Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Resolve to Honor His Name

"'Resolve to honor My name,' 
says the LORD Almighty." 
Malachi 2:2 
A new year. A turning of the calendar pages. A time for reflection. A time for resolve. A time for looking ahead for growth and change.  

Lasting and fruitful change.  

Transformation. Resolve. 

That can only come through the perfect Word of God.  "Every word of God is flawless..."  Proverbs 30:5

"You cannot develop a righteous life apart from God’s Word. Righteousness must be cultivated. As you fill your mind with the words of God, and as you obey His instructions, He will guide you in the ways of righteousness." - Blackaby

If we resolve to do anything this year, let's resolve to honor His name and be transformed by His Word.  "...'resolve to honor My name,' says the LORD Almighty."  Malachi 2:2   

A surrendered heart pursuing peace and holiness. Seems like such a lofty, unattainable pursuit. Yet we are instructed to do it.  "Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord." Hebrews 12:14

Resolved to honor His name. Resolved to be transformed.


"Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will."
Romans 12:12

Resolutions tend to be self-centered.  Resolutions are about me, my strength and my commitment.  

Transformation is Christ-centered.  Transformation comes from the renewing of our minds by the washing of the water of God's Word.  We surrender and yield to the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives and allow His transformation to take place in our lives through the Truth of God's Word.  And WOW...He transforms us into His image!  "You have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator."  Col. 3:10 

"And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit."  2 Cor. 3:18

"Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me."

The condition of my heart before the Lord moment-by-moment is most important to me. God creates a pure heart in us. God renews a steadfast spirit in us. My responsibility is to keep my heart before Him in humility. A teachable heart. A humble heart. "...humility precedes honor." Proverbs 15:33 

"Every time we open the Word of God, it should be for the purpose of being broken." - Nancy Leigh DeMoss “I live in a high and holy place, but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite."  Isaiah 57:15

As we daily surrender our hearts to His truth, He creates a pure heart in us and transforms our hearts to be more like His.  Wow!  That sure is humbling and awesome. 

If we resolve to do anything this year, let's resolve to honor His name and be transformed by His Word.  "...'resolve to honor My name,' says the LORD Almighty."  Malachi 2:2   This resolve is too lofty for to attain on our own.  Only by HIS grace and Word can it be so.  Let's look only to Him and His Truth for renewal and transformation.

Happy Renew Year!!!

"I delight in Your decrees; I will not neglect Your word."
Psalm 119:16 


Monday, December 22, 2014

Sloan Sweet Home ~ Christmas 2014 ~ Highlights of Our Year


"Your life will be bound securely
in the bundle of the living
by the Lord your God.”
(1 Samuel 25:29)

Annual Christmas Letters -- you either love receiving them...or  you don't! You either read them...or you don't! I personally love receiving and reading Christmas letters, and I really enjoy looking at the pictures. Since I love receiving them, I also love sending them! 

It has become our tradition to send an annual Christmas letter with our Christmas card. The letter shares our highlights of the year. It is our highlights reel, so to speak. It is not all of the bloopers, the outtakes, the scenes that had to be done over time and time again, and not the clips that thankfully ended up on the editing room floor. Thank God for His grace. We got stuff. And He covers our stuff with His grace. 

In our Christmas letter, we reflect on the blessings the Lord graciously showered on us and thank Him, giving Him the glory and praise for every good and perfect gift that comes from Him. We love looking back and recounting all of His blessings and acknowledging each one has come from Him.

Our only hesitancy in sending a Christmas letter with highlights of the year is that it can seem pretentious and quite incomplete as we share all of the good stuff. It is not our heart or intention to paint an incomplete picture. Sometimes God's blessings and mercy comes through the most difficult, painful and growing seasons in our lives and hearts.  

To honor God and those into whom He has breathed His precious life, we choose to share our highlights and not to share in our annual Christmas letter the details of our painful seasons He has seen us through this year, they are written on our hearts and are personal treasures between us and Him. We know we there is no good in us apart from Christ.

"You are my Lord; 
apart from You I have no good thing."
Psalm 16:2

So, these are our highlights. Thanks for visiting!   


