Swing and a Miss!

Photo Cred: Pinterest

I’m one of those “lefties” that’s totally ambidextrous. I only do a handful of things left-handed…holding a fork and spoon, writing, holding a pool cue stick. I do everything else right-handed, except that I do bowl with my right hand with a left-handed stance, so the ball inevitably hits the back of my right leg. I’ve TRIED changing my stance but at the last second, my legs do this little “hippity-skippity-doo-da” hopping thing and my right leg defies me.

It’s one of the reasons why I was never a successful softball player…not that I ever really tried. Sports (other than horseback riding competitions), weren’t my thing. But the few times I did try to play as a kid, swinging the bat right-handed was fine (I couldn’t even attempt it left-handed), but I also wanted to catch AND throw with my right hand because my left hand was weak, compared to my dominant right hand.

Why all of this, you ask?! It’s because Satan has been coming at me, HARD, for weeks! Nah, make that months! I feel like I’ve been trying to beat him off with a Louisville Slugger – both lefty and righty, but to no avail – I keep swinging and missing! I’m so frustrated! What’s the motive here? Does he think that just because I really haven’t been myself for the last several months – anxious, a little depressed (truth-to-tell), uncertain; that he can waltz right in and steal my joy? Fahgedaboudit! I may be struggling, but that’s between me and God. HE is my rock, my fortress, my protector. I need to get out of my own head and lean harder into Him. HE will always make a way for me. I just need to rely on Him and His promises. Although I know and believe all of this, I still feel vulnerable…like all of a sudden I’m naked in public with nothing to cover up with (an infrequent but recurring nightmare, unfortunately).

A fleeting thought entered my scrambled-eggs-brain recently as to whether or not there is anyone or anything that could ever make me turn from God. I’m ashamed that the thought even entered my head, but I knew the answer immediately…it was an emphatic “NO”. There’s no one, nothing – no circumstance – that would ever make me turn from Him. That thought was so comforting and convicting, knowing that no matter what I’m going through, especially difficult seasons and trials, I will never deny or forsake Him.

God knows what I need, when I need it. The issue is “me”…it’s “all me”. Psalm 46:10 is one of my favorite verses and I’m always chastising myself to, “Shut up! Sit still and you’ll hear what God’s trying to tell you”. That lasts for what seems like a millisecond and then the anxiety and uncertainty of “whatever”, takes up the majority of space in my head. :::Sigh:::

I think what I need to do is put the bat down and refrain from giving Satan another fraction of my time. Okay, maybe just ONE more good, solid, swing – with my feet firmly planted in my faith, and then I’ll lay my bat down and start digging deeper into God’s Word and His Faithfulness.

“Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock.” ~Isaiah 26:4

“The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” ~Exodus 14:14

“Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually!” ~1 Chronicles 16:11

“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. GOD is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” ~1 Corinthians 10:13

~Let Love Lead The Way~ TP

Straddling the Faith Fence…

Photo Cred: KristinaAu

If I COULD whistle, I’d insert a :::long slow whistle::: right here! Wow! This has been a very long and difficult season, right? I know it’s not just me. With the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions and circumstances alone, life has been trying, to say the least.

Over the course of the last few months, I’ve experienced especially difficult and trying situations which led me to recently “snapping off”, losing my cool, cursing like a longshore man, flipping out…you name it, I was doing it. I was doing all the wrong things. Things that are not representative of me or my life as a Christian. Good grief.

On one occasion, I was in the car and I called my husband, nearly hysterical, asking him to, “PLEASE PRAY FOR ME! I’M LOSING IT!” I was yelling, “Lord, I need patience, peace, kindness and self-control!” And as I was saying all of that, it dawned on me and I yelled to him, “That’s it…THAT’S IT! I need the Fruit of The Spirit! You’ve gotta pray hard, Davey, ’cause I need a big ol’ fruit basket from the Holy Spirit! I mean the biggest one He’s got!” At that moment, I took a deep breath and calmed down and then we both chuckled a little over my “Fruit Basket” request. Not gonna lie, I’ve actually asked him a few more times to, “Please pray for a Fruit Basket for me!”

