Monday, September 21, 2015

Last Day on Earth

If today was your last day on earth, would you be doing anything different than you are? If God told you that you had one week left to live, would there be someone you would need to forgive? Would there be someone you would need to ask forgiveness from? Would there be any activities that you would need to let go to the side? Would your priorities change just a bit? The truth is, we don't know if this is our last day here on earth or not. Now, I bet you're thinking: well, if this was my last day, I would quit work and just relax. However, it wouldn't be very wise to quit our jobs or to be irresponsible just because we don't know our future. I don't think we can put everything on hold just because we are not sure when our last day will be. However, I do believe we can have a heart that's pressed into God and following His Spirit as He knows our final day. If we love Him and are following Him, He will help us make wise priorities and decisions. As Christians, we know that this life is not all there is. As Christians, we know that true life and wise living is found in Jesus Christ and trusting Him.

I recently was asked, as a Christian, what I thought my purpose was here on earth. I have heard many people answer that question and the answers are as different as the many types of flowers that are in my flowerbed. However, after much thought, my answer has to be simply to love God. I honestly think if I love God with all my heart, soul, and mind, then everything else will fall into place. If I love God, I will want to obey him, tell others about him, and share His love. Following rules in of itself is not love. If the main motive of my heart is to love Christ, then I will glorify Him in all I do. Love drives you to put others ahead of yourself and to trust the Father to meet your needs. True love can not be earned; it is a gift! There is true freedom when we simply love God and have our heart set on knowing and loving Him more.

So, how are you living this day? What is your heart set on? Is there anything you need to change while you still have the chance?

15 So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. 16 Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. 17 Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. 18 Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, 19 singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. 20 And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesian 5:15-20

Monday, September 14, 2015

From My Heart

This past weekend my family and I went to see "War Room" at the movies.  I highly recommend this Christian movie to everyone; Christian or not.  It served as a great reminder as to who our enemy really is.  We are busy fighting the people God puts in our lives to no avail.  We have difference of opinions, desires, and expectations and we assume that our enemies are the people who disagree with us or see things differently.  However, we all have the same enemy rather we realize it or not; satan.

Enough of that though.  I want to lift up the name of Jesus and Who He is.  He is more than a fairy tale, a good man, a prophet, etc.  He is the Son of the Living God who came down to earth as a human baby.  He grew up with earthly parents as well as His Heavenly Father.  He walked this earth sinless and rocked the world of the religious and people who only followed man-made rules but do not love or obey the true living God.  He was ultimately crucified even though he did nothing wrong.  However, that was not the end of the story!  He rose again on the third day and is living now!  He can give you eternal life when you die and can give you abundant life now while you are living.  He is real.

We are living in a time where confusion is rampant.  People do not regard God's word as the truth anymore.  We see people every day that call themselves Christians but do not follow Christ nor His Word. I do not claim to be a brilliant Bible scholar, however, I do know enough of God's word to know that in John 14:15, Jesus says if we love Him we will keep His commandments.  Notice the link between love and keeping the commandments.  It will be our LOVE for Him that will drive us, not just rules and laws.

If you find yourself discouraged and confused today, I want to remind you that God can clear up the haze that this world can leave in our minds. He is still the answer.  He is still the Truth!  He is still our Hope!  We have to stay in God's Truth which is found in HIS Word.  Romans 12:2 tells us the key to overcoming our confusion: Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is , that which is good and acceptable and perfect.  How do we renew our minds?  We get into God's Word and we believe God's truth instead of believing what the world tries to feed us as truth.  

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Book Review: Never Forsaken

Life is not always easy.  In fact, it is seldom easy in the world we live in.  Some days are just down right hard to walk through.  However, with Christ, there is the hope that God will work all things to the good for us who are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)  In His great mercy,  God can take the "ashes" of our mourning and sadness and make something beautiful.  (Isaiah 61:3)  As a Book Crash blogger, I have recently had the opportunity to receive a free copy of "Never Forsaken" by Janet Basurto, in exchange for a fair and honest review. "Never Forsaken" tells a story that is an example of how God can take our pain and sadness and turns it into love and redemption. 

Janet's story was one of  much abuse and hopelessness.  Being a very open and honest unedited story, there are times that this book is not easy to read.  However, the message of how, through Christ, Janet found redemption and a second chance, can give hope to someone also struggling.  I feel it took a lot of courage to share parts of her life that brought so much pain.  If you have suffered abuse and depression, this story can give you hope that with Christ all things are possible. If you would like to purchase your copy of "Never Forsaken", click HERE.

Friday, July 24, 2015

My Answer to Anxiety

Things can change so quickly in this life.  Within the last two months, my niece was married, my oldest son got engaged, my husband got really sick and recovered, another son moved back home and moved back out, my sister-in-law met a special friend, and much more.   These changes are just in my personal life!  We all know about the changes going on in our country right now and how very different our world will be in light of them. These can be very uncertain times. 

As a Christian, I know God has a plan for my life and this country.  However, I still have times of feeling rattled by the rapid changes life is bringing my way.  People have a lot of questions during this time.  Anxiety is high in this world and even in the church.  Yes, I often struggle with anxiety.  However, I have an remedy for my anxiety and fear.  Before I tell you what my remedy is, I want to tell you what it is NOT.   The remedy to anxiety and uncertainty is not found in alcohol, pills, spending more money, ignoring the news, going on a vacation, getting new clothes, saving up a room full of food, saving a "nest egg" of money, moving to Alaska, etc.  My remedy to anxiety is knowing that I am the child of a living God and resting on the truth that He loves me and is in control. When I received Jesus as my Savior, He promised to finish what His Spirit started in me. (Philippians 1:6)   He is not looking the other way when things go wrong.  He has His eye on me and I can trust His heart.  Although He is a patient and loving God, He is also a Holy God.  There is coming a day that evil will be dealt with.  However, God has a plan and as 2 Peter 3:9 tells us:  The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness.  Instead He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

Have no doubt that as a child of God, born-again Christian, that He is working all things in your life to your good. (Romans 8:28)  So, the next time you see or hear bad news, get an unexpected bill, your car breaks down, your spouse gets ill, or you feel depressed; remember that God loves you and will hold you in the palm of His hand. (John 10:28-29)  You don't have to fret and fear.  You have a God that knows the future and will never leave you nor forsake you!  In Christ there is peace, love, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23) As a Christian, I can choose peace over anxiety and faith over fear!  As we approach this weekend, I hope you choose peace and faith!  Keep your eyes on Jesus and His love for you.  If you are not a Christian, God is calling you to come to Him and trade all the world has to offer, for what only God can give; true life and love.  There is HOPE in Jesus!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Sin Burns

It seems as if  I am always burning something in the kitchen, including but not limited to: soup, toast, pizza, eggs, quesadillas, my hands, and my arms.  Recently, I burned my arm while I was cooking Zach a pizza for lunch.  I had put my hot pad mitt on and opened up the door.  As I proceeded to pull the wire rack out, my arm BUMPED the higher wire rack above.  I am not kidding when I say bumped!  As I felt the heat, I promptly pulled my arm away.  However,  immediately a small burn "line" formed on my arm.  I was surprised because my arm might have touched the hot rack for about one second. However, within 5 minutes a large oblong clear blister formed on my skin.  As I marveled how fast I had received a burn, I couldn't help but relate the hot oven to sin in my life.  Sin is not pretty.  Sin is not harmless.  Sin burns!  Even when you "bump" into sin, it can leave damage. 