Jesus Christ - Our Wisdom. Our Holiness. 
Our Righteousness. Our Redemption. {1 Cor.1:30}

Dear Family and Friends ~

            Cheerful Christmas greetings to you and yours! We pray your hearts and homes are filled with His perfect peace. We would love to hear from you about your happenings and see your pictures! We love the mailbox in December filled with festive envelopes, fun pictures and letters. Thank you for sharing your lives with us. You are each a blessing from God. “Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.”  (1 Thessalonians 2:8)

            2014 has been filled with memories, milestones and movement! We’re thankful for God’s perfect love at “Sloan Sweet Home”! We have had the blessing of trusting God and strengthening our faith through changes and challenges. With this faith as an anchor for our souls, we have watched Him as He daily fulfills His purpose for our lives. We are thankful for an unchanging God, whose character is consistent and trustworthy. "Your life will be bound securely in the bundle of the living by the Lord your God.” (1 Sam. 25:29)

            This summer we enjoyed two great vacations at two of our favorite places with two treasured families! For the 11th year in a row, our family enjoyed a week at Camp of The Woods in the Adirondack Mountains of New York on Lake Pleasant.  Chapel in the mornings, afternoons on the lake tubing and swimming, and evenings by the camp fire…the simple pleasures of COTW we love most. Joshua and Gabrielle each invited a friend (it is just not camp without Andy D!), and we enjoyed the week at camp relaxing, refreshing and fellowshipping with sweet family friends, the TerKeursts. In August we were delighted to spend a week with friends we hold dear, the Shileys, at another one of our favorite places on earth…Ocean City, NJ. Bike rides, beach, basketball, watermelon and Kohr Brother’s. The Beals gals blessed us with a visit for a day, and we also enjoyed beach time with the Feather Family. Topping it off was the blessing of seeing my dear friend, Laura, and her family. In July, Joshua and Gabrielle also enjoyed their annual summer visit at Pop Pop and Nana’s in the Poconos.  

            Jim and I crossed the threshold together and we each turned 50 in March. Jim insisted on no special celebration for him, apart from a little family celebration and a dinner date for us.  I, on the other hand, said “Let’s party!” In addition to celebrating with my peeps at home, I celebrated my 50th birthday with a limousine filled with girlfriends and a lunch at Max Brenner’s in Philadelphia. (Hello chocolate!) This was Jim’s gift to me. ♥ Earlier in March, I was blessed to have some very dear, refreshing, loving, faithful, turtle-shell girlfriends host a surprise birthday brunch for me. Leopard-print napkins and Cheetah Chip Cookie jars filled the table with fun and joy! (Thank you, Erika!) I was hushed and humbled by His tender faithfulness to me through the sweet and ever-present love of girlfriends. ♥ Also, my girlfriends from work blessed me with a wonderful Mexican celebration filled with laughter, food and fun! I was so humbled and blessed! (Thank you Mary and Dee for planning that!) ♥ Jim and I celebrated 22 years of marriage in May. We are so grateful to the Lord to have each other to share life’s blessings, disappointments, trials and victories! "Remember your journey...that you may know the righteous acts of the LORD." Micah 6:5

            Jim accepted a position as Chief Technology Officer at Prime Technology in King of Prussia in February. We are grateful for God’s plan and provision for our family during this season of life. Jim traveled on business to India for two weeks in August! He had personal drivers and hosts while he was there. (Thank the Lord! Jim said the drivers were a thousand times worse than New York City drivers, and it was common to see women sitting side saddle and holding children on the back of motorcycles, cows meandering in the streets and chickens crossing the road…literally!) His company graciously afforded him the opportunity to do some touring while there, and he saw the magnificent Taj Mahal, Agra Fort, Charminar and other sites. Jim is blessed to be part of a Tuesday morning men’s Bible study that meets at Chick-Fil-A at 6:30 am. He is encouraged by the teaching, fellowship, prayer and accountability. He also continues to serve in the Junior High Youth Ministry and Sports Ministry at church. Though his work days are long and demanding, Jim seemingly effortlessly makes our family his priority by his presence and his care.