Photo Cred: Rose Publishing

So needless to say, during this difficult season, I’ve quite unfortunately found myself straddling the faith fence. Not that I’ve ever, or would ever, turn away from my faith, but I let the circumstances that presented themselves grab me as I straddled the fence, with one foot in the Word and one foot in the world, and yank me over to the world side. What was I doing there? I’m not of this world…it’s just a temporary place where I reside until I go HOME. I don’t wanna be in the world. I was so disappointed in myself for letting things that were out of my control dictate my behavior. Once I realized that I’m NOT in control, and that I truly need to put EVERYTHING at the foot of the cross, I did just that. Jesus didn’t take my place on the cross and shed his blood for me so that I could go through this life alone, struggling, stressed, and out of control. Sometimes it’s hard for me to really “Let Go, Let GOD”. I have posted this more times than I can count, so I don’t know why I struggle with it, but I’ll continue to work on it. Promise.

Having one foot in the Word and one foot in the world will most likely be a continuous spiritual battle, and I may find myself straddling the fence, but I refuse to let the enemy pull me over. When seeds of doubt are planted in my head that I’m “not good enough” or that I’m not “worthy” of God, His love or His plan for me, I won’t give it credence. Whatever the enemy is selling, I’m NOT buying!

After realizing that I was completely over the fence, knee-deep in the world, I prayed for God to grasp my hands, pull me out of the muck and mire, and hurl me back over the fence into the Word. And of course, because He’s so faithful, He did! As I landed on my backside, I thought to myself, “Well, I guess this is how His discipline works since I didn’t land on my feet!” I stood up and brushed off the back of my pants, turning to lean my elbows on top of the fence, looking out at the world. It became so clear to me that my feet were now firmly planted on the right side of the fence, in the Word, where the grass is always greener.

“Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.” ~Colossians 2:7 (NLT)

~Let Love Lead The Way~ TP

It all started at 1 Sand Hill Road…

I wasn’t familiar with “1 Sand Hill Road” in Salem, NH. I came across it through a mutual FB friend who had posted a video of her then 10 year old daughter being baptized. Granted, the video wasn’t taken at 1 Sand Hill Road, but at another location at 284 Kenoza Avenue in Haverhill, MA, but through that video and research online, I found 1 Sand Hill Road and what was located there. It was something I’d been searching for, for what seemed like years…decades…LOTS of decades.

On 1/28/2017, I walked through the doors of Granite United Church. I wasn’t sure what to expect as I had been raised Catholic and I hadn’t been very good at it. Throughout my adulthood, I desperately wanted a relationship with God but I just couldn’t seem to figure out the best way to go about it. I didn’t want to confess to a priest that I really didn’t know, who would be tasked to absolve me of my sins, and then “pay for it with penance”. If penance held monetary value, I’d most likely have been in the poor house. There had to be another way, a way in which I could have a direct line-of-sight to the Lord…an up-close and personal relationship with him, but it was taking me so long to get there because I just didn’t know where to begin.

On that day four years ago, I stepped into a “building” but immediately realized that the “church” was the people inside. The people who welcomed this newbie with a smile, a hug and a “We’re so glad you’re here”! (in my head I was thinking, “Really? You ARE? Good grief, I dunno… I’ve sinned, turned away from God, done some stupid things, but I’ll take your word for it.”).

I was spiritual and I prayed (at least every time I swung my leg over my Harley, asking God for his protection to and from my destinations). I prayed for things I wanted, good health, prosperity, for my family to be safe and well. I didn’t know what I “didn’t know”. As soon as the service began, I KNEW that this is where I belonged! And when the Lead Pastor (Anthony Milas), wearing his flannel shirt, ripped jeans and holding two Ninja Turtle Chia Pets, was “landing the plane” as he likes to call it when wrapping up a service, invited me (not just me, but everyone) who didn’t “know Jesus” to join him in a silent-in-your-heart prayer to ask Jesus to forgive me of my sins, to come into my heart and be my Lord and Savior, I cried as I said that prayer in my heart. I felt it to the depths of my soul which now belongs to Him. I finally was “in the know”, understanding that I didn’t need “religion” to have my personal relationship with Jesus. All I needed was Him. People spoke of the Holy Spirit and I didn’t realize it until much later, but what happened to me that day upon my salvation through Christ was a complete transformation from the person I had been “alone” in life. I was brand new in my life with Him, no longer alone, and was literally filled with the Holy Spirit. Aaannnddd I FELT it! I blew out of that parking lot, nearly careening on two wheels and leaving a 50-foot long patch of rubber (not hard to do when I was banging gears in my Mustang GT!) as I couldn’t WAIT to get home and tell my husband.