When I was a young teenager I had a different view of sin.  Sin was all the "fun" stuff.  I just couldn't understand why the "fun" stuff had to be wrong.  However, as I have grown older, I see that sin not only hurts us, it hurts God.  Sometimes we want to see how far we can go without something being considered a sin.  Often, our focus is on the sin and not the Savior.  As Christians, we accept Christ into our heart and crown Him King of our lives.    For those of us that have made a lot of mistakes and have a lot of shortcomings, we know in our heart that we MUST have Him.  We our grateful and we praise Him.  We love Him because He first loved us.  He loves us.  He wants His best for us.  He hates the things that hurt us.  So, when God says "Don't do that", He is really saying "Don't burn yourself".  He knows that it only takes a second for the long-lasting effects of sin to leave a scar on our heart.

Is there anything in your life today that needs to go?  Is there anything that is a part of your daily routine that God has warned you about?  When we ignore God's Word and do our own thing, we always get wounds to the soul.  I propose that we seek to agree with God and call sin what it is; sin!  As we agree with God and get inline with His will for our lives, we can be filled up with His Spirit and have peace and joy.  As burns to the skin, sin can leave ugly reminders that we thought we knew more than God.

 You cannot fool God, so don’t make a fool of yourself! You will harvest what you plant.   If you follow your selfish desires, you will harvest destruction, but if you follow the Spirit, you will harvest eternal life. Galatians 6:7-8 CEV

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Shattered Screens

Life is messy.  It seldom comes in a tidy little box with a pretty bow on it.  Sometimes things happen that we don't understand; often very trivial.   For example, last week I dropped my phone on a hard concrete floor.  The screen shattered into tiny little pieces.  However, I promptly upgraded and ordered a brand new, even better, phone.  It arrived Friday.  As I opened up the box, I was impressed to see a beautiful CLEAR unshattered screen.  I handled it carefully and cautiously.  My family was very impressed with it's beautiful wide screen trimmed in white and coral.  I was very proud of it as well, until Sunday.  Sunday, at church, as I was digging for my gum in the bottom of my small purse, my phone seemed to take a leap out onto the floor landing facedown on concrete. I sat there, almost paralyzed, looking down at my new phone facedown on the floor.  I didn't want to pick it up because then I would see what I feared most; another shattered screen.  I took a deep breath and leaned over and quickly flipped it over.  My fear was confirmed;  my brand-new beautiful screen was shattered.  My two-day old phone had a nice big shattered screen!  Trivial I know!   However, life is filled with these types of things and after a little while, all these little things can add up to be a huge block to our joy and peace. Why?  Now,  I can see our world being rocked when we lose a loved one like I lost my Dad a couple of years ago.  On the other hand, how come we let these little things rock and control us so?

For me, the answer is tucked away in Philippians 4.  The whole chapter is amazing and reminds us the secret of true peace; thanking, trusting, and obeying God.  However, I want to zone in on verses 11-13: "Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have.  I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. 13 For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength".  There it is!  Being content is being rooted in Christ.  He gives us the strength, joy, peace, and vision that we need.  HE is the one thing we MUST have.  He is our sustainer and strength.  If our worth or peace is based on things or people, we will be rocked back and forth on a sea of emotions.  On the other hand, if we are anchored with God, through the Holy Spirit, we will be able to look down at our shattered screen and say, "oh well, it's just a phone".  

I want to encourage you today to let God anchor your soul by His Spirit and His Word. Perhaps you can read all of Philippians 4 and let the words sink in.  It is only when we are grounded in Christ that trivial things stay trivial and we can choose to be content and thankful, no matter what. By the way, I have decided to keep my new phone as long as it works.  I want to use it as a reminder that God can take shattered things and use them to His glory; I know this well!  


Friday, May 1, 2015

Playing God

Do you have a problem with control? Maybe you feel like you don't have enough control; or maybe you feel like you must control for things to be okay.   Do you feel like it's up to you to work out things for your loved ones and family?  Do you feel like, if you try hard enough, that you have it in you to "fix" all your problems?  I am the first one to admit that I have had a problem with control for years.  Although I didn't understand it all myself, I had an intense drive to "take care" of everyone I loved.  I personally felt responsible for protecting my family from any harm or failures.  Needless to say, this has been a very heavy burden; a burden I was NEVER meant to carry.  Jesus tells us in Matthew 11:28: Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Only Jesus can give us true rest from the constant drive to be in control.  For me, the driving force behind my need for control was fear; fear for my children, my family, my health, my future, and much more.  If I am living in fear, then I am NOT living in faith and trust.  (For more on that, see Trust Vs. Worry)  The truth is, when I strive to control everyone and everything, I am trying to be "God" in their lives. Wow, that's a sobering thought!  Instead of my loved ones growing closer to God, they were only getting more dependent on me! Ouch!   I am not qualified to know all and to know what is best in every situation.

 During this past year, God is doing a radical work in my heart and life.  For the first time in my life, I am realizing this truth:  I have never really had any control in the first place, I have only been getting in God's way when I thought He needed me to "intervene".  However, as I have been able to give everything over to the Lord and trust Him, I am seeing more results than I have ever seen before.  Now, I am not saying I have this trust thing 100 % down.  On the other hand, I am saying that as I confess my fears to the Lord and trust HIS ways and plans, I am having a lot more peace and freedom.

Is there any area of your life in which you are "playing God"?  Trust me, we were not meant to be everything to everyone.  We WERE meant to be filled up with God's Spirit and let HIM do the ministering and loving through us.  I have a good friend named Sandi that has already gone home to be with the Lord.  Sandi would always tell me:  Melaina, if you are "stressed out" and "worn out", then you are doing things in your own power, not the Lord's.  Wow!  Isn't that the truth?  My prayer and encouragement for you, is to examine your heart and see if maybe you are clinging to a false sense of control.  If you are, no condemnation; however, don't stay there!  Give all your worries to the Lord and follow HIS leading!  You will be amazed at the mountains HE can move as you trust Him.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Forgive and Be Forgiven

Yesterday as I scrolled my Facebook feed, I came across a post that really touched my heart.  This post was written by a young lady that was expressing her love for her father; a father that is seldom in her life.  She expressed that even though he "wasn't perfect" or "have not always been there" that she still loved him.  What an example of unconditional love!  I couldn't help but wonder if that father knew how blessed he was to have a forgiving and loving daughter.

Forgiveness has been on my heart a lot lately.  Think about it, when someone forgives someone else, it is a powerful thing.  I  know many times in my life I have made some stupid decisions and later felt the heaviness of shame and regret.  However, as I have received forgiveness from either God or the one I wronged, I felt a tremendous relief.  Obviously God thinks forgiveness is important too.  The Bible  tells us what great lengths Jesus went to in order to offer us true forgiveness.  He not only suffered abuse and ridicule, He actually suffered death.  However, that wasn't the end of the story!  He not only died but He rose again and won victory over death and sin.  Forgiveness!

