Saturday, December 31, 2011

2012 ~ Live Loved, Perfectly Loved

“Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love;
Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you."
Jeremiah 31:3

As each new year peaks over the horizon, I begin to look for a new devotional book.  It's always exciting to wait patiently and choose just the right one for the new year.  Whether a classic devotional I have never read before, or a fresh one by a trusted author, I prayerfully search for my new traveling companion.  On my journey of walking with the Lord, a good devotional is a deeply meaningful accompaniment to my morning time in God's Word.  It is the icing on the cake, so to speak.

I found 2012's devotional several weeks ago in my church's bookstore:  Max Lucado's "Live Loved ~ Experiencing God's Presence in Everyday Life".  Great title, trusted author, grounded on a God's Word.  I am SO looking forward to begin reading it tomorrow morning.


This devotional served as a Christmas gift for a few of my girlfriends, and one of my girlfriends called me in sweet tears the other day saying how God had ministered to her through the first few devotions already.  Our God is so good to faithfully meet us as we seek Him.  Thank you, Jesus!

"As for God, His way is perfect;
The word of the LORD is proven;  
He is a shield to all who trust in Him." 
Psalm 18:30

What devotional do you have cued up for 2012?  Do tell!  I love to hear recommendations on devotionals!

Truly wishing your the most blessed of years as you walk closely with Jesus! 


"But whoever keeps His word,
truly the love of God is perfected in him.
By this we know that we are in Him."

1 John 2:5

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christ ~ First and Forever

"And they began to be merry."
Luke 15:24

This is our 2011 Christmas card and our annual Christmas letter.
Praying that as you and we are enjoying full December days as we celebrate our Savior's birth, that we are preparing and leaving room for Him in our hearts....first and forever.

Sloan Family Highlights 2011


We love the most wonderful time of the year as we celebrate our Savior’s birth and stay in special touch with family and friends! We look forward to hearing from you and the happenings in your life! ♥ Our year was full with His blessings and also opportunities to grow and trust in the Lord. We are grateful for both. Honoring God as a family and living for an “audience of One” keeps our hearts anchored in His truth.

♥ Jim won a golf trip to historic St. Andrew’s in Scotland. He and his dad traveled there and to London in October and had an amazing time. Jim has had an extremely intense year at work, so this trip was a perfect breath of fresh air for him. Jim continues to wholeheartedly serve the Lord in Children’s Ministry Sports and Marriage Ministry Bible studies. Jim is the steady, God-seeking leader and anchor of our home and hearts.  He loves God's truth and makes it our family's foundation.  We love are so thankful to the Lord for him.

♥ I am grateful for the simple blessings of marriage, motherhood, family, ministry and faithful girlfriends. I am thankful for my precious husband and children who see my many weaknesses and yet love me with deep devotion. I cherish and will forever be a student of God’s Word. I am humbled to continue to serve on the editing team for my favorite Christian women’s magazine. I was also honored to serve on the editing team for a new women’s devotional Bible being released in 2012. Still writing a bit myself through my blogs, sharing how God is working in our lives is my heart’s passion.

Joshua & Gabrielle – Our Willows by The Watercourses
“I will pour My Spirit on your descendants
and My blessing on your offspring;
they will spring up among the grass
like willows by the watercourses.” (Isaiah 44:3-4)

♥Joshua is a 6th grader at CCA. He turned 11 in July, and we surprised him with a day in New York City with his dear buddy and their family. We had lunch at The Stardust Diner, where Joshua was serenaded by Broadway hopefuls, and we saw the fabulous Broadway show “Wicked”. Joshua loves being able to participate in middle school sports for CCA this year and especially enjoys football and basketball. You will usually find Joshua shooting hoops or passing the football with friends. Joshua sings in the school choir and he was invited to sing in a special ensemble song for the Christmas concert. He is attending the junior high youth group “LJ3”where he gleans from the Bible studies and enjoys fellowship with friends. Along with Gabrielle, he completed five levels of swimming and earned a special reward from Dad. Joshua loves to golf and even beat his Daddy and Pop Pop this year (shhh!).  Joshua’s heart is a wonderful blend of dedication, respect, love, strength and gentleness. We love and respect our Joshua, a fine young man who desires to honor God and us. “His God instructs him.” Isaiah 28:26

♥Gabrielle is in 4th grade at CCA and is enjoying the privilege of joining choir and band. She loves learning the flute, and we are serenaded throughout our evenings as she practices. She worships the Lord through liturgical dance at school. Gabrielle is happily kicking up her Irish dancing feet, and our pretty Irish Lassie marched in her first Philadelphia St. Patrick’s Day Parade. She also competed in her first Oireachtas, where her team placed 4th, and in three dances in her first Irish Feis where she earned two firsts and a second place. Gabrielle’s got game as she plays basketball as well. Now in her seventh year, Gabrielle is completing her last season of Awana Kids Club where she studies God’s Word. Gabrielle is an excellent steward over the gifts God has given her. She loves her friends and has a heart for orphans and those who need to hear the Gospel. Gabrielle loves little children, and she is humbly honored to serve the Lord leading children in worship on Sundays in Children’s Ministry.  We love and admire our lovely young lady. “You have set your heart on seeking God.” 2 Chr. 19:3

“All this comes from the Lord Almighty,
wonderful in counsel and magnificent in wisdom.” Isaiah 28:29

We wish you and yours the Merriest Christmas
and the most blessed New Year.
May the grace and peace of our Savior be with you.


