The View from Here….

Shared this a while back, but wanted to share again.

Renee Kinlaw

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She looks carefully for the perfect spot, making sure the ground is level so there is nothing that will cause him to fall. Finding it, she eases on the brake and shifts the gear into park.  She is quick to shut down the car and shed her seat belt. Within minutes she is at his side. Opening his door she is greeted with a generous smile.  The smile that has warmed many hearts. She smiles back while unfastening his seat belt.  Then she double checks his shoelaces before taking him by the hand and helping him stand.

Reaching around him she grabs his coat and holds it out making it easier for him to put on.  His right arm goes in perfectly, but the left gets caught. With adoration in her eyes, she makes a joke of it causing them both to laugh as she lifts the disobedient arm and…

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Where Are You, God? Where are You?

Be still and know

It was during the Celebration Service that it all began.  We were in the midst of celebrating with our church folks and with several other church congregations all that God had done through our week of Missions and Ministry with  Ocoee Outreach from Cleveland, Tennessee.  We had just sat down to eat, when one of our own became sick.

My husband, the Pastor and leader of our group, carried the young girl and her mother to the Emergency Room.  The rest of us stayed behind to take part in the activities of the night.  Within an hour, Jayden, our daughter became sick also.  I was not prepared for what was about to take place.

Jayden’s condition began to deteriorate fast.  Before I could get her into our room to wash her up and change her clothes, she was vomiting in the floor.  It was uncontrollable.  If she moved the slightest bit, it started all over.  She was burning up with fever.  I couldn’t clean up before the next onslaught came.  Finally it subsided long enough for her to get a quick shower.

Before I could get her settled in bed and call for help,  she was at it again.  Now we both needed a bath and there was a bed and a floor that needed cleaning.  I was never so glad to see my husband walk through the door than I was at that moment.   He cleaned up the room and called for more linen and towels as I was cleaning myself and Jayden.

Fortunately for us, our Pediatrician’s Nurse was with us on the trip.  I stand amazed at how God always provides.  She had packed several kinds of medicines, but the most valued was the ones for nausea. By this time we had three girls sick with the same stomach bug.  Around two in the morning, Jayden finally fell into a deep sleep.   

I lay there beside her and all I could think was,  we are supposed to leave for home tomorrow.

Home…

8 hours away!!!  

Home!!

How I wanted to just be home.  

There was no way she could travel like this.   I dosed off only to be awaken at four to start the process all over again.  During the early morning hours her fever left, but coming in its place was horrible, fast striking diarrhea.  It was one of the longest nights of my life.

Our team began packing after breakfast that Friday morning to head back to SC, while Mike, our nurse and the other young lady headed to the Emergency Room where she was admitted into the hospital.  The other young lady who had gotten sick the night before was better now.  Mike and our youth minister made arrangements for us to stay and for us to have a rental car to travel in. Soon, our team was on the road home and Mike was headed back to the hospital to carry suitcases and medicines.

Jayden and I were left alone at the motel.  Jayden could hold nothing down and now, everything that came from her was green.  I had never seen her so violently sick.  By noon, we had gone through all of her clothes.  Again I was calling for more linens and toiletries.  If only she handle the ride to the hospital, but she couldn’t even raise her head without getting sick.  We were in a mess.

Mike returned as soon as he could with lunch and new clothes.  Jayden awoke and wanted something to drink and eat for the first time since she had gotten sick the night before.  She drank some water and ate half of a roll before she went back to sleep.  Mike stayed with her while I walked around the motel.

I made my way to the court-yard before I feel in a heap from exhaustion.  I began to cry in agony.  Looking up I questioned, “Where are you God?  Where are you?  Do you not see us here?  Do you not care? She’s so sick.  To sick to even walk!  How can this be happening?  We came here for You and where are You now?”

A breeze began to blow over me, caressing me in the heat of the day.  “I’m here, right here, child.  I’m here with you.  I’m the one who strengthened you through the night.  I’m the one who stilled the fever.  I’m the one who told the nurse to bring the medicines.  I’ve seen each tear.  I’ve seen it all child.  I’ve been right here through it all.  You are not alone.”

All that week, I had wanted to feel His presence, to feel His touch.  I had so longed to have a special encounter with Him, but it had not come.  I had seen Him move in so many others.  Watched as they glowed in His touch.  But it was there, in the heat of the day, face down on Tennessee grass, that I had my special moment.  It was there that Daddy pulled me into His arms and held me.

