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Give me a word, Lord: PERSPECTIVE

Colossians 3:2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.

2 Corintians 4:18 As we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

Philippians 3:13-14 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Last Saturday morning I awoke to find that a patient that I had been caring for over 20 years passed away. I knew that she was a Christian. We had spoken about that many times, but yet my heart was broken for her family. Her husband has many severe medical problems, and he had just lost the one who took care of him at home. I was happy to know she was rejoicing in heaven, but at the same time I felt crushed in spirit. My husband, who knows me so well, said, “Come on. We’re going to the river.” That sweet man of mine saw the sadness in my eyes, and as always, wanted take care of me! We loaded up, went to Old River, and caught a few fish. It was a beautiful day. Normally, I take 100 pictures when we go to the river, but that day, I did not. I was kind of mopey all day. I was down in the dumps.

Fast forward one week. On Friday night, we decided that we were going to the river fishing again. We went to bed full of excitement thinking about how much fun it was going to be, and we awoke ready to go. We arrived early, and I swear, I’ve never seen or heard so many birds in one day while on Old River. We even saw two mama wood ducks with some brand new hatchlings. The babies would pop up and down in the river like little corks. The mamas flew ahead of us and started flapping in the water, carrying on, playing sick, to distract us from the babies. (Of course, we didn’t mess with the babies.) We saw one alligator. He rolled in the water as soon as we saw him so I did not get a picture. We saw mayhaws just about ready to fall, beautiful wisteria blooms, and pretty honeysuckles. Everything is nice and green. I caught the first catfish. Didn’t catch another one all day, but that didn’t upset me in the least. I was out in the sunshine enjoying the beauty of God’s creation, soaking in every single leaf, flower, bird chirp, and owl hoot! It was WONDERFUL!

What a difference a week made in my perspective. Same place. Same scenery. Very different mindset. Improved perspective! It is very easy for us, even strong Christians, to get down during these current events, but we have to keep looking to Christ. In Philippians 3:13-14, Paul recognizes that his accomplishments mean nothing. He recognizes he has not made it on his own. He made mistakes just as we all do. We fail. We fall short. We have pity parties. But God knows we are not perfect. And He uses those imperfections to grow us in our faith. As humans, our flesh strives to pull us away from our goal which is eternity with Christ. Paul, however, was focused strictly on that goal. He was focused on the race, the goal, the finish line. Though he persecuted the church and stoned Stephen in his past, he didn’t let the past control his future. He didn’t let his past mistakes keep him from moving forward in Christ. We are all going to fail. We are going to have bad days. We are going to suffer. But don’t let the failures of yesterday, the sadness of today, or anything else keep you from your goal. We are called to follow Christ, seek Him, spread His word. Don’t stop running the race. We haven’t yet reached the finish line.

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Give me a word, Lord: STANDING UP OR SITTING DOWN?

Philippians 1:27 Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ. Then, whether I come and see you again or only hear about you, I will know that you are standing together with one spirit and one purpose, fighting together for the faith, which is the Good News.

I Peter 1:7 These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.

Our church may be considered small in size, but we definitely are big in heart and spirit. Every year, our church goes all out for Vacation Bible School, and this year was no exception. Our theme this year was “Rome: Paul and the Underground Church.” On the first night of VBS, my role was to be a shop owner of the “Animal Sacrifice Shop,” and as such, it was my duty to pretend to be a non-Christian who was selling goats for sacrifice. I brought some of our fainting goats to use as part of the act. As the groups of children rotated to my “shop”, I began to ask who among them was a sinner, and stated with authority that I knew one of them had committed a sin. I informed them that they needed to buy one of my goats so that they could sacrifice it for their sins.

There was a young man in the oldest group, which consisted of fifth and sixth graders, who quickly informed me that no one needed to sacrifice animals any longer because Jesus Christ died on the cross and was resurrected. He explained that Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice. He shared the gospel with me from his heart with great conviction. I argued with him, and I told him that he was messing with my business as I relied on selling my animals to make a living. He quickly gave me other options including selling the goats for food, milk, or even pets. A little while into the conversation, I told this young man that he had convinced me, and that I wanted to follow this Jesus that he was telling me about. I told him that I wanted to be a Christian too, and assured me that he had persuaded me to believe.

Then suddenly, the Roman soldiers appeared. A couple of men from our church were performing the role of soldiers who were arresting Christians and throwing them into a makeshift jail. The soldiers approached our group and asked who among us were Christians. The young man who had just “converted” me was one of the first to say, “not me!” I looked at the kids, and said, “Come on, guys! You just converted me, but you are not willing to stand firm in your faith? We must stand up for Christ, and we must stand up for our faith.” A little while later, the kindergarten group rotated through to my shop. We discussed the buying and selling of goats, but we mostly enjoyed petting and feeding the goats. When the Roman soldiers appeared this time and asked the question, “who among you are Christians?” my barely six year old grandson yelled, “I’m a Christian!” And then he pointed to each individual in the group and bravely informed the soldiers that we were all Christians. He wanted the guards to know that we were Christians, and we were not ashamed of our faith.

I have thought about those interactions frequently over the past couple of weeks. Oh, I’m not shaming the young man that denied his Christianity to the soldiers. He is a child, and he is still learning. But rather, I would like to focus on the innocence of a child who wasn’t afraid to stand firm in his faith and announce to the world and Roman soldiers that he was a Christian. And I have to wonder if I was placed in a similar situation as these children, would I be the one denying my Christianity or would I be as brave as an innocent child and stand firm in my faith? I would like to think that I would fall into the latter category. I pray that I would.

There will come a time that our faith will be tested. Currently, I live in the good old USA where we are still allowed the freedom of religion. I have lived a fortunate life. I was raised in church since the week of my birth. I have never known a life in which I should fear my life if someone found out that I trusted Jesus. I pray that it never comes to that, but I fear that the day is coming. Our country is changing rapidly. Corporately, this country has turned its back on Jesus. We must ask ourselves, what are we doing? We will be tested. We will be purified as gold is purified in the fire. There will come a day in which we will be challenged. My question for you today is “will you stand firm in your faith?” If we are not standing firm on our faith, are we standing at all? Are you standing up or sitting down? Let us stand firm!

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Give me a word, Lord: LIGHT IN THE DARKNESS

Matthew 5:16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Philippians 2:14-16 Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain.

John 8:12 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Peeps, I look around at this old world we live in, and I see darkness all encompassing our country. There is so much evil. It’s not just in the huge cities anymore. The darkness is closing in an encroaching even upon our small towns. What is darkness? It is simply the absence of light, and boy oh boy does this country need some Light!

Jesus tells us in John 8:12 that He is the light of the world and whoever follows Him will not walk in darkness. So how do we get rid of darkness? We only need to shine the Light!
As followers of Christ, we have the ability to reflect the light of Christ as brightly as a full moon reflects the light of the sun. We can light up a dark room by reflecting the Light. We can change a dark world by shining the light of Christ.

However, lights won’t shine if they aren’t connected to a power source. If you buy a brand new package of light bulbs, you can place them all around your house, one on a table in each room, but when night comes and darkness ensues, those bulbs will not emit any light. They can’t emit light in and of themselves. They have to be plugged into an electric source and then powered on with a light switch. As humans, we are a bit like those bulbs. We can be scattered all around, sitting in rooms all over the country, but if we aren’t plugged into Christ, we are not able to emit any light.

In order for us to light up the dark, wehave to actively participate in growing a relationship with the Father, study His word, learn what is true and right and just, and live it out. Live life for Christ. When we do this the light of Christ begins to shine so brightly within us that others will see that light and are drawn to it.

Have you ever left the porch light on late one summer night? What happened? I don’t know about your house, but here in our neck of the woods, the insects swarm the lights. They are attracted to the light. Hundreds of tiny insects try to get next to the light. What if we acted like a porch light on a warm summer’s night? What if we shined the light of Christ so brightly that others couldn’t help but be drawn to the light? Oh my, what opportunities would be opened for sharing the light of Christ. Just imagine how much light we could shine in this dark world. The more light that we shine, the less dark this place becomes.

Darkness truly is just the absence of light. We have the Light within us that this old dark world needs. Get out there and shine some light today! Be the light in the darkness. Shine the light of Christ!

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Give me a word, Lord: ABSENCE MAKES THE HEART GROW FONDER

Colossians 3:1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.

I Thessalonians 4:16-17 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven,with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.

Have you ever been separated for a long period of time from someone you love due to work or other obligations? If so, do you remember that moment when you were finally reunited? Oh the joy of those reunions!
When Jeff and I first married, he was working overseas with an oil company, 28 days on, 28 days off. With travel, he would be gone for 32 LONG days, and home for 26. The 32 days that he was gone seemed to take years to go by. I missed him so much. But when he flew home, I would meet him at the airport with open arms and grinning so hard my face would hurt the next day! I remember all those return home trips with great fondness. People told me that when he was home all the time, we would get sick of each other. Those people were wrong. We are celebrating our anniversary today and we are still honeymooning.

For just a moment, think about the return of our Lord and Savior. Jesus ascended to heaven to prepare a place for us. He left with us the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, while he is getting our forever home ready. He is going to return and gather us up and bring us home with Him to spend eternity in glory. Now, y’all know I love my husband, and I remember how excited I was to see him after our long absences. I can’t even imagine how excited I’m going to be on the day that Jesus returns. Can you just see it? Jesus descending from the clouds. An archangel shouting. Trumpets sounding. The glory of Jesus Christ in our actual, visual presence!! It makes me think of that song, “I Can Only Imagine.” Will I dance? Will I be still in His presence in awe? Will I stand? Will I fall to my knees? Will I sing hallelujah? Will I be able to speak at all? I’m here to tell you, I can not even imagine how I will respond. The Bride will be united with the bridegroom, and we get to honeymoon in heaven for eternity!

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that we are separated from Christ now. If we’ve accepted Him as our Savior, He is with us. But I’m overwhelmed with the excitement of being with Christ physically, in His presence, in heaven! I long for that day, and oh what a day that will be!

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Give me a word, Lord: THE LITTLE THINGS

Give me a word, Lord: THE LITTLE THINGS

Luke 16:10 Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.

Colossians 3:23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.

Matthew 13:31-32 He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.”

Do you take time to notice the little things in life? In this busy, chaotic life in which we are moving full speed ahead, sometimes we forget to slow down and smell the roses. We take notice of the big things that occur around us, but too often we neglect those little things that mean so much more.

I’m going to embarrass my husband for just a moment. That man does at least 1001 little things a day for me. I’m serious y’all, and not just for me but for others as well. He’s retired from the oilfield now, but by no means did that man retire. He works harder now than ever. He works our farm, his dad’s farm, works as operator for our water company, takes care of a friend’s property, and oh so much more. He has a true servant’s heart. He doesn’t do anything for attention or praise. He does it out of the goodness of his heart.

On the days I work the clinic, he cooks sausage for me to eat on the run, makes a Yeti cup full of coffee, and a large glass of ice water, and sometimes he even packs my lunch. Most days he takes all of this to the car before I even finish dressing. He prepares delicious meals, helps with the mundane chores around the house, and takes pride in our home. He’s spent a good part of the last week bleaching our roof and house and cleaning out gutters and debris. I don’t ask him to do these things. He just does them out of the goodness of his heart. I try to repay his thousand little things by doing as many little things in return. Every now and then, when I’m off work, and he is hard at work on the farm, a surprise picnic is in order. We lunch together under a big old pine tree. Nothing fancy. Just a nice little spontaneous picnic for the one I love who loves me with little things all day long. All those little things mean so much!

God notices all the little things too. Luke 16:10 says those that can be trusted with little can be trusted with much. When we are faithful in the little things it shows the condition of our hearts. The little things that Jeff does daily shows me the condition of his heart and shows me that he loves me and cares about me. When we are faithful in the little things for Christ, we reveal our character. We show Christ that we love Him and that we want to serve Him. We must have a commitment to excellence in everything we do, not just the things that people will notice. We must be faithful and honest in all things, striving for excellence, even when no one is looking.

Some days are harder than others. Our jobs can feel mundane and monotonous at times, but we have to strive to work hard as if everything we are doing is for the Lord and not our human masters or bosses or even our spouses. We are working for the Lord, and He’ll show up and use all of those little things to work for our good and His glory. If you start looking for Him in the little things and not just the big things, you will see Him in everything.

Jesus asked for a small lunch from a boy and fed thousands. Samson slew a whole army with a jawbone. David killed a giant with a single stone. And you could plant the tiniest seed, a mustard seed, and grow a plant that could become a tree. In your daily actions, you are planting seeds for Christ. You have to be faithful in the little things. Work as you are working for the Father, and plant seeds of faith along the way.

