Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Ignorance Is NOT Bliss....

Why is it easier to stick our head in the sand and ignore the reality of what's going on right in front of us?  There are usually a variety of reasons and concerns to this question, however, I believe the real reason lies within Genesis chapter three, specifically verses 8-11. 

They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the gardenThen the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, "Where are you?"  He said, "I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked ;so I hid myself." And He said, "Who told you that you were naked ? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat ?"

It boils down to sin nature!  The serpent knew exactly what he was doing and how thousands of years later we would still struggle with facing issues that make us uncomfortable.  It's much easier to continue to sweep it under the rug, blame someone else, ignore the issue at hand fooling yourself: it's not that bad

The past several years since my diagnosis of ptsd (post traumatic stress disorder) and panic/anxiety I have fought earnestly to pull everything out from under the rug. I work daily at not putting anything back.  Sometimes it's a struggle, but I also know the power and beauty of living a life of freedom. I am no longer bound by the fear, that whether you want it or not, accompanies intentional ignorance and putting things under the rug.  While facing things that make me uncomfortable is still not an easy or desirable task, I now know the difference.  I have tasted and seen and no longer desire the constant bitter taste that I once became accustomed to.  

This freedom is available to you as well.  We must first acknowledge and slowly begin to pull everything out that we worked so hard to shove under the rug.  It's not about blaming anyone or heaping guilt upon yourself. It's merely an exercise of acknowledgment.  Once you start to do this then you can move into deeper areas; the root cause....what was really going on that caused you to put it under the rug or ignore in the first place. From there you begin the heart work of not allowing yourself to get back into your comfort zone of ignorance and hiding.This is also a faith issue. We must hold tight that we know God WILL use all things for His glory. 

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those called according to His purpose.  Romans 8:28 

Once we begin to see that ignorance and hiding are a tool of the enemy to keep us in bondage, something he started with Adam and Eve, we can begin to work at not falling into his trap.  

Live your life with HOPE. It's time to stop living in guilt, shame, and fear.  Embrace the freedom Christ has given us to face whatever lies in front of us, no matter the significance of the situation, nor the size or complication or even the consequences.  We are promised we are not alone!
He Himself has said, "I will never desert you nor will I forsake you," so that we can confidently say, "The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid, what will man do to me? " Hebrews 13:5-6

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Celebrating the Christmas Season

I love the Christmas season and all that it brings.  I enjoy the change in weather and the occasional snow day we get. I look forward to getting all of our Christmas decorations out and decorating the tree, as well as, the house.  I appreciate seeing Christmas lights on night walks or drives. I savor the smell of Christmas goodies baking in the oven and the smell of Christmas trees. I relish receiving Christmas cards, family newsletters, and photos. I am also fond of Christmas music; however, I only want to listen to it the day after Thanksgiving and up to December 26th, then I am ready to return to my every day music.

Christmas is also the season, when we as a family, celebrate Christ's birth, even though we know, He wasn't born on December 25th or in a winter month.  Years ago, as a young mother, I went back and forth on the Santa tradition and decided that while I could not ignore "him" as he is all over the place this time of year, that I could acknowledge him as a part of the holiday season, however, I chose to put my main focus on Christ.

In our home, we celebrate with things such as a tree and gifts and on occasion I have baked a Happy Birthday Jesus cake in honor of His birth (not saying it's His actual birthday). We watch movies, bake, and participate in buying gifts for those in need. We focus on quality family time. We also use the season to reflect on Christ's birth, life, purpose, death, and resurrection. 

As I was preparing this blog, a friend of mine posted a similar blog and I want to share her thoughts with you, click here to read Carey Scott's blog, Making Him the Reason. Maybe you are on the fence on how to celebrate this season or possibly you don't enjoy the Christmas traditions and it may help you find a new way to enjoy the season and celebrate. Or maybe you will completely disagree with our blogging thoughts on Christmas celebrations and that is ok.  There is beauty in choices and knowing we are not tied down to one specific way or another to celebrate the season.  There is freedom in Christ and He knows our hearts and motives.  However you choose to celebrate Christmas I pray you find the peace and joy that Christ has for you all year round.

For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.  Isaiah 9:6

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


I recently recieved an urgent prayer request from a family member who said they could not go into specifics right now, but they were requesting prayer.  I know that it's not important for me to know what the prayer is about  in order for me to pray, however, when it comes to family, it does cause a little more anxiety when you don't know exactly what you are praying for. It turned out, it was in deed, a big prayer request, and it was not complelty answered the way the family member wanted, however, it was also not as bad as they anticipated either. So, in other words, we are still praying and hoping for God's will and intervention in this situation. We are also very grateful that it was not the worst case scenario.

As I was thinking about prayer, I realized something, prayer is not a means to change God's will, plan, or His purpose. Prayer is a tool to draw us nearer to Him. It's a form of communication between us and the Father. Since we do not know God's perfect will for each prayer request that we pray, our faith must be strong enough to carry us, even when God's will is not the same as our will (desire). 

If we are praying and seeking God, no matter what His will, purpose, or plan is, with a pure heart, He will give us the strength, courage, wisdom, discernment, and comfort we need with each prayer request.

We are not promised a life without trials, tribulations, grief, tests, or sorrows. We ARE promised if we draw near to Him, He will draw near to us.  

James 4:8 a Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.

We Are Not Promised Tomorrow But We Do Have Today...

If you have been following my blog or have read my book, A  Scarlet Cord of Hope, you know when you read something I have written it is a topic that has touched me deeply in some form or another. While I have a great imagination, when it comes to creative fiction, I struggle to write on topics that I have not connected with or topics that have not affected me emotionally. There is something within me that needs to write truth, emotion, or real tangible hope.

I write to express myself, I write to encourage, I write to find hope, I write to help process my thoughts, memories, or feelings in my head and heart.

