictures of the raised hands of many kids sitting on the grass. Moving a few feet to the left to get a clearer picture of the group, I saw the hand of the daddy go up while his head was bowed in reverence. Tears sprang to my eyes as I watched the hand of God move in our midst. I cannot describe to you what I felt that day. What a trip that was. At the conclusion of the message and prayer, our team handed out Bibles that had been purchased for us to take and distribute to the children, teens and any adult that wanted one. This daddy and mama both got one, as did their children.
Our team is filled with gratitude at what your gifts and donations allow us to do. Carry the Gospel–sharing the Word–and leaving the Word behind to grow and flourish under the guidance of the pastors we work with. Thank you.
If you would like to be a part of this trip but can’t go–we have several ways you can join in:
We need prayer partners. Begin praying now. Opposition will be faced I am sure by many team members–but we KNOW God is able to destroy all opposing forces! Pray now for each member’s health, finances, passport delivery for those waiting, for the families of the team members and most of all –for those who we are going to be ministering to and building for;
We would love to be able to take Bibles again. We need the help to do that. Chase Curti is the one who orders them and can get you a price on how much each one costs. We like to give them out on the last day to all the students at each school and faculty.
Something I didn’t realize we would need until we began taking an inventory of what we normally pack–our puppets are no longer with us. It is not uncommon for things to disappear from luggage on trips… If you are interested in helping buy puppets, or would like to send us some–we would be incredibly grateful. We generally only use four-to-five. If you’ve not ever shopped for puppets, we have bought some from Amazon, but I learned the hard way, some don’t fit adult hands. 😀
The best ones we had came from a company called “Folkmanis Puppets“. A friend bought me a “Chicken” from there and sadly, she was in the missing puppet bag. What I will probably do this time instead of putting them all in one bag, I may ask each team member to pack the beloved puppet in their carry-on 🙂 Won’t that be fun :). If you want to help with the puppets just let one of us know. We can build a character around almost anything.
THE LOST PUPPETS HAVE BEEN FOUND! They were handed over to someone in 2017 for safe keeping….all sealed up in a vacuum seal bag… PTL!!!
Gosh, I wish you could go…
I’m closing tonight with some beautiful children who found Jesus in 2015…seeds were planted. They’ve been watered as we went back each year (until 2020 when you know what hit the nations). I hope we can see how the seeds planted have grown and developed!
Last week, on the phone with someone from a family we were currently serving at the funeral home, the caller asked to speak with a co-worker who was also on the phone. I asked the caller if she could call them back in a few minutes. The caller said, “is it a minute that’s just a minute, or is a minute that like hours long.” That took me by surprise. No one had ever asked how long a minute was….it was 60 seconds last time I checked. I don’t think the span of one complete minute has changed since I went to school, but then I remembered; the term “it’s been a minute” could mean anywhere from one minute to several months, possibly years I suppose, for this generation.
I get confused at times at the changes in terminology. It’s been actually a few years since I wrote a Thankful Thursday online. Back in 2007, Thankful Thursday’s were a regular occurrence with several other devotional writers. It caused me to pause every single Thursday and give thanks out-loud to the World Wide Web. Yesterday–I was reminded…it’s time. It’s been over a minute.
There are so many things I have to be thankful for, I will hit just a few this morning:
The presence of and my relationship with God.
I’m thankful for Friday: A specific Friday, and what took place on the “Friday”: The complete and total sacrifice of our Savior, Jesus Christ, as He surrendered His life to the cross for our sins, and was resurrected on the third day–and now is at the right hand of God the Father, always attentive to our lives and the needs in our lives.
I’m thankful for the ability to pray and attend church services freely without fear of death or persecution.
I’m thankful for my sweet family–every-single-one. We have been blessed to have mother and grandbuddy move closer to my sister, Aimee and I–and with things in this world as they are and health issues, I’ve never been more grateful that to have the ability to just drive about three miles to check on them.
I’m thankful for our home. We’ve been in our home since February and I still walk around sometimes in amazement that God would bless us with the desires of our heart so deliberately. I mean–you would have to know how many times my sister and I walked by this house built in the early 70’s and almost jokingly claimed it for us as a retirement home because of it’s perfect location. It was no joke to God. He knew exactly what we would need and when we would need it.