God will work all of those million little things together, and those little things will make a big difference in the lives of those around us and in this crazy world. Keep doing the little things!

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Give me a word, Lord: GOD WILL MEET YOU WHERE YOU ARE…EVEN IN A PILE OF GARBAGE!

Isaiah 61:1-2 The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.

Isaiah 6:8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

Romans 10:14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?

I joined Facebook about 12 years ago on the urging of my sister and because I found it was an easier way to find people while we were planning our 25 year class reunion. I see a lot of stuff on social media that I don’t like, but I love being able to connect with friends and family that I don’t get to see on a regular basis. I also love the memories part of Facebook. Each day, you can review what you posted on that day over the past years. I love seeing the memories, but I also am able to see spiritual growth through my posts. I’ve seen stuff I shared several years ago, and think, “man I shouldn’t have shared that.”

I’ve grown in my walk with Christ. I’m not the girl I want to be, but thank God I’m not the girl I used to be! I’m a work in progress. I’m sure God is up there shaking His head while He watches over me most days. I can be a bit of a challenge. But you know what? God apparently loves a good challenge because He has shown so much more love, grace, and mercy to this old gal over the years than I deserve! One thing that I know to be true, without a shadow of a doubt, is that God will meet you right where you are and take you to where you need to be. You only need to be willing to go and walk with Him!

On my Facebook memories today, I saw a picture that I shared of Bro. Billy Smith. He and his interpreter where sharing the gospel, having all out church, in the middle of a pile of garbage in a village called Las Brisas in Peru. That was during our mission trip on this day in 2016. Fourteen people gave their lives to Christ that day. It was NOT within the four walls of a beautifully adorned, perfectly decorated, nicely air conditioned church building. It was in the middle of a pile a garbage! People were sitting in plastic chairs or standing, as there was standing room only, with sweat pouring off of their bodies because it was HOT! Oh so HOT! It was NOT comfortable. It did NOT smell pretty. It did NOT look nice. But you know what? Those people showed up to hear from God, and He met them right where they were on a pile of garbage, and He saved 14 souls that day!! Over 50 gave their lives to Christ that week, and my heart was set on fire for missions.

I didn’t set out to be a Christian author. I already have a great job as a nurse practitioner. But God! Oh but God! He put a burning desire in my heart that week to tell people about Him, and I haven’t been able to put that fire out ever since. God met me right where I was that week too, and He is taking me where He needs me to be. He’s taken me to Peru, to the Dominican Republic, and to several mission out reaches in our state. He takes me to work as a nurse practitioner, and He gives me a new mission field each day. You don’t have to leave the country to share the gospel, you only have to leave your comfort zone. It’s really hard at first and kind of scary, but the Holy Spirit has never failed me. If my body is willing, the boldness and words always come at just the right time and in just the right way.

This world is ever changing, Peeps. I’m sure y’all are growing weary of my daily devotionals, but I just have so much to say and I can’t help but say it. There are still so many who are lost, and they can’t find their way. How can they believe if they haven’t heard. And how can they hear if someone doesn’t tell them? God will meet you right where you are and take you where you need to be too. If you are lost, you’re not too lost to be saved by our Father. He’ll meet you right where you are. If you’re saved, share the gospel. Don’t be scared. He’ll meet you right where you are. And oh the places you will go….you just have to be willing to go…

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Give me a word, Lord: GETTING RICH

Luke 12:15 Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”

Matthew 16:26 What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?

2 Corinthians 8:9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.

Our society thrives on the idea of getting rich. How do we make more money so that we can get more stuff? Well, I’m going to tell you a secret. There are two ways to become rich. Are you ready? 1. You have a lot or 2. You want little.
The problem is, society makes us think that we need more. We need a newer bigger house, we need a newer, nicer car, we need this, and we need that. Commercials and advertisements make us crave more than we have, and lead us to believe that what we have isn’t enough. The problem is that this line of thinking takes our eyes off of the provider and convinces us that if we just had more stuff, everything would be okay.

I work hard, and I make a good living, but without Christ I am nothing. I have nothing. But with Christ, I have it ALL! He provides all that we need, and many times, He gives us a lot of what we want. We need to adjust our way of thinking. Forget what society teaches us. We need to adjust our wants to our needs. If you’re wanting what you need, and you know Christ is going to provide for your needs, then your wants will be covered.

E. Stanley Jones tells about a poor man who had an overnight guest, and as he showed him to his humble bedroom in the hayloft, he said, “If there is anything you want, let us know, and we’ll come and show you how to get along without it.” I thought that was humorous, but there is so much wisdom in that statement. If we can get along without it, we probably don’t need it.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21. Where is your heart today? These earthly things that we collect are here today and gone tomorrow. In 10 years, that new car may be a bucket of rust. Earthly treasures will not last, but oh those heavenly riches, those will endure for ever.

We can spend our time chasing the dollar, or we can invest our time in everlasting wealth. Chase after our heavenly home and the riches we are promised. The poorest man on earth may be the richest man in heaven, whereas the richest man on earth may be bound for hell.
The most important asset we need is a relationship with Jesus Christ. He died on that cross to give us everything! He suffered so that we may have eternity in heaven. If we’ve accepted Him as our Lord and Savior, we automatically become children of the King, heirs to the throne of God. I don’t think we can get any richer than that!

Work hard, pay your bills, and take care of your family. That’s what we are supposed to do. But if we strive to put Christ first, all that other stuff will come so much easier! I am so richly blessed by my heavenly Father! Don’t you want to get rich too?

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Give me a word, Lord: NO BAD DAYS

Ephesians 3:14-16 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being.

Isaiah 43:2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.

Isaiah 25:9 Surely this is our God; we trusted in him, and he saved us. This is the Lord, we trusted in him; let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.”

When I turned my phone on this morning, I received a group text email from some of my sisters in Christ. I want to tell you something. If you don’t have a few good Christian friends, you better get you some! These ladies are my joy! We share our faith, our hearts, our joys, and our heartaches, and we offer encouragement, love, and godly wisdom. I truly love these ladies.

The message was about the tough things of the previous week. We are all experiencing tougher times than usual: sickness, death, unemployment, trying new job responsibilities, family issues, and the list goes on and on. It seems that our troubles are never ending. It seems that we will be overwhelmed and succumb to the troubles at hand, but then there’s God. But God! Just when we think we’re going to sink, He teaches us to swim. When we think we can’t handle one more difficult event, He wraps His loving arms around us and carries us through.

Psalm 118:24 reads, “This is the day the LORD has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.” Oh my, with all the terrible stuff we’re going through, we are supposed to rejoice? How in the world can we rejoice? We’re not just having a bad day, we’re having a bad week, a bad month, a bad year! Oh, but God! He created this day. He gave us one more day to walk His beautiful earth. One more day to share the good news. One more day to rejoice and praise Him.

I’m not going to lie to you and tell you I wake up oozing with joy every morning. I wake up looking something akin to Medusa with my crazy curly hair sticking out in every direction. There’s no joy in my mirror first thing in the morning. I have to have a cup of coffee and get a little spiritual nourishment first. But once I open the Word of God, He reminds me through His Word that my joy and strength come from Him. Then, I can’t help but be joyful. When I pass through the waters, He will be with me; and when I pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over me. When I walk through the fire, I will not be burned; the flames will not set me ablaze. And John 10:28 assures us that nothing can snatch us out of the hands of our Father.

When your feeling the flood waters overcoming you, or you feel that you are in the fire, don’t give up. Don’t fret. Cry out to the Father. He’s always just one breath away. He’s waiting and watching. He never leaves our side.
So in reality, we can’t have a bad day. Bad things happen, and they’ll keep happening. But there is good in every day because God is there. He made today just for me and just for you, let us rejoice and be glad in it! It’s going to be a good day!

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Give me a word, Lord: HABITS

Romans 12:2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

We all have our own personal habits. A habit is a settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up. We get into the habit of doing things a certain way, and soon we fall into a routine. Some habits are really good, but some are not so good. So just how do we develop a habit? A study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology concluded that patterns, or habits, form as people “perform a behavior over and over again.” The researchers confirmed that the brain uses “stored behavioral routines that are triggered by an event and then ‘run’ automatically.” When a new habit is learned, “nerve cell responses in the brain are reorganized.” Therefore new habits can be learned, and old habits can be “unlearned”.

One habit that I have “learned” over the past few months is sitting down with my Bible, reading, researching, and writing a daily devotional each morning. I started out just sharing scripture, but God put it on my heart to expand a bit and share some encouragement as well. I was only going to do it for a few weeks, and then I settled on a goal of 90 days of devotionals. However, my dear husband and my sister, Chandra, insisted that I write a devotional a day for a year. Well, here I am more than a year later still writing, and I will continue as long as God gives me the words.

You see, I’ve developed a habit of spiritual discipline, and it’s hands down, the very best habit that I have. But you don’t have to write a devotional to have a habit of spiritual discipline, you can develop a habit of reading your Bible daily, journaling, gathering for worship, gathering for small group Bible studies, and setting aside prayer time to really strengthen and deepen your relationship with God. Pick out a good spot. I either sit at the kitchen table or out on the back deck to do my morning studies. Make that your spot for your time with God. Add some structure. Pick out a time that works best for you. At first, it’ll seem hard to carve out the time, but soon you’ll find it easy to make the time. I find first thing in the morning works best for me, but you may be an evening person. Find what works for you. And most importantly, pray. Seek God’s guidance and ask Him to help you develop this new habit of intentional spiritual discipline. But be careful what you ask for. If you ask for a habit of spiritual discipline, I’m pretty sure you are going to get it! I crave time with God each day, and by spending time with Him on a regular basis, all my bad habits are much easier to break as new habits of spiritual discipline take their place!

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Give me a word, Lord: CALM IN THE CHAOS

I Kings 17:13-14 Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small loaf of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son. For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord sends rain on the land.’”

You’re probably thinking, “that’s a strange verse to start a devotional with.” After the chaos of my past week, you can’t put anything past me. I’ll probably be reciting some Revelation to you soon! Lol. It’s been one crazy, chaotic week. I’m pooped. I feel like I poured everything I had into doing the best I could do, but I probably didn’t do enough. The day is filled with figuring out the priorities, disposable scrub jackets, gowns, masks, face shields and gloves. Rushing about with utmost caution. Listening, laughing, crying, loving, and learning. I love my job. I truly do. I love that God blessed me with a job that I actually love. Lately, it’s been a little tough. That old saying holds true for me though, “when the going gets tough, the tough get going.” I go to the Lord because I know that He is my strength.

In the scripture above, God had brought a drought on the land. Elijah the prophet asked this lady to bring him some bread. In verse 12, she told him, “As surely as the Lord your God lives,” she replied, ‘I don’t have any bread—only a handful of flour in a jar and a little olive oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it—and die.'” She was out of food. There was no more food to be found, no grocery store to run to, no garden in the back yard, nothing but just enough flour and oil to make one more meal. She planned to make this last meal for her son and herself and then just die of starvation. But Elijah told her to make a small loaf for him and a loaf for them, and that the jar of flour and jug of oil would never run out. She did as he said, and guess what? Everytime she went to that kitchen, there was flour and oil for every single meal. She had plenty, and it lasted through the whole drought.

This woman put this man of God first. She trusted God. Her situation was much more grave than the struggles of my week. She and her son were about to die, yet she put her faith in God. She put Elijah first trusting that God would fulfill his promise to her.

When we are in the midst of a storm, rather than trying to control the wind and the rain, we need to turn over the reins to the One who reigns. Take some time each day to put God first. Carve out a few minutes in your busy schedule to read scripture, pray, and enjoy a little quiet time with Christ. The only way to find calm in the chaos of this crazy world is by trusting in Christ. Put Him first, and then everything else will gradually fall into place. There is no better calming force that Christ our Lord!

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Give me a word, Lord: CROWNS

I Corinthians 9:24-27 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

James 1:12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.

Have you ever trained for something: daily workouts, pushing yourself as hard as possible, trying to be the best that you can be? I’m no athlete. I’m the queen of klutz for goodness sake, but I did set out to run a 5K. Trained hard, ran hard, and nearly died, but I brought home the trophy for first place in my category. It was a short lived victory. I decided I didn’t like running that much, and the trophy is gathering dust on a shelf at home. I checked off an item on my bucket list of things to accomplish, but that trophy really didnt bring lasting satisfaction.