Ah, my husband. He didn’t see THIS coming! I rushed in like I’d just robbed a bank (sans the mask), breathless and on fire for Jesus! I was yammering away in excited animation that I FINALLY found a church where I belonged! Whoop Whoop! I think his response was, “That’s nice honey”; then nothing more or less.

Each week as I’d prepare to leave for church, I’d remind him that I was going and I’d toss out an obligatory invitation to which he always replied, “No, thank you.” On June 10th of that same year, I was baptized. My daughter went with me for family support and to top it off, I was baptized with my very best friend from high school who came to Granite shortly after I did because she saw things I was posting on FB and she was intrigued. Why? Because I was “different”…she’d known me for nearly 40 years at that time and she could see the change in me…for the better.

So here I was, in my new found faith with my bestie! We were learning how to read and interpret the bible, going to service every week, attending a ladies bible study, and serving in different capacities. Wow, was my life FULL! Brimming with the love of Jesus! I was taught that the four most difficult words to pray are, “Thy Will be done”. True. I had always wanted things my way (or you could unceremoniously take the highway). But now I was putting God first in my life – above everyone and everything. I wasn’t loving my husband, children and extended family and friends any less than before; quite the contrary. I was now being responsive instead of reactive. I had patience I never knew existed within me. My compassion (which I always had) grew immeasurably and I was doing something I really hadn’t done before…I was forgiving those that hurt me, in whatever manner – in big or small ways – and as soon as I started doing that, I could feel my heart and soul become lighter and I was no longer weighed down by holding on to resentment or grudges. This is God’s Grace.

My husband noticed the change in me, too. I think that perhaps he might’ve initially thought that this was “just a phase” and that sooner or later, I’d “drop it” and return back to my “old self”. I tried to explain that the change in my life was not my own doing. That my old self had died in baptism and that I was raised in new life with Christ. So, I just kept plugging along, going to church, inviting him to join me, always knowing that his response would be, “No, thank you”. I wasn’t the only one praying for him, either. All of my church family was praying for him, the ladies in my bible study were praying for him. There were Prayer Walls and Prayer Posters throughout the church and if I wrote his name down once, I must’ve written it a hundred times. Every time I looked at them, even from a distance, I could see his name…pick it out amongst hundreds of others. My bible study teacher who was my mentor and helped me immensely in my faith walk (but has since passed away), asked me, “Terri, when you pray for your husband to come to church, do you REALLY BELIEVE that God will answer that prayer?” Much to my embarrassment, I lowered my face and scraped the toe of my boot along the carpet and whispered, “No, not really.” She lifted my face and as was her way, she lovingly but sternly told me, “You HAVE to pray boldly and with expectation that God is going to move that mountain!”. I knew she was right, and from that moment forward my prayer life changed. I had to stop being my husband’s “no”, meaning that I kept telling myself, “He’ll never come to church”, and instead, I needed to pray fervently for him. I wanted him to have what I had. I wanted him to know the love, joy and peace that comes with salvation. So I started praying…boldly…in thanksgiving, praise and supplication. A lot of times it involved snot-sob-praying on my knees, but it was good… so good to surrender to my Lord and lay this at the foot of the cross and finally, not just believing, but knowing that He would move that mountain.

Christmas service of 2017 was just a week away and both my daughter and son said that they would go to church with me. I approached my husband and told him that me and the kids were going to church for the Christmas service and I asked him if he’d like to go. He again replied, “No, thank you.” I was happy that my adult children were going with me, but I was disappointed when my husband said “No, thank you.” I texted my daughter (or so I thought) which read, “Daddy said ‘no’…he’s not going.” Little did I realize that I had sent that text to my husband, but clearly it wasn’t by accident. I believe there was divine intervention! When my husband responded to the text, saying, “Guilt works…I’d like to go!” I jumped up and practically screamed I was so excited! I immediately reached out to my campus Pastor, Court Holloway, and filled him in. He put an alarm on his phone to “Pray for Dave” every morning at 6:00 AM (he’s pretty awesome). I was pulling out ALL the stops, letting everybody and their brother (and sister) know that Dave was coming to church for Christmas! And they all continued to pray (no doubt more boldly now), with his anticipated arrival for service.

