Monday, September 15, 2014

location transformation


Ask any real estate agent to list the three most important things to consider when buying a home, and you’ll likely hear: “location, location, location.” That phrase has been in use at least since 1926, according to The New York Times. However, I had a different experience with the phrase, “location, location, location.” One afternoon, my husband, Jack, our daughter, Tracy, and I had just participated in a low-impact family ropes course. It included a series of challenges that we had to solve together as a team. There were several times that I personally didn’t see how we would solve the problem. But we worked together and we tried out different ideas until we completed the task. One of us always had an idea that worked. We learned we could relax and trust that we could figure it out together. As the challenges came to a close, the facilitator had us gather in a circle, and asked if we wanted the final debriefing questions to be spiritual. We said, “Yes!” That’s when he asked the “location, location, location” question...
On a scale of one to five, with five being as close to God as you could be, where are you?
I don’t remember what anyone else in my family said, but I will never forget what I said, “I’m a one.” It was an epiphany for me, which Webster’s defines as, “a sudden realization, a sudden intuitive leap of understanding, especially through an ordinary but striking occurrence.” I had accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior as a ten-year old child during a revival. I remembered my fingers forming a heart as I sat on the front pew after filling out the decision card. I had been enrolled in our church’s cradle roll nursery at two months of age after my parents adopted me from the Salvation Army hospital in Jacksonville, Florida. I grew in my knowledge of Jesus Christ through Sunday School and missions organizations, memorizing many of His wonderful words of life. And yet, here I was, a busy wife and working mother feeling like a “one.” How did I get here? Jesus had not moved, but I felt far away from Him. Later that same week, I heard this heart-felt song by Larnelle Harris, I Miss My Time with You, as the lyrics say…
I miss My time with you, those moments together, I need to be with you each day and it hurts Me when you say you're too busy…
This sudden realization began a time of transformation in my life. I knew in my heart that prayer, time in God’s Word, and worship with my fellow believers were the choices I needed to make to change my "location" from a “one” to a “five.”  We began attending church again, and I enrolled in one Bible study after another. As a part of Beth Moore’s Believing God Bible Study, we were asked to complete a timeline of our life in 10 year segments, asking God to reveal to us all the spiritual mile markers in our lives…broken places, hurts, disappointments, accomplishments, and joyful times…to help us see that God had been there all along and that His grace is sufficient. To accomplish this task, I discovered a very helpful tool for a “Timeline Template” through Microsoft. It’s free, and it’s very easy to use, the text boxes expand to whatever size you need, and the arrows on the boxes can be moved to any location on the timeline.  You can duplicate the timeline, and save as a new page for each decade of your life. The link for this Timeline Template really helped me to get my thoughts on paper, and God has used it to heal me in so many ways. I learned the Hebrew concept of time is like a person rowing a boat. We see where we have been, we back into the future. I can clearly see that God has been there with me all along. I am not stuck in the past, I am rowing into the future, moving forward, proactive, with my focus, my mindset, on God, who is sovereign. He sees the past, the present, and the future all-at-once. I began to pray this prayer as part of my quiet time each day...
Lord Jesus, give me a heart which yearns for Your Presence, a yearning for You that draws me over and over into Your Presence, a yearning that makes only a few days without time in prayer and Your Word seem like an eternity. Give me a heart which is motivated first and foremost by a desire for You, not for what You can do for me, but a yearning for Your Presence. Give me a heart that wants You more than anything else You could give, to love You and know You more than anything in life. Give me a heart that takes what You have made known to me and makes You re-known to everyone else, a heart that makes Your name and renown the desire of my heart. Give me a heart to feel Your Holy Spirit woo me once again to the place where I meet You. In the simplicity of my prayer time, give me a heart to be suddenly confronted by the majesty of my Redeemer—the One Who is responsible for any good in me. I bow at Your Cross, and I experience anew Your forgiveness, redemption, mercy, and grace, as I sense Your blood dripping over the Crown of Thorns pressed into Your brow, onto my heart, covering my sin. I get up from my knees wearing Your robe of righteousness as I face the day ahead, welcoming Your fresh mercies which fall like manna from Heaven, and once again move my heart. I surrender all. Morning after morning.
For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill His good purpose.—Philippians 2:13

Was this encouraging to you? Please feel free to leave a comment in the box below, I'd love to hear from you!

Linking up with
Holley Gerth's Coffee for Your Heart as an encourager.

Monday, September 8, 2014

periwinkles and snow patterns


It was 1962, I was the little nine year-old who moved into the house behind Bob and Mildred Farrell. I was an only child who had moved for the first time from her home in Lakeland to Sebring, leaving grandparents and cousins behind. Bob and Mildred would provide the security and stability which I needed—they indeed left their handprints on my heart.

Bob and Mildred never had children, and they had retired and moved to Sebring from Ohio after Bob had been paralyzed from the waist down in an automobile accident. They seemed delighted with me, the inquisitive, curious little girl who started a conversation with Mildred while she watered her periwinkles by the chain-link fence that separated our backyards. I had never seen periwinkles before and Mildred had bunches and bunches of them growing along her fence.

