Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Sum of Life~

I flip the calendar page from 2015 to 2016.

It takes less than a second.

Tomorrow, we step out into a brand new month and a brand new year.
And, I can't help but wonder.
Where have those before it gone?
And when?
When did they go?

Wasn't it just yesterday when my sweetheart and I were trying to keep our eyelids open until midnight so we could welcome in 2015 with a kiss?

Wasn't it just a day or two ago when we sat at our favorite table at our favorite restaurant enjoying a Valentine's dinner complete with a basket of heart shaped sopapillas?

Wasn't it just a moment ago when tulips peeked through the grass and our long lost friends, Mr. and Mrs. Robin, surprised us one evening?

Wasn't it just a little while ago when leaves turned golden brown, luscious red, vibrant orange and colored our world in glorious fashion?

Wasn't it only yesterday that it was today?

Time is marching on and it doesn't look as though
it is concerned with whether or not anyone else is
joining in on the march.

It's a funny thing about time.

We can spend it anyway we want,
but we can only spend it once.

And yet,
how frivolously I let the hours of my days, months, years and life trickle right though my hand.
(You, too?)

I don't know the answer.

I don't know how to
grab a hold of life
and live it to the fullest
every single moment of every single day.

I don't know how to
make the days on my calendar
transform from blank boxes
to completely used up and wrung dry moments of life.

But, tomorrow, it's a brand new year.
Tomorrow, it's a brand new month.
Tomorrow, it's a brand new day.
Tomorrow, it's a brand new moment.

Maybe the answer isn't found in the brand new... maybe, it is found in now.

Maybe the key to living my life is found in the living of my life -
moment by moment, day by day, right now.

Maybe life is
a kiss at midnight,
the sweetness of a honey-dipped sopapilla,
the beauty of a tulip and the chirp of a robin,
the breathtaking view of trees in fall.

Maybe, I have packed more living into my life than I realize.

Maybe this is the sum of life....


Seize life! Eat bread with gusto,

Drink wine with a robust heart.
Oh yes—God takes pleasure in your pleasure!
Dress festively every morning.
Don't skimp on colors and scarves.
Relish life with the spouse you love
Each and every day of your precarious life.
Each day is God's gift. It's all you get in exchange
For the hard work of staying alive.
Make the most of each one!
Whatever turns up, grab it and do it. And heartily!
This is your last and only chance at it,
For there's neither work to do nor thoughts to think
In the company of the dead, where you're most certainly headed. 
~Ecclesiastes 9:7-10 (MSG) 



But he's already made it plain how to live, what to do,

what God is looking for in men and women.
It's quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor,
be compassionate and loyal in your love,
And don't take yourself too seriously—
take God seriously. 
~  Micah 6:8, (MSG)

I flip the calendar page from 2015 to 2016.

It takes less than a second.

But maybe,
just maybe,
the memories of today,
will last an entire lifetime.~











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Monday, December 28, 2015

Looking Ahead to 2016~










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Monday, December 21, 2015

To Love Well~

I sit on the back row of life, and I watch her, this woman who loves well.

Without so much as an inclination that I am here,
observing,
watching,
marveling,
and often squirming inside,
she goes about the extraordinary business of living her ordinary life well.

A bag of food delivered to a struggling couple.
A truck load of bicycles driven to children in foster homes.
A face to face, heart to heart visit with a friend locked behind bars of metal, heartache, and regret.

Eyes that see.
Ears that hear.
Hands and feet that are quick to respond.
A heart that doesn't know the word "no", only a resounding, whatever-it-takes "yes".

And, I think about my own life,
how on Saturday I went from forty something to 50 in the blink of an eye,
how life is moving faster than the speed of light,
how if I don't start living
and start living soon
my life will be over without any life having been lived at all.

What makes a life a life that is lived well?

I wrestled with this question in the weeks leading up to my birthday,
and if I'm honest,
the years before 49, or 48, or even 47,46, or 45.

For as long as I can remember,
this elusive dream to live life well has been taunting and teasing me -
always somewhere peeking out from behind an opportunity,
but never quite within my reach.

And this space in between
the arm's length that keeps me at bay,
the one thing that is standing between my life being lived and my life being lived well,
is now finally coming into focus.

Life isn't about living at all;
it's about loving,
loving well.

And this loving well is not going to allow me to stay
unnoticed and secure,
safely seated on the back row of life.

No, this loving well is going to
jar me loose from complacency and comfort
and catapult me smack dab into the middle of someone's life.

This loving well is going to
unnerve me,
undo me,
unloose me.

This loving well is going to change me.

But, isn't this what I long for -
not more candles on my cake,
not more money in my account,
not more time on my hands,
not more me,
less?

I watch as she goes about the extraordinary business of living her ordinary life well,
this woman who loves well,
and I see Him.

Jesus.

And I know without a shadow of a doubt
the only way to truly live life well,
is to lay it down,
to give it up,
to sacrifice it on the altar of love.