I cried for my daughter, I cried for myself, and then I cried as the sweet love of God showered over me.  I cried and cried until there were no tears left.  It was then that the peace that goes beyond all understanding overwhelmed me.  I raised myself up with strength I did not possess before ready to face whatever the day brought.

Just as I was turning to go back to the room, I caught a glimpse of something.  It was there in the Magnolia tree.  One lone flower.  The others lying on the ground in a wilted heap.  But that one lone flower was surviving through it all.  It was my “God wink”.  My reassurance that we were going to survive this and any other difficulty that came our way, because we had God as our Father.

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Scripture after scripture reminds us that we are never alone.  He is always with us.  No matter our circumstances, no matter our storm or trial.  God is with us.  He never forsakes His children.  He is our refuge and our strength.  It would be easier I suppose to never go through any hardships, but then how would I know what it is like to be held in times of trouble?  How would I know what it was like to be strengthened when all my strength is gone?  How would I know what it was like to hear the voice of God speaking softly to my soul?

Sometimes God allows us to enter a place in live where all we can do is “Be still and know that He is God”.  I am very thankful for those times.  Even though they hurt and are hard, they can not defeat or destroy us.

Psalm 46,1

 He is our refuge.  

He is our God.  

Our Father.

God is our refuge and strength,
    a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
    though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam,
    though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah

 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
    the holy habitation of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;
    God will help her when morning dawns.

The nations rage, the kingdoms totter;
    he utters his voice, the earth melts.
The Lord of hosts is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah

Come, behold the works of the Lord,
    how he has brought desolations on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
    he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
    he burns the chariots with fire.

“Be still, and know that I am God.
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth!”
The Lord of hosts is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah

Psalm 46

That afternoon, Jayden ate a whole dinner roll.  We carried her for fluids on Saturday morning and she began to regain her strength.  She was able to eat most of her lunch and keep it in.

 We left Cleveland late that Saturday night.  It was a long and dark journey to reach our destination.  The sun rose as we entered South Carolina.  Just days earlier I had longed for home, cried for it.  But home for me is not found in South Carolina.  My home is where I was at, in the heat of the summer sun, on Tennessee soil.  It was there I was home, safely cradled in my Father’s arms.  For us who are called by His name, home is anywhere the Father is.  And we can rest assured that He is omnipresent.

We are never alone!!

REDEEMED….

Redeemed

O Lord, thou hast pleaded the causes of my soul; thou hast redeemed my life.”

~Lamentations 3:58

To help my daughter recover from a winter filled of sickness, I encouraged her to help me make a flower garden.  We started with a few simple flowers and from there we have grown into several varieties of flowers all over our yard.  Tomorrow morning we have six pots of plants, which started as seeds, that need to be integrated into one of our various beds.  What was once a plain, grass and sand lot has flourished into a cozy oasis of many colors and fragrances.  Out all the flowers we have my favorite has to be my lavender osteospermum.  

I’ll never forget when we got it.  Jayden and I along with my husband, Mike, and niece Ashlyn were at Wal-Mart.  Of course, Jayden and I had to go by the garden section first.  We looked around at all the flowers.  Most of them we had one like or either I thought was to expensive at the time to purchase.  (I am a little cheep.)   We made our way around the fenced in area to the back where a few wilted and practically dead flowers had been marked down to 25 cents.  Our precious osteospermum was among the dried up flowers.  

Mike and Ashlyn laughed as I asked Jayden if she wanted to get this flower.  It only had 1 small dying flower on it.  Most of its leaves were crumbling and what remained were already turning yellow.

 Mike laughed, “Ummm…that flower is dead.  

That’s why it’s reduced.  It’s d-e-a-d, dead. “  

My niece laughed and thought he was very funny.  Jayden and I did not see it that way, though.  We saw something that needed help and nurturing.  We believed that little plant was worth a shot.  We took him home.  Fixed him a new place within our flower garden.  Each day we checked on him.  We watered him and loved him.  Then one day, we noticed something.  

It was a new bud.  

Over the next few days it slowly opened.

Then there it was.  

The most beautiful little flower I have ever seen.  

It’s been about 3 months since then.  Our little Osteospermum has grown a lot since those days.  To look at him now you would never believe that he was about to be discarded as trash.  Twenty-five cent is what it cost to redeem him.  

Twenty-five cents….

Redeemed Collage

Now, he takes up 1/2 of the planter box.  I have to take several snapshots in order to get all of him in.  All because someone thought he was worthy of being Redeemed.  

