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Month: November 2015

Creating A Purposeful Season of Thanks: Study 4

Creating A Purposeful Season of Thanks: Study 4

“Have you seen the news?” was the question that echoed through my phone as I was talking with my mother in-law.  Our family had been across town for the better part of the evening and the nightly news was the furthest thing from my mind!

Once we hopped back in the car I pulled up the news on my phone and shock and devastation instantly washed over me.

Bombings in Paris.  Shootings.  Attacks.  Innocent lives lost. Souls entering eternity!

The despairing news caused millions of people across the world to mourn for the people of France.

Evil had shown it’s face once again in such an inhuman way.

As I hear chatter across the world, as I listen to people in our country, and even in the community in which I live, one word sums up what is reverberating from all corners of the world.

Fear. Im not perfect but im always me: Living in Fear!

Because let’s face it, suicide bombers, criminals, “bad guys”, they are downright scary!

If we let it, our imagination will run wild with vivid imagery’s of what could be or “what if” scenarios.”  As questioned on social media the other day, “Someone rang my door bell and I was afraid!  How do I know if I can trust the person on the other side of my door?”

Fear can get such a choke-hold on us!  It can weigh us down and make it hard for us to even gasp for air!

In the quiet of this moment, can I share some truth and comfort with you, sweet friend?

In this purposeful season of thanks, we can be grateful that our HOPE is safe and secure in Christ!  It does not lie with our President, nor any man for that hope is a good challenge... - chrisprefontaine.commatter!  Our HOPE is found and secured in CHRIST!

Psalm 43:5, “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.

It does not matter what is going on in life, we can cling to Him and have HOPE!  Why?  Because ultimately God is in control!  There may be battles on this earth but He has ultimately won the war!!  Read the book of Revelation!  He WON!

Check out the praise that Hannah prayed in 1 Samuel 2:9-10, “He will keep the feet of his saints, and the wicked shall be silent in darkness; for by strength shall no man prevail. The adversaries of the LORD shall be broken to pieces; out of heaven shall he thunder upon them: the LORD shall judge the ends of the earth; and he shall give strength unto his king, and exalt the horn of his anointed.
She was confident that God is in control, and we can too!

Our enemy knows his time is limited and with the time he has left he is resolved to cause as much devastation as possible and attempt to cripple us with fear.  Remember, the spirit of fear is from our enemy, not God.  Our enemy feeds us everything that God opposes.  {2 Timothy 1:7, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

Let’s not give our enemy that power over us!  When he tries to tempt us with fear, let’s remind him of what his future holds!  Cry out to God and sink deep into His Word feeding your soul on His truth.  God has won and we are victorious through Him!  Thank God for the HOPE we have in Christ!

Be encouraged sweet friends!

Many blessings,

Wendy

Ps: If you have been encouraged by this post, please feel free to share it with others!

 