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Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Born to Die~












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Thursday, December 10, 2015

Hidden Under Piles of Ill-Fitting Religion and Theology~

Several years ago while shopping an after-Christmas sale, I stumbled onto a priceless treasure. I was digging through a huge bin of marked down T-shirts when I saw a navy blue one peeking out from near the bottom of the pile. Since blue has always been my color of choice, I decided this shirt was worth going after. After several minutes of elbowing my way through a sea of shirts, the one that caught my eye was finally within my reach. As I picked it up, I turned it over and looked at the front.

To my surprise, the design on this T-shirt was that of the manger scene. Little baby Jesus was fast asleep in his small cradle, with Mary tenderly seated as his side. As beautiful as this was, more beautiful yet, were the six words printed boldly in white above the picture.

His Destiny was to Change Ours

Here was the true meaning of Christmas spelled out for all to see and yet up until now, this T-shirt had slipped by totally unnoticed and completely unseen, buried at the bottom of a clearance bin! As I stood there, surrounded by a crowd of noisy, energetic shoppers, I felt a hush come over my soul.

Day in and day out we elbow our way through life in an effort to reach our goals, get ahead, succeed, and find true happiness. Digging through the bin of life, we proudly grab these surface level bargains, settling for the leftovers of this world, all the while missing out on our true destiny.

We go to church and accept the surface level truth of Christ's birth, yet never realize that the very essence of Christ and the purpose of his arrival as a tiny baby may still remain buried under piles of ill-fitting religion and theology. How we need to dig deeper, to search more, to grasp the almost incomprehensible ......His destiny was to change ours!


Yes, Christ came to earth as a baby to ultimately die on the cross, making a way of forgiveness, atonement and salvation for us. There is no denying this life-giving truth. Our final and ultimate destiny is to be with him in Heaven through out all eternity. But what about here? What about now?

One of my favorite verses is John 10:10b:
 "I have come that they might have life, and have it more abundantly." KJV

If ever a verse described the destiny of Jesus as it relates to our own, this is it. He came that we might have life and have it more abundantly. Life eternal is most definitely part of the abundant part, but our destiny doesn't begin once our time on this earth is over. NO! Our destiny changes the moment we turn our life over to Christ.

Our can'ts become cans.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. 
~Philippians 4:13

Our defeats become victories.

We are more than conquerors through Christ who loves us. 
~Romans 8:37

Our trials become treasures.

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose. 
~Romans 8:28

Our desires become reality.

Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.
~ Psalms 37:4

I'm so glad I caught a glimpse of blue peeking out from the bottom of that bin of marked down T-shirts. Yet no happiness in the world will ever begin to match the joy I now feel since I caught a glimpse of my true destiny in Christ.

When it comes to shopping, you will still find me searching through clearance bins in hopes of finding a bargain, but thanks be to God, you will never, ever find me digging through the bargain bins of life or poking through the discounted racks of religion and theology.

I have discovered my true destiny and I'm not settling for anything less than God's best for me!

 I am not going to wait until I die to truly start to live. I am going to live the abundant life now! 
I am going to reach out with every bit of my heart, mind and soul and grab onto the treasure I have in Christ. I am going to start living out my Christ-given destiny.

How about you?

And you shall seek me, and find me, when you shall search for me with all of your heart.
~Jeremiah 29:13







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Sunday, December 6, 2015

How About Giving This?~










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Monday, November 30, 2015

Only God~

I don't know how we first met, or how it is we became friends.
We just always were.
J, L, and me, the three of us.
First grade through high school graduation, we spent the years of growing up side by side.

I have no doubt in my mind it was God himself who orchestrated the details of our lives,
so we might live where we did,
when we did,
sharing our life together with who we did.

Only God.

There were a lot of similarities between us,
although admittedly more between J and L, then me.

J and L were both only children,
I had two sisters.

J and L's parents both owned VW bugs.
My parents were Ford people.

J and L both went to the small, country church situated on an old dirt road.
I went to church in a nearby city.

J and L both had birthdays in November.
My birthday came a few short days behind theirs in December.

We were friends - through thick and thin, and everything in the middle.

Now,
the older we get,
the more I keep finding myself in a place that seems to look back over the years instead of out in front to them like we did when we were kids.

And, I realize I have more in common with these friends still:

None of us, although we all married, had children of our own.
We were all Daddy's girl through and through.
And this year, - this year we all turn 50.

In fact, today is L's birthday and with it came the most unbelievable similarity between us all.
This morning, in the wee early hours of her birthday, L's father passed away.

I  awoke to this facebook message from J:
Just read that he passed away at 2 am this morning. My heart is heavy for her.

Almost 11 years ago, on my birthday, my father passed away.

And, years before that, on J's birthday, her father passed away.

(I'll give you some time to let that sink in.)

When J's father died, almost twenty years ago now, my heart broke for her and I remember thinking over and over and over again, how sad would it be for your father to die on your birthday? Little did I know at the time, I too, would experience this. And now, almost 11 years beyond my own dad's passing, L - today - feels this same incredible loss on her birthday.