We arrived at church and I introduced Dave to a number of my church family members and at every opportunity as I stood behind him, I would catch the eye of someone who’d been praying for him and I’d point to the back of his head and mouth the words, “This is my husband!”. He met a lot of people that day who welcomed him with open arms. The service was great and when we got into the car I desperately wanted to vomit all the words in my head out of my mouth…I had so much I wanted to say…so many questions that I wanted to ask and, instead, the Holy Spirit convicted me and what came out of my mouth was, “I’m so glad you came today. I hope you enjoyed it”. Dave replied that he liked it and that he thought the people were so inviting and really nice. I had a sewing needle with some black thread in my handbag and considered sewing my lips shut so that I wouldn’t bombard him with everything I wanted to say, but thankfully I didn’t have to take such drastic measures!

During the week following his first service, Dave was in the kitchen texting someone and under no other circumstances would I ever ask him, “Who are you texting?”, but before I knew it, those words escaped my lips (thank you, Holy Spirit!), and he replied, “Pastor Court and I have been chatting”. Me on the inside: “Pastor Court? PASTOR COURT?! Are you KIDDING ME?! You’re chatting with my Campus Pastor?”. What I actually said, ever so nonchalantly was: “Oh, really? That’s nice”. Then he put his arm around my shoulder, tucking me into his chest, so naturally I took the opportunity to peek at his phone. He smiled and turned to me and said, “That’s RIGHT, I’m going to church on Saturday.” I think my knees buckled a little, not gonna lie, and I fought back tears of joy. I hugged him so tightly and told him how happy I was that he was joining me again at church. And THAT Saturday (December 30th, 2017) was THE day! The day that my husband said the “quietly-in-your-heart” prayer and was saved. He became a Warrior for Christ and our lives have NEVER been the same! Here I was, albeit not-so-humbly, thinking my testimony was pretty awesome…then along came Dave! I still cannot watch his Testimony Video without bawling my eyes out because of not only the change in him and our marriage, but because God DID move that mountain…and I watched him do it! He is such a good, good Father!

On February 3rd, 2018, just a little over a month from the day of his salvation, Dave was baptized. I was asked by the lovely woman who’s in charge of the baptisms if I’d like to read his testimony. Naturally, I said, “yes”, then bawled like a baby. I asked her to keep it a secret as I wanted to surprise him. And surprise him I did! As he stepped down into the baptismal pool, I was already standing on the platform to the far right, microphone in hand and ready to go. I knew he didn’t have his glasses on, so I stepped forward, close enough for him to see me and said, “Surprise!”. I could tell he was overwhelmed with emotion and I could not be more proud of his powerful testimony and I was humbled beyond measure to be able to share in this life-changing moment with him.

So here we are, four years later. Saved, baptized and still on fire for Jesus.

I don’t know where you are in your faith, but if you don’t “know” Jesus, you’re missing out. Take it from a way-more-than-middle-aged couple that your lives can be “forever changed”. That you will have abundant love, joy and peace in your hearts that comes from one source and one source only…JESUS! He is the HOPE of the world.

Even through this pandemic, we haven’t lost faith or hope. We are leaning into Him and His Word more now than ever, relying on His faithful promises. We’d love for you to have the same.

If you’re unsure of how to begin a relationship with Jesus, you can say this prayer:

“Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe You died for my sins and rose from the dead. I turn from my sins and invite You to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow You as my Lord and Savior.”

Welcome to the Family of God!

I invite you to check out service times (both online and in person) at: www.graniteunited.com/locations

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” ~John 3:16

“But to all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God.” ~John 1:12

~Let Love Lead The Way~ TP

Overcoming Fear with Faith

Overcoming-fear[Photo Cred:  Wildwood Health]

 

It’s no coincidence as I sit here, drinking my third cup of coffee in my “Psalm 46:10″ mug, that I was moved to write about “overcoming fear”.  Honestly, that thought incites even more fear in my mind.  That mole hill inevitably becomes a mountain that I DON’T want to climb.  As I look up at the enormous, anxiety- and fear-filled mountain before me, I’m thinking, “How can I overcome my fears?  My fear of failure, of not being good enough, worthy enough, dedicated enough, kind enough, loving enough?  How can I quiet my heart and mind in a way that assures my shaky-self that “I’m fine” (really fine)?”

