Birthday Boy: A Child of Promise

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given…” Isaiah 9:6

As we celebrate this season of the birth of the savior, the fulfillment of God’s promise, look to your own life and see what the LORD has done. Relish in the promises fulfilled and the gifts given to you. Savor this story with the eyes of the Wise Men!

I’m not much of a numbers person. Numbers and Math, they aren’t my best. One need only ask Scott Martin about such a deficit to realize, no I’m more of a craft, history, English person.

I have a friend who is a number fanatic of sorts. She loves them, looks for patterns in them. The numbers that surround her, they mean something. She will read them like I read words woven together with intention to form a sentence. I read the same numbers and they mean little to me. Despite my number hesitations, the fact that the King made me a promise and then kept that promise on the 7th day of the month that typically encapsulates His New Year has never escaped me. Seven is His Number.

Long ago He promised a barren woman she would be given a child if she only obeyed what He was imploring her to do. She hadn’t heard His voice many times so she was hesitant to obey, but obey she did. On Ten Seven she gave birth to a Seven Ten son. For many months She was confused, the barren woman acted out of obedience and had indeed had a child as she was promised but the barren woman could not understand why the child was a boy. She was convinced the child would be a beautiful peaceful girl, yet held in her arms was a cranky, have to lay on top of him to change a diaper, won’t sleep in a bed, didn’t talk ’til he was 4 years old son.

The Barren Woman didn’t know much but she knew the King’s Word could be trusted so she headed there for some answers. There she found that every time the King gave a baby to those Barren Women of old who had cried out to Him, as she had, he answered her with a boy. A unique boy destined for great things that The King himself had prepared early on for him. The Barren Woman took comfort in that and learned to love that “ninja-like-stealth escapee with mad non-food eating skills and cantankerous nature” well. Eventually he gained a voice, learned to use the restroom, and became a creative and unique child.

Over time she had learned a few things, there has never been nor will there ever be one quite like that promised boy. He is quick-witted and has a sense of humor that is a delightful combination of his Mama and Daddy. He loves with a love that never sees color or race. He is blind to differences, and the hatred of another based on the outward appearance boggles his mind. He loves Jesus and loves Him for reasons most adult people have yet to understand. His favorite attribute of God is that “He is.” He worships in a way unique to himself.

I used to be a tad disgruntled over the Promised Boy and the quirky things that make him unique. Yet over time and after much pondering and prayer, I am so thankful to be His Mama, to be the very front line witness of miracle after miracle where he is concerned.

A while back we ventured to a friend’s house for an impromptu chili and hotdog supper. My friend, when asked what we could bring said, “Food for the boy, ’cause he don’t like chili or hotdogs.” I giggled as I read that text. She knows him, loves him, and understands him. She isn’t offended that he doesn’t care for chili and wouldn’t have taken it personally if I’d’ve busted up to her house with a sack full of sub-par cheeseburgers for him. She had purchased a cake for dessert, and upon the realization that it was the Boy’s 13th birthday eve, she rummaged through her junk drawer until she found 13 mismatched partially used birthday candles to place atop the once just dessert cake turned Birthday Cake. His face, when he surveyed the pink princess candles with stars on top was priceless.

If we were legit Jewish, the following day we would have had a bar mitzvah, a day of celebration and blessing, the crossing from boyhood to manhood. I am beginning to understand why that number 13 birthday is so important.

As he slept and had yet to witness the as per usual birthday kitchen decoration and cake for breakfast, I reflected on what the King did some 13 years ago, and I am amazed that I got to be his mama. I’m excited to see what the next 13 years hold for that child of promise. My prayer for that boy is this one, “May the Lord Bless you and keep you, may His face shine upon you. May you be all that God desires you to be.”


My Story: Underestimated Peace

Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you.

by Guest Contributor Lisa Greene

Depending on the season of life, my roles have varied from daughter, sister, mother, wife, school principal, teacher, daycare administrator, missionary, pastor’s wife, and business owner. Through all these roles that God has given me, I have claimed Phil 1:20, “According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.

Those roles are all a part of who I am, but as with all of us, I am sometimes a hidden person on the inside that people never see. Being very blunt, openly honest, I am a naturally negative, sometimes fearful, quite anxious, and a controlling person who has learned some very difficult lessons at the Hand of God. All of these led to a low self-esteem for years, a feeling of never being able to measure up, never being good enough, always fearful that someone might see who I really was on the inside and see how terrible I was. In reality though, it was a sin condition that led to who I was and am on the inside.

It wasn’t until I caught a glimpse of God’s peace that I came to understand how His peace could change my life. It’s what I call God’s underestimated peace. It truly is a peace that is far beyond all human understanding, but it is attainable and absolutely necessary for our relationship with God. Just as we sometimes underestimate the power of God, I believe as children of God, we underestimate how God’s peace can change our lives and deepen our relationship with Him.

I wish I could say that my journey to attain God’s peace in my life began at my salvation at the age of 12, but it actually began about 15 years after that. During that time in my life I had been blessed with a wonderful husband, two beautiful children, and a church that was supportive and nurturing. God had opened doors and Sam and I were entering full-time ministry on staff at Liberty Baptist Church in St. Petersburg, Fl. We were happy, we were following God’s leading in our lives, we were fulfilled. All should have been peaceful, right?

baby-2922564_1920.jpgWhen our children were about 7 and 5 years old, God began to stir my heart to have another child. My husband couldn’t understand this and I will never forget him saying, “We have a girl and a boy, what else could you want?” When I realized he was not going to be a pushover in this area, I became what many of us wives become when we don’t get our way – a nagging, whiny, selfish woman – like the woman that Proverbs 21 talks about – “It is better to dwell in a corner of the housetop, than with a contentious woman in a wide house.” I began to back my husband into a corner, trying to play God. He in turn was not swayed by any of my whiny, manipulative ways! Our home, my heart, during that time was anything but peaceful.

