Tag Archives: Hope

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

A SIDE NOTE – I would be so blessed and honored if you would subscribe to receive the posts electronically by entering your e-mail address into the box on the right sidebar.

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

 

BE STILL AND TRUST CHRIST

THE LORD WILL FIGHT FOR YOU

It was nineteen years ago when I hit rock bottom and needed Christ to pull me out of a pit of doubt. With many questions in my heart about God’s goodness, my faith began growing strong again as my family prayed for me and friends encouraged me not to lose hope.

In March of 1997 while we were at church, a friend of ours approached Michael and shared a Scripture with us. He told us to read Exodus 14:14. I wrote the words in my journal: “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

From that dark season in my life, I began a quest to really understand what it means to be still and trust God.

Through my journey and over two decades of discovering how to trust Christ, my prayers changed from pitiful petitions to a confidence in the God of the universe to guide me and fight for me. I learned to be still and listen for God’s voice in my heart.

It was in the listening and stillness that I began to hear the voice of God guiding me and leading me to the abundant life that Christ promises (John 10:10).

In my younger years, my own stubbornness and inability to discern God’s voice led to so much heartache in my life. It was not God’s fault. It was my own responsibility for not seeking to know and hear God better.

John 10:27 says: “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” Jesus is the Good Shepherd and He guides those who will listen for His voice.

Once I began hearing God clearly in my spirit, everything in my life turned around. With my renewed faith, I began praying bold prayers not only for myself, but for my loved ones and for the entire world.

It’s obvious this world is in great need of Christ’s healing power. The recent tragedies in Orlando, Germany, Turkey, and the horrific things that have been happening right here in my community are heartbreaking. However, I refuse to let these tragedies deflate my faith.

Are you in the midst of a painful battle? My heart is filled with compassion for you and I have been praying passionately for the prayer requests that have been flooding my inbox.

No matter what you are facing today, it’s not too big for God. Be still and let Christ do the fighting for you. Place your faith in the One who has the power to heal and restore.

Father,

I am in awe of Your goodness. Thank You for Your healing love. Please strengthen all those who are in the midst of hard battles. Let them be still and trust You to fight for them. Let them know You are a good Father and You have good plans for their lives. Strengthen them today and let them feel Your presence strongly while they wait for a miracle to unfold. I pray in Christ’s name. Amen.

Will you come to the altar and release your problems to Jesus?

 

A PRAYER FOR OUR NATION

God Bless America

I walked into the voting area and the tension was so thick that it felt tangible. The faces I saw were covered with distress and anxiety.

Patience is running out as people face the reality of what is happening in America.

Jesus is our only hope. I have complete faith in Christ to restore our nation to a strong, vibrant country. He restored my life beyond my highest expectations. I expect him to restore the United States. However, before the Lord restored my life, he tested my faith. I believe we are headed for a season of testing. I trust that in the end our nation will come forth as pure gold and bring the hope of Christ to a hurting world.

Father,

Thank You for Your amazing grace and love. We come to You and humbly ask that You keep Your hand on this nation. We are sorry for leaving You out of our decision making so many times. We realize that our country is in danger and we need You desperately to intervene. May we turn away from all that draws us away from Your love and return to You wholeheartedly. Let us rend our hearts and know that You are merciful, compassionate, and abounding in love. I believe it is Your desire to see this nation thrive and be restored. Let us rise up and be the nation that You always dreamed we would be. Raise our country into a mighty nation and let us be a bright light to a dark world. We ask You to appoint the person who is best suited to lead America. We trust You, Lord, to do great and mighty things in this nation. Let us live for You purposefully and passionately. We ask You to protect us from calamity. We love You and place our hope in You. Please bless our country and let us be a blessing to all the earth. We pray in Christ’s name. Amen.

“Rend your hearts and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.” Joel 2:13

 “He knows the way that I take when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” Job 23:10 

 “I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” Genesis 12:3

Happy 4th of July! Have a safe and fun day. :)

This post has been updated from a piece I wrote in 2012.

A SACRED EXPERIENCE

Mema and Amy

My beloved grandmother, Mema, has woven love through every fiber of my being since I was born. Shortly, she will be leaving her earth suit to go to her eternal home, and that love will remain deeply embedded in my soul forever and ever. Nine days ago, she moved into a hospice facility to spend her last days on the earth.

There is something tremendously holy about being present during the dying process of a saintly, peaceful person. It has been a sacred experience. Heaven has come down and touched the earth in that pretty, pale yellow hospice room.

As Mema’s body has weakened, her spirit has grown stronger. I’ve witnessed the power of God over and over again during my daily visits on these consecrated days. Without the ability to speak words any longer, Mema has opened her eyes and smiled at me numerous times as I’ve spoken to her and prayed over her. I’ve known it’s her way of responding to me non-verbally.

