New Year: Thrive 2018 (Day Six)

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a-new-year-thriveDay Six

Marion Schefter, she told me once how she changed a dissolving storyline in her life into a good story.

She stood in the door of our little country chapel, one arm crooked through the handles of her purse, and she told me: “Well, I just purposed. Like Daniel. You know, you’ve read it — that Daniel purposed in his heart… so I figured that any dare to change my heart — starts with a purposing in the heart.”

I looked over at Marion and I could see it clear in her eyes: Purposing to change happens where prayer meets perseverance.

So I came home and I grabbed a pen and decided… I didn’t need New Year’s Resolutions this year… I want SOULutions … for a new me. I need to purpose in my heart & let prayer and perseverance meet, let there be a plan to purposely aim for, because if there’s nothing to aim for, you’ll get it every time.

My penmanship isn’t all Spencerian swirls like Marion’s but I scratched it down:

This is The Year
I purpose to —

* Embrace Imperfect: This is The Year to be held by the arms of grace, not to any standard of perfection.

* Engage Silence — not screens: This is The Year to engage silences regularly & retreat to the “back side of the wilderness.” Because when you do not need to be seen or heard — you can see and hear in desperately needed ways.

You find your true self when you look for your reflection in the eyes of souls — and not the glare of screens.

* Be still: Be small. Be Loved. Beloved.

Let yourself be loved anyway He wants to love you. God is always, always good & you are always, always, always. loved.

Be still …. & know.

* Believe in Him for impossABLE things.

Believe in Him who makes the ridiculously impossible into the miraculously possible, the unbelievable into the you-better-believe-it, the never into the now. Be the brave people who pray it bold in the space between the end of one year & the beginning of a New Year: BUT GOD.

“Ours is the God who whispers: “With Me nothing, Nothing, NOTHING is impossible.

Believe in Him for impossABLE things — because as long Emmanuel, God is with us & we are with God: nothing is impossible. Believe in Him for improbable, implausible, impractical, impossABLE things.

* Break idols — or they will break you. Break free, break out of ruts, break idols — or they will break you.

* Daily 3 for 10: These 3 for 10 everyday: Word In. Work Out. Work Plan. It’s not what you do every now and then, but what you do everyday, that changes everything.

Word in: Get into God’s Word for 10 minutes and let it get into you.

Work out: Work out. Even 10 minutes of moving is better than nothing.

Work plan: Write out the Work Plan — even just 3 things. And then just start: 10 minutes working the plan. 

* Do Less. Pray More: More than your doing hands, God wants your bended knees.

* Let Go of the Outcome: Come completely committed to the process — and completely let go of the outcome. In the middle of things seemingly not working out for us —- God is working out something in us.

* Learn Endurance: Do Hard & Holy Things. Break the idols of ease — or they will break you.

* Live Given.

Because LoveGives.
Because God so loved He gave.
Because Living is Giving.

* Give It Forward Today — 3 times a day. Give It Forward Today & be the GIFT — give an act of grace forward, 3 times a day. Be a GIFTivst. It’s the Giftivists are the activists who believe that radical acts of generosity counter radical acts of inhumanity. GIFTivst

* Grow Brave. Grow in Grace: Which is basically the same thing.

I scratched the whole thing down — then slipped the SOULutions into a frame. Figuring that unless you can daily see your Life SOULutions…. the year will end up to be more of a dissolution of your life. Maybe that’s one of the keys I’d never turned: Framable SOULutions — to frame up a new year, a new you.

Snow’s melting on the farm here, on the last days of the year, the pines and the eaves out at the end of the barn dripping one sliver drop at a time, old things melting away.

I never told Marion Schefter what she handed me that day in the country chapel’s door.

But I was told that the tulips are coming up here on the cusp of a new hoping year — and I’ve seen it with my own eyes, possibility like that.

Ann Voskamp

Wife, Mom, Author, and Speaker

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Original Blog Found Here:

http://annvoskamp.com/2015/12/this-is-the-year-when-new-year-resolutions-feel-hopeless-you-want-some-soulutions-free-printable/

New Year: Thrive 2018 (Day Five)

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Day Five

A Future and A Hopea-new-year-thrive

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Jeremiah 29:11 KNJV

As a divorcee struggling to rebuild my life, I yearned for a new partner and for the spiritual relationship with Jesus I had experienced as a youth, but had somehow lost as my marriage crumbled. It wasn’t long before I began to see Jeremiah 29:11 as my life verse.  Ignoring most of the scripture, I focused on the fact that God had plans for me to have “a future and a hope.” Wasn’t that what I was seeking after all – hope of a new man in my life as well as a renewed walk with my Savior? As a result, Jeremiah 29:11 would become my “go-to-verse” whenever loneliness and darkness would consume me.