Most often my mind is filled with thoughts of humility, gratitude and thankfulness, but sometimes it’s like a junkyard… filled with treasures of yesteryears that are now rusty and unusable, but were once pristine and fully-functional.

For those of us who suffer from anxiety and/or depression, we curse our brains for betraying us with fear-filled thoughts.  We certainly don’t want to be anxious, riddled with worry and angst, but those thoughts and feelings invade our thinking, nonetheless.  When I begin to feel “less than” myself, I know where to turn.  Four years ago, I didn’t know where to turn and I suffered a lot of the time; most of the time, but now, thankfully, Christ lives in me.  I have the eternal love of God and His faithful promises, knowing that He’s “got this”.  And when I begin to suffer, I turn to Him and lean into His Word.  It’s right there, in black and white, that I belong to him and He will never forsake me.  That promise, alone, is enough to drive away thoughts of fear and anxiety, and as I dig deeper into His Word, I am blessed with the comfort and healing that only He can provide.

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[Photo Cred:  Bible Go To Verses]

 

Overcoming fear with faith leaves me feeling empowered, resolute, determined to not let my fear become bigger than my faith.

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your GOD; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” ~Isaiah 41:10

“For GOD gave us a spirit not of fear, but of power and love and self-control.”  ~2 Timothy 1:7

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.  Not as the world gives do I give to you.  Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”  ~John 14:27

God’s promises are amazing and eternal.  His faithfulness endures.  When those anxious thoughts seep into those imperceptible cracks in my mind, I remember Who I belong to… Who has my back… and Who will always be for me; never against me.  I gain comfort, strength and wisdom when I surrender to God and let Him be in control.  FAITH > fear.

~ ♦ ~

Of note:  I’ve developed a Bible Reading Plan on “Overcoming Fear” for the month of September in my FB Bible Journaling Group, and I invite anyone who’s interested to join.  If you’d like to see examples of bible verse mapping, journaling, etc., check out my Instagram – Peaceful_Planning.  I also have a Podcast – “Walk In Faith”  where I talk about anxiety in Episode 3.  You can also access any of these through My Linktr.ee

Prayer:  Father God, please take away any fearful or anxious thoughts that are clouding my mind today.  Replace them with your love, peace, comfort, strength and wisdom.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

~Let Love Lead The Way~ TP

 

 

God Loves You, Whether You Like It Or Not!

I came across this pic somewhere on Facebook a while ago and saved it to my phone.  I don’t remember who posted it, so I’m unable to give credit where credit is due!

GLY

I haven’t blogged in a while, the reason being is that my writing has to come to me by way of the Holy Spirit.  There have been many times when I’ve sat down at my computer thinking, “Today’s a great day for a blog post”, and then I sit there…and sit…and sit, and I resign myself to the fact that, “I’ve got nothin’!”  When I recently poured over my previous blog posts, I realized that with each of them I was “moved” to write them.  A theme, phrase or word would be rolling around in my head (or maybe it was my heart), and as soon as I’d sit down to write, the words flowed effortlessly and that’s when I realized that they weren’t even my own.  Okay…maybe a few.

Prior to beginning my Christian walk (three years ago this month), I knew ABOUT God, but I didn’t KNOW Him.  I knew He existed – I never doubted that for one second – but what I did doubt was that I was important to Him, nor did I understand the unfathomable and eternal depths to which He loves me.  Let’s face it, I was a more-than-middle-aged woman, banging around on a Harley with a mouth that would make a longshoreman blush.  I wasn’t a “bad” person, but I was so far from God that I just figured that it was too late for me.  Too late for me to truly know the forgiveness and love of Jesus, too late for me to have a brand new start.  I was so ill-informed.

I gave my life to Christ the same day I walked into Granite United Church.  There, the Holy Spirit and I were formally introduced when I closed my eyes and prayed for Jesus to forgive me of my sins and to be my Lord and Savior.  I was forgiven, I was saved and I became a child of God, just as is promised in John 1:12 ~ “But to all who believed Him and accepted Him, He gave the right to become children of God.” (NLT)  What an AH-MAZING GIFT!  It still blows my mind that with that one decision to cross the line of faith, I had a brand new life in Him!

