Tag Archives: Abundant Life

THE POWER OF FORGIVENESS

Forgive Each Other

Compassion flooded my heart as I walked into the room where my step-mother, Debbie, was resting while she battled the effects of stage-four cancer. With a frightened look in her eyes, she burst into a cry when she looked at me standing in the doorway. Debbie normally wasn’t emotional, but the sympathy in my eyes must have touched a deep place in her spirit.

With a smile, I walked toward Debbie, and her tears subsided as I embraced her. Serenity filled the room while we sat there together enjoying a conversation.

As love flowed from my heart, I asked Debbie if she would like me to say a prayer. Enthusiastically, she said, “Yes!” I held tightly onto her hands and began praying softly over her. The fear I had seen in her eyes began to fade away and a fresh glow illuminated her face.

After a sweet time together, I hugged her firmly and said, “Goodbye.” As the door shut behind me, a flood of emotion washed over me and I began sobbing.

The tears were a bittersweet mixture of the sorrow I felt for Debbie’s battle with cancer and a celebration of the powerful love I had shared with her in the midst of her pain.

I realized during those precious moments spent with my step-mother that I was reaping the fruit of my choice to forgive her many years before. Decades earlier when I was a thirteen-year-old girl, I met Debbie after my dad moved out of our home. He divorced my mother and married Debbie soon afterward.

The life I had known in my childhood was shattered and I felt the deepest pain I’ve ever experienced. Bitterness invaded my heart as I blamed Debbie for the break up of my family. In my brokenness, I struggled to open my heart to Debbie until after I matured and realized the burden of carrying the pain was too heavy.

While I watched the example of my mother’s forgiveness in the midst of the unwanted divorce, I resisted the urge to stay bitter. Miraculously, through the resurrection power of Christ, I was able to totally forgive Debbie, and the wound in my heart healed.

Forgiveness has the power to make something beautiful out of something terribly painful.

Amy and Debbie

On my wedding day, the photographer got a candid photo with my step-mom joyfully gazing at me. Only Christ could enable such beauty to emerge out of the brokenness from the past.

Years later, as I sat with my step-mom while she faced death, it was evident to me that the choice of forgiveness had truly transformed my soul. The hurting, young teen I once was, could not have fathomed I was capable of loving my step-mother with a love so pure.

While hoping and praying for Debbie’s healing, I received a phone call from my father. His voice was solemn as he said, “The doctors are saying it will be just a few hours before Debbie passes away.”

I said, “I’m so sorry, Daddy.” I was crying as I tried to comfort my father.

Peace encompassed my sad heart as I walked into the critical care unit. It was surreal to see Debbie hooked up to machines and nearly lifeless.

A kind nurse assured me that Debbie was listening even though she was powerless to speak. In those surreal moments, I embraced the sacredness of Debbie’s soul preparing to pass from this life into eternity.

As a heavenly aura filled the room, I walked closer to her bedside and with words mixed with tears, I passionately said, “I love you, Debbie; thank you for being a loving step-mother to me.”

If it’s possible to touch Heaven tangibly while still on the earth, I certainly touched it that day.

I am certain that forgiveness is the birthing place for the most beautiful kind of love. Evidence of the love that grew in my relationship with my step-mother is in a card she gave me a few months before her death.

Debbie’s written words will forever be inscribed on my heart. She wrote, “Amy, I have grown to love you like my very own daughter.”

After nearly nine years since Debbie’s death, she is treasured and the power of forgiveness remains the greatest miracle of my life.

A life without forgiveness is a burdensome existence—it’s like dragging a large weighted ball. Without forgiveness, the pain adheres itself to the soul and dampens everything we experience with a thick darkness. When we don’t forgive we are only hurting ourselves.

Forgiveness is one of the greatest keys to living an abundant life. The one who walks in love and forgiveness experiences an abundance of spiritual blessings. 

Are you carrying unnecessary weight in your heart? There’s no better time than now to choose forgiveness.  Christ died on the cross and rose again so that we can forgive and be free from the pain that weighs us down. Choosing the path of forgiveness leads us to eternal joy, perfect peace, and unleashes the most magnificent, unimaginable love.

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank You for being the greatest example of love and forgiveness. We surrender to You and repent for the times we have had an unforgiving heart. Please show us the offenses we are holding in our hearts and let us totally forgive every offense that has come against us. Let us live a lifestyle of forgiveness daily and let us have a grace-filled heart that’s incapable of being offended. Let us be vessels of Your awesome love and let us be defined by Your powerful gospel of grace. Please use each one of us to make a difference in the world by spreading Christ’s love everywhere we go. We pray in the mighty name of Christ. Amen.

Dr. Bruce Hebel teaches a powerful message on forgiveness. If you’re struggling to forgive, I highly recommend that you watch the video below and check out the ministry’s website to learn practical steps for walking in forgiveness:  ForgivingForward.com.