Out of the Mouth of Babes

Out of the Mouth of Babes

(Today’s guest post comes from my dear friend Emily, who is the adoring wife of her husband and Pastor, Matt.  They are from chilly, but beautiful Canada and have four children!  I know you will be both challenged and encouraged by her today! )
Emily
I have been a parent for just over 9 years now.  Before I had children, and even now, I love to read good biblically based books on parenting.  I suppose I enjoy it so much because it helps me not feel so alone in my feelings and struggles.  Its nice to know I am not the only mom who has gone to her bedroom and cried (or screamed into her pillow) out of pure frustration.  Its encouraging to know that I am not the only mother who has yelled at her children.  Its helpful to hear from moms who have made their way “through the trenches” and come out on the other side with wonderful words of wisdom and advice that they have learned throughout the years.
I pick up these books and expect that I will learn something from them.  That’s the whole purpose of reading them – to glean knowledge from others.  What I don’t always expect is what I would learn from my own children.  That is something that always seems to take me off guard, but always has great impact on my heart and life.  Let me give you an example.
We have a bedtime routine that we try to stick to in our home.  As with anything, it doesn’t always go the same way, but for the most part, we try to go through that routine each night.  After supper, the kids usually have a little time to play, then its bath/shower time.  Once all that is done, we gather in our family room and have song and prayer time.  During this time, we try to go over what we had studied in our devotions from that morning, and then we sing a few Bible songs and pray.  Then its off to bed (and the half-hour to hour long process that seems to take!  Whew! 🙂 )
A couple months ago, my hubby was gone at a meeting (he is a pastor so this is not a rare occurrence) so I was on my own with our bedtime routine.  The kids were all bathed and in their PJs and we had just finished singing.  This particular night all four children wanted to pray, so we went down the row.  I always love to hear my children pray.  I feel it gives me a little glimpse into their hearts and what is important to them.  Sometimes they pray for silly things, and sometimes they pray for things I didn’t even know was heavy on their hearts.
When it came time for the three-year-old to pray, she started with her typical, “Dear Jesus, thank you for this day.  Thank you for our family…”  More often than not, her prayers are pretty much the same each time.  But this night she added a little something that has stuck with me and been mulling over and over in my head for months now.  Here was her whole prayer:
“Dear Jesus.  Thank you for this day.  Thank you for our family.
Help me to learn to obey.  Help mommy and daddy to learn to obey.
Help us to have a good night.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.”
When she came to the part about “mommy and daddy to learn to obey” I kind of snickered to myself and thought that was funny and cute.  We finished prayer time and I got all the kids in bed.  Then, later that night, when I was getting ready for bed, I thought back on her prayer and was immediately convicted in my heart.  I had laughed off the fact that she prayed for me and daddy to learn to obey. She hears me pray for my children all the time to learn to obey, usually thinking specifically of learning to obey ME. 🙂  But as adults, we don’t need to learn that, right?  But that’s not true.  Not exactly.
Oh, I don’t “have” to obey my parents anymore.  I am grown and moved on and my husband and I make our own rules and decisions in our home.  I no longer answer to my parents.  But that doesn’t exclude me from having to obey God.  I will never outgrow that one.  And that is one I haven’t quite gotten a handle on, either.
Don’t get me wrong – sometimes its very easy to obey God. Sometimes it is pretty easy to obey.  I don’t even have to think about it.  I say, “Sure, Lord!  I’ll do that!” responding just like my kids do to my instruction – sometimes. But what about the other times when God asks me to obey – to do some “harder” things.  Do I obey Him then?
God has commanded me to be submissive to my husband.  Sometimes that is easy peasy.  Sometimes, I plain don’t want to.  God has commanded me to love my neighbour as myself.  But I will admit – there are some people in the world I have trouble loving and I certainly have no trouble loving myself.  God has commanded me to put nothing and no one before Him.  But its super easy for me to put kids, family, and friends before Him.  These are things God tells me to do EVERY DAY and I struggle with them EVERY DAY.
Sometimes, there are bigger things God may ask me to do.  Have I learned to obey Him?  Eight years ago God called my husband to pastor a small country church in New Brunswick, Canada.  My husband surrendered to God’s leading, and we went.  But even as we were moving, I refused to agree with God.  I did not want to move there and I was mad at Him and my husband.  I hadn’t obeyed so well then.
I have had many health issues in my life.  Sometimes God asks me to go through some difficult and painful things.  And I don’t always willing obey.  I don’t want to obey and I get upset.  I wonder “why me” and stomp my figurative spiritual foot with my arms crossed.  I don’t really obey then either.  Even now, God has been impressing some things that I need to do and change in my life and heart.  But it scares me and I don’t want to obey.
When I tell my children to do something, it almost never is just for the fun of it.  I tell them to clean their room so they can learn responsibility and to learn to take care of the things they have been blessed with (and to keep our house from becoming a huge disaster area! 🙂 )  When I tell them to hold my hand in a parking lot, it is for their safety because they don’t always pay attention to the things around them.  When I tell them to be kind or to think of others, it is to teach them that other people matter and they need to think of others’ needs and feelings.  When I tell them to share it is to show them that they are not the centre of the universe and that they need to be aware of other people.
Everything I tell them to do has a purpose.  I have a goal in mind to help mold them into descent, kind, giving, and God-honouring human beings.
And I believe it is the same with God.  He doesn’t tell us to do something so He can get a laugh out of it.  He doesn’t ask us to obey even when we don’t want to just so He can show us whose boss.  He has an ultimate goal, a purpose, and a plan for not only our individual lives but for the whole world. That is why it is so important for us to learn to obey.
So you see, it may have been a sweet, simple, innocent prayer said off-the-cuff by my 3-year-old.  But it was a sermon straight to the heart for me and a lesson I needed to hear.   I need to learn to obey.  I need to learn to obey God so I can become the person that He wants me to be – the person that He designed and created me to be. Obeying is for my own good.
And now I often think back on that prayer and ask myself one question:  What is God telling me to do today that I need to obey?
I am so thankful that I have wonderful books to read that help me in my parenting journey.  But I am also very thankful for the four little ones God has blessed me with to constantly teach me more about myself and my God.
~Emily Sealy
Ps: If you have been encouraged by this post, please feel free to share it with others!
Creating A Purposeful Season of Thanks: Study 3

