Tag Archives: Christ

JESUS MAKES BEAUTIFUL THINGS

Beauty for Ashes - Isaiah 61

As I shut off my cell phone, I burst into a deep heartfelt cry. I’d just listened to someone spill their heart about a really tragic circumstance. I could feel the pain of another person’s heart entering into mine. It hurt me deeply to watch a loved one go through such an excruciatingly painful thing that seemed more like a nightmare than reality.

After I dried my tears, my mind filled with thoughts and questions. How can this be redeemed? How can anything good come out of this tragedy?

Within moments, the questions left my mind and I felt the warmth of Christ’s love wash over me. In my spirit, I could hear Him whispering, “I can make beauty out of anything.”

As the day went on, I felt God’s presence and peace so intensely, and I remembered the song, Beautiful Things, recorded by Gungor. I rushed to my computer and pulled up the video online. As I listened to the words, I began to weep again. This time it was different though. My tears were not filled with distress like earlier in the day. The tears were an expression of joy as I meditated on the fact that Jesus is the Beauty-maker.

If He could take a broken, messed up life like mine and turn it into a beautiful story of love, He can surely take my loved one’s or anyone’s life and turn the ugliness into something beautiful.

My life is proof that Jesus creates beauty out of messes. He healed my broken, painful marriage and turned my seeds of hatred into mountains of love. He turned my depression into unspeakable joy. He breathed life into my broken spirit and made me new.

Because of the way Christ has redeemed my past, I choose to have child-like faith for every person’s life—not just my own. No matter how big the mountain is in a person’s life, it’s not too big for Jesus. He is the healer of broken hearts and the mender of all things.

With my redeemed life, I’ve made it one of my life’s purposes to spread encouragement everywhere I go and to pray without ceasing for those who haven’t yet seen Christ’s beauty revealed in their lives.

For those experiencing anguish, you can be assured that Christ will replace the ashes of your past with a crown of beauty and give you a joyous blessing instead of despair. The Spirit of God holds a ray of light so intense that it will penetrate the darkest places of your soul and will fill you with an indescribable peace as you trust Christ to make beautiful things out of your pain.

 “To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory.” — Isaiah 61:3 (NLT)

REMAINING CLOSE TO CHRIST FOR STRENGTH IN MARRIAGE

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Michael looks into my eyes and takes my breath away. Twenty-nine years after we said our vows in front of God and our loved ones, our love is stronger than ever.

During the hard years when the children were young and the stress seemed insurmountable, there were times when I actually felt nothing toward the man I had vowed to love forever. The misunderstandings and the hurts had taken their toll on my heart and it all seemed impossible to repair.

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Now I know that with Christ all things are possible (Luke 1:37). Love grows out of hearts that are knitted closely with God. His love never fails.

I understand why God asks that we pledge our love to each other for the rest of our earthly lives because it takes a lifetime to learn how to love unconditionally and fearlessly.

After nearly three decades, our love is deeper than I could have ever imagined; it is a true miracle. As we remain close to Christ, His love is the strength of our marriage.

“Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.” — Ephesians 4:15 (NLT)

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: “Close.” It took me more than five minutes to write this post today.

The photos were taken the day we celebrated twenty-five years of marriage by renewing our wedding vows.

Five Minute Friday

INEXPRESSIBLY GRATEFUL

Inexpressible Gift

Although there are no human words to express my gratitude for what Christ has done for me, my heart’s desire is to capture the essence of my gratefulness in my prayers and letters to Him. I wrote this letter to Jesus in 2009 as my pledge of love to Him and my commitment to trust Him in every area of my life.

Dear Jesus,

I love You with all of my heart and soul. I love You more than the very breath You give me. Every step I take—I take for You. You excite me! You make my heart sing and dance. You make me happy. You make me want to leap and jump and skip. You make me feel like a little girl. You make me want to wake up every day and look for You.

I feel You with me. I know You’re beside me. I feel Your angels everywhere I go. There’s this amazing covering You have placed over me. Sometimes I feel Your Presence so strongly that I almost think I can touch You. I am grateful.

I am amazed at your love for me. You relentlessly follow me and show me Your Beauty. The joy you have placed in my heart is so overpowering that I can’t contain it at times.

I am overwhelmed by your love. I need You, my Lord, more than anything else and I praise and honor You for the ways You chase me with Your love. In every area I have been deprived in, You have given me an abundance of blessing.

Lord, I don’t want to ever doubt You again. Forgive me for taking so many years to get to this place of trust. I am thankful that I have fully accepted the gift of You and Your love. Help me to continually stay in this place of trust.

I am Yours always…no one can ever take me away from You. Your love permeates my heart. Your love lifts me high. Your love makes my life beautiful. How can I repay You for Your love for me?

Yours forever and always,
Amy

“Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!” — 2 Corinthians 9:15 (ESV)

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: “Grateful.”