As good as it feels to be forgiven, it often feels even better when we offer forgiveness to others.  When we remember our sin and how much we have needed forgiveness, it is much easier to offer forgiveness. Do you need forgiveness today?  1 John 1:9 tells us that if we confess our sins to God, he can always be trusted to forgive us and take our sins away.  Don't waste time on feeling shame and regret, go to God today and ask for His mercy.  On the other hand, do you need to forgive someone else, including yourself?  Unforgiveness can latch onto your heart like a parasite sucking all the life and joy out of your soul.  Can you trust God with your hurt?  Can you trust Him to heal the pain you have experienced?  He will give you the strength to forgive and be free of this dead-weight of bitterness.  Matthew 6:14-15 tells us that if you forgive others for the wrongs they do to you, your Father in heaven will forgive you.  But if you don't forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins. 

When you think about it, forgiveness can unlock the door to true love and life.  Receiving forgiveness from Jesus can give us a new life, hope and love.  Through God's power, extending forgiveness to others can give us joy and freedom in the Spirit.  Don't wait any longer; forgive and be forgiven!

Friday, April 24, 2015

Book Review: Unafraid

Recently, the Lord has been taking me through a process of giving up control; the need to be in control, the need to push for others to do what I think is best, and the need to "work" things out in order that my loved ones be safe, successful, and happy.  A controlling spirit works against surrendering your life to God and is motivated out of fear.  Maybe you are afraid that if you are not in "control" you will be left out, abandoned, hurt, or disregarded.  On the other hand, maybe you are afraid if you do not "control" your loved ones, then they will be hurt, make bad decisions, or do something you don't approve of. However, no matter what we think, we really can't be in control; we are fighting a losing battle.  I have come to understand that control is the opposite of trusting God.  Satan loves to use fear to put us in bondage and to cripple us on this journey called life. When we are filled with fear, we are not filled with faith.

Being a Family Christian Blogger, I have recently had the opportunity to review a newly released book entitled "Unafraid" by Susie Davis.  Not only was I blessed to receive a complementary copy of this book, Susie's story was exactly what I needed to hear.  Once I began to read the book, I couldn't put it down.  She told her story that as a teenager she had witnessed a murder that left her very afraid.  As the years went by, fear wrapped itself around her life until she felt powerless.   Worry, fears, and anxiety were in full control of her heart.  She loved God, however trusting Him was another story. However, step by step God led her on a journey of healing.  In "Unafraid", Susie takes us along on this journey that ultimately led to her freedom from fear.  My heart was uplifted and encouraged as I read page by page.  God reconfirmed in my heart what He had previously revealed to me: He is TRUTH and IN HIM we can truly be set free!

I wholeheartedly recommend this book.  In fact, I plan to purchase copies for my friends and family.  If fear is something you have struggled with in the past or are in the midst of now, you will greatly benefit from reading "Unafraid".  You can find this book at any Family Christian store.  However,  If you would like to order your copy online now , please click HERE. 

Fear is the opposite of trust.  Trusting God and living by faith is the only way to walk out the Christian life.  Like Susie, we can find freedom and healing through Christ and walk in peace, victory, and wholeness.  Christ in us, the hope of glory!  Colossians 1:27

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Do you know Him?

Sometimes I'm just out of words.  Sometimes I just want to sit quietly and ponder what has been, what is and what is to come in my life. I don't have answers to all of life's problems but I do know more each day that God is my reason for living.  He has not only created me but has given me a purpose to live and His strength is made perfect in my weakness.   There are so many hurting people in this world and I often feel helpless when I try to encourage others. Sometimes as I travel on this journey called life, I am simply perplexed.  The truth can get foggy in a world filled with deception and rebellion. 

Recently, I was challenged, once again, as to how I can be so sure that God is real.  The answer to that question is that I have experienced His forgiveness, His peace, His love, and His joy.  No one can talk me out of believing there is a God and that His son Jesus died for my sins.  He came into my life and made a new person out of me.  I think differently, I feel differently and I love differently.  Yes, I still make mistakes when I choose to not trust God and His Word and when I try to do things on my own. However, I am not the same as I was before.  Before Christ, I was broken, insecure, needy, searching for a real love, working hard to be good enough, empty and sad.  On the other hand, one day, at the end of my rope, I cried out in desperation to the One and only true God.  I confessed with my mouth and believed in my heart that if He didn't save me, I was doomed forever. I was tired of trying to fill that bottomless pit inside of my heart.  I was tired of searching for peace and love in undependable things.  I just wanted Jesus.   During that time, God had mercy on me and granted me repentance and gave me a new heart.  I have joy, peace and hope now where there was once sadness, turmoil and hopelessness. 

I am not called to answer all of the questions to life.  I am not called to make sure everyone is happy, peaceful and joyful.  I am not called to fill the hearts of all who are empty.  However, I AM called to point others to the ONE who can exchange death for life, sadness for joy, shame for security, and weakness for strength.  So, no, I don't have all the answers; but I know the ONE who does and His name is Jesus. Do you know Him?

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

What's on YOUR heart?

You may have noticed that my posts are fewer and farther between the last couple of weeks.  We have been in revival out of town and have been busy with a lot of ministry preparation.  My last post, "When the dust settles", gives great insight into what the Lord has been doing in our lives.
I am just curious as to which topics in your Christian life are on YOUR heart.   If you have an area in your life in which you are struggling or want to hear more about, please submit that info in the prayer request box.  I want to remind you that ALL INFO submitted in the Prayer Request Box is CONFIDENTIAL.  Thank you in advance for giving your input.

As we begin a new week, I want to remind you that we are not promised tomorrow.  God has us here now for a purpose.  Press into Him and seek HIS will for your days and how you spend your time.  We are in a very desperate time in the world as there is so much confusion, hurt, pain, and evil.  However, we have a God who has overcome this world and has a plan.  Keep looking to Him for your answers to your questions.  He loves you!


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

When the Dust settles

Today I was reminded of a very important thing:  this life is not about me, my will, and my plans.  Sometimes as Christians, we get so busy "doing" things for the Lord, that before we know it we are racing through each day and forget to check in with our Boss.  Now, I'm not necessarily referring to having "quiet time", reading one quick devotional and checking it off your list.  I am referring to getting still before God, opening up your heart, laying all your life and what occupies your life before Him and saying: Am I on the path YOU want me to be on?  Am I still in line and in tune with Your Spirit and will for my life? 

We often start off whole-heartedly following God's plan for our life, however we find ourselves too busy and running so fast that we don't take real time to re-evaluate.  When we stop and be still before the Lord, we might find that as all the "dust" settles, that we may in fact be on the wrong path.  We started off surrendering everything to Him, but one choice at a time, we may be following OUR will and not God's.  I want to encourage you today to "be still".  Find a quiet place at a quiet time and just spend some time with God.  Ask Him to look at what keeps you busy and to cull out anything that is not His will for your life.  This will take more than 15 minutes.  You may have to stay up later, get up earlier, turn off the TV, take a walk alone; but find this time.  Often when we find ourselves in a place where we have no joy, no passion, and no strength, then we are seeking our own plans and not His plans.  As Christians we have made the choice that our lives belong to Jesus.  He has much more for us than we can even imagine if we would simply let go of our will and cling to His will for our life.   I want to encourage you to let the dust settle in your busy life today and just be still before God.


