Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Are you thankful?

It is that time of year where we, Americans, give thanks for our many blessings; but what if your heart is heavy and not full of gratitude right now? During the times that we are sad, lonely, depressed, angry, grieving, sick, or walking through the wilderness or desert is when it is most important to reach out to God and thank Him for what He has provided. It is also helpful to look back at a journal or other writings during happier times to remember times of joy, happiness, thanksgiving, answered prayers and other blessings. It helps us keep perspective and not allow our feelings and circumstances to overwhelm us or cloud our view.

Gratitude is easy when life is going well and we are happy with our circumstances. Gratitude becomes a choice when we are unhappy with our circumstances. "Should we accept only good things from the hand of God and never anything bad?" Job 2:10(NLV).

Job lost his possessions, his children, his wife, and finally his health. However, he refused to blame or curse God.

"I came naked from my mother's womb, and I will be stripped of everything when I die. The Lord gave me everything I had, and the Lord has taken it away. Praise the name of the Lord! In all of this, Job did not sin by blaming God." Job 1:21-22(NLV).

There is always something to be thankful for, even in the worst circumstances. I am thankful for answered prayers,family, friends, food, clothing, a home, a warm bed, a job, transportation, freedom to worship without fear, and freedom to write about Him.

I would love to hear what you are thankful for? What blessings, no matter how small, are you thankful? Writing what you are thankful for will help bring about a spirit of gratitude no matter your circumstances; because you will be focusing on God the source of all good gifts and not your current plight.

I pray you have a happy Thanksgiving. May God bless you and keep you and reveal to you His many blessings.

Today, I am participating in Bridget Chumbley's One Word Devotion on Gratitude. To see other devotions on Gratitude click here.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

I Saw America by Rod Smith, Laurel, Mississippi

"I command you to love each other in the same way that I love you. And here is how to measure it--the greatest love is shown when people lay down their lives for their friends." John 15:12-13(NLV).

I am thankful I live in a county in which I can vote for those who govern, worship freely, raise my family how I choose, read what I want, watch what I want and freely speak my mind. Thank you to the past and present service men and women who have protected these freedoms for me. I hope you will take the time to read about a fallen American and Mississippian and about the heroes homecoming he received. See below:

I Saw America Today
By The Guru

Editor’s Note: The following piece was written by Rod Smith a Patriot Guard Rider. It arrived in my inbox this morning as an email and it deserves a bigger audience. It was written about the funeral of Sgt. Eric Newman held on Saturday, October 24, 2010. The funeral was held with full military honors, including a 21-gun salute. He was posthumously awarded not only the bronze star, but also the Purple Heart and several other medals for his exemplary service in the U.S. Army. Eric Newman, 30, was killed when a roadside bomb exploded Oct. 14 in Akatzai Kalay, Afghanistan. He married Charidy Newman last year, and was planning to become a state trooper after his career in the military was over. The introductory information I’ve included here came from the story about the funeral published by The Meridian Star.
I saw America today.

I was among more that 200 people gathered on the tarmac at the Meridian Air Navel Station to welcome Sgt. Eric C. Newman, 30, of Waynesboro , Miss. home from Afghanistan. He did not exit to cheers and hugs but was greeted by respectful silence. Military men and women, bikers, policemen, firemen, all in formation riveted their attention as Sgt. Newman disembarked from the plane carrying him.

He exited in a flag draped coffin, killed in action in Afghanistan.
The family stood near the hearse and as Sgt. Newman’s casket approached he was greeted by his new wife and his mother as they draped their arms around the casket where their beloved husband and son lay. There would be no married life for the newly married couple and another mother had given her son in the name of freedom.

I saw America today.

The procession formed with a police escort in front leading the hearse carrying Sgt. Newman which was followed by his family, more than 100 bikers, including the Patriot Guard Riders, scores of police officers, firemen, and friends. I rode near the front and I never could see the end of the procession as we rolled over the hills from Meridian to Waynesboro .

I saw America today.

On the 60 mile journey truckers, the big rigs, pulled to the side of the road, exited their trucks and put hand over heart in honor of Sgt. Newman and the American flag. Down the road from one big shiny rig was a humble logging truck, driver standing on the ground, hand over heart.

For sixty miles a mixture of people stood by the side of the road, flag in hand as we rolled past. At every junction where a side road entered there were people. At the overpasses there was always a fire truck displaying a large American flag. Every fire department along the way had their fire truck standing by to honor this young American who gave his life for us.
There was a young Boy Scout, in uniform, proudly saluting Sgt. Newman and the American flags that passed him.

A man in bib overalls stood by a ragged old pickup truck giving honor. Just down the road was a man dressed in suit and tie by his expensive SUV.
Something in the bright blue sky above caught my eye. It was two jet fighter planes flying over the procession, the thoughtful action of fellow soldiers.

I could see a woman kneeling, holding something out in her hands. At first I thought it must be a camera but as I passed I could clearly see it was a folded American flag. Just like the one that was given to my mother when my father died. Yes, it was her way of saying, “I lost a loved one as well.”

I saw America today.

As we left the main road and entered Waynesboro two fire trucks were parked in such a way as to form an arch with a giant American flag suspended between the two.

The streets were lined solid with people. No cars were moving. I observed someone in a wheel chair on the side of the road. When we drew closer I saw several in wheel chairs, some on crutches. They were old, and fragile. They were residents of a nursing home. On down the road there was another group from yet another nursing home, all waving tiny American flags.
As we wound our way through town hundreds of people lined the sides of the streets. We passed an elementary school. The children lined the fence three deep, most with flags, some with red, white, and blue balloons which were later released.

