God is My Happy Place #33

The next writing prompt in “God is My Happy Place” is

“On a scale of 1 to 10, how brave do you feel today?”

Today? Well, I probably feel about a 5 or 6.

I usually don’t feel that brave. I hate confrontation and I’m usually nervous about starting something new.

My flesh would have me stay at home and never do anything. But as I know God’s love more and more I am more willing to step out in faith. I do have to do my part and step out, yet have faith that God will be there for me. He has everything prepared for me, if I follow Him. Not losing focus on Jesus as I step out onto the water.

I also started thinking how this would help me with the things that we are dealing with right now. Am I brave enough to not eat something even when I want it? Am I brave enough to not spend money on things I don’t need? Am I brave enough to step out in faith and believe that God has it all under control? Am I brave enough to do things differently?

The answer to all of those questions is no. Not on my own. I have to have God and all that He is. The older I get, some things become easier, but some things become harder. I am starting to get set in my ways and I don’t want to get stuck, so I have to trust God in order to make some changes.

Lord, I need you every moment of every day. I cannot do this without you. You are my strength and courage. You are my protection. You go before me and prepare the way. Yet you also walk with me. You surround me. Thank you, Lord. Amen.
I thought the song “You Make Me Brave” by Bethel Music was the perfect addition to this post.

Longing For God

I was reading Psalm 42 and these are some thoughts that I had.

‘My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? ‘ Psalms 42:2
https://my.bible.com/bible/111/PSA.42.2

That question really stood out to me. It reminds me of a child asking when they can go do something that they really want to do.

‘Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. ‘ Matthew 18:3-4 https://my.bible.com/bible/111/MAT.18.3-4

One of those ways I should be like a child. To be so excited to be with God that I can hardly wait.

When was the last time I actually couldn’t wait to meet with God or spend time with Him, in the way that a child can’t wait to go to Disney Land?

‘These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go to the house of God under the protection of the Mighty One with shouts of joy and praise among the festive throng. ‘ Psalms 42:4
https://my.bible.com/bible/111/PSA.42.4

I can remember a time, when I couldn’t wait to go to church or read my Bible with intensity. I remember a time when I was so excited to go to Bible college. I got to go to chapel every day. That lasted most of my time there. I loved going to chapel.

I look back and I can see several reasons why that changed. I allowed the negative talkers to have a place in my head, I allowed the worries of this life to take over, and some senioritis. There are probably some reasons I can’t think of, but those are the ones that come to me.

‘Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. ‘ Psalms 42:5
https://my.bible.com/bible/111/PSA.42.5

Over the years, I have changed. My excitement looks different than it did when I was in my teens and twenties. I think I experience God’s love and my longing for Him differently. I love the Lord and desire to be with Him. I need to work on making that happen more, but I do long for Him and desire to be in His presence. I’ve learned that I experience Him in a more intellectual way when studying the Bible and in quiet than I do in the jumping up and down excitement.

‘Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me. By day the Lord directs his love, at night his song is with me— a prayer to the God of my life. ‘ Psalms 42:7-8
https://my.bible.com/bible/111/PSA.42.7-8

God calls to the deep part of me. My soul. He is always with me and we talk to each other throughout the day and night. I’m working on practicing continual prayer.

My Soul Longs For You by Jesus Culture is the perfect song to go with this.

God is My Happy Place #32

The next writing prompt in “God is My Happy Place” is

“What is your favorite song? What do you love about it?”

This is a hard question, because I have so many. I stopped at 3, because I kept wanting to go on and on. These songs are not in any particular order. They are all pretty equal as my favorites.

Throne Room by Kim Walker-Smith reminds me that I have access to God’s throne room and He speaks to me about all kinds of things.

Revelation Song by Jesus Culture is a powerful song about who God is and that He is worthy of our praise.

You Won’t Relent by Jesus Culture reminds me that God will never give up on me and that He wants all of me.

Jury Duty

The alarm clock goes off at 5:15AM. I look at the alarm clock not sure I want to get up yet. I turn off the alarm and continue laying there for a few moments and say “Good Morning, God!” and pray for a moment. I love starting the first part of my day with God.

I get up after a few moments. It is the day I had been a little nervous about for a couple of days now. Jury Duty.

