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

It may not be perfect, but we are blessed!

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Sixteen years ago today, Dave and I signed our respective names and initials no less than a hundred times. After renting for eighteen years, we were finally buying our first home. It was bittersweet for a whole host of reasons, but truth-to-tell, it was more “sweet” than “bitter”, and very exciting (and scary!) all at the same time.

After we finished the closing, we arrived at our little house and turned the key in the lock, stepping into not just the first home of our own, but a new chapter of our lives to start an awesome adventure.  In this “new” place (hardly…it was built in the late 1800’s!), we would make endless memories, of which I was certain. After taking a look around for the umpteenth time in all six rooms, sans the one bathroom, we made our way to the front porch and sat together on the 50+ year old glider, complete with bright yellow and green flowers adorning the vinyl cushions. It revealed its age by the few tears in the vinyl along with the squeaking of the springs that probably hadn’t seen a can of WD-40 in many years. I wondered how many people glided back and forth on it over decades passed.

As we glided to and fro, I kept saying, “I can’t believe it’s ours…we FINALLY have our own home.”

This house and all the previous acreage (split up and sold over several generations), was the “homestead” (and once a cow milking farm) of the previous owners for over fifty years.  The thought crossed my mind as to how many people, on how many occasions, sat in the kitchen having dinner, creating memories…all of the holidays that were celebrated here.  Love, loss, happiness, sadness…I thought about it all.

So now, sixteen years later, this house has witnessed two kids grow up, graduate from high school, attend college, make their way into adulthood and recently move out; one lives a few miles away, and the other took a big piece of my heart all the way to Texas.

The quaint front porch is my refuge.  Dave has his man cave, but I happily claimed the porch, sharing YEARS of laughter and tears with my best friend, his brother, who has since passed away.

We’ve had many family holiday dinners here.  This year marks the first without my beloved Dad, but “life is for the living; life goes on”, as he used to say.  Even as things continue to change, things that are beyond our control, we’ll still continue to make new memories in our little house and someday, when Dave and I are gone, I think about some new couple signing their names a hundred times, turning the key in the lock and starting their own new adventures.

Perhaps the future new lady of the house will also claim the front porch, and as she sits in the quiet stillness on a cool summer night she, too, will think about the family who lived here before her and wonder what their story was all about.

It may not be my “dream home”, but it’s what God has blessed us with, and for that, I will always feel humbly blessed!

 

~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.”    

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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