Next we passed the high school. Again the students respectfully lined the streets adjacent to the school. All were standing respectfully in honor of Sgt. Newman.

And did I mention the yellow ribbons? They were on trees, mailboxes, fences, and anywhere people could place them.

I saw America today.

When we had finished the escort all the bikers were asked to meet at the First Baptist Church of Waynesboro. There they gathered us up and escorted us to the Western Sizzlin ’ where the people of the town treated us to lunch for doing something of which we were proud to be a part.
Today, I saw America and I’m proud to be an American. God bless America.

Rod Smith, Patriot Guard Rider
October 21, 2010, Laurel, Mississippi

See also http://meridianstar.com/local/x154640441/A-hero-comes-home

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Answered Prayers

Thank you Jesus for answered prayers!

The Psalmist could not have expressed better how thankful and grateful I am right now.

"I will praise the Lord at all times. I will constantly speak his praises. I will boast only in the Lord; let all who are discouraged take heart. Come, let us tell of the Lord's greatness; let us exalt his name together. I prayed to the Lord, and He answered me, freeing me from all my fears. Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces. I cried out to the Lord in my suffering, and he heard me. He set me free from all my fears. For the angel of the Lord guards all who fear him, and he rescues them. Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who trust in him! Let the Lord's people show him reverence, for those who honor him will have all they need. Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry, but those who trust in the Lord will never lack any good thing." Psalm 34:1-10.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Sisters in Christ are God's Gifts to Us

"Two people can accomplish more than twice as much as one; they get a better return for their labor. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But people who are alone when they fall are in real trouble...A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken." Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, 12 (NLV).

It is devotion carnival time again on Rachel Olsen's Blog. The topic is "How has the Sisterhood of Christ functioned in your life?" Click here to read other devotions on this topic.

We are the product of our relationships and the experiences which flow from those relationships. As we grow older we see the significance of our past experiences and the influences that others have had in our lives. Here are a few women who have greatly influenced me:

1. Mom. My Mom is a lady of honesty and integrity whose life reflects the love of Christ. She is my first example and teacher of God’s truth. She shows by example what a Godly wife and mother is, holds me accountable, provides wisdom and tells me the truth even when it isn't easy to hear.

2. Sister. She never offers advice unless she is asked and provides great ideas and insights when I seek her advice. She has traveled a difficult road experiencing tragedies along the way; however, her relationship with Jesus has deepened. I am proud of her example—if you trust God, He will carry you through the storm; He will heal your broken pieces.

3. Amy. We became close friends in junior high. She encouraged me to be involved in our church youth group. I was baptized at age eight, but by thirteen still had absolutely no concept of what it meant to be a Christian. The youth group is where I began a true spiritual journey and learned what it meant to “walk” with God. I also learned about God’s grace and mercy in that group.

4. Tisha, Allison, Nichole, and Trish. For over twenty years, these women have been my closest friends. Their love for and walks with Christ helped me endure the pressures of the teenage years and weather the chaos of those years. We have prayed for and comforted each other during broken hearts, sick loved ones, job losses, deaths, illnesses, and the challenges of motherhood. We have celebrated with each other in each new stage of life: high school and college graduations, new jobs, wedding showers, weddings, baby showers, and the births of babies. We are always a phone call away and ready to celebrate the joys of life, grieve when the storms clouds come, listen, or offer advice. Also, they have shaped who I am and I think I have impacted them as well. We know each others’ hurts, skeletons, victories and defeats, but love each other the same—as sisters. They are my extended family. Like family, I know I can always count on them. No matter what I need, they will be there to listen, answer questions, cry with me, pick me up, and encourage me and likewise me for them.

5. Sister-in-law. She set my husband and me up on a blind date. She is always available to answer marriage, child rearing or career questions. When I was wandering in the desert spiritually and became bored with my devotion book, she gave a monthly subscription to a devotion magazine.

6. Women in my church. There are too many to name; however, women who have led Bible studies, taught my Sunday school class, or participated in other ministries within our church have impacted me with their knowledge, wisdom, advice, transparency, service and prayers.

"The advice of the wise is like a life-giving fountain; those who accept it avoid the snares of death." Proverbs 13:14.

Wow, God has blessed me immensely. It looks like I have a lot of people to tell thank you. Let us build up and encourage each other by telling others how they have positively impacted and influenced our lives.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Martha or Mary?