I’m still in training mode however, but this time I’m going after an everlasting victory. I’m training for heaven. Wait, what?? We don’t need to train for heaven do we? Well, yes, as a matter of fact we do. When we arrive in heaven, the saved in Christ will appear before the judgment seat of Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:10). At this judgment, Christ will review our lives as we walked on earth, and He will be giving rewards in the form of crowns for certain actions: the crown of righteousness (for every person that loves the appearing of Christ), the incorruptible crown (for those who had self control), the crown of life (for those who patiently endured trials), the crown of glory (for those who feed the flock), and the crown of rejoicing (for the saints, the saved in Christ). Now, I don’t know about you, but I think receiving a crown from Jesus Christ himself would be the ultimate trophy, even better than my trophy buck I recently hung on my wall at home. But guess what the Bible says we are going to do with those beautiful crowns? We will lay them at the feet of Jesus and offer praise to Him. Now, I don’t know about you, but I sure don’t want to show up at a praise meeting for Jesus Christ our King and be short on offerings. I don’t want to arrive in heaven with the smell of smoke on my robe just barely escaping the flames of hell. No, I want to be able to offer as many gifts to Christ as I possibly can. I don’t want to stand in the back with my head hung low because I don’t have more than one crown to offer. I want to shower my King with praise and gifts.
So you see, there is training to be done in the here and now. Don’t be mistaken. We won’t get to heaven on our own merit or good behavior or acts of kindness. We must choose and accept the gift of salvation. That’s the only way to get there. If we’re saved, entry to heaven is a given. The question is, how are you going to show up for the greatest party ever? Are you going to arrive, barely sneaking in with the smell of smoke on your new threads or are you going to be rejoicing, front and center, with so many crowns that you can barely contain the joy and excitement while waiting to lay your gifts at the feet of our Savior? It’s not a job. It’s a way of life. Live life to the fullest for Christ each day!

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Give me a word, Lord: A THANKFUL HEART

I Thessalonians 5:16-18 Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

James 1:17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

Psalm 66:16 Come and hear, all you who fear God; let me tell you what he has done for me.

I don’t think thankful hearts grow on trees. I think they are grown, slowly, meticulously over time. When we plant our garden every year, we are in such a big hurry to reap the harvest of our efforts, but before the harvest there is a lot of planning and hard work. The soil has to be prepared. We have to plant the seeds in good soil if we want a good crop. After the seeds are planted, we have to make sure they are getting enough water and sunshine and fertilizer. We have to hoe occasionally, and we have to remove all of the weeds. Eventually, we see the growth of fruit or vegetables that quickly go from the garden to the table to the tummy, and we finally get to reap the benefits. We cultivated the land, and we brought food to our table.

Our pastor preached a series out of the book of Colossians, and he explained to us a life of “thanksliving”. Without Christ, we can’t have a thankful heart, but with Him we can’t help but be thankful. He doesn’t want us to just simply be thankful, but rather He wants us to live out that thankfulness.

I was talking to Jeff last night over dinner, and I told him that I had no idea how many times I stopped during my crazy chaotic day yesterday and said, “Thank you, Jesus!” I lost count. I thanked Him all day long. This COVID pandemic ain’t no joke y’all! It gets a little crazy in the clinic, and at times I feel like I can’t keep up. I hate for people to have to wait on me. I don’t like to get behind. So I pray. I pray a lot. I know that I can accomplish anything the good Lord wants me to accomplish, and no matter how crazy things look on the outside, He always gets me through! I say, “Thank you, Jesus,” all day long because I know that without Him, I could accomplish nothing!

It is when we recognize this that we have cultivated a thankful heart! Just like cultivating the garden takes time and preparation, cultivating a thankful heart takes time and effort on our part. We have to recognize how much God loves us and how much He has given us. Salvation is the greatest gift of all time, and for this gift, we should be eternally thankful. We can thank God all day long for this great gift, but it’s so much better to live it out. We can live out our thankfulness for salvation by sharing this gift with others. Cultivate a life of thankfulness in Christ! Although times are hard, and it looks like this old world is falling apart, we don’t have to live in fear. We can live in thankfulness knowing without a shadow of a doubt that God’s got this! He’s got you. He’s got me. He’s got this! Let’s be thankful and live out our thankfulness by sharing our hope and faith with someone today.

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Give me a word, Lord: RESCUED

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.

Psalm 107:19 Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble; He saved them out of their distresses.

Psalm 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.

Yesterday, I talked about the meaning of names. One of the meanings of the name of Jesus is rescuer. The Bible speaks volumes on this. As children of God, we are not promised that life will be easy. Yes, we would all love a life full of roses, but the truth is, we can’t have roses without the thorns. The great thing about a relationship with Jesus is that we know that we can face whatever comes our way because we don’t have to face it alone.

I read a devotional by Billy Graham once in which he told how a girl shared how she handled things. She said when the devil comes knocking at her door, she doesn’t answer the door. She sends Jesus to answer it.
Oh, if we could only be so wise. We try all to often to rescue ourselves, and we come up short. But Jesus has already rescued us. We only have to accept the fact that He did, and reap the benefits of having been rescued.
I know that society tells us that we are in control of our bodies and our minds, and that we don’t need anyone to rescue us. But actually we do! We can not make it through this crazy thing called life on our own accord. We just can’t.

I do not know how anyone can get through even one single day without Jesus. I can’t even imagine a life without Christ! Jesus is our refuge. He is a mighty warrior for us in our time of need, and He is a reassuring friend when we feel down. He lifts us up, and He holds us in His hands. He comforts us when we grieve. He rejoices with us when we are joyful. He’s a loving Father who gently cares for His children. He is our strength when we are weak. He is our rescuer! Recline in that today.

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Give me a word, Lord: WHAT’S IN A NAME?

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

Romans 12:2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

As we’ve been continuing our nightly reading through the Bible in a year, your girl here has had the pleasure of reading through the Old Testament. I’m currently in Chronicles. As I read aloud to my husband, I read the names with great authority pretending I know how to pronounce them. We get a giggle out of it every time. I woke up with some of those crazy names running through my head: names like Eleazar, Dodai, Jehoida, Azmaveth. Who comes up with these names? Well, it turns out, in biblical times, the names truly had meaning and gave identity to the person. Think about these few examples. Joshua means God is my salvation. Caleb means faith and devotion. Jabez, oh Jabez, his name means born in great suffering. His mama had a time delivering him!
Also remember that God changed names several times. He changed Abram to Abraham to mean father of a multitude. He indeed became father Abraham. He changed the name of Simon to Peter and Saul to Paul thus changing their entire destiny.

Man has tried changing biblical names as well. Old King Nebuchadnezzar (there’s a name for you) changed the name of Daniel to Belteshazzar, Shadrach to Hananiah, Meshach to Mishael, and Abednego to Azariah. Their birth names were declarations about God, but the king was trying to give them a new identity with names that identified them with the gods of Babylon. As we all know, this didn’t work. Man can change a man’s name, but he can’t change his heart. Their hearts belonged to the one true God. Lions didn’t devour Daniel, and Jesus walked in the fire with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Not one hair was singed, nor did their garments even smell of smoke. God wins every time!

Just for fun, I looked up the meaning of my name, and I have to say my parents did well! Krista means follower of Christ. Thankfully, I had a father that instilled Christ into me at an early age and laid the foundation for the person I am now. All my life, I’ve been called Kay Kay, which I’ve shortened to K.K. over the years. The meaning of Kay is rejoice. Rejoice rejoice! I think that’s pretty cool!

Nowadays, names aren’t necessarily given because of meaning. Rather most babies are given the name because it’s a family name, or because we like the sound of it, or the name means something to us. There is one name above all others which has great meaning and truly identifies the bearer of the name: JESUS. Jesus means to deliver and to rescue. Matthew 1:21 declared it. “She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

Jesus came into this world to deliver us, to rescue us, and to save us from our sins. He is Emmanuel, Christ, Lord, Master, Son of God, and Son of Man. That name is truly a name above all names. We should sing praises to His name. Because He has saved us, we are His and He is ours. He is within us, and our identity is in Him. So no matter what your mama or daddy named you, your identity is now in Jesus. Isn’t that awesome! Let’s live life out to the fullest today for the One whose name is above all names!

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Give me a word, Lord: NO GREATER FRIEND

John 15:15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.

John 15:13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

Yesterday, I enjoyed a much needed girls day with my lifelong friend, Lisa. Lisa has quite a few special events upcoming in the next few weeks as she anticipates the arrival of her grandbaby, and she needed some new clothes so she called me up. The two of us have been best friends since second grade, but we are total opposites in so many ways. I kind of like to trade the barn clothes or scrubs in and dress up and wear pretty clothes and shiny jewelry every now and then. Lisa never really liked the dressing up part so she called in reinforcements for a shopping mission. That is part of what’s made our friendship strong over the years. We are different, but our differences compliment each other.

Lisa and I know pretty much everything about each other. We’ve been by each other’s side for births and adoptions, divorces and marriages, and deaths of loved ones. We’ve shared good times and bad, and we may not hear from each other for weeks at a time, but when we talk, we pick right back up where we left off.

Friendship is a treasured gift, and I’m thankful for all of the wonderful, remarkable friends that God has placed in my life. But there is one friend that stands out above all others. His name is Jesus. I pray that you Peeps know Him, but if you don’t, what are you waiting for? Jesus is the truest friend there is. He loves us no matter what. It doesn’t matter how bad you think the sin in your life is or how horrible of a person you think you may be. He loves you. It sounds crazy, huh? When a friend does something that hurts us, we get angry. We fight and fuss, and sometimes friendships are destroyed. We separate ourselves from that person because we don’t like them anymore. It’s not like that with Jesus. Amazingly, He loves you right where you are right this very minute. It doesn’t matter how far you’ve run from Him. He is waiting with open arms to welcome you home.

In John 15:15, Jesus tells His most beloved disciples that He no longer calls them servants, but He now calls them friends. To be a servant of Christ is a very high honor. It is a great honor to be the servant of the one true King. But a king or master doesn’t tell his servants His plans. He doesn’t share His secrets with His servants. The servants aren’t privy to the business of the master. But Jesus shared His plans and all that God had shown Him with the disciples. He elevated them from the honorable position of servant to the most honorable position of friend. And John 15:13, Jesus reminded us that there’s no greater love than a friend who lays down his life for his friends. Jesus is that loving friend! He laid down His life for us on the cross. He took on the sins of all man. He died for you and me and even that grouchy old neighbor you don’t like. He died for us so that we may have everlasting life with Him. There is no truer friend than that. There is no greater friend than Jesus! If you don’t know Him, you are missing out on the greatest gift ever given. Take time to get to know Him today!

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Give me a word, Lord: GET OUT OF THE WAY

Psalm 55:22 Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.

Isaiah 41:13 For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.

I Peter 5:7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

In the movie “War Room” there is a precious little lady named Miss Clara who speaks volumes of great wisdom. She’s a cocky little thing, but she is a true warrior for Christ. If you search the internet you’ll find many of her wise quotes, and I came across this quote this morning: “You need to plead with God to do what only He can do, and then you need to get out of the way and let Him do it.” That, my friends, is easier said than done.

How often do we go to our heavenly Father and unload the burdens that are on our hearts? We cry out to Him. We tell Him our troubles. We beg, we plead, and we say, “We’re giving it all to you God.” We then feel a great relief, but it’s all too often short lived. Why? Well, I can tell you it’s not because God quit working on the problem. It’s usually because after giving our burdens, problems, and worries to God, we don’t leave them at His feet. We snatch those troubles right back away from God and start worrying over them again and trying to fix something that we aren’t capable of fixing. That’s just craziness. We’ve given something to the Master to take care of, but we snatch it back thinking that we can do a better job solving the problem than the Maker of the universe. That’s absolute nonsense, but we are guilty of it all the time!

Think about it in a different way. What if you inherited a very expensive, very old grandfather clock. This clock was worth a pretty penny. It was beautiful to look at, but there was a problem. The clock didn’t work. It wouldn’t keep time. So you did your research and found the finest, most reputable clock maker and took the clock to him. You left this beautiful, priceless clock in his capable hands. He said he would have it fixed within the week if he didn’t have to order parts, but it may take a little longer depending on how long it would take to correct the issue. You go home feeling good, but then a couple of days go by, and the clock isn’t fixed yet. So you go pick up the clock, bring it home, and begin disassembling it and trying to fix it yourself. You know nothing about repairing clocks and can not get it to work again. Now there is a beautiful clock with pieces all over the floor. It’s wrecked. So what do you do now? Take if back to the master horologist, and he repairs the clock. You take it to the master, leave it, and get out of way.

We have to do the same thing in life with all of our troubles. God wants us to bring our burdens to Him. He knows what is best for us, and He knows the solution to every problem that can possibly come up. We only need to trust the situations into His very capable hands. Don’t go grabbing your troubles back and trying to fix things on your own. Leave them at the feet of the Master! Give it to God, and get out of the way!

