Fan the Flame

When I was little I loved to play outside. I would run and skip and jump and do all the things of childhood in an imaginary world all my own.

I would make cakes and gourmet meals with pine straw and mud. I would play house in the midst of trees as tall as I could see.

I loved outside.

I can still remember my Mama or my Mam-maw within sight, burning stray branches or raked up leaves. I remember the distinct feeling of warmth and cool covering my body at the same time. It was magical and therapeutic and I didn’t even know it. I would run barefoot, and surely I stunk to high Heaven by the end of the day, but it was a glorious feeling.

selective-focus-photography-of-people-holding-sticks-with-3569890Sometimes for lunch we’d straighten out an old wire hanger, or find a real sharp stick and we’d place a wobbly cheap hotdog wiener on the end of it. I can still taste it, and while I’m not an adventurous eater, I’d be willing to bet few things culinarily compare. That’s how life works when you’re a child, I reckon.

The simple things brought healing and restoration. The hurt of the world farther from the mind than in adulthood.

The days of late have been difficult, progressively worsening and heavy.

That cool morning, I made my way outside accidentally, there was no level of intent other than to pick up the stranded paper wrappers and sticks dotting the premises.

Life had been especially difficult and I seemed to carry a burden that none could take. And even if they could, I lacked the voice to tell them how. My mind gets muddled and foggy when I am heavy laden like that. I struggle with figuring out what to do and in what order. Basics will often get ignored in those times, the basics of life like good nutrition, writing, ability to remember. Laughter is far from frequent and the words get lost. I find myself staring at the blank canvas of the computer screen, becoming frustrated with myself, slamming my hands down on the keyboard, and walking away angry.

That cool morning I was in just such a state, so the distraction of the paper scraps of debris left by the recent storm were a welcome sight. I managed to wander around and collect enough sticks to start a small fire. It was unintentional in my conscience, but maybe deep down long ago parts of me knew I needed that reminder. that something can be made from nothing in the hands of the Creator, that beauty will come from ashes, and that in the Refiner’s fire, albeit a painful and at times frustrating process, I can trust the end result to be beyond what I can comprehend or imagine.

photo-of-pile-of-burning-wood-1070054I chose to sit by my fire, to watch the flames dance and to remember my childhood. I must have been smiling when my husband sat beside me, because he asked, “Whatcha thinking about?” We sat a while longer and the flames began to die down, the cool more prevalent than the warmth, when he said, “I wish I had something to do Matt Crawford method for that fire.”

I had no idea what he meant. I looked around and was not at all surprised to see our former neighbor with whom we had enjoyed many an evening fire, nowhere to be found. It had been many years since we had been neighbors and now they lived across the country.

About that time my husband brought a large plastic something and began to wave it rhythmically over the embers. To my astonishment the fire grew and the dying embers were now flames that began to rain down ashes.

Laughter rolled out of me as it looked like snow falling, and we were covered in ash in a most literal way, beauty from ashes. As he fanned the flame and it grew I was reminded again that the Creator can be trusted and even if the process is painful, tedious and slow, the healing will come.

For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God. 2 Timothy 1:6a 

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HOPE

Psalm 119:73-96 says God is…

Creator,
a Hope giver,
Faithful,
a Comforter,
a Promise Keeper,
Trustworthy,
Merciful,
a Life Giver,
Savior,
my Help,
Eternal
He knows no bounds.

These words reminded me of a song we sing called “Waymaker.” Click to listen.

green-leafed-plant-on-sand-1438404Do you believe our God is a Good God? Do you believe He will not leave you or forsake you? That God is your Waymaker? Miracle Worker? Promise Keeper? Light in the Darkness when the wicked want to destroy you?

Sometimes this is hard when you feel like you are in a pit that has been dug for you, when you have been waiting a long time for help in a situation. Even when you don’t feel or see Him working, do you trust that He is, and do you Worship Him through it? Sometimes we try to handle the situation that we see on the surface on our own, but we need to remember our battle is not against what we can see, but as Ephesians 6:12 says, “…against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this [present] darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) places.”

To be strengthen to fight these battles we daily need to take up the Full Armor of God. Part of our Armor is our Sword of the Spirit, (the Word of God) and prayer. I hope you take up your Sword and delight in the words you read. In prayer, I hope you take your situations and struggles directly to God. He is what you need Him to be in your situation. It is all in His timing.

Psalm 40:1-3 says,

“I waited patiently for the Lord, and he turned to me and heard my cry for help. He brought me up from a desolate pit, out of the muddy clay, and set my feet on a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and they will trust in the Lord.”

Worship Him because He sees you, cares for you and is everything you need in all situations! Share your Hope with others.  Be a light for someone else in their darkness. Psalm 119:74 says, “May all who fear you find in me a cause for joy, for I have put my hope in your word.” Others see us and how we react to our situation. Let them see evidence of us putting our hope in the Lord.

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Valentines, Gal-entines, Pal-entines!

You are loved!

Valentine’s Day is a holiday that is hard for so many. It makes us focus on romantic love and also, on any lack of romance in our lives.

But that is just ridiculous!