I set my book by my chair so I won’t forget to take it with me.

I go to the restroom, get dressed, brush my teeth, gather everything I’m going to take with me. You know all the normal stuff of getting ready in the morning.

I sit down and read my morning devotion and pray for a few moments. Then I finish gathering my things and head down to the car.

At this point it really isn’t that much different from most mornings getting ready for work.

But this morning I’m headed in a different direction. Downtown and the courthouse.

I’m a little nervous about driving in downtown by myself and going to a new place, where I don’t know the procedure or what’s going to happen.

I have had to report for jury duty before, but it was in a small town in Oklahoma. Here in a big metro area I really don’t know what to expect and it feels so different.

God reminds me that I’m not going alone and that He is with me, which helps me to be a little more at ease. So I start the journey. I put the address in the GPS & off I go. Traffic is not the greatest. There’s a bit of a back up, but it’s not too bad. I get there with no real issue. I try going into the parking garage one way, but the ticket booth is out of order. Another person pulls up behind me. I tell her it is out of order. She backs out. Then I back out and go around to another entrance. The other entrance works and I easily find a spot close to the elevator. Yay!

I am parked by 6:30AM. I like to be early, so this is good. I’m not going to be able to get in the building for at least another hour. I sit there and eat my breakfast that I brought with me, an egg salad. I get caught up on Facebook & read a blog. I read my Bible a little. I make sure all of my papers & things I need to take with me are in order. I sit there and just breathe for a few minutes.

I decide to go down around 7:20AM. I go down one of four elevators to street level & cross the street. I pass the cafe on the corner and walk up to the massive courthouse building that is front of me. Security sees my juror postcard and lets me know they aren’t letting jurors into the building until 7:30AM, which is earlier than the recording said last night. So I stand outside and wait. It is very nice this morning. There are trees in front of the building, which make it a nice little area to stand. There are a few people that are also early. We’re all standing or pacing around waiting.

At 7:30AM, security comes and calls us to go to security. I walk through the roped off pathway. I put my bag on the conveyor belt & go through the metal detector. I get my bag & I am directed to the double doors on the left. I start walking, then pause for a moment to get my parking pass out of my bag after seeing a sign to have it ready.

Inside the room is a smiling face waiting to check us in. I handed her my postcard & my parking pass. She takes the card, validates my parking, & gives me back the parking pass with another paper to fill out. She kindly gives directions to me and another juror to grab a clipboard and go to the assembly room that is around the corner behind the wall behind the desk. I grab a clipboard on my way around the corner. Upon entering the room I notice rows of blue theater seats facing a podium and several TV screens playing a nature video. I find a chair and sit down to fill out the information. The pen attached to the clipboard doesn’t work and I forgot to put a pen in my bag, so I get up and get a new clipboard. I test out the pen before going back to my seat and it works, so I go back to my seat and fill out the information. I take the clipboard back to its place and sit back down. Orientation will begin at 8:05AM, so I have a little time.

I look around. I see a lounge area, which looks like a small break room to my right with clear glass walls. There are computers on the left wall for browsing the internet. I also notice the restrooms next to the lounge area. I decide to go to the restroom and take care of that before we get started. On the way, I notice the reading room, which I was informed they had on the recording yesterday. I came prepared with a book. I’m kind of excited about getting to spend some time reading in a quiet room. There are also some lockers in the hall by the reading room.  This is really a nice facility.

After the ladies room, I go back to the assembly room and await orientation to start. The lizard in the desert on the nature video, who switches what feet he’s standing on to cool them off, is kind of funny.

At 8:05AM, the nature video stops & they start an orientation video that tells us all about jury duty. Then the smiling face that checked me in comes to the podium and tells us about what to expect and what we are allowed to do. We are free to take whatever breaks we want, when not in court. We are free to use all the rooms that I’ve mentioned above. We can even leave the building briefly, if needed. She explains things in such a way that we are all at ease. Everyone was quiet and gave her their attention.

One of the judges comes in and thanks us for serving & briefly talks to us. She heads off to her job & the smiling face returns. She tells us there are 4 cases that need juries and once they are filled, we will be done, but to plan for all day. She gives us our next instructions, a couple of people ask questions, and she releases us to wait freely. I take my paper up to the desk, as instructed, keeping my receipt of appearance. Everyone is quietly going about their business.