Thursday, March 19, 2015

Can He be trusted?

We are on Spring Break this week! I hope you are well and enjoying the warmer days.
Just a quick question that is on my heart this morning: Can God REALLY be trusted? Your answer to that question will determine the steps you take today and everyday. We often, almost flippantly, express that we trust God and His ways.  However, do we really trust Him?

Trusting God is not simply trusting that only good things will come about, it is trusting that God is who He says He is, no matter what we face.  In Romans 8 we learn alot about his heart.  If we truly believe that God loves us, deeply loves us, then we can trust that He will have the final word in our circumstances.  In John 16, Jesus tells us that we WILL have trouble in this world.  On the other hand, He reminds us that He has overcome this world.  So, no matter what you find yourself facing today, I want to encourage you to not doubt God's love for you.  In Romans 8, we are reminded that NOTHING can separate us from God's love.  Now, if He truly loves us, then we can trust that He will take care of us.

You may be walking through a dark time in your life; however, you are not alone.  In Hebrews 13 we are reminded that God will never leave us nor forsake us.  If we are His child, then we are in great hands. So, take heart!  God can be trusted.  Get into God's word today.  He has given us many promises that we can trust and stand on!

28 And we know that God causes everything to work together[a] for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.  Romans 8:28New Living Translation (NLT)

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Dependent or Independent?

In our world today being independent is something that is valued.  I mean who doesn't like someone who is self-sufficient and independent? Who doesn't like someone who rolls up their sleeves and gets stuff done? So, what is wrong with being independent? Well, nothing at all unless you are referring to your relationship with God.  God is God and I am not.  He is all-powerful and all-knowing.  He knows things I don't know. He created me, not the other way around. I NEED Him.  I AM dependent on Him.  So, to try and live my life in my own wisdom and in my own power is just crazy.  Sometimes we have this mentality that we need Jesus to save us from Hell but after that we can take over.  We sometimes wait until a crisis or until we can't "figure" things out and then we go to God for wisdom and strength.

Matthew 18:3 says: And He said: Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of Heaven.  How do we adults become like little children again?  Many people think that this scripture is referring to trusting God and having a faith as a child.  However, my husband Chad often reminds me that children are not always trusting.  When one of our sons had a splinter in their foot, Chad would get a needle to help get the splinter out. The boys wouldn't always have faith that He was doing what was best for them. They would squirm and yell BEFORE the needle would even touch their skin.  However, Chad points out that one thing is always true; little children are ALWAYS dependent on their parents or caretakers.  Think about it, trust and dependence go hand in hand.  If you trust God with your life, you will depend on HIS wisdom, HIS strength, HIS grace, HIS love, HIS Word, HIS direction.  We face battles everyday in our lives, but fighting God for control should not be one of these battles.  We trust God to save us from Hell yet we struggle to trust and depend on Him for all our needs.  I am not just talking about our physical needs, I am talking about our emotional and spiritual needs as well.  So while being independent can be good , there is no place for independence in our relationship with Christ.  It's okay to need Jesus.  Everyone needs Jesus. 

For years I would feel embarrassed that I was such a "needy" person.  I would sometimes battle depression and anxiety.  At first, I would hide the fact that I was wrestling with these things because I thought as a Christian I shouldn't have these struggles.  Admitting our need for Christ is the first step for true healing and freedom.  The truth is, God KNOWS we are needy and He knows we must have His Spirit and power.  We are only kidding ourselves when we try to be independent from Him.

Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.  That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.  2 Corinthians 12:9-10 NLT

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Press On Wednesday: What's driving you?

We talk about health each Wednesday.  We usually talk about health goals, food choices, or exercise. However, today I want to talk about what is driving us toward a healthy lifestyle.  What IS driving you today? Is it a drive to be accepted by society? Is it a drive to become someone that people would approve of and love? Is it that you feel unlovable being overweight? Is it to look like you have it together?
When the foundation of our healthy lifestyle is the fact we don't feel loved or that we feel we have to earn our worth, we set ourselves up for failure. If we stop short of a health goal, we feel like a loser. We tie our worth in what we do instead of who we are.  However, when the foundation of your health goals is based on a sense of value because of who you are in Christ, you can make a mistake on your diet and not spiral down.  Our worth and value is NOT in what we look like or in reaching all our goals. True value and worth is found in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
As we continue our healthy lifestyle journey, let's keep in mind, that as Christians, we are not working towards value and worth, but working from it.

For we are God's masterpiece.  He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.  Ephesians 2:10
Press On Wednesday is in Memory of my Dad, Troy

Thursday, March 5, 2015



Congratulations Kelly, you are the winner of the $10 Gift Certificate to Family Christian Stores!   Thank you all for entering the give away.  We will have more giveaways in the future. 

BY THE WAY, this post is the 100th post of Hopeful Heart!!  Thank you all for reading Hopeful Heart and sharing it with others.  We appreciate you telling others about this blog as our mission is to share Jesus with all our readers.  God bless you all!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Press On Wednesday: Got sleep?

When we are young, sleep seems to get in the way.  Have you ever noticed how a toddler often fights naptime?  There is just too many other important things to do besides sleep.  On the other hand, teens tend to love sleep, and although they stay up late, seem to enjoy making up for it by sleeping all morning.  However, adults often only dream of getting enough sleep.  With all the responsibilities at home, we often find ourselves staying up til 11 or 12 pm and back up by 5 or 6 am.  Often, those 6 or so hours of sleep are interrupted by needing to go to the bathroom, a barking dog, or a crying child.  If we stay on a cycle of not getting enough sleep, we will begin to see certain SIGNS that our health is suffering.  So, how much is enough?  I found a cool chart on the National Sleep Foundations website.  Click HERE to find the chart. 

If you have trouble sleeping, I have some advice.  First, stop drinking caffeine after lunch and try to eat supper by 6pm.  Also, try taking a hot bath about 30 minutes prior to bed time.  The bath will help you relax and settle down for a good sleep. Furthermore, if you want to go to sleep by 10, then make 9:30 your bedtime. At bedtime turn off all electronics, television, and cell phones.  Spend that last 30 minutes of your day praying and reading your Bible or a  Christian book.  Try these suggestions for a few days and see if it helps you.  For more suggestions, click HERE. I hope today's blog will serve as a helpful reminder to us all; sleep is important! 

Press On Wednesdays in Memory of My Dad, Troy

Friday, February 27, 2015

CD Review and New Give Away!