Life is a wonderful gift from God! Let us savor it and enjoy it and appreciate what we do have rather than mourn what we don’t!

We are on a grand adventure ladies – an adventure with the Father. Some of our adventure is pleasing and fulfilling and exciting. Other parts are painful, discouraging, and just plain hard. But isn’t that the way adventures are? Aren’t they a mix of good and bad? Magellan and Vasco de Game and other explorers of old had a mix of great days and awful ones, huge discoveries and successes mixed with utter failure. So why would we expect the adventure of our lives to be any different?

We are lured into false expectations that can ultimately do us in, emotionally at least. We feel we want a love in our life, a man. We have an expectation of that. We expect we’ll get married and live happily-ever-after like the heroines in stories do. We expect roses and romance and fairy tales. But life is an adventure story, and adventures have trials and tragedy as well as love and hope.

So here is your February 14th challenge: Whatever your circumstance, whether pleasing or disappointing to you, hang onto it and savor it in any way you can as part of your grand adventure with God!

Does that seem impossible for your situation? Try these thought changers.

  • closeup-photography-of-pink-rose-flower-in-clear-glass-vase-835773No matter how badly you feel yourself, show love by giving a single flower to someone else.
  • Feeling left out because you don’t have a date? Call a friend and initiate an outing.
  • Make a handmade Valentine’s card for a child in your life to speak truth, peace, love, and encouragement into their life.
  • Make your co-worker’s day brighter in any small way: bring them coffee, cover some of their work load for them, give them a small box of “conversation hearts,” … Use your imagination.
  • Be the friend to someone else that you long to have. Take them a cupcake!
  • Text everyone in your phone list and tell them you love them and that they are special!
  • Pass out boxes of Little Debbie heart-shaped cakes to the homeless you pass on the streets each day.
  • Cut out dozens of red and pink hearts, write encouragement on each one, and use them to decorate someone’s room, car, or office.
  • Share the Gospel of Jesus (a gospel of love and redemption) with one who is feeling unloved.

The bottom line – Get your mind off yourself and show God’s love in small tangible ways to people around you. Even strangers!

We can sit and mourn not having a Romantic Valentine in our life, or we can be that Gal-entine or Pal-entine that makes someone else feel loved. You are guaranteed to feel better yourself if you take time to show love to another. And your Father God will be pleased.

close-up-photography-of-cupcake-on-gray-ceramic-plate-1028708Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. 1 John 4:7-12

 

 

Erasable Pens

Let me just confess –  I LOVE office supplies! Anybody else?

I can waste money too easily in an office supply or book store, so I avoid going unless I really need something – or have a gift card.

A couple of years back a bibliophile friend of mine who also loves to write, clued me in on a new erasable pen that came in many colors. I was hooked just hearing about them. I went home and ordered a package of the pens based solely upon what I had heard of them. When Amazon Prime delivered, I was not disappointed. They were amazing! I began using them for everything: calendaring, taking notes, journaling, writing letters. You name it. Until…

I had taken notes, with said pens, at a planning meeting for an upcoming event, then headed to Target for some things I needed. I left the notebook on the dash of my car in the Alabama summer sun. After finishing my errands I got home and took out my notebook to follow up on some of the plans. Lo and behold, my notes had disappeared on half the pages! Then I begin to connect the dots, the ink in these pens erased by rubbing with the eraser… rubbing caused heat… the sun in my car was hot… Ugh!

sharpie-4333165_1280I still love the pens. They’re good for calendars and whimsical artwork which sometimes need to be erased. They are not good for my journals or business notes where I want a permanent record of what I write. This got me thinking.

Some things in life need to be written in permanent ink.

Other things need erasable pens.

“Jesus loves me this I know” needs to be written in bold permanent marker across your psyche. So does “I am fearfully and wonderfully made” and “I know the plans I have for you” and “I will never leave you or forsake you.” Permanent reminders about our identity, of how to live, and of how to treat others need to be seared into our brains. Permanently. Lessons learned and wisdom gained through God’s Word applied to life need to be recorded in indelible ink. Every scripture verse and word of Godly wisdom needs to be chiseled in as if in stone.

Sometimes these truths of scripture and lessons learned in our walk with the Lord get erased. Our enemy comes along and steals certain truths from our minds, or blinds us to the spiritual reality temporarily just to thwart God’s work in and through us. We must be diligent about hiding His Word in our hearts systematically, and of following up by reviewing this words! (My weak point is follow up.) We must also realize that we have an enemy who wants to blind us to the truth we know. We must frequently pray that the Lord will not let our mind forget any of the wisdom He has taught us. And each of us need a group of godly “go to” friends who will speak the scripture into our lives when we seem at a loss to retrieve it ourselves.

Other things, those that should be written in erasable ink in our hearts, are our mistakes, our failures, hurtful criticisms of others, wounds from friends, confessed sins, and condemning things from our past. Those things need to be “left on the dash” so to speak, to be erased by the warmth of the Son of God and His love for us. They may not be erased immediately, but under His care they will slowly fade if left in the “Son.” With time we will be able to remember the lessons of the past without the heaps of guilt and regret. I don’t speak of this theoretically, I speak from living and learning this lesson.