I was discontent, not thankful for what God had already given me, filled with worry that God would not give me what I asked for. Little did I know how much more He wanted to give me, but He knew I had lessons to learn before He could give me more. At around the same time, I was asked to participate in leading a Bible study at our church. The study was on being a content woman of God! You talk about a struggle! Praise God, it was through that study I learned about God in a way that I had never seen Him before. He became my ENOUGH! He became my FULLNESS! He became my ALL! For the first time, I took complete ownership for my relationship with God. Though my husband was the spiritual leader of our home, I learned that I was accountable to God for my own spiritual growth and relationship with Him. Most of all, I learned contentment.   It was during this time that I claimed another verse in Philippians that God used to help me realize that I was worthy and He was enough — Phil. 1:6 “Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.”

This verse began to affect my relationship with God in a way that made me realize that I had worth, I was somebody in God’s eyes, I had a special purpose. Through this time God taught me that He was enough for me AND I could be enough as I was. I did not need to be controlling of my circumstances and those around me, because He was in control. I did not need to be anxious, because He was the Great Provider! Presenting myself to God as a living sacrifice just the way I was became my first step toward the Peace of God.

When His peace came into my life, it came with a contentment. I began to pray God’s will, not mine, and ultimately I began to pray more specifically, “God, if you want us to have another child, please change my husband’s heart. And Lord, if you don’t want us to have another child, please change my heart and take the desire that I have away.” I prayed that prayer for many months, learning more about God’s peace, and the contentment and the perfect rest that comes with it. You see, it wasn’t that God didn’t want me to have the desire of my heart. It was that He knew I needed to learn to rest in Him and grow in His grace and peace before I could handle what He wanted to give me.

Little did I know how at the same time, God was working in the heart of my husband. One day, out of the clear blue (I had been praying, but not talking to him about it) he came and said, “I think we should have another child!” In March of the following year God gave us a son. Two years later he gave us the daughter that would complete our family of six.

PeaceThrough this time in my life I learned what God’s peace really is. How it demonstrated itself inside of me was life-changing. It is a PEACE that passes all human understanding. It is a PEACE that is possible regardless of circumstances (in us OR around us). It is a PEACE that dispels all negativity. It is a PEACE that comes to those who ask for it and believe. It is a PEACE that produces a rest within us. It is a PEACE that triumphs over fear and anxiety. It is a PEACE that proclaims God’s power and God’s presence.

Just as I have come to learn what God’s peace is, I have come to understand how my worry is an actual affront to Almighty God. Worry is me saying that I don’t think God can handle it! As the Psalmist David said, “Lord, when I am afraid, I will put my trust in You.” (Ps. 56:3). Worry is simply being afraid – of the future, of the past, of the present. We can have victory over the worry that often claims us by using the weapons of warfare that God has equipped us with.

In Tony Evans’ book, Prayers for Victory in Spiritual Warfare, he states that we have to put on the shoes of PEACE to combat Satan, and have victory over fear and anxiety. When we trust in Him, He exchanges our fears for His PEACE. We put on the shoes of peace by trusting in His presence and power and seeking Him in the midst of our fear and anxiety. Dr. Evans further explains by saying,

“I put on the shoes of PEACE by humbling myself. I recognize my inadequacy and my lack of control. Much of fear stems from a need for control, but ultimately I do not control anything. Being anxious on an airplane does not keep it in the sky. Being fearful of ill-health does not keep me healthy. Being afraid that my marriage or relationships will deteriorate does not keep them strong. This is because ultimate control is in His hands, and no matter what happens, He will use it for good when we love Him. Humility allows me to acknowledge that He knows better than I do.”

It was a difficult season in my life but one of the most rewarding times of growth in my relationship with God. By humbling myself to His authority, I gained His peace as a companion in my spiritual walk. I can claim I Peter 5:6-7 (“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the Mighty Hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you.”) as a promise that He has fulfilled in my life. I have lived it, and continue to live it and claim it each day. Some days, some trials, some valleys, are easier to claim it in that others, but through the lessons of the past I am reminded of His promise.

When God closes a door, it is this PEACE that reminds me that He is in control. When I face struggles in relationships, it is this PEACE that reminds me that I am His, wonderfully made and created in love. When financial difficulties come, it is this PEACE that triumphs over my fear and anxiety to remind me that He is my Provider and He has a plan to prosper me. When I lost two brothers last year within six months of each other, it was this PEACE that brought me through the valley of despair and reminded me that I have a Heavenly Father whose loving arms are always open wide.

We have no excuse as believers to not live a life of peace. We have been given every tool we need to conquer negativity, dispel the darkness around us, and defeat Satan. The Word of God has been given to us full of promises that, if we live and abide in them, will lead us into a peaceful relationship with our Heavenly Father where we can rest in His loving arms. David, the Psalmist, in Psalm 4, so sweetly pictures it for us, “I will both lay me down in peace and rest, for thou, Lord, makes me dwell in safety.” By allowing the peace of God to rule our hearts and minds, we are able to present ourselves to our Heavenly Father as believers of faith and love, always confident in His power and keeping.


I will both lay me down in peace and rest, for thou, Lord, makes me dwell in safety. Psalm 4:8

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving Y'all!