My heart, too, is heavy for her.

Finally, early this afternoon, I messaged J back:
So very heavy - tears for her, all day long. And, if I'm honest, maybe tears for you and me, too, all mixed up and wrapped up with hers. Love you, dear friend.

J was quick to reply:
Yep...I had a hard day. Kinda relived it all over again. Tonight I'm better. Love you Esther!

(She always called me Esther.  Can I just tell you right here and right now how comforting it is to hear the "blessings" of your past, words and phrases from a heart that knows you so deep for so long - words that somehow have the amazing ability to ground and settle your heart when it feels as though it has had the rug pulled from underneath it?)

And my reply:
You're the best, Gertrude. Always have been, always will be. 

(I always called her Gertrude.  And, it felt good typing that name.)

I don't know how we first met, or how it is we became friends.
We just always were.
J, L, and me, the three of us.

And, I don't how it came to be that all three of us would experience such a heartbreaking loss on the day we took our first breath.

And yet,
even in this,
I have no doubt in my mind it was God himself who orchestrated
the details of our fathers' lives,
so me might experience what we did,
when we did,
sharing our grief together now with who we are.

Only God.

We are linked together still.  

And the tears we shared together today, 
in a bittersweet way,
are just as precious to me as all the laughs we have shared for the past half-century.

Yes, we are friends - through thick and thin, and everything in the middle.









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Saturday, November 28, 2015

A Most Unlikely Place~

Sometimes, the message of Christmas shows up in the most unlikely place.

A young virgin.

A stable.

A Facebook news-feed.

A couple of Decembers ago, I decided to hop on my computer and check Facebook one more time before heading to bed, before sweet dreams took over.

My younger sister was spending the weekend in New York City, taking in all the city and Christmas there had to offer. Me, I was "seeing the sights" through each post, (plus, keeping tabs on her in the big city - it's what big sisters do, right?! - no matter the fact that my sister was 38 at the time!)

It was hoping to discover where she was now that had me booting up and logging on.

Sure enough, she had left another post and another photo. Oddly enough (or maybe not odd at all) it was smack dab in the middle of these other three posts.

Anita:
Tears of sadness tonight. Breast cancer has taken the life of a dear friend. I sure do look forward to that day when all suffering ends. To those of you who knew Sheryl, she passed away at 6:30 tonight.

Shelly: 
"God's strength is fully revealed when our strength is fully depleted." ~LizCurtisHiggs

Laura:
Such a lovely sight! I love NYC! 


Danette:
My aunt Carmen lost her battle with cancer today. Prayers for the family are welcome. Rest peacefully Carmen. I love you.

Yes, sometimes, the message of Christmas is torn from the manager, hand-delivered, unwrapped and placed right in the lap of your heart when you least expect it, but need it the most.

As I read through each post, I thought of the baby born on that blessed night. Jesus, bundled in swaddling clothes, innocent, pure, all-God, yet all baby, oddly enough (or maybe not odd at all) hand delivered by Almighty God, through a young virgin, and placed smack dab in the middle of our world.

In the middle of our suffering.

In the middle of our sin.

In the middle of our weakness.

As my eyes stared at my computer screen, my heart found itself gazing upon the very heart of God.

This is why the herald angels sang.
This is why "we three kings" traveled afar.
This is why the little town of Bethlehem is still visited today.
This is why the night of this baby's birth, unlike any other night, was silent and holy.

Immanuel.

God is with us.

Not in some far away Heaven.
Not hidden from view, out of ear shot, untouched or unbothered.
Not there, but here.

Jesus came straight from Heaven,
into our sin-marred, heart-breaking, pain-inflicting world
so that through
His immaculate conception,
His lowly birth,
His spotless life,
His sacrificial death,
you and I,
in the midst of all this earthliness,
can taste and know the sweetness of Heaven,
that is found in only in God
and only when God is with us.

Hope.
Peace.
Strength.
Joy.
Love.
Salvation.
Everlasting life.

This is the message of Christmas to be lived out in our hearts all year long.

God with us when the diagnosis is cancer.
God with us when our tears fall beside the freshly dug grave of a loved one.
God with us when our strength is gone.
God with us when the world turns against us.
God with us when we stand and gaze at the lights of Christmas.

God with us here, now, forever.

As I re-read the posts left behind by those I love,
I pictured Anita and Danette
     wiping away tears,
                      longing for Heaven,
                                 comforted by the blessed hope we have in Christ.

I pictured Shelly
             sitting up a little taller,
                                 her courage and faith a little stronger,
                                                        strengthened by the power we have in Christ.

I pictured my beautiful sister, Laura,
                smiling with delight,
                              her eyes seeing the sparkle of Christmas shining radiant and bright
                                            against the darkness of night,
                                                          overwhelmed by the joy-filled light we have in Christ.

And, I pictured God,
               wiping a tear,
                               sitting up a little taller,
                                         smiling with delight,
                                                   looking down on His own son lying in a manger,
                                                             defined by ALL we have in Christ.