While sitting near her bed in the hospice room, her eyes have opened and she nodded her head at times as I’ve spoken to her and caressed her hair. I think my favorite moments this week were when her face lit up brightly and she blinked distinctively each time I said, “I love you.” It felt as though it was her way of saying, “I love you, too.”

The nurses and doctors have been very compassionate and listened as I shared my heart and said, “She’s ninety-five, almost ninety-six years old and she’s ready to go. I can’t complain about Mema’s soon passing,” It was September, 2013 when Mema told me: “I am ready to go any time; I’ve had a really blessed life.” God began preparing my heart then and gave me two and a half bonus years to savor.

There’s a part of my heart that wants to hold Mema here on the earth, but in my spirit I know it’s her time to go. I’m letting her go with my heart enveloped in an indescribable peace. Jesus is holding my heart in His hands while He’s holding Mema in His arms simultaneously. I am praising Him for making Mema’s life and her death so beautiful.

My heart is filled with gratitude for the countless visits with her—especially during the past five years. During these final days, I’m honored to help bring her comfort through her time of transition. Today, I can imagine the angels are singing the “Hallelujah Chorus” over the soon homecoming of my sweet grandmother.

“We don’t focus on the things that can be seen but on the things that can’t be seen. The things that can be seen don’t last, but the things that can’t be seen are eternal.”

— 2 Corinthians 4:18

MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM MY HOME TO YOURS

Christmas Decor - 2015 (8)

As I sit here in the quietness of my home, I’m pondering the real meaning of Christmas. I’m pausing to breathe in the love of Christ and set aside the things I think I need to do.

I believe if we could stand face to face with Christ at this moment, He would be saying: Slow down. Savor this moment of life. Put aside your concerns and simply rest in My love. I was born to bring great joy to the world and to bring perfect rest for your soul. I long for you to take hold of the abundant life I came to give you.

I can imagine the perfect Christmas gift for us to give Christ would be our acceptance of His gifts to us—love, peace, joy, hope, faith, and the never-ending list of heavenly treasures.

May your Christmas be filled with all of the glorious riches Christ has to offer.

Dear Heavenly Father,

I thank You for the gift of Christ. Thank You for sending Your son to save the world from darkness. Thank You for all that He gives us and how He enables us to live with an abundance of hope, joy, peace, and love. Let us take hold fully of the gift You have given us through Jesus Christ. Let us meditate on Your great love and celebrate our amazing Savior. Oh, how we love and adore You, our Redeemer. In Christ’s name, I pray. Amen.

“But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is the Messiah, the Lord.”

— Luke 2:10-11

Merry Christmas from my home to yours!

A PRAYER FOR PARIS

Prayer for Paris

The tragedy in Paris makes my heart long for Christ to come and rescue our world. I’m praying that He will comfort the people in Paris and let beauty arise out of their despair.

LORD,

Thank You for Your compassion and Your love for the people in Paris. Keep them in the palm of Your hand and comfort them in their distress. Bring peace where there is fear. Bring hope where there is despair. Let the people draw near to You and find peace in believing in Your power to bring beauty into the brokenness. Let what was meant for evil be used for good. I pray in Your name, Christ. Amen.

“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Spirit.” — Romans 15:13

I apologize for not posting the second part of Lessons I Learned during Financial Hardship. I’ll post it in several weeks after Thanksgiving.

RESTING IN GOD’S PROMISES

God Keeps His Promises

I was thinking, “Who’s calling late on a Saturday night?” Michael answered the call and he knew something was wrong when he heard our son’s voice. Thomas called from college five days ago in physical pain, asking for prayer and advice.

Michael encouraged our son, assuring him that he would seek the best medical care for him the next day. The phone call was short because Thomas had friends from Georgia visiting him for the weekend.

As soon as Michael laid the phone down, we discussed the fact that we were going to pray and trust Christ to work in this situation. I thought about the illnesses Thomas had suffered during the past two years. He went to the E.R. and spent a night in the hospital during his junior year of high school and he repeated the same scenario (with a different type of illness) during his senior year. During both stays at the hospital we saw God’s faithfulness powerfully. However, we did not want to repeat the former hospital adventures with Thomas in Oklahoma, eight-hundred miles from home.

Faith filled our hearts, as we prayed for Thomas. “Lord, we know it is Your desire to heal and protect Thomas. I trust You and believe that You want him to be well. Please heal him and take away his pain completely…”

Our prayers continued pouring out of us with fierceness, passion, and an unrelenting strength. We’ve become quite the prayer team. Two people praying together are better than one (See Ecclesiastes 4:9-12).