Today I write because I have been deeply touched by a woman I have never met nor even knew  she existed.  Her life and legacy has impacted me and I only wish I had the opportunity to know her. I do, however, look forward to knowing her in heaven someday. 

The woman I am talking about is Denai Downs Vaughn.  She recently died in a car accident on Monday November 7, 2011.  She was 37 years old. She leaves behind a husband and six year old daughter. What is incredible about her story is that she created a video blog  talking about how we are not promised tomorrow, but we do have today, this aired the day she died, November 7, 2011. 

I have watched the video several times and each time my heart fills with sorrow for those who loved her and knew her well. However, she is a woman who lived what she believed. Her faith and trust in God, salvation, and eternity is real. While she is reaching out to us to live for today and keep our priority's in tact, she has no idea she is living out her own words.

"We are not promised tomorrow, but we do have today".

Here is the link to her Video

Here is her memorial Facebook Page

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Samaria and the HOPE That is Still Alive!

On my recent trip to Israel one of the areas we went to was Samaria. I was looking forward to going here and had hopes of meeting a Samaritan women.  Have you ever found yourself envisioning what you think a place will look like and you get there only to discover it looks nothing like you had imagined.  That was my experience with Samaria. Samaria is a small town. The population is only 750. Most of the homes and buildings are very old. The city was littered with debris and trash here and there. Samaritan's believe Jesus was the Messiah, but they also believe another messiah (not Jesus) is coming back. They believe only in the Old Testament and read the five books of Moses. They still do animal sacrifices as payment for their sins. The sacrifice area is out in the open in the center of town.

Before we arrived in Samaria we had a lesson on the area and the people who are Samaritans.  During our lesson I began to get a clearer picture of why Jews and Samaritans were not supposed to talk, marry, or worship with one another.  There is a long standing history within Samaria.  The part that has stuck with me has been how Samaritans became Samaritans.  The Israelites made a covenant with God stating what they would and would not do. They broke this covenant over and over, knowing there would consequences. 

One of the consequences was that the Lord allowed the Assyrian's to conqueror the Israelites (Jews) in Samaria. The Assyrians hated the Jewish people and were willing to do anything they could to get rid of the Jews. They knew it would be impossible to kill every Jew, so they decided to corrupt their blood line. They captured Jewish men in Samaria and took them to their homeland in Northern Iraq making them slaves. They relocated Assyrian men to take their place. They broke up families and forced women to marry Assyrian men. The women had no choice, as they were unable to care for themselves at this point in history. Thus, corrupting the blood line making the next generation mixed- half Jewish half Assyrian. This created a division between the full Jewish population and the now half Jewish population

When we make a covenant and then we break it, we never know how far down the line our broken promise will affect generation to generation. I know that God doesn't allow things to happen that He doesn't know about. God uses everything for His purpose and glory. Sometimes we may not see this for years and years and maybe we wont even be alive when the end result is played out, however, that is where faith must come in.

There was more significance to Jesus speaking to the Samaritan woman at the well than we realize.  During this time there was division and tension between the Jews and the Samaritans. For Jesus (a Jew) to speak to the (Samaritan) women was a big deal, however, speaking to the woman was not as significant as the location, and the fact that this was the first time that Jesus proclaimed He was the Messiah out loud.  The area where Jacobs Well is located is the same location where God appeared to Abram and made three powerful promises (Genesis 12:1-3). Abram built a memorial alter to commemorate these promises. Jacob later purchased the land and built his own memorial alter and dug a well to serve those who came to worship.The well was still in use (and still is) at the time of Jesus and the Samaritan womens conversation (John 4:6).  The area where the well is located is where Moses read the law of God to the people (Deuteronomy chapter 27 & 28, Joshua 8:30-35).  Given all of the historical events that took place at this site it is no coincidence that Jesus pronounced His messianic identity here. And when He did, He did it to a Samaritan woman.  

This is our HOPE! Even when the Israelite's broke their covenant with God and suffered consequences, there was redemption. Many years and events went on before this happens, however, our concept of time and justice can not compare to God's purpose and plans. God is intentional with everything. We may have to dig a little deeper to see the whole picture. We may have to allow our faith to stand in the gap of time, but there is always HOPE!

ps While we were in Samaria I did not get to meet a Samaritan woman, however, I did meet a Samaritan man and that is who is in the picture with me.

Choices and Hope

Our church youth group recently partnered with My Own Backyard, a ministry that was founded by Kathleen Murphy.  She is a woman who has a passion about serving near and far with a focus on "her own backyard".  She, along with Michele Hazelip, from Front Porch Ministries, organize an event called, HallaBooya, for the Nashville community. This event was created to give the kids in this area something positive and fun to look forward to near October 31st. The past two years we have made it a family event to serve.  My husband brings his DJ equipment and plays music, while our son and I serve where we are needed.  I had the opportunity to work the sign in table. Mrs. G, who is one of the mom's that Front Porch serves, wanted to help me. As the evening progressed, we shared our testimony's with one another.  I also saw her interact with the kids who came to this event. This area is known to be riddled with gangs and drugs.  There were three teenage boys that she saw walking around, she called them by name and asked how they were doing.  She already knew they had been in trouble.  According to Mrs. G, these boys, were not in a gang, but one of the boys seemed to be sitting on the fence. She asked each boy, how it felt to get in trouble and what were they were willing to do differently.  Two of the boys looked at the ground and said they didn't like being in trouble, the one who is "playing with fire," according to Mrs. G. said, " I don't really care, it don't bother me none". She went on to tell them they have a lot to live for and that gangs can't take care of their needs and that the Lord is good and saved her, so she knows He can save them.  She also told them she cared about them and invited them to come see her sometime.  

