A year in “reflection”


How exciting,  a new year ahead, a time for new beginnings.  I know lots of people will sit down to write out some resolutions for the new year. I think resolutions are a great thing, but I don’t think we can accurately do so without doing some reflecting on the past year.  We can start by getting out a pen and paper and then writing out the answers to the following questions:

What were some of the great things that happened over this past year?  If you’ve had a rough year, and you’re having a hard time on this one, write out some of the things which you are currently thankful for and this might help get you started.

What were some of the difficulties I experienced this past year? And what lessons have I learned from these hardships?

Then finally, What can I do differently to make things better in the new year?

I see so many people set goals for the new year only to fail because they are unrealistic goals.  Sometimes great changes must start with “baby steps.”  One day at a time, one foot in front of the other.  Persevering with the end goal always at the forefront of our minds.  We must lay out a plan in order for goals to be successful.

Whether your goal be, growing in your relationship with God, strengthening your marriage, improving a relationship with your child, loosing weight, or getting control of your finances, etc. . . All of these in and of themselves are great goals, but they all take great discipline.  Discipline is an essential for any type of change in our lives.  And lets face it, disciplines are not fun!  In Hebrews 12:11 it says . . . For no discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful.  Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.  This means that if we go through the hard work of becoming disciplined in certain areas, that there will be a blessing in the end!  So remember all change starts with essential disciplines and a well laid out plan!

By setting too many goals to high we are only setting ourselves up for failure.  So another important thing to do is prioritize.  Make of list of what is most important to you in life.  As Christians we all know God is supposed to be number one.  So let’s make that an essential for all of us this new year!  From my experience, it seems that when our priorities are in order, with God at the forefront, all the rest seem to naturally fall into place.

So as you set forth to pursue your “resolutions” for the new year, remember to reflect, plan, prioritize (GOD first) and expect to put in the hard work (discipline)!  I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper and not to harm you, plans to give you a future and a hope!  Jeremiah 29:11  May Jesus be the hope of your life, put him first and you won’t be disappointed!

I wanted to share just a few highlights of my own “reflections” from this past year.  God has worked in my life in some amazing ways.  He has been so good to me and shown himself so real and relevant in my daily happenings.  I have  a new excitement in my walk with the Lord.  I’ve got a long way to go, and it’s not always easy, but to see God’s hand working daily is most exciting.  Also with so many changes happening in our church over the past year, it has been exciting for me to see God moving and working there also.  He is so faithful and is bringing about some awesome change!  God is so good, all the time!

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The “Key” to Contentment


Last night I woke in the middle of the night and I couldn’t fall back asleep.  So I wandered out of bed into the living room and plopped myself on the couch next to our “still up” Christmas tree.  Unlike some people, who take the tree down immediately after Christmas, I tend to like to enjoy mine for as long as possible.  That is, as long as the needles from the tree are not falling everywhere.  I love the smell of a fresh tree, the beauty of the lights, and the memories from ornaments of past years.  So yes, I’m never super eager to take it down.  My motto is . . . “as long as its gone before the New Year.”

As I sat there in the darkness of the night, I gazed up at the beautifully lit tree.  A new ornament I had received from my daughter glistened and glimmered in the soft but brilliant light.  This ornament is a “golden key.”  My daughter purchased it for me from her “merit store” at school as a Christmas gift.   The key ornament is “old fashion”  in shape and it is golden in color and it’s all glittery and shimmery.  The thing is, this ornament is very special to me.  One of the reasons of course, is because it’s from my daughter, and the other is because it reminds me of JESUS.  The reason it reminds me of Jesus is because HE really is the answer and the “key” to this thing we call “life.”

Some people spend their entire lives searching for happiness and contentment.  They try filling their lives with “stuff” they can accumulate only to find out that more and more stuff is never enough. Or they think finding the “right person” or having a “large bank account” will help bring them bring the happiness they are so desperately looking for.  And yet, sadly enough other people turn to drugs, alcohol or other addictions to mask the emptiness they feel inside.

God created each of us with the “need” for him.  No amount of wealth, things, people, or masking addictions will ever fill something that God created for the sole purpose of himself.  Yes, Jesus is the “key” for every longing heart.  He alone can bring the true peace and joy we are so desperately searching for. 

