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Perseverance

I am a mother today, finally, because Josh and I were given an amazing opportunity to adopt a beautiful girl from a beautiful young woman.

So many of us are going through so much – putting our bodies through so much – stretching the limits of our sanity.

My message to you today is don’t stop. Don’t give up.

But more importantly – don’t close your mind to opportunity. Listen to your heart. Listen to the world around you.

If you think Yoga will help – do Yoga.

If you think acupuncture might be a solution – do acupuncture.

If you have an opportunity and the means – do it.

Chase it.

Do it.

Just never close your mind. Never close your heart.

Nothing is worth shutting the door on your dream of loving a child.

Nothing.

Read it again – Nothing.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. ~ James 1:2-4

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A Smile and Some Change

What would a day be like without someone offering a smile and a hello?

Several years ago, I was at a low point in my life. I was in a very bad relationship that had damaged some of my family relations and a few friendships along the way. I was working full time at a job I hated and taking night classes three hours a night, four nights a week. I was completely broke, financially and literally – every credit agency under the moon was after me, I had broken my ever so useful right hand and was in a cast up to my elbow, and when I was at home, I was completely miserable because of the jerk waiting to break my heart and my spirit at any given opportunity.

I remember one day, I had to run by the junior college bookstore during my lunch hour to buy scan-trons for a final I was to take that night. I only had one five dollar bill with me and my checking account was drained. I had been having a particularly bad day, I won’t go into details, but I felt like it had been a really long time since I’d even smiled. It was a hot day, no a/c in the car…I think you get the picture.

As I was pulling up to the last stoplight just before the school, I saw a man standing in the median, holding a cardboard sign and asking for money. He was standing right where I would be pulling up to stop. As I came to a stop, he began walking toward the car. I stared down, doing my best to avoid making eye contact with him. Out of the corner of my eye, I watched him walk right in front of my car, holding his sign out in front of him. He stopped directly in front of me and stood there. I lifted my eyes. He held my gaze for just a moment and then he flipped over his cardboard sign. On the back of the sign, he had drawn a big smiley face with a purple marker. He smiled at me and made a funny face.

I melted.

A huge smile slowly spread across my face. He gleamed. As the light turned green and the traffic started up again, he took one step aside, leaned in toward my window and said, “You’re going to be okay.”

I continued the drive to the school in sort of a daze – I couldn’t stop smiling. I was almost giggling. For the first time in a long time, I felt an internal warming of my soul. For the first time in a long time, I felt the slightest twinge of excitement about my future. I had been given a message. I had been given hope!

At the bookstore, I found the pack of scan-trons I needed and took them to the purchase counter. The clerk was a fellow student who said that a girl had come in just a few minutes before and bought a pack of scan-trons, but only needed a few. She’d left the remainder of the pack at the counter and said to give them out to anyone who only needed a few. I only needed one. So the clerk gave me three.

And I still had my five dollars.

I left the store and drove back around the block to the intersection. With tears streaming down my face, I pulled up to the man and told him that he was the first person who’d made me smile in a very long time. I thanked God for him for giving me a glimpse of hope, and I gave him my last five dollars.

I think too often we are in such a hurry to live our own lives, that we forget the warmth and peace that can be offered just by taking a moment to acknowledge the people rushing by us. Maybe they need to slow down and remember to smile. Maybe they need someone to give them a reason to smile. Maybe we need to make more of an effort to become that reason to smile – that reason to have hope and to make a change in someone’s life.

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Setting Aside Self Doubt Today

“You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you.” ~Song of Songs 4:7

Making videos is new and a little scary for me because I can’t just pick out the best frame in the best light and honestly I get nervous watching myself talk. But this ministry is about faith in the purpose God has for me which means pushing aside my doubts! I happened to come across this scripture at the perfect time today that stopped me from deleting this video.

I pray you overcome all doubts and just love your beautiful self. There is no flaw in you. Read it again: THERE IS NO FLAW IN YOU.

Now go read Matthew 17:20, then pick up your mountain of whatever is standing in your way and chunk it! Nothing is impossible for you if you have faith.

❤️❤️❤️🌻🌻🌻❤️❤️❤️

Devotionals

I am a C-H-R-I-S-T-I-A-N

What does it mean to be a Christian? It means I am who HE says I am.

Shout out to my 80’s Bible School buddies!  Where’s the s’mores? Did y’all sing this too?
This song just brings joy to my heart. I remember being so proud of myself when I  could sing it and spell it faster and faster right along with my mom and the big kids.

Life was so easy when I was little, living in my little Texas town, where my Daddy was the  preacher and my Momma played the organ every Sunday morning and the piano in the little chapel every Wednesday evening. Wednesday evening church was a favorite of mine because we always sang out of the Cokesbury hymnals. Everything was simpler then. Weekend Revivals were gospel music-filled, Holy Spirit motivated community events with three-legged races and homemade ice cream. I always wondered if it was as magical for the grownups as it was for me. I hope it was. I loved that time in my life.