Mrs. G is a woman who knows what drugs and running the streets can do to you.  She is 54 years old, and most of her life was spent on the streets doing drugs and making wrong choices. She has numerous health issues and has had several marriages.  She is the mother of four kids, and the "baby",  is a teenage girl.  She is trying desperately to protect her from the things she is surrounded by; drugs, alcohol, sex, and gangs. Through out the night I saw her talking to several kids, asking them how they are doing and reminding them how good life can be. She told me she knows most of the kids tune her out, but her prayer is that seeds are being planted within their hearts and minds. She hopes they will remember to reflect  how they feel when they make good choices, as well as, the not so good choices, all the while, holding onto the HOPE that is there when we repent and make deliberate choices to change. 

This is good advice, no matter where we live; if we live in a mansion, in the middle class suburbs, or in a neighborhood filled with gangs and violence, we have choices and we need to remember there is always HOPE!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Shepherds and Hirelings

It has almost been three weeks since my return from Israel. It was an experience of a lifetime. As I reflect through my notes and photographs I am in awe of all that I experienced. I have many things I want to share with you.

One moment in particular, that touched me deeply and has given me a deeper appreciation and love for my husband, is a lesson we had on September 29, 2011, we were sitting in the Ephraim field. This is an area where Joseph and Mary would have passed through on their way to Bethlehem.  Dr. Jim Martin, our professor and guide, began our discussion with the history of marriage contracts; specifically the betrothal between Joesph and Mary. This led into another conversation about Shepherds and Hirelings and the scripture passage of John 10:11-18.

The role of a Shepherd is not one to be taken lightly, similar to the role of a husband.  Shepherds spend quality time with their sheep. They make sure that the sheep know their voice and they develop a deep sense of trust with their Shepherd. Shepherds create a sense of belonging for the sheep. Shepherds make sure all of the needs of the sheep are met (food, shelter, and protection). Shepherds affirm and encourage their sheep. Shepherds lead by example. A Shepherd is willing to place his life in the face of danger to protect his sheep. A Shepherd does whatever it takes to keep the sheep from getting lost, stolen, or eaten by prey. A Shepherd is consistent and always has the sheep's best interest in mind.

The role of a Hireling is stay at the back of the fold and keep the sheep from wandering. Often, to keep the sheep moving along and inside the fold, the Hireling will throw stones at the sheep.  This keeps the sheep from connecting with the Hireling, as they never know what his motive is. To the Hireling it is simply a job that he has to do. He doesn't give love and affection to the sheep because he is not emotionally invested in them. Sheep see the Hireling as aggressive and dominate. They do not trust that the Hireling will consistently protect them. The sheep instinctively know that the Hireling does not have their best interest in his mind and heart.

As our discussion continued I began to cry, as I realized in my attempt to find a solution for all of the guilt, shame, and fear that I had early on in my life, that my first marriage was the choice of a Hireling and my second marriage is to a Shepherd. I am grateful that my husband loves me. I know his voice. I know his motives. I know he is always looking out for my (and our family's) best interest.  I appreciate how he makes sure all of my needs are met. He encourages and supports me and leads by example. My shepherd, my husband, loves me well and I do not have to second guess his motives.

*the photo was taken in Jerusalem...it is a Shepherd leading his sheep 

Friday, September 23, 2011

Israel Bound!

It is hard to believe that the day is almost here!  I leave tomorrow (Saturday September 24th) for Israel!  I remember when I *knew* I was going.  I have known for a while I would go to Israel, however, I had no idea it would this year.  I was meeting with my Women's Ministry Director about my speaking ministry and she said, "you know, I feel strongly that every person who represents the Gospel and shares their testimony or speaks, should at some point, go to Israel."  I recall nodding my head in agreement and thinking, I agree and I hope to go someday.  Then she continued talking about the trip and as she began detailing the trip as a Biblical Study program and not a tourist trip, my heart began to beat fast. I asked a few questions and the next thing I know my heart was racing and I KNEW I was supposed to go on this trip.  We agreed I would go home and discuss it with my husband and pray about it.  

It seemed impossible for me to go right now.  Financially we didn't have the money needed and there were other details to work out.  Little by little the Lord began to open the door of peace for my husband and me and we both knew I was supposed to go. I knew the money would a faith issue for us. 

I mentioned the trip to one of my best friends and thought how amazing it would be to take this spiritual journey with her. She was excited and agreed to pray.  We talked a few days later and she said she thought the answer was a "no".  I felt in my heart she was supposed to go and I said so to her. She said she felt it as well, but she could not see a way to come up with the finances. We agreed to pray more and seek God's will.  A few days later she called me and said, "I am going!" I screamed with excitement so loud that I am sure the entire neighborhood heard me!

As the Lord always does; He provided every penny for her and me. Not necessarily in the ways we expected, but none the less, He provided.

Our group of twenty will be venturing to Israel September 24-October 7th. 

Please keep us and our families in your prayers.  I will add the note and itinerary I posted on Facebook below.  I will do my best to update my Facebook. When I return,I hope to have many stories and photos to share with you.

Thank you for taking time to read this.  I genuinely appreciate your prayers!
There is always HOPE!
 here is the letter & itinerary

Hello friends and family!

I have been participating in a nine month Biblical Study Program that ends with a two week stay in Israel!  I will be gone 9/24/11-10/07/11.

I am asking for prayer as I travel and also for my husband and son as they will be home.  I will post day to day on fb and post a few photos when possible.  I look forward to writing about my experience and posting all photos when I return!