I decide to go to the reading room.

Upon entering the reading room, I notice there are several rusty orange reading chairs to sit in and I pick one and get settled. I get out my book and set my bag on the table next to me. I look around. There is a table with chairs on one wall and a bookcase with magazines and jigsaw puzzles. There are also magazines on other small tables around. There are several others who have come in and are reading or on their computers at the tables. I decide to put my purse on the ground.

I start reading my book. I check my phone a few times. Making sure I’m also drinking some water. It was a nice quiet room. 🙂

About 9:50AM, I decide to take a break and go to the ladies room. As I go by the assembly room, I notice they are playing an Avengers movie on the screens.

After using the ladies room, I go back to the reading room to the same chair and continue reading and I pray for us to get done early and that everyone could go home.

About 10:40, we are all called back to the assembly room. We all go and find a seat there.

The smiling face comes back to the podium and tells us that all 4 cases have changed their plea and we are free to go.

On the way out they give us a survey to complete and mail back in. I step out into the lobby, step to the side, and get everything situated. I get my keys out and walk out the door next to security. It feels good to be done for the day.

I walk back past the cafe and across the street & take one of the elevators up to the 3rd level. I walk back to my car. I get in and get everything in its place. I get on the GPS to see what direction to take out of this downtown area of one way streets. I get my parking pass ready. I back out and drive to the exit. I give my validated parking pass to the attendant. He says thank you and sends me on my way.

I drive home. Traffic is pleasant, when it isn’t rush hour. I get home by 11:30AM. I set everything down & relax with my snack lunch that I had taken with me. I’m so glad it didn’t take all day.

The process was so easy & everyone was so friendly. I have had a blessed day and it’s only half over. 🙂 🙂 🙂

Awaken October 2019

This month at Awaken, our women’s brunch and Bible study, we covered the first 3 chapters of Relentless by John Bevere. Such an insightful week.

The thing that struck me the most from the book was when he talks about the following verse at the end of chapter 3. We also discussed it in our groups.

And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace.
John 1:16 NKJV
https://bible.com/bible/114/jhn.1.16.NKJV

In the book, he talks about the Greek meaning of “grace for grace” being “the richest abundance of grace”. And that it is basically saying that we have received the “fullness of Jesus Christ.” How amazing is that. All of His ability, all of His power, all of His grace, all of His love, all that He is.

Since we have everything that Jesus has, we can accomplish anything. And since we have everything He is, nothing can stop us. He is the best of the best. No one can top Him.

I also found the following version when comparing versions.

We have all received one blessing after another. God’s grace is not limited.
John 1:16 NIRV
https://bible.com/bible/110/jhn.1.16.NIRV

All that He is does not have a limit.  So when he says that all things are possible they are.

Matthew 19:26 (NIV)

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

 

God is My Happy Place #31

The next writing prompt in “God is My Happy Place” is

“The book of Proverbs by Solomon holds profound wisdom. What is a proverb you live by?”
5Trust in the Lord with all your heart

and lean not on your own understanding;
6in all your ways submit to him,

and he will make your paths straight.
7Do not be wise in your own eyes;

fear the Lord and shun evil.
8This will bring health to your body

and nourishment to your bones.

Proverbs 3:5-8 NIV

It’s not always easy to follow. To trust God with everything. I’m learning to trust God & ask him first in every situation. I’m not always perfect at it though, but He’s working on me.

Trusting in the Lord with all my heart. That means with everything I have. Not holding anything back. This is so hard. I want to control my circumstances, but I can’t say I’ve done the best job thus far. I’m not saying my life is bad, becuase other than a couple of things, my life is good. But I have to learn to give it all to Him. Not just some of it.

He knows how to handle it better than me anyways. He sees my future. He knows what the right choice is. It is not always the answer I would choose, but it always turns out better, if I follow His lead & live life the way He would have me do so.

I need to decide to accept His way as the way to do things and follow Him in everything. Not just when I see fit.

While trusting Him, He is working things out behind the scenes. I can’t always see Him working, but I know He is. He has everything under control.