This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. 
And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; 
by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. 
God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger,
 telling the world how bad it was. 
He came to help, to put the world right again.
 ~John 3:16-17 (MSG)


Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. 
If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, 
because you will have the light that leads to life.”
~John 8:12 (NLT)



Yes, sometimes, the perfectly perfect message of Christmas shows up in the most unlikely place -
the human heart.

And when it does,
a life is reborn -
a life that is not bound by time and space,
a life that is not limited to here and now,
a life that is not without help, not without spiritual healing, not without hope.

When the Christ of Christmas is hand-delivered,
unwrapped,
and given residency in the heart of a human,
God. is. with. us.

Now.

Forever.

Always.

In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 
The light shines in the darkness, 
and the darkness has not overcome it.
~John 1:4-5 (NIV)








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Thursday, November 26, 2015

Blessed Beyond Words~

This morning,
as the water from my shower washed over me,
joy, thankfulness, and contentment flooded my heart.

Moment after moment,
memory after memory,
my heart reflected on
blessing upon blessing,
friendship upon friendship,
my whole life thru.

As I relived each moment,
focused on each person,
thought of God's blessings,
it hit me like never before.

 I AM SO VERY BLESSED.

So blessed, I thought,
that if my life ended right here,
right now,
in the middle of this shower,
my life would have been
more than enough,
more than satisfying,
more than I ever imagined it could be.

And I found myself singing the words from one of my favorite songs -

"If I never have another prayer that's answered,
Or have another blessing come my way.
If this is all I know of heaven's kindness,
Father, I would still have to say -
You have been good,
You have been good,
So many ways You've been good to me."

~Scott Krippayne

But, it didn't end there -
in my shower.

God graciously granted me
another day of life,
another day of blessings,
another day of hugs,
laughter,
tears,
joys,
challenges,
praises,
and one delight of my heart after another -
minute by minute,
moment by moment,
all day long.

And tonight,
even MORE than this morning (how is that even possible!),
my life is
more than enough,
more than satisfying,
more than I ever imagined it could be.

And, all I can say,
all I can do,
is bow my head as thanksgiving pours from my heart.

"Thank you, Lord."

Such a tiny sentence to express all that is in my heart,
but,
it is all I have.

And, yet,
as this simple phrase ascends to Heaven and is heard by my Saviour,
the Giver of all good gifts,
it is more than enough,
more than satisfying,
more than pleasing to His heart.~♥










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Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Thankful for His Perfect Plans~

Plans.
We all have them.

Some are grandiose like climbing Mt. Everest.
Some are simple like what to fix for dinner.
Some happen.
Some don't.

As a child, whenever a plan fell through and disappointment flooded my heart, my mom would always turn to this old familiar quote: the best laid plans of mice and men often go astray (a paraphrase from the poem by Robert Burns called To a Mouse.)

I can't speak for mice,
but I can speak for me,
and in my lifetime,
plans have often gone astray, awry, and everywhere else!

My plans, that is.

Not God's.

His plans are always in place.

Like the time I was engaged to someone who became engaged to someone else while still engaged to me. (True story! You cannot make this kind of stuff up!)

Or the time I ended up losing my job after twelve years of sacrifice, dedication, blood, sweat and tears. (Ok...no blood was involved, but my heart hurt so bad over this it felt like it was bleeding.)

Or the time I was expecting and miscarried.

Or the time I was expecting for the second time and miscarried.

Or the time I was expecting for the third time and miscarried.

Yes, my plans have gone astray.
My plans have taken detours and led me to places
I never thought I would be or ever hope to go again.
My plans have twisted and turned until sometimes they were no longer recognizable.

But...in the end...my plans have always led me to God.

Sometimes the road to God was sweet.
Sometimes, it was bitter and full of doubt, questions, resentment and anger.
Sometimes, it left me bitter and feeling hollow inside.

But....at the end....God was there.

{Photo Credit}


Looking back, I can see God's hand in some of the twists and turns.

When I think I could have married the "man of my dreams" (well, if he hadn't gotten engaged to someone else), and missed out on the husband I have now, I throw up my hands and thank God with every fiber of my being.

God knew best.

When I think I could have stayed at that job and missed out on re-locating near my parents and spending time with my precious Daddy during his last days on this earth, I throw up my hands and thank God with every fiber of my being.

God knew best.

When I think about those three precious little babies....

I cry.

Still.

And, I fold my hands in prayer and give my sorrow to the Lord once again. I have not yet seen the "why" behind this, but I have felt His love comfort me. I have to trust that God knows best.

Our plans are not God's plans.
Our ways are not His ways.
But, His ways are perfectly perfect.

I can't speak for mice, but I can speak for me.
When my plans falter,
when disappointment and sorrow flood my heart,
I turn to the truth found in God's word.

‎For I know the plans I have for you,
plans to prosper you and not to harm you,
plans to give you hope and a future.
~ Jeremiah 29:11.