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Priceless!

Whether your day is filled with the traditional turkey and dressing amidst all the relatives or you are sitting alone beside the bed of an extrememly ill loved one eating hospital food…

Whether or you’re in a homey setting on on call at work…

Whether you are alone, with people dear to you, or with a crowd that you wish you weren’t with…

Whether you are living in plenty or in want today…

STOP where you are. If you have time to be reading this, you have time to be thankful. Even in a “worst case scenario” Thanksgiving Day, you are alive, you have the sight and the mind and the ability to read this, you are breathing – so that means God still has a purpose for you, and you are loved by the Father.

So today ladies, we will choose to be thankful and not dwell on what is NOT, or what we don’t have or can’t do, or the things that we wish weren’t the way they are but we can’t change, or the broken relationships and pain surrounding us. Grab a piece of paper or a paper napkin or open up your notes app, and make a list of all you have to be thankful for. Count your blessings! Name them one by one as the old hymn says.

And meditate on these verse for a bit for encouragement.

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.” 1 Chronicles 16:34

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:6-8

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18

“Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.” Psalm 100:4

“Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind” Psalm 107:8

“The Lord, the Lord, [is] the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.” Exodus 34:6-7


Celebrate with a Grateful Heart!



Back to Basics: Bible Reading

It’s that time again! Skip the decaf and go straight for the good stuff! Grab your Bible, pen, and journal, and Wake Up! Today we’re going back to a very simple basic: reading your Bible.

In January we challenged you to pick your favorite Bible translation, find a Bible reading plan, and begin to dig in to God’s Word for 2017.

Did you do it?

Did you start it and not stick with it possibly? (I’ve done that many times myself.) If you started a plan to read the entire Bible in 2017 and stayed the course, you will now find yourself, here in mid-November, having pexels-photo-289689read over 90% of the whole Bible. Nine-tenths! Ninety percent of God’s word full of love and wisdom, peace, history, and instruction. You are a different person now than you were 10 1/2 months ago. I know this because Isaiah 55:11 tells us, “My word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” As you have been reading and feeding yourself on His word this year, He has been changing you, achieving His purposes for you and accomplishing His desired work in your heart! Isn’t that encouraging? You may not see the growth and change when you look at yourself today as compared to yesterday, but think back to a year ago. You may be surprised by what changes you see that God has worked in your life!

Now, for those of us, like me, who are a little behind in what we hoped for this year, it’s time to wake up and re-focus. I have gottten 6 days behind over the course of the year. I know because I keep a list and check it off. I’m lazy if I don’t take measures to keep myself faithful in seeking Him. But I’m not quitting; I’m reading a little extra each day. Not that my goal is to check off a check list, but in pursuit of my goal to know God more intimately and know His word more fully, I press on.

So, if you find you haven’t been as faithful in coming to sit at Jesus feet each day as you wish you had been this year, do you give up and say, “Oh well.”? No. You recommit, dig in deeper, wake up earlier, and read His word more each day. The great thing about the Father is that we never run out of fresh starts with Him.

unnamedWhen you sit down with the Scriptures, pen in hand, if you only read and don’t think or take notes or pray, you won’t get as much out of it. Recently, I have picked up the habit of listening to the scripture as I read it visually. I use the Bible Gateway app on my phone. When you click on the menu icon at the top left you get a drop down menu that has “Audio Bible” as an option. It allows you to choose the version you want to listen to, the Bible book and chapter, and the person reading it aloud. I use Max McLean who has a great voice that helps you hear the meaning.

For the rest of this post I want to give you some ideas for a fresh start at approaching the Word of God. The first one is the one I use, though they are all somewhat similar.

1 – Prayer followed by Observation-Interpretation-Application. Each morning as I open my Bible, I begin by praying that the Father will open the eyes of my heart to see and understand the truths I’m reading that day. This gets my mind engaged and my heart focused on Him, and it let’s Him know I’m ready and willing to hear and obey.

Second, I read a portion of scripture making simple observations: Who is the passage about? What’s going on? What lessons are being taught? What promises are given? What does it reveal about God or human nature or sin, etc.?

Third, I try to interpret the meaning of the passage asking myself what the deeper meaning and implications of the scripture are. How does this portion of scripture fit in with what all I already know about scripture? Does it enlighten me on a deep truth I haven’t understood? Sometimes it expands my understanding of God’s love, mercy, and grace. Without doubt,  it will help me interpret the overall message of scripture more clearly: scripture is the best commentary on scripture.

And finally, I try to see how to apply it to my life. Does it give me a list of practical helps that I can seek to live out that week? Or perhaps it reminds me to walk in faith or step out in service to others or praise him in the middle of our tough circumstances. Does it correct error in me, perhaps in an area of theology where I have followed the ways of the world without ever really considering what His word implied?



2 – SOAP – Scripture-Observe-Apply-Pray – The SOAP method starts and ends differently than our first method, but has some of the same components.. First you go to scripture. But you don’t just read it, you write out on paper the passage you are reading! (When we write things out we remember them better.) Then you follow a similar path as in the first option, You observe and apply God’s word as instructed above. In this model, you end with prayer asking for God’s wisdom and equipping that you can live out what you’ve learned.



3 – FLIP – Facts-Lessons-“I need to apply this”-Pray – In this one, you read the Word searching out the Facts: who, what, when, where, why, and how. The you read back through looking for Lessons (promises, principles, instructions, etc.) in that same scripture portion. After that you you consider how I need to apply this to my life. And once again you end with the prayers of your heart.

Whichever method you can remember most easily is probably a good place to start.