As God pieced together my brokenness, He led me to some great Christian pastors, teachers, and mentors who walked along side me teaching me how to study God’s word paying attention to context, meditating on God’s message, and the application of the scriptures. It was only then that I would come to understand the true and deeper meaning of Jeremiah 29:11.

This verse is given to the children of Israel while they were in exile and bondage in Babylon. Not only were they in bondage but God instructed them to serve King Nebuchadnezzar. Jeremiah 27:6-7 goes on to say that He will destroy them if they are disobedient. Three times God told them of this potential destruction in Jeremiah 27.

As if that was not enough, God tells them in Jeremiah 29:7 to, “Seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray to the Lord for it; for in its peace you will have peace.” Really?? God wanted them to pray for the place where they were held captive?? Can you imagine how difficult that would be to hear?? God’s not going to just rescue them?? Instead, they are to serve the King and pray for the place where they are being held captive.

To make matters worse, in Jeremiah 29:10 God tells them,For thus says the Lord: After seventy years are completed at Babylon, I will visit you and perform My good word toward you, and cause you to return to this place.”  What? Wait 70 years?!  Many of them will have died by that time!!!

Yet, in Jeremiah 29:11 God reassures them,“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

God had a purpose in asking the Israelites to serve King Nebuchadnezzar, to pray for Babylon. He had a purpose in asking them to wait 70 years for Him to rescue them. He also has a purpose in our suffering; we are to remain obedient by serving, by praying, and by waiting. We are called to remain assured that in His perfect time, His purpose and His plan will be revealed in our life.

This verse is still my life verse, but I am no longer just focusing on God giving me “a future and a hope.” Instead, I try to focus on serving, praying, and remaining faithful-being confident that in His perfect timing He will fulfill His future and hope in my life. Amen!  

Marilyn Hoeth

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New Year: Thrive 2018 (Day Four)

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a-new-year-thriveDay Four

Tonight I had to tell a friend, again, that “I’ll just pray.”

A friend who is hurting deeply. A friend I want so much to HELP. A friend who doesn’t deserve the pain she’s going through.

And for a moment, those 3 words felt cheap. Like praying is the last option and I’ll have to settle for it. “I’ll just pray.” It felt like praying isn’t enough. I need to DO SOMETHING. Don’t I?? Wouldn’t a good friend do something? Something great? Something SUPER helpful? Something that would alleviate her pain at least a LITTLE bit?!?!

A good friend would fix this.

Circumstances right now are keeping me from doing something. And I feel like a jerk. So I’ve been wrestling with that all day.

And that still, small, faithful voice started whispering to me. It sounded just like this:

“Shea, I’m here with her.”

I know God, but I’m not. And a good friend would be with her. She just would. A good friend would’ve been with her two weeks ago. A good friend would’ve done more. She would have perfect plans and plenty of people in place to help with the pain. That’s what good friends do.

You know what, God? In our culture “I’ll just pray” sounds like a cop out.

This is the part where God should whack me in the face and give me a Sunday School lesson on prayer and trusting Him and about how He is sufficient and all that. He totally should.

But instead He whispers:

“Shea, prayer is powerful.  She needs you to pray. Prayer is enough.”

I don’t know how He does it. I guess He’s God so I don’t need to try to figure it out but in that moment I just wanted to weep. In that moment I realized how small my view of prayer is and how BIG my view of ME is.

Me. The fixer. The one who wants to DO SOMETHING. So that I’ll be seen as the “good friend.” Good friends don’t “just pray.” Good friends fix things. They get to work. I realized how pervasive that perspective is. And how full of arrogance and error.

So my prayers for my friend’s pain tonight started with prayers for my perspective to shift so that I would trust that God is with her. And that prayer is powerful. Because why pray if I don’t think it’s powerful? I needed Him to shift my perspective. So that I would know and believe and walk in truth.

And stop thinking I need to rush around saving the world when He already has.

I can rest in that.

And pray to the One who holds all things together. He is acquainted with sorrows, suffering, and grief. And I feel like I say this every day but HE is the ONE who is SO NEAR TO THE BROKEN-HEARTED. I probably say that every day because there are so many broken-hearted people. People who need prayer. Prayer before a Facebook page, a Go Fund Me account, a T-shirt, a campaign or hashtag or slogan or event.