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Give me a word, Lord: HEAVEN

1 Corinthians 2:9 But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him.”

Hebrews 11:16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.

Revelations 21:2-4 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

Do you ever stop and think about heaven? I’ve always wanted to go to heaven, but I confess that during my youth I prayed and asked God to wait a while before He took me home. Oh, you know how it is. I was a girl with plans…lots and lots of plans…and I’m still a big time planner today. I had quite a few talks with God, and told Him that I wanted to finish school, get married, have children, and a career. Well, then, I had to see my children grow up…and now there are grandchildren. If it’s not one thing, it’s another. Lately though, my conversations with God are more like, “This place is a mess! You can come get me any time you want me now!” I can hardly wait to get to heaven! It’s human nature for us to cling to the material things in life, but we also have a spiritual nature, and our spirit desires our permanent home. Seriously, our spirit longs for heaven!

David Jeremiah preached on a series on heaven, and one of the topics was “heaven won’t be boring.” He explained that we wouldn’t get bored because we would be in the presence of almighty God, we would be serving daily, and we would be with friends and loved ones. I can’t wait to reunite with those who’ve gone before me: great grandparents, grandparents, Mama, aunts and uncles, and friends. He also reminded me that when we get to heaven we can become friends with our ancestors. Can you even imagine having the opportunity to sit down and have breakfast with David or Joseph, or maybe lunch with Ruth and Boaz, and then supper with Esther? Oh my goodness, I can’t even imagine the conversations that we’ll have!

But with all of my excitement over heaven comes great heartache. I have only an inkling of knowledge of the splendor of heaven. It excites me to the core of my being, yet at the same time I feel distressed because everyone that I love won’t be there. Yes, the Bible speaks of heaven, but it speaks even more loudly and clearly about hell. Hell is real. We aren’t living in hell right now, no matter how bad things look. Matthew 13:42 is just one of many scriptures that tells about this awful place. “They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” It’s a never ending, continual blazing furnace. The agony will be unbearable. There will be no quenching of thirst or putting out the fire. Hell sounds incredibly awful, but what would be even worse than that would be eternal separation from our Father. I can’t even fathom it!

I don’t want to be separated from my heavenly Father, and I don’t want to be eternally separated from anyone reading this. So today I ask you with all sincerity and seriousness, do you know where you will be spending eternity? Do you know without a shadow of a doubt that you will be joyfully running through the pearly gates? If you don’t know this for sure, now is the time to know. Ask Christ into your heart today. We aren’t promised tomorrow. I’m ready to run through those pearly gates as soon as the good Lord decides to let me in. I pray you’ll be running through them some day as well. Run with joy and peace to Christ!

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Give me a word, Lord: ENOUGH

Roman’s 8:37-39 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

I John 4:4 You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.

Am I ever going to be enough? I know I’m not the only one asking this question because there are hundreds of posts on social media that echo these words. There are thousands of self help books to teach us how to better ourselves. Television commercials pitch anti-aging miracle creams, magical weight loss remedies, and even those awful Spanx like girdles! No wonder we are a nation full of insecurity. Everywhere we look, we are told that we aren’t good enough!

We walk by our mirrors and notice the hairs that are out of place, the crown of gray peeking through, the wrinkles, and oh yea, don’t forget those few extra pounds we put on lately. At our jobs, we work hard and give it all that we have, but then wonder if we could’ve done a little bit more. With our families, we worry that we aren’t spending enough one on one time with the ones we love. Are we teaching them the things they need most? Do they know how much we love them? Are we ever going to be enough?

Well, Peeps, I’m here to tell you that if you are living life asking these questions day in and day out, you have become the victim of identity theft! Yep, identity theft! You’ve gone and let the world steal away your identity. All of those insecurities are NOT who you are. You are a child of God, a child of the Most High, King of Kings, Lord of Lords! I mean really y’all, it doesn’t get much better than that!

Insecurities of self leads to worry and doubt, and when we are full of those two evil things (worry & doubt), we will never be enough. However, with Christ, we don’t have to be enough. In fact, we could never be good enough to deserve salvation, and once we realize this, we can really truly rest in the grace and mercy of our blessed Savior. Jesus knows who you are. He knows all the good, bad, and ugly in your life, and no matter what you have done or haven’t done, He loves you just the same. We can’t do anything to make Him loves us more, and we can’t do anything to make Him love us less. Because of His love for us, we are enough. It’s through His righteousness that we become right with Him.

Quit worrying about being enough. If you’ve got Christ in your heart and you are living for Him, you are enough because of who He is in you! The One that is in you is greater than the world. You are enough!!

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Give me a word, Lord: OUTSIDE IN

I Samuel 16:7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

Jeremiah 17:10 I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind,
to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.

Matthew 23:27 Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean.

One day last year, my grandson, Jude, was excitingly changing clothes to get into the hot tub for the first time. When it was time to get dressed again, he brought me his shirt which was inside out and asked me to turn his shirt “outside in,” and then next, his shorts were in the same condition. He asked that I turn them outside in also. He actually meant outside out, but I suppose outside in is the opposite of inside out. Lol
At any rate, this got me to thinking about our outward appearance verses our inward hearts. On the outside, we may look beautiful and put together, but our hearts may be broken and falling apart. Or on the contrary, we may look a hot mess on the outside, but on the inside, all is well. I learned a long time ago that you can’t judge a book by it’s cover.

God doesn’t judge us based on our appearance either, thankfully. God sees our hearts! We can fake it to make it in life, but we can’t fake it with God. He sees past the outward appearance, the nice clothes, shiny jewelry, and makeup. He sees what we are made of not how we’re made up. You can’t fake christianity. You can try, but you won’t succeed.

Have you ever been to visit a older friend or family member? Their house may look totally dilapidated and worn out. Paint may be flaking off of the house. Maybe a few boards are loose, and the old tin roof is totally rusted. The house looks a mess, but then you step inside. The home is as neat as a pin. It’s beautifully decorated and adorned with photos of loved ones. You can see how much care was placed in the decor. When you are standing on the outside looking in, you see the home in a completely different light.

That, my friends, is how God sees us. The world sees the mess of our outer shell, but God KNOWS our hearts. He knows everything that is going on, and He knows right where we are right now. He knows what we need before we even know. He’s right there beside us to see is through any and every situation.

I’m so thankful this dilapidated body of mine is just a temporary home. Yep, it’s falling apart. The fingers are getting knotty with arthritis. I move a little slower at times. My body definitely tells me that it’s not as young as I think it is! But that’s okay. I know that my heart and soul belong to Jesus, and I can rejoice in that. I’m still a work in progress. I work on the inside every single day. I want God to know that when he looks at me from the outside in, that I am truly His and He is mine! My heart belongs to Jesus!

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Give me a word, Lord: IT’S GONNA BE OK

Matthew 28:20 And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

Isaiah 41:10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 49:16 See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands

There is way too much bad in our world today. Evil lurks around every corner. COVID 19 ran rampant for far too long. People are still fighting for their lives. There is sickness among us…physical, mental, and emotional. We’re all drained and weary after watching the news for less than 30 minutes a day. Goodness, when we watch the nightly news, we hear the reporter list off all of the shootings and resulting deaths that occurred over the past week.The numbers are shocking, although, I feel that I shouldn’t be shocked by anything anymore.

With all of the chaos, sadness, sickness, and just the day to day messes that we find ourselves in, we have to have something to keep us grounded, to keep us focused on the bigger picture, and to keep us moving forward. Thankfully, we can lean on our Lord and Savior and rest knowing that He’s got us right in the palm of His hand. We can rest on Matthew 28:20 knowing that Jesus promises that He is with us to the end. That means He is always there through thick and thin, good times and bad times, and with us whatever life is throwing at us. He never leaves. Isaiah 41:10 has become my stand on verse lately. There is no reason to be dismayed and get all catawalpus. We have the promise that God will be our strength and that He will hold us up with His righteous hand. God has never broken a promise so I know with all that I am that I can trust in those words.

My husband, Jeff, is always encouraging to the kids, and he has been such an encouraging light through these trying times. I overheard him tell them, “Me and God spoke about it. Its gonna be okay either way so I’m just gonna go with that.” We know that no matter the outcome of any situation or trouble, God has control, and we merely need to lean on Him and trust that He has us right in the palm of His hand.

Knowing that God really does have us in the palm of His hand is so very reassuring. With that knowledge, we can approach the day knowing that either way, it’s gonna be okay. God’s got this!

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Give me a word, Lord: WHAT I WANT MOST

Psalm 37:4 Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Psalm 16:11 You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Proverbs 9:10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.

Job 22:26 For then shalt thou have thy delight in the Almighty, and shalt lift up thy face unto God.

What do you want out of life? Oh, the answers to this question are too numerous to count. What we think we want now doesn’t look like what we wanted this time last year. We’re always wanting something, searching for more, trying to attain the next goal. There seems to be a never ending void in our hearts that we just can’t satisfy. Well, I’m here to tell you that there is only One that can fill that void, and His name is Jesus!

I read a story about a man seeking wisdom. He went to the great and mighty philosopher Socrates, and asked Socrates how he could get great wisdom. Socrates walked the man out into the sea. When they got out about chest deep, Socrates pushed the man under the water and held him there. He let him up, and asked, “What is it you want?” The man replied, “I want wisdom.” Socrates continued to dunk the man under water holding him longer each time, and each time the same question was asked and the same answer was given, until finally, Socrates held the man under until he was fighting to get up. The man came up gasping, and Socrates again asked, “What is it you want?” The man gasped, “Air, I want air.” Socrates then said, “When you want wisdom as much as you wanted air, you will get it.”

We are motivated by the desires of our hearts and minds. We set our sights on something, and we go after it. Psalm 37:4 tells us how to get the desires of our heart. We must delight ourselves in the Lord, and He will give us the desires of our heart. That hole we feel, that emptiness we are trying to fill up, that eternally, empty black hole can only be filled by Christ. He designed us that way. He designed us to want Him, to crave Him, to yearn for Him, to desire a close relationship with Him, and until we allow Him into our hearts and we need and desire Him just like we crave air to breathe, that black hole of emptiness will never be filled. Our hearts will not be satisfied. We will continue to search for things of this world to satisfy us until we nearly drown ourselves.
I know that Jesus is my heart’s desire. I want a lot of things in life. I do. I’m human. But I know that Jesus is in my heart and rules my life, and because of that, He gives me the desires of my heart. My needs are always taken care of, and many of my wants are too. He always gives me just what I need, when I need it most, and always right on time. So what do I want most in life? Just give me Jesus!!

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Give me a word, Lord: FREEDOM

Genesis 2:16-17 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”

Genesis 3:6-7 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

Merriam-Webster defines freedom as “liberation from slavery or restraint from power of another.” Today, we celebrate freedom as a country in the United States of America. That freedom was won a very long time ago after battle and bloodshed. Since becoming a free nation, brave men and women have continued to go into battle to protect our country so that we can continue to live in freedom. We are not slaves to other nations or powers that be. We live in a democratic nation that allows us the freedom of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Unfortunately, we as Americans seem to be pushing our liberty of freedom to the limits. God created the most beautiful garden ever designed and placed the man and woman that He created in the garden to care for it. He told them that they could eat of any fruit in the entire garden EXCEPT for the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. That old evil satan got to Eve. He talked her into tasting the fruit, and she shared it with her husband, and well, you know the rest of the story. Men knew no sin before that first bite, but that action brought sin into the world. We’ve been struggling with sin ever since.

We, like Eve, long for freedom to do whatever we want. We too often take that “pursuit of happiness” thing to the limits. When we are constantly pursuing a lifestyle of doing what we want, we become slaves to self and to sin. Then, we aren’t free anymore.
Thankfully for us, our freedom was purchased not just a little over 200 years ago by soldiers as we celebrate today, but rather our freedom was purchased by the blood of Christ on that old rugged cross over 2000 years ago! And when Christ ascended to heaven, He left a comforter: the Holy Spirit. With the precious Holy Spirit, we are empowered to say NO to things of this world, and YES to Christ! The Holy Spirit guides us ever so gently and helps us to choose what is right and desire what is godly.

Our freedom was purchased and paid for in full by the One who loves us most. We are no longer slaves to sin. We are children of Christ. Are you really experiencing freedom today? If you have Christ, you have been set free. If not, what are you waiting for? He’s already paid the price in full. You only have to accept the gift of freedom of salvation!
HAPPY 4TH OF JULY, PEEPS!

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Give me a word, Lord: SLOW DOWN

Jeremiah 2:25 Slow down. Take a deep breath. What’s the hurry? Why wear yourself out? Just what are you after anyway?

