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

 

 

 

God – legit – moves mountains!

Matthew 19:26 –  Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”    

 faithcanmovemtnsPhoto cred: Morocco Pens

That’s right, MatthewI’ve seen the impossible become the possible!  I’ve witnessed, first-hand, what God can do! He moved a mountain that I had been standing at the foot of for so long, craning my neck all the way back to try to see to the top of it, but I never quite could.  It was a mountain that seemingly I created, yet feared.  In my mind’s eye, as I prayed on it… prayed that it would move far away from me, there was a tiny seed of doubt… I prayed on it, but I didn’t really believe that it could be moved.  So it stayed there. And it stayed. And it stayed. I’d pray every day for it to move, but that stupid seed was still there, too, and God knew it.  He tried to encourage me to crush that seed underfoot, but I had trouble hearing Him over the seed’s intent… doubt.

After nearly a year of staring at the foot of that impossible-to-move mountain, I finally heard God’s loving but firm voice say, “Just crush that seed of doubt and watch what happens. Trust me.  Put ALL of your faith in me and what you have believed to be impossible is possible…for me.”  So wearing a fabulous pair of boots, I placed that seed of doubt on the concrete and smashed it with my heel into a million pieces.  I knelt down, bowed my head, closed my eyes and prayed, thanking Him for His eternal love and faithfulness.

When I opened my eyes and stood up, I saw Him off in the distance carrying that mountain far, far away.  God moved that mountain for me as soon as I put all of my faith and trust in Him, and once I did so, I fully expected Him to move it. The moment I crushed that tiny seed of doubt, He blessed me in more ways than I could possibly imagine.

Although faith can move mountains, doubt can create them.  I was so tired of having such a stiff neck looking up at that mountain, I had considered pitching a tent at the foot of it and laying flat on the ground as I suspected that I’d be looking up at it forever.

I thank Him for commanding me to shut up and be still for a minute so that I could actually hear His message… to crush the seed of doubt, to put all of my trust and faith in Him so that He could do his job. After all, He IS God and He’s way better at it than I am!

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

~Let Love Lead The Way~ TP

 

                     

Thankful Through The Storm

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Photo Cred:  ACT Emergency Services Agency

The ability to be “thankful” through and during a “storm” can sometimes seem distant, elusive, just out of reach.  When something tragic and sad has happened in your life, how can you possibly be thankful?  Drowning in your sorrow, feeling helpless or hopeless certainly doesn’t leave much room for thankfulness.

Or so I thought…

2017 has been a year of loss and heartache for me.  My beloved father passed away in August and my very best friend (of thirty-eight years) and sister-in-Christ lost her son unexpectedly last week.  Yes… it’s been a year of loss and sorrow.

For the last few weeks and months, I’ve been “wishing away” 2017, chalking it up to one of the “worst years of my life”.  Sadness had overtaken the joy and peace of my salvation and I felt as though my world was crumbling down around me and I with it.

I was driving to a church staff meeting last Wednesday night, having the feelings, yet again, of this terrible, tragic year and there I was, wishing it away again.  All of a sudden, it was as if Jesus was riding shotgun in my truck and he gently, but firmly, gave me a dope slap in the back of the head and then I heard, “Terri, I know that you have been through many trials and tribulations but did you forget that you found me and I saved you this year? That your best friend was also saved and that you were both baptized on the same day? I’ve been with you every step of the way… through it ALL.”  I’m not sure how often Jesus gives out “dope slaps” but this was well-received and I heard Him…loud and clear!

My faith and trust in God is what moves me forward, one step at a time, one day at a time and even one minute at a time, if warranted.

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Photo Cred:  Following My King-Blogger

My faith IS bigger than my fears, my pain, my sorrow.  I continue to keep my eyes on Him, leaning into Him and His Word and knowing that through Him, all things are possible.  Even being thankful through the storm.

With Thanksgiving Day tomorrow, the first without my father, I know that it will be emotional for me and my family.  As we gather around the table, the head of which being either empty or occupied by another family member, the tears will flow as the Thanksgiving dinner blessing is said.  Memories from all the holidays past will significantly impact the holidays of the present and future.  Living in and through this storm, I know that I do have so much to be thankful for, and I’ll pray for those who can’t find their thankfulness during their storms in the hope that they’ll see He is always with them and is always there to reach down and lift them up through their pain and sorrow, pulling them close to Him and giving them comfort and peace.

So let the storms come, let the rain fall hard on my heart because I know His love and light will shine through it all and He’ll help me rise above it.

“When storms are raging in your life, you must grab a hold of The Rock—that is Jesus. He is your refuge, your shelter, the only secure, safe place. He is the bright ray of sunshine in any storm that comes your way.” ~Cathy Irvin/CBN.com

Psalm 107:29 ~ “He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed.”

~Let Love Lead The Way~ TP

 

 

The Aftermath: Learning To Live Without Someone You Love

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As the days, weeks and now months have passed since my beloved father died, I’ve been struggling with how to live happily without him.  He was everything to me.  He was the beacon of light on a dark day.  He was the ray of sunshine that burst through the clouds when my mood was dismal.  He was my last phone call of the day.  I made sure that we always had that nightly opportunity to recap our respective day and to exchange, “I love you’s”.  It’s now been sixty-four days since I’ve spoken with or hugged him.  But who’s counting.  Oh, yeah… that’d be me… I’m counting.  Truth-to-tell, I have spoken to him every day since his passing, but naturally, it’s a one-sided conversation.  I miss his voice, but am blessed in having a couple of audio recordings of conversations we had earlier this year.  These weren’t recorded by chance… they were done purposefully, in preparation of when he would inevitably be gone from this world.  There are a few videos, too, but I’m not quite ready to listen to, or watch them, just yet.

This isn’t my first loss of a loved one and surely it won’t be my last.  I’ve been down this road countless times, beginning at age thirteen with the loss of my wonderful “Gramps”, followed by the loss of my brother four years later (and so on, and so forth), and I know I’ll travel it again.  It’s not a straight, bumpless path… it twists, turns and it’s filled with hills, both negligible and steep, with hidden, grass-covered divots, in which I’ll undoubtedly stumble.  I’ve encountered many hills and valleys throughout my life, as many people do, but my Dad was always there… either pushing me up, or pulling me up from those respective hills and valleys.

When he was diagnosed with cancer and subsequently died nine days later, the joy and peace of my salvation promptly made its way to the back burner where it simmered on low for many, many weeks, overshadowed by the enormous loss of him and my grief.

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Photo Cred:  The Gourmand Mom

I was not, and am not, “mad at God” for “taking my father”.  The week before he passed, I got down on my knees and prayed to God to “please not let him suffer” and I distinctly remember saying, “If that means you have to take him next week, Lord, please do.”  Prayers answered.

I clearly thought we had more time; perhaps several weeks or a couple of months, but I’ve come to the realization that if God had not called my Dad home when He did, my fear of him suffering would have become reality, and as much as I miss him, that would have been too much to bear.

In my mind’s eye, and in my heart, I can see that the back burner is empty now.  The flame is gone and instead, the front burner is fully lit on high and my joy and peace are slowly beginning to “bubble away”.  

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Photo Cred:  The Cook’s Info

I knew they would return and even though they might jump to the back burner occasionally, I’m confident in knowing that they will never be gone… they may just need to “simmer” once in a while when not at a full “rolling boil”, for those times when I simply need to acknowledge my loss, my sadness and cry, as I continue to live without someone I loved beyond measure.

Revelation 21:4:  “He will wipe every tear from their eyes.  There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

Matthew 5:4:  “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”

 

~Let Love Lead The Way~  TP