Because prayer changes things.

It accomplishes things I could never do with my two hands and two feet and one mind… even when I’m thinking clearly.

Prayer changes things.

It shifts my perspectives and reminds me who is really, truly, radically at work in all of these situations. When I remember that God, the Creator of all things, is at work… I can rest.

And find peace.

Prayer draws me into the work He is doing through the right door. The door He opens when I pray. In the past, I just barged into situations with my agenda and then wondered when He was going to show up and join me. Prayer allows me to cease striving and know He is God and that He will show me where to join Him at the perfect time.

All other “work” is futile.

So I’m convicted tonight – but hopeful. Which I’m learning is the way of Jesus. Convicted that I thought I was the answer to my friend’s pain instead of praying to the One who is. But hopeful because His kindness toward me in my haughty heart drew me near to Him in repentance. I found that throne of grace to be so beautiful tonight. It’s what I needed… and what my friend needs… and where I will sit until He shows me where to join Him.

My prayer is that He is pouring out peace and strength and that I would trust that He holds all of us in His hands.

In His hands, I can be an instrument of grace. Of love. Of hope. Of peace. Working in His power. And for His glory.

Amen.

Catherine Shae Politte

Wife, Mom, & Blogger

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Original Blog Found Here (Used with Permission):

http://www.cspolitte.com/blog/ill-just-pray

New Year: Thrive 2018 (Day Three)

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a-new-year-thriveDay Three

The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD 

establishes his steps.

(Proverbs 16:9)

I have always been a planner. If things don’t go according to my plan, I change my plan so that I can eventually meet up with my first plan. Well, as I’m sure you know, that doesn’t always work out. We had planned to have our kids 3 years apart, no more and no less. But God had other plans for us. With our first child, Sophie, things were easy.  But with our second, Olivia, we had to work. Hard.

Fertility treatments, monthly visits to the doctor, all kinds of testing. We even got down to exploratory surgery. Then I gave up. I was done. I realized everything we were doing was MY plan. Not Jason’s. Not God’s. We stopped all treatment. It came time to schedule the surgery and I had to take a test, but I didn’t want to. I didn’t want the heartbreak that came with every single test. But this time it was different. It was positive.

I called the doctor, scheduled blood work and cancelled the surgery. Everything was great until we got a call from the doctor’s office saying something was wrong with my levels. We were showing to be more than 8 weeks pregnant, not just 5. We went in to the appointment not knowing what we would find, and were shocked with what they did find…2 babies.

I was distraught. Jason was shocked. We couldn’t believe it. After all the work we put in, God was giving us 2 babies. How would we manage financially? How could I work, with probable bed rest? We didn’t know what to do.

The doctor advised us not to say anything to family or friends because there was a difference in size, so we didn’t. At the next visit we were down to only one baby. Now I was devastated. I had seen both babies in my dreams since we found out. But Jason and I had to acknowledge that God giveth, and He taketh away.

God’s plan led us to be parents of a wonderful little girl that we wouldn’t trade for anything. It’s hard to see what God has planned for us when we put our own wants ahead of his. I am so thankful for His timing and His plans. They are much better suited for me than my own.

Michelle Martinez

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New Year: Thrive 2018 (Day Two)

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Day Two

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
Philippians 4:6

God’s activity is not confined to the spectacular and jaw-dropping. He does a plethora of things that never make headlines or invite peals of applause. Some of His work—dare I say, some of His best work—is performed on the most ordinary days, in the most ordinary places and ways, with ordinary people. Like us.

The tendency of humanity is to put God into our self-established theological box into which we hope He will comfortably fit, a box that doesn’t allow for the supernatural and amazing . . . because that is too big. But sometimes the box we’ve chosen doesn’t make room for Him to work in the routine and ordinary. That is too small.

Yet a God-box is still a God-box, no matter where you position it in your faith. Limiting our view of Him to the stupendous is not really any different from limiting our view of Him to the monotonous. He doesn’t exist only in the stratosphere of extravagant need. His ability comes all the way down to the ground, to the places we live on regular weekdays while working, playing, eating, and engaging in ordinary realities.

By no means does this understanding minimize Him to a trivial fraction of who He is. It actually magnifies the detailed and caring nature of His character. The same God who divided the Red Sea is the same God who knows about the loss of a solitary, fallen sparrow and takes the time to number the hairs on our heads (Matt. 10:29–30). He knows when His children are in grave agony, just as He knows and cares when it has simply been one of those really long mornings. Nothing escapes His attention. Nothing is too small to avoid His notice. He cares about it all.