My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. ...
“And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine."
~ Isaiah 55:8

In all things,
God's ways are perfect,
and for this,
I throw up my hands and thank God with every fiber of my being.





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Monday, November 23, 2015

As Blessings Unfold~

As I reached for the alarm, and sat up in bed, the dream that had just been interrupted was still vivid in my mind.  As I put on my slippers and made my way down the darkened hallway and into the kitchen, I couldn't help thinking about what I had "witnessed" a few minutes earlier while tucked under my covers, sound asleep. As the coffee brewed and I booted up my laptop, this dream kept making its way to the front seat of my heart, driving every topic of conversation in my mind straight to the image I had seen while I slept.

I was in a car with someone I knew very well (maybe my sister or a dear friend - I couldn't quite tell who). We were driving down a back country road  in the middle of nowhere. As this someone navigated the car down this windy, barren stretch of highway, we rode along enjoying each other's company, laughing, talking, and marveling at the beautiful scenery unfolding before us.

As we topped a small hill, the driver suddenly pulled over on the side of the road.

"What's the matter?" I asked, as she opened  the car door and stepped out.

"I forgot to say 'thank you'," came the reply. "I'll be right back."

Here? I thought.  

In the middle of nowhere?   

Walking through the open countryside without a house or a person in sight?  

Thank you?

I watched as she made her way over to a small cluster of trees.
Then, I watched as she knelt down, right then and there, and began to pray.

Instantly, I turned my head, feeling as though somehow my gaze was intruding,
- that this was a holy moment made for two, not three.

Minutes later, she returned to the car and we continued on our way.

"I always forget to say 'thank you'."

She must have noticed the puzzled look on my face and felt an explanation was due.

" I pray and God graciously hears my pleas and extends His hand. My life overflows with His blessings. But, so often, without even thinking about it, I snatch up the blessing and go.  I enjoy the gift without thanking the The Giver. I breathe a sigh of relief without whispering a word of thanksgiving to The One who has come to my rescue. I always seem to forget to say 'thank you'."'

We drove a few more minutes in silence, then she continued.

"Like today. My father hasn't been feeling well. This morning, I prayed and asked God to help him, to give him some peace, to help him enjoy his day. When I spoke with my mother a few hours later, she said my father was doing so much better.  I was happy no doubt,  SO very happy, but I didn't bother to stop and say "thank you". Until just now. As we topped that hill, I thought about my father and the way he loves cresting a hill, and I suddenly remembered, once again, I had received of God's hand without so much as a look back, a smile heavenward, or a heartfelt prayer of gratitude.  I just took my blessing and ran."

Beep!  Beep!  Beep!

With the sound of the alarm, my dream was over, just like that.

And yet, even now,
as the warm coffee makes its way down my throat,
and the sleepy in me begins to fade with the light of day,
the message tucked in this dream is holding on tight.

Thank You, Jesus.

God delights in answering our prayers, but He also delights in our thanksgiving. 

As the blessings of God unfold in your life and mine, 
may we not simply take the blessings and run,
may, we too, come to a stop,
pull over from the road of life,
step out of what we are doing,
find a quiet place of retreat,
drop to our knees,
and thank our most merciful, gracious, loving, Heavenly Father.

May we not take hold of the gift
without first holding up our hands to Heaven
and thanking The Giver of all good gifts.

Every single moment of every single day,
as the blessings of God unfold in our life, 
may we remember to fold our hands in prayer and say 
"thank you".~♥ 













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Sunday, November 15, 2015

He Has Not Forgotten You~

Have you ever wondered if you have fallen off God's radar?

<span class=
{Photo Credit}

Life was merrily rolling along and then all of a sudden you found yourself
in a prison,
out to pasture,
thrown in a tomb.

Joseph.
David.
Lazarus.
You.
Me.

No matter where you are.
No matter how silent you find this place to be.

{Photo Credit}


No

matter

how

unforgotten you may feel.



Rest assured.
God knows where you are.



He has not forgotten you. 


In fact, chances are, where you are is right in the center of God's will.

When only a youth, God gave Joseph a glimpse of where he would one day be. Prison wasn't it. In fact, his journey to prison was nothing Joseph could ever have imagined. From a pit, to slavery, to prison. Where was God in this? Right beside Joseph, that's where. Waiting for the perfect, God-ordained time to take Joseph's hand and lead him from the prison right into the palace.

David was out in the pasture tending sheep when Samuel came calling with a call from the Lord. His family may have overlooked him. His own father may not have thought him worth calling for. But God hadn't forgotten about him. In fact, David was the reason Samuel had come. He was God's man and soon everyone knew it. The shepherd soon became King.

And then there was Lazarus. Sick, dead and buried, but far from being forgotten. Jesus came and not a minute too soon. He was right on time and Lazarus received a call of his own. At the words of Christ, life came into his body and he came forth, out into the light of God's resurrection power.