I am so glad that over 25 years ago, Jesus thought I was worth Redeeming.  I look back over the years and I see how far, His love, grace and mercy have brought me.  Just like my little flower, I was sitting alone, broken, dying and in need of a Savior.  I’ll never get over the day, Jesus, looked on me with compassion and said all she needs is to be loved. 

From the moment He took me into His loving care, I have been nourished, loved on and cherished.  I am precious in His sight.   He took away  all the ugliness of my sins and mistakes and made me beautiful.  He took what was dead and useless and gave me life of joy and happiness.  

He looks at me, now, and smiles because He knows where I have come from.  He looks at me and rejoices because He knows where I am headed.  Everything that I am, all the good in me, is because of His tender grace and mercy.  Because He loved me, I am free.  Free to be the woman He created me to be.  With confidence I can spread my wings and venture into the unknown knowing that He is with me always.

He has blotted out my sins.  I know longer have to walk around in guilt and shame.  The regrets of the past are nailed to His cross.  I am His and He is mine.  I am His precious flower.  He looks at me with pride and calls me Daughter.  No longer sitting on the shelf, disgraced and unwanted.  Now I reside with Him and all the days of my life are His treasure.

I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions,

and, as a cloud, thy  sins: return unto me; for I have redeemed thee.

 Isaiah 44:22

And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh,

hath he quickened together with him,

having forgiven you all trespasses; 

Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances

  that was against us,

which was contrary to us,

and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;

Colossians 2:13-14

Jesus, I can’t thank You enough for redeeming a wretch like me.  Thank You for Grace and Mercy.  Thank You for the compassion You lavish on me day after day.  I am so unworthy, but so thankful, that you have given me the honor to be called Yours.  Thank You for taking not only my sins, but also my shame, guilt and regret and nailing it to Your cross.  Your love for me is so overwhelming.  It is too much for me to comprehend, yet I know that it is real.  As long as I live, I will sing praises unto You for all You have done and all You have promised to do.  I love You Lord.  In Your Precious Name I pray, Amen.

God Has A Scrub Brush!!

God Has A Scrub Brush Image

 

             Have you ever “spring cleaned” your house.  I have to be honest and tell you that I have attempted to do it quite a few times.  I always start right after Christmas with good intentions, but somehow I never fully reach all the rooms of my house.   The good news though, is that each year I begin in a different room.  So with eight rooms in my house, they are at least getting cleaned thoroughly every eight years.

 

            This year I choose the kitchen.  I cleaned out every cabinet.  I washed the walls.  I cleaned appliances.  Why I cleaned behind the stove and refrigerator. I even scrubbed the floor!  That in itself is a wonderful story which I will share later on.

 

             During this week, yes I said week of deep cleaning, I found things I didn’t realize I had.  I found some things I wondered why I had ever purchased.  I filled trash bags with lids which had no bowls.  I threw out old pots and pans that were banged up, rusted, crusted and warped. 

 

            Finally the last cabinet had been emptied and restocked. The last wall had been washed.  The floor had been scrubbed.  I was right proud of myself.

 

            I had survived the hard work–the ups and downs of  the chair that lifted me up to cabinets and the crawling on my hands and knees to clean the bottom cabinets of my kitchen.  I had even survived cleaning the oven.  Okay, it was self-cleaning but I still had to get up inside and wipe it out!  That in itself was a chore!

 

            My hands hurt from holding on to the scrub brush while scrubbing the floor.  Oh, but how my white floor did shine.  (May I state that I had hated that floor for 14 of the 15 years we have lived in this house!)  But on this day I loved it, because it was shiny and bright from all the hard work I had put into it. 

 

            I have never been so proud of my kitchen!  I wanted to call a press conference and invite everyone over to see it.  If you haven’t caught on by now I’ll let you in on a secret, I abhor house work!  No matter how hard I work within a few days it is to do all over.  My friend Kelly and I share this issue.  We agree that there is more to life than a clean house. 

 

            Why am I sharing this with you?  While attempting to “spring clean” my house  I felt the calling to invite God to do a spring cleaning on my spiritual house.  Had I known He’d come with a scrub brush I might have reconsidered that thought.

 

            But to be a vessel God can use we must keep cleaning out the clutter of our lives.  I don’t know about you, but I have a tendency to treat my spiritual house like my own house.  I have good intentions, however, I hold on to things that are not useful or beneficial to me as a child of God.  After a while those things build up and begin to cover up and smother those things that are good and profitable. 

