Give Thanks in All Things

Father we come to you today with grateful hearts. No matter our situation, we choose to be thankful.

Thank you for the sun and the rain, the crispness of fall and the varied joys of temperature changes.

Thank you for the breath of life in our lungs this moment as we read this.

Thank you for the beauty around us: trees, aromatic flowers, exotic animals and cuddly pets, art and music and architecture you have allowed man to make, the face of a baby, clouds and soaring birds. Allow our hearts to find beauty in whatever situation we find ourselves.

Thank you for hardships that strengthen us.

Thank you for relationships where we can show love and tenderness and know we had a purpose in that moment to help and comfort.

Thank you for food and tastes and the bounty we celebrate this day.

Thank you for Your Word that speaks truth to every situation we face.

Thank you for sending your Son Jesus to die on a cross as a sacrifice for our sin so that we may have eternal life.



What Does a Christian Marriage Look Like?

Part 4

As I revealed in Part 3, my husband and I heard Gary Thomas speak at a retreat on Sacred Marriage a few years ago. Two of the ideas he put forth changed our marriage. Today we’ll cover the second idea. When we can grasp this and keep it in our minds we will treat each other differently. Respectfully. Valuing each other. Loving as Christ loved. But when we forget, we get in a “crazy cycle.”

This second idea is simple:

2. View your spouse as God’s own child.

Your first reaction may be, “Well of course I view him that way. We’re all God’s children.” Or maybe, “That’s too simplistic. What difference does that thought make?” Or maybe even, “Lady, I’ve got real problems in my marriage. Tell me some hands-on tips to help.” I understand. We reject easy things because they seem too simple to offer any real help.

But let me share our experience.

As my husband and I drove home from Asheville after that marriage retreat at The Cove, we talked about this concept extensively. On a day-to-day basis we looked at each other as just another human. A person of flesh and blood. A person affected by stress and their own personal issues. A person who sinned and sought God. A person who was often selfish and unkind.

While that is normal, it is not totally accurate. We humans are more than just flesh and blood, thoughts and action, sins and good deeds. We are spiritual creatures created in the image of God. Not just my husband and I, but you every person on this earth (saved and 69001-creationofadammichelangelodetail-wikimedia.1200w.tnunsaved, American or from any other nation, male and female, and people of every race) bears the Imago Dei. This image of God in us is a reflection of His divine nature and unique characteristics and qualities that make us different from any other living creature. We are rational, creative, self-aware, and able to go beyond what seems physically possible all because we were made in the image of God. (Check out this article from for further info.)

 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals,[a] and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created mankind in his own image in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:26-27


On top of that, we who claim to be Christ-followers, Christians, have become adopted children of God Almighty. We become children of God at the time of our salvation and are brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ Himself. You are God’s child. Your Sunday school teacher is God’s child. Your grocery store clerk who knows Christ is God’s child. That co-worker who knows Christ is God’s child. And Your husband or wife who is a believer is God’s child too, just like you.

So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir. Galatians 4:7

So God not only made your husband in His image, your husband is also God’s little boy whom He loves dearly.

Now think for a minute as if God were a human walking this earth. The day you wed, you married the son of someone very important! God’s very own child. God became your father-in-law on that day. God, who knows all,  because He’s omniscient you know, knows how you teat His child. He knows when you’re kind and considerate toward him and when you’re… not. He knows when you use your mouth to pray for him and when you use it to shout at him. He knows when your heart is hateful toward him or tender. Your father-in-law is aware of your behavior and thoughts. And He is a very important person. He is the God of the universe, the One who created you!

As my husband and I talked through this whole concept I began to feel small and embarrassed. It was one thing just to be fussing at a man, but I had been fussing at God’s child! I had been discouraging God’s child by my words and behavior. I had belittled God’s child and wounded him and not supported the ministry God had given him, and I had not forgiven him when he wounded me. How could I of flesh and blood presume not to forgive God’s child when Father God had forgiven me so great a debt! As we allowed ourselves to meditate on this idea, and this concept to deeply resonate through us it was extremely humbling. It was a behavior-changing moment.

The next few weeks after we returned home found my husband and I behaving more gently, lovingly, and circumspectly toward each other. The problem with us humans, is that we that we are sinful and selfish by nature, and we are forgetful hearers. We hear a lesson from God’s mouth through a godly speaker straight to our heart. We are intent on learning it. However, we shortly forget and fall back into our sinful, selfish habits.

