Tag Archives: Christ

THE STOLEN RED CAR

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I knew something was wrong when I heard my husband’s words over the telephone. “Please don’t get upset with me over what I’m about to tell you,” Michael said with a stressed tone and a sense of urgency in his voice. “My car was just stolen. I ran into the convenience store at a gas station really quickly; when I came back out, my car was gone.” I didn’t get upset with Michael, but my heart sank into my stomach with concern as I listened to his words.

Thoughts went swirling through my mind. Actually the thoughts were more like race cars speeding through my head at ninety miles per hour. What are we going to do? How can this possibly turn out good? That car is necessary for us to make it.

The little red Honda that was taken from us that day had been given to us by a sweet widow in our church. God had laid it on her heart to give it to us during a very trying season for us.  It was about seven years ago that my husband was supporting our family by delivering pizzas  six to seven days a week while I home-schooled our children and worked various side jobs like babysitting and teaching dance to young children.

At the time we were given the car we chose not to have full insurance coverage because we needed to save every little penny we could. We only had liability insurance to cover the damage done to another person’s vehicle. I questioned whether or not that was a wise decision.

After I let the shock sink in, I hurried and picked up Michael in our other vehicle which was a huge station wagon that guzzled gas. As I was driving, I continued to ponder the reality of the situation. How could Michael use our gas-guzzling station wagon to deliver pizza? The cost of the gas would eat up the measly hourly wage he was making. And his tips were almost always barely enough to make a difference for our family.

Later, when Michael and I sat down to talk about our options, we realized we really only had one option. We had to pray and trust God to return our car.

We knew it would take a miracle. I had heard of stories when cars were stolen and later found fully stripped down. I quickly shut those thoughts out of my mind and prayed, “Lord, return to us what has been stolen. We need Your help. With You all things are possible.”

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A sweet friend believed and trusted for the impossible, along with my husband and me. I was ecstatic when a few weeks later Michael received a call from a police officer. His words were sweetness to our souls, “We’ve recovered your car.” The police had found the car abandoned on the side of the road less than an hour from our house.

Amazement rose up in my spirit when we went to retrieve our car from the wrecker service lot. Not only had the car been returned. It had been upgraded. The thief had replaced our cheap hubcaps with alloy wheels.

We celebrated that day. And even though that hard season has been over now for a number of years, I’ll always remember how God used a little red Honda to show us that He truly does restore what the locusts have eaten.

“And I restore or replace for you the years that the locust have eaten…” Joel 2:25 (Amplified Bible)

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: “Red.”  Today, I was typing as fast as I possibly could to be able to finish writing this story. It took me about fifteen minutes.

Five Minute Friday

Five Minute Friday: Broken

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It was after I became an adult that I realized how broken I was. My daddy had left our family when I was a thirteen-year-old, and the wounds were hidden deep in my soul.

After unsuccessfully searching to find comfort through acceptance of people and staying busy, I found healing through communing with Christ. An intimacy with God began growing that changed me eternally. I am no longer broken.

Christ reached into the depths of my soul and healed me wound by wound. Because of the undying, unwavering, perfect love of ChristI am whole. His love restored me.

“May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.” Ephesians 3:19 (New Living 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: “Broken.”

Five Minute Friday

Five Minute Friday: Belong

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In the nineties, while enduring many hardships in my life, I wondered where God was. Had He disappeared when I needed Him most? Had He left me in my time of need? I had lost all sense of purpose. I was battling hopelessness until one day the Lord spoke so clearly to me in my heart, I created the universe, I can certainly fix the problems in your life.

Hope came flooding into my soul. And step by step as I prayed and trusted Him, Christ began putting all the broken pieces of my heart back together, creating a beautiful masterpiece out of my life. He freed me from despair and brought me to a place of knowing that no matter what happens on this earth, while following Him wholeheartedly, I will live in His peace and always be right where I belong.

“Some will say, ‘I belong to the Lord;’ others will call themselves by the name of Jacob; still others will write on their hand, ‘The Lord’s,’ and will take the name Israel.” Isaiah 44:5 (NIV)

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: “Belong.”