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THE GREATEST GIFT OF ALL

Because He Lives!!

Heaven touches us and stays in our hearts the moment we truly realize what Christ has done for us on the cross. We do not have to wait until after we leave our earthly bodies to begin experiencing Christ’s eternal gifts. Eternity begins when we surrender to Christ and allow Him to turn the hard things of life into something amazingly beautiful.

Yesterday, as I was strolling through Gibbs Gardens with my friend who recently lost her beloved mom, I thought of the anchor we have in Christ. The stunning beauty in the gardens reminded me of Christ and His redemptive love. There was an overwhelming sense of Christ’s resurrection power as I gazed at the splendor of the Japanese maple trees.

Japanese Garden at Gibbs Gardens

Christ died an agonizing death so that we can live abundantly, free of condemnation and guilt. He died so that we can live in a heavenly state of mind with eternal peace through every trial and loss. Jesus said, “I came that they might have life, and have it abundantly.”

Christ’s love is all we need to make it through this life victoriously.

Christ’s gift of love restores us and heals us. His love is the balm to the oozing wounds in our souls after a loved one passes on. His love restores hurting relationships and rebuilds broken lives. Christ makes even the hardest days remarkable, simply because He is with us.

Whatever you are going through at this moment, be encouraged and know that it is not too big for Christ. The same power that raised Jesus back to life will resurrect you and your situation as you turn to Him and have faith.

Our constant pursuit of Christ and our surrendered prayers move the Lord’s heart to work powerfully on our behalf. Our relinquished lives open the door to God’s glory and the heavenly realm overcomes the darkness around us.

Once we have tasted of Christ’s glory, there is no dark force that can defeat us or bring us down. He is life. He is everything. His love is the greatest gift of all.

Beloved Jesus,

We adore You and we are in awe of the sacrifice You made for us. Thank You for paying the penalty for all of our sins. Thank You for giving Your life so that we can live freely and eternally. Help us to receive all the gifts You have for our lives and help us to live as recipients of Your amazing grace every day. Help us to share Your love with those around us and invite others into a life-giving relationship with You. We love You with all our hearts and we pray in Your name, Christ. Amen.

Grace and peace to you,

Amy

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I hope you enjoy this powerful song by Elevation Worship. Shout out to our King!

 

BECAUSE HE LIVES WE, CAN FACE TOMORROW

Because He Lives!!

I woke up yesterday morning thinking of the lyrics to an old hymn written by Bill Gaither. The words are powerful and sum up the message of the gospel beautifully. Because Christ lives, we can rest in His presence and peace. We can face adversity with strength because we know we have our Jesus to carry us.

I pray that as you read these lyrics you will be reminded of the power in the cross to heal and strengthen you.

God sent His son, they called Him, Jesus;
He came to love, heal and forgive;
He lived and died to buy my pardon,
An empty grave is there to prove my Savior lives!

Chorus
Because He lives, I can face tomorrow,
Because He lives, all fear is gone;
Because I know He holds the future,
And life is worth the living,
Just because He lives!

How sweet to hold a newborn baby,
And feel the pride and joy he gives;
But greater still the calm assurance:
This child can face uncertain days because He Lives!

Chorus
Because He lives, I can face tomorrow,
Because He lives, all fear is gone;
Because I know He holds the future,
And life is worth the living,
Just because He lives!

And then one day, I’ll cross the river,
I’ll fight life’s final war with pain;
And then, as death gives way to vict’ry,
I’ll see the lights of glory and I’ll know He lives!

By: Bill Gaither

Lord,

Help us all to live in the fullness of Your joy every day. Help us to remember daily the pain you bore so that we could be free to live abundantly. Let our lives be a celebration of Your love. I pray in Your name, Christ. Amen.

THE ABUNDANT LIFE

John 10.10

During one of the hardest seasons of my life I learned the most about abundant living. My husband had been laid off from a good job, I was working tirelessly to make ends meet and life was very stressful. I wanted desperately for my circumstances to change.

While battling hardships and trials, I sought the Lord for the answers to my problems, and He diligently answered me. He led me to a Scripture in the Old Testament that jumped off the pages when I read it.

Deuteronomy 30:6 says, “The Lord your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love Him with all your heart, and with all your soul, and live.”

In these verses, I found the answer to what my heart longed to know. The word ‘circumcise’ is derived from a Latin word meaning, to cut. In the midst of excruciating trials, it felt like my heart was being circumcised. God was cutting away the things inside me that were hindering me from fully loving Him and fully living life. The process was, at times, excessively painful. But ultimately it led me to the abundance my soul was longing for.