The good news is this: The Father wants us to live a new life even more than we want to for ourselves. So Father God sends us reminders of those lessons we learned and forgot. I get regular reminders that my Sweetie is God’s precious little boy, and I am humbled once again and reminded to treat my Man as the Beloved of the Father, an important Son of the King of Kings, and not just as any ole piece of flesh that we humans so easily disregard and devalue. No matter how old they are or what they did or didn’t do – they are God’s dear child.

In light of these thoughts I encourage you to write this idea down if needed and think on it. It will change the way we treat our spouses when we remember that 1) they are created in God’s image and 2) they are God’s very own little child. As our thoughts change, our behavior toward that mate will change as well.



The Wedding Supper of the Lamb

Then the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” Revelation 19:9

It is wedding week here! As the Mother of the Groom, I’ve been in the throes of planning a huge celebration for the rehearsal dinner for weeks now. On this, the night before his wedding, I’m up to my ears in satin, candles, flowers, menus, and last minute details. It will be a time of rich, delicious foods, drinks, and desserts to go along with the celebrating, meeting new friends, and making the initial steps toward long and happy family relationships. What a joyous time it is! And what a privilege I have to prepare this feast to honor my son’s beautiful bride to be.

beautiful-blooming-bridal-1702373Taking on this role has taught my heart something of Our Heavenly Father. I’ve caught a glimpse of His joy over us. I’ve considered for the first time His delight in preparing for a celebration of eternal love and commitment. He’s revealed to me His heartbreak over guests who won’t be coming to this wedding feast. I’ve realized the lengths He must be going to to “prepare a place for us.” But most of all I’ve come to understand His great love for His son, Jesus, and by extension, for us, because we are His Son’s chosen, cherished Bride.

Does He, Father God, gently fret over “Oh I hope they love it as much as I think they will?!”

Does God spend His holy energy making sure the whole event is bathed in love and tender remembrances and joyful moments of pleasure that will never be forgotten?

baby-shower-birthday-buffet-587741Does He decorate with gusto and rearrange and consider the seating and double check to make sure the foods are fresh and steamy, seasoned to a T, or chilled to perfection?

Does God long desperately to see that glint in the eye of the Bride that reveals she is obviously thrilled with the Feast, enamored of her beloved, and overwhelmed with joy to the core of her being?

What a glorious celebration awaits us as children of God! What love the Father has for us! We are His beloved bride awaiting that wedding day when we will be united with Him for all eternity!

Revelation 19

After this I heard what sounded like the roar of a great multitude in heaven shouting: 

“Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God,

for true and just are his judgments.
He has condemned the great prostitute
who corrupted the earth by her adulteries.
He has avenged on her the blood of his servants.”


And again they shouted:

“Hallelujah! The smoke from her goes up for ever and ever.”


The twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God, who was seated on the throne. And they cried:

“Amen, Hallelujah!”

Then a voice came from the throne, saying:

“Praise our God,all you his servants,

you who fear him,both great and small!”

Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting:

banquet-catering-chairs-1395967“Hallelujah!For our Lord God Almighty reigns.

Let us rejoice and be gladand give him glory!
For the wedding of the Lamb has come,and his bride has made herself ready.
Fine linen, bright and clean,was given her to wear.” (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God’s holy people.)

Then the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” And he added, “These are the true words of God.”

At this I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “Don’t do that! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers and sisters who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For it is the Spirit of prophecy who bears testimony to Jesus.”




Whirling Storm Clouds

“Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, and he brought them out of their distress. He stilled the storm to a whisper, and the waves of the sea were hushed.” Psalm 107:28-29

As my daughter and I started out on our trip a soggy drizzle accompanied by a pea soup fog surrounded the house as we loaded up to leave. We made it only 10 minutes down the road before the bottom dropped out. Traffic was heavy, and the road spray from a constant stream of cars and 18-wheelers on the interstate made visibility iffy. I was nervous. I’m a nervous passenger anyway. But this day had me gripping the door handle and signaling to my grown daughter with my body language that I did not trust her driving.

action-bicycle-buildings-763398.jpg“Do you want me to pull over where you can drive?” she asked.