“Martha welcomed them into her home. Her sister, Mary sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. But Martha was worrying over the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, ‘Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.’ But the Lord said to her, ‘My dear Martha, you are so upset over all these details! There is really only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it and I won’t take it away from her.’” Luke 10:38-42. (NLV). Manic Monday is here again. Our weeks are consumed with necessary tasks. Tasks like taking the kids to school, going to work, cooking dinner, cleaning the house, doing laundry, helping with homework, running errands, driving the kids to activities, and attending meetings. We all love our families. Some of us love our work (most of the time) and some of us even love some of the mundane tasks necessary for everyday life. Even so, what are the simple pleasures for you in life? What makes you happy? What do you do to unwind? What helps you relax? It varies for me. Sometimes after a long mentally exhausting day at the office, I like to sit in front of the TV watching a mindless show that requires no thinking. Other times exercise, a warm bath, watching my favorite team play, a game with family, or dinner with my family or friends helps me unwind and relax. Also, chocolate always makes me happy. As humans we do lots of things for pleasure and relaxation like beach or ski vacations, dancing, participating in sports, or attending sporting events. We need rest and relaxation. We need to recharge our batteries and do something purely for fun or we will burnout and not be any good to ourselves or anyone else. All of these things are nice and provide temporary pleasure and relaxation. Do not get me wrong. I am not saying there is anything wrong with watching TV, eating sweets, exercising, playing sports or attending sporting events. The fleeting pleasures of this earth provide temporary pleasure for all of us at times. However, there are other times that my soul stirs so loudly and I long to sit at Jesus’ feet; because, that is the only place my soul will find contentment. The things of this earth cannot quash the discontent inside me. It is in Jesus that my soul finds lasting pleasure, solace, rest, peace and fulfillment. Where do you sit at Jesus' feet? For me, it is my bedroom or our office where I shut myself away from my family to spend some alone time with Jesus. Martha was so consumed with the necessary everyday tasks that she failed to spend time with Jesus enjoying his company and listening to him teach. Mary sat at His feet drinking in every word. Oh how I long to be Mary, but know that I am Martha the majority of the time. Instead of longing for the fleeting pleasures of watching a mindless TV sitcom or consuming a piece of chocolate, I pray that I will find lasting pleasure sitting at the feet of Jesus. I pray Jesus will be my place of rest and relaxation. We all crave deeper fulfillment that only God the Father, Jesus the Son and the Holy Spirit can provide. May we all find pleasure in sitting at the Triune God's feet. Prayer: Jesus, please help me to seek you daily, to sit at your feet and hear what you want to teach and share with me. For you are the only source of pleasure, fulfillment, peace, and rest. Rachel Olsen is having a devotion carnival today. Please check out her blog at Rachel Olsen to read more devotions on simple pleasures.

Friday, August 27, 2010

I am thankful for Jesus' ever abiding peace. I pray His peace will continue to fill my soul and being as I journey this life.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


"Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The unfailing love of the Lord never ends! By his mercies we have been kept from complete destruction. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each day. I say to myself, 'The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!' The Lord is wonderfully good to those who wait for him and seek him. So it is good to wait quietly for salvation from the Lord." Lamentations 3: 21-26(NLV).

Waiting is not fun. I have been in waiting for quite some time now in my spiritual life. I feel confident what God has planned for me, but right now I hear "Wait." So, I am waiting, which goes against my extremely impatient nature. Not to mention my need to plan and control. That goes with being Type A which is great for my profession, an attorney; however, can be excruciating in other facets of my life.

I pray for faith, patience, endurance, and hope. "'For I know the plans I have for you,' says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me in earnest, you will find me when you seek me. I will be found by you,' says the Lord." Jeremiah 29:11-14 (NLV).

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Praise Your Mighty Name

"Sing to the Lord; bless his name. Each day proclaim the good news that he saves. Publish his glorious deeds among the nations. Tell everyone about the amazing things he does. Great is the Lord! He is most worthy of praise!" Psalm 96:2-4(a)(NLV). “For the Lord is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation.” Psalm 100:5(NLV).

God is faithful, just, our redeemer, protector, savior, friend, giver of gifts, creator and so much more. He alone is worthy of our praise and He alone holds the world in His hands. I like that image of the "world in His hands;" because I am in the world so I am in His hands. I want to sit in His strong hands and all consuming love forever.

"How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord Almighty. I long, yes, I faint with longing to enter the courts of the Lord. With my whole being, body and soul, I will shout joyfully to the living God. O Lord Almighty, my King and my God! How happy are those who can live in your house, always singing your praises. Happy are those who are strong in the Lord, who set their minds on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. When they walk through the Valley of Weeping, it will become a place of refreshing springs, where pools of blessing collect after the rains! They will continue to grow stronger, and each of them will appear before God in Jerusalem. A single day in your courts is better than a thousand anywhere else! I would rather be a gatekeeper in the house of my God than live the good life in the homes of the wicked. For the Lord God is our light and protector. He gives us grace and glory. No good thing will the Lord withhold from those who do what is right. O Lord Almighty, happy are those who trust in you." Psalm 84:1-2; 4-7; 10-12 (NLV).

Thursday, July 8, 2010

God's Protection

I am continually reminded of God's protection. On July 4, my husband and two kids got together with my sister and her two kids to shoot fireworks. Others in the neighborhood and surrounding neighborhoods were also shooting fireworks and there was quite a bit of noise. We stopped to clean up a bit before continuing the festivities. My six year old was on the sidewalk in front of our home picking up trash when she screamed, "Snake!" and ran back to our driveway. The baby copperhead was within inches of her feet. It was dark, so I am so thankful that she saw the poisonous snake and got away before it bit her.

I do not recall any conversation with her about what to do if you encounter a snake, but I am sure running is not the advice I would give. I have always heard you cannot outrun a snake and they follow vibrations. However, she did just the right thing under those circumstances and by the grace of God the snake did not bite her or chase after her. I have no doubt that God protected her. He provided for her safety. He was there. God must have whispered in her ear to run and told the snake to be still.

"Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare of the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I am trusting him. For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from the fatal plague. He will shield you with his wings. He will shelter you with his feathers. His faithful promises are your armor and protection. Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night, nor fear the dangers of the day, nor dread the plague that stalks in darkness, nor the disaster that strikes at midday. Though a thousand fall at your side, though ten thousand are dying around you, these evils will not touch you. But you will see it with your eyes; you will see how the wicked are punished. If you make the Lord your refuge, if you make the Most High your shelter, no evil will conquer you; no plague will come near your dwelling. For he orders his angels to protect you wherever you go. They will hold you with their hands to keep you from striking your foot on a stone. You will trample down lions and poisonous snakes; you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet! The Lord says, 'I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name. When they call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue them and honor them. I will satisfy them with a long life and give them my salvation.'" Psalms 91.