Here is the itinerary: (*each day is a FULL day event and includes lots of walking)

Day 1  9/24 Depart USA  (13 hr flight)

Day 2  9/25 Arrive Tel Aviv travel to Jerusalem

Day 3  9/26  Theme: Ancient Jerusalem:  explore ancient Jerusalem of Abraham through Nehemiah, Temple Mount excavations, City of David excavations, Western Wall, Kidron and Hinnom Valley

Day 4   9/27  Theme: The House of David:  Travel to Hebron to visit Machpelah and discuss burial site of the patriarchs and early capital of David. Then continue to Herodium, Shepherds Field, and Bethlehem as we focus on the birth of Jesus in fulfillment of the promises to David

Day 5   9/28   Theme:  Palm Sunday, Passover, and Trials:  A morning walk to the Mount of Olives from Bethany to the Kidron Valley will provide the context for understanding the raising of Lazarus and Palm Sunday.  The afternoon journey will concentrate on the crucifixion and resurrection of our Lord as we visit the Holy Sepulcher and Garden Tomb

Day 6   9/29  Theme:  Joshua and the Conquest:  Travel to Jericho, Shilo, Jacobs Well, and Mt. Gerizim as we study Joshua's entrance into the Promised Land

Day 7  9/30  Theme:  Exodus   An investigation of the Biblical events and places in the Negev and Wilderness of Zin which were significant to the Exodus

Day 8  10/1  Theme:  Joshua, Judges, and Kings:  An investigation of the Biblical events and places in the Shephelah of Judah which were significant to Joshua, Judges, and Kings. Special emphasis will be placed on Biblical activities which occurred at Jericho, Gibeon, Bet-Sheesh (Samson), and Elah Valley (David and Goliath)

Day 9  10/2  Theme: The Place of Refuge:  The wilderness of Judah functions as a place of defense and refuge. Visits to Masada, Ein Gedi and Qumran

Day 10  10/3  Theme:  The Northern Regions:  Biblical events which occurred in the Golan Heights and upper Galilee Regions will be discussed and we will examine places as Gamla, Caesarea, Philippi, and Dan

Day 11   10/4  Theme:  Galilee of the Nations:  Travel through Jezreel Valley to sites including Beth Shan, Mount Gilboa (Gideon), Mount Moreh (Elisha) and Mount Tabor (Deborah) and Nazareth

Day 12   10/5  Theme:  Jesus and the Sea of Galilee  Taking the boat across the Sea of Galilee will set the stage as we prepare for a thorough understanding of the sites and activities related to ministry of Jesus around the sea.  Capernaum, Chorazin, Magdala and Arbel Cliffs will be visited

Day 13  10/6  Theme:  International Coastal Highway:  Investigation of Biblical events significant to the international coastal highway. Specific points of inquiry will be at Megiddo and Caesrea Maritma.....prepare for travel to airport to return to USA (13 hr flight)

Day 14  10/7 Return to USA hug and kiss my family!

*we will also be going to the Jordan River and will have the opportunity to be baptized-not sure which day yet

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


I have worked hard to become aware and undo particular patterns in my life that are not healthy, honoring God, or helping me in any way. One of the biggest patterns I have tried to deal with. is the pattern of feeling fear, and then trying to out smart or be one step ahead of, whatever or whomever, I am fearful of.  It's not a faith issue for me; its a control issue. I have faith. I know God is bigger than anyone or anything that I could ever fear. I live my life trusting in God's perfect will for me. I realize this sounds contradictory, all I can say is...imagine walking in my shoes!  

I have learned that this particular pattern within me started in my childhood and continued persuasively into my first marriage. I do not blame anyone, however, when you combine alcoholic parents, divorce, and dysfunction, etc, into the heart and mind of a five year old, it sets the stage. Then years later you combine a marriage that was riddled with emotional, verbal, and physical abuse; you create ways to cope with your fears. You try to be one step ahead of your fear. You try to figure out the best way to pacify someone who may be angry (not necessarily at you, but, you feel the wrath anyway), you walk on egg shells (and hope that the noise doesn't irritate someone), you may even find yourself agreeing with something that you do not agree with, simply out of fear, or you wont confront a liar with the truth, because you know if you do, it will make the liar more mad to be confronted with things they are not ready to acknowledge or confess. So, you search for a safety net in your mind.  That safety net is a "plan" that has many different scenarios and endings so that you are prepared for anything. 

I know there is fine line in using wisdom and making a plan, however, I confess I have wasted a lot of time and energy with worry, second guessing, and wishing I could control certain responses, words, or behavior from others.

These patterns of fear and planning usually stem from a person or situation that I wish I could control.  Maybe it's someone who is bullying my child, maybe it's a family member that I love and care about, but has no interest in the truth, hope, or healing, maybe it's someone that I know has anger issues, maybe it's someone who has proven loud and clear by their actions that they are not trustworthy, maybe one of my children are sick, maybe I catch someone in a lie. This list can go on and on, as this pattern was deeply rooted within me.

Now that I am aware of this pattern I am able to catch myself and stop before I allow too much time and energy into my fear.  I really don't like that I do this, however, now that I am aware I am able to focus on the issue in a healthier way. I am learning to not be a afraid of fear itself.  Every now and then a situation arises and I see how easy it is for me to step into the well worn patterns of my life.  Once I recognize this I immediately pray and ask God to help me see the situation for what it is and not what I feel it is. I have to be aware and catch my thoughts.  

I have grown a lot in this area. I know that I am not where I was,.however, I know I still have room for more growth.  It is one day at a time, one moment at a time, there is always HOPE!

Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You. In God (I will praise His word), In God I have put my trust; I will not fear. What can flesh do to me?  Psalm 56:3-4

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


I recently read a story and I want to share it with you. I am not sure who wrote it; however, it goes along with yesterday's blog, Suitcases.

Put the Glass Down

There is a story about a professor who is presenting a lecture on stress management to his students. He raised a glass of water and asked the class, "How heavy do you think this glass of water is?" The students guessed about six ounces. "It doesn't matter what the absolute weight is.  It depends on how long you hold it," the professor replied.  "If I hold it for a minute, it is OK. If I hold it for an hour, my arm will start to ache. If I hold it for a day, you will have to call an ambulance. It is the exact same weight, but the longer I hold it the heavier it becomes."