“No, Sweetie. I trust you. You know me, I just like to be in control,” I replied.

“I know. That’s why I’m seriously offering to swap drivers now,” came her kind response.

I reluctantly declined, determined to be a real adult, and not wanting to send her evidence I was insecure with her.

The truth is I like control. I don’t like storm clouds, dangerous driving, or being out of control in any way. But God is taking me on a journey of faith. Faith in Him lived out by trusting God through whatever situation is going on around me.

As we traveled on God was teaching. Teaching me to let go of control, and more.

We were at the very beginning of a 10 hour mother-daughter road trip. Could I trust God enough to trust my daughter’s driving on a rainy day and thereby set a good tone for our whole trip? At the moment I declined her offer for me to drive, I decided to relax my grip, put on my big girl pants, and simply rest in God. I turned on my seat warmer, leaned back and tried to remain casual. My physical mind swirled as my spiritual heart worked to retain peace.

asphalt-atmosphere-cloudy-sky-2739010.jpgThe rain worsened. It became a full fledged storm with thunder, lightning, thrashing rain, and blowing wind. The battle between spirit and flesh within me was real. We turned on some light praise music. I sought to recall verses from scripture to still my fearful heart. Time seemed to drag on. A minute can seem like an eternity. In reality, in just about 20 more minutes the rain turned back toward a drizzle. We were able to see actual sky instead of just gray haze all around. A definitive line of the edge of the cloud bank appeared ahead with a sliver of clear, sunny sky just beyond. And within 3 more minutes we were out from under the storm clouds, sunlight streaming all around, with the landscape beautiful and refreshed by the downpour.

The other 9 hours and 27 minutes of our trip were perfect: sunshine, beautiful sights and sounds, light traffic, and great conversation. A glorious time for Mom and child, now two adult friends.

Storms in life are the same way. They build up, make us feel out of control, scare us, and test our faith. They force us to choose faith over fear. They seem scary at the moment. They seem endless. We feel helpless and hopeless. Time drags and we wonder if the storm will ever end. The lesson of my storm that day is four-fold:

  1. Turn loose of control and have faith in God. Trust that whatever happens God will take care of you and strengthen you to bear it.
  2. Saturate your mind in God’s Word to calm your nervous heart.
  3. Know that the storm will come to an end. The edge of the cloud is just around the corner. It will come. It will surprise you.
  4. The sunshine is there behind the storm cloud the whole time. God’s answer, His love, and His glory are often obscured by our situation. Don’t trust what you see with your physical eyes; trust what you know is going on in the heavens.


Threads of Thankfulness

by guest blogger Carol Stewart

I just got my lesson from heaven today:

As a seamstress I have thousands and thousands of spools of thread in my sewing room. Four walls full of thread, but I lacked the perfect color for a new baby’s stocking to match his big brother’s. The new mom-to-be and I searched every spool of thread in the sewing room looking for that perfect match. Finally we found an old wooden spool that had to have been my grandmother’s or my mother’s, both of whom have been in heaven for 23467081_1734816529893514_9134393487656663119_omany years. The little wooden spool of thread had never been used previously, and the Vintage thread was a perfect match and still strong, but very small. This was a very important item and I didn’t have any other thread to fall back on, so I couldn’t stitch it out for a trial run. But the little spool of thread came through with only a tiny bit to spare, and we made it through the task.

It made me stop and thank both my mother and my grandmother for teaching me first in sewing to keep all those little items that may be useful one day. But most of all they taught me that even though you may be small you can accomplish great things. I remember sitting in my grandmother’s lap and her telling me that good things come in small packages.

These were just some of the thoughts I had as I was using that spool of thread, just some fond memories of two precious ladies that taught me a lot through life. Most of all they taught me to be thankful for the little things. Today I’m thankful for a little spool of thread. (AND, Mom and Mamo)

Thanksgiving is only 2 weeks away I challenge you to find something to be thankful for every day for the next two weeks. Jot them Down and if you’re coming to Thanksgiving at my house bring them with you.