It’s a different world, and I’m one of the grownups now. Being a Christian is a life I choose to make for myself and for my own children to grow up in. The magic of being a Christian as a grownup is that now I get to experience the renewal of life. I know what it feels like to be called to action by God. I understand WHY those gospel songs are so amazing, and I sing Victory in Jesus at the top of my lungs every chance I get.

So what does it mean to be a Christian, now that I’m a grownup?

I am who HE says I am:

I am a child of God.
Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. ~ John 1:12
I am renewed.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old has gone, the new is here! ~ 2 Corinthians 5:17
I am redeemed.
And all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. ~ Romans 3:24
I am accepted.
Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. ~Romans 15:7
I am created to do good.
For we are his workmanship, having been created in Christ Jesus for good works that God  prepared beforehand so we may do them. ~Ephesians 2:10
I am chosen and dearly loved by God.
Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with a heart of mercy,  kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. ~ Colossians 3:12

Hallelujah Thine the Glory! Hallelujah Amen! Hallelujah Thine the Glory! REVIVE US AGAIN!

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I’m gonna jump when the Spirit says jump…

It’s so hard to act against fear. Fear wants to keep you backed into a corner of suffocating silence and isolation.

But faith…the exhilaration of even that first tiny step of faith is enough to jolt you out of the grip fear and remove the weight of doubt. Take that step, make that leap, jump when the Spirit says jump! You have the faith, you have the desire, push aside the doubt. There have been times in my life when I have fought against doubt daily, even hourly. You can do it too! You are worth it! Your story, your life, your truth is worth your fight to overcome doubt and walk by faith!

Pray for strength. Pray for guidance to move in the direction of God’s will for your life and He will provide it. He WILL provide it. It’s your time. Right now is your time to love yourself enough to pray for yourself. I’m praying for you!

Get ready to jump!

Devotionals

The Little Keychain by the Washing Machine

“Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God.” ~ Matthew 8:5

When I take a step back and look at my life, with everything I’ve been through, and everything I’ve done, I wonder how could anything pure could still exist in me? No one gets through this world untouched. And like a lot of people, not only have I been touched by the world, it’s flat out beat me down a time or two. And that leaves a mark just as surely as sin does. That’s where bitterness, anger, coveting… all stem from. Broken dreams, broken promises, insensitivity, frustration, betrayal, battle, condescension, these are all things that destroy what was once pure. And that’s just lightly touching the surface.

So when I read the first part of the verse, “Blessed are the pure of heart,” I say, Yes, bless them, we need more of them, bless their pure, sweet, innocent hearts. And then I read the rest of the verse, “…for they shall see God.” And I think, “Just them, or does anyone have a bible with a different version that’s maybe a little more vague and encompassing? No? Then what does that mean for me?”

What does it mean to have a pure heart? How can I ever get one of those?

Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.”

That tells me right there, in and of myself, it is impossible for me to have a pure heart.

But, what is impossible for me, is possible for God. By the grace of God, I can have a pure heart.

I think a pure heart is a forgiven heart.

One night at a bible study, our lesson was based on a Rob Bell video we watched. The message had this to say: There is nothing you could ever do to make God love you less. Nothing you could ever do to make him love you less. Nothing. This message really meant a lot to me because I grew up hearing these words from my parents my whole life. “There is nothing you or your brother could ever do that would make us love you less.”

When I was about 7 years old, my brother and I accidentally broke something of mom’s. I don’t remember what it was, but we were afraid to tell because we didn’t want to get into trouble. When Mom found out (as Mom’s do), she decided she needed to come up with a way for us to feel like we were able to come to her with anything we’d done. So, one day, she got us together and showed us a keychain. It was a simple little keychain with a picture of a puppy on it. She told us that any time we did something we were afraid to tell her about, we could bring her the keychain. It didn’t mean we wouldn’t be punished, but Mom promised us that if we brought her the keychain, she would not get mad or yell, but she would talk to us about what had happened or what we’d done. We didn’t have to be afraid because she would always love us, no matter what we did. She hung the keychain low on the wall on a nail beside the washing machine and told us it would always be there when we needed it.

I remember, vividly, one occasion when I used the keychain. I had been sent to my room as punishment for something I had done. I was so mad about getting into trouble, I wrote on my bedroom wall in big, little kid letters, I hate mom. I don’t remember what I used to write it with, but I do remember that it didn’t come off with an eraser, and it didn’t come off with water. I instantly became afraid, and ashamed. I knew three things for certain. I knew I was going to have to tell mom what I’d done. I knew that it was going to hurt her badly. And I knew there was no way around it, because there was absolutely no hiding it.

