Wait for the Joy

Originally posted on Strength Renewed:

Weird School Bus Weird School Bus (Photo credit: KB35)

A three-year old child just starting school was expected to ride the bus across campus to the building where her mother worked. Many children ride buses every day, but this was something totally foreign to her and caused much anxiety. As students were loading the bus, she walked right up to the door and then ran away screaming.

Finally her teacher took her by the hand and stepped onto the bus with her. She rode the bus to her destination without fear because the teacher she trusted walked with her through the situation that caused so much anxiety. When she stepped off the bus to meet her mother, she ran screaming with joy and glowing with excitement about what had been accomplished all because her loving teacher led her through it.

We often face frightening circumstances which leave us wanting to run the other…

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Dark Paths

Fear of the unknown causes much distress in our lives. When things are out of our control, we often worry, feel stressed, and even become physically ill. Unfortunately life is not always as perfect as it appears on social media. People are hurting all around us. Those who are battered and bruised show visible signs of their pain. Others endure pain that we cannot perceive. Whether its physical or emotional pain, many are fighting battles of which we are unaware.

Isaiah 42:6 says, “I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do. I will not forsake them.” The Israelites were blinded by their captivity, and they experienced the same fears and questions that we experience today. God did not forsake them. He delivered them and guided them to the Promised Land. Today, He continues to turn the darkness into light, makes the rough spots smooth, and never forsakes us, just as He did so many years ago.

The past two months have been difficult with much time spent in hospital waiting rooms. Our family has suffered grief during the passing of my grandmother and fear of the unknown after a fairly simple surgery for my uncle turned into something very complicated.

During this time, we met other families who were also suffering. Some we learned specifics of their situations. I remember one particular lady in the Critical Care waiting room. During a brief encounter, I simply reached out, patted her arm, and told her I was praying for her family. She began to cry, thanked me, and then continued on her way.

Those moments spent in a waiting room full of family members who were traveling down unfamiliar paths made me more mindful of the fact that we are all fighting a battle of which many are unaware. For each of those families, time seemed to stand still as they/we waited to pass through a rough place in our path. The joys of life were temporarily replaced by fear, darkness, questions, and doubt.
Dark Path

Often when the way grows dark and we can’t see what lies ahead, it is easy to wonder where is God and why isn’t He working. We forget that He is always there. Isaiah 42:6 reminds us that He will smooth the rough places and will never desert us. It doesn’t matter how dark or rough the road becomes, our Almighty God has the power to turn the darkness into light. Even in that darkest moment when things seem to be spiraling out of control and we possibly even doubt God’s presence we can trust that He is still there just as He promised! The secret is to turn our focus from the fear, worry, pain, anger, and stress and instead focus on seeking Him.

Isaiah 41:10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am you God. I will strengthen you and help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

life isn't fair

Life isn’t fair. How many times have you heard that? Or said it? Sometimes it is very hard to understand why things happen. Why do some families have to endure so much heartache? Why does anyone have to experience cancer, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and so many other situations that cause pain and fear?

I have asked these types of questions many times, and I’m sure you have too. Unfortunately, I still don’t have an answer. It is easy to grow bitter during these “life isn’t fair” moments. The book of Ruth is a beautiful story of a young woman’s journey of hope and her dedication to Naomi.

Instead of Ruth, I want to focus on Naomi who is known as the mother-in-law referred to in Ruth 1:16 which says, “Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.” What a testimony of Naomi’s relationship with her daughter-in-law and her devotion to the Lord!

Prior to this incident, Naomi’s family left their home because of a famine. After relocating, her husband died and she was left with two sons who later married and then also died. Naomi was a woman of great faith, but the pain of losing those she loved left a hole in her heart which was eventually filled with bitterness. She said, “Don’t call me Naomi. Call me Mara, because the Almighty had made my life very bitter. I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty.” (Ruth 1:20-21)

Naomi was definitely experiencing one of those “life isn’t fair” moments, but she tied up her skirt and trudged through the pain. The Book of Ruth tells of how Naomi trusted God through the horrible pain and overcame a period of bitterness. Her actions during these difficult times offer us some tips for avoiding or even overcoming bitterness in our own difficulties.

4 steps

1. Returned to homeland (Ruth 1:6) – Surround yourself with people who really know you and love you. Don’t try to get through it alone. God often provides what we need through those who love us.
2. Accepted help from Ruth (Ruth 2:2-3) –If others offer to do things that you just don’t have the energy or desire to do, let them. They will feel blessed in helping to relieve some of your burden.
3. Encouraged and advised Ruth (Ruth 3) – Reach out to someone else who needs encouragement or guidance. Often the best medicine for our own pain is to focus on the needs of others and lay ours down for a moment.
4. Returned to faith (Ruth 2:20) – Naomi recognized God’s provision. Ultimately she surrendered to God and expected good things. Expect a miracle and trust in God for deliverance.

Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you (Ephesians 4:31-32).

Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior (Habakkuk 3:17).

When life isn’t fair, bitterness can quickly rob us of faith and joy. Whether you are hurting physically or emotionally, you must stop holding on to the pain and instead hold on tight to God’s love and the joy only He can provide.


prom dreams

It’s been an exciting year for our Prom Dreams Ministry!  This was our fourth year, and God continues to bless young people, families, and each person involved.  We collect gently used formals and suits which are loaned out to students who would not be able to attend their high school prom due to finances or whatever reason.  People in the community have been very generous, and our church now has approximately five hundred dresses in our closet.

I am constantly picking up donations, taking dresses to be cleaned, or hauling dresses home to be repaired.  The young daughter of a friend asked her mother if I sell dresses out of my car.  I was puzzled by this at first, but then I realized that every time she sees me I have a car full of dresses!

When we began this ministry, we had only two weeks before prom.  During that short time, people donated 88 dresses and some suits.  We served 16 students that first year and shared God’s love by simply making it possible for them to attend prom.  No matter how large or small the size needed, God had provided the dress or the suit to fit each student!

This year we had a young lady come the day before prom.  She tried every plus size dress hanging on our racks and none fit.  We posted of the need in our Facebook group, and people started delivering dresses.  It was absolutely heart breaking to see the disappointment on this young lady’s face with each dress she tried on.  I found myself doubting that we would find a dress to fit.

That evening my sweet mother got involved, and we soon found ourselves shopping for material to make a dress!  We were up most of the night after getting a late start.   She sewed, and I did anything I could to help.  In the wee hours, I left with a dress that we prayed would be the perfect fit.

The next morning, I pressed and completed a few finishing touches.  My mother went shopping and found a new formal on clearance for fifteen dollars!  When we met the girl a few hours before prom, we were unsure if either dress would fit, but once again God provided!   This young lady was not forced to take the only dress that fit, but she had choices.  The smile on her face was the most precious smile I have seen.  Her low self-esteem was replaced at least momentarily by a feeling of joy!

This year we served twenty-nine students.  There have been many special moments like the one described above.  Each time I am reminded of God’s power and His amazing love for every person regardless of size, beauty, riches, color, or personality.  I also consider how reluctant I was to obey when God led me to begin this ministry, how many students may have missed the joy of feeling beautiful on a special night, and how those who volunteer and have donated would have missed the blessing of serving others through this ministry.

If God calls you to serve, trust that He will provide!  My God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Philippians 4:19-20


If you would like to know more about the Prom Dreams Ministry, click here.

Photo credit:  photobucket.com


life mirror


Imagine for a moment trying to prepare for your day with no mirror.  You’ve applied make-up for years.  You know where everything goes, so you can can easily find where to put the mascara, blush, and lipstick.  It may even feel as if it’s right, but obviously it would not look quite like it should.  Mirrors are a vital tool to make ourselves presentable to the world.

God’s word is the mirror for our lives.  He uses it to show us what needs to be changed about the way we live.   James 1:23-24 says, “For if you just listen and don’t obey, it is like looking at your face in a mirror but doing nothing to improve your appearance.  You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like”.  We would never look in the mirror and walk away knowing that something should be changed.


 Before going out the door to face the world, we take the time and effort to fix whatever we see in the mirror that needs attention.  Throughout our day, we often stop by a mirror to check our appearance.  We check our teeth to be sure no food has been left behind from meals.  We check our hair to see that each one is in place.  We check our clothing for buttons undone or zippers unzipped.  We look for anything that needs to be corrected.  Even if we are in a rush, we take time to correct whatever is needed.  In the same manner, we should be careful not to turn away from God’s word without fixing what He has shown us needs attention.  Often however, we turn our back unwilling to hear what God’s word says.  We don’t want to change, so we ignore the ugliness in our  heart that stares back at us from the pages of our Bible.  If we don’t check our appearance in the mirror, we are assuming that everything is all right.  The bible offers a reflection of how our lives should look,  just as our mirror guides us in correcting our physical appearance.

We are willing to take the extra time to make those outward changes, but the true blessing is found in changing our hearts.  James 1:25 says, But if you keep looking steadily into God’s perfect law — the law that sets you free — and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.  When God reveals an area of our lives that needs attention, we need to take the time and effort to make those changes.  If we don’t spend time studying God’s word, our lives will eventually be as messed up as our appearance without a mirror.