Creating A Purposeful Season of Thanks: Study 3

It was a Wednesday evening and my husband and I were getting ready for church.  We had just returned from our dreamy honeymoon a few days prior and we were beginning to settle into life together as man and wife.

That’s when the phone rang.

I checked the caller ID and when I saw it was my mom I picked up with a cheery, “Hey Mom!”

Sniffles on the other end were all I could hear.

“He’s gone, Wendy.  Your Dad is gone.”

Gone? Gone where? My mind raced to understand what she was saying.

“Your dad, he, he’s died.”

My heart instantly sank to my feet as I collapsed on our hand me down couch. How is this possible?  What happened?  At the time no one knew, an autopsy would need to be done in the coming days.  All we knew was that while my mother was out running an errand, my dad took his last breath in his living room and was now in eternity.

Now I was left to deal with the memory of the last words my dad ever spoke to me on this earth. Though he was a believer, he had not walked with God for many many years. Sadly, rage and bitterness had indwelt his very being.

The very last words my father ever spoke to me on this side of heaven were, “You are the biggest disappointment in my life.”  He then turned around and walked away.

His words stung deeply and sank into my heart and that was now the last memory I would ever have of my dad here on earth.  Disappointing anyone goes against my very being, how was I ever going to get past this?

I found myself in the coming days and weeks faced with a decision.  Would I forgive my dad and move forward?  Could I forgive and move on?

Forgiveness is an interesting thing, isn’t it?  Some of us have been profoundly wounded and the thought of forgiving is just inconceivable.  Though it may not be painless, forgiveness is essential for the Christian life.

Oh how grateful we can be for forgiveness!  Christ saw us, and all of the sins we would ever commit, and still said, “You are worth it!” as He died on the cross to pay the penalty for your sins, and mine!  Making a way for us to have legitimate, honest, true forgiveness!

And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;” Colossians 2:13-14

Christ has set the ultimate standard for how we are to forgive, but sometimes in our sinful nature we feel like saying, “Enough!  You have wronged me one to many times! I’m over it! No more!!”

I think Peter in the New Testament could relate.  Let’s look at Matthew 18:21-22, “Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.”

This passage causes me to wonder if Peter had been hurt by someone again and again, and he was looking for a justifiable reason to stop forgiving.  I mean, if Christ says it’s okay to stop forgiving, it must be alright!

I love Christ’s response!  No, He was not telling Peter to go begin making tally marks against all those that had offended him.  He was simply saying, “Keep on, Peter, keep on!”

I love what Stormie Omartian says in her book 30 Days to Becoming A Woman of Prayer. “Forgiveness doesn’t make the other person right, it makes us free!”

The person who wronged us may never come asking to be forgiven, but it is imperative that we forgive anyway!  Unforgiveness tends to lead to bitterness and God tell us in Hebrews 12:15b, “lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;“.  Bitterness will always effect more than just us. 

If we choose to not forgive, the only person we will end up hurting is ourselves. Matthew 6:14-15, For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses”  Our decision to not forgive will be what keeps us from receiving forgiveness from Christ! 

What better way to show God our appreciation for His forgiveness of us, then to forgive others!

So there I was, reeling in the shock of my fathers sudden death and faced with a decision,  was I going to forgive him of the hurtful words he spoke?

Because of the grace of God, I have been able to forgive.  I can live my life in peace, knowing that God is not disappointed in me!

Praise God for the gift of forgiveness!  Praise God that we do not have to live a life of unforgiveness and be bound up with bitterness!  He has made a way for us to be forgiven and has shown us how to forgive!  Oh how good our great God is!

Many blessings,

Wendy

ps: If this has been an encouragement, please feel free to share it with others!