 

            Going through my spiritual house with God was not easy and neither is it finished.  There have been days of crying over old hurts and wounds that I had stored away.  There have been days of tears as God pointed out the things I had “purchased” that did not fit the “décor” of my house.   There were days of rejoicing when God began to scrub away the old marks on my walls and hang His truths in their place.  But, with each piece that left I began to feel lighter.   Granted not all areas are complete, but I can smell the faint scent of refreshment and revival. 

 

            My dear friend, I want to be a vessel that God can use.  I want people to see Jesus in me and through me.  I want God to live within me in such a way that I experience Abundant Life to its fullest.  I want that for you, too.  And it can be yours if you are willing to open yourself up to His “spring cleaning”. 

 

            If you find yourself now wanting to do that I invite you to pray these verses with me:

 

“Search me, O God, and know my heart:

try me, and know my thoughts:

and see if there be any wicked way in me,

 and lead me in the way everlasting.”  Psalm 139:23-24.

 

 

            My prayers will be with you as you make this choice. As we laugh and cry together through the cleaning of my soul, I hope you find the courage and strength to allow God to finish His task. 

This is the introduction to a Bible Study that I have been writing and teaching for the past 2 years.  I would love to have your feedback on it.  Thanks.

I STAND (or at least I try)

grace2I’m still amazed by God’s grace and mercy, even when I find myself without Band aid.  It is a known fact, that I am never to be without one.  I was born clumsy and have never outgrown it.  Yesterday was just more prove of that.

I had forty-five minutes before church started and so I decided to go on an adventure with God.  With my camera in hand I made my way around our beautiful church yard.  Here in the south, we pride ourselves on our beautiful moss covered oaks.  Our church grounds are home to several of those magnificient ladies.

I started walking and talking with God and taking snapshots of all His stunning craftsmanship.  Before long my path had taken me behind the church, still snapping photos.  I admired the many shades of green God had created. What a brillant mind He has.  A gentle breeze embraced me in His tender arms.  Birds were singing a cheerful melody above me.  It was such a sweet fellowship with just me and the Lord.

Lifting my face towards the sky, I closed my eyes and drank in all peace that was around me.  I opened them abruptly as my body began to plunge to the asphalt pavement.  Landing hard on the ground my first thought was please send someone to help me Lord.  It took just seconds for my breath to return and the initial shock of pain to wear off.  Then my plea changed to Lord please let me get up before anyone finds me here!

Micah 7,8

Pulling myself into a sitting position, while still realing from the excrusating jolt my body had just endured was not an easy task.  My mind screamed get up, but my body wanted only to cry.  I lifted my eyes toward heaven and questioned,

“God, how could I stumble and fall when I was walking with You?”

“It happens all the time, my child”, was the reply.

“I just don’t understand, Father, how it can happen.  I was walking with you, talking with you, fellowshipping with you, and now here I face down on the ground.  How could I have fallen?”

I sat there for a moment allowing Him to flood my mind with story after story of those who had walked closely with God, yet fallen.  That’s what Peter did.  It’s what the Prophet Elijah did.  Even Moses and David were not without their stumbles and falls.  What I realized is, falls are going to come.  I’m never going to be so close to God that I will not stumble along the way.  And neither will you.

The great thing is though, with all the times I have fallen over the years, physically and spiritually, He’s always supplied the strength I needed to stand again.  My heart is reveling in the fact that He doesn’t keep score of those falls.  No matter how many times I fall or how hard I land, His grace and mercy always pull me back to my feet.

He doesn’t stop loving me.  He doesn’t even scold me.  

In my mind, I see a Father who looks back at me, lying on the ground, with skint hands, bruised knees and a broken spirit.  He smiles, even chuckles a little at the sight.  Yet, with love pouring from His eyes, He begins to walk back to me.  Sometimes, He gently pulls me up.  Sometimes, He kneels down beside me, comforting me as I cry it out.  But, never does He leave me there.

In that fallen moment, I realized, how great His love is for me.  He is never surprised by my falls.  He’s never embarrassed by me, either.  I am His precious child, with all my scrapes, bruises and scars.  I am still His child.  His pride and joy.  Like any parent, sure, He wishes I wouldn’t fall so much.  But, He is patient, because He knows that I am learning to walk.  And one day, yes, one day…I will get it right.

Who is a God like unto thee,

that pardoneth iniquity,

and passeth by the transgression

of the remnant of his heritage?

he retaineth not his anger for ever,

because he delighteth in mercy.  

He will turn again,

he will have compassion upon us;

he will subdue our iniquities;

and thou wilt cast all their sins

into the depths of the sea.