So, I walked into the kitchen. With trembling hands I removed the keychain from the nail, and with tears streaming down my face, I went to find my mom. She didn’t get mad, but when I told her, she started to cry. She hugged me, and took my hand and led me into the kitchen. We got a small bucket from under the sink and filled it with soapy water, my mom handed me a sponge, and together we walked back to my room, and to my wall. The worst part of the whole thing was the guilt and shame of having to face those blatantly mean words again in front of her. She knelt down beside me, and together we scrubbed the words off the wall…every last mark. I still, to this day, feel terrible for writing it. But I don’t remember ever talking to mom about it again.

I decided to use this story as an illustration at one evening service when I volunteered to give the message. I thought I’d better let Mom know and make sure it wouldn’t upset her again to hear it. I asked her if she remembered the keychain she gave my brother and I and she told me that she did. She said she’d even thought about that keychain just a couple of days earlier. I took a deep breath and I told her what I planned to say about my writing on the wall and what a horrible daughter I am. She sat and listened until I’d finished. And do you know what she said? She said, “I don’t remember that.” She remembered the keychain, and she remembered that my brother and I had both used it a few times, but she didn’t remember a single thing we had ever done.

How many times do we fail to come to God with our sins and anger simply because it hurts so badly to have to face that sin in front of Him? How many times have we been mad at God, or too busy for God, and turned our backs to Him only to find ourselves standing in front of a wall, facing the sin in our lives, with no way to hide it, and no where else to turn? It begins with a simple prayer of complete surrender, “Lord, forgive me. Have mercy on me.”

We can’t wash away our sin without God’s help. God faces our sin with us. He washes it clean. He forgives us. And then through Isaiah 43:25 He tells us, “I – yes, I alone – will blot out your sins for my own sake and will never think of them again.” He forgives us because He loves us. And there is nothing we could ever do, to make Him love us less.

Blessed are those who are forgiven, washed clean, for they shall see God.  Achieving a pure heart is not something we can do once and maintain. It is a constant renewal by the grace of God.  Blessed are the pure of heart, the forgiven heart, the willing heart, for they shall see God.

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a faithful spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10.

Devotionals

Focus on Faith

When you focus on your faith, you find a new perspective. You get a new angle on dealing with the world around you.

Focusing your faith can mean something different to each of us, but if you need a place to start, here are three steps to get you on your path:

1. Understand that God is not looking down you, watching you suffer in your situation. Instead close your eyes, take a deep breath, and know that He is with you, feel the comfort of His presence, and hear Him whispering these words in your ear, “I’m so sorry, sweet child. I’m so sorry you’re sad. But there is a plan. There is hope.”

2. Focus on praying for strength and do not doubt. When you do not doubt, faith is present. It’s already there. Focus on Jesus and not on your circumstances.

3. Be ready for action. Pray for guidance to know when it’s YOUR move, and use every ounce of your faith to cast any doubts you have aside.

Read Matthew 17:20, then pick up your mountain of doubt or bitterness or whatever it is standing in your way, and chunk it!

❤️❤️❤️🌻🌻🌻❤️❤️❤️

Devotionals

Dangerous Intersections

Psalm 138:7

There is a road that runs through the center of my city. Just past the university, there is a stoplight followed by a curve, then another road splits off the main road to the right. Typically, as many cars take that turnoff as continue straight. People are changing lanes at the last minute to turn off, while other cars are lined up to cross the street from both sides. It’s a busy, rushed, and at times confusing intersection. Houses line the turnoff road on the right-hand side.

One morning I was taking my daughter to daycare on my way to work. She was four years old, and I was 7 months pregnant. I’m always in the right-hand lane on this main road because I take the turnoff as it splits to the right. As I rounded the curve after the stoplight, I saw a little girl, not more than two years old, laughing and chasing a little puppy out of the open gate on the side of her house. The puppy ran right into the street just in front of me, and the little girl followed.

I slammed on my brakes. As a few thousandths of a second passed and I tried to decide what my part was going to be in whatever would happen next, the passenger door of a plumbing truck in the left-hand lane next to me opened, and I watched in absolute amazement as a man jumped from the truck that was still trying to stop – he just jumped from a moving vehicle. He landed on his feet already in a dead sprint across traffic, right in front of my braking vehicle, toward this tiny, happy, toddling girl. He scooped up the smiling child and her puppy, and ran for the sidewalk. I instinctively turned on my hazard lights, watching this unselfish act of heroism in stunned amazement. Thankfully, the cars in the lane behind me and those in the left-hand lane quickly became aware of the situation. We all just stopped and watched in relief (I cried) as this brave young man hugged the girl and her puppy close to his heart, while he talked to her and smiled at her and carried her safely up to the door of her house. The door had a lovely painted wooden heart decoration hanging on it. I often wonder how the person who answered that door must have felt, hearing about the moment I had just witnessed.