I became a regular
at Bob and Mildred's, after school, and on weekends. They always welcomed me and seemed excited to see me. We would sit and talk, or just sit, without having to say or do anything for hours. The most fascinating thing I remember from Bob and Mildred’s home I saw on my first visit to their house—it was what appeared to be a photo, with a title below it which read, Jesus Christ in the Snow Patterns.

Mildred took the framed photo off the wall and read me the story printed on the back...
"This photograph was taken by a Chinese photographer who was riding home one day through the snow. According to the story, his soul was deeply troubled. He felt strangely compelled to take a photograph of the melting snow forming pools of water and revealing here and there the black earth. Curious to know the outcome of the incident, he developed the film at once upon returning to his home. Out from the black and white areas of the snow scene, a face appeared, full of tenderness and love--the face of Jesus Christ. He became a Christian as a result of the experience."



Bob and Mildred were believers,
Jesus Christ was their Savior and their Lord. They loved Him, and they knew He loved them, even though they had been to several faith healing services and were told "they didn't have enough faith" for Bob to be healed of his paralysis. This photo hanging in their living room served as a constant reminder to them of the presence of Jesus Christ in their lives, even in the perplexities and turmoil of life, we suddenly become conscious of His Presence.

Bob and Mildred had a powerful influence
on my life. They were always so glad to see me, smiled, hugged me, and seemed to just enjoy my presence. I didn’t have to perform, or be something I was not. They just enjoyed my company. They taught me that “just being” with friends was enough. They taught me to appreciate little things, like periwinkles growing along a chain-link fence.


Now, every time I see wildflower periwinkles growing in unexpected places, I smile, and remember Bob and Mildred, the photo of Jesus Christ in the snow patterns, and I am encouraged.

Take a few minutes to enjoy Twila Paris’ rendition of How Beautiful

"How beautiful are those who bring the good news!"—Romans 10:15
Was this encouraging to you? Please feel free to leave a comment in the box below, I'd love to hear from you!

Linking up with Holley Gerth's Coffee for Your Heart as an encourager.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

a butterfly flapping its wings...


Physicists and scientists agree that even an apparently insignificant event such as a butterfly flapping its wings in Africa can affect the atmosphere in Alaska.

Isn’t it true that even a small thing, such as the beautiful hymn, Be Still My Soul, can transform the atmosphere in the room where it is being played?

The same is true for words…just a few encouraging words of Truth from God’s Word can transform the atmosphere of our thought-life.

Read these words out loud and see what happens to your atmosphere…

You are who God says you are…

In Christ, you are...
   BLESSED with every spiritual blessing,
      ACCEPTED in the Beloved Son of God,
         ADOPTED as a child of the King,
             CHOSEN before the foundation of the world,
                REDEEMED by His Blood,
                    FORGIVEN by His Grace,
                        LOVED with an everlasting love.

When you feel betrayed, God says: You are BLESSED
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. (Eph. 1:3)


When you feel ignored, God says: You are ACCEPTED
According to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved. (Eph. 1:5-6)


When you feel abandoned, God says: You are ADOPTED
Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will. (Eph. 1:4-5)


When you feel inadequate, God says: You are CHOSEN
Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love. (Eph. 1:4)


When you feel rejected, God says: You are REDEEMED
In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that He lavished on us. (Eph. 1:7-8)


When you feel condemned, God says: You are FORGIVEN
In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that He lavished on us. (Eph. 1:7-8)


When you feel forgotten, God says: You are LOVED
Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love. (Eph. 1:4) 



Take a few minutes to enjoy Kari Jobe’s rendition of Be Still My Soul (In You I Rest)…


Be still, my soul; the Lord is on thy side;
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul; thy best, thy heavenly, Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.
Be still, my soul; thy God doth undertake
To guide the future as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence, let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.


Was this encouraging to you? Please feel free to leave a comment in the box below, I'd love to hear from you!


Linking up with Holley Gerth's Coffee for Your Heart as an encourager.

Monday, August 25, 2014

i trace the rainbow through the rain...


My Daddy, Eston Willis, was a wonderful Bible teacher. One year he led a small Bible study in our home. Each week, we would gather, open in prayer, open our Bibles, and he would begin by quoting the same Scripture, Romans 8:1, at least seven times before we began...
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.


Something about the repetition of those God-breathed words moved God’s Truth from my head to my heart. The eighth chapter of Romans begins with “no condemnation” and ends with “no separation”… For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord—Romans 8:38-39

The verdict is final.
The case is never going to be re-tried—irrevocable. On that we can rest—we are accepted on the basis of the finished work of Jesus Christ on the Cross.

Take a few minutes
 to enjoy the Gaither Vocal Band’s rendition of the classic hymn by George Mattheson, O Love That Will Not Let Me Go...
O Love that will not let me go
I rest my weary soul in Thee
I give Thee back the life I owe
That in Thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be
O Love, that will not let me go.

O Joy, that seekest me through pain
I cannot close my heart to Thee
I trace the rainbow through the rain
And feel the promise is not vain
That morn shall tearless be
O Love, that will not let me go.