As I eagerly delved into my new life, which of course included reading the bible, I felt somewhat hesitant, intimidated, unsure if I would truly absorb His Word and be able to apply it to my life.  I mean the “old me” was lingering around (thus, the feelings of unworthiness and self-doubt were gnawing at me), but thankfully the “new me” began to feel empowered and confident.  I was blessed to participate in a weekly women’s bible study, the teacher of which I will never be able to thank enough for her guidance, friendship and mentorship.  If someone would have told me a few years ago that I would become a Born-Again Christian, that I would put Jesus first in my life, watch Him move mountains that I was convinced would NEVER move, and that I would think the bible is the coolest book EVER, I would’ve rolled my eyes into the back of my skull and I shudder to think of what would’ve come out of my mouth!  :::Whoops!:::

But here I am…living a new life…a life filled with joy, peace, love and HOPE!

God loves you, whether you like it or not….and I LOVE how He loves me!

“I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love.  With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself.” ~ Jeremiah 31:3 (NLT)

#LetLoveLeadTheWay – TP

 

 

 

Yup…it’s still dead

My old life, that is.  I’m happy to report that it’s still dead as a doornail.  I was baptized two years ago today and my new life in Christ has been, and continues to be, an amazing journey.

Before turning my life over to Jesus in January of 2017, I had been desperately searching for “something”, but I just couldn’t put my finger on it.  There was a whole host of things that I was seeking:  peace, joy, tranquility, strength, courage, protection and grounding.  Sometimes I felt as though I was hovering a few feet off the ground, longing to land so that I could keep moving forward, instead of being tossed around, to and fro, back and forth.  Good grief, SOMEBODY SAVE ME!!!

And there He was…in the waiting.  He was always there, but somehow I thought I was too insignificant, very unworthy, too sinful, not good enough, so I never really turned to Him.  I was afraid.  I thought, ‘He can’t help me’, or ‘Maybe He wouldn’t want to help someone like me’.  I was someone who knew about Him, but never really connected with Him or got to know Him on a personal level.  I believed in His awesome power and greatness and I guess that left me feeling intimidated, that I just wasn’t important enough…that He had bigger fish to fry than to help me.  Like most people, I don’t like to be ‘wrong’, but I was SO WRONG when it came to that way of thinking.

Jesus didn’t come down from heaven as the Son of God to help and save religious zealots.  He came to save the broken and the lost.  He came to teach, to heal, and to redeem.  During my second or third time attending service at Granite United Church, I remember Pastor Anthony Milas speaking about a herd of sheep, and posing the question, “If you had ninety-nine sheep and one was lost, would you leave the ninety-nine to go find the lost one?”  In being a brand-new Christian, in my head I was thinking, “Nah, fahgedaboudit…I wouldn’t leave the whole herd of sheep for just ONE!”  Yeah…I totally missed the message that day…but not for long!  My head’s been buried in the bible every day since.  I seek His Word and His Truth first and foremost.  I get it now…about going after that “one lost sheep”.  At one point in my life, I WAS that “one”.

Don’t think for one minute that you’re “not worthy”, or that you’ve done too many terrible things that your life cannot be forever changed by the blood of Christ.  He’s always in the waiting.  His invitation to come to the table is an open one.  If you weren’t aware that you’ve always been invited… YOU’RE INVITED!

I have only one regret – that it took me over 50 years to realize that I was invited to come to His table.  I’m so thankful that when I pulled up a chair and sat down, I was welcomed with opened arms.  I was forgiven.  I was saved.  My old life died in baptism when I was submerged in the water and my new life in Christ began when I was raised up.

 

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Romans 6:4 ~ “We were buried therefore with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life”. (ESV)

 

~Let Love Lead The Way~ TP

 

 

 

These Doors Represent Truth & Testimony

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Photo Cred:  Pastor Matt McCain

 

One of Granite United Church’s Campus Pastors recently posted the picture above on FB, and as I was scrolling through my newsfeed ::::BAM::: there it was, causing my “blog light bulb” over my head to illuminate so brightly, it nearly exploded!