Merry Christmas!!!!!!!

Friday, December 2, 2011

I Am A Meteorologist-Wanna-Be!

"He makes clouds rise from the ends of the earth;
He sends lightning with the rain
and brings out the wind from His storehouses."
Psalm 135:7


"Oh my stars!!!  I am on the Action News AccuWeather set!!!!"
11/25/11

Since I was a little girl, I have been fascinated by weather.  I loved sitting on my front porch and watching the rain. In the peacefulness of the raindrops, I would wonder about our Creator. 

Clouds amazed me.  Once when I was doing a science project on different types of cloud formations, my dad took me up in his small airplane and we took beautiful pictures of the clouds from above and below them.  I still have that project.  I loved it.

Meteorology was the only science class I really enjoyed...and excelled in. Science and I don't have a good relationship in general, but meteorology came naturally to me.  I remember even explaining something to my meteorology teacher once that he didn't understand.  This is notable...I am not science savvy! 

The 7-Day forecast is my favorite part of the nightly local news broadcast. When I fold laundry or am working around the house, if I don't have the worship channel on, I have The Weather Channel on.  Weather excites and interests me.  I know, kind of nerdy, huh?  I am completely content being a weather geek!

Last week at this time, I had a dream come true!!!  A weather-and-news-combined dream come true!!!  My dear girlfriend Heather arranged for me and her to visit the Action News studios (Channel 6 here in Philly)!!!!!  I totally heart Action News and am a loyal viewer.  I feel like they are my family!  (I know, there's my nerdy side again!)  I was over the moon with excitement!

Heather prayerfully planned this special date for us, and...Wow!!  Such fun!!!!  Heather's uncle has worked at Action News for decades, and he happily welcomed us and gave us a great tour!  We even got to sit in on a live news broadcast!!!! 

This is all still sinking in, honestly.  But I wanted to share some pictures of one of the funnest nights of my life!


Heather and Me at the news desk!!! 


Heather's Uncle Herb ~ We love you Uncle Herb! 


The one and only news anchor Jim Gardner, me and Jeff Skversky (sports).
They were so kind and graciously chatted with us and posed for pictures. 


Adam Joseph -- METEOROLOGIST!!!!!!! 
(Maybe he will hire me as his assistant!!!)


What do you think??? 


There's that news van again!!

I am still giddy over this amazing evening with my girlfriend Heather...a week ago at this time!!!  I am so thankful to the Lord for this unique and oh-so-memorable blessing!  I am humbled by His goodness, Heather's thoughtfulness and kindness and Uncle Herb's gracious willingness!!  Thank you!

I couldn't let another day pass without sharing this on Joy In The Truth.  My posts have been less frequent than I would like lately, but I just had to record this huge slice of happiness and gratitude here. 

Thank you, Heather!!!  I am forever grateful and humbled.  Oh, and when can we go back????  Big smile.

"It is pleasant to see dreams come true..."
Proverbs 13:19

Friday, November 4, 2011

Making This My Prayer

I will bow down toward Your holy temple and will praise Your name for Your love and Your faithfulness, for You have exalted above all things Your name and Your word.
Psalm 138:2


Deliver me, oh Jesus,

From the desire of being loved

From the desire of being extolled

From the desire of being honored

From the desire of being praised

From the desire of being preferred

From the desire of being consulted

From the desire of being approved

From the desire of being popular



From the fear of being humiliated

From the fear of being despised

From the fear of suffering rebukes

From the fear of being calumniated (maligned)

From the fear of being forgotten

From the fear of being ridiculed

From the fear of being suspected

~ Mother Teresa

Friday, October 21, 2011

I Told The EMTs How Much I Weigh! Really!


The tongue of the wise promotes health.
Proverbs 12:18

This is continued from "My Young Man Of Courage" from 10/19/11...

The ambulance arrived just a few minutes before Jim.  Joshua and Gabrielle ran out front to be sure they knew which house was ours.  They held the door open for the EMTs.  One EMT headed straight up the stairs for me, while Joshua assisted the other EMT as he was bringing the stretcher into our foyer.