O Cross, that liftest up my head
I dare not ask to fly from Thee
I lay in dust life's glory dead
And from the ground there blossoms red
Life that shall endless be
O Love, that will not let me go.

O Love, that will not let me go.

Was this encouraging to you? Please feel free to leave a comment in the box below, I'd love to hear from you!

Linking up with Holley Gerth's Coffee for Your Heart as an encourager.

Monday, August 18, 2014

feeling stuck? just imagine...

Imagine Mosaic in New York City's Central Park

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.—Ephesians 3:20

When I am feeling stuck, engaging in what some call, “analysis paralysis,” I find it helpful to apply the power of our God-given creative imagination for inspiration and problem-solving.

Imagination is a powerful entity.
It can cause the hair on the back of our neck to stand up, our spirit to soar, or our face to blush. Imagination is the power that holds our beliefs together; we believe with our imagination. Imagination is the wellspring of faith and hope. Our biggest and best dreams for ourselves and others rise from the imagination.

When we have been hurt, our imagination is wounded.
As a result, alienation and belief in bad news replace belief in good news. We may have...
  • a feeling response that can become frozen into resentment.
  • an anger response that can become frozen into negative reactions of rage or passivity.
  • an interpretation response that can become frozen in negative attitudes, perceptions, biases, and beliefs.
As a result, our imagination becomes paralyzed. Attending to our wounded imagination is a path through forgiveness. Forgiveness expands our horizons and invites us to retrieve the positive and work through the negative. Is the glass of water half-full or half-empty? The answer depends entirely on how you see it. “How you see it” is called “perception.”

There is the story about the blind men
and the elephant. Each man named and described the animal according to his experience of touching only one part of the elephant’s body. The man who held the trunk “perceived” the elephant to be a large snake; the man who held the leg “perceived” the elephant to be a sturdy tree. In the same way, we “perceive” life—depending on what our experience is.  Our experiences generate our expectations and our perceptions. We interpret life experiences, and we form expectations and perceptions, attitudes, and assumptions.

All of this activity is the work of the imagination.


It is also the work of the imagination
to reinterpret and reform repeated assumptions and expectations. Forgiveness demands that we take another look so that our imagination can reframe our narrow interpretations. Forgiveness includes the decision to refocus or enlarge the context…walk a mile in another’s shoes. 
When we enlarge the context, we refocus, or we see it through a wider lens.

Imagination is the work of seeing through a wider lens.


If we remain stuck in a negative interpretation
of an old offense, we will experience resentment whenever we think about it, or about the offender. We will never be able to grieve and let go; we will seesaw between rage and resignation; we will never allow anger to surface and put us back on the journey of forgiveness. If we insist on telling and retelling our bad news stories of the past, we simply recycle the bad news and pass it on to the next generation. We pollute the emotional environment; we remain stuck in lifeless memories instead of looking for a more positive side of things long past.

When you enlarge your perceptions
 using your creative imagination, you at least allow for the possibility of healing. You give yourself the opportunity to turn from the negative aspects of your past, to get rid of the excess baggage, and to face the journey into the future with hope.

When I served as the
Florida Department of Education State Consultant for Gifted Education, I was frequently asked to provide technical assistance to school districts regarding strategies to improve creative and critical thinking skills for students.  I have identified some of those strategies here to inspire us to think creatively using our God-given imagination.
The formulation of a problem is often more essential than its solution, which may be merely a matter of mathematical or experimental skill. To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old questions from a new angle, requires creative imagination and marks real advance in science.—Albert Einstein.

The formulation of a problem determines the range of choices:  the questions you ask determine the answers you receive. Write the problems you want to solve as a question. Use the phrase, “In what ways might I…?” to start a problem statement. This keeps you from settling on a problem statement that may reflect only one perception of the problem. Keep asking this open-ended “In what ways might I…?” question allowing your creative imagination to flow.

You will be amazed
at how your continual re-wording of the "In what ways might I...?" question will increase your creative thinking skills of Fluency, Flexibility, Originality, and Elaboration—the four primary strategies for developing and improving creative thinking or imagination:
  • Fluency is the ability to think of many answers to a question, to list many possible solutions to a problem, or to generate a number of responses. Fluency is being able to think of lots of plans or ideas.
  • Flexibility is the ability to change your way of thinking about a problem or situation. It is the ability to think of alternative ideas and to adapt to different situations.
  • Originality is the ability to think of fresh or unusual designs, ideas, responses, or styles. People who are original are independent and creative in their thoughts and actions. They create things that are new, different, or unique.
  • Elaboration is the process of expanding an idea by adding detail. To elaborate, you must understand the original idea and see a way to clarify or improve it by adding specific details. You are elaborating when you add to, enlarge, enrich, or expand descriptions, designs, drawings, explanations, instructions, reports or stories.


Take a few minutes to enjoy MercyMe's I Can Only Imagine...

Was this encouraging to you? Please feel free to leave a comment in the box below, I'd love to hear from you!

Linking up with Holley Gerth's Coffee for Your Heart as an encourager.

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