Here’s a little quote which I think pretty well sums up contentment for man . . . As a rule, man’s a fool.  When he’s hot, he wants it cool.  When he’s cool, he wants it hot.  Always wanting what is not.   It’s so true!  I don’t know this side of heaven that I will ever be “fully” content, because my soul longs to be with my creator.  In Hebrews 13: 5. . . we are told to be content with such things we have because God said that he will never leave us or forsake us.  While I can enjoy the daily blessings he gives me in this life, I long for heaven, my true home.  This life is but a passing journey, but heaven with my Savior, that is where I will find “true contentment!”

If your reading this and you’ve never met Jesus in a personal and relational way, I pray you would do so today.  God desires for you to know him and give you a real reason for living.   It’s not about religiosity.  It’s about knowing God, your creator and being known by him.  It’s not about living for today, but living for eternity and knowing with assurance, that heaven is your home.  God provided the way for us to live with him forever, by sending his son Jesus to die for our sins.  We can never earn our way to heaven, we are sinners by nature and we will never be good enough!  That’s why Jesus had to die for us!  Salvation is his free gift to us, all we have to do is ask.  Yes, it’s that simple!  Admit you’re a sinner, and ask God to rule and reign in your life,  Your “new life”  in him will begin immediately!  Romans 10:9-10 says . . .If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.  Get to know God by reading the bible and by praying to him.  How better of a way to get to know a person than by talking to them and reading their “love letters” (the bible) to you!

So I’ve decided that when I do get around to taking the tree down in the next few days, that I’m going to leave my key ornament out and hang it somewhere visable.  This will be a reminder to myself (because I do need reminders) that this is not my home and that “Jesus is the Key!”

Deuteronomy 30:20 . . . You can make this choice by loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and committing yourself firmly to him.  This is the key to your life.

Proverbs 4:13 . . . Take hold of my instructions; don’t let them go.  Guard them, for they are the key to life.

Matthew 16:19 . . . And I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven.  Whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit here on earth will be permitted in heaven.

Father God thank you that you are the key to this life.  You open the door to eternal life with you.  Thank you for your work on the cross on my behalf.  I love you, thank you for your goodness to me.  All glory and praise be to you my King! AMEN

The best gift “EVER”


Well I’ve made it through all the holiday performances, parties, programs and recitals rather unscathed this year.  I was telling my co-workers yesterday that it’s rather funny that I still have not bought a present one (and it’s not due to my procrastination issues, ha).  Usually at this point in time, with only five days till Christmas remaining, my shopping IS most definitely DONE, but not this year.

My boss asked me the question. . .”Was it because of my working this year, that I hadn’t done so yet?”. . .  I replied with, well I think so.  But as I began to think further about it, I think there is a deeper answer to that question.  While we do live in a pretty remote area and shopping local is very limited (like Walmart).  We have not had the opportunity to go elsewhere shopping as of yet.  The thing is, I’m not fretting about it in the least.  We will get away to do some shopping here in the next day or two, and it will all be good.  I think for the first time in years, I’m trying to purposefully focus on the “real reason” for the season and not letting all the details bog me down.  It’s about remaining present in the moment and trying to enjoy each thing as it comes along, instead of focusing on all the things yet undone.

Last Sunday I was able to fill in for one of my Sunday School teachers and I taught a Christmas lesson.  I shared with the kids about the real reason for celebrating Christmas and then we had a birthday party for Jesus!  It just brought me such joy to share these truths.  It was exciting to get them thinking beyond all the trees, lights and presents!  Also, God has really worked in my heart over the past year and I feel that he is giving me such a “peace.” A peace that transcends all understanding, yes HE is reigning in my heart, and I’m so grateful!

Taking part in our church’s annual “Singing Christmas Tree” was a true blessing also.  It ran for the first week in December with a total of six performances.  I think that it helped set my heart in a good place to start the Christmas season.  The message in this years Annual Tree was excellent and really resonated in my soul.  One of my favorite songs was called, “Hope is Born Again.”  The message of that song alone really spoke to me, some of the lyrics are as follows . . . Somewhere in the twilight, a star of wonder shines, and a carol breaks the silence, to remind this heart of mine . . . Love has stepped across the sky, from the other side. . . God came near to us, he is here with us.  The Father reaches out his hand, to every child of man, make it known, we are not alone.  Like a tiny flame, fanned by a winter wind . . . Hope is born again.