I know sometimes we will get hurt or injured and am not claiming that suffering will not occur to those who love the Lord with all their heart. He tells us in His word we will face troubles in this life. However, God is always there. And though we may not know why, sometimes He does intervene on our behalf. There may be plenty of scientific reasons or logical reasons as to why my little girl was not bitten by the snake, but I believe God's hand protected her. God is amazing and His provision constantly amazes me. He protects us even when we do not even realize we need protecting.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

God Never Leaves Us

"I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me." Psalm 16:8(NLV). "For he loves us with unfailing love; the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever." Psalm 117:2(NLV).

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Psalms 105:1-7

"Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim his greatness, let the whole world know what he has done. Sing to him; yes, sing his praises. Tell everyone about his miracles. Exult in his holy name; O worshipers of the Lord, rejoice! Search for the Lord and for his strength, and keep on searching. Think of the wonderful works he has done, the miracles and the judgments he handed down, O children of Abraham, God's servant, O descendants of Jacob, God's chosen one. He is the Lord our God. His rule is seen throughout the land. He always stands by his covenant." Psalms 105:1-7.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Miracles in Mississippi

"Suddenly a terrible storm came up, with waves breaking into the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went to him and woke him up, shouting, 'Lord, save us! We're going to drown!' And Jesus answered, 'Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!' Then he stood up and rebuked the wind and waves, and suddenly all was calm. The disciples just sat there in awe. 'Who is this?' they asked themselves. 'Even the wind and waves obey him!'" Matthew 8:24-27(NLT).

My home State of Mississippi suffered the devastation of tornadoes on April 24, 2010. There are many stories of tragedy which emerged; however, there are two incredible stories of God's protection. Dale Thrasher of Hillcrest Baptist Church, Yazoo City, MS was at his church when the tornado hit. He sought refuge under the communion table. Only the communion table and Dale Thrasher were left standing after the tornado. Click the link Deadly tornado crushes Yazoo City church, not its faith - NAMB.net to read his story of God's protection.

A friend forwarded me Tara Mitchell's story. I do not know her. You cannot read her story and not know that God is still in control and He still performs miracles in our midst. Here is Tara's story in her own words:

Mac, Momma, Uncle Charles and I were on the way to Mom's (Merigold, MS) from the Mt. Salus Pancake breakfast in Clinton, MS, and stopped in the Wendy's at Yazoo City to use the restroom. As we got out of the truck we heard the tornado siren going off. We all went in the Wendy's and used the restroom and then were going to sit out front in the lobby till the storm passed by. We had been seated maybe 5 minutes when Uncle Charles and I noticed rotation in the top of the clouds. I think it was around 12:15-12: 20 based on my cell phone call to my dad at 12:55 letting him know we came through everything okay. Uncle Charles says, "I think we outta move away from these windows." Mom laughs and says, "I don't know about you all, but Mac and I are going under that table." There were I think, about 8 staff working and around 5 other customers, with three people coming in minutes before we moved to the restroom. As soon as mom said that, a man called out, "We need to get to the bathroom", several people began trying to call out on their cell phones, and went to the window. The man yelled, "Get off the phone and get in the bathroom." Looking back it was amazing, we hurried but nobody ran or pushed or anything, we all went into the ladies restroom, the manager said, “Some of you men can go in the men's room," and one man replied, "I am coming in here with you all!" I stood with my back to the wall, on my right was a worker lady standing behind the open door. Mac was on my left and Momma on his other side. Uncle Charles was looking out the door. I told the worker lady to close the door. As soon as she did, we heard a sound like a cannon firing and the lights went out. We now know it was the tornado taking out the Save a lot and Peebles next door. Then the ground began to shake, it traveled up through the concrete floor, through my feet and legs to my back. Then the wall began to press in on me, as if hands were pressing it into the room. Momma began to sing Amazing Grace and people began to cry and wail. Mac said,” Hush Grandma” and I said, “ Momma stop,” her singing was making people afraid. The strangest thing was I was not afraid. Looking back I thought, "Why didn’t I cry out to God to keep Mac safe? To not take my child, to help us? Instead I heard Joyce Meyer's voice say, "Thank HIM for things HE hasn't done for you yet", so I began to pray aloud, "thank you Jesus that I have right standing with you, thank you Jesus that my son is sanctified, thank you God that you are here in our midst, thank you Jesus that you have a good future planned for me, that you love me and that your hand is over this room right now between us and this storm," Uncle Charles called out "Lord somebody help me, help me hold the door the door's coming open" the door opens into the room and it (the tornado) was pressing on the door. This courageous man with one lung, diabetes, and a heart condition held the door closed by himself and helped to protect all of us. I then recalled my granny's favorite song, “Till the storm passes by” and I said, "Thank you God for holding me fast and letting me stand in the hollow of your Hand as this storm passes by." As I said those words I felt a pressure over me, a pressing down and all around. Look, I am an educated woman and have taught science for 11 years, I know about G-forces and winds and tornados.


I now know how Moses felt in the cleft of the rock on the mountain, when God placed His hand over him and walked by. We walked out of that PERFECT restroom, not a tile in the ceiling out of place, not a brick nor tile on the walls out of place, the rest of the Wendy's was destroyed. the brick walls gone, the steel beams and windows gone, the ceiling tiles in the rest of the Wendy’s hanging or on the floor, but our room where God covered us was in perfect condition. I turned to a young man who was a worker, it was his birthday and he was wearing dollar bills pinned to his shirt, I looked at him and the other Wendy workers and said, “Before you all step out of this room, I want you to look at it, look at the ceiling, the walls , the floor, it is in perfect condition. God was in this room with us, young man, happy birthday, you now have a tale to tell about your birthday and I hugged him and he said , “Yes mam, I surely do and I thank you.“ The lady that stood next to me during the storm, cradled in my arm, turned to me and said, “And thank you for praying." I am telling this to let you know that GOD IS REAL, HIS HAND is not weak, and He knows exactly where you are. If you don't know HIM, if you don't have a personal experience with HIM, you are not living but dead men's bones. HE IS REAL, and HE LOVES US everyone. Talk to HIM now, today, don't put it off.