The photo was downloaded at istockphoto.com

Five Minute Friday

Encountering God

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I remember when I first began encountering the presence of God. It was after my parents had divorced and my heart ached terribly.  I was a young teen desperate for the healing love of Christ. I would turn on my worship music and lie still until I felt a tangible sense of God in the room with me. This is how I know Christ is real. His power heals and changes in a way that’s only possible through a touch of the Divine.

There is nothing like experiencing the realness of the Creator of the universe.

God’s love heals and transforms us when we make Him our sole focus. Christ whispers words of love to us when we seek Him wholeheartedly. His words woo us into His arms. My love is what your soul is yearning for. Draw near to Me and I will come near to you, He whispers ever so softly.

Have you encountered God lately? I pray that you will feel His presence in a tangible way in the moments that you need His loving touch and warm embrace.

“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you…” James 4:8 (NASB)

Summertime Beauty

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Summertime symbolizes so many different things. It’s a time to rest and slow down. It’s a time to enjoy all the beautiful flowers that thrive in the heat. It’s a time to be still and relax in the moments when there’s no work or home-schooling or meetings to attend.

When I think of all my summertime memories, I think of lying in a hammock with a good book. I think of picnics and watermelons.

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I think of jumping in the refreshing, cool water after a jog. I think of crossing the finish line at the Peachtree Road Race. I think of fireworks on the Fourth of July. I think of catching fireflies in a jar and playing hide ‘n’ seek with the neighborhood kids.

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I think of camping and walking on the beach at dusk. I think of romance. I think of candle light dinners on the patio. I think of the sweetness of fresh blueberries and the sunflowers coming into full bloom.

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But most of all, summertime reminds me of Jesus. He draws us into rest, calling us to slow down and find refreshment in Him. He gives us more excitement than a fireworks show and carries us through to the finish line when we’re struggling to carry on. He makes life beautiful in the same way that summertime does.

Christ brings summertime sweetness and perfect rest to the soul.

On this beautiful summer day, I can hear Jesus whispering, Come to Me and find what your soul is longing for. Come and find rest in your spirit and mind. I am here waiting to embrace you with My love.

Are you enjoying the rest that comes in the summer season? I pray you will enjoy all the beauty of summer and experience the sweetness of God’s unwavering love.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-29 (NIV)

“So he said to them, ‘Let’s go to a place where we can be alone and rest for awhile.’…” Mark 6:31 (God’s Word Translation)

Photography Credit: Michael von Borstel

The Birth of Compassion

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I opened an e-mail and began reading about Rehema. The tears flowed down my face as I focused on her birth date. She was born the same day as I was. I knew at that moment God had divinely chosen this woman for me to support financially through a sponsorship. It wasn’t a coincidence. It couldn’t be, I thought. But still, I wanted a confirmation to know for sure.

I contacted Lisa, the sponsorship coordinator, and left a voice mail message. “Did you know that Rehema had the same birthday as mine?”

“No I did not know that was your birthday!!!! Yes, God wanted you to sponsor her. I am sure,” Lisa wrote to me in an e-mail.

I wept as I celebrated this milestone in my life, and thanked God for matching me with a woman who shares my birthday as a sign of His sovereign power. This is truly a celebratory week for me. Rehema is a house mother at the Hands of Love Orphanage in Uganda, East Africa. She’s the mother of five children, and has been caring for orphans for two years. She’s a dedicated volunteer that works up to fifteen hours each day for no money.

I had signed up to be a staff sponsor through Hands of Love USA, a non-profit organization that helps fund two orphanages in Kampala, Uganda. I attended a Hands of Love event in 2011 and began sponsoring one of the children back then.

My heart is drawn toward helping the poor and the orphaned children more than any other cause. God placed these desires in my heart many years ago when I didn’t have the means to help meet the needs of orphans. I share this story not to boast about myself, but to bring honor to Christ and share of His ability to turn our pain into a life of purpose.

I remember lying awake at night years ago praying and begging God to redeem my broken life. My heart was filled with questions for God during those painful times for our family. Why has my husband been laid off from work four times? Why have we had three failed businesses? Why are we left in a situation where we can’t afford health insurance? Why am I battling chronic stomach illness?