Peace filled our hearts as we finished praying. Then Michael sent a prayer request in a text message to Seth, a young man who’s involved in a prayer ministry for the city of Tulsa. We met him by a divine appointment while visiting Tulsa in April. Seth sent a message, saying he’d be praying and offered to pray with Thomas at his dorm. Since Thomas had out-of-town guests, it wasn’t necessary for Seth to visit him. Although, knowing Thomas was with his close friends and that Seth would be willing to go pray with him brought us comfort.

With certainty that God had Thomas in the palm of His hand, Michael and I went to sleep. We both were awakened in the early morning hours and prayed more for Thomas. Shortly after I got out of bed, I noticed Michael was already awake and in the other room.

He walked in and enthusiastically said, “I received a text message from Thomas. His pain
and the main symptoms are both gone.” I sighed with relief.

While praising the Lord for answering our prayers, I thought about the beautiful rainbow we had seen the morning before. It couldn’t be a coincidence that on the same day Thomas called us with the news of his pain, we saw the most magnificent rainbow at daybreak.

I was sitting there thinking about my reaction to seeing the rainbow in its entirety at the
dawn of the day. I had reacted with the giddiness of a child, and shouted, “How can anyone not believe in God?” The rainbow took my breath away as it reminded me of the way God keeps His promises.

Twenty-four hours after I was rejoicing over the rainbow, I was thanking God for what He had done for my son. Suddenly the thought occurred to me that the rainbow came as a symbol, reminding me of how the darkest hour is right before dawn. Then daybreak comes, and if we keep our eyes focused on Christ, a miracle comes, too.

Years ago, I heard a pastor say that spiritual warfare intensifies shortly before God is about to birth something new in our lives. I’ve seen a pattern of this spiritual law in my life and in the lives of those closest to me.

Last year, Thomas was lying in a hospital bed a few days before he received an opportunity of a lifetime. While in the E.R. I said to Thomas, “Something good must be about to happen. I think it has to do with football—a door opening for you.”

When I said those words, I could have never imagined that three and a half days later my son would get an offer to play college football at the division-one level.

Now that Thomas is living out his dream of being on a college football team and taking steps toward his God-given destiny, there’s a dark force trying to stop him. But with Christ, all things are possible, and all resistance is being met with a fierce kind of faith.

After Thomas had several doctor’s appointments this week, he was released to return to his usual schedule of football practices. Michael and I rejoiced over our specific prayers being answered, especially that there was no need for an E.R. visit. We are confident that God will protect Thomas and continue carrying him on the divine path laid out for him. I believe this medical challenge was part of the spiritual battle and just more evidence that Thomas is on the right path with more great things in store for him in the near future.

With childlike faith, I trust Christ wholeheartedly; I know He gave me a rainbow as a sign to assure me of His faithfulness to keep His promises.

Do you believe in the promises of God?

He promises that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16).

He promises whatever we ask will be done for us if we abide in Him and His words abide in us (John 15:7).

He promises He will never leave or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).

He promises to give us rest for our souls (Matthew 11: 29).

He promises to heal the brokenhearted and save those crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:18).

He promises to sustain us and restore us to good health (Psalm 41: 3).

He promises to watch over and protect us as we dwell in the shadow of His wings (Psalm 91: 1).

His promises are limitless. We can choose to believe they are true or we can choose disbelief and live a defeated life. What are you choosing?

I choose joy and faith. When things get hard, let’s keep focused on Christ, looking heavenward and resting in the the promises of God.

PHOTO CREDIT: Michael captured the photo of the actual rainbow that God sent on Saturday morning, October 31, 2015. I’ll remember it forever.

THE GIFT OF STILLNESS

Be still, and know that I am GOD.

Years ago during a very difficult season of my life, I remember praying desperately for God’s intervention. There were intense circumstances surrounding me that drove me to the throne of God.

In the midst of that difficult season, I read the scriptures in Psalm 46.

1 God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.

4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
5 God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

7 The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

8 Come and see what the Lord has done,
the desolation he has brought on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease
to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the shields with fire.
10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”

11 The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

After reading the 46th Psalm, the tenth verse practically jumped off the page.

“Be still, and know that I am God.”

As I focused on those eight words, I knew that the Lord was speaking directly to me through Psalm 46:10. At the time, my circumstances seemed impossible to overcome, but I clung to the hope found in Christ.

Through the trials of life, I learned about the gift of stillness. From that low point, I discovered that God’s presence is the greatest treasure of all, and prayer became the key component of my life. My circumstances did not change instantly. In fact, it took over a decade for me to see permanent change in my life.

Step by step, Christ restored my broken life and turned it into something beautiful. It was a long process, kind of like creating a magnificent work of art. In most cases, beautiful art cannot be produced instantly. Real beauty is created through a process.

Are you waiting for God to turn something bad into something beautiful?  Keep pressing forward in faith and draw near to God.

Be still, and know that Christ will bring beauty into the broken places of your life.

As you wait on God, I pray that you will savor the gift of stillness every day.