Maybe where you are is far from where you ever thought you would be. Looking around your life, you, yourself, have doubts as to where you even are. Don't worry. God knows where you are. In His perfect timing and in His perfect way, He will come calling.

He sees you in the prison. He is with you in the lonely pasture. And yes, even in the dead places of your life, the places where you can no longer see a sign of life, He is there.

Stay faithful to your calling. Stay faithful to your God. Keep trusting Him in these dark, barren places of your life. He is with you. He is working behind the scenes and one day, it WILL happen.


Jail Door
{Photo Credit}


The door will open.
The call will come.
The dead will spring forth with life.


As Joseph stood before his brothers, the very ones who had sold him into slavery, he proclaimed this truth.

You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people. Genesis 50:20, NLT.

God's purpose was revealed.

David, who had been faithful to keep a watchful eye upon his father's sheep, was now the one being gazed upon as Samuel anointed him to tend the sheep of Israel.

Then he asked Jesse, "Is this it? Are there no more sons?" "Well, yes, there's the runt. But he's out tending the sheep." Samuel ordered Jesse, "Go get him. We're not moving from this spot until he's here." Jesse sent for him. He was brought in, the very picture of health— bright-eyed, good-looking. God said, "Up on your feet! Anoint him! This is the one." Samuel took his flask of oil and anointed him, with his brothers standing around watching. The Spirit of God entered David like a rush of wind, God vitally empowering him for the rest of his life. 1 Samuel 16:11-13, The Message

God's purpose was revealed.

Lazarus, dead, and buried, and lifeless for four days, walked right out of the tomb and back into the lives of everyone watching; a living testimony of God's power to bring whatever is dead back to life.

Then Jesus shouted, “Lazarus, come out!” And the dead man came out, his hands and feet bound in graveclothes, his face wrapped in a headcloth. Jesus told them, “Unwrap him and let him go!” Many of the people who were with Mary believed in Jesus when they saw this happen. John 11:43-45, NLT

Lazarus walked in newness of life and once again, God's purpose was revealed.

0414 waiting for revelation
{Photo Credit}

The God of Joseph, David and Lazarus is our God, too.
When it seems God has forgotten us or life has taken a wrong turn, we simply need to remember this:

God HAS a purpose.

Soon, in God's perfect timing and in His perfect way, His purpose will be revealed in your life, too!








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Tuesday, November 10, 2015

To Know The Rock~











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Sunday, November 8, 2015

The Changing of The Seasons~

I stood in the living room, staring straight ahead at the bricks framing our fireplace. 

“How have I never seen this before?” I wondered.  

Here, in plain sight, a small circle of light, no bigger than a dime, filled to overflowing with the colors of the rainbow.  Somehow, a ray of early morning light had slipped through the peep hole in our front door, its refractive beauty showcased for all to see.  Only, I hadn’t seen it until now.

I called to my husband who was in the kitchen pouring himself a cup of coffee.

“Honey, come quick! You’ve got to see this!”

“See what?” he answered back. “Oh,” he said, as he saw where I was standing, “the rainbow of color above the fireplace?”

Not sure which was more astonishing, the fact that I had never seen this, or the fact that my love had and hadn’t bothered to mention it, I nodded my head up and down in total bewilderment . . .

. . . Today, I'm so thankful to be writing over at Incourage. To read the rest of today's post, come join me here.









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Friday, November 6, 2015

The Beauty in Beginning Again~













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Thursday, October 29, 2015

When We Hear, But Don't Listen~

Lately, I have had no trouble hearing God speak.

He has
spoken through His Word,
spoken through a dear friend,
spoken through a church member,
spoken through a stirring in my heart that cannot be stilled.

I have heard God, no doubt.

And yet here I am,
still.

Still in discerning mode,
still in seeking mode,
still in "Lord, please show me mode",
still in hearing mode.

I have yet to take the step from hearing to listening.

There is a difference, you know.
We can hear and yet choose not to listen.
And when we do,
hear, but not listen,
I wonder what our Father must think.

Why, when He is faithful to speak,
and we have been blessed to hear,
do we choose to not listen -
to not walk away from the temptation,
to not end the destructive cycle,
to not stand up for what is right,
to not refrain from speaking our mind,
to not offer another forgiveness,
to not give of our time, talents, and resources,
to not put others first,
to not step out in faith,
to not let go of our shame and regrets,
to not tell another of His love,
to not turn the other cheek,
to not listen?

And I think of the little boy, Samuel. How when he was awakened in the night by someone calling his name, he immediately ran to the bedside of Eli. And how, after three times of Samuel hearing his name, jumping out of his warm, comfy bed, and running to Eli's room, Eli finally realized it was the voice of God little Samuel was hearing.

And, I know from this story,
and from the place where I now sit in my own story,
that when God speaks,
and we His children hear,
the only response it to listen.

It's what Eli counseled Samuel to do.
It's what Samuel chose to do.

"And the LORD came and called as before, "Samuel! Samuel!" 