And my wisdom means nothing. Compared to what He knows, I know nothing. Not even a splash in the pan. I cannot act like I know all & that my knowledge is the best. I would like to believe that I know the best thing to do in every situation, but I don’t. I have found that, if I were to follow my own thoughts/desires, I would be in a bad place.

I also need to give all my respect to God & be careful what I allow in my life. Sometimes I let too much of what the world has to offer in.

Doing all of the above will keep me healthy in every way. That means physically, mentally, spiritually.

I’m in no way saying this is easy, because it is hard to be in a situation & remember to ask God His opinion first, before making a decision. I often feel like I have to make rushed decisions. But that isn’t necesarily true. Usually, if I ask someone to give me time to think about something in order to make a good decision, they will give me time. If they won’t, it is usually not a good idea.

However, practice makes perfect. If I continue to go to Him as soon as I remember. I will learn to do it earlier & earlier, as well as more often.

I will end this with a different translation. I have really started enjoying reading The Passion Translation along with the NIV.
5Trust in the Lord completely,

and do not rely on your own opinions.

With all your heart rely on him to guide you,

and he will lead you in every decision you make.
6Become intimate with him in whatever you do,

and he will lead you wherever you go.
7Don’t think for a moment that you know it all,

for wisdom comes when you adore him with undivided devotion

and avoid everything that’s wrong.
8Then you will find the healing refreshment

your body and spirit long for.
Proverbs 3:5-8 The Passion Translation

Book Review: Stolen Innocence

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Stolen Innocence: My Story of Growing Up in a Polygamous Sect, Becoming a Teenage Bride, & Breaking Free of Warren Jeffs by Elissa Wall with Lisa Pulitzer

The book walks through her life from her point of view. She discusses with great detail what it was like to grow up in the The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS) & her escape from the sect.

She went through a lot of torment during her life in the FLDS. It took a lot of courage to get out & go up against Warren Jeffs (the prophet) for his role in what happened to her.

Her family was ripped apart on many occasions at the order of the prophet, because the prophet could order wives to leave their husbands for a time or reassign them to different husbands. The prophet ordered it to happen on more than one occasion. She always felt abandoned every time that they were ordered away & every time that one of her siblings either got married or were forced out of the sect or left on their own.

As the title suggests she was a teenage bride. She was forced to marry at the age of 14 to her 19 year old cousin, whom she couldn’t stand. He was extremely abusive. She endured for 4 years of marriage to him.

With the help of a guy she started seeing in secret towards the end of her marriage, she was able to get out. It took time, but it finally happened. She was able to reunite with all of her siblings that had either left or were forced out in previous years. She also ended up marrying the boyfriend & they have 2 children together.

She did end up leaving behind her mom & 2 youngest sisters at the time she left, which was the only thing that kept her from leaving earlier. At the end of the book we find her still hoping that they will decide to leave.

Operation Christmas Child Event

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We had a blessed evening at an Operation Christmas Child Event the other night. The picture was our keepsake to remind us of Yves Dushime’s powerful testimony, which he gave that night. It is also the testimony of what God can do through sending shoeboxes to children around the world.

He received a shoebox when he was about 11 when 300 shoeboxes were sent to his church.

In it was a scarf, which he didn’t need at the time in west Africa. But God knew he would need it when he reached Buffalo, NY years later. There were also other things in the box that were specifically designed for him. He had hated people before that due to what happened to some of his extended family in Rwanda. But the person who sent the box said that Jesus loved him & so did they. Which he said made such an impact on him & changed his way of thinking. He was forever changed.

And that was only part of the story. There were so many amazing things that came from shoeboxes delivered to the church.

Yves father is a pastor. He pastored in Africa. The shoeboxes brought in people to the church who would never step into the church, if it weren’t for the school supplies in the box. The local witch doctor’s had threatened them not to even be seen talking to the pastor. So many people heard the gospel that day. Many kept coming back to the church. Many churches were planted. Yves dad decided to move the family to a village with the most powerful witch doctor in the area. The witch doctor threatened them & told them to leave. The family stayed. The witch doctor tried all the tricks he knew to kill them, but there was something that wouldn’t let them. He even sent people to the church services to see what kind of witchcraft they were using.