~Micah 7:18-19

WHAT’S IN YOUR HANDS?

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Serving as Ministry Assistant of our Baptist Association, I am constantly asked is there a new program that will help my Sunday School, my Ministry, my group. There is a program, but it’s an old one. It has a quaranteed promise to work.

It’s written in red, signifying the author as Jesus himself.  It is found in the 32 verse of John chapter 12.

“And I, if I be lifted up from the earth,

will draw all men unto me.”

But, there is a catch~it must come from a pure heart. The Apostle Paul was telling the Corinthian church that very same thing in 2 Corinthians. In chapter 6, he was calling for them to put aside every idol.

“What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said,

I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them,
and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
Therefore (E)go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing;
then I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you,
and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.”

~ 2 Corinthians 16-18

An idol is anything we put before God. Including ourselves, our family, our church, our ministry, our mission, our position in the church. Although each one is great, we must not allow them to take presidence over God. Look deep within, ask yourself what am I lifting up? Then ask God, to reveal the truth to you. Am I lifting up idols, instead of Jesus?

“Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.” ~ 2 Corinthians 7:1

God is faithful to forgive. If we are going to see our churches come alive with power, then we have to cleanse ourselves and put away ALL of our idols. We can’t lift Jesus up with one hand. It has to be both.

I encourage you to do as I am doing today, take a close look at your life. What do you see? What is most important to you and why? Are you truly doing things for Jesus or is there another purpose behind it? If you are brave enough, ask Jesus to inspect your life. But beware, this can be very painful. The truth hurts, but it heals.

Father, I thank You for being faithful to forgive me when I sin. Because I stand before You now, with the stains of sin on me once again. Open my eyes to the truth. What’s in my hands, Father? Who am I truly lifting up? From the guilt that overflows my heart, I know that it isn’t completely You. I have idols that need to be put away. Cleanse me once again. In Jesus Name I Pray, Amen.

Missing You….

Over the past month I have been busy taking care of my daughter.  She got sick right before Christmas with the flu.  Right after Christmas she started complaining with stomach hurting.  We have been seen now by 6 different doctors.  Had several exrays and tests run.  As of right now, her colon is still not working.  The results from the test show that her Vitamin D is “moderately” low and her TSH (thyroid) is low.  They work against each other.  It’s been a long process and she is feeling better, but we are still not completely back to normal.

I hated to walk away from blogging, but I had to choose what was most important to me.  My daughter will always come first.  As a result, I have gotten behind at work and with school, and therefore I choose to spend my time catching up.  I do miss blogging and all of my friends that I have made through it.   Please continue to pray for us.  I hope to be back with you all soon!

More Than a Cup of Yogurt

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For the past several weeks our daughter Jayden has been sick.  Well, actually she hasn’t been feeling well since Christmas.  We first thought it was a virus, but she has not gotten better.  We have had several test and have treated symptoms.  Thanking God nothing serious is showing up, however, she is still have chronic pain episodes with her stomach.  She never stops hurting completely, but the pain gets very bad at random times.

Through this period, our family and friends have been so supportive, gathering around us in prayer and helping in any way they could.  Last night, I even shared with her that even our County Chief of Police was praying for her.  She’ll never know what it meant for my daughter that “SHE” would stop all her busy stuff, and pray for her.  Little things mean a lot.

We never know what will set off the attack of pain or when they will happen.  Sometimes it comes when she is being active, sometimes when she eats, sometimes while she is sleeping and she is constantly nauseated.  So was the case Tuesday night and we had to rush her to the local hospital.

Hearing one of the two Doctors she saw during our ER visit the night before, saying that yogurt would coat her stomach and may help with the pain, she decided to eat only yogurt when she was hungry.  She had just finished all she had and Mike was ready to head to WalMart for more when I got a message from a friend.

“Has Jayden tried yogurt?  It seems to help my stomach when I eat it.”

“Oh, yes. She loves yogurt.  As a matter of fact that is about all she has eaten today.”

“Does she like strawberry?” she asked.

“That is her favorite”, I replied.

“Good, I bought her some while I was at the grocery store.  Would you mind if I dropped it by tonight?”

After receiving the yogurt another friend stopped by.  She helped Jayden with her homework, talked with her, and encouraged her.  During her visit, Jayden acted more like her old self.  You see, Jayden is a social butterfly.  She needs interaction with others.  This friend, just sharing a little of her time, brought Jayden much joy.