I’m thankful for health. We have faced new health issues the past few years and they have made me appreciate the good health we have had for so long. Heart issues are scary anyway–but when it’s the love of your life having them…we celebrate the fact that God hears and heals. Sometimes He does it outright–sometimes He uses medicine, procedures and physicians. We are thankful for all of it! And I’m thankful to have my sweet husband a little less stressed 🙂
I’m thankful for our daughters, their husbands, and all the wonderful grandchildren! From 20 years old to two years old–we have the blessings that only can come from the grace and mercy of Almighty God! Are they perfect? Are you kidding? But they are ours and we love them and pray for them all constantly.
I’m thankful for our church family. I have learned so much in my life sitting under various pastors, and I’m thankful that every single one of them have had a heart for missions;–the community, the city, the nation and the world. And our church reaches both near and far. It’s sad to watch churches dwindle down to nothing and have to close it’s doors. I wonder sometimes if it is their short arms…. not reaching beyond their doors, not looking at the whole picture–the whole world.
I’m thankful for my job. I found it very odd that when we returned from Bolivia (early), as I was struggling with severe depression–(a few times I felt to the point of just wanting God to take me home), that God would sit me down to work and serve in a funeral home. How ironic. But He as the healing and restoration has come, God has allowed me to love on and serve hurting families. Healed through serving. I don’t think it happens like that much of the time. But for me, He chose this way.
I’m thankful for my next door neighbors. 😉 This was actually the sweetest prayer answered, to me, since my baby sister lives next door! We both realize that nothing in our lives is guaranteed to stay the way it is, especially for those serving in ministry. I’m not so tied to this home, nor she hers, should God see fit to call either of us to a place beyond the limits of our sweet city. We must all remain flexible and pliable in God’s hands. Otherwise, the twisting and molding, chiseling and carving that must be done on us can get so painful (hand raised in acknowledgement). The process of change still hurts, but when we surrender to His hands–and are still before Him, it’s much easier than if we balk and demand our own way. Our way is not the best way–only God’s way is.
I just realized I’ve written more than the normal “thankful Thursday” used to be. We kind of kept it at a shorter limit…because you know, people get tired of reading… But my heart and life is full of things to be thankful for! I bet yours is too. Feel free to leave a comment with YOUR thankful’s for this Thursday!
I remember the weekend I found this sign. It snowed while we were in Ellijay, Georgia and it was beautiful–and I felt like God did it just for ME!
This was back before all the good stores closed–and this picture may have been taken in Blue Ridge, GA, again, before all the good stores closed. Now it’s new stuff and commercialized. Few have a walk down memory lane “used-thrift-store-stuff and antiques”. It’s disappointing to say the least. But I digress.
When I saw the yield sign, I knew it meant something. I’ve stopped on the road side before and snapped a picture of a yield sign because someone put a few bullet holes in it. Holmes County Florida–probably a teenager with not enough to keep him busy at home and no curfew. (Don’t get me started on that…)
Anyway –yield signs speak to me. They say stop. Become aware of where you are and where you’re headed. Are you going YOUR way -or His way. (Can we just pause so I can say: Yield. To. His. Plan.)
As we have approached 2022, never imagining in my wildest dreams 20 years ago that we would ever be here, I look back contemplatively at the last several years: Where did it go and what did I do with the time spent? Ever wonder that yourself?
I have walked through some places I wouldn’t want to walk again—yet,to hear the voice of God as I have heard Him in the past six years, I would.
I spent some time the last few days looking backwards through some prayer journals at what God has done in my life—and I am still amazed: Healed of cancer. Healed through chemo and radiation, both of which I felt would kill me, yet did not.
I experienced Him healing my raw radiation damaged skin almost overnight and layer it with brand new skin. The two radiation technicians were so stunned— (they had seen it the day before), that one called the other in to see–and then they called the doctor in to be a witness to the miracle that had begun in 24 short hours. God can do a LOT in a little time. Remember what He did in just six days?
I witnessed firsthand how God uses our circumstances to draw us closer to Him, reach others for Him, reveal our shortcomings to us, and bring glory to His name all at the same time.
I wouldn’t have chosen that—but He knew what I would be on the other side of it. Changed.