And Samuel replied, "Speak, your servant is listening."
~ 1 Samuel 3:10



And, I also know that listening,
true listening,
will indeed get us up
out of our sleep,
out of our comfort zone,
out of our self
and into God's will.

And, in the end,
isn't that where we all want to be?

Yes, I have been hearing God speak.
Now, I simply need to listen.~♥












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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

After the Storm~











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Monday, October 19, 2015

To Know and Be Known~

She sits on the couch across from me and before she evens speak, I can tell she knows the words she has yet to say have the potential to hurt my heart.

I know this because I know her.

Her heart is all love.  Her wisdom, God-sought and God-desired.  Her intentions, God-honoring.
I see the look in her eye and hear the hesitation in her voice.

"This might sound like it's coming from a place of gossip, since I'm not the one who actually heard it, but it's really not.  I think it's important for you to know what this appears like to others.  I know it's not true because I know you.  Your heart is always loving. You hate to hurt anyone.  I know what they are saying is not true, because I know you."

I know her and she knows me and because we do, despite the words and the opinions and the bitter feelings of those around us, we can talk heart to heart without being touched by anything other than the truth of the issue at hand.

She doesn't have to walk on egg shells.
I don't have to formulate a rebuttal or feel the need to defend myself.

It's a beautiful place to be - this space shared by two hearts who know each other.

"When I heard what was being said, I knew things didn't add up because what they were saying didn't sound like you.  I know you."

It is this knowing, - this truly knowing a person - that keeps the lies at bay.
It is this knowing, - this truly knowing a person - that doesn't waver when words are spoken and rumours fly, and accusations are spoken, and judgments are made.

It is this knowing, - this truly knowing a person - that breathes life and not death in a relationship.

We talk, heart to heart, and we promise to join our prayers together as we seek a solution for the situation we have discussed.  We hug, we thank each other for each other, and  then, she heads out the door back into her day.

Standing there alone in the silence, I can't help but ponder anew this precious gift of being known.  How, if we truly took the time to know others, if we truly took the time to understand another's perspective, if we truly took the time to lean in past our preconceived ideas and beyond a casual hello to know those in our midst, truth could be told, truth could be heard, and truth could prevail.

To know and be known.



And, I think about my God and the way He knows me.

How I am learning more and more, day by day, to know Him, too.  So much so, in fact, that when the enemy approaches me with words that don't sound like The Word, I turn a deaf ear.  When Satan tries to manipulate my thoughts, strangle my faith, sabotage my relationship, commandeer the abundant life Christ died to give me, I don't give any weight to what he is saying, to what he would have me believe.

When things don't add up  because what He is saying doesn't add up to what I know to be true, to what I know to be the God I know, I stop listening.

Instead, I hear the invitation to come, to be still, to know that I am God.

And, I realize more than ever.

This is not just some casual suggestion or rainy day, if and when you feel like it idea.  This is where I am held safe in the bond of truth.  This is where life is breathed into my relationship with my Heavenly Father and victory declared triumphant over the enemy of my soul.

Yes, it is a beautiful space - this space shared by two hearts who know each other.










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Tuesday, October 13, 2015

In An Instant~

The sudden, unexpected death of a friend, who was also a former co-worker in our church family, has me remembering another day that started just like today and re-posting this 2012 post contemplating the brevity of life. . .

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

This morning started like any other morning. My alarm jolted me out of my dreams and then out of my cozy bed as out into the world I stepped.

At work, this day started like any other morning, too. Emails to answers, projects to complete and phones to answer.

In fact, it was answering a phone call that turned this ordinary day, upside down.

"Stacy," the voice on the other end of the line sounded urgent," is the Pastor in?"

"Yes, just a moment please."

I put the phone on hold and walked the short distance down the hall to the front offices, then informed the pastor about the caller waiting on line 1.

I returned to my desk, opened a another email, then looked up as the pastor entered my office.

"It was a massive heart attack. I'm headed to the hospital."

Minutes later, another phone call. This one from the Pastor.

"He didn't survive. He's gone."

In a matter of moments, a member of our church was gone. One moment, he was on the golf course, taking in this beautiful fall day and breathing in life. The next, fallen onto the grass to breathe of this life no more.


In an instant.

A moment.

Suddenly, nothing about my own life felt ordinary anymore.

As I hung up the phone, I distinctly remembering feeling my lungs inhale and then exhale as I took my next breath. I felt the pounding of my heart, as each beat pumped blood through my veins. I felt the blinking of my eyes as tears welled up and overflowed. I felt my stomach, a sea of emotion.

As I unconsciously pulled the collar of my shirt up close around my neck, I smelled the "scent of my husband" still lingering on my shirt, a precious reminder of our morning embrace.

Looking straight ahead at nothing in particular, I spotted a photo of my sister, her precious little boy and me. Walking through a mall one day while we were both vacationing at my mother's home, we had spotted one of those fun little photo booths, looked at each other with that twinkle in our eyes and dove in. The photo brought new tears.

As I sat in my office, my little cubicle of the world, I was suddenly aware of life,

of being alive.