Before we went to bed,  Jayden and I read and discussed her daily devotion like every other night. Usually I let Jayden read, but she asked me to and I did.

The story was on the man who had been let down through the roof by his friends in order to get him to Jesus as found in Mark chapter 2. All day long Mike and I had shared with Jayden the many number of phone calls, text and FB comments of those praying for her.

But as any human would, her little mind began to question. Just before I began to read, she said to me, “Will I ever get better Mama? I am so tired of this. Sometimes I feel like I just can’t make it another day!”

I tried to comfort and reassure her and began to read and my eyes began to feel with tears.

Jayden brushed them away, “I didn’t mean to make you cry.”

I looked at her and smiled, “You didn’t.  God did.  It’s one of those good cries.  God has a message for you Jayden.  A very special message.”

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“Do you realize what God has done for you today, Jayden?”

“God has sent message after message and phone call after phone call of people who are concerned and praying for you.  He has sent you yogurt when you ran out.  He brought a friend to cheer you up.  And even now, He is still answering you.  God is working.  We may not see it.  We may not understand.  But God is still working and taking care of us.  Through His word, now He is reassuring us that He is hearing and answering the prayers of our many friends.  There is a reason for this, we must trust Him and know He that He cares about us.”

“He always takes care of us doesn’t He?  Somehow He always knows what I need.”, she whispered.

Then she snuggled up close and with a smile on her face, she feel asleep.  Safely in His arms, knowing He was there, taking care of her.

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We may not know what tomorrow will bring, or why we are going through the things we are going through, but this we can be assured of,

God is still God.

He is working not only on the big things in our lives, but on the smallest details.  He even cares when we run out of yogurt!  He cares!  HE CARES!!!

During our Women’s Bible Study this past Sunday, this quote from Karen Kingsbury’s “Family of Jesus” was read.

“Look for God in the journey.” His teacher’s eyes narrowed, full of wisdom.

“Even when you are away from school, the Father is teaching.  Be listening.”

It has been with me all week, giving me strength and encouragement.  God is always there.  Always teaching, leading and working.  We may not see it.  May not realize it, but He is there.  So often we over look the greatest of all miracles~the little details that He takes care of~because we are too focused on the big miracle we want.  This week, God has taught me that the greatest miracles are those small things that He does.

My God who has all power, all knowledge, who created the heavens and the earth, knows when my child runs out of yogurt!  He cares enough to give us friends to bring us a laugh, a hug and word of encouragement.  He cares enough to give us a nurse who will go the extra mile to help us.  He cares enough to speak through His Word giving us the message we need for every season of life.

 

HE CARES FOR US!

HE LOVES US!

AND HE IS ALWAYS THERE!

HE WILL NOT FAIL US! 

You Wanted Me….

YOU WANTED ME

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So many nights I spent in tears,

Longing to be held in the arms

Of someone who thought I was special.

So many wasted years….

 

Never thought I was good enough.

Never thought I could be loved.

Never thought I was beautiful.

Never thought I was worth anything…

 

Then You, You called out my name

You touched my heart

I’ve never been the same.

 

I am loved, I am free.

I am beautiful tonight,

All because of you.

You wanted me.

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Now I look back over the days

And I see Your love guiding the way.

For the first time in forever

I am held by arms so warm and tender.

 

You didn’t need me,

But you wanted me.

And now in Your love

I am free.

I am beautiful tonight,

All because of You, Jesus.

You wanted me.

written by Renee Kinlaw 2/4/14

 

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Desperately Seeking Love

Desperately Seeking Love

She had longed for it sense she was just a little girl.  Never had she known it.  Never had she felt it.  It wasn’t as though she hadn’t tried.  She worked hard to achieve it, yet it never came.

“All I ever asked for was a son.  Was that too much to ask for?”, she had over heard her father say when she was but six years old.

“I’ve tried.  I don’t know why God has shut up my womb.  I plead and beg for the favor of giving you a son.  A namesake. Someone you will cherish and carry your name.  Can I help but bring forth what God has placed in my womb?”, her mother cried.

“What good is a girl?  I can not teach her my trade.  Even if she marries well, it will not benefit us, but her husbands family.  And we will have to pay them to take her!” Her Father hit the door with his hand.  His strong body fell against it and he began to shake his head.  “I’ve got to go.  I’ve got to get out of here”, he said as he slammed the door behind him.

Her mother sank to the floor, her hands covering her face as her heart broke into a million pieces.  “Why God, why?  What sin have I committed to cause my husband such shame and disgrace?   Why have I not found favor in your sight?”