It's no secret that my family loves to sing worship songs to the Lord.  My husband has been leading worship for over 20 years and now our son, Zach, is following in his footsteps.  We love music and incorporating it into worship.  Recently, I received Darlene Zschech's newest CD, "In Jesus' Name: A Legacy of Worship & Faith" along with a gift certificate in exchange for an honest and unbiased review for Family Christian Stores. I was very excited for this opportunity to listen to this collection featuring new and old worship songs.  In fact,  my husband and I have used several of these songs during our very first worship services many years ago: Jesus, Lover of my Soul, Potter's Hand, Shout to the Lord, and Worthy is the Lamb.

Start your morning off with a healthy dose of worship!

Darlene's recent experience with breast cancer, treatments, and recovery have seemed to strengthen her call to leave behind a legacy of loving Jesus.  I could relate with that journey because of my own Mom's battle with cancer over 5 years ago.  Darlene's faith and strength come from her personal relationship with Jesus.   Every song on this cd is not only praise and worship, but speaking of God's faithfulness, worthiness, love, peace, hope, and grace!  As you listen to these songs, you can feel God's Spirit confirming the truths contained within the lyrics.  I personally like the more acoustic sound of track # 14, Amazing Grace.  However, all the songs are uplifting and hope-filled. I have often expressed how important I think it is to set aside time with God each day and this worship cd would make an excellent companion for your quiet time.

I want to encourage you to saturate your home with good Christian music.  You can purchase your own copy HERE.   In fact, today we are kicking off a new give away for a $10 Gift Certificate to Family Christian Stores. The contest ends on next Thursday, March 5th.  Please sign up today and spread the word! Have a great weekend! 


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Press On Wednesday: Walk Challenge

A very important part of a healthy lifestyle is exercise.   Every time I exercise I feel great afterwards;  so, why do I dread it so?  For me, it's just hard getting started and once it's a part of my routine, then I enjoy it. However, sometimes I just need some encouragement.  Recently, I found a  FOUR WEEK WALKING PLAN on the Amercian Heart Association's website.  I have decided that I will start this walking plan on March 1st.  I am sure most of you are already consistently exercising, however if you are not, I invite you to start this plan with me.  Together, maybe we can encourage each other to "walk" towards a healthier lifestyle. If you do plan on starting March 1st with me, please let me know by filling out the prayer request form in the top right-hand corner of this page!  Remember, with Christ, we can do ALL things, because HE will give us the strength. (Philippians 4:13) Press on!

P.S.  WE ARE STARTING ANOTHER GIVEAWAY THIS COMING FRIDAY!! Spread the word and be sure to sign up!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

In the Kitchen: Healthy Tostadas

We often think that eating healthy has to boring; however, that is not true.  One of my favorite meals to eat for lunch is tostadas.  Starting first with a crunchy chalupa shell, (most chalupa shells are about 50 calories each) you can add many healthy toppings.  We start with a thin layer of fat-free refried or black beans.  Second, we add a light layer of meat.  We usually use grilled chicken, but other choices would include brisket, baked fish, 90/10 hamburger meat, and even salmon.  Next, you can add a variety of toppings: low-fat cheeses, lettuce or fresh spinach, red or green onions, olives, tomatoes, bell peppers, fruit or tomato salsas, low-fat sour cream, avocado, broccoli slaw and much more. Two tostadas are very satisfying and perfect for a meal.   Tostadas are not only easy to make, they are fun too!  I usually put out several toppings and let each family member make their own.  I suggest you get creative, try a wide variety of toppings, and let your family help with preparation. I hope your family enjoys preparing and eating these tostadas as much as we do!  Have fun and feel free to share with us the unique toppings you use.  Remember, eating healthy does not have to be boring or tasteless!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

From My Heart: Hope in Life & Death

Last night a dear friend's mother went home to be with the Lord.  It was a sudden thing and left the family in shock.  However, her mom had a personal relationship with Jesus and is now home in Heaven.  So, even though the family is sad and mourning, they do have the peace and assurance that they will see her again. A couple of years ago, my Dad passed away. Life drastically changed for me since that time.  I think I spent that first year after his death trying to adjust to the fact that he was gone.  On the other hand,  I knew exactly where he was and is now; he is at home in Heaven.  I will see him again and I can't wait.  You see, for the Christian, there is hope even in death.  I can't imagine losing a loved one with out the hope of seeing them again in Heaven.

Jesus is our hope in life and in death.  He is the beginning and the end!  Do you have this hope I am talking about?  Have you ever experienced peace that passes all understanding?  Jesus is the answer for that hope. My niece's husband, Josh, is currently teaching a series about Jesus being the Hope you need in everyday life.   To hear sermons from his "So Much More" series, click HERE.  I am very thankful I have hope in life and in death through Jesus and I pray you will find your hope in Him as well.
*Remember, If you need prayer, please fill out the prayer request form at the top right-hand side on this blog page.

8 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. 29 For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory.

31 What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? 32 Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? 33 Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. 34 Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.

35 Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? 36 (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.” 37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

Romans 8:28-37 (NLT)

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Press On Wednesday: On a Journey

Today, I want to encourage us all to press on towards maintaining a healthy lifestyle.  Recently I was reminded that a healthy lifestyle is not a quick trip, but a lifelong journey.  Many fad diets get temporary results but they don't last.  If you start eating healthy for 4 weeks and then stop, your body only returns to the condition it was in before. Pursuing health needs to be a lifelong journey, not just temporary. With that being said, if you mess up and make a bad food choice or skip exercise, don't beat yourself up, just start fresh the next day.  Keep on keeping on!

Each time He said:, "My grace is all you need.  My power works best in weakness."  So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 
2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (NLT)

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

In the Kitchen: Turkey Lavash Wraps

I want to share with you a recipe for a quick, easy, and healthy lunch: Turkey Lavash Wraps.  Lavash is a soft, thin, flatbread from Armenian origin.  I buy Joseph's Flax, Oat Bran and Whole Wheat  Lavash at Wal-Mart which is found near the deli.  This brand comes in 4 rectangular sheets. I cut one sheet into four sections. You can fill them with just about anything.  However, I like to keep it light for lunch and have chosen Cajun turkey.  Hope you enjoy these wraps!

Turkey Lavash Wraps
1-sheet of Joseph's Flax, Oat Bran, and Whole Wheat Lavash Bread
4-thin slices of cajun turkey
1-cup shredded mexican cheese blend
Romaine lettuce
Thinly sliced red onion
Thinly sliced cucumber
Horseradish Sauce or Mayo
Broccoli Slaw (optional)

Cut the bread into 4 sections. Spread mayo or horseradish sauce on bread.  Layer turkey, cheese, cucumber, lettuce, and red onion and broccoli slaw. Roll up bread and secure with toothpick. If you like, you can serve with ranch or salsa for dipping.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Christian Life: Top Priority

Today's post is short and sweet.  I want to encourage you to keep loving and obeying God your top priority.  There are so many things that compete for that place in our lives; job, friends, family, hobbies, ministry, health, and much more.  However, when we have God at the very center of our lives and He is top priority, then everything else comes together.  Sometimes we get very overwhelmed and we feel pulled in so many directions.  When I feel overwhelmed, I take it as a sign that I need to pull back and check my priorities.  When I do, sure enough, I have them out of whack and usually I am busy doing a lot of things God didn't call me to do.  So, if on this Monday, you have that dreaded "I've had it" feeling; stop and say a prayer.  Ask God to give you peace and to reveal the priorities of your heart.

Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need.  Matthew 6:33 NLT

You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.  Mark 12:30 NLT

Thursday, February 12, 2015

From my Heart: Christians & Social Media

This week I have been burdened about things I have seen posted on our social media that have left me confused. Now, I am NOT talking about people that don't claim to be Christians.  I am talking about people who name the name of Jesus, and are identified as Christians, talking as if there is no moral absolutes.  For example, several times this week I have read, "what may be wrong for some, may not be wrong for others".  That message is a message of confusion and the Bible tells me that confusion is NOT from God.  1 Corinthians 14:33 (NKJV) says: For God is not the author of confusion but of peace as in all the churches of the saints.

I just want to speak from my heart: If you are a Christian,  the Bible is our guide to what is right and what is wrong; not our emotions or preferences.  Now, I agree that many Christians argue over what certain scriptures actually mean, but the Bible is God's Word and is the Christian's guide to life.  Of course, the Holy Spirit lives in us and helps us understand God's word as well.  I can hear some of you now saying, "I live by grace!".  I live by grace also and I am nothing without Christ in me. (Galatians 2:20, Colossians 1:27)  However, Romans 6:1-2 (NLT) says: Should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it?

I want to say up front, I am not judging anyone by their social media posts.  However, I do believe that some posts are causing great harm in the Kingdom of God.  We all have opinions and we all have preferences, but if we don't submit these under the Lordship of Jesus Christ, then we can be used of the enemy. It is very confusing when we say we are Christians and then we are approving and even supporting things that God's word CLEARLY says is wrong.   Last week in our Ladies' Sunday school class, we were studying in Judges at the time when there were no kings.  As we read through the scriptures, I was shocked at how our generation today sounds so much like the generation then.  Judges 21:25 (NLT) says: In those days Israel had no king; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes. What do you think?  Sound familiar? However, as Christians, we do have a King; His name is Jesus.

I just want to encourage us all to represent Jesus when we post, write, or speak.  If our motive is to push OUR preferences and OUR opinions that contradict the Word of God, then we are not representing Jesus, we are just representing self.

23 Jesus answered and said to him, If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him. 24 He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me.

John 14:23-24

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

We have a winner!!!

Congratulations to Melody Slaton, the winner of the Family Christian $10 Gift Certificate!

Keep watching for more giveaways! 

Press On Wednesday: High Fructose Corn Syrup

High Fructose Corn Syrup is quite famous these days.  Grab several things out of your fridge or pantry, and most likely HFCS will be a main ingredient.  For example, many bar-b-que sauces, ketchups, jellys, syrups, steak sauces, and coffee creamers have this ingredient.    As I studied up on HFCS, I found many different views on this sweet syrup.  So, what exactly is High Fructose Corn Syrup?  To help answer that question thoroughly, please click HERE.

Regardless of what view you take on HFCS; the fact is, it needs to be used in moderation, just as sugar.  I personally don't feel good when I consume products with HFCS in them.  I try to purchase products that have pure cane sugar instead.  Either way, we must limit our consumption of these sweeteners.  Last week we talked about sugar and how too much is not good for us.  (For more info about sugar, see SUGAR 101.) Once you start really paying attention to what you eat, you will be surprised by how many products contain some form of sugar. I want to encourage you to try to satisfy your sweet tooth with natural fresh fruit.  If you buy fruit in a can, be careful to read the labels.  It would be best to purchase the "no sugar added" selections or just stick with fresh fruit.
As we strive to live an healthy lifestyle, be aware of what you actually are putting into your body.  Be label smart and look up any ingredients that you don't know of.  Press on!

So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God! 1 Corinthians 10:31

Press On Wednesday is in Memory of my Dad, Troy.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

In the Kitchen: Spicy Southwestern Lettuce Wraps

 Lately, I have been on a lettuce wrap kick!  I have tried several different varieties and love them all.  So finally, I decided to make my own.  I have made them twice now, a little different each time.  Today, I made some lettuce wraps with a Southwestern flair that I would like to share with you!

Spicy Southwestern Lettuce Wraps

1- 12 ounce can of chopped white chicken breast
1- cup of broccoli slaw
1-small yellow bell pepper, chopped ( any color pepper)
2-Tablespoons of Pico de gallo
1/2 cup of  Roasted Salsa Verde
1-tsp Creole Seasoning
1/2 tsp- cumin
1-tsp of black pepper (optional)
Romaine or Iceberg Lettuce Leaves

In medium-sized bowl, add chicken and spices and mix well.  Next, add slaw, bell pepper, and  pico de gallo and mix well.  Lastly, add salsa and blend well with mixture. Add one tablespoon of Olive oil to a medium non-stick skillet.  Turn on medium heat.  When oil is hot, add chicken mixture to pan and "stir-fry" for about 10 minutes until veggies are tender and chicken thoroughly warmed.  Remove from heat.  Serve half cup of chicken mixture on one lettuce leaf.  Top with sour cream, salsa verde or picante.  Enjoy!

Spicy Southwestern Lettuce Wraps

Monday, February 9, 2015

Christian Life: Repentance

Yesterday we had an awesome service at our church.  Our Pastor preached on repentance and how we tend to think repentance is a negative word.  However, repentance is a gift from the Lord.  God made provision, through Jesus, for us to be forgiven from ALL our sins; past, present and future.  When we receive this Gift, we have the freedom and power to live as God has planned.  He, by His Holy Spirit, lives in us and guides and directs us each day.  It's not about gritting your teeth and trying extra hard to be "good", it's about LOVING Christ and letting Him do the work through you. When we RECEIVE Christ's love for us and realize all that He has done for us, loving Him comes natural. However, sometimes we get off track.  God doesn't move away from us, we move away from Him. For example,  we may start skipping our bible reading and prayer time because we are busy.  Next, we may start letting little things come in between us and the Lord.  Perhaps we compromise on something that in the past we would never compromise on.  On the other hand, maybe we are as close to God as possible, and Satan drops a lie into our lives that we believe.  Sometimes it's the thought that God really doesn't love you. If you believe this lie, you will find yourself seeking love in unhealthy places and unhealthy things.  I want to encourage you to always take these thoughts and measure them up to the Word of God.  God's Word is true.  Satan is a liar.

What if you are a Christian who has drifted away or has believed a lie and pulled away from God?  Sometimes we get in a place where we feel too far away from God to try to go back.  This brings us to the word repentance.  Repentance is a gift from God.  We come to Him, admit our sin, receive His forgiveness and can be in full fellowship with God once again. 1 John 1:9 (NLT) tells us: If we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.  Satan wants us to believe its a hard thing.  Christ will give us the power to do His will and it is His will we are in full fellowship with Him.  Philippians 4:13 tells us that we can do ALL things through CHRIST who gives us strength.  To be honest, recently I have found myself letting a negative attitude hang around in my heart and mind.  First, I just started grumbling about some things and not being thankful.  Next thing I knew, I was grumbling a lot and believing lies the enemy sent my way.  Before I knew it, my whole outlook became negative.  However, yesterday morning in church, I realized my negative attitude and ungratefulness was a sin.  As I prayed and asked God's forgiveness for not trusting His love for me and doubting His promises, an amazing thing happened; my joy came back!  It felt as if a load had been lifted in my heart.  None of my circumstances changed, but as I asked for forgiveness God washed over me.  Repentance is not a bad word.  It's a gift from God! 