Barely able to move, I looked up to the EMT ( his name badge introduced me to him ~ Tom) slowly and said, "Am I having a stroke?".  He indicated that was the first thing he was going to assess.  He quickly concluded that I was most likely not suffering from a stroke.

The second EMT (Zachary) came up to assist,  and soon after Jim bolted through our door and up the stairs to me. He stayed back to give the EMTs room, but the tears in his eyes and the concern on his face reached my heart intangibly with his love.  I was thankful.

They were making immediate assessments and focusing on the pain that had jolted through my head and my vital signs.  They recommended that I go to the hospital via ambulance for a thorough evaluation and tests.  Jim and I both knew that was necessary.

I was still laying in the threshold of Joshua's bedroom.  Once stabilizing me and feeling secure enough to transport me, they asked me if I could move to get in a special medical chair they had brought near to my side.  Crawling to the chair, still clinging to carpet fibers, I made my way into the medical transport chair.  Suddenly they strapped me in from head to toe and told me they were going to carry me down our stairs.

Feeling like a completely constrained and helpless mummy, I insisted that they were NOT carrying me down any stairs in that chair!  I couldn't move my arms or legs or anything in between!

Ma'am, we have to carry you safely down the stairs, and this chair allows us to do that.  EMT Tom was not convincing me at all! 

EMT Zachary then tried to persuade me.  We carry people down the stairs all the time in these chairs. 

Well, they were NOT going to carry me.  I couldn't move and was starting to feel anxious.  I tried to win them over with reason.  Please just let me get down the stairs on my bumper.  I will not do well in this chair, trust me.  You can poke me with needles, take blood, or stick me with an IV, but if you try to take me down the stairs strapped in this chair, I will not be a good patient. Just get me out of this chair and let me go down the stairs on my bumper, and everything will be fine.  Now please unstrap me and let's get me down to the stretcher. ((I was just trying to live out Proverbs 12:18 and use my tongue to promote health...my health and the health of all those around me!)

My rationale was not working.  They explained the dangers of not having me strapped in the chair in my diminished physical state.  They insisted that I had to be in the chair.

Wrong-o!

Sorry EMT Tom and EMT Zachary, you can't say I didn't warn you that I would not be a good, cooperative patient if I wasn't released me from that chair!!  I had to go both barrels at them to get them to see things my way.

Please unstrap me right now or I am going to lose it.  I am already on the verge of fainting and now these straps are making me anxious.  You will not carry me down the stairs in this chair!

Then, the moment of pure, uncensored truth...

"And besides, I weigh ___ pounds!"

(To protect the innocent and for the sake of a free-flowing story here, let's just insert the number "130" there for fun.)

I TOLD EMT TOM AND EMT ZACHARY HOW MUCH I WEIGH!  THE REAL NUMBER!  Now, you know that I was NOT in the right frame of mind to do that!!  Clearly, the stress of being strapped in that chair was getting to me!!  Not even Jim knew the REAL NUMBER!!! 

EMT Tom chuckled and said to me, "Sharon, I have carried people three times your weight down stairs and they were perfectly safe.  And guess what...I'll tell you how much I weigh, too.  I weigh 335 pounds." 

335 pounds! Nut-uh!  No you don't, I insisted. He assured me he was telling the truth.  Here I was telling this towering EMT that I didn't believe he weighed 335 pounds.  Smart man, he never commented on my number!

I appreciated that EMT Tom and I were taking our surface relationship deeper, you know...revealing our true weights to each other and all, but really...this was no time for trying to convince me of anything!  I was NOT going down those stairs strapped in a chair and carried!

Let's just say that, after my husband confirmed for the EMTs that the "sit-u-a-tion" might escalate if they did not allow me to get down the stairs in a way that made me feel more physically secure.  Going down on my bumper kept me from falling, so it was perfectly safe. Releasing me from the chair, Jim, Tom and Zachary very carefully ushered me down the stairs.

After securing me in the stretcher, Tom and Zachary wheeled me out to the ambulance.  My first time in an ambulance, the cold, metal interiors did not feel very welcoming.  The EMTs did further assessment and again strongly recommended I go to the emergency room.  Jim and I agreed it was the best thing.

Sobbing and kissing their noggins, I told Joshua and Gabrielle I would be fine.  This was so hard for them to see their mommy being driven away in an ambulance.  Joshua kissed my cheek and squeezed my hand.  Gabrielle kissed my forehead and then the tops of my feet as she left the ambulance.  Waving and blowing kisses, the ambulance door was then closed.

Wanting to fore go any drama, I asked the guys to please NOT put on the red flashing lights or the sirens.  I didn't want the pomp to further alarm our children or cause concern for the neighbors.

Jim followed the ambulance in his car, while my sister stayed at home with the kids.  On the way to the hospital, I told EMT Tom and EMT Zachary, Ya know...Not even my husband knew my real weight until tonight!  See what pressure in the middle of a crisis will do to a woman!  They both laughed.