 Five Minute Friday

 

MAKING A DIFFERENCE ONE SMALL ACT AT A TIME

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I wept and wept when a group of my Bible study friends joined together in 2005 to be the hands and feet of Jesus and helped me during our family’s crisis. To the ladies who stepped in to help us, it seemed like a simple act of kindness. But in reality their joining together to help, provided food and gift cards that fed our family for at least eight months while we struggled through a season of low income jobs. It was life-changing for me. Not only did their act of love provide for us in our need, but it instilled in me a desire to do the same thing for others for the rest of my life on this earth.

I wrote the Prayers of a Mother’s Heart eBook with the goal of making a difference in the world. Several weeks ago, during a special promotion of my eBook, I wrote a post sharing that I planned to purchase bunk beds with the proceeds from the promotion. I have great news! With the royalties from the April promotion and with the previous months’ royalties, I was able to donate money to Hands of Love to enable them to purchase beds for two children. Did you hear that? My books’ royalties provided beds for children who would otherwise be without one. I’m shouting praises to Jesus!

Bunk Beds for Children

I don’t think we really realize how much our acts of love impact others eternally. We may wonder, “Is buying a bed for a child really making that big of a difference?” To a child who has been literally living on the streets, never knowing what it’s like to have a comfortable place to sleep, a bed is life-changing. He will remember the day he received his new bed for the rest of his life in the same way I will remember August 24, 2005—the day my friends came to my rescue.

Hands of Love

It thrills my heart when I meet others who are passionate about making a difference. I am excited that I recently learned about Kim Belcheff’s site—a blog dedicated to supporting charities. I am honored to have an interview posted at Heart of a Philanthropist.

My prayer for all followers of Christ is that we would band together to reach out to the homeless and loveless in their great need. While we, the Body of Christ, function as His hands and feet, we will see the world begin to change.

I refuse to stand by while the world falls deeper into darkness, thinking, “I don’t have enough money to make a difference.” We can overcome the darkness as we realize our small acts of love actually do make a significant and real difference.

“Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the godless world.”

— James 1: 27 (The Message)

 

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.

PRAYER eBOOK: 99¢ UNTIL 4/8 AND GIVING BUNK BEDS TO ORPHANS

Hands of Love Bunk Beds

I was inspired by the power of prayer working in my life and in the lives of my children to write Prayers of a Mother’s Heart: For a Chosen Generation, an eBook about faith-filled prayer with several personal stories and over twenty-five actual prayers.

One of my goals for the book was to use it as a fundraiser for our plans to adopt a Ugandan child. During the process of writing and publishing my eBook, our plans to adopt shifted. We listened to God’s voice guiding us to postpone the adoption plans until after our youngest child graduates from high school in 2015.

Although, we postponed our adoption plans, my passion for the Ugandan people has only gotten stronger. A beloved friend introduced me to Hands of Love, a ministry that cares for over 1,400 orphans. My husband and I partnered with this ministry because we love how they’re meeting the needs of children who would otherwise be living on the streets, struggling to survive.

This past year, we were over-the-top excited to buy a bicycle for our sponsored staff member at Hands of Love and to provide money that helped fund bunk beds for the children who aren’t sponsored. I’m sharing this only to testify of Christ’s goodness for restoring our finances so that we may bless others.

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The staff members at Hands of Love are ecstatic about their new bicycles because they don’t have to walk miles to work and to church anymore. I can only imagine the relief they are feeling.

So, what does a prayer eBook have to do with giving bunk beds to orphans and providing bicycles to the staff members at the orphanage?

Prayers of a Mother’s Heart will be .99 cents through April 8th as a special promotion. I plan to use the proceeds from this promotion to help purchase more bunk beds or whatever the children at Hands of Love may need.

Can you imagine sleeping every night on a hard floor? A child’s world is changed when they are given a comfortable bed and provided with safe shelter. My heart is rejoicing to be able to make a difference in a child’s life so that he or she will one day make a difference in the world.

Prayers of a Mother’s Heart was written with a divine purpose to bless children and can be downloaded at Amazon.com.

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May Jesus use each of us to make a difference every day in the lives of those in need.

The photos were taken at one of the Hands of Love orphanages.

TRUSTING IN THE INFINITELY MIGHTY GOD

Mighty Power of God

I can’t remember the precise moment when I realized what a mighty God our Jesus is. Maybe it was the time that our car was stolen and we didn’t have full insurance coverage and we were desperate to see His power. Or maybe it was the time we were behind on our bills, barely scraping by and our only option was to trust God’s infinite power to rescue us. Or maybe it was the time my marriage was in such a mess that my husband and I needed to live separately and wait on God to reveal His mighty love to us.