If you are a child of God and have lost your joy, I want to encourage you to ask God to search your heart for any hidden thing that would be keeping you from full fellowship from the Lord.  It's really not hard to do.  God does love you and as His Word says, WILL forgive you.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Celebrate Veggie Tales "Noah's Ark"!

Today's post is sponsored by Family Christian Stores.  I  received  a screener DVD of the upcoming Veggie Tales movie, "Noah's Ark", in which to write a honest and unbiased review.

Do you remember Noah in the Bible?  He was that "radical" guy that built a huge ark in a dry land just because God told him to.  I love Noah!  He didn't just know ABOUT God, He KNEW God.  So, when the Lord gave Noah instructions, he obeyed because He could trust Him.  Needless to say, I am very excited  that I was given the opportunity to preview the new Veggie Tales movie, "Noah's Ark".   My sons grew up watching all the Veggie Tales movies. ( Even though they are grown now, they still like them!)

Veggie Tales told their story of Noah in a unique way.  Noah's son, Shem, had just returned from his honeymoon to see the giant Ark (orange slice) sitting in the exact spot that he wanted to build his new house.  He wasn't happy with God's plan nor his father for carrying it out.  His plans were all "messed up" by Noah obeying God. He just couldn't see how this could be God's will.  Furthermore, he had some serious trust issues. He felt like waiting on God was a waste of time.  Finally, Shem decided to come up with a "Plan B".   Now, I must admit that sounds familiar!   Sometimes when I am waiting on God, I am tempted to come up with my "Plan B".  However, it doesn't take long when I, like Shem, realize that my plan was a flop and that God had it under control the whole time.  One by one, God kept all the promises He had made to Noah and his family. The beautiful rainbow was to remind them all of His promises.  Needless to say, Shem had a change of heart and soon realized that God is trustworthy and faithful. What a wonderful reminder that we are to walk by faith, not by sight.
I know you, your kids, or your grandkids will love the Noah movie.  It is filled with beautiful singing and even new animation.  Now, I must confess, being an old school Veggie's fan, that the new animation was a challenge at first.  However, the wonderful story line won me over!

"Noah's Ark" is scheduled to be available for purchase on February 28th.  However, you can pre-order your copy NOW and get the Veggie Tales "Rack, Shack & Benny" DVD free! What an awesome deal!  Furthermore,  it would be a fun idea to have a  "Noah's Ark Premiere Party" for your kids or grandkids.  You could serve animal crackers, fresh orange slices, rain water (blue Gatorade or juice), and "rainbows" made from fruit roll-ups! (pictured above)   I want to encourage you to celebrate God's faithfulness and enjoy this kid-friendly movie with your family.

I want to thank Family Christian  for sponsoring today's blog.  Don't forget to sign up for the giveaway for a $10 Gift Certificate for Family Christian on the top of this page!  I hope you all have a wonderful weekend and don't forget to pre-order your movie today!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Announcing Giveaway

I am excited to announce that I am hosting my first giveaway courtesy of Family Christian stores! The prize will be a $10 gift certificate to Family Christian Bookstore. You can enter the giveaway by going directly to my blogpage.  The last day to enter is February 11th. There are several ways to enter and each count for several chances.  The winner will be randomly chosen and announced February 12th.
Best wishes!
Hopeful Heart

From My Heart: Midlife Battle

Today I want to wrap up my thoughts and insight about this mysterious midlife stage in our lives.  We hear so many different opinions about this chapter of our lives.  The world tells us that it's just "normal"  to feel out of sorts because you have to "find yourself".  While I do believe that this stage of our lives can be very revealing about who we REALLY are, saying that it gives us a license to "flip out", for lack of better word, is Hogwash!  I, by no means, claim to have all the answers on this infamous midlife stage; however,  I have a God that does!

Although many physical changes are occurring during Midlife, I am getting more and more convinced that the Midlife Battle is more a spiritual one.  We may very well need medications or hormones to help during this time.  On the other hand, I don't believe medications will fix it all.  I believe the Creator of the Universe, the One that created us, can help us walk this difficult journey.  For most of us, we are transitioning out of the "full time" parent position to the "friend-parent" position.  We talked about true surrender last week and how freeing it can be. (To read last week's post, click HERE ) I think everyone could agree that there is a battle happening at this stage; it could be a small one or a huge one.  I am not sure what you  may be experiencing during this shift of life. I have heard that when someone is journeying through midlife they often don't act their age; they either act younger than they are, or they act older than they are. Now, I think we have all seen someone in their mid-40's dressing and acting like a someone half their age.  Furthermore, there is no doubt that you have most likely seen someone in their mid-40's acting like they are 65 already.  They focus on how bad they feel and they seem to succumb to the idea their life is almost over.  With Christ, we don't have to act either way.  We can enjoy the age we are with all the gifts that come along with it.  True, our lives are not like they use to be.  On the other hand, God has prepared us for this stage and He hasn't left us alone to flounder and figure it out.  Press into God.  Seek Him with your whole heart and stay in His Word.  His Spirit alone can fill the emptiness this change may bring.  Seek out other Christians that may need encouragement too.  If you feel you just can't adjust or move past this place, you may want to visit with your Pastor, a trusted Christian friend, or your doctor. 

God doesn't want us to stall out at this place in our life!  He wants us to have life and have it abundantly! In John 10:10, Jesus says, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly." I want to encourage you today to count your blessings.  Instead of looking back and pining away for what use to be, look ahead with excitement for God's plans for the second half of your life.

P.S. If you find yourself struggling and need prayer, please submit a prayer request on this blog page.  All prayer requests are confidential and will be prayed over.

2 Corinthians 12:9 (NASB)

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Press-On Wednesday: Sneaky Sugar

Sugar is a weakness of mine.  I have always loved sweet things.  Several years ago, with my Dad's encouragement, I eliminated sugar from my diet.  The first few days were horrible.  However, after the initial shock, I did quite well and felt much better.  Since then, I have gradually added sugar back into my diet but only one or two days a week.  With diabetes in my family, I want to keep sugar as a special treat, not one of my main staples.

Recently, I was reminded how sneaky sugar can be!  It's hiding in many everyday products.   Following are just a few:  ketchup, whip cream, coffee creamers, soy sauce, BBQ sauce, steak sauce, salsas, granola, yogurt, and much more.  Always check the labels to see how much sugar is in a product.  For more helpful information concerning sugar, check out SUGAR 101.

 Next week we are going to discuss High Fructose Corn Syrup and see how it measures up against pure cane sugar!  In the meantime, check out Sugar 101 and read some labels!  Remember, pursuing  a healthy lifestyle pays off in feeling good!  Press on!