Through various things in my life, from rebellion as a teenager and even as a young adult, to almost losing both my daughters at different times and very different circumstances (April’s car accident and Tiffany, when her little Zackary was born); God has taught me more about submission than I could have imagined.
Submission is hard. I have watched a young lady I love very much struggle with it, even get angry about it—and I want to hold her close and tell her if she will stop fighting it and lean on God—He will help her. But this is something, as painful as it will be for her, she will have to learn from Him. Just like I did. And she will see her relationship with Him—grow.
I think as long as we live we will keep learning the art of submission. Jesus displayed this daily. At the end of His earthly ministry—He prayed, “Not my will but yours be done” (Luke 22:42). He knew what was about to happen—yet He submitted.
We experience submission in daily living. Sickness takes a toll and changes the way we operate on a daily basis. Just look around at what the C* virus has done to our lives and routines.
Before Christmas my dad underwent open heart surgery. It was either submit to surgery or plan to die. There was no middle ground and there were no “if-and’s-or but’s”. Death would come. Of course, we know that death will still come, should the Lord tarry –but it would come much sooner for him without the surgery.
After the surgery there are still lessons in submission. The doctor has orders. Our body dictates what it will and won’t do. And we submit to the complete painful exhaustion of the process of healing. But healing and strength will come—and much sooner if we submit.
Surrendering to the Holy Spirit is often the same. I’ve had my own painful times of learning to surrender and submit to Him—and the same results occur. While the act of surrendering or submitting—both mean to yield, it is not the same as “giving up”. To give up means to cease making an effort; resign oneself to failure.
As we surrender, we do so with a fortitude (stubbornness) that will carry us through the hardest times.
My mother and I had a conversation one morning recently about the stubborn gene trait in the women of our family. While we are sometimes tenacious or stubborn it doesn’t mean we don’t surrender at the appropriate time. We submit to authority—but we can stubbornly push ourselves forward to complete a task when our body feels it has reached its limit. I believe the stubborn gene trait was an asset to me when I had cancer.
In the new year- I am quite sure we will find places to stubbornly push ourselves forward when we really feel like giving up—and I believe we will also feel the urgency to surrender to the Holy Spirit when He reminds us—we don’t have to do this alone. He is with us—just as the ministering angel was with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane –so the Holy Spirit is with us. (Luke 22:43)
Without my biggest surrender in 2009 by getting on my first airplane–I would not be where I am today–with a storehouse of memories, miracles and blessings–more than I ever imagined I would ever see and experience.
My thought line of airplanes was quite ridiculous…”If God wanted me to fly–He would have given me wings”….and….”Oh, I’ll fly one day–when I fly up to Heaven.” (Sounds just like some little granny would say. Trouble was–I was saying this in my 20’s!). I was afraid. Fear kept me on the ground while God wanted me to soar and see new things.
Can I offer a suggestion for your own 2022? Don’t be afraid. When something new comes your way–pray about it and then if you feel God directing you toward the “fearful thing”…go after it with gusto! If it’s beginning your own new business–or going back to school…or stepping out in faith in a ministry you feel called to do…Hold His hand tight and GO FOR IT!
Can we also encourage those around us?
Maybe they struggle with surrender.
Maybe we just need to let them know they aren’t alone? Or, perhaps they don’t know Jesus—it’s very possible they’ve never encountered a moment to need Him with such urgency as we’ve had in the past years.
No matter what this new year brings, let us look to Him—as we face the year in faith, fully surrender to His guidance…and He will carry us all the way Home.
I have been amazingly blessed with two precious and incredible daughters. I have also been given the opportunity to sow into the lives of many girls over the last 35-40 years. I’m almost 60. I’ve accumulated MANY blessings in the form of some other mother’s daughter and now, some sons.
First, God blessed me with two kind hearted and loving sons-in-law. This isn’t about them, nor necessarily for them, although, if they are as smart as I think they are, they will pull some nuggets and put them in action.
What got me thinking in this line of thought are the five most recent young fellows God has blessed my life with in the past three years. I won’t tag them, nor state their names, they know who they are. And they know they are precious. Fellas, Mama Angie is about to give you some “mama advice”. You all have your own mama—I’m not that. But I believe in sowing seeds of faith and love wherever God plants you—and I’ve been planted here—and you are there as well, so get settled to listen a few minutes.