          Sharon - Serving my family is my greatest and most humbling blessing. These roles keep me on my knees before God for wisdom and strength. ♥ Most of my free hours are spent with my sweet mom at Shepherd’s Crossing. Some of my sweetest time is worshipping with her on Sunday mornings when I join her at her chapel. Though we had a bit of a scare in March, she has been doing very well. She is immobile now but enjoys daily activities. ♥ After serving for 16 years on staff at church, I prayerfully resigned from my position as administrative assistant to our senior high youth pastor, whom I love. It was an honor to serve him for many years. Giving him several months’ notice of my resignation, my last day was August 25th.  Wanting to be able to say from the depths of my heart “Jesus is enough” and not be dependent on a next step, but rather only dependent on Him, I asked the Lord to please wait to show me my next assignment of service until I had finished my job well and passed the baton on with joy. God is faithful and understood my heart. In mid-September I was serendipitously offered a position to serve Him as a ministry assistant at another place I love and for another great boss. Sometimes God moves you from one place to another because you will be told you are an answer to prayer at the other. Humbling...in the best way. I am thankful for God’s perfect plan and provision. ♥ I was honored to have two small contributions in a book released this year ~ “Everyday Confetti” by two lovely friends, Karen Ehman and Glynnis Whitwer (see pages 35 and 53!). Visit here: www.everydayconfetti.org

          Joshua started high school this year…wow a 9th grader! Joshua attended his first week-long camp this past summer – Defenders Basketball Camp at Baptist Bible College. Of course he loved it – unceasing basketball playing along with Bible lessons, devotions and fellowship with his friends and teammates (and late night runs for smoothies and Chinese food). Joshua served again in inner-city Philadelphia this summer on a week-long missions outreach called “Mission Philly”. He was humbled to be able to touch the hearts of some young boys with the love of God (and he loved playing gaga ball with them, too!). Joshua worked for a bit in the summer with his friend and friend’s dad in New York. They worked hard during the day and played hard (basketball) in the evenings. In September, Joshua’s good buddy invited him to try out Brazilian Jui Jitsu. Joshua loved it and has been taking classes ever since. He enjoyed the senior high student ministry Prayer Retreat Weekend in October. Joshua was excited and thankful to make the JV basketball team as a freshman for CCA and LOVES playing basketball. During the summer and autumn, Joshua took basketball lessons at the NAC from a retired pro basketball player. He was chosen for the select choir at school. We are proud of our young man.

          Gabrielle graduated from 6th grade in June, and she was blessed to be asked to speak on behalf of her homeroom at graduation. She began junior high school in September and made the transition from elementary school to 7th grade beautifully. She is grateful for where God has placed her and especially enjoys math. At school she participates in choir, band (flute) and liturgical dance. This summer was Gabrielle’s first being able to serve the Lord in the inner-city through “Mission Philly”, and it was fun for her to serve with Joshua.  She loves young children and made a special bond with a girl name Cici. Gabrielle enjoyed a week at Raise the Praise Camp at church (vocals) this summer, too. Gabrielle continues to serve in children’s ministry by leading the children in worship. Gabrielle put away her Irish dancing shoes to devote more time to gymnastics this year. She prayerfully set personal goals, planned steps to reach them, worked really, really, really hard and…she made the gymnastics team at the Newtown Athletic Club!!!She is excited to begin competing in 2015 with the team. Gabrielle’s pretty hands reflect her perfectly – lovely painted nails and soft skin on one side, and callouses on her palms from working hard to reach her personal goals and contribute as part of a team. We are proud of our young lady.
We pray God brings you many blessings, healing and peace in 2015! 
Love from Sloan Sweet Home ~ Jim, Sharon, Joshua and Gabrielle




Friday, October 31, 2014

King-Sized, Light-Shining Halloween!

Gabrielle singing worship songs at the door.


(This was originally posted in October 2010.  Sharing it again.  This year, we are playing Toby Mac and Jamie Grace from our front porch.)  



"Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil."  Ephesians 5:15-16
One day a year, all of the children in our neighborhood knock on our door.  Some children we know very well, others we are meeting for the first time.  But they come.  They come for a treat.  We give them even more...we give them the message of the Gospel. 