(Press on Wednesdays are in memory of my Dad, Troy)

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

In the Kitchen: Stuffed French Bread (Easy & Cheap)

I like easy and quick meals! I like them even more when they are inexpensive to make. Today, I want to share with you one of those meals; Stuffed French Bread.

I take a loaf of French bread and slice it longways leaving the top connected.  I remove
some of the inside bread leaving a small bowl-like place. (The scooped out bread can be used to make croutons, bread pudding or to feed ducks). Now, this is the fun part.  You can fill the hollowed out area with anything you like! This particular time I used left-over spaghetti sauce with meat.  (I recommend you prewarming the filling if need be) However, you could stuff your bread with left-over taco meat, chopped chicken, chopped steak, lunchmeat, cooked sausage, or bacon; the sky's the limit!  Next, I would top with a generous helping of your favorite kind of cheese.  I topped my spaghetti sauce with an Italian cheese blend.  After that, top with anything you want: onions, olives, jalapenos, bell peppers, etc.  Place loaf on a foil-lined baking sheet or pre-warmed baking stone in a 350 degree oven and bake about 20 minutes. Times may vary with different ovens.  Basically, you want the bread to be slightly browned and.the cheese inside to be melted.  When the bread is done, let loaf cool for about 5 minutes before slicing. You can serve with a big salad or your favorite veggies.  My family liked to dip their bread in Ranch dressing!  You can just be creative and have fun!! Your children may want to help also!  They can help put their favorite toppings in the bread, etc.

One more thing,  in our Walmart, there is a discount bakery cart by the deli.  They usually set it out about 9 each morning.  Of course the items on this cart need to be used quickly or frozen.  One of my favorite things to find is the french bread.  I can usually find the French bread for about .60¢
Hope you have a great Tuesday. Don't forget to count your blessings and love on your family!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Christian Life: Battle of the Wills

For several years now, I have considered myself to be totally surrendered to God's will for my life.  We, as a family, have stepped out in faith over and over.  I have longed for God to be glorified in my life and truly believed I was as surrendered as possible.   God has worked in so many areas of my life; control issues, fear, trust, manipulation, etc.  It seems like daily I am laying something else down at His feet. However, recently I have felt an inner storm brewing.  Have you ever been at a place in your life that you thought, "Surely this is not God's will for me"?  Maybe you're in a particular phase in your life, working at an unpleasant job, or in a place you just don't like;  a place that's challenging your walk and definitely not comfortable? 

Recently, as I was having my quiet time, I was discussing a situation with the Lord that I am not particularly happy about.  I have been praying for weeks for this situation to change or for God to show me a way out of it.  I began to pour over the situation again; complaining and asking God to open my eyes to how He's going to get me out of this.  Suddenly, it's as if He spoke clearly to my heart: You need to stop fighting me and trust Me, because this IS my will for you right now. Wow!  I was shocked.  Maybe I heard Him wrong....surely I heard Him wrong!  I know the Lord's thoughts are much higher than mine, however, in this situation I was sure I knew what needed to happen.  Wait, did I just say that?  Oh my!  When did this creep back in?  My will is not only alive and well but is off doing it's own thing apparently.  How could I not trust God after all we've been through?  He can part the waters of a river and leave dry ground for His people to walk on.  He can raise a dead man back to life.  He can take a lost sinner like me and make a new creation!  He knows what He's doing!  I can most certainly trust Him enough to line my will up with His. 

It was as if a light bulb came on! The inner struggle I have been feeling was actually a battle of the wills; mine and Gods.  However, as I repented of being rebellious and seeking my own will above His, the inner struggle melted into peace.   I am not saying all my feelings have changed about this situation, on the other hand, I know and trust there is a purpose for it that I can't see right now.  I often compare my life to an onion and God is continually peeling back layer after layer. God knows what He is doing.  I am going to trust Him!

If you find yourself having an inner storm today, could it be there is a battle of the wills going on inside of you too?  Take the time to talk to God and ask Him to show you whether or not your will is completely in line and submitted to His.  Even Jesus submitted His will to His Father's:
"Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want YOUR will to be done, not mine."  Luke 22:42 (NLT)

Friday, January 30, 2015

Spread the Love!

This week a dear friend and spiritual mentor, Bro. John Pangle, went home to be with the Lord.  Many people will miss him here on earth, including Chad and I!  John loved God, but he also loved people.  Everything he did reflected that.  He spent most of his time each day encouraging people, praying with or for them, and just taking the time to listen.  He never made you feel he was too busy for you.  To put it simply: Bro. John knew how to spread God's love.

Think about it, what is the most important thing you could be doing with your life?  Would it be to strive for success in order to make a name for yourself?  Would it be to make a certain amount of money in order to feel that you have "arrived"?  In my opinion, loving God and sharing His love with others would be the most important mission! 

Sometimes we can get so caught up in our busy-ness and stress, that we find ourselves not making time to show others love.  I want to encourage you today to take time to spread God's love.  You may never know how your one simple act of love can be the answer to someone's  prayer!

I hope you have a wonderful weekend.  Don't forget to share God's love with others!

Jesus replied: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: "Love your neighbor as yourself.  Matthew 22:37-39 (NLT)

Thursday, January 29, 2015

From My Heart: Midlife Surrender

The last few Thursdays I've been sharing about midlife issues and what I feel God has been showing me.  Today I want to share about surrender.  I'm not talking about giving up, hiding in the house, and saying "I am done". We often hear people tell us to "Let go and Let God".  However, we are usually talking about a certain situation in life that we are dealing with.  On the other hand, I am talking about a deeper surrender.

 If you are in that mid-life age, chances are your everyday life is rapidly changing.  Your kids are growing up and leaving home.  Maybe your career is changing or possibly ending.  The things that you use to think as high priority may be changing as well. When I say surrender, I am not talking about drifting away from God and His purpose for your life or "finding yourself".  This is not the time to turn away from faith, even if you are having doubts or questions about life. Keep pressing in to God!  Stay in His word for direction and hope.  Surround yourself with other people that want to seek God and that will encourage to do the same. I'm talking about a hope-filled surrender; laying down all your plans, dreams, goals, and hopes at God's feet and saying, "Here, You do what You think is best and I will trust You".  Philippians 3:12-14 says: I don't mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection.  But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me.  No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.

Maybe during the first of your life, things didn't go as you had always dreamed. Maybe you had a marriage fall apart.  Maybe your kids didn't make the choices you had hoped for.  Maybe you didn't achieve all that you had hoped for.  Maybe you had a vision for your life and reality looks nothing like that vision.  I want to encourage you to surrender ALL of that to God today.  Like the old 70's gospel song says: Give them all to Jesus!   Often we are too busy looking backwards at the broken dreams that we are not able to look ahead to the new things God has for us. Keep your eyes on Jesus and His plan for you now.  Keep HIM on the throne of your heart; not anyone or anything else.  He is the wisdom you need.  He can help you walk out this second half of your life in a way that will leave no regrets.   If you still have breath in your body, then God still has a purpose for you to be on this earth.

Below is the link to that old song, Give them all to Jesus. (I am really showing my age here)  Please take a minute and listen to it.  Have a great Thursday!

Give them all to Jesus