After escorting me to "Triage 12" in the emergency room, EMT Tom and EMT Zachary kindly said their good-byes to me and Jim.  We exchanged pleasantries and they were on their way.  A few minutes later, their heads popped around the curtain to my room...they came back to say one more thing.  We just wanted to come back and tell you again that your children did an exceptional job with the 9-1-1 call and helping us. They even ran out to the curb to greet us!  More tears of thankfulness and laughter rolled down my checks.

I feel a certain closeness to these EMTs, now that I told them how much I weigh and all.  It brings down walls and helps create close relationships.  [Laugh out loud!]  Jim, me and the kids are going to go by the the rescue squad's building soon and bring Tom and Zachary each a devotional book and some treats.  We want to thank them for their care and kindness.  And for their wisdom in getting me out of that chair and letting me go down the stairs on my bumper!

CAT scan results of my brain showed everything is NORMAL (though some may question that!).  Thank God - my brain was healthy with no bleeding or masses. My heart is strong and my blood work is fine. I go to see an ENT for a thorough evaluation of my inner ear next week.  The doctors believe I had a very violent bout of vertigo (I was completely debilitated for 3 days) that may have been caused by a virus.  I am very thankful to the Lord that the tests results from the hospital were excellent.  Thank you, Lord!

While I would not have chosen to have gone through this scary and unknown incident, I am SO thankful to the Lord that I witnessed God's perfect provision and faithfulness and my children's courage in the midst of a crisis.  I am thankful for my wonderful husband who worked from home that Friday to take care of me.  I am thankful for family and friends who quietly and lovingly prayed, dropped off a meal, sent a card or helped with our children.  I am hushed and humbled by His love.

And yes, I told the EMTs how much I weighed...the real number!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

My Young Man of Courage

Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith;
be men of courage; be strong.
Do everything in love.
1 Corinthians 16:13-14



Continued from  "Jesus, Please Help My Mommy" published 10/17/11...

Joshua bravely called 9-1-1 and was remarkably articulate, sensible and calm, though inside he was shaken as his mommy lay on the floor clinging to carpet fibers. "My name is Joshua Sloan, I am 11 years old. Something is wrong with my mom. We need an ambulance right away." He gave the 9-1-1 representative our address and phone number. After answering a few questions and being given instructions, he hung up assured that the ambulance would arrive very soon.

Joshua asked Gabrielle to put our dog, Holly, in her crate and open the front door, just at the 9-1-1 representative instructed.  Pausing momentarily from her prayer vigil next to me, she ran downstairs and did what Joshua asked her to do.  They worked and moved instinctively together in the midst of crisis.  Pure sibling teamwork driven by love and selflessness.

Joshua's leadership and courage gave me great peace.  God was giving him the strength and clarity to lovingly take command in this frightening situation.

Covering me tenderly with two blankets from his bed, Joshua sat down next to me and held my hand. With tears he said, "I love you, Mom. You're the best mom. You are going to be OK, right?" His eyes begged me to reassure him.

Looking firmly back into Joshua's eyes, and praying in my heart to God, I comforted his heart and said I thought I was going to be fine. But truthfully not knowing at that point if I would be OK because of the flash of horrific pain that went through my head and the vertigo that was thrashing my still body, I said to both of the children, "Just walk with Jesus. Walk in His truth. Just walk with Jesus. That's all I want you to do in your lives. Whatever happens, follow Jesus. He is faithful."

Their promises to me in those moments of unsureness are stitched in my heart forever.  "We will, Mommy. We will walk with Jesus." 

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the Truth.  3 John 1:4

"Jesus, please help my Mommy. Jesus, please help my Mommy."  My sweet lil' prayer warrior, Gabrielle, continued going boldly to the throne of grace on my behalf.

Feeling as though all hydration had suddenly evaporated from my body, I asked Joshua for a glass of water as we waited for the ambulance to arrive.  "Mommy, I know I am supposed to obey you, and I want to.  But the 9-1-1 person told me not to give you anything to eat or drink, so right now I am going to obey them."

More thankful tears swelled from my eyes.  He was doing the right thing...because of love.  Sometimes love says "no".  Joshua's love for me manifested in his tender care for me overwhelmed me with gratitude in the midst of the unknown.  God created this child, and I felt perfectly safe knowing that he would do whatever needed to be done to help me.  No mother wishes their children to be in the reversed role of caring for them, even for a short time.  But God gave me a wonderful blessing that night that will warmly linger in my heart forever:  Joshua's courage and Gabrielle's prayers were His tangible everlasting arms embracing me securely for those moments of startling fear.