Halloween can be a touchy topic of conversation for Christians.  We respect however the Lord leads each family individually.  Recently, a friend shared a sermon that John MacArthur taught on 10-31-09 (click here).  His well-balanced sermon confirmed for us that we have indeed been honoring God in our family with what we do on Halloween.  In the part of MacArthur's sermon titled "The Christian Response to Halloween", he says this:  "Ultimately, Christian participation in Halloween is a matter of conscience before God. Whatever level of Halloween participation you choose, you must honor God by keeping yourself separate from the world and by showing mercy to those who are perishing. Halloween provides the Christian with the opportunity to accomplish both of those things in the gospel of Jesus Christ. It's a message that is holy, set apart from the world; it's a message that is the very mercy of a forgiving God. What better time of the year is there to share such a message than Halloween?"     

So, what does our family do on Halloween?  We redeem the day.  We shine our lights for Christ. We worship Him in song.  We share the Gospel of Salvation.

Here's what our family does on Halloween:  

All of the lights are ON in and outside of our house on Halloween.  Our house is LIT UP!  "The light of the righteous shines brightly, but the lamp of the wicked is snuffed out."  Proverbs 13:9

We play worship music from a CD player we put on our front porch.  This year, we will be playing the complete series of "Seed of Family Worship".  It's great!  "All the nations you have made will come and worship before you, O Lord; they will bring glory to your name."  Psalm 86:9

 


We give out King-Sized candy bars!  (Even John MacArthur said not to be stingy!)  We are known for giving out king-sized bars now.  In our hearts, we are giving to honor the King!  (We prepare enough of everything for 100 children, and we usually are visited by 80 or so.)  "...the righteous give generously."  Psalm 37:21


 

Best of all, we share the Gospel message.  Each child knocking at our door receives a tract sharing the Gospel.  This year, we are also giving out "Plan of Salvation Faith Bands"!!  We are very excited about this.  Each pack of Plan of Salvation Faith Bands contains the Gospel message and two sets of crosses in the Gospel colors!  They can then go and share the Gospel message, too! 


Halloween: Trick or Truth? Tracts, 25

 "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."  Matthew 5:14-16   


Joshua and Gabrielle with our King-Sized Candy Bars!
10-31-09

Joshua and Gabrielle dress up in bright, colorful, innocent costumes. 

 "There's nothing inherently evil about candy, costumes, or trick-or-treating in the neighborhood. In fact, all of that can provide a unique gospel opportunity with neighbors. Even handing out candy to neighborhood children--provided you're not stingy--can improve your reputation among the kids. As long as the costumes are innocent and the behavior does not dishonor Christ, trick-or-treating can be used to further gospel interests."  -- John MacArthur 

We pray that those precious children who knock on our door will ultimately knock on His door!  "For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened."  Matthew 7:8

"I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture."  John 10:9
  
"So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God."
1 Corinthians 10:31

Monday, October 6, 2014

Grace in the Nooks and Crannies


"But just as you excel in everything --
in faith, in speech, in knowledge,
in complete earnestness and in your love for us --
see that you also excel in this grace of giving."
2 Corinthians 8:7

One English muffin was remaining in the package. 

Two kids.  One English muffin. 

Joshua was in the basement family room completely unaware that there weren't enough muffins to go around should everyone want an English muffin for breakfast that morning.  Gabrielle came to me and said, "Mom, there is only one English muffin left and I really, really want it for breakfast.  But Joshua might want it, too.  And I have had more than my share already from this package.  I am going to ask Joshua if he would like to have it."

Feeling hopeful that she might get to have the last English muffin, but really wanting to do the honorable thing, Gabrielle went to Joshua and asked, "Joshua, do you want this last English muffin for your breakfast today?  There is only one left, and I wanted to see if you would like to have it."

Enthusiastically concentrating on his PlayStation Madden Football game more than realizing the love and honesty demonstrated to him by this invitation from his sister, he said, "Sure, I'll have it! Thanks!"  Gabrielle turned and made her way back up the stairs from the basement family room to the kitchen.  Seeing the disappointment on her face, I saw her put the package back on the kitchen counter.  

First Day of School 2014

As I sat in the dining room finishing my devotion time, I felt a twinge of sadness for my sweet girl who wanted that last English muffin.  Making a mental note to pick up more muffins the next time I was the store, I wondered what Gabrielle might choose for breakfast instead of the English muffin. Yogurt and fruit? Toast? Oatmeal? Cereal? 