Emails, projects, to-dos, bills, the argument I had with my husband the day before, my dirty house...

none of it mattered anymore.

NONE. OF. IT.

I was alive. I had been blessed with one more minute of life. Possibly one more hour or one more day or one more week or one more year.

What a gift.

What a privilege.


And shamefully, regretfully, what a waste...all the days before when I was simply going through the motions, existing, and doing, and completing my list, but not really living.

As I sat in my office, I thought about my life.
I thought about how many minutes had been wasted on

piddly bickering,

thankless complaining,

endless worrying,

mindless living.



What if today was my last day?

What if that would have been me?

Not another opportunity to feel the warmth of the sun,

to hear the wind whistling through the trees,

to taste the sweetness of honey,

to laugh until it hurt,

to dance when no one was watching or maybe even if they were,

to experience life,

ALL OF IT~

What if that phone call would have been about me?

Am I satisfied with how I have lived my life?

Am I ok with the way I have chosen to spend the minutes I have been so graciously given?

AND.............

Am I content to keep living this way?


NO.


I.


AM.


NOT.

I don't want this day to end like any other ordinary day.

I don't want my life to end like just another ordinary life.

When my end comes,
when I breathe my last breath,
I want my life to have been lived to the full,


  


          abundant,
                      overflowing with LIFE~


Teach us how short our lives really are

so that we may be wise.

~ Psalm 90:12, NCV








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Sunday, October 11, 2015

An All Kind of Love~












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Saturday, October 10, 2015

Turn the Page~

Maybe where you are is a Romans 7 kind of place.

You know, a place of struggle between knowing what is right and actually doing it and knowing what is not and walking away.  Chances are, if you do find yourself in this place, you are probably feeling very alone in your struggle.  And yet, nothing could be further from the truth.

Romans 7, particularly verses 14-24, is a very crowded chapter of the Bible.  There is not one person alive (or dead for that matter) who has not found his or her self smack dab in the middle of these verses, front and center in this spiritual battle, overwhelmed and overwrought with the fight between the flesh and the Spirit. Not once, not twice, but over and over and over again.

The struggle is real.

We know that the Law is right and good, but I am a person who does what is wrong and bad. 
I am not my own boss. Sin is my boss. 
I do not understand myself. 
I want to do what is right but I do not do it. Instead, I do the very thing I hate. 
When I do the thing I do not want to do, it shows me that the Law is right and good. 
So I am not doing it. Sin living in me is doing it. 
I know there is nothing good in me, that is, in my flesh. For I want to do good but I do not. 
I do not do the good I want to do. Instead, I am always doing the sinful things I do not want to do. 
If I am always doing the very thing I do not want to do, it means I am no longer the one who does it.
It is sin that lives in me. 
This has become my way of life: When I want to do what is right, I always do what is wrong. 
My mind and heart agree with the Law of God. 
But there is a different law at work deep inside of me that fights with my mind. 
This law of sin holds me in its power because sin is still in me. 
There is no happiness in me!
Who can set me free from my sinful old self? 
God’s Law has power over my mind, but sin still has power over my sinful old self.
~ Romans 7:14-25a

I thank the Lord for these words of Paul - words that remind me I am not alone.

And, neither are you.

Oh, Satan will do his best to make you think you are.
He will spread on a layer of guilt and shame so thick you won't be able to see through it to those of us sharing this place with you.

And worst of all, He will try to keep you
stuck in these verses,
stuck in the hopelessness you feel,
stuck in a place that seems to have defeat written blatantly on every wall holding your prisoner.

(Dictionary.com defines blatant as tastelessly conspicuous. Sounds like the work of Satan to me!)

But, here's the thing.

The way to break free from the Roman 7 places in our life is to keep moving forward, -
to not sit down,
to not break down,
to not give up,
to not give in.

Victory is waiting for us in the next few verses.
Victory is waiting for us if we are willing to get back up and run to The Truth who can save us.
Victory is waiting for us in and through Christ Jesus our Lord.

I thank God I can be free through Jesus Christ our Lord!
~ Romans 7:25b

And, our victory doesn't end there even though Chapter 7 of Romans does.
When we keep moving forward,
when we keep on keeping on,
when we keep getting back up and moving ahead in and through Jesus Christ our Lord,
when we press on past Romans 7 and into Romans 8,
we discover this:

So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. 
And because you belong to him, 
the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.
~Romans 8:1-2
{Photo Source}

Yes, the struggle may be real.
But, thank God, so is the power of our God.

No matter how difficult the struggle,

no matter how alone you  may feel,

no matter how great
the load of guilt and shame,

no matter what,

no matter how,

don't stay stuck in the Romans 7 places of your life.

Head straight to Jesus who is waiting with open arms.
Head straight to His Spirit
who is armed and dangerous and ready to do battle with the enemy of your soul.
Head straight to the next chapter where you are reminded of this unbelievable, undeniable truth:

The flesh is no match for His Spirit
And, guilt is no match for His grace.









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