These doors represent so much more than the entrance to a building. They represent an opportunity to start a brand new life filled with forgiveness, love, joy, peace and hope.  Although these doors are hinged in the doorframe of a church, the church is not the four walls in which it is contained, rather it is the body of the church, the bride of Christ that these doors represent. They open up multiple times each week and welcome everyone who freely chooses to walk through them. The hurting, the broken, the lost; those who may believe that their past defines their future (it doesn’t!); those who want to break free from strongholds of guilt, shame, fear, addiction. Their old life ends at the cross, and when they ask Jesus for forgiveness and to be their Lord and Savior, it happens…just like that. There’s no condemnation with surrender. Once the decision is made to take up the cross and follow Him, ‘the old life is gone and a new life has begun!’ – 2 Corinthians 5:17

“Every soul has a name, every name has a story, and every story matters to God.” -Pastor Anthony Milas

Through these doors are “Truth and Testimony”, as evidenced by one man’s story – one of thousands…

The picture is what initially inspired this writing, but something told me to “wait”…to sit on it for a while, and God would let me know when and how to finish it. The man sharing his video testimony is my husband. And that’s when I heard God speak in my heart, saying: “Now’s the time to finish it!”

“But to all who believed Him and accepted Him, He gave the right to become children of God.” – John 1:12 (NLT)

~Let Love Lead The Way~ TP

 

Faith It, Till You Make It!

Wow!  What a season!  I’m not talking about winter, spring, summer or fall, or a sports-related season.  I’m talking about my spiritual season for the last couple of months.

My church’s current series is entitled, “The Valley”, and that’s precisely where I’ve been.  I’ve been waking up most days feeling “sideways”…totally not myself, a little bit grumpy (some days a LOT grumpy), anxious, stressed, depressed.  All rolled up into a tight, metallic-tasting ball wedged in the pit of my stomach.  Yuck.

I’ve attempted to “fake it, till I make it”, but I couldn’t easily hide my feelings…

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…whoops!  Actually, what I REALLY need is a faith lift (no lisp intended).  I NEED A FAITH LIFT.  I need to “faith it, till I make it”.

This gem was shared at service last Thursday night…

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I’m tired of being squeezed.  It’s time for me to lean into Him…hard.  I need to keep my eyes on Him…put all of my hope and trust in Him.  I know that if I continue to hold His hand, He’ll pull me through this valley.  I want to replace the metallic-tasting ball in the pit of my stomach with the abundant joy, love and peace of my salvation… when I was on fire for Jesus and my roots were firmly and deeply planted in my faith.  My fire hasn’t gone out, nor has my faith wavered (because that will NEVER happen!), but I want the flickering flame to be replaced with the raging inferno it once was.

I’m going to “faith it, till I make it”.  That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

 

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.  Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take.” – Proverbs 3:5-6 (NLT)

~Let Love Lead The Way~ TP

 

 

 

Who does God say you are?

I had the pleasure of hearing Pastor Matt Fry from C3 Church in Clayton, NC speak and bring the Truth at service yesterday at Granited United Church. One of the first things he asked was, “What label are you wearing?” Label? What label? Am I wearing a label? Geez…where is it? What does it say? Who gave me this label? Does it say “I’m anxious?”, “I’m not worthy?”, “I’m not good enough?” If you’re wearing a label and it doesn’t reflect who God says you are, it’s time to rip it off. The “Hello, My Name Is…” tag isn’t cuttin’ it because SOMEone, SOMEwhere gave it to you when you weren’t even looking and it’s defined you ever since.

Pastor Matt shared a poignant story from when he was a young boy regarding the “reading table” he was assigned to sit at in class. He promptly went, of his own accord, and sat down at the “advanced” reading table, confident that he was sitting where he was supposed to. Where God instructed him to sit, but the teacher asked him to move…to sit at the “average” reading table. There it is! The “label”…he didn’t ask for it, I’m sure he didn’t want it and although the teacher may have believed that this was the “right” table for him, she had no idea that in that one instant, she would define who he was…slapping an “average” label the size of Texas right across his chest. More importantly, even though the sign was invisible and no one else could see it, HE saw it…believing it in his heart. A teacher with good intentions…innocent enough, I’m sure, but a label-giver, nonetheless. No apples-on-the-desk for her!

Pastor Matt stated that we first need to “discover” who we are in Christ and then we need to “declare” who God says we are. In his book, “I Am”, Pastor Matt shows you how to unlock God’s power and purpose for your life by discovering who you are in Him. By exploring the seven “I AM” statements Jesus made in the Book of John, he unpacks key truths that will help you discover who He is and ultimately reveal your true identity in Christ. My husband bought the book at the Warrior’s Men’s Breakfast yesterday morning, so as soon as he’s done reading it, I’m going to dive in!