My son Mac reminded me I forgot to mention the 18 wheeler gas tanker that was parked behind the Wendy's, in 165 MPH wind it should have been thrown into Wendy's and exploded. Not only was HIS hand over us, it also kept that truck in place. All the other cars had broken windshields or windows and debris over them. Uncle Charles’s truck "Baby" as he calls it, didn't have any debris or broken windows, barely a scratch on the hood. We were able to drive out and drive home. I just cannot say enough about the string of miracles God did in that half hour. HE IS REAL!

Some of the funny moments occurred right after we walked out into the wreck of Wendy’s. Uncle Charles turned to a lady on his right and asked, “Can I get my chicken sandwich now?” That lady that had been crying and scared began to laugh and said, “Man, I don’t wanna hear about no chicken sandwich for a LONG time!” Uncle Charles replied, “I think I deserve a chicken sandwich," and then they hugged each other. A few minutes later a policeman poked his head in where the wall used to be and asked if anyone was hurt, and we all replied no, we were all okay, to go help someone else. Uncle Charles said, “Wait, let me check my pants, something might be missing, “ He had us all cracking up and laughing through the tears. This man who is daily on death’s door, with diabetes and one lung and major heart problems, helped to save us through the storm and helped us come out of our shock after it was over. He lost a lung to cancer several years ago and after two years his heart shifted over in the empty place where the lung had been causing the hole in the back of the heart that usually closes when you are an infant, to reopen. He was the first adult to have heart surgery to close this hole that survived. All others who had this type of procedure had died. He has almost died so many times and he kept saying he didn’t know why he survived when other’s hadn’t. I think maybe it was so he could hold that door closed with God’s help and save people from that tornado, we will never know but he gave God all the credit. I just have to tell everyone how great God is and how His hand is not shortened that it cannot save nor HIS eyes blind that He doesn’t see your need, nor HIS ears deaf that HE cannot hear your cries. Talk to HIM today.

I was so moved by Tara's story that I had to share it. We forward bad news and prayer requests. How often do we forward news of how God is working miraculously in our lives? Tara's story still brings tears to my eyes and confident hope to my soul. Click the newspaper link Tornadoes rake Mississippi, at least 10 dead | courier-journal.com | The Courier-Journal for a blurb about the Wendy's in Yazoo City, Mississippi.

A mentor and friend sent the following reply later that day:

If you just read the amazing story...you wonder sometimes if these stories are true. We were having our house sprayed for termites today and the man who came to the door said he was from Yazoo City and was driving around in the storm not realizing it was happening. Said his sister in law worked at Wendy's and he began to tell me the story that I had read about 10 minutes prior to answering the door. Printed him a copy and sent him on his way....humming Amazing Grace to myself.

There is no doubt that God is in control and that He still moves and intervenes on our behalf. He is our stability. He is our help and our rock when the storms of life are swirling all around us and we feel we have nothing to hold onto, lean on, and no foothold to keep our balance.

"I am leaving you with a gift-peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give isn't like the peace the world gives. So don't be troubled or afraid." John 14:27(NLT).

It is devotion carnival time again on Rachel Olsen's blog. Click here to hop over to her blog and read other devotions on stability. May God bless you. May we be reminded that God is our rock, our protector, and that He is still in control.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

No Formula For Forgiveness

Relationships between people exist because we make allowances for each other’s faults. We forgive when we are hurt or mistreated. Forgiveness is the thread that weaves relationships together. Love is the needle holding the thread of forgiveness as it weaves. Our ability to love others and to forgive is because God loves us and forgives us. “The Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. And the most important piece of clothing you must wear is love. Love is what binds us together.” Colossians 3:13-14 (NLT). Jesus’ death and resurrection provided atonement for all of our sins. His death restored humans’ relationship with God. God’s forgiveness has no limits. God seeks a repentant heart who wants to know, follow, and trust Him.

Forgiveness is a daily quest. For me it is easier to go to God with my shortcomings begging for mercy and cleansing, then to give the gift of forgiveness. However, God commands us to forgive others for several reasons. First and most importantly, we are called to love. “Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. “ John 13:34(NLT). “I command you to love each other in the same way that I love you. And here is how to measure it-the greatest love is shown when people lay down their lives for their friends.” John 15:12-13(NLT).

Second, forgiving others prevents bitterness from taking root in our hearts. If we refuse to move forward and continue to hold onto the anger or hurt that we feel someone has inflicted on us, then we become stuck in that anger or hurt. Our focus is on how we feel, the hurt, the wrong, or revenge and it ceases to be on God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. We must not deny our feelings, but we must seek God’s help in healing our hearts and our egos, so that we can move forward. There is no one size fits all formula to forgiveness that automatically erases the anger, hurt or pain. We each interact with others differently and react to being wronged differently. While there is no one size fits all formula, there is a one size fits all God. As our Creator, He knows us better then we know ourselves. If we daily go to Him in prayer giving Him the hurt, the pain, the anger and all the other emotions; He will walk with us and heal us. God will help us move forward and prevent bitterness from taking root in our souls. “Anyone who hates another Christian is really a murderer at heart. And you know that murderers don’t have eternal life within them.” 1 John 3:15(NLT).