In those quiet moments of desperate prayer, I heard the still, small voice of the Lord saying, “These hardships are preparing you for the work I have for you to do.” It was then that I learned that our greatest need as humans is the need to give. We were created to give, and when we have little to give it hurts deeply.

In those moments of experiencing a true lack of resources, I shifted my focus off of myself and would think of the children in Africa who don’t even have clean water to drink, a roof over their head, or clothes to wear. Thinking of the ones with much greater pain lessened my own suffering.

Many times, in my spirit, I heard God confirming His will for me as He spoke so softly. “I’m preparing you for your destiny, a life of giving to those in Africato those who are in much greater need than you’ll ever be.” His words always brought me comfort because I knew my suffering was not in vain.

My dream of helping African people came to fruition after my husband earned a college degree and began working in the medical diagnostics field in the summer of 2010. We began working hard to pay off the mountain of credit card debt we had attained during the years of famine. We are now 100% out of debt other than our house payment. We are free to fight the injustices of the world.

Every time I look at the photo of Rehema I get weepy because I know the intense joy she is experiencing in knowing Christ has provided for her needs. I envision meeting her some day. I can only imagine the joy and tears we both will experience as we rejoice together over what Christ has done.

I celebrate the fact that I was once impoverished and in lack. It was during those times of need that I drew nearer to the heart of Christ. My suffering allowed me to feel His heartbeat and know the yearnings of His soul.

It’s easy to question the goodness of God when we are sufferingespecially when there are tragedies like the tornado that recently devastated families in Moore, Oklahoma. Nobody can fully understand these kinds of disasters.

For me, I choose to believe that God is good no matter what happens on this earth. He loves us deeper than our hearts and minds can comprehend. (Ephesians 3:17-20)

God is love. (1 John 4:8) God is light. (John 8:22) God desires to give us good things. (Matthew 7:11)

There is a fierce battle going on at all times in the spirit world. The dark side wants us to be tormented eternally. The heavenly realm wants us to live in harmony with God, and to walk in oneness with Him eternally.

When bad things happen, we can cling to God, or we can run from Him and live in darkness. It’s when we’re surrendered to Christ that we see how He takes the most devastating circumstances, turns them around, and uses them for good in our lives.

He uses our pain and our losses to birth the compassion of Christ in our hearts. It’s in our suffering that we begin to take on the very nature of Christ, and love others like He loves us.

I have a compassionate heart now that I could’ve never attained without going through what I did. True compassion is birthed out of getting a glimpse of what others have experienced. So if it takes suffering to grow closer to the heart of Christ, I welcome it and embrace it.

As I was finishing typing this story, I felt the Lord nudging me to look up the meaning of the name, Rehema. I smiled and got teary, but I wasn’t surprised at all when I saw on Google that her name means, “Empathy; Compassion.”

God did it againHe confirmed to me that He knew all along where He was leading me to when I was suffering.

“Friends, when life gets really difficult, don’t jump to the conclusion that God isn’t on the job. Instead, be glad that you are in the very thick of what Christ experienced. This is a spiritual refining process, with glory just around the corner.” 1 Peter 4: 12-13 (The Message)

His Unfailing Love

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I saw something recently that caught my attention and made me think of God’s perfect love toward us. I was driving home from doing errands. As I was making a right turn, I saw a motorcycle and a bicycle turn in front of me. At first, it struck me as really odd because the cyclist was riding so closely behind the motorcycle. But then I could see clearly what they were doing. It was a father and a daughter riding together.

The man looked to be in his forties or fifties. He was riding his motorcycle directly in front of the girl. They were so close together that it looked as though they were touching each other. The girl looked about sixteen. She had on a biker’s shirt similar to what the professionals wear. She was obviously training for a serious race, and her dad was there to help her train. It was like her father was guiding her and protecting her along the way. As I passed by, the dad was turning around to look at his daughter to make sure she was okay.

While driving by them, emotions rose up in my spirit. I saw a picture of how God loves and protects us.

I could hear God’s still, small voice speaking to me in my heart.

He whispered to me so gently. “I love you with an unfailing love like a father loves His child. I go before you to mark the path that is best for you. Stay on the path with Me, and I will keep you in the shadow of My wings.”