She ran to her mother.  “It’s okay Mother, I am here.  I love you.  I will not leave you.”

It seemed to work, she thought as a smile formed on her face.  Her mother stopped crying.

“You”, her mother raised her face from her hands with hatred in her eyes.  “It’s your fault.  Your father despises me now.  Any chance I had to make him love me, you have ruined.”  Her mother grabbed her arms and began to shake her.  “It’s your fault.  I hate you.  I wish you had never been born.”

She cried herself to sleep that night only to wake when her father stumbled in sometime before the dawn.   She pulled her ragged doll close to her, “It’ll be alright, you just wait and see.  Everything will be okay come morning”, she whispered in the darkness.

Yet, in spite of all she did and all she tried, nothing was ever the same.  Her mother died a year later of a bitter and broken heart without ever telling her she was sorry and without telling her she was loved.  Her Dad married her off to the first man who came with interest in her.

The marriage was filled with more misery.  Although she cleaned, cooked, and gave him sons and daughters, her husband never loved her.  There was nothing in his eyes that gave her the slightest inclination that he would ever love her.

That’s why she fell for him.  This man who was not her husband.  He smiled at her.  Brought her flowers.  Asked how she was.  Asked what she was thinking.  He made her feel wanted.  He made her feel cherished.  He made her feel loved.  Yet, it was all a joke.  A carefully planned scheme.  He didn’t love her, he had only wanted to use her.

When they had entered into the house, she was filled with fear.  What would they do?  How would they get out of this?  They grabbed her and pulled her from the bed.  Why didn’t he say something?  Why didn’t he defend her?

They were his friends.  She knew them, knew them all, yet they treated her as filth.  He got himself dressed and told the others he would meet with them later as they pulled her out the door.

She fought back, trying with all her might to get away from them.  They laughed at her.  The words they used to describe her were unbearable.  She fell to the ground as her heart exploded within.  Was this what it was like to die?  She gasped for every breath.  Her tears had become a waterfall of hot and burning pain.

Yanked to her feet she opened her eyes to see the faces of her town folk.  She clinched them back together praying that she would go blind.  That her mind would forever erase the look of disgust painted so fiercely on her neighbors.  Never would they treat her the same.  She was forever ruined in their eyes.

She twisted again, trying frantically to get free.   She needed her hands, needed them to shelter her ears from the mocking and harassing voices.

“I knew she was no good”, she heard the voice of her once friend say.

“Her husband and children deserve better than this”, voiced one old woman.

“She must be dealt with severely”, said the leader of the pack.

“Stone her”, they began to chant as they walked behind her.

Suddenly they stopped moving and silence fell on her ears.  She raised her head and opened her eyes to be struck by horrendous horror.  Her blurred vision came into focus on the temple.  God’s house!  They were bringing her into God’s presence.

 “No! No, please, not here.  No!  Anywhere but here!”, she said and with every bit of strength she had left she yanked herself free.

She tried to run, but she couldn’t get away.  They had her surrounded.  This was it.  This is what her life had brought her to.  Her mother had been right.  She’d been better off never being born.  Oh, that she could die right now, in this very spot.

No more did she fight.  All hope was gone.  The love that she had longed to feel would never find her now.  Life was not worth living anymore.  Maybe it would be over soon.  Her tears stopped flowing as numbness over took her.  Her body sagged, her head feel to her chest, “So this is what is like to die”, she thought.

His voice was thunderous, yet peaceful.  Never had she heard a man speak with such authority.  Was this the man who would forever condemn her?  Would he be the one to order her death?

Flung inside the room, she heard the gasping of his students.  He said not a word.  She never opened her eyes, but she could feel him looking at her.  Something strange was happening inside her.  There was a feeling she had never felt before.  She cracked her swollen eyelids just enough to get a glimpse of him.

 “Who is this man?” she questioned within herself.

Her accusers began to tell her story.  They demanded he do something.  To their amazement, he did do something.  He said not a word, but lowered himself to the ground and began to write on the cold temple floor.

Enraged, they called for him again to do something about this woman.  Slowly he came to his feet.  He looked at them all then said,

“The one of you who has never sinned, may cast the first stone at her.”

There was an eerie silence as he knelt back down to the ground again he began to write.  “Maybe,” she thought with a smirk, “He is writing their sins on the ground to remind them of the men they truly are.”

THUMP!  “It has begun”, she shivered and resigned herself to her fate.

THUMP! “It didn’t hit me.  Neither this nor the first one has hit me.”