The bible says . . .Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.  And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.  Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. Romans 5:15

YES, Jesus is my hope and my joy!  The fact that God sent his son to this earth, to set an example for us on how to live.  To be the ransom for our sins.  To bridge the gap between sinful man and a perfect Savior.  HIS love has been poured out for us through the birth of his son, and it overflows into our hearts through the work of the Holy Spirit!  Thank you God for the best gift ever, your precious son JESUS!  You are our Emmanuel and you God, are “with us!”

Father God I thank you for the peace you have brought to my heart this holiday season!  Thank you for your son!  Help me to continue to embrace the Joy of the holidays by keeping my focus on YOU!  I pray if there is someone reading this that does not know you and have that joy, that you father would draw them unto yourself, that you would become their Lord and Savior and you would fill them with your presence and peace.  You are an awesome God, and I praise you for you goodness to me.  Glory to you King Jesus, our Prince of Peace!  AMEN

Who me? Yea you!


Have you ever asked yourself the question?  Can I make a difference?  I’ve often said things to myself like . . . “well I’m only one person, in the whole scheme of things, I don’t really think that there is anything that “I” can do or offer that will really help change things, so we don’t bother.  We look at our circumstances, we look at our resources, we shrug our shoulders and we do nothing.

This morning I was reading the in the sixth chapter of Luke, the account of Jesus feeding the five thousand. In the text, Jesus had just crossed over to the far side of the Sea of Galilee.  A large multitude of people had been following him due to his miraculous signs of healing the sick. When Jesus saw the huge crowd following him, he turned to Peter and said . . . “Where can we buy bread to feed all of these people?” Philip replied . . . “Even if we worked for months, we wouldn’t have enough money to feed this large group.” Now Jesus already knew what he was going to do, but he chose to ask Philip this to test his faith.

I find it funny that God humors us by asking us questions he already knows the answers to.  He already knows the game plan and how we are going to respond,  but he still puts it out there, so that lessons can be learned from our responses.  Philip immediately began in his own humanness, to count the cost.  I can just hear him saying something like, come on Jesus, were hundred of miles from nowhere, there are thousands of people here and even if we worked for years, we wouldn’t have enough money to feed all these people.   I don’t think he quite fully understood to the “full extent” who exactly he was with, that this was the “son of God,” who had been performing miracles right before them.  I’m almost sure that I would have reacted the same as Philip.  What God was about to do, could not be done other than through the miraculous.  God was teaching them that he is not limited by circumstances or resources as we are.  Philip’s humanness said, it can’t be done.

As the story continues Andrew spoke up and said . . . “there is a young boy here with five barley loaves and two fish . . . but what good will that do with this huge crowd?”  Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks to God and distributed the bread and afterwards he did the same with the fish.  Everyone ate as much as they wanted and then Jesus instructed his disciples to pick up the remaining food so that nothing would be wasted.  The disciples collected “twelve baskets” of leftovers.

The boy took what he had, and out of a simple gesture of faith, offered it to Jesus.  He gave all of what he had, and Jesus worked the miracle.  Ah, what lessons to be learned from such pure and simple faith.  God wants the same from us today.  He doesn’t want us to get hung up on the circumstances or our own human limitations.  He wants us to trust him (by faith) with the things he has entrusted to us.  He wants us to give those things back to him for his use, so that he again “can work the miracle.”  God first of all wants our hearts, he wants our time, our gifts, our talents and all our resources.  He wants all of the things he so richly blesses us with to be used for his glory.

Not only did Jesus feed such a great multitude, but there were leftovers.  This tells me that Jesus wants to give to us in abundance, more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power (The Holy Spirit) that is at work within us.  So back to my original question . . . Can I make a difference? I think the question should be . . .  Will I do something to help make a difference?  Like the young boy in the account of Luke, let us offer up all we have and let God make the difference!  Will we act in faith and obedience today?