God’s love brings freedom from our mistakes and the wounds we have received at the hands of others. When we allow Him to take the burden of our anger, hurt, pain and need for revenge, then our focus shifts back to Him. We can trust God to make it all work for His plan. Loving and forgiving others opens us up to the abundant life God wants for us. We can truly experience all He wants us to have if we will love Him so much that we cannot help but love others and extend others the same forgiveness God gives us.

Heather S. Deaton

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Where do you find joy?

"This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it." Psalm 118:24.

Each new day is a new opportunity. We get a choice of how we will spend the day and we determine how we will feel about our circumstances and those around us. I am not discounting raw human emotion. We have feelings, but how will we respond to those feelings?

Joy that is offered by God is not a matter of emotion or circumstance. It is a matter of choice. I can choose to seek God daily. I can choose to live in the joy of His many promises. This life is not the totality of my existence; therefore, may it not dictate my reactions to the struggles, challenges, and unpleasantness that I encounter. We have joy because of the hope of eternal life through Jesus Christ’s sacrifice for our sins and His resurrection. He promises that I am loved, forgiven, and free. “So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. For the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you through Christ Jesus from the power of sin that leads to death.” Romans 8:1-2 (NLT). This promise alone should cause our imperfect human hearts to leap with joy.

Let us be mindful that, “all who seek the Lord will praise him. Their hearts will rejoice with everlasting joy.” Psalm 22:26 (NLT)

My prayer especially for me, but also for you is that “God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13 (NLT).

Prayer: Jesus, help me to enter into daily relationship with you, receive your peace and embrace your joy so that I can stand firm in your truths and rejoice in your unfailing steadfast love.

It is time again for the devotion carnival. For more devotions on joy visit Rachel Olsen's blog by clicking here Rachel Olsen: Devotional Carnival - JOY

Heather S. Deaton

Monday, March 29, 2010


Weary describes me right now. Sleep has been hard to come by. I have been waking in the middle of the night unable to fall back to sleep because of thoughts racing through my head about what I have to do the next day, or with just the right words to write that note, e-mail, letter or motion that I need to write the next day. Lack of sleep coupled with the daily busyness of life can leave you weary and tired. The daily grind of life or storms swirling around you can leave you weary, tired and completely spent.

You know those days when you are exhausted-physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually? Have you ever felt this way and then you heard your child cry? Instantly you forget how you are feeling and rush to scoop up your little one. Exhaustion fades- your focus is to help your child feel better. And your child just lets you scoop them up in your arms, hold them tight and help them feel better.

We have someone we can turn to when the storms of life leave us weeping. Abba, Father God, is there ready to scoop us up in His arms and comfort us, heal our hurts and dry our tears. Abba is always there within reach when we need Him and He never grows weary. He is standing there arms wide open beckoning us to lay our burdens on Him. Abba can renew our strength and refresh us physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. We need Him to complete us and renew us. We simply were not made to travel this journey of life without relying on Him. Abba is our Creator and the giver and sustainer of life.

"Don't you know that the Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth? He never grows faint or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding. He gives power to those who are tired and worn out; he offers strength to the weak. Even youths will become exhausted, and young men will give up. But those who wait on the Lord will find new strength. They will fly high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint." Isaiah 40:27-31.

Prayer: Abba, sometimes I just need to sit in your lap, be held, let the world disappear and your peace fill my heart. Please help me to sit in your presence daily to find the strength, peace, comfort, healing, renewal, and love that I need to accomplish your purposes for me and to journey down life's path.

Heather S. Deaton

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Are You a Part of the Story or Are You on the Sidelines?

"If you refuse to take up your cross and follow me, you are not worthy of being mine." Matthew 10:38.

Today is one of my favorite Sundays at our church, Palm Sunday. Each year the church rents a donkey, has a teenage boy dress up as Jesus, and passes palm branches out to those of us who have gathered to march behind "Jesus" on the donkey in the Palm Sunday parade. Our church takes up one city block and those who choose to participate carry palm branches shouting "Hosanna" as we march behind the teenager dressed up as Jesus riding on the donkey. We also bring food to share before and after the march. It is a great time of fellowship for the church body.

The best part of the event is the church body gets to be a part of a Bible story. It is a great visual for everyone, especially the children, to picture what it might have been like that first Palm Sunday as our Savior rode a donkey colt from Bethany into Jerusalem. We get to start Holy Week the way Jesus started it. As a congregation we get to wave palm branches and shout "Hosanna, Hosanna, Hosanna in the highest."

I have to admit that I did not participate in this event until after I had children old enough to march and carry a palm branch. Oh, how I wish I had not waited to become a part of the story. This parade is an opportunity to worship and to prepare our hearts for the week's journey ahead from the King riding into Jerusalem on a donkey to the Savior dying on a cross for our sins.

My husband and I have tried to use this illustration as a teaching moment. We get the opportunity to explain why the church is outside waving palm branches and shouting "Hosanna" to a guy riding on a donkey. Why do we wave palm branches, attend church every week, read our Bibles, love Jesus, pray to Jesus and worship Jesus? Because of Jesus' selfless sacrifice so that we might be forgiven of our sins, have eternal life and relationship with God. After all, the Christian faith comes down to this one truth for which we all believe. Jesus is the risen Christ, the Son of God sent to die on a cross as the Holy Lamb for the sins of the world so that we, humans, might be made right in God the Father's eyes and have eternal life. Christ has died; Christ is risen, Christ will come again.