If you carry your burdens all the time, sooner or later, you will not be able to carry on; the burden will be too heavy. What you have to do is put the glass down and rest for a while before holding it up again.  You have to put the burdens down from time to time, so that you can be refreshed and able to carry on. Whatever burden you are carrying on your shoulders, let it down. Take a rest. If you must, you can pick it up again later when you have rested. Rest and relax.    ~Author unknown

**All too often, in my life, it has appeared easier to continue to carry my burdens  If I lay them down, then I am exposed, I lose control, I am not protected, I am vulnerable, and sometimes I think to myself,  I deserve to carry these burdens.  However, I have learned those "reasons" are really lies!  I am exposed ,but only to the grace, mercy, and forgiveness that Christ offers.  I was never in control in the first place...and quite honestly, I prefer God being in control.  I am more than protected!  I am only vulnerable to God's plan and purpose; there is nothing to fear there. Every single person in the world deserves to carry their burdens, however, the GOOD NEWS is Christ lived, died, and rose again, so that I can have a clean slate and know that I deserve all that He promises (and that goes for you as well!-there are no exceptions).

Lay your burdens down and let the love of Christ replace the heaviness within your heart!

There is ALWAYS hope!

Monday, August 8, 2011


Have you heard the new song by Dara Maclean; Suitcases from her album You Got My Attention?  It has a powerful message and I love her voice.  We all have baggage, however, we have the choice to keep holding the baggage and letting it weigh us down or we can choose to put it down and move forward in grace, mercy, and forgiveness.  Stop believing the lies that you are not worthy because YOU ARE!  If you are like me, you hold tightly to the suitcases in your life, and with every choice, memory, or situation, you add more baggage to your suitcase . Your suitcase continues to get fuller and heavier. If your lucky enough, maybe your suitcases have wheels, keep in mind, it's only a matter of time, and the wheels will break and you will be forced to carry it or drag it around. There is freedom and hope in letting go!  It takes courage to lay your suitcase down and unpack, however, once you unpack it, you will never have to unpack it again!  

It's time to stop carrying our baggage and embrace the freedom and forgiveness that is in front of us!


Click here to listen

Click here for web site


How can you move when they’re weighing you down
What can you do when you’re tied to the ground, yeah
You carry your burdens, heavy like gravity
Just let them go now, there’s freedom in release

You can’t run when you’re holding suitcases
It’s a new day throw away your mistakes and open up your heart
Lay down your guard, you don’t have to be afraid

Just breathe, your load can be lifted
There’s a better way when you know you’re forgiven
Open up your heart, lay down your guard
You don’t have to be afraid

Can you imagine what it’s like to be free
Well, send those bags packing, they’re not what you need
Abandon your troubles on the side of the street
Just let them go now, believe me

You can’t run when you’re holding suitcases
It’s a new day throw away your mistakes and open up your heart
Lay down your guard, you don’t have to be afraid

Just breathe, your load can be lifted
There’s a better way when you know you’re forgiven
Open up your heart, lay down your guard
You don’t have to be afraid

There’s nothing hold you back now, just run

You can’t run when you’re holding suitcases
It’s a new day throw away your mistakes and open up your heart
Lay down your guard, you don’t have to be afraid

Just breathe, your load can be lifted
There’s a better way when you know you’re forgiven
Open up your heart, lay down your guard
You don’t have to be
You don’t have to be afraid

Sunday, July 31, 2011

31 Days of Hope Day 31

My heart is full and I am very grateful for YOU!  Thank you for following me for these past 31 days!  It started off as a challenge and ended up being more than a blessing.  I have been encouraged, inspired, overwhelmed (in a good way), humbled, and giddy, all within this month! I know I wont be able to keep up the daily blog, however, I will be blogging more often than I was before. I hope you take advantage of signing up for the email list, this will enable you to receive any blogs I write automatically to your email.. The sign up box is located on the right side.  I also invite you to sign up for the monthly E Newsletter. It is filled with hope, encouragement, prayer requests, special guests, prizes, and more!  To sign up, simply email me your email address and tell me you want to be signed up!

For our last day together I wanted to highlight the different blogs through out the past month to remind you that: there is always HOPE!.  As long as we have breathe there IS hope!  We must never give up!  We must press forward and move towards hope.  

1. You are not forgotten!  (I am Not Forgotten song)

2.There is hope in friendships, prayers, and marriage

3. Repentance and forgiveness hold the key to hope  Forgiven by Sanctus Real

4. God desires our heart and not our routine

5. Pray that we don't have a "Jonah"  attitude-there is hope in listening to the Lord and obeying

6. To get to the hope of a matter, we have to be willing to keep our faith on firmly. Even when circumstances tell us differently.  Even when we can't see it. Even when we don't feel it. Even when all evidence suggests the opposite.

7.  Yesterday does not define us!  There is always HOPE for a new legacy! Family Tree by Matthew West

8. We ARE worthy!  We can accept God's grace, mercy, and forgiveness.  Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.  Hebrews 10:23

9.  Be aware of the whispers of the enemy.  Those whispers contain lies. Put your faith in the HOPE of the truth!

10. We know what God has promised!  Click here to read the poem

11. I am the contractor and I can choose the quality that goes into my relationship with Christ

12. Among the fifteen things we learned that John Maxwell believes about HOPE, I love number fifteen the most:  "Hope gives us the strength and the courage we need to make the most of life."

13. We can learn from Jesus' example and his meeting with the woman at the well: Jesus never ignored red flag, put things under the rug, and He doesn't take responsibility for other peoples choices and behaviors-He spoke love in truth.... (While He died for our sins -we still have free will to choose)
14. Guilt, shame, and fear surround hope and strive to keep hopelessness alive
15.  A highlight of the other 31 Days bloggers!  Click here to read

16. "Don't allow yourself to be a stumbling block towards Jesus"....whether its our clothing, behaviors, or choices

17. H is for healing...

18. O is for over analyzing

19. P is for persevere

20. E is for euphoria
21.We need to see the glass as half full and ask ourselves the following questions:  
A. How can you make sure this situation never happens again? Are you willing to do what needs to be done to ensure it doesn't?