Wherever you find yourself in your spiritual journey right here at Thanksgiving, it’s never too late to seek God. Today is the time to start. Whether you are finishing up a year’s commitment to read a portion of scripture or you are just deciding to get started reading scripture methodically, go for it. As you immerse yourself in God’s word you will grow closer to the Father, find solutions to your challenges, understand the world better, and walk in a more Christlike manner. Scripture changes you! So don’t quit. And don’t make excuses or put off starting. Just do it!


School Lunch


Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. Hebrews 12:1-2

I rarely bought my lunch at school.

I mostly brought my lunch.

In hindsight I see now that it was likely because I can be a picky eater. Mama in her wisdom would have recognized my picky tendencies and packed a lunch more likely suitable for my particular consumption. I have never been picky like no veggies and heaps of carbs picky. I’m very familiar with “chicken finger and fries pickies,” in fact, I have one or two of those in my home – the ones who only want chicken fingers and fries regardless of the menu selections to choose from. I tend to be the please-don’t-let-my-food-touch, that-food-doesn’t-match-this-food-so-I-won’t-eat-them-together, eat-my-meal-in-a-particular-order kind of picky. I honestly never realized I was a picky eater. I love turnip greens, tomato sandwiches, squash casserole, a good steak. I can devour a crab leg with a speed and skill that has earned me the “crab leg opener” title when our family has a celebratory low country boil. So picky just didn’t seem to cross my mind.

When on the rare occasion I bought my lunch, Mama would ask me about it at the end of my school day. Once in kindergarten I told her I had my favorite food for lunch that day, the one that starts with a “B”.









She continued to inquire; had Google existed at the time, a search for B foods would have yielded no help at all.

Finally she said, “Well I don’t know. What?”


I have always love spaghetti. I suppose there are a lot of people who have an affinity for the pasta dish. I mean, how could they not?

My paternal Grandparents were Italian. My Grandmother, Pauline, was hands down the best cook I have ever known. That may be a slight exaggeration. She could cook anything. Also an exaggeration. She could not cook toast. She burned it every time.

12391797_10206070052333753_7825553156234316293_n-1Pauline could make the best spaghetti sauce. There was nothing like it. It has simply been known in our family as “The Sauce.” It contained potatoes and a beef roast. Meatballs that were the size of my 6 year old fist, laden with cheese and green onions, celery and bread crumbs – they were a marvelous delicacy. A perfect balance of savory and sweet, the perfect consistency, the sauce covered every spaghetti noodle with perfection.

My Grandpa had the biggest chest freezer I’d ever seen. He would open it and, like a scene from a sci-fi movie, a chilly fog would obscure my vision. He would reach down into the frigid darkness and pull out all manner of delicious consumables. He seemed to have an endless supply of Otter-pops. He would pull out packages of homemade Italian sausage, what I wouldn’t give now to have some. He would have tiny frozen red bricks, partially occluded by the frosty white containers that would be thawed into spaghetti sauce at the hour of my Mama’s choosing.

Even now I long for some of those foods of old. I’d venture to say that the banquet meal Jesus is having prepared for us in Heaven will consist of Pauline’s Sauce, stuffed artichokes, ambrosia, and an Italian Cream Cake. Every pasta centered meal since has paled in comparison to those.

Looking back it almost seems too good to be true. Those meals were delicious no doubt, but I wonder if the longing for the things of the past are in fact a hindrance for me going forward. Recently I had the privilege of being the “Pusher’ on the playground. Multiple Kindergarten and Preschoolers were on swings that barely let their feet touch the pexels-photo-230620ground, I found myself bombarded with requests to “Push me! Make me go high like a rocket ship!” One particular client kept turning back in his swing, when he would turn his body to look at me and command me to push higher, his swing would go all wibbly -wobbly and slow him down. We would have to regroup and start over. He quickly became frustrated when he would look around and realize that his cohorts were all rocket ship high and much faster than he was. I kept trying to get him to understand that looking back was what was ultimately slowing him down.

Over the course of our playground time, the King used my instruction to the wibbly-wobbly Kindergartner as a teaching moment for myself. I am often looking back, looking around and comparing. I like to reminisce about the good ol’ days. I look to my left and to my right and find myself comparing myself to others. I never seem to measure up to my cohorts; those feelings of inadequacy lead me into feeling anything but content with the present. Paul writes in Philippians 4:11, that he has learned to be content in whatever circumstance.

It has taken me some time, and I am still not where I hope to one day be, to realize that when my vision is focused on anything but my King and the truth of his word, I am guaranteed to be a wibbly-wobbly kindergartner on a playground swing. Jesus called Peter out onto the waters and Peter walked on the water as if it were as solid as pavement. But the moment Peter took his eyes off Jesus and looked at the storm around him he sank like a rock. Had it not been for the outstretched hand of his friend Jesus, Peter surely would’ve gone under succumbing to the depths below.


Pauline’s sauce was delicious, it remains one of my favorite all time foods. I continue to be food weird. It can come in handy when playing an icebreaker game at a party. People always look astonished when I say I don’t like my food to touch and I eat in a particular order. They also frequently inquire if I understand that “it’s all going to the same place anyway,” an implication that the anti-touching thing is pointless. I typically answer yes, I do, but that isn’t going to change how I consume my food.

When I was younger I took several weeks and made an unforeseen investment. I spent weeks, maybe months, in my Grandmother’s kitchen. I learned under her tutelage how to make “The Sauce”. I alone know the secrets it holds. I prepare “The Sauce” for special occasions, I never think it tastes as good as Pauline’s but those who have tasted both assure me it does. They assure me that my “B-B-Ba-skettii!” is just as good as it was in the old days.