How much more important is the need to make ourselves presentable to our Heavenly Father than to worry about being presentable to the world!  Let God’s word be the mirror for your life.  Check it regularly and change those things which God reveals need attention.

David & GoliathWe may never face giants for battle as in the David and Goliath story in 1 Samuel, but there are often times when we must face problems which are greater than the day to day difficulties.  We all face our own giants, and David can teach us a few things about how to effectively handle today’s giants.

Job loss, divorce, financial problems, abuse, addictions, physical and emotional pain, illness, cancer, and death are just a few. Also, we face daily problems, which in our own mind, often become much larger than they actually are.

Regardless of the shape or size of your giant, it may resemble the demeanor of Goliath by suddenly appearing, huge and intimidating, threatening everything about our comfortable lives.  Each day Goliath taunted the Israelites.  1 Samuel 17:16 says, “For forty days the Philistine (giant) came forward every morning and took his stand.”  Those giant problems we face tend to hang around and just keep causing fear day after day.

So what lessons could be learned from a young boy who faced a giant over nine feet tall?

1.  Do not hesitate to face the problem. 

David was not a soldier.  He simply went to the battlefield delivering food to his brothers as instructed by his father.   Upon learning of the giant, David promptly volunteered to fight this huge soldier that left grown men running in fear (1 Sam 17:32).  Don’t run from your problems.  Face them head on without hesitation.  Trust that if God brings you to it, He will also bring you through it!


2.  Be determined.

When David said he would fight the giant, King Saul reminded David that he was young and Goliath was a mature, skilled soldier (1 Sam 17:33).  This did not stop a strong-minded young David.  Determination is half the battle.


3.  Be confident in God’s power.

David reflected on the previous obstacles and was certain that God would protect him from the giant. “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine” (1 Sam 17:37).  Reflect on previous trials from which God has delivered you.  His power can conquer anything!


4.  Prepare yourself.

David did not take the armor and sword offered by the king because he wasn’t used to them.  Instead he took his staff, five smooth stones, and his sling (1 Sam 17:39).  He was now prepared to fight because these were items he used regularly.  Our weapons for facing the giants of life are prayer, scripture, and support from Christian friends.  Grab your weapons and prepare for battle!


5.   Go with courage.

David did not wait for Goliath, but instead he approached the giant.  As Goliath also moved toward him, David held his ground.  He did not run or hide, but faced the giant courageously. He proclaimed victory over the giant.  Don’t run away or stick your head in the sand. Face your giant with courage.


Often we feel powerless against our giants, but like David we have the most powerful weapon of all.  The giant had a sword, spear, and javelin.  David was armed with the power of God.  “Everyone will know that the Lord does not need weapons to rescue his people.  It is his battle, not ours” (1 Sam 17:47).  With one stone and a sling, David struck the giant in the forehead, and he fell face down on the ground dead.

Like Goliath, the giant in your life may seem undefeatable to you and others, but remember the battle is the Lords! “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).

Do not fear

Photo credit: photobucket

This is something that has been on my mind lately, so I thought I would share it again.

Yesterday I hesitantly went with my daughter for her first visit to the chiropractor due to back pain.  I sat in the corner of the room preferring to be in the waiting room or shopping, but because she wanted me there, I went.  I recoiled as I watched him apply pressure, twist, and jerk her body.  Joints popped and her body twisted abnormally as the chiropractor made adjustments.  He assured me it looked much worse than it felt, but I don’t think he will ever be seeing me again!  My daughter however was astonished at the difference it made in the way she felt.  The adjustment appeared to be uncomfortable to say the least, but the results were worth it to her.

Often we must go through uncomfortable adjustments in life to get everything lined up just as God desires it to be. Those adjustments often come in the form of change.    I don’t like change, so when it is forced upon me, my life feels twisted and uncomfortable.  Changes in job duties, expectations, schedules, health issues, finances, leadership, and on and on but there is one thing we can count on that never changes.  In Malachi 3:6 God says, “For I am the Lord, I change not.” (KJV)  Regardless of the changes making our lives uncomfortable, we can be comforted in know that God is the one thing that will never change.

Change is inevitable, so it is beneficial for us to have a godly approach.  Matthew 11:28 Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (NIV)   When change is causing knots of frustration, we may need a spiritual adjustment.  We must simply go to him and receive the rest that only He can provide.

When life adjustments happen we can trust that God is the same today as He was yesterday, and He will remain the same tomorrow and forever.  Pressures of life may cause us to recoil and wonder how we will survive. It may be tempting to run away from the change, but doing so does not allow God to get things in proper alignment.  Instead we should go to Him for rest and trust Him as he gives us a spiritual adjustment.  The blessings will be worth it all!

Inspirational Bible Verses

Inspirational Bible Verses (Photo credit: Isolino)


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