Then I smelled the comforting aroma of something being toasted in the toaster.  Walking into the kitchen with curiosity, I asked Gabrielle what she was toasting.

"I am toasting the English muffin for Joshua, and I am going to serve it to him.  I am putting butter and grape jelly on it.  I know he likes it that way."

Wow.  

Not only did Gabrielle maturely handle the disappointment of not having the last English muffin, she prepared the English muffin for her brother just the way he likes it. She sincerely wanted him to have it and be blessed by a toasted English muffin.

Something she wanted for herself, Gabrielle lovingly prepared for her brother.

Wow.  Double wow.    


Excellence in the grace of giving.

"Josh-uuu-aaaa", she called to him from the kitchen, "Your English muffin is ready!"

Joshua bolted up the stairs.  As Gabrielle handed him his plate, he said, "Wow, thanks, Brie!"

Wanting to be sure he appreciated the significance of her sacrifice and love, I said, "Joshua, do you realize there was only one English muffin left and, even though Gabrielle was really hoping to have it for breakfast, she prepared it for you because you wanted to have it, too?"

"Really?  Thanks, Gabrielle.  Do you want half?  We can split it!"

"It's alright", Gabrielle responded.  "I really want you to enjoy the whole thing."

Grace and love in the nooks and crannies.

Our children teach me more about God's love than anyone else. 

I have thought about that English muffin a lot since that morning a few weeks ago.  The humility, the surrender, the love, the giving, the grace, the selflessness, the bittersweet sacrifice, the sincerity, the honesty, the sweetness, the kindness. And I want to capture, remember and be changed by these beautiful moments. (Lord knows so many moments are not like that!)

I want to show grace and love in the nooks and crannies of life.  In the small places where little blessings go a long way.  In the hard places where grace is spread out in the bittersweet sacrifice of surrendering and is perhaps only seen by God.  In the sweet places where God's grace toward me allows me to prepare a blessing for another who needs grace. 

So I am looking for those nooks and crannies where His love and grace are spread are like butter and grape jelly on a freshly toasted English muffin. Nooks and crannies that serve up an opportunity to bless another person with His refreshing and satisfying grace. Grace that soaks our hearts with His generous love.

Grace upon grace...for each nook and cranny of my heart and yours.


 Gabrielle in her cousin Stephanie's wedding ~ August 11, 2012



"And God is able to make all grace abound to you,
so that in all things at all times,
having all that you need,
you will abound in every good work."
2 Corinthians 9:8

"Do nothing out of selfish ambition
or vain conceit,
but in humility
consider others better than yourselves."
Philippians 2:3

[originally published 9/3/12]

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

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)



The condition of my heart matched the weather conditions outside as I drove my children home from school through the steady rain and dreary clouds. Bringing my children to and from school each day was precious, sacred time to me as we enjoyed captured moments together to talk, listen, sing and pray. This day, however, my heart ached with fresh wounds. I silently cried out to the Lord while Joshua and Gabrielle munched on a snack and conversed contently between themselves.

Years ago God had taught me a valuable lesson: if someone says something critical to me in a harsh spirit, and not in love, still take that to Him and ask Him if there is any truth in what was said.  “Is there something offensive in my heart You want to change, Lord?”, I wondered after receiving harsh words from an unexpected place. My heart lay bare and broken before the Lord. 

As we pulled into the garage, my sweet then-five-year-old daughter, Gabrielle, asked if she could put her rain boots on and go jump in the puddles. As my heart admired her enthusiasm, we worked together to dress her in her rainy weather finery. She gave me an extra tight squeeze declaring her appreciation. 

I went about my regular after-school-unloading-and-reorganizing tasks as my silent conversation with God continued. “Lord, the pain from this person's words seems unreasonable and unnecessary, and the criticism seems unfounded in truth. I am sorry for any way I have caused an offense. Show me any way I have not honored You. You know I want to serve You and show Your mighty works for Your glory. Please let me see Your faithfulness and purpose in this pain.”

A few minutes later, Gabrielle was in the kitchen excitedly handing me a paper heart she had stopped to make and surprise me with before going outside to jump in puddles. Gabrielle’s caring ways and artistic gifts are always a delight. On this rainy day, this hand-made gift served an even greater purpose.