A New Arrival


Ephesians 3:14-18  “For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named,  that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being,  so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love,  may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth,  and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”

The sweetest gift arrived for our family a few weeks ago in the form of a sweet baby boy.  My first grandchild. Firstborn of my firstborn.  What a joy, and how excited our family is to welcome him. He is loved more than he will ever comprehend.

I heard his paternal grandmother say that day that there is “so much love” for our grandson. He is so dearly loved by his mommy and daddy and all the rest, but nothing can compare to the love that our heavenly father has for him. “For God so loved the world… .” Enough to send his only son to die for us and to sacrifice his blood as the atonement for our sins. “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called the children of God; and so we are.” (I John 3:1)

I am reminded afresh and anew of how much my heavenly father loves me and delights in me, His child.

  • He sings over me (Zephaniah 3:17)
  • He cares for me (Matthew 10:30-31)
  • He protects me (2 Thessalonians 3:3)
  • He is concerned for me (1 Peter 5:7)
  • I am written on his palm (Isaiah 49:16)

IMG_0282 (1)How God must delight in weaving his little masterpieces together in the womb. He says he knows us before we are formed. In all of his wonderful creativity, he knits together the most precious gifts to give to us as newborn babies. Master craftsman, if you will, when you think of all the splendor of creation.

I wanted to jump up and down with excitement when we knew our little one had arrived and I must confess (with video to prove) that it was too much when I found out that his hair was red. I jumped!

It is amazing to think about how blue eyes and red hair can be formed on one child and because of DNA and lots of other scientific things that I don’t understand, another can have brown eyes and black hair. Or blonde and blue or whatever that precious masterpiece happens to have. And that soft, velvety skin of different shades that the creator adds to the mix. Tiny fingers and toes and legs and arms and button noses. All the little internal organs that work together. Oh my!

What a mighty God he is! My momma has questioned many times how someone could look at a little innocent baby and doubt our God.  I guess many do who don’t know him. But God does allow us to see himself in his creation. (Romans 1:20) Nothing is more tangible than holding our little bundle of God’s creation in my arms and kissing his sweet cheeks and nuzzling his little neck and snuggling him close.

maxresdefaultGod sent the sweetness of Heaven in the form of a baby, His Son, to ultimately be our savior. “God incarnate in the form of helpless babe.” He sends the sweetness of heaven in the form of babies – our own children, our grandbabies, and nieces and nephews. Sweet little babies.

How it pleases our heavenly father when we are birthed back into his kingdom! There is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents. (Luke 15:10) We rejoiced over our precious grandson’s birth just a few days ago, but we are already praying and anticipating the day that he will be born again. We will rejoice with our heavenly father over another who has repented. Oh what a day that will be!

We laughed and shed tears of joy and hugged and grinned and oohed and aahed. And talked about who he looked like that day of his birth.  We most want our grandson to resemble his savior one day. But right now his is a perfect mix of both mama and daddy. And we just love him.





The One Hour Clean Up

“I’m setting the timer for 1 hour. Now Go!”

Thus started our Saturday “One Hour Clean Up”, a tradition in our family for several years when the kids were children and teens.

The purposes for instituting this Saturday ritual were two-fold: 1) we wanted our children to learn responsibility and develop a good work ethic, and 2) I was a busy homeschooling mom and desperately needed help maintaining order in our home.

I can’t clearly remember the day we started this tradition by accident, but my foggy recollection is that the house was horrendous, the day was beautiful, and the kids wanted to do something fun. I do remember realizing that it would take most of the day, as usual, for me to get the house in order by myself. I then had the options of 1) saying “No” to their requests for an outing, 2) letting dad take them while I stayed home to clean, or 3) insisting that the whole family help where we could all go out together. Since an underlying goal for our family was to raise responsible, hardworking kids, my husband and I quickly decided what to do. We would have everyone jump in and help, getting done whatever we could in only 1 hour, and then permitting ourselves to stop cleaning and go have fun.

cleaning-washing-cleanup-the-ilo-48889We made a list, set the timer, and dove in to the mess. When the timer went off we were shocked! The house looked remarkably clean and neat. It would have taken me at least 4 or 5 hours to do by myself all that we had accomplished together. Granted the mirrors were only wiped 3/4’s of the way up by the kids who were too short. And the wash cloths were folded, but not in perfect squares. Even the beds were made, although the comforter corners may have not been perfectly aligned. The dishes, laundry, floors, and bathrooms had been appropriately washed, folded, swept, mopped, and cleaned. It seemed as if we got more done than we thought we could have before we started. It was amazing!

I’ve heard that farm animals used for plowing, such as oxen, when yoked together can do more than double the work of one animal alone. First, herd animals work better in teams than on their own. There’s encouragement and inspiration in teamwork. Synergy, they call it in the business. The second reason has to do with the static coefficient of friction being higher than the dynamic coefficient of friction and because the animals have twice the strength on that initial pull to get going, they get a jump-start on the task. (That’s about all I can explain. Go ask your nearest mechanical engineer or physics teacher for more info.) All I know is that our family herd yoked together for a common goal and “Got ‘er done!” God has already shared that principle with us in Ecclesiastes 4:9: “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil.”

As we left the house that day to “go have fun” we all realized we had already been having fun together. From the 4 year-old to the 8 year-old to the 11 year-old to the 14 year-old to the two 40 year-old parents, each person exhibited excitement, camaraderie, and a sense of being needed and being proud of their contribution. We learned a lesson that day and the new tradition began with enthusiasm. What is one hour on a Saturday morning when you’re all working together and when you get to have a day full of fun afterwards? The One Hour Clean Up became the weekly norm.