Creating A Purposeful Season of Thanks: Study 2

Creating A Purposeful Season of Thanks: Study 2

“Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mineWhen thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon theeFor I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour: I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee. Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee.”  ~Isaiah 43:1b-4a

Labels.  They are often a necessity, and when in the right context they are SO helpful!  I  for one am thankful my hairspray has a label on it!  If it didn’t, I would end up accidentally picking up a can of something else and instead of having a hairstyle that stays in place, I could have a radical new hair color!

What about labels in the kitchen?  Labels on spices are helpful aren’t they?  The dinners in our household would  quickly turn into something awfully peculiar if we suddenly had WB0933574nothing on the bottles to distinguish one seasoning from another!  We rely on labels to be correct, true, real!

When it comes to many household products, brands of clothing, labels on groceries, etc these can be so helpful and very needed.  Yet, how often do we carry false labels around that we or others have placed on us?

When we stand in front of our mirror, instead of seeing ourselves the way God sees us, we are often blinded by false branding.

“Failure”, “Incompetent”, “Ugly”, “Loner”, “Introvert”, “Perfectionist”, “Messy”, “Unworthy”, and on the list goes.

We consistently find ourselves so busy believing those descriptions, that we are unable to quiet our minds and hear what God calls us.  I’ve been there, have you?

The past several weeks or so I found myself in this battle.  I would look in the mirror or lie in bed at night and only see the headline, “Wendy, also synonymous with failure!”

 I felt as if I was falling so short as a wife, making far to many mistakes as a mom, inundated with the sense of failing in my role as Pastor’s wife, and then when it came to getting my book published, goodness what was I thinking?  How could God ever use this book in the life of someone else?  There I sat in my defeat, having an early Thanksgiving feast on the lies that my enemy willingly fed me by the spoonfuls!  Failure was etched loved_newacross my forehead, or so I thought.

Oh friend, how thankful we can be that God takes the time to remind us, He calls us different names then we call ourselves.  When we look in the mirror and see “failure”, God says, “No, you are victorious through Me!”  Romans 8:37, “In all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.”

When we lay in bed engulfed by loneliness, He says, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee”, Hebrews 13:5b.  Then reminds us He is, “a friend that sticketh closer than a thumb-forgivenbrother.” Proverbs 18:24

We tend to be so hard on ourselves, berating ourselves again and again with sins we have already been forgiven for.  God says, “And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;” Colossians 2:13-14

God has a whole other set of names He calls us and all of them are the complete opposite of what the enemy shouts to us.  God speaks in a still small voice, the enemy does not.

Believe what God calls you and says about you!  Cling to the names He has given you!  Remember, when Satan begins to heap doubt on us, when he begins to bring up the labels that are not ours to begin with, remember, the enemy is a liar!  Let Christ speak truth to your heart!

Be encouraged!

Many Blessings,

Wendy

ps: If this has been an encouragement, please feel free to share it with others!

Images courtesy of this website.

My Newly Released book, Made Only For Heaven

My Newly Released book, Made Only For Heaven

Ten years ago my brand new husband and I had just celebrated our five month anniversary when we discovered we were expecting our very first baby!  The moment the stick turned pink and we were instantly delighted!  Hopes and dreams for our coming baby filled our hearts to the brim and our excitement could hardly be contained!  Our very own baby!

Fast forward a few weeks and I found myself at home recovering from Coveremergency surgery and along with being a new bride, I was now a grieving mother.  Hopes and dreams of our expectant baby had come crashing down around us and shattered into a thousand tiny pieces.

Miscarriage is not a common topic and I found myself dealing with a grief so deep I dared not mention it.  Little did we know we would not just lose our first baby, but the Lord would also give and take four more of our expectant little ones.  One of which I labored, delivered, and held our sweet Elioenai Matthew.

Delivering our stillborn son was the hardest thing I have ever had to go through.  He was beautiful.  He was perfectly formed and it made no sense as to why he had died.  The day after I delivered him I was discharged from the hospital and instead of walking out with a precious healthy baby cradled in my arms, I left with only a hard box filled with mementos the hospital so graciously gave us.  As my husband and I walked out, everything in my heart burned inside! I wanted to turn around and RUN back to my baby boy, scoop him up, and hold him once more!  This just was not fair!

Guilt, pain, loneliness, grief, and a real struggle with God’s plan for my happily ever after captivated my life.  This was not the story I ever expected for my life.