I know for sure that God ushered help safely to me that evening through Gabrielle's bold and brave prayers and by Joshua's courageous and careful responses.  Though what I experienced that night was awful, the blessing of seeing Joshua bravely take charge and hearing Gabrielle cover me in prayer was the beautiful silver lining to a temporary and threatening dark cloud.  They each tenderly cared for me in their God-given ways.  Just as they live out their faith in God differently as individuals daily, it was amazing to see my children working together fluidly as members of His body just as He created them.

Click here for part 3 of this testimony called "I Told The EMTs How Much I Weigh!"...

 
“Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever;
wisdom and power are His.
He changes times and seasons;
He sets up kings and deposes them.
He gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to the discerning.
He reveals deep and hidden things;
He knows what lies in darkness,
and light dwells with Him.
I thank and praise you, O God of my fathers:
You have given me wisdom and power..."
Daniel 2:20-23

Monday, October 17, 2011

"Jesus, Please Help My Mommy!"

"And your daughters shall be...at your side.  
Then you shall see and become radiant,
And your heart shall swell with joy..."
Isaiah 60:4, 5


"Jesus, please help my Mommy.  Jesus, please help my Mommy."  With her head in her hands, sobbing and scared, she stood near me and cried out to the Lord over and over and over, "Jesus, please help my Mommy."  Our sweet Gabrielle was calling out to Jesus on my behalf.  Though frightened to pieces, she knew on Whose Name to call for help. I sobbed tears of thanks that mixed with tears of shear fear.

I had been putting the children to bed and, having already prayed with Gabrielle, was now praying with Joshua bedside before he dozed off to sleep.  A fierce, unusual and alarming pain jolted through my head.  Taking my breath away, I slowly and quietly stoop up to try to get to my own bedroom.  Falling to the floor full force, everything was spinning around me and I could not move.  Nauseous, sweating, near faintness and breathless, my body was struggling.  Knowing that Jim was only five minutes away from home, I screamed to the children, "Call daddy!  Call daddy!"

Joshua ran to phone and dialed Jim's number.  Jim told Joshua to immediately call 9-1-1. 

Gabrielle ran from her room and stood near me, "Are you OK, Mommy?"  I answered honestly, "I don't know, Gabrielle.  We need to get help." Feeling like I was passing out, I silently begged to the Lord.  Lord, please keep me alert until help arrives.  Please do not let me pass out with only the children here. I don't want them to be scared.  Lord, keep me strong.  Lord, help me and heal me.  Lord, give my children Your peace and Your strength and Your courage.

Gabrielle started to pray outloud. Jesus, please help my Mommy.  Jesus, please help my Mommy.

Though rendering my body motionless, the violent vertigo was causing my head to spin and everything around me to swirl like a tornado.  The exruciating pain in my head subsided almost immediately, but it quietly caused me great alarm as I had never experienced anything like that jolt.  Even in child labor, I had not felt any pain like it.   

Jesus, please help my Mommy.  Jesus, please help my Mommy.  Gabrielle's urgent, steadfast prayers to the Lord continued.

I laid on the floor to the threshold of Joshua's bedroom asking the Lord for His mercy and help.  Gabrielle was at my side.  Joshua had bravely and obediently called his daddy and then 9-1-1, and Gabrielle was calling on her Heavenly Daddy.

Jesus, please help my Mommy.  My sweet young prayer warrior continued going boldly to the throne of grace on my behalf.   



Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble,
and He brought them out of their distress.
He stilled the storm to a whisper;
the waves of the sea were hushed.
They were glad when it grew calm,
and He guided them to their desired haven.
Psalm 107:28-30

 

Friday, October 14, 2011

Glad Tidings ~ And Two Winners!

 “I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God,
and was sent to speak to you and bring you these glad tidings."
Luke 1:19


I love God's faithfulness to fill us when we open His Word!!!  While we are beginning to plan ahead for Christmas this week as we celebrate the release of Untangling Christmas by Karen Ehman and LeAnn Rice, guess where I just happened to be yesterday in my One-Year Daily Chronological Bible?  I am just beginning the New Testament and read Luke 1 and 2 ~ the account of the birth of John the Baptist and JESUS!  I love that! 

I won't make you read a long post to find out who the winners are from Tuesday's Untangling Christmas ebook Release Celebration post.

On Monday 10/17, over at His Table For Two, TWO MORE UNTANGLING CHRISTMAS ebooks will be given away! Be sure to stop by if you didn't win today!  

Trusting God's perfect provision, I had the Random Integer Generator choose the winners for me.  Here are the results:

Here are your random numbers:

4
15

#4 is "ansley" who posted at 10:19 AM on 10/11/11 (Kindle edition)
#15 is "Meaghan" who posted on 12:1 PM on 10/11/11 (PDF edition)

CONGRATULATIONS girls!  Please let me know your contact information so we can get your ebooks to you! (You can email me at histablefortwo@live.com.)



Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!
2 Corinthians 9:15

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

"Untangling Christmas" ~ So Long Yuletide Yikes!! (Give-Away!)

"But Mary treasured up all these things
and pondered them in her heart."
Luke 2:19


Do you long for the lingering moments of sipping on hot cocoa, gazing at the twinkling lights on your tree and pondering the Wondrous Gift of Christmas throughout December?  The Babe lying in the manger, our Savior, our Redeemer, our King ~ O Come Let Us Adore Him. 

Two sweet sisters in Jesus, LeAnn and Karen, have authored an ebook titled  "Untangling Christmas ~ Your Go-To Guide for a Hassle-Free Holiday".   Karen and LeAnn asked me to review the ebook before publication and offer my endorsement.  I was thrilled to do that...and I got a little bit of a jump start in pre-preparing for the Christmas season while reading the book!!!  Untangling Christmas is filled with simple, inexpensive and smart ideas for Christ-centered, meaningful and enjoyable Christmas celebrations. 

Karen and LeAnn put the "O Come Let Us Adore Him" first before the "Holly Jolly Christmas".  And yet you can still go "Rocking Around The Christmas Tree" if you'd like!

From delicious recipes to gift wrapping suggestions, this ebook serves us a banquet of savory solutions to make the season of celebrating our Savior’s birth satisfying and significant.

I am giving away TWO copies of the Untangling Christmas ebook!
Just leave a comment and let me know:
1.   If you win, if you would like the PDF, Kindle or Nook version; and
2.  Your favorite Christmas Carol.
The winners will be announced on Friday,
so comments are welcome until then!!
(Oh, and I have already started my Christmas binder!!)

 “Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to men
on whom His favor rests.”
Luke 2:14

Gabrielle and Joshua
Christmas 2006  

Monday, October 10, 2011

A Heart More Beautiful

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.”
Psalm 51:17 (NIV)

My heart broken before the Lord, a simple yet meaningful paper heart made by my daughter ministered His perfect love and truth to me. 

Click here to read more...


Monday, October 3, 2011

Untied, But Not Undone


 "Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."
Hebrews 12:1-2

"Mom, what should I do if I mess up?  What should I do if I misstep?"  Gabrielle was feeling the jitters of dancing in her very first Irish Feis (dance competition) this past Saturday.  She had practiced and prepared, yet she was asking me about the "what ifs" of the feis.   I answered her, "Honey, if you mess up your steps, just keeping looking up at the judge, keep smiling and keep on dancing."  I knew as I said these words, they were more about a life lesson than an Irish dance competition.  And it wasn't a matter of if, it was a surety of when.

We misstep.  We mess up.  We all do.  And while there is comfort in us all being on the same dance floor of life, none of us want to mess up or misstep.

Before leaving home, Gabrielle asked me to tie her competition shoes.  I did so with care, and I double knotted them, just to be sure.  We prayed together as I drove Gabrielle to the feis.  She was feeling excited and nervous all at the same time as we arrived.  Telling her that was normal, we held hands tightly as she bravely walked into the feis venue.  Animated Irish music and the buzz of excitement filled the air.  She squeezed my hand and smiled.

Gabrielle works hard at those things to which she commits.  Whether it is a friendship, a God-given talent, a Bible memorization kids club or an academic goal, she works diligently.  So,when her shoe came untied in the middle of her third (and last) dance for the feis competition, she looked at me from the stage with wide eyes holding back tears, and I mouthed to her "Just keep dancing, Honey.  Keep your eyes on the judge.  Keep smiling." 

And she did.  Ice arms and fire feet...she kept on Irish dancing and fixed her eyes on the judge.  Her long untied laces seemingly whipping her legs, she kept on kicking up her Irish feet.  Gabrielle's composure moved my heart.  She was dancing, keeping her eyes on the judge and smiling.  

I had been the one to tie her shoes...I double-knotted them.  But they came untied.  Yet she did not come undone.  Digging deep into God's treasure of truth, the life lesson was playing out on stage before a crowd of witnesses.  And she kept on dancing...keeping her eyes on our true Judge, our Heavenly Father, looking to Him for strength, courage and joy.  She was looking unto Jesus while dancing with her untied shoes.  And she did not come undone...because His power is made perfect in our weakness.   "And He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me." 2 Corinthian 12:9

The grace and understanding of the judge exemplified for Gabrielle the grace and compassion of our Lord.  She kept her eyes on him and had joy in her heart as she kept on dancing.  After some seemingly long moments for this Irish momma, he quietly and gently signaled for the Irish musician to stop playing so Gabrielle could re-tie her shoes and start her dance over again.