Everyone wants to live abundantly. The Bible says that Jesus came to give us life, and to give it more abundantly (John 10:10). Yet how many people truly tap into the abundant life that Christ offers? Could it be the way we view our lives, or what we equate happiness with? For a season, I was seeking abundance in the wrong places, which led to more disappointment.

In God’s infinite grace, He took me through a season of testing because He wanted to lead me to the true source of abundance.

Are you in the midst of being pulled and stretched? Do you feel as though life is caving in around you?

To be rebuilt, a house needs to be torn down first. It can be an excruciating process. Do not lose heart. God is building a beautiful house out of your life. He uses every loss and every struggle for our good. Nothing He allows in our lives is in vain. He uses it all.

The things in my past, that were the hardest to endure, are what led me to the abundant life in Christ—a life of genuine joy and peace—that is not determined by things or circumstances.

Through the hardships, God gave me a new heart—a heart that rejoices because of His love.

It really is pure joy for a child of God to face trials because we know that no matter what is happening, Jesus is walking along beside us, carrying us, allowing us to bask in His great love at all times and in all circumstances.

Jesus is everything—when we know this, then we know that any other good thing we have in life is only the icing on the cake.

Lord, I thank You for the abundance of joy and peace that You give to us. Help us to look to You as our only source. Let us be content in all circumstances and know You are all we really need to live abundantly. I pray in Your name, Christ. Amen.

“You also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 2:5 (NASB)

FINDING THE EXTRAORDINARY IN THE ORDINARY

Amy's Pictures 1119

I walked into my grandmother’s assisted living home soon after her husband of 72 years passed away. It was hard to see her in the shape she was in. My grandmother Mema seemed lost without my grandfather Poppy by her side. I left that day and wept. I wept tears over the sadness I saw in her eyes, over her frailty and her seemingly lost sense of purpose.

In my spirit I knew I needed to trust the Lord and make it my mission to bring joy to her by visiting her as often as I could. So I made it a priority to drive over an hour to visit her each week and encourage her.

Every visit is different, yet so very beautiful. Her mind is fading a bit, but she always knows who I am and she’s happy to see me. Her frail, ninety-three-year-old body is so weak that she can’t stand up without me using every bit of my strength to assist her. She had to start using a wheel chair over the summer.

I’ve visited her twice this week. On Wednesday, I spent about three hours with her. Shortly after leaving the dining hall, I asked her, “Do you want me to push you around outside?” She responded, “Yes!” She acted as though it was the most exciting part of her day. We headed to the exit and I pushed her for what seemed like an hour.

On our walk, we stopped at every flower and looked closely and breathed in the beautiful, sweet smells. We looked closely at the leaves beginning to turn vibrant shades of red. We looked at the magnificent North Georgia Mountains surrounding us. In those moments, it was as though all of Mema’s cares had dissipated. We were breathing in the sweetness of God’s presence togethergrandmother and granddaughternot thinking of the past and not longing for what is to come. We were simply reveling in the beauty God had given us in those moments.

We were at an ordinary place in an ordinary parking lot of the assisted living facility where my grandmother lives. But there was nothing ordinary about these precious moments. They were sacred moments of breathing in the love of Christ and thanking Him for giving me these precious extraordinary days with my last living grandmother.

Jesus has an amazing way of taking what seems like ordinary life events and turning each moment into a spectacular, extraordinary display of His splendor.

“I will meditate on your majestic, glorious splendor and your wonderful miracles.” Psalm 145:5 (New Living Translation)

I’m linking up for Five Minute Friday where Lisa Jo Baker and other awesome people write for five minutes with no self critiquing or no striving for perfection. This week’s prompt is: “Ordinary.” Today, I broke the rules and spent about twenty extra minutes writing this piece. I was weepy and couldn’t seem to stop writing after five minutes.

In the photo, my grandmother is holding her great-great grandchild (my nephew’s son).

Five Minute Friday

Five Minute Friday: Present

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It’s tempting to live life focused on the past or worrying about what lies ahead in the future. While my mind sometimes wanders and I think about those things that steal my peace, the Lord whispers words to my heart that keep me focused on what is eternal.

Be still and quiet every day so that you can hear My voice. I will give you what your soul is yearning for if you keep focused on Me. Don’t look back to the past. Don’t worry about tomorrow. Simply walk with Me and live in the present moment. Savor what I am giving you in the present and enjoy every single breath I am giving you.

His words are what draw me into living in the present moment.

“You don’t know what will happen tomorrow. What is life? You are a mist that is seen for a moment and then disappears.” James 4:14 (God’s Word Translation)

I’m linking up for Five Minute Friday where Lisa Jo Baker and other awesome people write for five minutes flat with no self critiquing or no striving for perfection. This week’s prompt is: “Present.”

The photo was taken at Dauphin Island, Alabama. There’s something about the beach that beckons me to listen closely to the voice of God.

Five Minute Friday