Construction Zone: Fans & Fixtures

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:17

When the new houses across the street from me are being built there is an order, a process. Although the flooring and countertops and fixtures are what makes a house complete, those things are not part of step one. First, there is measuring and digging for the foundation. Then laying pipe and pouring the foundation. Afterwards comes a string of other things that I, not being a builder, have no concept of the order. Things like studs, wiring, sheetrock, paint, etc. Then at long last the decoration of the structure is allowed to begin.

action-digging-equipment-2058738.jpgJust like a skilled builder, God is a god of order as he makes our lives into new living structures. He comes in and digs up the dirt, excavates the heart. Then he slowly and precisely builds the foundation before a wall is ever erected. The difference with God building our lives is that it’s not just a three, six, or nine month project. The excavating may take years. The foundation may take years. Erecting the physical structure may take years. Are you getting a picture here?

When we first come to know Christ we want the transformation He offers. We want our old mess made into a totally new creation. But we want it overnight! To continue my metaphor, we want to purchase a manufactured home, already completed and ready to move right in. But that is not what the Master Builder of our lives has in mind. He doesn’t just want a sudden beautiful structure to appear; He wants a structure built to last and made of quality materials that will display His glory and operate in excellent fashion.

So while we are eagerly wanting to pick out the light fixtures and ceiling fans, Our Father is saying, “Hold your horses! We have a bow in this wall right here. The floor isn’t level in the back, and the basement has to be sealed properly before we can go any further.”

Dominion and awe belong to God; He establishes order in the heights of heaven.   Job 25:2

We chomp at the bit to be finished new creations. While that is a noble desire, it is also naive. In our youthful exuberance, like a kid waiting on Christmas morning to arrive, we want to be completed now. We want to be used for His glory now. Have a glorious ministry now. Be known for our deep faith and wisdom now. When we have a storm in our life we don’t really like those verses about “waiting on the Lord,” and we certainly don’t like those verses when we are so eagerly wanting to be “grown” in the Lord.

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Rev. 21:5

As the years have passed, I am slowly learning to love the process. I’m learning that each season brings slow progress. Just looking at the passing days one at a time, it seems that I’m not being re-made in His image at all. But looking back over the years I can see the progress: the years He dug anger out of my heart, the years He poured faith into my foundation through a storm that seemed to be destroying me, the lifetime He has brought me into His lap to teach me while I didn’t even notice the massive construction going on around me. Looking back at that first slab I was seems like another lifetime. chandelier-2523029_1280.pngToday as I look I see a cozy little cottage taking shape. There’s still numerous projects going on, some I like, some I don’t. And who knows when or if I’ll ever get to install those beautiful chandeliers I dream of. But the Builder gets to pick the time and the pace and the design, I just need to cooperate. I know I’ll love it once I see it from the perspective of a new heaven and a new earth.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:

 a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
   a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
     a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
     a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
     a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.


He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. Ecclesiastes 3


I like a weird store. The kind of store where you gotta fish around and you might find yourself a hair bonnet, half melted gourmet chocolate, a hundred number 2 pencils, and any number of random stationary items for a dollar or two.

I don’t mind to dig around to find the aforementioned items and my Modern Day Bethany Three are the same way. They love a bargain and they love a hunt. They love to bring home their found treasures and show them off to their Daddy. He shares in their excitement as they display each of the items and in detail explain how the item was found.

“Mama said I could look in that blue box and everybody else must’ve thought it was a pop-socket but I saw it wasn’t it was a Jewish thing…you know Mama loves a menorah and I got it for her and come to find out it’s a real live gold coin!”

happy-hanukkah-3791393_1280.pngIt was a Hanukkah gelt she had found. And it did have a resemblance to one of those stand-up sockets that go on cellphones. (Hanukkah gelt refers to money as well as chocolate coins given to Jewish children on the festival of Hanukkah.)

Recently we were at just such a store when Maggie picked up a bent and broken tambourine. She instinctively shook it and did so with a matching rhythm of the background music playing in the random and weird store. I gave her a sharp sideways glance. She laughed and said,

“I know Mama, no tambourines in our home.”

I laughed and said, “You got it Maggie.”

She laid the tambourine where she’d pick if from and we moved on in our hunt for bargains. A short time later as the background music changed in tempo and in genre I heard the tambourine once more in time with the music.

I instinctively looked for Maggie who was within feet of me. I turned in the direction of the tambourine and saw a petit framed woman holding it, tapping it on her leg. Her long skirt danced as her legs beneath it must have been. She had a smile on her face and joy in her heart for the brief moment as she played. I laughed again, and was reminded of a verse in the King’s book,

Psalm 149:3
Let them praise his name with dancing, making melody to him with tambourine and lyre!