But God.  I am so thankful for those “But God” moments!

God took my fragile shattered heart and piece by piece He ever so gently began to put it back together.

There were and still are, so many tears.  To this day, five and a half years later, I cannot look you in the eye and talk about our Eli boy without a lump lodging in my throat and tears streaming down my cheeks.  I have come to learn though that it is okay, and I am not alone!

Grief is real, it is a valley, but grace can go along with it.

God is big enough and strong enough to handle our real struggles!  He is able to grant us the faith we need when our faith is wavering.  He is touched by our pain (Hebrews 4:15, “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.“), and He never expects us to walk through this life alone!  His peace will surpass our understanding and His grace will prove to be sufficient.

Because of God’s grace, I have been able to write and complete my newly released book, Made Only For Heaven.  This book is designed to help others who have been through this journey, or are still on it, to share that there is HOPE for Healing!  It is okay to grieve!  It is okay to weep!  It is important to remember, this is not your fault!  I want to come along side you and let you know, you sweet friend, are not alone!  I get the pain you are going through, it runs deep, and it really is not anything you just “get over”, we simply learn to move forward.

If you or someone you love has been through a loss like these, please share with them this book.  I yearn to encourage them through sharing my own journey and the struggles and victories through it.

Sometimes when someone we know suffers a loss like this we just do not know what to say and we find ourselves putting our foot in our mouth in an attempt to be helpful!  This book will give those who have never endured such a loss, to get a glimpse into the pain their loved one is going through.  Sometimes they don’t need our words, they need our shoulder to cry on.

I am thankful God’s grace is sufficient and that He will provide the healing we need.

Head on over to Amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, or on the ibook app and get your copy today!

Many Blessings,

Wendy

PS: Please feel free to share this post!

Creating A Purposeful Season of Thanks: Study One

Creating A Purposeful Season of Thanks: Study One

Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice. Philippians 4:4

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!  At least, that’s how the song goes!

It is hard for me to even wrap my mind around the fact the holidays are upon us!  Thanksgiving is only a few weeks away, can you believe it?  The year flew right on by!

This is the time of year we tend to see our schedules really pick up and take on a life of their own, don’t we?  Meals to plan, parties to throw, get-together’s with family and let’s not forget about all those trips to the grocery store because we forgot those one or two crucial ingredients for our Thanksgiving meal!

During this crazy and at times chaotic part of the season, I want to provide a place of rest and encouragement for you.  A soft place to land, where you can bring your cup of coffee {or cocoa!}, sit for awhile, and enjoy the calm and quietness found in this space as we focus on intentional gratitude.

At the beginning of this year the Lord began to impress on my heart the need I had to be more thankful.  My perspective needed some changing and a healthy dose of gratitude would certainly help.  So I made a checklist of books to read throughout this year and cracked open my first one just before we rang in the new year.  I didn’t get far into my first book, One Thousand Gifts, when I was overcome with how ungrateful my heart had truly become.  It wasn’t purposeful, but then again, neither was my gratitude.  gifts

I poured over those pages and underlined sentences and paragraphs that captured my attention.  I even began my own list of 1000 Gifts and found myself scribbling additions to it as the days went on.

It fascinated me how one small habit of purposeful gratitude began to change my entire perspective on life.  God was using gratitude to teach me I have reasons to always rejoice in Him, no matter my circumstances.

Gratitude. Gratefulness. Thanksgiving. Joy. Yes, these have the ability to truly change how we view life!

Gratitude will not just happen, it will take some practice but that is the great part!  The more we practice the better we will get!  It will take some purposeful focus and intentional time, but it can become a daily habit!

As we begin our series on gratitude for the month of November, I want to encourage each of us this week to take some time and make a list of things we have to be thankful for.  A simple task indeed, but as we find ourselves focusing on all we have to be grateful for, we will soon find ourselves absolutely surrounded by reasons we have to be thankful!  We will be reminded yet again that there really is a reason to rejoice in the Lord always, and not just one day out of the year we call Thanksgiving!

Heaping doses of gratitude will change our focus from being internal, and place it where it always belongs, on Christ!  Because of Christ we always have reason to be thankful!

I’m looking forward to this study and hope you will too!

Many Blessings,

Wendy

Ps: If you have been encouraged by this post, please pass it on to others!