Tag Archives: Living Fully

A LEGACY OF LOVE

I’m remembering my grandfather, Poppy, today on his birthday. He passed away at the age of ninety-six in 2012 and he left an awesome legacy. His life was defined by love and his relationship with Christ was exemplary.

My love for Christ grew from watching Poppy’s life and I hope your love for the Lord will grow as you read the words I wrote about Poppy.

A TRIBUTE TO POPPY

If I had to choose one word to describe my grandfather, Poppy, it would be, “LOVE.” He loved God, he loved people, and he loved life.

Some of my favorite memories of him are the times he laughed hysterically while watching cartoons. I remember watching Tom and Jerry with him and he laughed so hard that he nearly fell out of his chair. That was amazing to see an old man laugh harder than I did as a little girl. He loved to laugh and he laughed hard and often. He truly lived life to the fullest.

Growing up, I spent a great deal of time with him and my grandmother because I lived right next door to them for several years. One of my favorite things to do as a little girl was to sit with Poppy and swing with him. While swinging, he loved to hold one of his cats that he called, “Sweetie Pie.”

I will always remember the camping trips I took with my grandparents. Poppy loved his camper, he loved to fish, and he loved the outdoors. Some of my greatest memories are all the times we spent outside in his garden and on his property.

I learned what true joy is by hanging out with Poppy. He was always content while living a laid-back life in Epworth, Georgia. He was a country boy at heart.

Poppy knew the art of enjoying the simple things in life. I can imagine him now making a soft whistling sound just like he did as he tinkered on his tractor and worked in his garden. He had this amazing aura of happiness about him.

Poppy had a major sweet tooth. Some of his favorite treats were Circus Candy Peanuts and Moon Pies. He loved to eat a slice of cake or pie after every meal and sometimes he even ate his dessert before the main course.

Oh how he loved his family. He was truly the best father and grandfather a person could have. He raised three wonderful children and he brought tremendous joy into the lives of his grandchildren.

I will always remember the laughter and the fun times with Poppy. But what is most important to me is how Poppy’s life permanently impacted my heart. I learned from him that life is a gift—a beautiful gift from our heavenly Father. I watched my grandfather live the life that God intends for every person to live.

There is a scripture verse that comes to my mind when I think of Poppy. Deuteronomy 5:33 says, “Walk in all the way that the Lord has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess.”

Poppy could have lived a tragic life. His earthly father passed away on his 11th birthday and left him fatherless. However, he chose the high road and he let His Father in Heaven fill the void in his heart after losing a parent at such a young age.

Poppy surely prospered in his life. He had a rich marriage with my grandmother for 72 years. He stayed committed to her and loved her through the good times and through the hard times.

He was a man of courage and a man of honor. He loved and enjoyed his family and friends so very much.

He lived a fulfilling life because he attained a beautiful relationship with Christ. He lived out the greatest commandments in the Bible very well.

Poppy’s life is a great example of a life fully surrendered to Christ. He lived a blessed life throughout his journey on Earth because he loved God with his whole heart, mind, and soul. And he certainly loved his neighbor as himself in countless ways. He was an amazing man because he tapped into the true Source of life.

His life was beautiful and filled with joy because of that. A close relationship with Christ is what God longs for every person on Earth to enter into. He wants us to be so head over heels in love with Jesus that no circumstance or loss can rob us of our joy.

My prayer for each one of us is that we will let the life that my grandfather lived be a standard we will reach for. May we let Jesus fill the void in our hearts in the same way that Poppy turned to God when he lost his daddy as a child.

The words my grandfather wrote to me reveal the key to a happy life.

Poppy wrote these words that will stay with me forever, “We pray that you and Michael will always love Jesus with all your hearts. This is what life is all about.”

Poppy loved Christ wholeheartedly and he lived abundantly because of his closeness to his heavenly Father.

May the Lord bless your life abundantly with His grace and peace.

Love and prayers,

Amy

REVELING IN THE BEAUTY OF THE CROSS

It is finished.

The beauty of the springtime flowers is breathtaking. Every year, as the wintertime barrenness is overtaken by new life, it simply amazes me.

This year in Georgia, it seemed as though the change was instant. I don’t recall another time when the seasons have changed so abruptly.

During my jogs, I noticed the flowers peaking through the dirt and the plants that were lying dormant were showing signs of life even before the weather changed. The plants and flowers were obviously ready and waiting to come alive as soon as the first sign of warmth emerged in the atmosphere.

As I’ve been reflecting on the emerging beauty of the new season, it made me think of the resurrection of Christ and His power to resurrect life out of the barren places in our souls.

As quickly as the seasons change—the condition of our hearts change when we turn away from those things that deaden our spirits (see Ephesians 4: 22-24). 

In my past, there were yucky things—bitterness, fear, pride, self-righteousness, and on and on the list goes—embedded in my heart, and they were keeping me from experiencing a beautiful, new life in Christ. The day I realized how simple it is to live fully alive and free in Christ, I received a new heart and never looked back to the past.

Christ died an agonizing death so that we can live abundantly and free from all the things that weigh us down. When we stumble, we can simply pray, Lord, please forgive me for that mistake. Then the Lord embraces us in our brokenness, and His reply is always filled with love…I imagine Him saying, “Yes, beloved one, you are forgiven for every mistake you’ve ever made and every mistake you’ll ever make in the future. Rise up and live with no regrets, and let Me help you walk in the Spirit, free from the grips of sin and shame and doubt and all things that burden your soul.”

 Jesus said, “It is finished.” We do not ever have to agonize over our failures or mistakes again.

Are you living in the finished work of the cross? Are you living abundantly in Christ?

My prayer this Easter week is that you will breathe in the loveliness of the springtime flowers and revel in the beauty of Christ’s magnificent gift to mankind.

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.

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)