For a brief moment in the randomness of a random store with the help of a complete stranger the King’s Word came to life and illustrated a beautiful picture of what heavenly worship will look like all because of a bent, broken, haphazardly placed tambourine.


The Book of Job, Infertility & God’s Purposes

by guest author Jennifer Jordan

(Republished with permission from Jennifer Jordan. Originally published Friday, January 15, 2010 on her personal blog.)

Job – what an example!

This week I’ve been studying the book of Job. I must confess that it’s not my favorite book to read. I think because of the “poeticness” of how it’s written. I did, however, read EVERY chapter!

In the beginning of the story, Job had it all – tons of family and friends, wealth, and loads of farm animals. But then without warning, it’s all taken away. Why? We know, as 035_Story_Of_Job1readers, that God and Satan had worked out a deal, but Job and his friends go all around the world blabbing, trying to figure it out. God knew that Job would not sin against Him, but that doesn’t mean that Job didn’t become angry or frustrated. Job’s friends and family thought they had the answers – saying that it must be his sin or something he had done. They seem to go on and on and on about what all Job must do to get things right and back to “normal” with God. They were trying to figure out the “why” of Job’s affliction.

I feel I can somewhat relate to Job. I haven’t had all the loss or any diseases that Job had, but I have gone through a phase in my life where I wondered, “Why?” Through my struggles with infertility, I, too, felt like Job. Just like Job, I had no warning. Just like Job, I had friends and family that suggested “how to fix it.” Like – you must have done something (sin) that has caused this or you must not be reading the Bible enough or praying enough or even you must not be “doing” it right.

It was not until the very last chapters of Job (when God finally speaks up) that I got it. I can just see God listening to Job and his friends’ conversations thinking “oh my goodness!” I love it when God finally speaks up and says, “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?” (Job 38:2) (BTW, after God speaks to them…they are silent!) How many times do we try to “figure things out” without seeking God’s knowledge and considering that His ways are for a specific purpose? Job and his friends had drawn conclusions about why he had gone through all his afflictions without even thinking about the hidden knowledge and purpose of God.

128-1.gifI think Job finally got it too. He says, “I know that you (God) can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.” (Job 42:2) And then later on Job says, “I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you… .” (Job 42:5)

I would have never, ever asked to go through infertility. I believe Job would have never asked to go through all he did. But if he had not gone through it, then Job (nor I) would have ever “seen” or known God in such an intimate way.

Tears come to my eyes when I think about how Job found favor with God throughout this whole book. Even though Job was frustrated and angry, he never sinned against God. My ESV Study Bible makes reference to this by saying, “This is probably because Job never lost his earnest desire to appear before God, and his words are testimony to that.” That makes me stop and examine myself. I can’t say that through all my frustration and anger with God and others that I have not sinned, but I’m so very thankful that He forgives, gives mercy, and loves me anyway!

In summary, I love what my study Bible says about the purpose of Job’s story. “The book of Job reminds God’s people that they have an enemy (Satan) who will denounce them, and, through the ignorance of Job’s friends, it helps the faithful to remember at all times how small a part of any situation is the fragment that they see. This equips believers to trust and obey amid life’s perplexities and it enables the faithful to support and encourage one another in a spirit of tenderness and humility.” (ESV Study Bible)

Though I didn’t choose infertility, I am thankful that God has shown Himself faithful and sovereign to me. I have learned to put my trust in Him, knowing that He has a plan and can see farther than I can even imagine. I am thankful for God’s Word, which I have learned to lean on daily. I believe that He WILL bless me and David with a child. I don’t know when, but I will continue to praise Him, trust Him and WAIT for Him, knowing that today I am one day closer!

What His Word reminds me…

Psalm 27:14 “WAIT for the LORD; be strong and take heart and WAIT for the LORD.”

Psalm 130:5 “I WAIT for the LORD, my soul WAITS, and in his word I put my HOPE.”

Romans 8:25 “But if we HOPE for what we do not yet have, we WAIT for it patiently.”

Jennifer Jordan

(Editor’s Note: Jennifer and David have indeed been blessed with a child since she wrote this article. Two, in fact! God loves to bless us in His time. Isaiah 64:4 tells us, “Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.”)