THUMP!  THUMP! THUMP! Over and over she trembled as the sound echoed in her ears until there was nothing but silence left.  Slowly, she turned her head.  There was nothing, nothing but a pile of stones.  Where were the men who had dragged her here?  Where were her accusers?

She heard the rustling of his garment as he rose to his feet.  Slowly she lifted her eyes to meet his.  And there she saw it for the very first time.  Love.  Sweet, beautiful, life changing love.  She had longed for it so long.  She had prayed for it.  Begged for it.  Pleaded and bargained for it.  And now, it was finally here.

Her heart began to beat again with hope only to be short lived as she looked at herself.  What must he think?  Here I stand wretched, naked and filthy before him.  She lowered her head.  She could not look at him any longer.  There was no way, he could care for her.  Not her, she was unlovable.

“Woman”, he called to her with such compassion.  Dare she look up?  Dare she meet his eyes again?  Could she dare to think that maybe he was different.

She took a chance and opened her eyes to take in his once again.  It was there.  It was still there!  The love and compassion was still there!  Her heart began to beat wildly.  How can it be?  How can he look at me that way?

“Where are thine accusers?”, he asked tenderly, “is there no man left to condemn you?”

She looked around.  Looked at the crowd, yet no one stepped forward.  It was unbelievable.  Where was the taunting and mocking?  There was no laughing now.  There was only peace.  Peace like she had never known before.

Taking it all in, she mumbled softly, “No one is left.”  A smile crept to her face as her heart filled with a new, exciting, yet somewhat strange feeling, “No one, my Lord”.

He took her by the hand and looked deep within her eyes.  The look went further than her mind, further than her heart until he reached the depths of her soul.  For the first time, she felt alive.  She could breath and she wanted to live!

One by one she felt the chains of  shame, guilt and fear break their hold of her.  In their place happiness came, joy came, peace came, hope came.  Could it be?  Could it really be?  Love?

Love came

His words came as a whisper, but with power and truth, “Neither do I condemn you.  But go and sin no more.”

She left that day a changed woman.  No more did she carry the weight of unlovable and unwanted.  She was loved and wanted by Him, Jesus.  She was not a mistake.  She was accepted, cherished and loved.  Each new day brought only more happiness as she continued to follow after Him.  Through His love and kindness, she had learned how to love her husband and her children and in turn they loved her.  Her home was a welcoming place to all who wanted to hear what a difference Jesus had made.  Love had found her.

As God pours this story into my mind, my heart cries out for all those who feel unloved and unwanted.   Over the years of working and being involved in Women’s Ministry I have sat with many who have cried their hearts out searching for love.  My answer has remained the same.  No one, not your parents, not your spouse, not even your children, can fill you with true love.

True and pure love only comes through Jesus Christ.  

Only He can bring that to you.

His love is never failing, never ending.

Everlasting Love

“the Lord appeared to him from far away.
I have loved you with an everlasting love;
    therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.

~Jeremiah 31:3 ESV

His love knows no bounds.

“For God so loved the world, 

that he gave his only Son,

that whoever believes in him

should not perish but have eternal life.

~John 3:16 ESV

His love for us makes us acceptable, cherished, and wanted.

“See what kind of love the Father has given to us,

that we should be called 

children of God;

and so we are.”

~1 John 3:1

God is love.

But, it goes so much deeper than that.

Not only does God love you,

but He wants to love on you.

Will you let Him?  Will you look into His eyes and see Him as who He is~LOVE?  Will you let Him penetrate deeper than your mind, deeper than your heart, all the way down to your very soul?  Will you accept His love and let Him love on you?  Will you invite Him and His love into your life and give you a reason to live? Will you call Him Lord?

My dear friend, if you have never experienced His love for you, now is your chance.  Just as the story above, which is based on John’s story of the Adulterous Woman in chapter 4, you to can feel loved for the very first time.  You can find peace, joy, happiness and acceptance in Christ.  He’s waiting, longing to love on you.

If you have experienced that love, then I invite you to leave a comment and share with others how Jesus changed your life.

Father, in all things I give You praise.  I thank you from the depths of my soul for the night that I found You, the love of my live.  You have broken the chains which held me bound, and given me a purpose.  You have given me hope.  You’ve given me peace and joy.  My life is far greater than I ever imagined it would be, all because of Your grace, love and mercy.  I pray I never get over what You have done for me.  Thank You for accepting me.  Thank You for loving me even when I was unlovable.  In Jesus name, Amen.