You are either just married, about to be married this month, or will next year. I’ve seen the rings. “Y’all did good!” I pray the coming years are even better!
So, let’s talk. Or, let me. (If you know me well, you know I will be honest and upfront if asked my opinion—but today I’m giving my unsolicited opinion.)
These are in no particular order of importance except this first one:
Pray for her. Not just in your own prayer time, but hold her hand or hold her close and pray OVER her. When I worked in Dothan, Jeff began doing this in the last couple of years that I traveled back and forth, and let me tell you—what a difference it made in my day! As well as how loved I felt—words can’t express the depth of that feeling-emotion. Just try it and see what happens. You will have a happy wife on your hands—and God will bless YOUR OWN life. You are her prayer covering. You are the priest of the home. You don’t have to use fancy words. It doesn’t even have to be long. If you feel too shy—do it anyway. Guys—if you cannot pray over her—stop and rethink this. This is a must for a blessed and whole marriage. Oh, you will still have a marriage, it just won’t be as blessed and amazing. (Girls, this is for you too.)
Find out her love language. If you’ve never read the book, “The Five Love Languages, by Gary Smalley”, I encourage you to read that. At least enough to get the gist of it. Her love language is what makes her “feel” loved. Guys we may “KNOW” we are loved, but we like to “feel” loved. That happens with the love tank being filled. Daily. I confess, I didn’t read the whole book and what I did read was many years ago, but it stuck. Find out what her love language is. It’s a short little quiz you can take online without even buying the book and it will open up your world! Everyone is different. My love language is three top contenders: physical touch, quality time and words of affirmation. Physical touch doesn’t just mean the bedroom (yes, I said that—you are either married or about to be—figure it out). Physical touch is holding her hand when you walk sometimes. It’s your arm around her when you sit close, or rubbing her shoulders—or feet! (If she loves that.) If you are doing this with sexpectations, you are doing it for the wrong reasons. And yes, I said that too. And guys, as you get older, you have to be more intentional. Life happens and we all get busy—just don’t get too busy to be there for each other—in the small ways as well as the big ways. If the church service is the only time you are close—go back to number 1. Pray. Ask God to remind you of the love you once had. When you find out what her love language is, not putting it into action is like saying, “I don’t care or it’s not that important to me”—if that’s the case, you are in a mess. Only God can help you. (Girls, SAME SAME SAME)
Help each other. If she needs help with a big job in the house, i.e., moving furniture, help with patience. If you need help with an outside project, ask for her help. Chances are she will love that opportunity to spend some extra time with you (but don’t get angry if she’s neck deep in the middle of something and can’t instantly to run help you). If that’s YOUR love language, make sure she knows that. She won’t know until you tell her. I personally love helping Jeff. We work pretty well together on projects—he knows my physical limitations—and while there was that one-time helping sheetrock I cried, it hasn’t been often—it’s a true joy to work side-by-side. (We grew that day.). Going through struggles is going to happen. Go together. Don’t struggle alone. The devil gets in when you try to go through things alone and he plants crappola in your mind and her mind all day long—we each have the ability to help one another and make it stop.
Be a good forgiver. My mother had Jeff and I sit down and read 1 Corinthians 13 together the day we married. We have both had to put it into practice many times in the last almost 39 years. And we have both fumbled at it at times—but we keep at it. This translation and I like the way it reads, 1-8:
If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it;[a] but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages[b] and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever!
Don’t spend more than an agreed upon amount without discussing it. That means, don’t go out and buy a boat without sitting down and seeing what’s coming up, where you are financially and can you afford this…. And girls, same goes for you. When I find something I think I just have to have, I will send Jeff a message or call if it happens to be over the agreed amount. This is just good common sense.
Keep a little cash stash for emergencies, i.e., a special date night to a really nice place rather than just same-old-same-old. Plan ahead for vacations by saving and sticking it back. Makes vacation more enjoyable when you know it’s already funded. There were many years we never took one—it wasn’t in the budget. I didn’t pout—we did something else together. (Even if I pouted initially, I got over it really quick.). Goes without saying, girls SAME.