I had tears of joy as I drove home thinking about such a beautiful picture of God’s love for us. I realized in that moment of watching the father guiding his daughter on her bike, how we don’t need to move ahead of God, outside of His protective shelter.

Isn’t that amazing to think about? God our Father is continually with us and sheltering us as long as we don’t try to sneak away from His loving guidance. The Bible says God is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and He relents from sending calamity (Joel 2:13). As we stay close to God, He will keep us from harm, and make us sing for joy all our days on earth.

I pray that you will experience the immeasurable love of God today. May His peace rest upon you, and may you always know you are His beloved daughter or son. Most of all, I pray you will bow before Him and be satisfied in His unfailing love.

But I trust in your unfailing love. I will rejoice because you have rescued me.” Psalm 13:5  (NLT)

“How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.” Psalm 36:7 (NIV)

Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.” Psalm 90:14
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Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.” Psalm 143:8 (NIV)

In your unfailing love, silence my enemies; destroy all my foes, for I am your servant.” Psalm 143:12 (NIV)

From Darkness to Light

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                                   Photo Credit: Christa von Borstel

It was springtime in 1997 when I hit rock bottom and ended up in a deep, dark pit. It should’ve been a happy season for me as I had recently given birth to my second child. But instead of feeling joy, I had a serious case of postpartum depression. I was in a place of desperation. I wanted to die and prayed for my life to be over.

It seemed that everything good in my life had been lost. My marriage was broken, our finances were a complete mess, and I felt hopeless.  My busy life had pulled me away from the intimate relationship I had with God in my youth.  My prayers had become last resort petitions to God instead of daily communion with Him. I was surrounded with darkness.

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. My personal journal revealed the darkness 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.

In that moment of being at the lowest point of my life, I cried out desperately for help from God. As I prayed, Jesus pulled me out of that pit, He began restoring my life little by little and step by step, and I eventually found the faith in Christ I had always dreamed of having.

Through prayer and the encouragement of a close friend and mentor, God brought me into His light. My friend Bonnie shared her faith with me during that dark season.

With certainty in her voice, Bonnie said, “Amy, I went through a time similar to what you’re going through. God will bring you through it.”

Her words brought hope to me in a way that is indescribable. It was as though her testimony drew me into the light that had brought her through the darkness I was experiencing.

Bonnie suggested that I listen to worship music continually and focus on God constantly. Her encouragement was worth far more than pure gold. She encouraged me in too many ways to count. I can still hear her sweet voice in my mind.

She sweetly said, “Write Scriptures on note cards and place them all over your house as a way to keep focused on the truth of God’s Word.”

Bonnie’s words were a reminder to me of the faith-steps my mother and grandmother had taught me when I was young, but I had allowed my hectic life to distract me from the spiritual disciplines my soul needed. As Bonnie suggested, I wrote out Scriptures on 3 x 5 cards and taped them wherever I thought my eyes would be drawn to. As I prayed and focused on the Scriptures that were strategically placed on my window sill, on my stove, on the bathroom mirror, and on my car dash, I felt hope rising up inside me.

The hopeless feeling I had lasted for a short season. By the time my son was five months old, I was feeling like a new person in many ways and beginning my journey of growing into a passionate praying woman.

Ultimately God is the only true Source that can heal our souls, but the encouragement from Bonnie and from my family pushed me in the right direction. Their encouragement gave me the hope I needed to keep praying and seeking God.

It’s been sixteen years since the darkest season of my life, and today I celebrate how God brought me through the tunnel of darkness and into His illuminating light.

That dark time in my life is what brings me here to begin writing on this new site. I want to do for others what was done for me at a time that I wanted to die. If you’re going through a dark season, I am here to say that it will get better as you pray, press into God, and seek to know His Truth.

I hope my life will stand as a living testimony and that you’ll stop by my site whenever you’re in need of encouragement. I pray that the peace of Christ will permeate your soul and bring you into His marvelous light.

“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light…” 1 Peter 2:9 (New King James Version)

This post is written in memory of my beloved friend, Bonnie Morrell (1959-2008).