Father God thank you for the bountiful riches you give us.  Help us in pure simple obedience to give all that you have given us to be used for your purposes.  This can only be done through daily committing ourselves to you and to the work of your kingdom.  Help us to die to ourselves so that we may fully live for you. You are a mighty God, help us to find that true riches and abundance can only be found by living a life fully yielded to you. Lord Jesus by your Holy Spirit, help us to be your hands and feet to this world.  To you be all glory and honor forever! AMEN

Scars


Scars, not to many of us make it through our life without them.  Some are big, some small, some noticeable, some discreetly hidden.  Scars are a visible reminder of an injury.  When I was about seven years old, I was playing with my cousin in our backyard swimming pool.  We were pushing each other into the pool off of the surrounding deck.   I fell in close to the ladder and I received a two-inch laceration to the back of my leg, due to a sharp screw sticking out of a metal ladder.  It was pretty deep and bled quite profusely.  I still remember getting the stitches, not a fun experience. It probably left a much bigger scar than need be, because I was told to stay out of the pool for a length of time afterwards, so that it could completely heal, BUT I didn’t. I also have scars from bearing children.  I have scars from burns.  Yes, most of us do not make it through this life without some scars.

Now, unlike physical scars, some of us have emotional scars.  Hurts not seen by the visible eye.  Emotional scars come in many forms.  Sometimes these scars come by way of difficult circumstances in life.  It may be the pain of suffering through a difficult divorce, or some form of abuse, sometimes emotional scars are consequences of the poor choices we make or from the bad choices of others that affect us. Whatever they may be, usually the pain associated with emotional scaring so often times can be so much more severe and have more lasting effects than that of physical scaring.   But one thing is true, like it or not, all scars become part of who we are.  They become part of our identity.

A friend of mine made a post on Facebook not to long ago about being thankful for the scars in our lives.  This statement set me to thinking.  We can either let the injuries and offences in life permanently maim us, or we can use them to make us stronger.  Sometimes we don’t understand the awful things that happen in this life.  But as I’ve come to understand the nature of God more fully, I am comforted by the thought that we have a heavenly father that can use all things to work together for good and bring himself glory (Romans 8:28). Yes, even the bad, painful and ugly things).     

Sometimes people get so tripped up on the atrocity of an offence that they sometimes miss the greater work of God lying beyond the circumstance. Bad things happen in this world because of sin. That’s the thing, sometimes we will never know the reason behind why God allows certain things to happen.  Satan loves nothing more than for us to get hung up on the bad circumstances and scars in our life.  He will most definitely use them against us if we let him.  Satan will set up strongholds (which is anything that sets itself up against the truth of God. . .2 Corinthians 2:5) to keep us in bondage. This is definitely not God’s plan for us. The bible says that because of the truth of Christ we have been set free (Galatians 5:1). Jesus Christ took the punishment for our sin . . . he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed (Isaiah 53:5).  In that awesome sacrifice, God paid for the sin of all mankind.  Jesus himself was scarred for us.  In that transaction God secured eternal life for us and he paid the price for our freedom.  God wants us to walk in that freedom!

We all have choices to make. I am by no means minimizing the pain and hurt associated with emotional scarring.  Yes, scars can maim us, but they do not have to cripple us or bury us.  Just as I made my physical scar worse than need be by not allowing it to completely heal, so it is with emotional scars.  We must allow Jesus Christ to free us and heal us before we will ever experience true victory.  When we experience God’s healing, we can begin to see that nothing happens in this life that God cannot use to fit into part of his ultimate plan.  We can use these very hurtful things, to help others and show them God’s love and to ultimately bring glory to God.

I have both experienced physical and emotional scaring in my life and I know we have an awesome God who has provided a way of freedom from those scars!  No, they will never completely disappear, but God can heal the pain associated to the hurt IF we let him.  ~ Father God, I pray if someone reading this is holding on to hurtful things from the past, that you would give them victory over this today.  Release them from the hurt and the bondage to pain and fear.  Help them to trust you and to let you heal them from the inside out.  Direct them to others that might be able to help them through this.  Father you are an awesome God.  Thank you for the scars in my life.  All I am is yours, use my scaring for your glory.  In your name I pray! AMEN

Hungry, again?


I’ve often times wondered why God would have designed us to eat so many times throughout the day. Funny thought huh? We as busy people know that we often spend a good part of our time preparing and then cleaning up after meals. I’d say things like . . . Why couldn’t God have made us to fuel up once and then be good for the day so we could spend our time on things “we” deem as more important. Notice the italics around the “we.” I do believe God always has a much better plan than “we” do.

