Tag Archives: Joy

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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A SUNDAY PRAYER

LOOK AT GOD'S WONDERS

On this glorious Sunday, God’s wonders are all around us. Christ is awakening the dead places inside us. He is breathing life into our souls. He is working behind the scenes to bring our dreams into fruition. There is no limit to what He will do in each of our lives as we keep our eyes focused on Him. May we take time to look at the wonder of the life Christ has given us and live abundantly in His grace.

Dear Heavenly Father,

We are in awe of You and we thank You for creating the beautiful earth for us to enjoy. Please help us revel in all the wonders of the world. Fill our hearts with abundant peace and never-ending joy. Let us never look back at the disappointments of the past and choose to look toward the heavenly blessings You have in store for our lives. Let us live as little children with simple faith and trust in You. Let us live in Your light and live with a sense of wonder every moment of every day. We pray in Christ’s name. Amen.

Happy Sunday!

XOXO,

Amy

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!

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

A NEW SONG

grandfather and grandson with cloud

It was during the early morning hours. I felt weak and restless as I was facing a challenge in my life that seemed impossible to overcome.

With tears rolling down my cheeks, I bowed down at the feet of the Father. I cried out for strength. I prayed, “Father, the obstacles on the path laid out for me feel too big.” His warm embrace enveloped my heart as His love washed over me. His Spirit soothed my soul and the sweetness of His presence encircled every ounce of my being. His words flooded into my spirit.

 “Child, nothing is too big for Me. I’ll never ask you to do more than I created you for. Rest in Me. Rest in My love, rest in knowing there is nothing I’ll ask of you that will ever be too big. My grace is sufficient for you. In your weakness, My strength is made perfect. Arise my child. Let me put a new song in your heart. Let My love lift you up and carry you.”

As His loving words permeated my heart, my soul was restored in an instant. He breathed new life into my spirit and strengthened me. Joy replaced the tears. Peace covered me and made me ready to begin a new day with a new song in my heart—a song of joy for celebrating the love I had found in my Father’s arms.

With the love of God, and His strength—life is made beautiful. He carries those who completely depend on Him.

Lord, 

I lift up each one reading this prayer. Surround her with Your peace and give her a new song in her heart today—a song of joy and a song of hope for all the great things You have in store. I pray in Your name, Christ. Amen.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

— Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)

 “He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God”

— Psalm 40:3 (NIV)

 This post has been revised and edited from a piece I wrote in 2009.

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

 

A BEAUTIFUL MESS

A Beautiful Masterpiece

“He’s a beautiful mess!” My friend proclaimed these words about her Jesus-loving son a few weeks ago as she talked about her son’s life while we were having lunch together. The moment she said those words, I thought, that’s the perfect way to describe a Jesus-follower. After all, it is Christ who takes our messy lives and turns them into something beautiful over time.

Paul said that we are to boast in our shortcomings because it is in our weaknesses that Christ’s power is made perfect. So after Jesus set me free from being a self-righteous church lady, I began joyfully boasting about my weaknesses.

I believe Christ uses those who openly share their weaknesses with others so much more than the ones who act so stuffy and perfect. Why would people need a savior if they were so perfect, anyway?

Joy oozes out of the souls of those who realize they don’t have to measure up anymore.

That’s the beauty of the gospel message. Jesus came and died so that we could live a life of beauty. The pressure is off to perform. We are free to live abundantly because we have Jesus—the Artist who takes us as a broken mess and creates a beautiful masterpiece of art out of our lives.

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

2 Corinthians 12:9 (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: “Mess.” It took me more than five minutes to write this post today.

Five Minute Friday

A Christmas Prayer

Winter

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.

Merry Christmas from my home to yours!

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)

New Life

 

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The beauty in nature speaks to my soul deeply. The day lilies are in full bloom in my yard, and they are stunning.  I spent some time this afternoon tending to my flowers. While pulling the dead blooms off, I began pondering how God is so good at removing the splinters in my heartHe takes away those things that deaden my spirit.

I could hear His soft words in my heart.

“Your heart comes more alive each time you allow me to purify it. In Me, You are able to grow more beautiful. Come to Me and allow My healing balm to give you new life every day.”

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During the times I’ve had hurt hidden deep inside, God has come and healed me as I released it to Him. Unresolved hurt left untended robs my spirit of joy and peace. Years ago, I discovered that as I allow the Lord to tend to my heart the way I tend to my yard, that He’ll keep it pure.

How about you? Have you felt God’s healing balm working on your heart lately? Jesus is the One who heals broken hearts. When my heart was hurting, I bowed down before Him and prayed, Lord, please heal my hurt; please take away this ache in my soul and fill me with Your peace. He answered the cries of my heart and replaced my pain with His beauty.

Trying to soothe hurts with alcohol, with drugs, busyness, or any other thing doesn’t work. It might feel a little better temporarily. But the hurt is still there. It’s only a temporary fix. Jesus offers a healing balm that brings abundant new life that’s beautiful and eternal.

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This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NLT)

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3 (ESV)

Photography Credit: Michael von Borstel