Psalm 46:10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

I see it reflected in movies and books that the idea of farmhouse living is a quiet, slow paced life. Oh, how I wish that were true. The only thing slow around here is the internet! I work hard in the clinic, some days harder than others, but we tend to work much harder right here at home. The pay isn’t great, but the rewards are immeasurable.

The minute our feet hit the floor, we get busy. There are babies to feed, animals to be tended, garden to be picked, vegetables to be put up, jelly to be made, fences to be mended, hay to be cut, equipment to be repaired, and there is always, always something that needs to be cleaned. We are super busy people pretty much all of the time.

I’m constantly moving from one project to the next, and I’m guilty of putting little schedules in my head and allotting times for each task. I always have a lot of things that I need to accomplish every day, and most days I succeed. It’s tiring though! Day in and day out I’m moving in fast speed trying to complete a task so that I can move on to the next one. And if I’m not careful, I can get too busy to sit down and have some quiet time with God.
Recently, we have been so busy that we actually took a day off. We actually stopped and slowed down and just rested for a while. I called the day a “dog day” because I laid around like our dogs.

I looked out from our back deck at our hot tub and at the creek that trickles behind the house, and I say, “we don’t ever need to go on vacation. We have the perfect vacation spot right here!” But then I laugh and realize that the only problem is we don’t vacation while we are here. We can’t stop long enough. That’s the truth. We take a vacation every year so that we can slow down and be still for just a little while.

But y’all, God doesn’t want us hurrying around all day long. He wants us to enjoy His creation, enjoy a relationship with Him, and glorify Him. I started writing these morning devotionals at the beginning of the pandemic to encourage myself and to possibly encourage others. I thought I would only write them for a few days or maybe even a weeks, but here I am ovee a year later still writing. I look forward to this quiet time every morning. Before I write, I pray and ask God to give me a word. Then, I read scripture and other devotionals. You see, writing these morning devotionals has made me slow down for about an hour every…single…day. I slow down and really spend some quality time with my Father.

In this busy, chaotic world, we have to slow down. What are we chasing anyways? We should be chasing Christ. This is only our temporary home. We are just passing through. You don’t have to write devotionals though. That’s not everybody’s cup of tea. But slowing down and spending time in the presence of our Lord and Savior on daily basis is an absolute must. Our hearts long for that quiet time with Christ. Slow down today. Etch out a little time to sit down and have a little chat with God. You won’t regret it! All of those things you feel the need to accomplish will be accomplished with so much more ease if you put Christ first! Slow down!

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Give me a word, Lord: THE POWER OF PRAYER

I John 5:14-15 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.

Mark 11:24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

Matthew 18:20 For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.

I remember with great fondness our first church prayer meeting after reopening following closure due to COVID. Oak Hill Baptist Church gathered together, and we prayed! Boy did we pray! We prayed with specificity for our nation and our national leaders. We called out specific requests for specific leaders. We prayed for our own church family, our community, families who have recently lost loved ones, those who are ill, and so many more. I’m here to tell you that I enjoyed that prayer service with every ounce of my being! There is something special about gathering together with a body of believers, your church family, and praying.

I’ve already told y’all that I pray from the time I wake up until I fall asleep at night. I even pray if I wake up during the middle of the night. So what’s the big deal about gathering together for prayer meeting? Oh, my friends, that’s where mountains are being moved! Am I saying that God doesn’t hear my individual prayer? Absolutely not! In fact, I’ve seen Him answer my prayers all too often so I know for a fact He hears. But there is just something so sweet and so special when two or more are gathered in His name, calling on Him together, for a common request or need.

I love what John tells us in I John 5:14-15. We can have CONFIDENCE in our prayers! If go to the Lord and ask Him anything that is according to His will, He hears us, and if we KNOW that He hears us, we can KNOW that we will have what we asked for. That’s a pretty awesome truth! There is a little catch there if you didn’t see it. We have to go to Him and ask in accordance to His will, and if we ask according to God’s will, we can rest assured peacefully knowing the prayer has already been answered.
As a small child, I remember our pastor preaching a sermon from this text, but of course, I was too young to really comprehend the “according to God’s will” part. I remember praying for a Hershey’s candy bar. I could say that God didn’t answer that prayer, but over the past 50+ years, I’ve consumed my share of Hershey bars so even though that wasn’t an appropriate prayer, I guess God even answered that one. But seriously though, when we go to God in prayer, and we ask things of Him, we need to ask for His will to be done in the situation.

There’s a movie called “The Wishing Well,” and in this movie a person could throw a coin in a wishing well, and the wish would come true. There was a catch though. The wish had to be “the right wish” in order for it to come true. In a way, this can be related to prayer. God hears everything we say to Him. Every coin we toss into the wishing well is acknowledged. But God isn’t a wishing well or a magic genie in a lamp. He’s God. If we go to Him with the desires of our heart, and our desires are the “right” desires that align with His will, then we can rest assured that the prayer has been heard and will be answered. We may not see the answer today, but we can rest peacefully knowing that God has already handled it. There is true power in prayer!!

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Give me a word, Lord: LAUGHTER IS THE BEST MEDICINE

Proverbs 17:22 A joyful heart is good medicine, But a broken spirit dries up the bones.

Proverbs 15:13 and 15 A happy heart makes the face cheerful…. the cheerful heart has a continual feast.

Proverbs 31:25 She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.

When is the last time that you had a good old belly laugh or laughed until tears ran down your face? I don’t think we do that nearly enough, but God gave us the gift of laughter and joy, and He takes pleasure in seeing His kids happy and laughing.
This morning while getting dressed, I picked my kinky hair out, flipped my head upside down and back up, and then my hair was standing out on every direction. I grabbed a hairbrush off the bathroom counter, and I ran into the kitchen where Jeff was cooking sausage. In my greatest Tina Turner impression, I belted out, “What’s love got to do with it? What’s love but a second hand emotion?” Jeff about jumped out of his skin, and I rolled in laughter. I don’t know if it was the hair, the screaming like Tina, or the fact that I snuck up on him, but his response was hilarious. I laughed so hard. We all know that I can’t sing, but that doesn’t stop me. Plus, I definitely had that Tina Turner look going on so there was that, and the opportunity couldn’t be wasted!
Jeff and I do silly little things like this all the time. We enjoy laughing together. I think a lot of folks thinks Christians have to be boring old sticks in the mud. Not so! Christians love God, love life, and love to laugh! We can’t help but laugh as the joy of Christ in our hearts spills out to those around us.

Besides the fact that it’s so much fun to laugh, laughter is a natural stress reducer. Laughing improves our circulation and muscle tone, and when we laugh we produce and release endorphins which are “feel good” hormones. Yep, God designed us so well that He actually packaged us up in a body that can produce feel good hormones when we laugh and exercise. How cool is that?

Laughter is good for you! Faith in Christ fills us with joy, and we need to share that joy with those around us. This world appears sad and broken, and if we’re not careful, we will start to feel sad and broken too. But with Christ, we are renewed daily. Our spirit is refreshed on a regular basis, and we have joy in Jesus. We can laugh because we are filled with joy. How about giving it a shot and laughing out loud today? Laughter is indeed good medicine, and it certainly does the body good!

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Give me a word, Lord: PRAISE THE LORD!

Psalm 146 Praise the Lord! Let all that I am praise the Lord. I will praise the Lord as long as I live. I will sing praises to my God with my dying breath. Don’t put your confidence in powerful people; there is no help for you there. When they breathe their last, they return to the earth, and all their plans die with them. But joyful are those who have the God of Israel as their helper, whose hope is in the Lord their God. He made heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them. He keeps every promise forever. He gives justice to the oppressed and food to the hungry. The Lord frees the prisoners. The Lord opens the eyes of the blind. The Lord lifts up those who are weighed down. The Lord loves the godly. The Lord protects the foreigners among us. He cares for the orphans and widows, but he frustrates the plans of the wicked. The Lord will reign forever. He will be your God, O Jerusalem, throughout the generations. Praise the Lord!

Praise the Lord…as long as I live…with my dying breath, I will praise the Lord with all that I am. Peeps, this Psalm is a great praise Psalm, and its chock full of good stuff! Verse 3 and 4 remind us that we shouldn’t put our confidence in powerful people. They may be powerful in the here and now, but when they take their last breath, all their plans and power die with them. Look around for a moment. Who are you putting your confidence in? We place our confidence in powerful politicians, winning athletes, movie stars, the top 40 singers or bands. We listen to what they say, and many times we believe a whole lot of misinformation because we feel that the person speaking is speaking with authority so therefore, whatever they are saying has to be true. Sometimes, they speak truth, but more times than not, they’re just speaking.

Thankfully, we have One that we can place all confidence in: our Lord and Savior. We are reminded in this Psalm that we can be joyful and have hope in the Lord. The promises made by the Lord are never broken. He created the heavens and the earth. He gives justice. He feeds the hungry. He protects His children, and He frustrates the plans of the wicked. He is definitely worthy of our praise!

God gave us eyes that see and ears that hear, and He imparts wisdom to each one that asks. We have to view this crazy world through a God lens rather than the rose colored glasses that we so often wear. Be careful not to put your confidence is people of power merely because of the position they hold. Listen to what is being spoken. Is it godly or is it worldly? Watch carefully with your eyes. Is the person behaving in a godly manner, or are they living for the world? Pay attention, and ask God for wisdom and discernment while muddling through each and every crazy day of life. And when you wake up and before you fall asleep at night, you can have absolute confidence in One for sure and can praise His name continually! Yes, Lord, I will praise you as long as I live, with my dying breath, and with all that I am. Praise the Lord!

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Give me a word, Lord: VALUED

Job 38:41 Who provides food for the raven when its young cry out to God and wander about for lack of food?

Luke 12:24 Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!

Job 12:7-9 But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this?

Last night after feeding up at the barn, I noticed that the peacocks had started dropping their feathers. Despite the fact that I already have two very large vases full of their feathers upstairs, I excitedly gathered up a double handful. The feathers are beautiful, and I occasionally like to be crafty. Peacock feathers can add beautiful accents to flower bouquets and wreaths, and they’re quite expensive to purchase so I just gather my own crop of feathers each year from our males. We have one gorgeous Indian Blue, and the other male is a pied Indian Blue. He has the typical plumage but his center most feathers are white, and when he spreads the feathers out and struts, it looks like fireworks!

Our peacocks are pretty to look at, and they gift me with craft supplies, but other than that, they really aren’t of much use to us. The females lay eggs sporadically, but they never sit on them. They make loud noises whenever they hear a noise so there’s that. But really what else are they good for? Their beauty is why we keep them around. Have you ever looked at a peacock feather? The colors are brilliant iridescent, emerald greens and royal blues. Maybe I love them because they sport two of my favorite colors. They are truly beautiful birds.

Ponder for a moment about the exquisite beauty of this bird. Could the world survive without them? I think so. Would it make a difference if they disappeared? Probably not. But still, God created them. He saw a need for these beautiful creatures to adorn the glorious earth that He created for you and me. And though I haven’t found a significant purpose for the peacocks, God designed them with His purpose in mind.

They are silly birds, and they are insignificant, although beautiful birds. But God must’ve put a lot of thought into designing those peacocks. One feather alone is captivating. The colors are gorgeous and so appealing to the human eye. Just look at the detail in the feathers.

God put that much thought and care into the design of a bird…a bird, Peeps! He also provides a means for the birds to have food. They don’t have to go out and get jobs or store food up in barns the future. God takes care of them. He even saw fit to place a few at Hodge Critter Lodge because He knew we would take care of them for Him.

If our awesome, gracious, loving Father put that much thought and care into the design of a bird, how much more thought and care do you think He put into designing you and I? He formed us in His image. His image, Peeps! He designed us specifically for His glory. He designed us to have a relationship with Him, to live for Him, and to glorify Him. God doesn’t make mistakes. God made you, and you are a whole lot more important to Him than a silly old bird. He put a lot of thought and care into creating you. He loves us so much more than we can comprehend. You are valued by our heavenly Father. Yes, you are valued, you are loved, and you are the child of the Most High! When you’re feeling down, just spread those beautiful feathers and strut, straighten your crown, and remember whose child you are!

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Give me a word, Lord: DECISIONS, DECISIONS

James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.

Psalm 27:14 Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.

We have all had to make a variety of decisions throughout our lives. Some decisions were bigger than others, and some were much tougher than others to make. This old hard headed girl has learned through the years that instead making decisions on my own, I need to run all my decisions past Christ first. Seriously, Peeps, we should pray about any decision we have to make.