But how does that affect my life you ask? I… live alone, or have no kids, or have a maid clean my house. Let’s think of the ramifications of this principle in another area of life. Basically the idea I presented in my family scenario is this:

6 x 1 = 1 x 6
6 people x 1 hour each can do the equivalent of 1 person working for 6 hours!


It’s the commutative property of mathematics (if I remember correctly) at work. So yes, those math lessons are important in real life! But how can we use that bit of data in other situations? In church? In service? In volunteer work?

Well, here’s an example. You’re having a churchwide activity. Let’s say you have a class of 24 people and need 2 people to man a booth for 3 hours. If 6 of the 24 volunteer, they each will have to work 1 hour. If 12 volunteer they will only have to work 30 minutes each. If no one volunteers to help you and your buddy, you’ll both have to work the entire 3 hours.

What about in a particular ministry at church? Men’s ministry for example. They have Bible studies, camp outs, retreats, steak nights, archery shoots, breakfasts, and maybe even fishing, golf, or basketball tournaments. If we leave the planning all up to the Men’s Director he’s going to be one busy man with something new to plan, prepare for, and lead every month. But if we get 4 people operating in their gifts and areas of expertise – they each only have something once every 4 months at most. And what if 1 guy can only do the steak night every year? Well hey, he’s got a whole year to plan and only 1 responsibility! And at the same time he is lightening the load for the others.

volunteer-1326758_1280Why do you think service groups, ministries, and volunteer organizations are always asking for volunteers? To lighten the load. Whether it is the Salvation Army, Red Cross, an inner city tutoring program, or a church ministry, your small contribution may not seem like much to you. “Surely my 1 hour a week doesn’t even make a difference?” you may say. But when my one hour adds up with your one hour and my college student’s hour and your best friend’s hour who decided to go with you and the couple-from-the-other-side-of-town’s hour, we end up with 6 hours of productive work instead of just one.

So my challenge to myself and to you is to find something you are passionate about and have a bit of ability to do, and serve for an hour a week somewhere. Serve in Jesus’ name. Be His hands and feet and heart to the world. Spend more time and energy reaching out to the world than you do bemoaning the current state of affairs. Make that call to Teen Challenge and see how you can help. Let your church leaders know what you are skilled at, and be willing to head up that once-a-year event or clean out that storage closet or lead that study. Be the one who starts a program to adopt an inner city school. Help with that fundraiser. Do a backyard Bible club each summer. Organize that school clean up. Bake for that bake sale. Join or start a sewing ministry. Whatever you’re good at, get connected with a ministry that needs your kind of volunteers. It will not only help that ministry, but you in turn will be rewarded by a feeling of camaraderie, fulfillment, and purpose.

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. Galatians 5:15


My Story: Scripture Speaks

God writes each of our stories in His own unique way. But we are not just characters, we help write the script as we choose to obey or disobey the Father. There is a power in our stories. The truths of God come through as we look back on how far the Father has brought us. Scriptures come alive within our hearts as we live out the truths they proclaim. The following is the story of a Christ-follower just like you, who has walked through the ups and downs of life with her Father God.

By Guest Contributor Felicia Harris

My Story:

I grew up in a single parent home and lived in a small country town called Thomasville in South Alabama. My mom never married. I attended a small Methodist church that had a census of about 15 to 30 members that attended regularly. I grew up with 5 brothers and sisters in my home, and my mom also raised my cousin when his mother left him in Alabama and continued her life in New York. I had a relationship with my father, but he was married with my 5 other siblings.

My church life was different from the norm. Unfortunately, I don’t remember being involved in church growing up. When we did attend church, my mother always told us to say the Bible verse, “Jesus wept” – John 11:35. I didn’t know the significance of the verse until I became an adult. Jesus wept for his friend Lazarus while showing empathy for Mary and Martha. Romans 12:15 says, “Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep.” Jesus wept can also be another example of God’s grief over our sin. I was expected to go to church, but participation of the children wasn’t emphasized. I do remember enjoying the different visiting choirs. I have always enjoyed Gospel music and it brings me peace during times of stress or storms. I remember as a child the sprinkling of water for christening. I do remember the feeling that something was missing. My mother did encourage prayer for meals and bedtime. I don’t think prayer was significant in other areas of our lives. I do remember praying as I was growing up for a better life for myself when I became an adult. My mom did work in a factory for a short time, but money was tight in the household. I grew up on government assistance most of my childhood. My father gave minimal support for 3 kids. I dealt with bullying and peer pressure as other teenagers. During my high school years my older sister, Sheila, married and joined a Pentecostal church. She shared her ministry with me and I attended her church several times. I still didn’t feel at home.

I went off to college and my sister was constantly giving me scriptures or prayers to read. I was in college when I started tithing. As my sister explained, “God asks for 10% but He also wants you to give from your heart.” Deuteronomy 14:22-23 (TLB) tells us, “You must tithe all of your crops every year. Bring this tithe to eat before the Lord your God at the place He shall choose as His sanctuary; this applies to your tithes of grain, new wine, olive oil, and the firstborn of your flocks and herds. The purpose of tithing is to teach you always to put God first in your lives.” Second Corinthians 9:7 says, “So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.” God promises to richly bless us if we are faithful in tithes and offerings. And Malachi 3:10 says, “ ‘Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and try me now in this, says the Lord of Hosts, ‘If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessings that there will not be room enough to receive it.’ ” As my salary increased, my tithes increased. The Lord has been faithful and all my needs have always been taken care of.

church-pews-pxb1398784-milt_ritterI continued to attend several Methodist and Baptist churches in the Birmingham area, but I never felt at home. I wanted a church that the pastor teaches from the Bible and not just their opinions. One of my favorite verses in college was “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” (Romans 12:2 NLT) Unfortunately, I did make some bad decisions that did affect me later in life.