In highlighting His attention to routine detail, the Scripture counteracts a lie we find so easy to believe—that God may have been loving enough to send His Son to die for us, taking care of our biggest thing, but He’s not much interested in taking care of our little things, our daily things, our too-small-to-mention things. Yet “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?” (Rom. 8:32).

There’s a comprehensiveness to God’s ability that covers all that concerns us. “He forgives all your iniquity; he heals all your diseases” (Ps. 103:3 csb). He invites “all who are weary and heavy-laden” to come experience His rest (Matt. 11:28). He says His lovingkindness “will follow me all the days of my life” (Ps. 23:6), and that if we seek His kingdom above every other desire, “all these things” will be given (Matt. 6:33)—full provision, food and clothing, love and shelter, every need.

He who is saving you from hell is also willing and able to save what’s left of your nerves and your workweek. Because even in the fine print of Scripture, we can trace the detailed care and concern of our God for everything we face.

Even that thing.

The mundane thing.

The ordinary thing.

The small thing.

The Lord will accomplish what concerns me; Your lovingkindness, O Lord, is everlasting. (Psalm 138:8)

What are some things you don’t often vocalize to God in prayer because you think they’re too insignificant to bring up? Trust Him specifically with even those things today.

Excerpt taken from Awaken: 90 Days with the God Who Speaks.

Priscilla Shirer

Author, Speaker, and Mom

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Originally posted here:

https://www.goingbeyond.com/blog/even-that-thing/

A New Year: Thrive 2018 (Day One)

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a-new-year-thriveWe all have a story and your story matters. Your story tells the history of your journey with Christ and speaks to the beauty of humanity. We engage in sharing our stories because our stories connect us. As the New Year begins, we want to be women who embrace new beginnings. We serve a God of second chances, and what better opportunity than the New Year to encourage one another to risk hoping for a new beginning!

Through the years, God has taught the women at Taylor’s Valley Baptist Church immeasurable truths about Himself and how our connections matter. Our connections often provide the fuel for vulnerability, a trait necessary for new starts. Over the next 31 days you will meet 31 different women sharing 31 different stories. Our hope is that by sharing our stories, we will show God’s faithfulness in our everyday lives and encourage you to look for God in all the new beginnings of a new year.  Get ready to belly laugh, shed a few tears (grab a tissue), and prepare your heart for God to speak through, “A New Year: Thrive.”

Sara Burt, Director of TVBC Thrive Women’s Ministry

Day One

Where can I go from your Spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence?

(Psalm 139:7)

I am always amazed when God’s Word speaks directly into my heart and circumstances. I wish I had written down the many times His Word has spoken into my life. The times I do remember are precious to me.

One of those times happened many years ago while we were living in Senegal, West Africa. After my second miscarriage, I could not shake the thought that if I were in America, this would not be happening to me. I am not sure I could have articulated all that I was feeling, but underneath it all was a questioning of the goodness of God. After all, He had called us to be missionaries in West Africa where the medical services were not as advanced as those in Europe or America.

I would not have voiced those thoughts. But God was listening to my heart. One morning, as I was praying and reading the Word, He used this passage to expose what was in my heart and give me a new perspective.

Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you. (Psalm 139:7-12)

The phrase: ”If I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast!” struck me like a physical blow. God was still God on both sides of the Atlantic. He brought me to that place and He would guide and hold me. I eventually had four miscarriages, but I never forgot the lesson He taught me during that time.

Alice Statler

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A New Year: Thrive 2/4

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a-new-year-thriveAnd let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
(Galatians 6:9)
That time of the year has come where we approach setting goals and try to change a habit or two. Looking and feeling lean has always been a goal of mine, and it will take determination to get there. I have had success within the first 21 days and I tell myself it’s not just for my appearance, but also for my overall health. But now that February has approached, I notice that I’m not progressing on my New Year’s Resolution as I would have hoped. So, I try different eating habits and exercise routines hoping the end result is not that I end up back where I was before I made this commitment to myself to make myself healthier.
We are stewards of this vessel God has given us and it is our job to nurture it. Our hearts are idol-making factories as Augustine once said. We fail because we focus on ourselves. We place ourselves as the goal.
Imagine if we focused on what God wanted us to do? We could use that same drive, determination, and motive behind our resolution and direct it toward God’s will and purpose for our lives. Will we be perfect? No of course not. We are sinners after all. Paul says not even he has achieved the goal, but presses on (Philippians 3:14). We should have a daily RESOLUTION to pray and study the Word of God. Just as my 21-day Fix videos tell me to take it one day and one pound at a time, we should daily ask God to keep us on track.
John Owen says we should be killing sin or it will be killing you. Let us press on toward the goal, the upwards calling of Christ Jesus.
You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop and look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, “I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.” You must do the one thing you think you cannot do.
(Eleanor Roosevelt)
Jessica Statler
TVBC Youth Minister’s Wife
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A New Year: Thrive 1/31

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a-new-year-thriveChoosing to Thrive

It sounds so simple: you were made to thrive, not just survive.