Pastor Matt provides free daily declarations that you can download from his website: http://www.mattfry.com

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Yesterday’s message came without coincidence as I’ve been trying to figure out exactly who God says I am. I’ve already peeled off a couple of labels that I unknowingly picked up along the way. Although some were slapped across my chest without my knowledge, there was one label, when I was fifteen (over forty years ago), that a teenaged boy gave me regarding my weight. I didn’t ask for it…I didn’t want it but I’ve worn it for over four decades. Only recently did I take a big black Sharpie marker and cover up what it said, but I haven’t been able to take it off…yet. I know I’m moving in the right direction and I’m clearly a work in progress. I am His. I’ll just straighten my crown, pull my shoulders back and remember Who I belong to.

I need to discover who God says I am and then I need to declare it. When it comes to me clearly, filling my heart with His wisdom, grace and love, rest-assured, an air horn and megaphone will be involved because I will totally be shouting it from the rooftops!

-Numbers 14:28- “As surely as I live, declares the Lord, I will do to you the very things I heard you say.” NLT

~Let Love Lead The Way~ TP

Celebrating Father’s Day With A Broken Heart

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This is the first Father’s Day without my beloved Dad.  He was the greatest man I’ve ever known and loved (other than my husband).  He was my protector, my hero, my confidante, my mentor, my rock.  He was a constant fixture in my life for over 50 years.  Being blessed with a great memory, I turned 55 a few months after he died at 90 years old, and I can remember back to when I was 4 or 5.  This means that I have 50 years of memories for which I am so thankful and blessed; but it makes it all that much harder to let him go because I did have him for so long.  From the time I was 17 and my only (and older) brother died at 24 years old, everyone’s mortality, including my own, has been hovering mere inches from my face for nearly four decades.  I have dreaded, for what seems like my whole life, losing my Dad…I knew it would come and I believed that I’d NEVER be READY…EVER.

As I sit here, writing this, my Amazon Music is on shuffle, and Sidewalk Prophets’ “This is not goodbye” just played, followed by Chris Tomlin’s “Good, Good Father”; clearly NOT by coincidence!

I never really believed in coincidence, but after turning my life over to God, I KNEW there was no such thing.  God has a plan for everyone.  Always.  I believe His plan for me was to turn to Jesus, ask for the forgiveness of my sins and for Him to be my Lord and Savior.  Once I did so, I became filled with the most incredible joy, love and peace that I have ever known.  No coincidence that He was preparing me for what was to come seven months later…my Dad’s terminal cancer diagnosis and subsequent passing nine days after that.  I was so thankful that I was with him while he transitioned…that I was with him when he took his last breath and left his physical body, no longer suffering or in pain.  I had prayed for this just a week earlier; falling to my knees and pleading with God to NOT let my Dad suffer and if that meant He had to take him the following week, to please do so…and He did. Answered prayer.

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So, as I sit in my Dad’s back yard this morning, on Father’s Day, wearing his robe, drinking from his “#1 Dad” coffee mug, there is a peace in the quiet stillness of this morning.  He may not be here with me physically, but he is here, in his glorious spirit form.  I can feel his love as though he has his loving arms wrapped around me.

Many years ago, he and I had a moment when I all-of-a-sudden became overcome with emotion, just thinking of the time when he would no longer be with me.  I was sitting on the ground with my back to him, cleaning the wheels of my car.  My shoulders were kind of shaking a little as I quietly snot-sobbed and he said, “Tess?”  I turned to look at him with tears streaming down my face, snots and all.  Without any words between us, his eyes filled up when he saw my face, and his bottom lip quivered ever-so-slightly, because this was the “connection” we had – emotionally, spiritually – and I squeaked out, “Just promise me that ‘when the time comes’, you’ll ALWAYS be with me.”  As tears spilled out of his eyes, and gently rolled down his always-cherry-colored cheeks, he whispered, “I promise”.  Never being one to break a promise – EVER – I know that he IS always with me.

I love and miss you more than I can say, Daddy, but I thank you for keeping your promise… Happy Father’s Day “upta” Heaven.

“The Lord is close to the broken-hearted; He rescues those whose spirits are crushed.” – Psalm 34:18

“He heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds.” – Psalm 147:3

 

~Let Love Lead The Way~ TP