A little over 5 years ago, I was working in Poplarville. I truly loved working right here in my hometown, but the company that I was working for was not honoring the staff, the providers, and most importantly, the patients. I didn’t care for the way things were being run, and I started praying about it. It was time to renew my contract. I was locked in with a no compete clause so I couldn’t leave this clinic and work at another one in Poplarville. The local hospital administrator interviewed me and talked with me for hours on end trying figure a way out of the clause. I interviewed with Hattiesburg clinic also, but still..there was that one little hiccup…the no compete clause. I kept praying this prayer, “Lord, I don’t think that this is where I’m supposed to be. I don’t think that this is a God honoring company. But if this is where you want me to stay, I’ll stay. If it’s not, open a door, and I’ll jump through it.”

Several weeks passed, and I had sent the contract back for revisions several times…stalling. I was trying my best not to sign it. Then, finally, there was nothing left to revise. The final contract arrived on my desk on a Friday. I decided to let it sit until Monday, but I had resigned to the fact that I was going to have to sign it. But wait…wait on God!!! Monday morning arrived. I was in an exam room seeing a patient, when one of my coworkers knocked on the door and said that I had a phone call. I took the call expecting the other provider to be calling about a mutual patient, but I was wrong. Instead he asked, “Are you happy with your current job? The PA here is leaving and I’m looking for another nurse practitioner for my clinic in Carriere.” I looked at the contract on my desk in awe, and I looked up and said, “Okay, God, I’m jumping through that door!”

I had practiced in Picayune my whole career before going to work at the clinic in Poplarville, and I was future minded enough to include in my contract that if I wanted to, I could go back to work in the Picayune area, however, I’m sure that was insight from God too. I put my notice in, and have been working for Hattiesburg Clinic at the Carriere Immediate Care for almost 7 years now, and I love it!! (Well, I’m not loving this “season of COVID,” but I do love what I do!)

This is just one example of how God has answered a prayer in my life. He may not answer the prayers immediately, and He may not answer them the way I want Him too, but He will answer. Sometimes, He opens a door, and we have to have faith and just jump through it. Sometimes, He closes a door, and we need to put a deadbolt lock on it and throw away the key. God knows our every need. He puts us where He needs us to be for certain seasons of our lives. We need to only have faith in Him. Pray, ask God for guidance, pray some more, and wait. The waiting is always the hardest, but the reward is always great! God’s timing is always right on time!!

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Give me a word, Lord: LOVING WHEN THERE IS NO PEACE

Matthew 5:5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

James 3:17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.

Peeps, I am so saddened by the state of affairs of this world right now. I pray for peace, I look for peace, but it seems the only place that I can find that peace is within my own heart and home. If you watch the news or you read social media, it looks like everybody woke up on the wrong side of the bed. As a Mama and a Mimi, I want to tell everybody to go back to bed and take a nap. Who knows, it might help and it wouldn’t hurt.

But what I really want to do is tell all the Christians out there to WAKE UP! We’re sleeping too much. We are napping when instead we need to be out hitting the highways and the hedges sharing the good news and peace that we know. Seriously, it’s time to wake up!

God created us for His glory, and I bet He’s up there in heaven shaking His head at the mess we’re in right now. I don’t think He’s surprised by it. I’m sure He already knew it was going to happen. I’m just not sure where we’re going from here, although I know that God does.

There is so much hate and anger and division in the world. No one can find peace because they don’t know Peace. As Christian’s we can’t sit idly by on the sidelines and ignore what is going on. Now, I’m not saying get in the middle of all the fighting and acting ugly. Rather I’m challenging you to get out there and show the love of Christ. Don’t argue with those that have a different viewpoint. Instead, have a lovingly, meaningful conversation. Spontaneously treat someone to a meal. Share a smile or a kind word. That doesn’t cost a thing. Tell someone how your life has been changed by Christ.

Don’t be a part of the ugliness. Be a part of the peace. Show others the love of Christ, and make a difference in this world…one person at a time! As Christians we know the secret to peace. The old saying is full of truth. Know Jesus, know peace. No Jesus, no peace. Let us not keep this secret to ourselves. May we share the love of Christ today and show the world true peace!

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Give me a word, Lord: SUNRISE, COFFEE, AND JESUS

Psalm 119:32 I will run the way of thy commandments, when thou shalt enlarge my heart.

2 Samuel 22:33-34 God is my strength and power: and he maketh my way perfect. He maketh my feet like hinds’ feet: and setteth me upon my high places.

Hebrews 12:1 Let us run with patience the race that is set before us.

I guess you could say I’m a morning person…some days more than others. There is always a lot to do around here, and we want to beat the heat of the day, but that old bed can feel good! I usually roll out of bed by 5:00 am, but on Saturdays, I may stay in bed until after 6:00. I make a list in my head of all the things I need to accomplish during day, but first I have to make time for God.

It’s so easy to get busy around here the second our eyes open. There is always, always something to do, and there is not a lot of down time at Hodge Lodge. It would be easy for me to not have quiet time with God, but it wouldn’t be rewarding.
I have to get up a little earlier and make myself prioritize my time to include studying God’s word and spending quiet time with Him everyday. It’s not a chore. It’s not a thing on my checklist. It’s something that I feel like I need to do, and it’s something that I want to do. When I spend time in the Word, reflecting on Christ, and speaking quietly with Him, the whole day is just better. It is important for my spiritual well being to sit down with at sunrise with my coffee and my God.

We are all busy. Society says go, go, go. It is like we are in the middle of a never ending race to an unseen finish line. Well, I don’t know about you, but my finish line looks like beautiful pearly gates! I pray that yours does too. If I am to run this race in life well, I need to train. In sports, athletes train hard. They study the rule books, work out, study the plays, learn from their coach, and train for upcoming events because they want to win. We are all racing to our eternal finish line daily. Shouldn’t we train too? Shouldn’t we stay in the Word of God and spend time reflecting on the Word and quietly speaking to our Father? Yes and yes! I’m running to Christ and those pearly gates of heaven. I’ve already won this race in life the minute I asked Christ into my heart so I can just stop training, right? No. Knowing Christ personally just makes me want to train harder. I want to get to know my Father better. I want to walk (or mostly run) in His ways. I want to be sure that I am on the right path. I crave the encouragement, grace, and mercy that I can only receive from Him. I want to run the race well. So I will keep training. I will continue to drink coffee with God at sunrise because I need God the first thing every morning and all day long! Find a time that works best for you and set that time aside daily to spend time with God. You won’t regret it! It is one habit I truly recommend!

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Give me a word, Lord: ETERNAL HOPE

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Philippians 3:20 Our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

I John 5:13-14 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.

One of the absolute hardest parts of my job as a nurse practitioner is delivering bad news to a patient. It may be a suspicious mass on a CT scan, critically abnormal labs, or confirmation of cancer on pathology. Delivering this type of news is always so hard to do, but one thing that makes it a bit easier is prayer. When I receive the news, before I impart any of the information to the patient, I pray over it. Yep, I’ve told y’all before that I talk to God all day long. There’s this thing called HIPAA so I can’t and won’t discuss patient personal information with others, but thankfully, God is excluded from that and I can talk to him all day long! So yes, I go to God on the behalf of the patient, but also for myself. I ask God to give me the right words when delivering the news and the strength and grace to do so. Then, I talk to the patient, pray with the patient, and even cry with the patient.

I’ve been asked many times, “Is there any hope?” That, my friends, is an easy one to answer. There is ALWAYS hope in Jesus! In my many years of practice, I have seen many miracles. I have witnessed patients surviving from terminal illness, but I have also watch as one slowly declined from terminal illness. No matter the outcome, there is still hope in eternal life if you have Christ. The hope lies in Christ, not in the illness.

I could share so many stories, but I have one fond memory than comes to mind this morning. A patient whom I didn’t really know was having some female issues. She hadn’t had a Pap in many years, and after the work up was complete, she was diagnosed with cervical cancer with metastasis. I talked to her as I have done many times before and shared the hope of Jesus with her. I didn’t see her again for about 3 years. She came in for a visit and told me that she wanted to thank me. She said that it was because of our conversation that day 3 years ago that she became a christian. She hadn’t known Christ before then, but she does now. She said that everything changed for her that day. She was filled with hope and love and joy and peace!

There is eternal hope in Christ. We may not want to dwell on it, Peeps, but unless Jesus comes soon, we are all going to die. When I was younger, I fretted about that. I even prayed telling God all of the things I needed to do before I died. I laugh at myself now. I know that God has a plan for me, and I know that my time is already recorded, but I live knowing that when I die life is going to be unimaginable with my heavenly Father! That is hope eternal! If you don’t have that assurance, get you some of that! It’s better than Allstate, State Farm, Farm Bureau or Liberty Mutual all tied up in one! If you want to talk about it, I’m a pretty good listener despite my wordy self! Message me! I love you, Peeps! Live your life with eternal hope! There is no better peace!

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Give me a word, Lord: IT IS WELL

Psalm 62:5 Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him.

Philippians 4:7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

I have seen wall hangings, canvases, t-shirts, and a variety of other products with the words “it is well with my soul” beautifully scripted on them. The words are from a beautiful hymn written by Horatio Spafford in 1873 during a time of tremendous grief. Horatio was a successful lawyer and businessman in Chicago. He had 5 children with his wife, Anna. They lost one child to pneumonia in 1871, and later the same year, they lost much of their business to the great Chicago fire. They were no strangers to tragedy, but God was merciful and allowed his business to flourish again after the fire.

In 1873, Anna and the 4 surviving daughters boarded a French ocean liner for Europe. Horatio was supposed to go too, but had to stay back to attend business. He planned to join them later via a different boat. Four days into the journey, the ocean liner collided with another ship, and it went down. A sailor spotted a woman floating on a piece of the wreckage. Anna survived, but she had lost all four of her children. She wired her husband upon arriving in Wales, and he took the next ship to meet her. When the ship was about four days our, the captain called Horatio to his cabin and told him that they were over the place where the ship went down. According to a daughter born after the tragedy, Horatio penned “It is Well with My Soul” while on that journey. “When peace like a river, attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll, whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say
It is well, it is well, with my soul.”

Wow! I can not even imagine the sorrow, the emotions, or the grief, but I am amazed at his great understanding of God’s grace and mercy and peace. During the greatest tragedy of his life, Horatio knew that all was well because of Christ. I know too many people who become angry with Christ when they lost a loved one or when tragedy reared its ugly head, yet it is during those times that we see God show up and show out. We cry out to Him, and He hears us. He gives us a peace that trascends all understanding. Peace that can come only from Him. He gave that same peace to Horatio. He will give that same peace to you and I. No matter what trial you are facing, no matter how badly you are grieving, no matter how hard things appear to be, you can have peace and rejoice in knowing that God is going before you, and it is going to be alright. It is well, with my soul!

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Give me a word, Lord: CHANGED

Ephesians 4:20-24 That, however, is not the way of life you learned when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

Our mission trip to the Dominican Republic was probably my favorite mission adventure. There are many reasons why it was my favorite, but the main reason was because it was a totally mission minded mission trip. We were there to provide medical care, but more importantly than caring for the physical needs of the people, we were there to share Christ. We were there to attend to their spiritual needs.

It wasn’t the typical scenario of seeing as many patients as we could see in one day. Rather we were only allowed to see a certain number of patients each day because the mission was to get to know the patients and their families on a personal level and share Christ with them. Medical care was just a little lagniappe. We were allowed to pray with every single family. It was amazing!

One thing that stands out in my mind was the fact that a good bit of the people I spoke with wanted to be Christians, but they weren’t ready to make “the change” yet. They usually stated an age in the future, such as, “I’m going to become a Christian when I’m forty.” They had an age in their minds at which time they thought they would be good enough to become a Christian, wise enough, or changed enough. I had great difficulty with the language barrier, but I did my very best to explain that we would never reach that age. No matter how good we try to be, how many church services we attend, or how much we read the Bible, we will never ever be good enough to deserve salvation. We just aren’t that good! We are all sinners saved by grace.

God knew this well in advance. He knew that we couldn’t earn salvation, so He designed a plan through Christ on the cross so that we may be made righteous through Him. Christ makes us right. When we accept Christ as our Savior, we begin to change. The change doesn’t come first. The salvation does. Once you allow Jesus to take over your heart, you just can’t help but change. When you realize how much He loves you and what He did for you, you can’t help but become a better person. Your heart fills up with love for Christ and love for others, and before long everyone around you sees the fruits of the Spirit. You start serving others and loving others and sharing Christ with others. Those old bad habits slowly but surely begin to fall away. You will be changed! It doesn’t happen overnight, but if Christ is truly in you, it will happen!

If you haven’t made that change yet, if you aren’t producing fruit, if you are waiting for a certain age or date, please don’t wait one minute longer! We aren’t promised tomorrow. There is no better time than the present. Make the change! You won’t regret it!

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Give me a word, Lord: GRAINS OF SAND

Psalm 139:13-18 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand–when I awake, I am still with you.