B. What weakness did this storm reveal? (did you ignore red flags? did you act in your flesh? did you allow pride to get in the way?  do you have a bigger issue/problem that needs to be addressed?)

C. Is your foundation strong and if there are any weak spots or cracks, where do you need to make repairs?  And more importantly, what will you do to strengthen and repair weak spots and cracks?

22. God does not measure sin, we do and there is not anyone who exempt from HOPE!

23. To walk in full confidence (and hope) with the Lord we need to walk daily with Him; He desires a relationship with us

24. What kind of second hand legacy's are we handing down....lets choose to hand down HOPE!

25. Hopes and dreams for my baby...what are your hopes and dreams for your baby? 

26. Psalm 32...repentance, forgiveness, and grace = HOPE

27. Joseph...a man of honor, integrity, and faith, is thrown into a pit (naked) and sold into slavery by his brothers

28. Joesph...continues to be a man of honor and integrity and full of confidence in the Lord...he is a man of HOPE, even in the face of false accusations, jail, and coming face to face many years later with his brothers

29. Even when we face trials and tribulations, even when we feel alone, or feel as if we have crossed the line one too many times, God promises to never leave nor forsake us.  He loves you! I Loved You Then by 33 Miles

30. The real meaning of the Proverbs 31 woman
31. Today's review and reminder that there is always hope...even when it seems as if the world is screaming, "there is no hope!", we must not listen to the lies! If you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, then my friend, hope is alive and will NEVER die!  (if you have never accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior and you want to, please email me and I will be happy to pray with you and give you more information)  
I have been blessed beyond measure through this journey into 31 Days of Hope.  Thank you for partnering with me.  I look forward to hearing from you.  Let's make a committment to KEEP HOPE ALIVE!  
May God bless you and fill your heart with hope!

Love, Sheryl

Saturday, July 30, 2011

31 Days of Hope Day 30

If you are a woman, have you ever wondered what it would be like to step in the woman of Proverbs 31's shoes, for one day. If you are a man, have you ever desired to have a wife who embodies every aspect of the Proverbs 31 woman?  My husband has often told me there is a Proverbs 32 woman, and he says this woman gives her husband massages all the time, needless to say, I have yet to find that verse or chapter!  :) 

Very early on in my Christian walk, I confess I felt intimidated by the Proverbs 31 woman.  She was so perfect!  She worked hard all day and stays up late doing more work, she gets up early, takes care of everyone's needs with barely a blink of the eye. She helps those in need; she doesn’t appear to worry about anything.  She is wise beyond measure, she is beautiful, she makes all of her and her family’s clothes, and she embodies all of the character traits that we all desire (strength, dignity, peace, honor, joy, grace).  She is also not afraid to grow old. Her children bless her, and her husband, well, he is blessed beyond measure, and he knows it!

It wasn't until several years ago, when I was on a mission trip to the Appalachia Mountains, that I understood Proverbs 31.  We were going to be ministering to the children and women, as well as repairing some homes. I was asked to lead one of the Bible studies for the women. The Lord put Proverbs 31 on my heart.  As I began to study and pray, a light came on: This woman isn't real!  This is simply a mother’s wish for the type of woman she wants her son to marry. She was giving him her "hopes and dreams for her baby" (see my blog Day 25). She was trying to explain the importance of finding someone who has her priorities right, not necessarily someone who is perfect. Suddenly I saw the Proverbs 31woman in a different light. Instead of being intimidated by her amazing qualities, I saw it as an example to strive towards.

As I wrote each verse out, I commented next to the verse to help me see the bigger picture. I wanted to relate to the words of the mother.  I wanted be able to apply Proverbs 31 to my life.

I will type out the verses and (BOLD) my comment about each verse.

Proverbs 31:10-31

An excellent wife, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels. (Valuable like a princess-like the daughter of the King!-and if you are female and have accepted Christ in your heart then you ARE a princess! and if you are a male and have accepted Christ you ARE a prince! )
The heart of her husband trusts in her, And he will have no lack of gainShe does him good and not evil All the days of her life. (She is a woman of integrity and she is trust worthy)

She looks for wool and flax And works with her hands in delight. (She is not lazy)

She is like merchant ships; She brings her food from afarShe rises also while it is still night And gives food to her household And portions to her maidens. (She cares for her family's needs-she is not selfish)

She considers a field and buys it; From her earnings she plants a vineyard. (She uses money wisely)

She girds herself with strength And makes her arms strongShe senses that her gain is good; Her lamp does not go out at night. (She takes care of herself.  She is confident)

She stretches out her hands to the distaff, And her hands grasp the spindle. (She uses her time wisely)

She extends her hand to the poor, And she stretches out her hands to the needy. (She is compassionate)

She is not afraid of the snow for her household, For all her household are clothed with scarlet. (She prepares for the seasons and makes sure her family is ready for the harshness of the winter and the heat of the summer)

She makes coverings for herself; Her clothing is fine linen and purple. (She takes care of herself; she dresses "nice"- she isn't frumpy or sloppy)

Her husband is known in the gates, When he sits among the elders of the land. (Her husband is respected- in other words the mother is reminding her son of his responsibilities as well)

She makes linen garments and sells them, And supplies belts to the tradesmen. (She uses her skills and talents-whether they are designing clothes, writing, teaching, administrating, accounting, etc)

Strength and dignity are her clothing, And she smiles at the future. (She has confidence and self esteem-she is not worried about growing old- she is willing to grow old gracefully)

She opens her mouth in wisdom, And the teaching of kindness is on her tongueShe looks well to the ways of her household, And does not eat the bread of idleness. (She thinks before she speaks, she has a kind tone, she is not lazy)

Her children rise up and bless her; Her husband also, and he praises her, saying: "Many daughters have done nobly, But you excel them all."  (Her husband and children love and respect her. They appreciate all she does)

Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised. Give her the product of her hands, And let her works praise her in the gates. (She puts God first in all she does.  The key to her beautiful character is her spiritual life. She is a godly woman who fears the Lord)

There is HOPE in striving to be or looking for a Proverbs 31 woman. Proverbs 31 is not about perfection or unattainable qualities. It's more so about character traits and values that we all (men and women) should strive for in our lives. First and formost is the reminder to put God first in all that we do. 