Grace and compassion to start again.  Thank you, Lord, for this life lesson lived out for Gabrielle before an audience and with a wise and gracious of judge.  You, God, are amazing. Gabrielle had not misstepped, even with the untied shoe lace dancing around in a dance all its own.  Yet the judge knew it was distracting her and also possibly dangerous to her.  So, he paused the music so she could begin again.  Wisdom.  Gentleness.  Grace. 

As Jim, me, Joshua, Nan Nan, Uncle PJ, Aunt Anne and many others looked on, Gabrielle started again.  Composed and joyful, she smiled and completed her dance with enthusiasm, grace and gratitude.  I could hardly wait to hug her; not because she had danced well, but because she kept on dancing, she smiled and she kept her eyes on the judge. 

Gabrielle was so thankful and excited to receive 2nd place out of 23 dancers for the dance in which her shoe became untied, and she received 1st place in her other two dances.  We are so proud of her, and we give God the glory and thanks. 

Yet, our proudest moment of Gabrielle wasn't the awards she won or the places she earned.  Our proudest moment of Gabrielle in her first Irish feis was when she kept on dancing with a distracting and menacing untied shoe.  Our proudest moment of Gabrielle was the life lesson of truth she lived out on stage while many watched.  "...let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him..."

Our sweet Irish Lassie kept her eyes on the One that mattered most and she kept on dancing.

Untied, but not undone.  Thank you, Jesus.  We give You praise!

"My eyes are ever on the LORD, 
for only He will release my feet from the snare."
Psalm 25:15


 
  

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Great Treasure

I just finished reading Psalm 119 in the daily chronological one-year Bible.  My favorite of all Psalms, 119 is said to be a devotional on the excellencies of the Word of God.  This is just a taste.  


"But my heart stands in awe of Your word.

I rejoice at Your word

As one who finds great treasure.

I hate and abhor lying,

But I love Your law.

Great peace have those who love Your law,

And nothing causes them to stumble.

LORD, I hope for Your salvation,

And I do Your commandments.

My soul keeps Your testimonies,

And I love them exceedingly.

 I keep Your precepts and Your testimonies,

For all my ways are before You.

Let my cry come before You, O LORD;

Give me understanding according to Your word.

Let my supplication come before You;

Deliver me according to Your word.

My lips shall utter praise,

For You teach me Your statutes.

My tongue shall speak of Your word,

For all Your commandments are righteousness.

Let Your hand become my help,

For I have chosen Your precepts.

I long for Your salvation, O LORD,

And Your law is my delight.

Let my soul live, and it shall praise You;

And let Your judgments help me.

I have gone astray like a lost sheep;

Seek Your servant,

For I do not forget Your commandments."
 
Psalm 119:161-176
 
Lord, I have made this a prayer to you for my family.  May we always stand in awe of Your word, a great treasure.  May our hearts be filled with Your peace and surety as we love and regard Your testimonies.  And may our tongues speak of Your word.  Seek Your servants, Lord.  Let us not out of Your faithful hands.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Assemble & Resemble, Hang Out & Sprout

"And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together...but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching." Hebrews 10:24-25

The "assembling of ourselves together"....gathering and growing in Him.

Today, I invite you to visit His Table For Two to make a reservation for an opportunity to receive a "Made to Crave Bible Study Bundle" by Lysa TerKeurst. 


"You shall be filled at My table..."
Ezekiel 39:20

See you there!


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Rookie Mom

"Take your positions with helmets on!"
Jeremiah 46:4

My sweet and fun girlfriend, Lynne, has lovingly nicknamed me "Rookie Mom" as this is Joshua's first year playing football for our school's team.  Lynne herself is quite the lovely polished professional as a football mom.  With one son now playing college football and her other son playing on the middle school team with my rookie-season son, she is savory and smart when it comes to football!  (She is also married to a former professional football player.)

It seems appropriate to me that Lynne is graciously showing me the ropes as a football mom.  Lynne, though only a few years ahead of me in age, is way ahead of me in motherhood. My oldest is in sixth grade.  Her oldest is a sophomore in college.  Though she may not realize it, she is a godly mentor to me.  I have watched her as she looks over the affairs of her household with gentle love, fierce conviction and unwavering dedication.  

We have prayed for each other's children and we have shared our hearts as moms.  (Lynne even taught me the proper way to choose a ripe watermelon ~ you knock on it to see if it sounds hollow!!)   Now, as we laugh and cheer together on the sidelines of the football field, I am humbled that God would bring such a wise friend alongside of me.  Rookie Mom here humbly receives loving instruction!

God truly has given me the best friends.  Friends that cheer each other along in motherhood.  Friends who will defend each other in truth.  Friends who are our offensive line in prayer.  Friends who are our "safety".  Friends who run together as we head toward the goal. 