After working in the medical field for 30 years, I have no doubt that I was created by the supremacy of God. I have studied the human body at the cellular level. I’ve learned how intricately designed the human body is. There is absolutely no way that human beings were developed by happen chance, by a big bang, or whatever other theory may try to explain creation. There is just no way! Each and every part of the human body has a specific function, and the parts work together like the finest symphonic orchestra. When one part stops working, another part will try to compensate. If it can’t compensate, the body sends out red flags alerting the brain that something is wrong, and then medical attention is sought. We did not just evolve into human beings by happen chance. We were created in the image of our Creator.

In Psalm 139, the psalmist is praising God for creating him. He acknowledges that God created him and formed him within his mother’s womb, and that God had already ordained all the days of his life even before he was born. Then he praises God for having precious thoughts about him. He says he can not even count the number of thoughts that God has for him because the number of thoughts would outnumber the grains of sand.

Isn’t that incredible? God knit each of us together in our mother’s womb, He ordained our days before we were born, and He thinks about us all the time. The same Creator that formed the earth, the heavens, the oceans, and the mountains looked around and decided that the world needed you and needed me, and He created us. Not only did He create us, He never loses focus on us. He loves and cares for us so much that we are always in His thoughts.

Have you ever tried to sit on the beach and count the individual grains of sand? It would be impossible! But we are so precious to God that the sum of His thoughts for us are greater than the number of grains of sand! Whoa! God must really care about us! Yes, He does!

You were fearfully and wonderfully made by a loving Father. You were created for a purpose. Dwell on these things when life gets hard, when you want to give up, or you feel like you are losing hope. Hang on tight to the hand of your heavenly Father. He loves you so much!

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Give me a word, Lord: CHURCHING

Colossians 4:5-6 Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

Philippians 2:5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.

I Peter 1:13-16 Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”

My husband and I enjoy winding down at the end of the day with a good movie. Sometimes I can stay awake for the whole movie, but a lot of the time, I fall asleep. One night after a super busy day on the farm, I watched part of a movie that came on at 10:00. Jeff had been in the hay field all morning while I chased and caught bugs with my grandson and then made some cucumber mint jam. We picked 4 bushels of purple hull peas as evening approached, and quite honestly, although I wanted to watch the movie, I couldn’t hold my eyes open. I asked Jeff to save it on DVR. Maybe we’ll watch it another night.

It was a cute movie, but what caught my attention was the idea of “churching”. There was a young lady who moved in with her ex-mother-in-law after the death of her ex-father-in-law. She was supposed to be helping the woman pack up, but she also wanted to help her through her grieving. The mother-in-law was very involved in her church, but the young lady had never been to church in her life. While packing, she found a Bible. It was Sunday morning so she suggested to the mother-in-law that they go “churching”, and off they went.

As I said, I couldn’t stay awake for it all, but here are a couple of my take aways. First of all, I saw church through the eyes of someone who had never been to church before. She was rough around the edges, and she didn’t know “how things worked.” She stood up in the middle of the sermon and asked questions, and got the pastor flustered. She was told, “we don’t really ask questions during the sermon.” The second time she went, she stood up before the sermon began and said she was just going to ask her questions up front so as not to interrupt. She asked if this religion was the right religion and if so why were there so many other religions and what made this one the right one. The pastor chuckled as he informed her that she sure did ask easy questions. He seemed to recognize her desire for knowledge about Christ. The second thing I noticed was the way her “churching” upset the church. You see, there was a snooty old church lady who called a committee meeting after the second church visit. She complained about the young women’s disruptive behavior, demanded that the pastor do something about it, and even had the audacity to tell him what to preach the next Sunday.

As an adult who has been in church my entire life, I find it hard to put myself in the shoes of someone who has never had the blessing of being raised with a family of believers. As such, it is easy for us “church people” to look down our noses at the non-churched when they show up and don’t act like us. We turn into the snooty old church lady with a bad attitude. I don’t think we mean to. I think we just haven’t put ourselves in their shoes.

We are called to be wise in the way that treat outsiders with conversations full of grace and seasoned with salt. We are called to love like Jesus loves, and we are called to share the gospel with everyone…not just people who are like us. Church is not the building. It is the body of believers. So I challenge you to go “churching” today. Share the love of Christ with everyone you come in contact with…especially those who are a little rough around the edges!

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Give me a word, Lord: WHO’S YOUR DADDY

Today’s word is an excerpt from my most recently released book “Inspirations from the Funny Farm.” The book includes a variety of true life stories and experiences from the farm as well as some family traditions and memories. I felt that today was a good day to share this. HAPPY FATHER’S DAY!

So many things have changed over the years. I think one thing that has changed that has made the biggest impact on our country is family structure. Everything about family structure has changed. Couples are divorcing in record number. Kids are being raised by single moms, single dads, and even same sex couples. Many kids today don’t recognize great parenting because they have never experienced it. I know that divorce happens, and I am not looking down on anyone that has been through a divorce. My parents divorced when I was 11 years old, and my first marriage ended in divorce. But I am one of the fortunate children of divorced parents. My daddy is an awesome Christian father, and he took his charge as daddy very seriously.

My daddy had all daughters. I was the tomboy of the bunch, and I loved doing all the things tomboys did. I have so many fond memories of my childhood that include my daddy. He was strict, but we knew that his strictness evolved from the love and concern he had for his children. He brought us to church the very first Sunday after we were born and pretty much every time the doors were open after that. We knew that Christ was important to him, and this knowledge and his faithfulness helped to build the foundation for us as we learned the ways of the Lord.
Daddy worked as a policeman when we were kids. I loved to spend time with him and thought of him as my own personal superhero. Daddy let me ride along with him in the patrol car many a night. Poplarville, MS, is a very small town, and there wasn’t a great deal of crime going on back then. He always kept things interesting though. We shot turtles off the city sewer treatment pond. We shined a spotlight at the streetlights to make them go dark. We spent many hours just sitting at the courthouse in the Sheriff’s office. I watched my daddy as he handled tough scenarios with grace and ease. Yes, he was and still is my hero.

After my parents divorced, Daddy was sad for a long while. Yet, he never waivered from being the strong Christian daddy that we knew him to be. Mama was a fighter. I loved her dearly, but facts are facts. She loved to pick fights with Daddy. The one thing that stands out most about my Daddy is that he never once fought back. He never spoke ill of my mother to us. He never argued with her in front of us. He always turned the other cheek and carried on. Though he had been through the fire, his character was never singed. This, my friends, is the kind of daddy that our society is sorely lacking. I praise God every day that he saw fit to make this wonderful man my daddy.

Jeff and I are both fortunate in this area. Jeff also has a wonderful father, and I am so lucky because he is now my father-in-law. We call Jeff’s dad Paw Paw JB. Jeff has told me some truly awesome stories of his childhood, and I know that he feels as blessed to have him for a dad as I do to have my own daddy. The first time I met Paw Paw JB, Jeff had warned me that Paw Paw probably wouldn’t like me. Yep, he actually told me that. He quickly followed that statement with, “but he’s gonna love you once he gets to know you. I promise.” Naturally, I was scared to death to meet him after that introduction. Jeff had invited me to go with his family to see the Christmas lights at Cassidy Park in Bogalusa. We stopped off at his parent’s house to pick up his mom, Nanny. Paw Paw had just come back home, and I quickly introduced myself to him. I stuck out my right hand to shake his hand. He had a bucket of worms in one hand. He kind of mumbled a hello and turned away. He did not shake my hand. I must admit, I was terrified of that man. Thankfully, that changed very quickly. As we got to know one another, I grew to love Paw Paw. He slowly let down that tough outer shell, and we got to know each other quite well.

For the first few years of our marriage, Jeff worked overseas a month at a time. Paw Paw would stop by on Saturday mornings and check in on me and our place. I would fix him a cup of coffee, and he slowly began to talk to me. He told me many stories from his youth. We discussed politics in depth, the problems of the world, and we developed a mutual respect for one another. He is 82 years old now, and he can still out work most people half his age. He has been a wonderful father to my husband through the years, and he is now a great grandfather.

Jeff and I have been truly blessed with great dads, and we know it. One of us is the product of divorce and the other is not. Two different men, two different pasts, two different career paths, but very much similar in the ways that they chose to lead their families. The difference between our dads and some other dads is that these men had strong Christian upbringings, and both became Christians themselves. They take their job as daddy very seriously. They love their family, children and grandchildren with their whole hearts, and they lead by example teaching those coming up behind them how to live a good life. We are very fortunate indeed. I realize that some of you may not have had the same good fortune to have dads like our dads but take heart. You have a Father who is even greater than the wonderful dads that we have. Our Father in heaven loves us more than we can even comprehend, and He wants a relationship with us. He doesn’t just want a Sunday morning relationship. He wants us to know Him as Daddy, Abba, Father. He knows our innermost thoughts and needs, and He desires that we come to Him for everything: the good, the bad, and the ugly. He desires a close relationship with his children. Just imagine seeing your daddy once a week for an hour or two and then not talking to him or seeing him or thinking about him for another week at which time you decided to give him another hour or two of your time. What kind of relationship would that be? Definitely not a very good one. But that is the type of relationship so many professing to be Christians have with Christ. They have a Sunday morning service relationship and that is it. Can you really know Christ that way? The answer is no. However, when we talk to Christ in the morning when we arise, before meals, all throughout the day, and then again before we slumber each night, we develop a strong relationship with our Father. We begin to know Him and rely on Him and seek Him. Then we truly become His children. We cannot do it all on our own, but with Him, we can do all things!

“I can do all things through Christ strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13
“A father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him.” Psalm 103:13
“Start children off in the way they should go, and even when they are old, they will not turn from it. Psalm 22:6

“You are my hiding place, you will protect me from trouble, and surround me with songs of deliverance.” Psalm 32:78

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Give me a word, Lord: FEEDING TIME

I Peter 2:2 Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation.

Matthew 4:4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’

Jeremiah 15:16 When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight,
for I bear your name, Lord God Almighty.

Deuteronomy 6:6-7 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

We have had so many bottle baby critters through the years. We have bottle fed wild baby deer, skunks, possums, raccoons, squirrels, and flying squirrels. We have also bottle fed calves, goats, sheep, coatimundi, lemur, and a kangaroo. When we bottle feed the critters they become very social animals, and they love interacting with humans. This is one commonality between all the critter species!

When we first get the hungry babies, we know we have to feed them. They have to continue getting nourishing milk so that they can survive, stay healthy, and gain strength. However, they are just babies, and they don’t realize that this kinky headed woman with a plastic nipple is trying to feed and nourish them. I’ll admit, the first few days are usually a struggle. After they finally learn to latch on to the bottle, it seems that they can’t get enough milk. They start eating well, and their appetites are voracious.

As Christians, we need to crave the word of God like these babies crave milk. We need to eat the word of God like the prophet Jeremiah. We need the word for survival. The word of God provides healing, strength, wisdom, and life. Just as physical food nourishes our physical bodies, the word of God nourishes our spiritual body. We need it to survive and grow.
Now, sometimes we think that we don’t have time for studying God’s word. We go to church on Sunday so that’s probably giving us enough spiritual nutrition to keep us going, right? Wrong! We make time to eat 3 hot meals a day for our physical health, but we seem to think we can get by on 1 or 2 snacks a week for our spiritual health.

God wants us to be in His word daily, but He doesn’t expect you to read it all day and all night every day. However, He does expect you to make time for Him daily though. We make time to eat, right? No matter how busy we get, when our stomachs start growling, we put some food in our bellies. Our spiritual body and mind crave a continual feeding of the word, and we should study the word every day to satisfy that need as well.

God knows we’re busy. He knows everything that’s going on in our lives, but He wants us to know Him better, to have a closer walk with Him, to feel His presence all day every day. One way to do this is by setting aside a special time each day to read the Bible. We may not understand all the words. We don’t need to study a new language. We don’t have to be a Bible scholar. We only need to read, soak in the words, reflect on them, and listen to what God has to say.

It may be hard to get into the habit at first. Getting those bottle babies to take the bottle the first couple of days is always a challenge, but just like they learn to latch on and crave the bottle, once we get into the habit of studying the Bible, we will develop voracious appetites for God’s Word. Start out slow and go. Go feed on the Word!!

(The image attached is a picture of Bucky, an axis deer. He isn’t a bottle baby anymore, but anytime there is a bottle baby in the barn Bucky gets a sip of the bottle.)