As her precious hand lifted the paper heart up to mine, I noticed the heart had scissor cuts all through it, and I thought privately to myself that it didn’t look very pretty that way. Graciously taking the heart from her and kissing her head in thanks, I met my eyes with hers and she said, “Mommy, I made this heart for you. I put cuts in the heart because I thought the heart would be more beautiful that way.” 

Immediately, tears rolled down my face. I felt the Lord quiet my heart with His love and say to me, “Sharon, I am making your heart more beautiful through the wounds I am allowing you to experience. Be still, be quiet and wait on Me. You will have a heart more beautiful.”

Noticing my tears of amazement, Gabrielle asked why I started to cry, and I told her that, through the paper heart she had made me, God reminded me how much He loves me and how faithful He is, especially when our hearts are broken before Him.

My child’s delight in the promise of fresh rain and the beauty of a broken heart had ministered His love to me.

Dear Lord, through  Your grace let my heart abide in You always. Keep my heart teachable and humble before You. Give me the willingness to trust You through the pain, knowing that  You are doing a beautiful work in my heart. Hold fast to me, My refuge and strength. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 “But on this one will I look:
On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit,
And who trembles at My word."
Isaiah 66:2

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there Is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
Psalm 139:23-24

“I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.”  
Isaiah 57:15


Friday, June 6, 2014

Delicate Cycle or A Heavy-Duty Wash?


"Wash away all my iniquity 
and cleanse me from my sin."
Psalm 51:2

I often wash our children's sneakers and footwear on the gentle cycle of our washing machine. It cleans and freshens up the shoes, and they look like new. We don't have to replace their shoes as often."Shoe Stewardship" as we call it.

After a day at the park (after a full day of rain the day before) with Gabrielle's class for an end-of-the-school-year picnic, our flip flops and sandals were filthy. The mud and wet playground mulch had seeped deep into the porous material of our footwear. When we got home, I put our footwear in the washing machine on the delicate cycle with some other delicate items. 

When the delicate load of laundry was complete, I opened up the washer to hang the clothes and to put the shoes out in the sun for drying. As I pulled out our footwear, I was surprised that much of the dirt was still there. The delicate cycle was not strong enough to do the deep cleaning they needed. I put the shoes back in the washer (in a laundry bag) with a heavy-duty load, which included high agitation, high spin and an extra rinse. After the heavy-duty load was complete, our footwear came out clean!

I felt God whisper to my heart as I stood in the laundry room finishing up the day's laundry. "Sometimes, Sharon, I need to run the heavy duty cycle on your heart to get out the yuck that has seeped in." Sometimes we go through "heavy-duty cycles with high agitation, high spin and an extra rinse" of our hearts. The heavy-duty agitation we experience and the high spin and extra rinse are just what our hearts need sometimes
. It is not comfortable; it is downright painful at times. But when the heavy-duty cycle is what works best, God uses it and faithfully does a necessary work in our hearts. 

Who knew the laundry room could become a sanctuary? God met me personally in our laundry room that day. The powerful wash and extra rinse by the Living Water through the water of His Word was just what I needed. While I'd often prefer to keep my heart on the delicate cycle for cleansing, I fully realize that any significant growth in my walk with the Lord would not occur without the deep cleaning my heart needs at times. And as only our amazing God can do, He is gentle with us even during the heavy-duty cycles of life. After all, He rules over the surging seas.  


[originally posted June 2009]

"O, LORD God Almighty, who is like You? 
You are mighty, O LORD, 
and Your faithfulness surrounds you. 
You rule over the surging sea; 
when its waves mount up, You still them."
Psalm 89:8-9

"I am gentle and humble in heart, 
and you will find rest for your souls."
Matthew 11:29

"He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; 
He will purify them and refine them like gold and silver."
Malachi 3:3

"And after the fire came a gentle whisper." 
1 Kings 19:12 

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Hope Peeks Out To See Love

Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue
but with actions and in truth.
1 John 3:18


His fragile frame and stumbling steps caught our eyes and grabbed our hearts.  Slowing traipsing across his front yard near the busy street, each stepped seemed laborious and purposeful.  Using a walker as support, his eyes were fixed on his goal:  the Sunday newspapers that were tossed and left at the edge of his property.  With no sidewalk in front of his home and a foreshortened shoulder on the side of the road, he seemed dangerously close to the street as he stooped down and reached for the newspapers. 