Yet how many of us find ourselves so often in survival-mode?

Adding 4 children to our family in less than a decade naturally meant that in certain seasons, we were surviving. In that season, Jared and I would attempt to brainstorm a different plan to combat the chaos tracking that week, but those conversations often ended with one of us saying, “This is a season. We are surviving. It’s ok” (possibly the sleep-deprivation talking !).

Looking back, I’m thankful we had enough sense to provide the space to “just survive” with realistic expectations. God in His great love, carried us through proving His faithfulness in trying seasons.

I do not believe, however, that God intends for His children to stay in survival-mode indefinitely.

This last month, the women at TVBC have been blogging testimonies for our “A New Year: Thrive” posts. I hope you have enjoyed their testimonies as I have! Such wisdom among these women. Many have shared with us how good God has been to them in different seasons. Yes, sometimes “just surviving” is a testament to the faithfulness of God. He is a God who sees and cares about our immediate circumstances. He has promised a purpose and a goodness through the trials (Jeremiah 29:11). But we do not want to be women who only experience God from the need in tragedy.

  • We want to be women who plant roots, cultivate, and nurture our relationship with Him.
  • We want to flourish in all seasons.
  • We want to thrive.

So how do we do that?

I believe we can thrive if we follow these few simple steps:

  1. Abide in Christ (John 7:38). We need to daily dig into the Word. For most of us, choosing to daily invest time reading Scripture means we are saying no to something else. If you want to thrive, are you willing to say no to a daily habit in order to say yes to abiding in Christ? Dig into and drink from the wellspring of life.
  2. Be a worshiper (Romans 12:1). True worship is birthed from a correct posturing of oneself against the identity and character of a holy God-the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob who took on flesh, became a suffering servant, blameless in word and deed, and proved His divinity in His resurrection! When we truly realize who we are in light of who Christ is, how can we help but begin worship with thankfulness? If we want to thrive, we must be women of thankfulness. What better discipline to grow thankfulness than that of true worship?
  3. Finally, hold fast to community (1 John 1:7). To thrive entails growth. Thriving cannot be to stay the same. God designed us, His prized creation to need one another. In participating in the body of Christ, in doing life together, we find encouragement and accountability that leads to a spiritual deepening. If you have ever felt like you cannot do it all or do not have enough time to complete that which God has called you to, then you are not alone. God does not give us all the time we need because we were created to exist in gospel-centered community. This means we were meant to depend upon one another to complete His calling! Gospel-centered fellowship is crucial for our spiritual growth.

We want to be women who reflect the image of God as His image-bearers. In some seasons, God is shown glorious through His faithfulness to us in difficult circumstances when we need to be carried through just to survive. Those who have walked this kind of season, often marked with tender vulnerability, know what I mean when I say Christ and His presence is intimately treasured in a unique way. 047f013d48dc325e183fc10c41a590cf

While these markers on our journey are important and inevitable (John 16:33), learning to operate in all seasons from a deeply rooted stability is equally vital. This stability allows us to thrive, not merely survive. We become like sturdy trees, reflecting the fullness of life, joy, and peace that can be found in Christ…in and out of season (Psalm 1:1-3).

In 2017, let’s grow some deep roots girls. Let’s nourish and cultivate our relationship with God through His Word, worship, and our fellowship with one another. Let’s thrive.