But dwelling on this thought has made me come to realize that just as we need nourishment throughout the day to keep our blood sugar levels at an even keel for optimum daily functioning, we also need to feed on God’s word and practice being in his presence throughout our day. Then an “Aha” moment for me, that maybe after all, this is God’s reminder to us of our continual (moment by moment) need for him. It says in John 6:35 . . . I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. And then in John 6:38 he repeats . . .I AM the bread of life.

Just as God provided nourishment (physical and spiritual) for the Israelites their forty years in the desert, so he provides this same life-sustaining nourishment for us today! It says in Deuteronomy 8:3 . . . He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.

I know the best thing I’ve ever done is start a daily discipline of spending time in God’s word. If you were like me, and were not raised having these disciplines, they often times can be very hard to start and continue. But if we seek God and ask for his help, he can help us make reading his word part of our daily routine. And what better thing can we do for our children than help them to start this daily discipline for themselves, spending their own personal time with their Savior.

Equally as important as reading his word is spending time in prayer, talking to God. I often times hear people say things like, God feels so far away or I don’t feel his presence in my life. The bible promises us in the beginning of James 4: 8 . . . Draw near to God and he will draw near to you.  This verse implies that we have to make an effort on our part. In the past I’ve made statements like . . . “well I don’t need to pray, God already knows everything.” That there is just the point. God does know everything, and he wants us to “come” (the action on our part) to HIM and pour out our hearts to him so that he can fill us with himself, his thoughts, his desires. Prayer and meditation on God’s word is a two-way communication. Yes, sometimes we need to stop talking so that we can listen. With prayer comes an emptying of self so that God can fill us with himself.

So every time we go to eat, let that be a physical reminder to us of God’s presence and provision in our lives. To continually be in God’s presence takes lots of practice, but that is what he desires for each of us. I am still far off from this mark, but as I make strides towards him, he in turn blesses and makes his presence known in my daily happenings.

Lord Jesus I pray that we may we hunger and thirst for you. For we are dry and parched without you. Thank you for providing the daily sustenance we need for our needy souls. Help us to seek you first so that you may guide and direct our daily lives. Help us to yearn to be dependent upon you. The world offers us a different message of being self-reliant, but your desire is totally the opposite. Give us that desire, Lord Jesus I pray. Help us to be a faithful people, faithful to read your word, faithful to do your will! AMEN

Well hello there!


I have been thinking about starting a blog for some time now. For those of you who know me well, I’d think you’d agree that I’m usually a pretty non-impulsive type person. I don’t usually start something until I’ve really set my mind to it. That can be a good thing and sometimes a bad thing because sometimes it causes me to be a queen of procrastination. Yes, that’s right I’m a super procrastinator, it’s something I highly dislike and an area I’m always working on, (well sometimes working on) ha, ha.

Well, several nights ago I woke in the middle of the night and the name “Unashamed” was impressed upon me. One of the reasons that I was procrastinating on starting this blog was because I’m pretty “technologically challenged” and even setting up a blog was a bit challenging for me. The other reason was that I didn’t have a name for it. Well, ok God, you solved that one for me, no more excuses! So I might be updating the look of my blog as I learn how to manage it better (or maybe not, lol). But no more excuses from me, here we go.

I also wanted to share some of the reasons I wanted to start this blog. I really think God has a great sense of humor. The fact that I would even think of writing a blog is beyond me. I was a kid who really struggled in school and writing anything was definitely not my forte.’ Here’s a “But God” moment, but God has been doing some awesome and amazing things in my life and when he’s working, it’s our job to obey and do our part by faith and obedience.

Our faith is not for ourselves but to be shared with others. So I thought it would be fun to share about my faith, childhood, my family and other personal, fun and exciting things God puts on my heart. Lets face it, it’s always unnerving when we open up and decide to share our hearts. But really, this is not about me at all, I have no claims on being an expert in any area, and I am nothing without Christ my Savior. My greatest desire is to honor him in all I say and do and even at that, I am often times quite a failure. I along with everyone else on this planet am a work in progress. May we all desire to yield our lives fully to Christ and let the “great potter” mold us into something usable for Him.

And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming.
1 John 2:28