I had goals for myself: 1) graduate from UAB as a nurse, 2) marriage, 3) child. I did graduate in 1998 and purchased my first home at 25 years old. Marriage and kids didn’t come as planned. I continued to pray to God, but now looking back I realize that I never had a real relationship with Him.

In 2003, I had an infection that medications were not working. I had episodes of feeling good or times that my body felt that I was crashing. It’s true; nurses don’t take care of themselves. MD’s ran several tests to determine the cause. While waiting on the results prayers became more intense. I now believe that I was negotiating with God about my life. I think this is when my relationship with God became stronger. My cousin Keisha and I always tried reading through the Bible, but we didn’t have a clear understanding of the meaning. I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and received treatment with oral Metformin. Thankfully I didn’t need insulin injections. Unfortunately, I had a time of depression because I knew the complications for uncontrolled diabetes. I continued to pray and changed my diet and exercise. God blessed me and I only had to take the medication for one year.

My Marriagepexels-photo

I was married September 23, 2006, to Mr. Harris. We attended church regularly and decided to make GFBC our home church, so we joined together in March 2007. I made my commitment to God by being baptized in April 2007. My husband and I attended regularly at first, but eventually my husband’s work schedule changed. Our marriage has had ups and downs. We have faced the issues all marriages face: attending church regularly, tithing, what we wanted for our child and ourselves, and the normal turmoil of any intimate relationship – trust, guilt from the past, selfishness, forgiveness, working through our issues. But scripture has a lot to offer to those of us who are married. Ephesians 4:31-32 says, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, and slander along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” And these verses of comfort for me: Philippians 4:13 – “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.” Proverbs 3:5-6 – “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him and He will make your paths straight.” We have been able to overcome, but keeping a marriage strong against our enemy, Satan, takes effort.

pexels-photo-208189My Child

Ms. Felicity Madison Harris was born March 11, 2009. During my pregnancy I prayed for a healthy, happy baby. I was blessed with my happy baby girl, Felicity – the Latin meaning is “happiness” as she recently told me.

I made a promise to myself that my child would have the opportunity to have a relationship with God at an early age. I prayed that she would desire God in her life. Prayer is important to her. I have a video of her praying for her toys, family and “everything” when she was 2 to 3 years old.

Now that she is older, she prays for healing for her father when his gout is active. Her PE teacher told me that Felicity prayed for her when she injured her leg. Felicity and I pray together nightly.

June 2017, Felicity made a commitment to God and was baptized at GFBC. It was one of the happiest days of my life. I was smiling, and I know God was smiling also. Matthew 19:14 says, “Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.’”


I had my yearly GYN and mammogram appointments. I received a call from my MD that I would need further testing about an area that was seen on the mammogram 2 weeks previously. I had follow-up for a more detailed ultrasound the next week. Of course I felt anxious and apprehensive about the test. But I was abnormally calm during that time. I had faith that God would protect and take care of me. Even my friends and coworkers told me, “You seem so calm.” I know God has a plan for me. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “’For I know the plans I have for you, ‘ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” And Matthew 6:34 says, “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” (NLT)

My sister Sheila prayed for me and gave me verses to read. Becoming Faith Friends (BFF) Lifegroup ladies were so supportive with texts, emails, and phone calls. I felt the love of my class/church family. Jeremiah 33:6 says, “Nevertheless, I will bring health and healing to it; I will heal my people and will let them enjoy abundant peace and security.”

I received the phone call from my MD that it was a benign fibro adenoma and nothing needed to be done! God is a Faithful God!!! I was scheduled for another mammogram in AprilI and a follow-up ultrasound in 6 months, but before that time passed I felt a hard area on my breast at the incision site. So I called and had my appointment moved to an earlier date. I had an ultrasound and thankfully it was only scar tissue. And my MD stated that the area had decreased in size from my previous mammogram in October. Blessing!! God is awesome!


My Lifegroup has been a blessing to me. They were very supportive after my father’s death, my health issues, my marriage, and Felicity’s illness and surgery. Cards and emails arrive just as you need them. I am active in church, working with worship care monthly in Kids Kingdom, in the blood pressure check ministry and as a prayer warrior for the ladies in our life group. I have grown so much since joining GFBC and I know that God is still using me.

Satan continues to attack me with my job, child, and marriage. I remember that God will not place anything on me that I can’t handle. God will always be with me during the good times and the bad times. Psalm 46:1 says, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”


Be Still

Be still and know that I am God.

I had forgotten to get gas. Again. I coasted to the gas station thereby further postponing a favorite Wednesday afternoon confection. Milkshakes would have to wait until we had the necessary petrol to get us to our shake destination and beyond. The Martin 3 were all set for milkshakes. We had just come from our usual milkshake purveyor whereupon we were informed that the “shake machine just went down.”

Milkshakes would be had, but first gas.

640px-shell_gas_station2c_opuc5a1tc49bnc3a12c_brno_28229As I set the pump to go, placed the nozzle in the gas receptacle in my van and began to pump, I leaned my weary back against the van and watched the numbers steadily move upwards. It had been a long day and even just a few minutes of peace propped against my van were welcome. Immediately the solidarity of my prop began to waver. Indicative of the wiggly occupants, my van gave way to the force inside.