There is always HOPE!

Friday, July 29, 2011

31 Days of Hope Day 29

Wow!  Day 29!  We have two more days on this journey of hope together.  I hope you have had opportunity to visit the other 31 Days blogs (Victory,  Freedom,  Purpose,  Wellness-Mind, Body & Spirit).  I have truly appreciated the comments and encouragements you have taken time to send me.  I have also been blessed to *meet* many new friends and I am grateful!

Today I want to give you HOPE in the form of a song.  The words of this song speak to the never ending love that God has for YOU! It's also a reminder that we will face trials and tribulations, however, God will never leave nor forsake us, and His love never changes.  Never let go of HOPE!

I Loved You Then 
by 33 Miles 

Click here to see the video

I Love You Then

Pain touches everyone
Heartache falls on every heart
And all of us go through the storm, it doesn’t matter who you are
And you’re up against the wind, and you feel you’ve lost your way
Listen to me say

I loved you then, I love you now
I will love you tomorrow
When this world breaks you down
I will give you strength to stand
Look to me, take my hand and just believe
Before this day ever began, I loved you then

Time changes everything,
Moments fly by like the wind
You can try to hold on so tight but you’ll never get time back again
You feel stuck with your mistakes, can’t turn anything around
And it seems there’s no way out

I loved you then, I love you now
I will love you tomorrow
When this world breaks you down
I will give you strength to stand
Look to me, take my hand and just believe
Before this day ever began, I loved you then

I won’t let you go, not even for a minute
So don’t lose hope
Pain touches everyone
Heartache falls on every heart

Thursday, July 28, 2011

31 Days of Hope Day 28

Thank you for joining us today for the conclusion of... Joesph's life

 Once Joseph became a slave for Potipher he was originally in a good place.  He was respected and treated well.  That is, until Potipher's wife decided she wanted a little "lovin" from Joseph.  Joesph was apparently a very good looking man and Mrs. Potipher had a major a case of lust and no boundaries. Joesph was a man of honor and integrity with boundaries. He continually rebuffed her advances, however, the last time she approached him she was able to grasp his garment and rip it as he fled from her.  She then became angry at his refusal and turned the tables on him and told her husband he  tried "to make sport" of her and showed him the ripped garment. Potipher chose to believe his wife and threw Joseph in jail, even though Joesph was well trusted and respected, even as a slave. Again, I have to wonder did he stick up for himself?  Did he even try to defend himself or did he simply cling to hope and know God had a purpose and a plan?

Once in jail we know that scripture tells us the Lord was with him, so I have believe that is the hope that he felt. He knew the Lord would continually take care of him, no matter what the outwards circumstances were. While he was in jail he found favor with the guards and chief jailer.  He ends up making friends with Pharaoh's chief cup bearer and chief baker (they had offended Pharaoh and were put into jail).  Joseph ends up interpreting  their dreams and tells them to please remember him when they are back in Pharaoh's graces.  It is the first time that Joseph explains his situation and defends himself.  And there does not seem to be bitterness or "entitlement" coming from his heart.  I only hear his hope!

Just as the chief cup bearer and chief baker promised they did not forget Joesph. However, it didn't happen quickly, it took two years. I am not sure that I would still cling to hope as Joseph was....two years is a long time! Well, the day finally came as Pharaoh was perplexed by his dreams and no one was able to interpret them or help him, so the chief cup bearer told him how Joesph had interpreted his dream while he was in jail after he offended Pharaoh.  Joseph was brought before Pharaoh and he told him of his dream. Joseph was able to interpret it and this allowed Pharaoh to make a plan with Josephs help, to prepare for the years of famine that were to come. He knew Joseph was a man of wisdom, integrity, and a that God had favor on him.

Pharaoh ends up making Joseph in charge of all of Egypt, saying no one will be higher than he, except Pharaoh himself.  Pharaoh gave Joseph his signet ring, clothed him and gave him jewelry.  He even gave him a Egyptian name and a wife!

Fast forward: the famine does come and low and behold Joesph's brothers come looking for food.  Joseph's dream finally comes true after spending thirteen years in slavery and the long purposeful road he was on  to become a high ruler, next to Pharaoh.  He ultimately  brings his entire family to live near him and he forgives his brothers. Pharaoh blesses his family with more than they could imagine. Joesph realizes God's will and purpose in everything he went through.  He tells his brothers   (45:5) And now do not be grieved or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here: for God sent me before you to preserve your life.  Seeing that verse convicts my heart; I am not sure I would be willing to have the same attitude, oh, how I pray I do though!  Joesph never once doubted God. He never whined and complained. He trusted. He waited. He always clung to hope even when it seemed hopeless.  

My hearts desire is to have that kind of solid hope. I also want the patience that Joseph had! I do believe and I do have faith and hope, however, I know my flesh is sometimes weak, so I must fill my mind and heart with God's word and focus on my relationship with Him.  We must never lose hope!