My prayer and hope for me is that daily I will choose to be a part of Jesus' story that He wants to tell about my life. That I will journey behind Him daily shouting "Hosanna, Hosanna, Hosanna in the highest" following Him as He leads me on the path He wants me to take. It is my prayer for my kids, my husband, my family, my friends, and Christ's body that we will not wait to become a part of the story He has written for our lives. Let us daily choose to get off the sidelines, take up our cross and follow our Savior.

Heather S. Deaton

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Calling All Speakers, Writers, and Leaders

I am excited to learn that Proverbs 31 Ministries with the help of Cecil Murphy is offering three scholarships to the She Speaks, Speakers-Writers Leadership Conference from July 31 to August 1, 2010. Wow, what an awesome opportunity for those of us who have a dream or passion to use our spiritual gifts and talents through speaking, writing or leadership to build His kingdom.

She Speaks is a speakers, writers, and leadership conference. Has God woven the dream of speaking His word to groups into your heart or do you just want to be a more effective Bible study leader? Are you serving as a Women’s Ministry leader in your church and would like encouragement or training? Are you a writer or do you feel God’s calling to write books, articles or other Christian literature? If you answered yes to any of the above questions, then check out this amazing opportunity to cultivate those gifts, talents and skills at the She Speaks, Speakers-Writers Leadership Conference by visiting the blog of Lysa TerKeurst or Proverbs 31 Ministries website at Proverbs 31 Ministries - She Speaks Conference.

I believe God has given me the dream of writing books to encourage other Christians on their journey as they seek a deeper relationship with Him. I am starting out on God’s journey for me as a writer. I know that this conference could get me started on the right path with the right tools which is why I would love to win a scholarship.

I am ready to close my eyes and leap into God’s dream for me. I hope this conference will provide guidance and a stepping stone to offer me more opportunities to use my spiritual gift of encouragement for His glory.

My prayer: "Show me the path where I should walk, O Lord; point out the right road for me to follow. Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you." Psalms 25:4-5.

Heather S. Deaton

Monday, March 15, 2010

Lenten Journey

"Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and heal their land. I will listen to every prayer made in this place, for I have chosen this Temple and set it apart to be my home forever. My eyes and my heart will always be here." 2 Chronicles 7:14:16.

Lent is the time for reflection, for prayer, and for sacrifice. As we journey to the cross may we seek and find the risen Christ. Jesus, please hear our prayers, cleanse us, heal us and make us new.

Heather Deaton

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Pleasing God

“You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind. And, Love your neighbor as yourself.” Luke 10:27.

I tend to gloss over this verse sometimes. Love God. Check I got that one. Love neighbors. Check I got that one too. But do I really love God and neighbor? What does it mean to love God?

Pleasing God requires love for God, love for others, faith, trust, and obedience all wrapped up in each and everyday of our lives. I truly fall short. Thank you, Jesus, for the cross. God’s greatest commandment to us human beings is to love. That is what is pleasing to Him. It makes perfect sense, because we are called to love as He loves. If we love as He does, unconditionally, then our actions are for the right reasons and not for selfish or manipulative reasons. When we seek God’s purposes, God’s ways, to love like He loves, then our focus is on heavenly things and not worldly things.

This is hard for me. How easily I become distracted by life. When a huge project is due at work and stress is at its highest, love my neighbor is not my priority. My focus is getting the job done, not whether my co-worker is ill or going through a divorce. When the deadline is looming, I do not have time to stop to show compassion or check on my neighbor.

What is the answer? I do not have the answers. I am an imperfect woman who must continually seek God’s grace and mercy to cover me and my shortcomings. However, God’s Word offers guidance.

“For no one can ever be made right in God’s sight by doing what his law commands. For the more we know God’s law, the clearer it becomes that we aren’t obeying it. But now God has shown us a different way of being right in his sight-not by obeying the law but by the way promised in the Scriptures long ago. We are made right in God’s sight when we trust in Jesus Christ to take away our sins. And we all can be saved in this same way, no matter who we are or what we have done. Can we boast, then, that we have done anything to be accepted by God? No, because our acquittal is not based on our good deeds. It is based on our faith. So we are made right with God through faith and not by obeying the law. Well then, if we emphasize faith, does this mean we can forget about the law? Of course not! In fact only when we have faith do we truly fulfill the law.” Romans 3:20 -22; 27-28; 31.

God wants a deep relationship with us. Daily we must seek (1) God, (2) the cross,(3) His love, (4) His wisdom and (5) His purpose for us. We must remember His love for us and His mandate that we love others the way He does. If we are seeking Him, praying to Him, studying His Word, then our focus is on Him and He can change us. Becoming available to Him to allow Him to enter into relationship with us and to change us is the only way to please Him. His changes in us allow us to love Him, love our neighbors, trust and obey Him and have faith.

Prayer: Father, Jesus, and Holy Spirit, I am not capable of pleasing you without your transforming love. Please pursue me and do not leave me where I am. Help me seek you and find you. In your loving hands, please change me so that I may please you by loving you with my whole heart, mind and strength. Please help me love others, trust you, obey you and have abiding faith in you. Amen.

I am participating in Rachel Olsen's devotion carnival tomorrow, March 15, 2010. Click on her name here Rachel Olsen and check it out. Be ready for lots of encouragement from writers across the country on the topic of pleasing God.

Heather S. Deaton

Friday, March 5, 2010

Are you Feet Standing Firm?

"Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord." Psalms 27:14.

Waiting is something our society is not used to doing in this age of texting, facebook, internet, skype, tv and radio. We can stay connected and know what is happening in our friends lives and around the world with the click of a mouse or the tv remote. We can even have news e-mailed to us from our local or national news channels. Waiting can seem lonely and deafening, when you are walking through the desert.