THE BEST CHRISTMAS GIFT

LIGHT FROM THE LORD

I was gazing out the window noticing the winter weather as I was writing notes on Christmas cards. The wintry day caught my attention with the bareness of the trees and lack of sunlight. It was noticeably monotone and drab in my back yard where it is usually vibrant with life and color.

I noticed the stark contrast between the drabness outside and the joy and brightness in my soul. As I pondered that distinct difference, words began flooding into my spirit. The thoughts of the wintry day reminded me of what life would be like without Christ.

Apart from Christ, we would be destined for a wintry life.

As we celebrate Christ’s birth this week, let us all remember why He was born. He came to give new life.

His love is a gift that breaks into the dark places of the soul and brings forth light. He strengthens us when we’re weak. He fills us with love when we’re loveless. He soothes our sorrows when we’re mourning. He heals the heart when it’s broken. He restores the broken things and makes beauty out of our mistakes.

He is the redeemer of every painful trial we’ll ever face.

God brought forth Christ the Messiah for all people, so that we could live abundantly in hope and peace no matter how dark it becomes in the world. His light overcomes all darkness. The love of Christ is the best Christmas gift we’ll ever receive.

Lord Jesus,

Let us be keenly aware of Your love and light this Christmas. Let us rejoice over the gifts You have given us through a loving relationship with You. Amen.

 “For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light!” —Ephesians 5:8

DANCING IN THE RAIN

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The rain would start pouring down hard and my children would be energetically bouncing with joy.  Their little voices would beg me to let them go outside. “Mommy, if there’s no thunder, can we go out in the rain?”

I would stand at the door and watch them jump around and dance in the rain. It was full living at its best as they splashed in the puddles. Sometimes they would dance, or they would make a tent of umbrellas on the driveway. Sometimes they would simply stand in the rain on the edge of the street feeling the rush of water flowing between their toes.

The rain didn’t stop them from simply enjoying the day.

Children hold the key to a happy life. They are innocent in their thinking, and they know how to enjoy life to the fullest instinctively. A downpour of rain doesn’t hinder a child’s ability to embrace the moment and live fully.

This is how our Father in heaven wants us to live out our lives. When He created us He never intended for us to grudgingly endure life. His original idea was for us to see Him in the midst of the rain showers and enjoy life to the fullest.

God knew life wouldn’t be perfect or easy. I believe His greatest desire is for us to rely on Him in the midst of the rainy days. When we’re dependent upon Him, He continually pours out His grace and love onto our lives in the most unimaginable ways.

Years ago while praying, I heard words in my spirit that changed my perspective.

If you stay on the path with Me, you will not be disappointed.” God whispered those life-giving words to my heart.

At first I was thinking, “How can that be possible?” But I soon understood what the Lord was trying to get me to understand. He wanted me to know that if I followed Him and stayed close to His heart, He would turn my mourning into dancing instantaneously in the midst of disappointing circumstances.

His words have proved to be true in my life. I can honestly say—because I have been so wrapped up in God’s love—that disappointment has not lingered in my heart, nor has anything been able to rob me of my joy during the latter years of my life. Not any setback or loss or shattered dream can take away the joy that comes from Christ. His joy is eternal. When we have Him—we have everything.

Life is full of difficulties and challenges for everyone. No matter how much a person tries to put on a facade, nobody’s life is perfect. No human is immune to pain. Pain is not our enemy when Jesus is the center of our lives. His love overshadows everything and we can fellowship in His sufferings (Philippians 3:10).

My grandmother Mimi lived fully alive until she passed away at ninety-five years old. She had every reason to be bitter and unhappy. Her six-year-old brother died in an accident when she was a young girl and her father died when she was a young teen, leaving her in a state of poverty with a mother who wasn’t very affectionate.  Yet she danced in the rain.

My friend and mentor Bonnie had a gift for expressing what it means to live fully. She said, “With Christ, there are no disappointments. The challenges in life are HIS-appointments.” Bonnie passed away in 2008. Her faith in Christ lives on in my heart.

Leaning on our own strength leads to more disappointment. It’s when we lean on Jesus that we see His glory in our lives.

Life is undeniably hard. Every day we have a choice. We can either focus on the troubles in our lives or look toward Christ and live in His presence and glory. Why not choose the latter and see God’s Glory in your life? Choose joy. Choose life.

When the rain pours down, choose to turn toward Jesus and dance!

“You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have loosed my sackcloth and girded me with gladness.” — Psalm 30:11 (NAS Bible)

“Children of Zion, celebrate! Be glad in your God. He’s giving you a teacher to train you how to live right—Teaching, like rain out of heaven, showers of words to refresh and nourish your soul, just as He used to do.”

Joel 2:23 (The Message)

This article has been revised from a piece originally written in March, 2008.

The photo was downloaded at istockphoto.com.