After a while the witch doctor came to the pastor’s house & said he wanted to give his life to Jesus, because he realized that the pastor’s God was more powerful that his god. He also brought his witchcraft tools, because he wanted to burn them.

Some time later the exwitchdoctor wanted to be baptized, so the pastor scheduled it & they met at the river. But when he came to get baptized all the people that he witnessed to after being saved showed up to be baptized also. There were so many people.

God works miracles. He orchestrated it in such a way that it could only be God.

Yves tells the story so much better. But I believe that I needed to share it. I am sharing a clip of his testimony that I have found on YouTube. The testimony starts at the 18 minute mark, if you wish to skip the beginning part.

My Parents’ Visit

My parents came to visit from Oklahoma. It was so good to see them. We had an amazing time. Following is what we did, including some pictures.

Day 1

They arrived. Yay! We visited. I showed them around some. They checked into their hotel room. We visited for a while longer.

We went out to eat when my husband got off work. We visited some more.

It was so good to see them. I’m glad they’re here for a few days.

I also enjoyed not waking up to an alarm clock this morning.

 

Day 2

I got up at my leisure with no alarm clock again today. I did some things around the house. When my parents were ready for the day, we went to the grocery store & got groceries for the trip to the grand canyon.

Then we drove down to Tempe. I showed them where my husband works. Then went to IKEA & looked around. We also ate lunch there. I didn’t know you could eat lunch at IKEA. It was pretty good.

Then we went did some more shopping & driving around.

Then we met my husband for dinner after he got off work.

We packed for the next day & relaxed for a little bit before going to bed. Tomorrow will be an early day.

Day 3

We left this morning for the Grand Canyon. We were all excited to get there. It was an early morning.

We arrived at the south rim that afternoon. We went to the visitors center & got our first view of the Grand Canyon. It was breathtaking.  Though the pictures don’t do it justice.  It is much more beautiful in person.

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We checked into our hotel. We stayed in Grand Canyon Village for the night.

We then continued on our way. We took the buses in the village to take us to the different viewpoints. Every view was spectacular.

At one of the stops, I even found a Bible verse posted outside the gift shop there. 🙂

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We were exhausted at the end of the day for sure. So we went to the hotel & slept. We did a lot of walking.  But it was all worth it.

Day 4

We woke up at the Grand Canyon. We had breakfast in the room. Muffins we brought. Then we packed up & checked out of the hotel.

We drove east towards the watchtower, stopping at most of the viewpoints on the way. We were able to drive this part

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We made it to the tower. This was our last view of the Grand Canyon. We took a picnic lunch & sat on a bench 5 feet from the edge. Amazing.

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We left the park & headed home.

We stopped in Flagstaff on the way home & ate at Fat Olives. A restaurant that was on Diners, Drive-ins, & Dives. The food was so good.

Then we finished our trip back down to Phoenix. We all got a good night’s sleep.

Day 5

Today we went to church. It was an amazing service.

Then we ate a quick lunch.

After that we went to Saguaro Lake & took a cruise around the lake. It was a relaxing boat ride. We really enjoyed it.

 

Then we drove around for a while and ate dinner before going back home.

Day 6

Today was a rainy day. So we hung out at the house visiting. It was a nice relaxing day.

Day 7

Today we slept in. Then we got out & did a little shopping, washed the car, ate lunch.

Then we played glow in the dark miniature golf. It was pretty fun.

Then we went back home & relaxed. Then ordered pizza for dinner.

Had to say goodnight & goodbye to my parents. They had to go back to Oklahoma & we had to go back to work.

We really enjoyed their company. It was sad to see them go.

God is My Happy Place #30

The next writing prompt in “God is My Happy Place” is

“If you never chase your dreams, you will never catch them.”

I recently went to the Grand Canyon, which I will write about soon. However, I was inspired by the birds flying over the canyon to write this poem. I feel like it fits this writing prompt.

—————————–
Birds over the Grand Canyon.

So amazing.

No fear.

That is their nature.

The way God created them.

Can we learn to fly that way?

No fear of flying high above apparent impending doom.

We can learn.

God can teach us.

Takes time and practice.

Drawing closer to God.

We can be fearless.

Soaring towards our dreams.

That should be our nature.

It’s how God created us.

To cling to Him and fly.