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. ~ 2 Timothy 3_16 ~In my early 20s, there was what I considered to be a huge sin and failure in my life. (All sin is huge to the Father, you know.) God stopped me in my tracks, rebuked me, corrected me, and set me back on His path when I humbled myself, confessed my sin, and asked for forgiveness. (The 2 Timothy 3:16 principles at work!) For about 10 years after that I struggled with guilt over my failure. It crippled me in many ways. To be broken-hearted over my sin was an appropriate response, but Satan had taken my memory of my failure and broken my spirit and made me define myself by my sin. As God taught me to give my failures to Him and leave my sins in the hands of my Savior, I began to experience God’s grace for me which allowed me to forgive myself and move forward. I began confronting Satan’s condemnation of me with the truth of God’s love and forgiveness of all my sin, using scripture to put my enemy in his place. Just last night my husband said something that triggered the memory of my failure. There was no more guilt and shame attached to the memory, and I was shocked to recall it. I had forgotten it! It has probably been 10 years since I thought about it at all. What had been a consuming regret, had been erased by the grace of God and the constant application of His Word to my situation.

Take some time to think about erasable things that you may be hanging on to, that thing that your enemy keeps bringing to your mind. It may be like mine, a sin that haunts us and controls us even though we have repented and asked for forgiveness. Maybe it’s a comment about our appearance or a judgment from when we were a child, or perhaps that humiliating memory that we won’t let our self forget. It could even be an offense against us that we choose to hang onto that is eating away at us. These things need to be erased. We need to let Scripture and the Holy Spirit work on our hearts and minds so that we can walk in freedom, fulfilling God’s purposes in our lives.

You may say “But these have been written in permanent ink. I’ll never be free of them.” Not to worry. God is omnipotent; He can change permanent ink to erasable ink if we offer it to Him, just like He changed the water into wine in Scripture. So I challenge you, make a decision that you are willing to let these things be erased. Then pray and ask God to begin that erasing process to free you from these negative labels, harmful memories, and controlling thoughts of fear and failure. Begin writing on your mind and heart every day the truths of His Holy Word. You will one day wake up and be so free you will have to be reminded of the past.

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Boots With the Spurs

Boots with spurs are synonymous with cowboys. When I think cowboy I think old Western, like Bonanza and The Big Valley. Those were the ones available on my TV growing up. With the hindsight of adulthood, I realize those were not entirely historically accurate. In my imagination when I think spur, I imagine a closeup of the back of a boot, spur spinning, the boot-wearer having taken 10 paces and turned around to face his opponent in a duel. (Duel always prompts thoughts of Aaron Burr, spur, Burr…not quite the same but enough to keep me focused.)

Spurs worn on boots, spiked, metal wheel designed to urge a horse along by thrusting it into the animal’s side.

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So as I pondered the word and mulled it over, spur, I immediately put it into the context with which I am familiar, “spur one another on.”

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Hebrews 10:24

I have a few spurs in my life and for that I am grateful.

By definition to spur is to “encourage” an “incentive.” The horse definition fits me a tad better. I’m sluggish and despite already moving in a direction, I get weary: I know the word tells me not to grow weary in doing good so that at the proper time I will reap a harvest if I do not give up. It tells me to keep my hands on the plow and move forward. I know those things, and I keep moving, but it’s at a slower pace. Then someone will come along and do that spurring. That spike in the side, so to speak, of urging me to move, to keep the faith, not to give up hope, and to press on with a good steady pace.

Those spurs in my life challenge me.

Am I a spur for others?

When I am prompted, do I encourage others along, trusting the leading of the King, to direct that at just the right moment?

I am challenged to do just that to encourage and spur one another along toward love and good deeds.

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She Loves Out Loud

Do I?

Do I love others in a way that speaks louder than any voice ever could?

Do I love hurting, broken souls well?

Do I love myself more?

Do I love enough to pray with heart-rending cries to the Father for their rescue and their salvation and their peace?

Do I pray for other women, these Christian sisters, friends, acquaintances, and even strangers God puts in my path?

Do I pray for them as earnestly as I pray for my own children and family?

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She Loves Out Loud is an opportunity to join in prayer with woman all across America. We will join hearts in prayer for our families and our marriages, praying against the temptations, betrayal, and pornography that seeks to destroy our homes. We’ll pray for hope and healing for abortion survivors, for race relations, for our military spouses, and for the trauma and pain of abuse or trafficking that many women have dealt with.

It’s our time to rise up as women of God to call on Our Creator for His intervention in our society’s struggles.

“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” James 5:16

Join us Saturday, February 15, 2020, from 10:30-3:30 at GFBC for a time of testimonies and prayer. (Go to the GFBC women’s page, scroll down to “Events” to register.) You’ll hear live-streamed testimonies and encouragement from Priscilla Shirer, Carol Kent, Sheila Walsh, and many others. We will pray together, seeking God’s hand to move in our nation. If you cannot make it to that physical location, check out the She Loves Out Loud website for free streaming of the event. And visit their social media pages on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter

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The Lord gave the command:
A great company of women brought the Good News.

PSALM 68:11