“Be Still!” I commanded.

My youngest had an “itch.”

Again, “Be Still!” Again, protest from inside.

Garbled words I couldn’t make out beyond the itch issue and looking for something. The van continued to shift beneath my back, “If y’all don’t be still this the van’s gonna roll right away!”

Hearing the words from my mouth caused me to pause and look around. In my head I had planned to sound like a stern Mama who means business, one who would never entertain such frivolousness as a milkshake on a Wednesday afternoon. Out loud I sounded like a hypocrite with a tremendous Southern drawl. I knew it and my kids knew it. The lady at the pump facing me knew it.

“Be still.”

I hear this phrase often. He is not one to order folks around, and by folks I mean near anyone but the 3 Martin kids. So when he says this to me, I know my husband, Scott Martin, has reached the point of exasperation.

“I said Be still!” They’ve heard him say it to me multiple times in the course of their lives, so when I said it to them I suppose it didn’t really give them cause to act.

When I was a kid, my mama used to say the same thing. She has said on more than one occasion “You weren’t a bad kid you were just into everything. I couldn’t turn my back on you for a second.”

Not a bad kid. Not a bad adult, I just couldn’t, I just can’t be still, or at least that is how it sometimes feels.

Being Still requires much in the way of self-control. It requires that I am intentional about what I am doing, or not doing. To be still requires not just self-control but a concerted effort to do just that. To be still requires practice and patience, I am seriously lacking in the latter. Ninety-Nine percent of the time Scott Martin tells me to “Be Still” I am completely unaware that I am not “being still”.

girls_in_pewWhen I was little the “Be still” would often come when I was in church, it would be commanded as I received a hearty pinch on my shoulder from the church pew behind me. I recently learned that horses respond to pressure and release. In a sense I was the horse, Mama the horse trainer. That pressure on my shoulder was my signal to be still. To be quiet. To cease doing whatever it was I was doing. Evidently, horses are better learners than I because I still struggle with this one.

I spent some time a while back focusing on the Being Still. It might be because my Mama painted Psalms 46:10 on a 4 foot tall canvas that hangs in my living room, or the fact that my Husband makes that statement to me no less than five times per week, or perhaps it is because it seemed for a while that no matter where I went those words were chasing me. I’d be in a store minding my own business, doing my dead level best to stay on task and get a move on, when all of a sudden I’d look up and there it was, scrolled in some fancy font on all manner of surfaces.

Psalm 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God.”

It would seem I needed a reminder or several as it were, to Be Still. That prompted me to think and ponder on it. If I want my children to retain something, I do not have the luxury of telling them one time and it sticks. I must say it repeatedly. Sometimes I have to demonstrate what I want them to know or write it down. Often times, I then begin to rhetorically converse with myself about the monotony of having to repeat myself and how wearisome it seems. It takes me back to a time when Maggie Martin hadn’t been Maggie Martin all that long.

She was 18 months old when she got off a Greyhound bus on Good Friday Morning at the downtown bus station and her life with us began. From the very beginning food was, and still is, a big deal to Maggie, she is all about quantity. Quality, not so much. She’ll take a sub-par all you can eat buffet, over a smaller portioned gourmet meal any day. I reckon that is rooted in memories of when food was not always available or nutritious.

In the early days, I spent the first several years of her life attempting to repair her poorly nourished gut. It was one such occasion when I learned a valuable lesson. It was early, like dark-thirty early, like every morning before and every subsequent morning, she wandered into my room, stood on my side of the bed and in her toddler voice said, “I’m hundry. I want a tootie from Piddly Widdly.” (Translation, “I’m hungry! I want a cookie pexels-photo-89690from Piggly Wiggly.”)

As I did every morning I got out of my bed hauled my tired ol’ self to the kitchen and began preparing her daily oatmeal. The entire time she would protest.

“I don’t lite oat-milk, I want a tootie!”

She was letting me know, just like she did every morning that she did not prefer oatmeal, she would like to have a cookie. My rebuttal was always the same, “We don’t eat cookies for breakfast we eat oatmeal.” Everyday I would then sit down and feed her said oatmeal whereupon she would declare, “I lite it! I lite oat-milk!” My response was always the same, “Yes ma’am you do.”

She would then complete her breakfast and we would begin our day, long before the sunshine would. The battle won until it repeated itself again the following day just as it happened the day before. One particular morning I must’ve grown weary of the oatmeal versus cookie battle because I looked at her and said as I placed the prepared bowl of oatmeal on the table, “Maggie, what in our history together makes you think I am going to let you have cookies for breakfast?”

She just looked at me with her big brown eyes, eyes that had seen more in their 18 months of life than many adults have and continued on with her oatmeal protest. As He is accustomed to do, the King whispered in my ear. “Amy, That’s exactly how you are with Me.”

I realized in that moment that what Jesus was saying was there was nothing in our history together that dictated He is ever going to fail me. Nothing that set a precedent that would indicate He is not going to keep His word. Yet I often find myself in a tizzy of sorts, ceasing to be still and in doing so, not knowing that He is God; failing to acknowledge that He is in control.

Maggie had yet to understand that her days of worrying over food or lack of were over. She had yet to understand that she actually liked oatmeal and it was good for her. That as her Mama, I loved her and would consistently provide for her what she needed. By persistently putting into practice what I knew was true, I eventually convinced her once and for all.

I know because she no longer asks for cookies for breakfast, she asks for oatmeal and even makes it herself.