One day at a time, one moment at a time, there is always hope!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

31 Days of Hope Day 27

Did you know the average person can live without air for three minutes, without water for three days, and without food for three weeks.  How long do you think a person could live without hope?  There have been countless stories in the news of people in unthinkable horrific situations that miraculously held onto hope and survived. Some how their hope gave them the courage to stay alive, doing whatever they needed to do to survive. Even though their situation looked as hopeless as hopeless could be, they remained hopeful in spite of what their outward circumstances were.

There are many examples of those holding onto hope in the Bible. Think of Joseph, his story is found in Genesis chapter thirty-seven through chapter forty-eight.  Joseph was well loved by his father and hated by his brothers. The were jealous of him and made a plan to kill him. Then Reuben, the oldest brother, felt some sense of responsibility and conscious, so he encouraged his brothers that they should not take his life,  instead he suggests, they throw him into the pit.  So, they stripped him and put him in the pit. Then they sat down to eat a meal. When I think about this; to eat a meal would have entailed a lot of preparation and time. It wasn't like they brought sack lunches with them. So, as they are going about preparing and eating a meal, their brother is naked in a pit, they seem to carry on as if their brother isn't even there and this is just a normal day.

Sibling rivalry is nothing new, however, it seems rather evil to strip your brother and put him into a pit with no water, food, or hope of ever getting out. And then go and sit down to enjoy a meal together. They couldn't have been very far from the pit.  I wonder...was Joseph yelling or screaming, HELP ME! SOMEBODY GET ME OUT OF HERE, as he stood in the pit, while they were causally eating? Do you think Joseph fought them as they stripped his clothes off and put him in the pit? Did he ask them why they were doing this to him?  Did he try to run away?  Or was Joesph afraid and intimidated by his older brothers and simply succumbed to what his brothers did, maybe he felt if he fought back or tried to bring attention to the situation, he would be in worse shape. Or maybe he was simply holding onto hope. The hope that the Lord gave him in his dream. The dream that showed him someday he would be over his brothers, as well as his parents, and they would bow down to him. Was he simply going along with his brothers knowing and trusting that hope was on the way and all he had to do was cling to it?  (* later on in chapter 42:21-22 it does say Joseph pleaded with his brothers, yet they did not listen)

One of Joseph's brothers Judah, convinced the rest of the brothers it would be a better idea if they sold him to the Ishmaelites as a slave. The brothers agreed and along came some Ishmaelites and they pulled Joesph out of the pit and sold him for twenty shekels. I have to wonder if Joseph ever said anything or did he simply bow his head and go along with everything, courageously clinging to hope? 

Some how the oldest brother who convinced them not to kill Joesph and to put him in the pit (apparently with the motive to go back for him later), he left and returned to find his brother missing from the pit. When he realized what his brothers had done, they decide to come up with the plan to say that Joseph was killed and they slaughter a male goat and put the blood on Joseph tunic (that they had stripped off of him) and took it the their father. Joesph's father believed Joesph had in deed been eaten by a wild animal and he tore his clothes and put on  a sack cloth and mourned.  

In the meantime the Ishmeleites took Joesph to Egypt and sold him to Potipher, who was Pharaohs Captain of body guards.  Here again I have to wonder, did Joseph try to explain the situation to anyone?  or was he simply trusting God that there was a plan a purpose in all of this?  I will confess that even if I felt the Lord telling me a specific outcome for my future, if I were ambushed by my siblings, stripped and thrown in a pit then sold into slavery...I don't think I could do it quietly.  My flesh would want everyone to know the truth.  Especially since Josephs dream did not explain how he would get into the position of authority or that he would have to endure some serious trails before he got there. I guess that is why God choose Joseph.  God knew Joseph had enough faith and hope to get him through the dark tunnel as he led him to the other side. 

TO BE CONTINUED...Please tune in tomorrow to find out the conclusion of Joesph's life...how did Potipher treat Joesph as his slave?  What word does Mrs. Potipher not like?  and you wont believe what she does when she hears it!  Find out what a cup bearer, a baker, jail, and dreams have in common with Joesph.  You wont believe what Pharaoh does to Joesph!  Will Joesph lose the hope he started off so strongly with?  What becomes of the brothers who betrayed him?  Tune in tomorrow to find out!  

Until then remember....There is always HOPE!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

31 Days of Hope Day 26

Several years ago in a Wednesday night Bible study we were asked to gather in small groups of four or five and share about our favorite Psalm in the Bible.  At the time, I had never considered a "favorite" Psalm. I had read through Psalms many times and wrote notes and highlighted, but I had never  considered a "favorite" one.  I am still not sure I could say I have a favorite one, as there are so many (150!) and the fact that there are many topics covered in them. However, I do have one that I have read often and it reminds of the HOPE I have today.

Psalm 32

In this Psalm, David is broken and humble. The sad part is that it took him two years to get to the point of repentance in his sin with Bathsheba.  The good part is that he did get there and he is encouraging others in this Psalm, to seek the Lords deliverance rather than live in denial and sin. By his confession  and repentance he has opened the door for forgiveness and grace which leads to HOPE!  The same hope that David had, is the same hope God has for you and me today!  As long as there is breathe there IS hope!

How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered! How blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity, And in whose spirit there is no deceit

When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away  Through my groaning all day long. 

 For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; My vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer. Selah 

I acknowledged my sin to You, And my iniquity I did not hide; I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the Lord "; And You forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah. 
Therefore, let everyone who is godly pray to You in a time when You may be found; Surely in a flood of great waters they will not reach him.  

You are my hiding place; You preserve me from trouble; You surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah. 

I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you.  

Do not be as the horse or as the mule which have no understanding, Whose trappings include bit and bridle to hold them in check, Otherwise they will not come near to you.  
Many are the sorrows of the wicked, But he who trusts in the Lord, lovingkindness shall surround him.  

Be glad in the LORD and rejoice, you righteous ones ; And shout for joy, all you who are upright in heart

There is always hope!