DO NOT YELL. Ever. If you feel the blood boiling, go wash the car or truck, cut grass, chop wood, or something constructive. Calm down. Talk about it before the week is out. Sometimes it takes a few days. Just don’t let it fester and become infected. Get it out and get rid of it. The devil loves it when we hang on to hurt. We have all been guilty of that. Girls SAME. If you yell, I will be very disappointed.
Give her the attention she needs. Girls, same. Give him the attention he needs. It’s biblical. Don’t make either one a beggar. Not only is that wrong biblically, it also lets them know—your needs don’t really matter to me. If there’s too much going on in your life and your mind can’t stop—work on that. Spontaneity is great—but planning is better. Planning shows you really care about the other person’s needs. I remember one time I was working two jobs and one was at the law office all day and the part-time one was at the mall in a small dress shop. Jeff knew I was exhausted. I was helping out a friend who was on maternity leave. I always called him to let him know I was leaving Dothan. He timed it just right and had me a hot bubble bath ready when I got home. Yes, I cried. Guys, pay attention to what she needs. There may be times she can’t put it into words…learn to read her heart.
When children come along—remember the little lady was here first. Love her big. Girls, SAME THING. If you have to “make a date night”, do it. There is a grandma who would LOVE to watch that little baby for a few hours while you have a special date. If you live away from parents and grandparents, find a responsible young lady or couple at church and ask them—whether you can even leave the house for a date or not, make it special. Intentionality speaks VOLUMES. Those little babies do go to sleep sometimes….don’t worry about the house—it will be there. Give one another some real listening time. If she needs to talk—listen. What she really might need is for YOU to talk. Girls, SAME. (Listening to Jeff is in my top five favorite things. He doesn’t talk a lot—so when he does, I pay attention.)
Be a saver more than a spender. This also speaks volumes. It means you are looking to the future and not just living for the present.
If a particular task makes her just nuts, help her with it. (Tax time is a good time.). Girls, SAME.
TELL her each day something you like or love about her. Whether it’s her hairdo, her eyes, her outfit, her nail polish or the way she loves you…make it personal. Not about what she cooked the day before. She needs this. I heard an older preacher say once, “son, if you don’t tell her, someone at that office will”. BIG side note: Girls, SAME. Tell HIM what thrills you about him. I love telling Jeff this—because number 1, it’s true. He’s the most amazing and handsome man I’ve ever laid eyes on, and 2, he’s mine. I want to take good care of him. Because he’s mine.
KISS. KISS. KISS. I laughed when I typed that because that’s something we ALL need. If she’s a kisser –KISS HER. Girls, SAME.
Don’t go to bed angry. I’ve done this. I’m sure in the almost 39 years we’ve been married Jeff has too. BUT if you do, pray until you aren’t angry any more. Praying for her will remove the anger and help you love her through whatever made you angry.
Send her sweet texts in the day, write her sweet notes (I love a handwritten note). Generally, Jeff and I do cards rather than gifts at birthdays/anniversaries/valentines etc. Sometimes there’s a gift—but there is almost always a card. Make it one that says your feelings if you have a problem writing yours out. I’m a writer—so I have no problem with writing. If you are NOT a writer, do it sometimes anyway. I treasure each one Jeff has written.
Go the extra mile. Sometimes it may seem you are the only one going the extra mile—(girls don’t let that happen). Don’t carry resentment with you. Go with love for her.
Holidays are generally times we have to do more than we physically feel like doing—don’t fuss about going to her family’s house for a meal. Girls, SAME.
If you get mad with her about something….for Pete’s sake, DON’T go tell your mama. Don’t tell anyone but God. Unless you need a counselor. GIRLS, SAME SAME SAME.
If she handles all the household chores, tell her THANK YOU. If you share in those chores, great. That doesn’t always happen. Side-note to girls: if he takes care of the maintenance on your vehicle –tell him THANK YOU! Find lots of things to thank the other one for. A thankful heart is a happy heart. And lastly,
Go back to number one. Pray for each other. Prayer is the glue that will keep your marriage together in the hardest of times.
I’ve written a ton. More than I planned—but it just kept coming out… so maybe you needed reminding of what she needs. It’s not all about you. Girls, SAME.