Sara

 

 

A New Year: Thrive 1/30

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a-new-year-thriveI love listening to K-LOVE and hearing stories of how God speaks to people through song. Whether it be words of encouragement, an answer to prayer, direction in times of need, or affirmation, I find these stories an encouraging reminder of God’s love for us.
It also reminds me of times when I felt God speaking to me in unique ways.
Having been diagnosed with Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), I knew conceiving a child might prove difficult, if not impossible. Even so, I had not given it much thought.
For several years, including the first three years of marriage, I was working as a substitute teacher at an elementary school. I had dropped my class off for lunch and was walking back to my classroom, when I noticed a little girl walking beside me. She looked up at me and asked if I was Caitlin’s mom.  I said no, but she kept staring at me and walking right alongside me.  So I asked her if I looked like Caitlin’s mom, and she said yeah. We both went to our respective classrooms.
I finished the day, sent my students home, cleaned my classroom, wrote notes for the returning teacher, and signed out to go home myself. As I was walking to my car, I saw this same little girl playing at the flagpole. It is noteworthy to mention she probably should not have been there. All buses had left, car riders had been picked up, and those that walked home were likely home by now. But this little girl was playing unsupervised outside the school. As I walked by her, she once again engaged me in conversation. She said to me, “If you want a baby, you should ask God for a baby. That’s what my mom did. She asked God for a baby and He gave her one.” Taken aback I responded, “Well, maybe I will do that.” With an excited matter-of-fact tone, she said, “When you get home. Yes, that is it! When you get home ask God to give you a baby. And He will!”
That day I did not ask God for a baby, I thanked Him for giving me a baby. I thanked Him for the child I had not yet conceived. I knew that He had sent this little girl to tell me a prayer I had not even prayed had already been answered. How amazing is our God that He takes the time to meet our needs, sometimes even before we ask? He meets us where we are and comforts us, encourages us, and reminds us He is in control. His timing is perfect.
Fast forward about six months and I found myself at a fertility doctor, trying to have a baby. I was praying for that child!  I was also wearing a prayer bracelet with one charm attached. The charm was a small silver box that opened to hold a hand-written prayer. I had typed my prayer on the computer using a teeny tiny font. I printed it, cut it out, and carefully rolled it up into a tiny scroll before placing it in my bracelet. I wore this piece of jewelry everyday, taking it off at night and putting it back on in the morning. I prayed through that prayer throughout the days for about six months.
One evening I was getting ready for bed and I pulled back the blankets to find this little rolled up piece of paper. “That looks like my prayer,” I thought. I unrolled it to find it was in fact the prayer that was suppose to be in my charm. I must have slept in my bracelet that night and somehow, my prayer fell out of my bracelet. This might not have seemed strange except that the box on this bracelet was not easy to open. I often had to use my thumb nail to forcibly flick the latch open. So while I was sleeping, this hard to open bracelet “accidentally” opened, my prayer fell out, and the box re-latched itself.
Once again, God had spoken to me in a unique and personal way, not through a child, but through a piece of jewelry. I knew at that moment God was telling me, “This prayer has been answered.” I put that little piece of paper in my jewelry box and said another prayer, asking for a healthy, happy baby. I was in fact pregnant!
Before, it was ever confirmed by a doctor, my Heavenly Father comforted and reassured me that my prayers had been heard.
How amazing is our God that when we pray He always hears us!
How amazing that the creator of the universe takes the time to speak to us!
Be encouraged. He hears your prayers, He listens, and He always answers them…in His perfect timing and in His perfect way.
Lynda Martinson
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A New Year: Thrive 1/28

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a-new-year-thriveGrowing up in the church, I sometimes felt I did not have a testimony to share that would allow people to see God’s hand in my life. Up until a few years ago, my life was pretty easy. Ups and downs would come but I could easily manage through.

Spring Break of 2010 changed that.

During this holiday week, God added three additional children to our home. Dealing with the heartache that comes through a CPS case is hard enough for adults, but even worse on the children involved. God used this crisis to bring family devotions into our home as I tried to help my children, my niece, and my nephews make sense of this situation. A few months later in August, our world would stop in an instant.

I can clearly remember the moment Dr. Barkis told Nathan and I they found a mass on my brain. For what felt like the first time in my life, I was not in control of anything. I had no choice but to rely on God.

At the end of September, I could no longer keep up appearances. I needed a release. I spent time with God and completely gave him everything, allowing him to carry me and my family. The feeling of relief and calm was almost indescribable.

From that day on, I was free to see God’s hand at work. Many of my coworkers and friends ironically believed me to be in a state of disbelief or denial, but I was able to use those moments and give God praise for His strength.

Both of these difficult situations are not closed chapters in my journey home but God is in control of them. I may never completely understand the reason for my struggles but I know they are part of bigger plan.

I know in every situation God will be glorified.

My testimony may have a little more punch to it now, but God will use all of us, if we are willing, to better His kingdom through the word of each unique testimony. When is the last time you let go gave God complete control?

This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; He is my God, and I trust Him.

(Psalm 91:2)

Amber Franklin

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