Jesus rescued us over and over again in the midst of our mistakes and failures. In my stubborn determination to try to handle life on my own, I finally handed over the reins to Him permanently. Still, it took time after time of seeing Christ rescue me and my family from difficult circumstances to know without a shadow of doubt that He can be trusted. He is who He says He is. He is mighty and powerful and his love never fails us.

“Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit.” Psalm 147:5 (New International Version)

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: “Mighty.”  If you haven’t heard about Lisa Jo’s new book, you don’t want to miss out! Surprised by Motherhood can be purchased at amazon.com. I think you’ll love it!

Five Minute Friday

THE SECRET GARDEN OF GRACE

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As a young teen girl, I was thrust into a deeply painful situation when my dad moved out of our home and divorced my mother. As difficult of a season as that was for me, I am grateful for the pain. It was that very trial that led me into the secret place with God. In my distress, I learned how to draw away with Christ and to allow Him to comfort my hurting heart with His healing balm. In the moments of heartache, I was drawn into the arms of the greatest love of my life. It was in His presencein the secret garden of God’s grace where I found His never-ending love.

Psalm 147:3 (NIV)

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” 

I pray that you will rest in Christ’s secret garden on this Valentine’s Day and every day until His return.

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: “Garden.”

Five Minute Friday

THE POWER OF PRAYER

Rejoice in Hope

Sometimes it takes darkness to realize how much we need prayer in our lives. I learned this lesson during the lowest of lows in my own life.

It was springtime in 1997. It should’ve been a happy season for me as I had recently given birth to my second child, a son. But instead of feeling joy, I had an overwhelming sense of despair and a case of postpartum depression that I couldn’t shake off without a true, divine intervention. I was in a deep pita place of desperation. I remember wanting to die.

It seemed that everything good in my life had been lost. My marriage was broken, our finances were a complete mess, and my seven-year-old daughter was feeling the stress in our home. The weight of all my struggles caused hopelessness to fill my soul. Because of a busy life of church activities, working tirelessly, and striving to please people, my prayers had become last resort petitions to God instead of daily communion with Him. I felt as though I was surrounded by a thick, dark cloud. My personal journal revealed the desperation in my soul.

May 22, 1997: God, do You hate me? I feel so helpless. Please show me Your love. Please make a way for me out of this.

Deep in my heart, I knew the only answer for me was the power of the resurrected Christ to pull me up out of my desperation and awaken my soul with His healing light. Those desperate prayers were the seeds that eventually grew into a more disciplined life of prayer.

Visit crunchylibrarian.com to read the rest of the story. I’m so honored to have a guest post over at Amy Dane’s awesome blog!


 

THE HANDS AND FEET OF JESUS

 

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It was eight years ago that I experienced the realness of Jesus in a way that changed me forever. One summer morning the Lord woke me, actually He jolted me out of my sleep during an incredible dream.

I dreamed I was a princess and I was running through a beautiful castle, going from room to room in awe of all the beauty of it. Then suddenly for a really brief moment I became afraid and I hid. But as quickly as the fear came, it left.  I burst out of the hiding place and there I stood looking lovelier than ever in a long, flowing dress.

I awakened suddenly with an image in my mind of me standing there looking like Cinderella with a quizzical look on my face and my heart filled with a sense of wonder. When will my Prince rescue me? Then reality hit me. Oh, it was a dream. Hmmm…What exactly is God trying to speak to me through this dream? As the day went on I received the answer so clearly.

A few hours later the telephone rang. It was my sweet friend Lisa calling after unsuccessfully trying to reach me for several weeks. Lisa was a part of a neighborhood Bible study where I cared for the children of moms who met each week during the school year. It was during the summer break and I hadn’t spoken to her in three months.

That morning over the telephone Lisa asked me how things were going in my life and I shared that we were in the midst of a trial. My husband Michael was self-employed at the time and his business had almost come to a halt. He was delivering pizza to support our family. I was a stay-at-home mom earning money by babysitting and working other small jobs on the side. We were barely scraping by. Our refrigerator was nearly empty, we had no money to buy groceries, and some of our bills were overdue. I was teetering on a fence between fear and faith, but choosing to trust the Lord.

As Lisa and I talked, I told her about the question I heard the Lord asking me the night before.  In my heart, I heard the Lord’s still, small voice. Do you really trust me? At 6 a.m. that morning I had written down my answer. Yes I do, I have no reason not to… Jesus has been so good to me!

I asked Lisa to pray for the Lord to guide us and to provide the jobs Michael and I needed. Lisa’s words were soothing to my soul. “Would you like to come over to help me clean out my big freezer? I’ll give you the excess food in return for helping me.” She cheerfully exclaimed.

My heart leapt with excitement over Lisa’s words. I felt so encouraged and thanked her over and over. She said she would be waiting for me to come over later that evening. I was excited, but I had no idea what was in store for me through the divine appointment God was orchestrating that day…

Visit NBS2GO.com to read the rest of the story.