I sat last night on my kitchen floor in a pool of tears feeling like such a rookie mom.  My miscues and my penalties hurt my team ~ my husband and my children.  I don't like that.  It pains me.  But as my head drooped heavily into my weak hands, the Lifter of My Head whispered to my heart, "I am your strength, Rookie Mom.  Trust My perfect game plan." 

I pray I always have the humility of a rookie mom, completely aware of my need for Him, His wisdom and His truth.  Looking to those wives and moms who are ahead of me in the game or who are running alongside me, I am grateful to God for the godly friendships He has given me.

I am thankful for my girlfriends, like Lynne, who love me, who pray for me and my family and who are willing to run alongside me with His truth.  Girlfriends who know I am a rookie mom and love me anyway.  God, you are good. 

Game on!  Let's play!

"So we make it our goal to please Him..."
2 Corinthians 5:9

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Treasure Verse Tuesday ~ Truth and...

Dear Lord, take these verses You've been washing over my heart so beautifully and let them be my prayer to You.  I need your cleansing, Lord.  My heart needs an exfoliation!  I want to receive Your truth well and with humility and allow You to reshape my heart wherever You see fit.  And Lord, I want my heart, my words and my life to reflect and honor You.  Only by Your grace can this be so. Allow my words to be the palpable, vibrant blend of love and truth, mercy and truth, peace and truth, grace and truth. 

"Mercy and truth have met together;
Righteousness and peace have kissed."
Psalm 85:10

"...words of peace and truth."
Esther 9:30

"Mercy and truth be with you."
2 Samuel 15:20

"...speaking the truth in love...causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love."
Ephesians 4:15

"...grace and truth came through Jesus Christ."
John 1:17

Thursday, September 15, 2011

His Invitation to Dine

"As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me. This is the bread which came down from heaven...he who eats this bread will live forever.” John 6:57-58

Good Morning!  I wanted to invite you to visit my new site ~ "His Table For Two".  In addition to seeing you here at Joy In The Truth, I'd love you visit His Table For Two as well.  I hope to see you there!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Willows By The Watercourses

For I will pour water on him who is thirsty,
and floods on the dry ground;
I will pour My Spirit on your descendants,
and My blessing on your offspring;
they will spring up among the grass
like willows by the watercourses.
Isaiah 44:3-4 


But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD,
whose confidence is in Him.
He will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit. 
Jeremiah 17:7-8 

Willows by the watercourses and trees planted by streams of water are on my heart and mind today...the first day of school for the 2011/2012 school year.  Joshua is sprinting into 6th grade (gulp) and Gabrielle is skipping into 4th grade.  My heart beats with so many prayers, dreams and emotions today.  And so I am laying them all at His feet.      

Like Christian parents everywhere, what Jim and I desire most for our children is that they walk in His truth, abide in His Word and know that He is their portion, their satisfaction and their dwelling place.  We want them to embrace and enjoy eternal life now.  "This is eternal life:  that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent."  John 17:3  


So I offer this prayer now and each day for our children...that they would be like willows by the watercourses.  Recording it here at Joy In The Truth, journaling my heart's cry to God, I trust Him to hear and answer.

Father God, pour Your living water on Joshua and Gabrielle.  Pour Your Spirit out on them and on their descendants.  Pour out Your abundant blessing on our offspring.  By Your grace and power, let them spring up among the grass like willow by the watercourses.  All for Your glory and delight, God. 


Let their trust and confidence be in You alone, God.  Cause them to be trees planted by the Living Water, beautifully sending out their roots by your streams of life.  By Your strength and sustenance, flourish their leaves to always be green, even when the heat comes.  Because the heat will come.  Be their shade, their cover and their strong tower, Lord.   In the dry seasons of life, continually bear vibrant fruit in their lives, Lord...for Your renown.


Let their roots reach toward the Water for life and vital nourishment.  Make their hearts wise by reverencing You , Your Word and Your Truth. Let their lips only speak right things that honor You.  May they honor you with their hearts, minds, bodies and lives. 


Let them be like willows by the watercourses.  Thank you, Lord.  We love you.  We reverence You and depend on You.  In the magnificent name of Jesus, Amen. 
"My roots will reach to the water..."
Job 29:19




"My son, if your heart is wise,
My heart will rejoice—indeed, I myself;
Yes, my inmost being will rejoice
When your lips speak right things."
      Proverbs 23:15-16 






Our "Willows" This Morning

  "One will say, ‘I am the LORD’s’...
      Another will write with his hand, ‘The LORD’s..."
  Isaiah 44:5

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Treasure Verse Tuesday ~ His Words, Our Treasure

I have written this passage in my Family Prayer Journal.

"But He knows the way that I take;
When He has tested me,
I shall come forth as gold.
My foot has held fast to His steps;
I have kept His way and not turned aside.
I have not departed from the commandment of His lips;
I have treasured the words of His mouth
More than my daily bread.
Job 23:10-12