This precious elderly man's imbalanced cadence impelled our hearts synchronously. "Let's stop and bring up his newspapers for him whenever we can."




Our little family of four has passed this house thousands of times and never took notice.  But that Sunday morning on our way to church, our hearts were moved.  Moved by an aged man determined to reach his goal.  Moved by a neglected home that reflected endurance. 

Withered and seemingly unkempt, the house and the man seemed content together.

Several worn American flags hang in windows across the front of his house, causing us to wonder if he is a war veteran.  Through cracked glass, dangling shudders and faded paint, you feel the man's sense of pride in his homeland.

Though broken and neglected, we see strength in this house.  We imagine the same strength in the precious man.  The determination to weather the storms of life.  The character to fight through trials.  The endurance to reach goals.  The pride to hang a banner of identity even through blurred windows.

We see hope peeking out from behind the withered exterior.

So, as hope looks for love, we stop and quietly bring his papers up to his porch a few times a week, hoping that we are unnoticed and praying he feels loved. The children write him notes sometimes and we put them in bags and hang them on his door knob.  Praying for him every morning as we pass, and having only seen him that one Sunday morning, we excitedly hope to get another glimpse of him.

He is a stranger to us, but known completely and loved perfectly by Jesus.  And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’ ~ Matthew 25:40

An elderly man.  A tired home.  God's compassion beckons us to love in action and in truth.  Our daily drive to school and church took on a new measure of meaning.

Though we have never met, this man moved our hearts in the most beautiful of ways.  His house is building love in our hearts.  Our broken, hopeful, needful hearts.

So, as hope peeks out through dimmed windows and neglected walls, Love waits.  Love comes.  Love came.
Christ Jesus came into the world to save us...
1 Timothy 1:15

By wisdom a house is built,
and through understanding it is established; 
through knowledge its rooms are filled
with rare and beautiful treasures.
Proverbs 24:3-4

And so we know and rely
on the love God has for us.
God is love.
Whoever lives in love lives in God,
and God in him.
1 John 4:16

{originally posted February 2012}

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

"Living So That" is All That!

"We do not study God's Word to increase our head knowledge. We study God's Word so that God can change our hearts and our lives! John 15:5 promises that our lives will yield beautiful fruit if we will abide in Christ. One way to do that is by studying His Word. So surrender your heart and your time to Him." 

Monday 4/14/14 - Winners -- Rene, Stephanie, Unknown and Linda! Please contact me with your complete name and mailing address! Congratulations!

My intrinsically sweet friend, Wendy Blight, loves the Lord and loves His Word. Sitting having breakfast with her and talking about the joys and concerns of our hearts, tears spill out of her eyes as she talks about God's Word, His love and His faithfulness. Her tenderness for the Lord and His people is tangible.

Wendy has written a wonderful new Bible study titled Living So That: Making Faith-Filled Choices in the Midst of a Messy Life. I am so excited about this Bible study, which is suitable for individual study or with a small group. God's Word is fascinating, and I love seeing how many scriptures in the Bible have the phrase "so that" in them. God's Word is alive, and He has placed that "so that" clause throughout Scripture with a purpose for our hearts and lives.

Whether you are brand new to Bible study or are a seasoned student, this Bible study will bless, encourage, challenge and grow you! 

"No matter how often we read the Word of God, 
we receive something fresh and new each time."

I am DELIGHTED to give away a copy of Wendy's book - Living So That! Just leave a comment below including your name and contact information. A winner will be announced on Monday 4/14. Journey with Wendy on her adventure to live so that ~ according to God's Word and for His purposes and glory

Living So That is all that!

Thanks for stopping by today. Before you leave, be sure to check these out these free resources:

Sign up for Wendy's free companion devotional, "Five Days to a Faith-Full Life": click here.

For a sneak peek at Chapter One, "Jesus Came So That" click here.

To learn more about the book visit Wendy's Living So That page by clicking here.

"All scripture is God-breathed 
and is useful for teaching, 
rebuking, correcting and 
training in righteousness, 
so that the man of God 
may be thoroughly equipped 
for every good work."
2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NIV; emphasis added)