When I think of "walking through the desert" spiritually, I think of times when you are longing, thirsting, seeking God's presence, but in our humanity we cannot feel His presence. It could even be a sense of feeling abandoned by the Creator God. We all have these times, these ebbs and flows in our relationship and walk with Father God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. During these times, it can be difficult to firmly plant your feet or to see what is ahead. Weariness or fatigue can make it difficult to hold fast to God's promises and stand firm in His truth. The intense heat can make you think you see things which are not there and the sandstorms whirling about make it impossible to see more than two feet ahead.

This past Sunday, my pastor said that when you feel the presence of God or when you feel abandoned by God, you must make sure that your feet are firmly planted in the Truth. This resonated so much for me. I've been walking through the desert for months now. There is no doubt it is so very important during the desert periods that your feet are standing firm. This is where the rubber meets the road so to speak. This is when we put into practice our faith. Do you we really believe all of God's promises or are they just neat stories in a great book? What are they to us?

He never abandons us. Never leaves us. "Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever." Psalms 23:6.

Earlier this week the writer of a devotion I was reading cited Psalms 27. Wow, the words leapt off the page when I read them. It has been too long since I have really felt like God was saying, "Heather, read carefully, I'm talking to you." I really needed that too. The Psalmist was saying everything I had been feeling for months.

Though spiritually I have felt as if I were walking through the desert, God has granted me His peace during this time. The kind of peace in the midst of chaos that can only be explained as God given. Though I have not felt His presence, I had His peace.

Today I understood what a gift that peace is. Work has been so busy and demanding of my time. The past six months it seems I finish trying a case only to begin preparing to try the next one. Despite the stress of work, this abiding peace has settled into my being and drowned out the stress. Today I tried a case which has been pending over two years. It was one of those cases which just wears you down and can suck the life out of you if you let it. As I went through my day, His peace was with me. At the end of the day when trial was over and I was on my way home, that still small voice whispered, "I've been here all along. I have been carrying you." His peace is His presence. He has not abandoned me.

Prayer: Thank you,Father God, Jesus and Holy Spirit for your peace and your presence. Thank you for carrying my burdens and for carrying me. Help me to continue seeking You and draw me ever closer to You.

Heather Deaton

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Heart for Missions

Jesus said, "Then the King will say to those on the right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.' Then these righteous will reply,'Lord when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?' And the King will tell them, 'I assure you when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!'" Matthew 25:34-40.

As we enter the season of Lent, are we striving towards the goal of seeking the resurrected Christ and to become more like Him? I am so impressed with my Sunday school class. Our facilitator has challenged us to see where we are in providing service to the church and to Christ. Our class has responded with a resounding "yes" we want to be the hands and feet of Jesus here in our community all year long not just at Christmas time. We have started a food collection for a local food pantry. Also, we are taking up an offering each week to donate to the church. The church will use the funds to help a local family in need, which could be a family in the midst of our congregation. Additionally, two of our members have faithfully been helping with "Deliver Me" senior services which delivers groceries to needy elderly in the city who are not able to get out and go to the store on their own. It is an income based need program. The rest of our class is getting involved to help deliver either monthly or quarterly.

While the above are only small sacrifices of funds or time, it will impact our community positively. No gift of service is too small. May we all seek the resurrected Christ and His call for us to be His hands and feet in our communities. Oh, how I long to one day hear Him say, "Well done good and faithful servant."

Jesus, what sacrifices are you asking from me during this season of Lent? What do I need to give up? What do I need to embrace. Where do you want me to serve so that the reserrected Christ reaches the lost, hurting, hungry, thirsty, ill and lonely?

Heather Deaton

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Unfailing Committed Love

"Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life." Psalms 23:6.

The Book of Ruth tells the story of Naomi's redemption. When Naomi returned to Bethlehem, the women called out, is it really Naomi? Naomi responded do not call me Naomi, but Mara, which means bitter. She felt God had made life very bitter for her. Naomi said she returned to Bethlehem "empty". She was a widow and her two sons were dead also. Naomi felt abandoned by God. Ruth 1:5, 19-21.

However, Naomi was not abandoned by God. While she had endured much, God had great plans for her, Ruth and Boaz. By returning to Bethlehem with Naomi, Ruth demonstrated unconditional love to Naomi. Every day, Ruth further demonstrated her love for Naomi by gathering the leftover grain in the fields to provide food for Naomi and herself.

For her kindness and love, Ruth gained security, a loving husband, and a child, Obed. Ruth's kindness and Obed's birth demonstrated to Naomi that God can bring good from even the worst circumstances. God took Naomi's emptiness and the bad circumstances she found herself in and gave her fullness and great joy. Naomi gained the joy and happiness that she thought had eluded her.

God loves us just like He loved Naomi. God gave us the greatest gift of love, Jesus Christ. Jesus gave us salvation and the opportunity for relationship with the triune God and is the ultimate gift of God's unfailing, unconditional love to mankind. At times in life, though we may feel abandoned, God has not abandoned us. He does not forget us. God loves us and wants the best for us.

May we not lose hope during life's struggles but seek Him, His truth and find the good He has in store for us. "For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for disaster to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you will look for me in earnest, you will find me when you seek me. I will be found by you." Jeremiah 29:11-13.

Let God's unfailing love hold you and show you the good He has planned for you. His plans for us are far better then what we can imagine or dream for ourselves.

The Book of Ruth is a great book and only four chapters. It is a short read, but a great story of unconditional love in action.

Heather S. Deaton