I drive that route every single day, and I always think about that morning as I pass the house. Things could have happened very differently that day. So many things could have gone wrong. But they didn’t. Because one man did not think – he just jumped. At that moment, nothing on this earth was more important to him than that child. And he didn’t even know her.

We may not always have the benefit of seeing God swoop down from above and physically pluck us out of a bad situation, but he still does it.

Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life. You stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes; with your right hand you save me. ~Psalm 138:7

He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son. ~ Colossians 1:13

As creatures of this world we so easily chase dreams and goals and desires – seeing only what’s just out of reach in front of us – without realizing the path we’re running full speed down ends at a dangerous intersection.  

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. ~ 1 Corinthians 10:13

I really like the first sentence of this passage. “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.” God is so much bigger than the temptations of this world. And in the next sentence we read, “…he will also provide the way of escape.” This says to me that when I find myself overcome by the difficulties and pressures those dangerous intersections surprise me with, there will always be a way out. There is always a choice. There is nothing I cannot be rescued from.

Read it again – out loud. “There is nothing I cannot be rescued from.

Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. ~ Hebrews 7:25

God’s intervention alters the course of events for YOU and ME.

These two scriptures offer great advice to help us stay on the right path:

1. For we walk by faith, not by sight. ~ 2 Corinthians 5:7

Walking by faith means we consciously ask for God’s guidance – and we follow it.

2. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. ~ Peter 5:8

Be alert, be aware. Use self-control and be ready, so that when you are confronted with something new that steals your focus and entices you to follow down a dangerous path, you will recognize when the hand of God is reaching for you, to pull you out of the way of danger.

Walk by faith, not by sight. There is nothing you cannot be rescued from.

Let’s keep looking out for each other, friends.

~Be Intentional. Be Strong. Be Faithful. Be Delivered. ~

Carrie-Anne

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Untamable Peace

Untamable – Unable to be controlled; savage, unbroken, wild

Peace – Freedom from disturbance; tranquility, harmony, good will, serenity

When I think of something wild and untamable, I think of wild horses running fast with no fences and no one able to reign them in or stop them; I think of a raging river, flowing rapidly, unbothered by any attempts to stop it.

What about peace?

Have you ever thought of peace as being untamable?

What if you could pray for and accept Untamable Peace into your heart? What if the Untamable Peace made your heart so full of peace that the fullness of it flowed from your heart and began coursing, racing, through your veins? What if every breath you took allowed the Untamable Peace within you to gain more life, to run wild, until the fullness of it made your body so exhilarated with the freedom peace brings that the Untamable Peace shot from your fingers and toes and began swirling around you until it completely enveloped you with the living protection of God’s Untamable Peace – surrounding you in life giving freedom from pain, from anger, from bitterness? What if the Untamable Peace that now races through your heart and your body and surrounds you in life giving freedom from pain and anger and bitterness now fills the room you’re sitting in? What if the Untamable Peace now races through your home, covering every surface, surrounding every living being, and now swells and grows and reaches outside your home, in brilliant streams of glorious Untamable Peace that reach out and envelope your family, your friends, the cashier, the stranger you just walked by, your co-workers, and even that one person that makes you miserable – come on push through it – pray for them to have peace – don’t let them stop you anymore – you have the Untamable Peace you prayed for and that gift from God – that Untamable Peace – gives you authority to absolutely barrel over and smother negativity and bash those blocks of bitterness in your heart, in your home, in your life, in the lives of those around you – with Peace.

Breathe. Peace.

Peace is dynamic. Peace always flows. Peace cannot be still – it wants too much to live. I look out my window across a field of tall grass. On a still, stagnant day, there is no change or movement. But then the wind begins to blow, and suddenly not just the grass, but the entire field comes to life with the movement of the wind. There’s comfort in knowing that peace is always flowing. When you feel like you’ve lost your peace, or you’ve allowed it to become stagnant – pray for it – breathe it in. It will come back to you. The peace you long for will flow untamed into your heart, and bring life giving movement back to your lost and stagnant world.

Wild, untamable peace gives movement and life and blows away the dust and clutter – but what happens when it hits a barrier – something that your heart is too bitter to allow peace to overcome? Who or what is that barrier? When you close your eyes and imagine joyous, freeing, untamable peace coursing through your life – what makes you stop and open your eyes and tell yourself that you just can’t go any further than that? Why not? Who or what has power over your own inner peace?

It’s yours. It is your peace to unleash. It is your gift from GOD. And it is up to you to give life to that Untamable Peace – with no fences, no restraints, completely unbothered by attempts to stop it.

It isn’t easy. But maybe that’s why it’s so freeing.

We have to pray for it, and accept it, and then give it away – give it life.

Give Peace Life.