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Give me a word, Lord: ONE TRUE GOD

I Kings 18:26-39 26 So they took the bull given them and prepared it. Then they called on the name of Baal from morning till noon. “Baal, answer us!” they shouted. But there was no response; no one answered. And they danced around the altar they had made. At noon Elijah began to taunt them. “Shout louder!” he said. “Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened.” So they shouted louder and slashed themselves with swords and spears, as was their custom, until their blood flowed. Midday passed, and they continued their frantic prophesying until the time for the evening sacrifice. But there was no response, no one answered, no one paid attention. Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come here to me.” They came to him, and he repaired the altar of the LORD, which had been torn down. Elijah took twelve stones, one for each of the tribes descended from Jacob, to whom the word of the LORD had come, saying, “Your name shall be Israel.” With the stones he built an altar in the name of the LORD, and he dug a trench around it large enough to hold two seahs of seed. He arranged the wood, cut the bull into pieces and laid it on the wood. Then he said to them, “Fill four large jars with water and pour it on the offering and on the wood.” “Do it again,” he said, and they did it again. “Do it a third time,” he ordered, and they did it the third time. The water ran down around the altar and even filled the trench. At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: “LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. Answer me, LORD, answer me, so these people will know that you, LORD, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.” Then the fire of the LORD fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench. When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, “The LORD—he is God! The LORD—he is God!”

I love the example that Elijah gave us in this scripture exhibiting the true power of God. When we read through the book of Kings we see king after king who “did evil in the sight of the Lord.” Ahab was no exception. In fact, the scripture says that King Ahab did more evil than any of the kings before him. He must have been a pretty rotten scoundrel. God caused a drought that had lasted 3 years. Ahab was seeking the prophet Elijah will ill intent. Elijah showed up, and called all of the people together for a test. He told Ahab we’ll set up alters and all 450 of your prophets can call on your god, and me, one lone prophet, will call on my God, and we will see who the true God is. So they set up their alters, and King Ahab’s men called on Baal, their god, from morning to evening. They did not get a response. I chuckle a little when I read Elijah’s taunting words. He told them that maybe their god was asleep. Maybe they needed to shout louder and wake him up, or perhaps he was busy, or traveling, or in deep thought. So they shouted louder. But still no answer.

Then Elijah got his turn. He prepared the alter, then he poured water all over the alter…lots of water…enough for it to puddle up under the alter. Then he quietly called out to God. God sent fire down from heaven with so much force and heat that it burned the entire altar, the stones, the dust, and even licked up all of the water! The people witnessed the power of the one true God once more, and they turned to Him. And after a 3 year drought, rain came. It’s almost like the rain came down to gently wash and clean up that terrible place.

The people of Israel saw God work first hand on many occasions, but they persistently turned to false gods. We aren’t the biblical time Israealites, but we are just as guilty. We see the power of God on a daily basis, but we worship earthly idols. Perhaps not with intention, as the Israealites did, but we are guilty nonetheless. We focus our minds and energy and waste soooooo much time on TV, computers, cell phones, whatever it may be. We worry about the dollar, our house, and our vehicles. We want this or that. We think if only I could get this _ (fill in the blank), we would be happy, when actually what we are truly craving and in need of is a personal relationship with our Lord and Savior! He is all powerful, all knowing, and ever present. He doesn’t sleep, vacation, get too busy for us, and we are always on His mind. He is all we really need. The one true God is still here. The same God Elijah called on is the same God I talk to every day. You don’t have to shout or scream to get His attention. You must simply call out His name! He is the one true God!

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Give me a word, Lord: PICTURE PERFECT

Psalm 34:1-4 I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips. I will glory in the Lord; let the afflicted hear and rejoice. Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together. I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.

Psalm 63:3-4 Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands.

I Thessalonians 5:16-18 Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Do you ever just want to turn everything off…the news, the TV, the radio? Ugghh! That old saying, “No news is good news” has a whole lot of weight to it recently! I’m so very tired of all of the bad news that I keep hearing. There is so much evil going on in this world right now that it’s hard to see the good. It makes me want to run away to a desert island somewhere and just get away from it all…but then there’s God. No matter what is going on in this crazy world, I know that God is right here with me, seeing me through every challenge, and guiding my way so there is no need to run away. I only need to run…to Him!

I think we all create a perfect picture in our minds of how our lives are supposed to look, and when things happen that change the look of our lives, we may briefly forget that God is still right there with us. We can’t lose hope though. We can praise God through the storm because we have faith that His plan is always so much better than our plan!

David is a great example. He was the golden child anointed to be the next king. In his youth, he slayed the giant Goliath. He led multiple successful military campaigns, and he even married the daughter of King Saul. He must have had a beautiful picture in his mind of how his life would be. He served the Lord faithfully except for that one little hiccup with Bathsheba. Yet even with the almost perfect life, David found himself running from Saul, who wanted to kill him, for about 10 years and later running from his own son. But what did David do? He praised God. He knew that God would see him through whatever sticky situation that came his way, so he simply praised God. Take some time to read through the Psalms. David journaled his life in song and poetry in the Psalms. He cried out to God in anguish, but He never stopped praising Him!

We have to realize that God’s destiny for our lives doesn’t change because of our circumstances. The picture perfect life we have in our mind’s eye doesn’t even come close to the perfect plan that God has in store for us.

Although our lives look nothing like we pictured them at the moment, we can still praise God and rejoice in Him and His promises. He has big plans in store for us, and I’m willing to bet that it’s a picture perfect plan!

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Give me a word, Lord: SAVED

John 3:16-17 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

Normally, my morning devotions are written as an encouragement to myself with hopes of encouraging others, but today’s word is a little different. I recognized a trait in myself a couple of years ago. I realized that I was a bit of a narrow minded christian. Yep, I admit it. My narrow mindedness revolved around the fact that I had been brought up in church my whole life, and I just assumed that everyone I knew had that same good fortune. I was wrong. When I began to ask people where they attended church, I was overwhelmed by the number of responses I received from people telling me that they didn’t really go to church. It blew me away and broke my heart. As christians, we walk around with the absolute best news in the world, and we forget to share it with others. In case by chance you are reading this and you don’t know Christ, please keep reading. This one is for you!

We Mississippi Baptist refer to accepting Christ as our Lord and Savior as getting “saved”. I can remember a few years ago when joyfully discussing a co-workers child getting saved when a Catholic co-worker asked what we meant by the term “getting saved”. Narrow minded me thought everyone knew what that meant. It became apparent to me that even from church to church our “christianese” is different. See how narrow minded I was? At any rate, I explained what getting saved means, and I would like to try to do that today. It’s important so please stick with me.

God created the heavens and the earth. If you read Genesis 1:26, you will see the plural pronoun “our” when God said let us make man in our image. This shows us the trinity of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit’s presence at the time of the creation of earth and everything on it. There was a plan for you and I from the very beginning. Flip over to Matthew, and you can read about the birth of the Messiah. God sent His Son, Jesus to earth to be born as man, fully God and fully man, for a purpose. The purpose was for you and I to have a personal relationship with the Father and enjoy eternity with Him in heaven. You see, Jesus was crucified on a cross. He was crucified for the sins of mankind. He was completely sinless and perfect in every way. He had never so much as told a little white lie. Yet, He suffered a horrible agonizing death on the cross so that our sins could be forgiven. Three days later, He arose from the dead. The grave could not contain Him. Death could not win. He ascended to heaven but promises to return, and between you and me, that time looks like it is drawing near! When He ascended, He left with us a comforter, the Holy Spirit, and when we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior, the Holy Spirit resides within us to comfort us, lead us in the right direction, let us know when we are doing wrong, and helps to keep us on the right path.

I know this may sound like some big crazy sci-fi story. Who in the world would die for sinners? Who would selflessly die for murderers, thieves, liars, and even for me? Who would suffer an agonizing painful death so that I may live eternally? His name is Jesus. He is God in the flesh, and He loves you so much that He did all of this just for you! Why would He do that? Because He loves you! When we die, our souls will have a final destination: heaven or hell. With Jesus, your final address will be heaven. Without Him, it will be hell.
How do you get Jesus? How do you get saved? It doesn’t cost even one red cent! All you have to do is admit you are a sinner. We all are sinners. Read Romans 3:23, Roman’s 6:23, and I John 1:9. Believe that He died on the cross for your sins and was resurrected from the dead. Read John 3:16. And finally confess and choose Christ. Confess and allow Jesus to be in charge of your life. Read Romans 10:9 and Romans 10:13.

People ask me all the time how I always keep a smile on my face or why I always seem happy even when things aren’tgoing well. Happiness comes and goes, but the joy of knowing Jesus as my personal Savior continues through all of the goodness and badness life throws at me because I know that He is mine and I am His! Read Roman’s 15:13. Why don’t you get to know Him today?

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Give me a word, Lord: FAMILY

Psalm 103:17 But from everlasting to everlasting the LORD’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children.

Hebrews 10:24-25 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another.

Ephesians 4:2-3 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

Proverbs 22:6 Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.


Family has always been of great importance to me. Our ways are probably considered old fashioned, but we still gather together as one big family for Sunday lunches after church. We have our grown kids over for supper at least once a week, and we sit down as a family for our evening meal every day. This gives us opportunities to love on our kids, hear what is going on in their lives, and share what is going on in ours. I value this time with family. It is more precious that diamonds!

God created humans with the family unit in mind. He designed it so that we would have parents and grandparents to impart their wisdom upon us, children for us to love and teach and guide, siblings to enjoy times of togetherness and joy, heartaches and heart breaks, and spouses to share in all of life’s ups and downs. He knew when He created us that family situations sometimes will get messy, and He provided a means for guidance and wisdom for any and every situation we may encounter. We have His Word to stand on and to guide us, the Holy Spirit within us, and God is ready to protect and bless our families through any and every situation we may encounter.

My greatest desire and constant prayer as a parent is for all of my children to follow Christ, to desire a closeness with Him, and follow the path that He designed specifically for them. I am so thankful for the many family blessings that God has bestowed on me. I am especially thankful for each and every member of my family. Family is so important to Christ, and I am so thankful for the family God gave me! Praying for your families today!

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Give me a word, Lord: DEVIL, GET OFF OF MY BACK!

2 Thessalonians 3:3 But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.

2 Corinthians 10:4-5 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

James 4:7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

Last month, I awoke with a little soreness in my lower back. Before it was all said and done, I had a back ache that lasted several weeks. I hadn’t done anything to cause the pain, but when you’re in your 50s, aches and pains just show up out of nowhere! I took a hot showers, and my sweet husband rubbed me down with Aspercreme with Lidocaine. I highly recommend this stuff. Keep it on hand. You won’t regret it! Today, the back pain is completely gone.

I started thinking about that back pain and that it felt like I was carrying a monkey on my back all day long. (Of course, I would relate it to an animal. Lol) But then, I started thinking about old Satan and how he sneaks in when we least expect it and jumps on our back. We then seem to try to carry the weight of the whole world around, and we slowly get bogged down and consumed by the weight of it all.

Everything around us seems to be going well, and then all of a sudden that old devil is riding on our back. He seeks to destroy everything good, and he always seems to show up when things are at their best. You want to know why? The devil can not stand to see us walking with Christ. He can’t stand to see us working for God, serving God, and doing well. If that old devil is trying to take a piggyback ride on your back, I can guarantee you that you are doing something right! If you aren’t living for Christ, he doesn’t give a two hoots about what you’re doing so he’ll leave you alone. But if you are feeling the attack, rest easy my friend, you are working for Christ, and Christ has already defeated that old devil! Scripture tells us that we will be persecuted if we are living a godly life. We can expect it, and knowledge is power.

When we know a storm is coming, we prepare. Well, my friend, spiritual warfare is here, and it’s time to prepare for battle! So how do I get the devil off my back? Aspercreme, as good as it is, will not help this problem. Nope! We have to bring in the big guns. The very first thing to do is pray. Call out to Christ. He has already defeated the devil, and He will deliver you from the evil one too. Get in the Word. Read all of the promises made to you by God, and trust in these. Lean on the promises of God. Memorize and quote that scripture. Use the sword of God to defend yourself. And while you are wielding that sword around, don’t forget to put on the full armor of God. He will protect His kids!

Just remember, it is not who you are that wins the battle, but “whose” you are! Keep fighting the evil one. God’s already decided who gets to win the battle!

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Give me a word, Lord: MOUNTAINS AND MAJESTY

Psalm 95:1-5 Come, let us sing to the Lord! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come to him with thanksgiving. Let us sing psalms of praise to him. For the Lord is a great God, a great King above all gods. He holds in his hands the depths of the earth and the mightiest mountains. The sea belongs to him, for he made it. His hands formed the dry land, too.

I’m sitting here in the Dallas Fortworth Airport trying to get home. Our layover flight has been delayed, and we likely won’t make it home until 3:00 am. I have found myself with a few hours of idle time, and I confess that I don’t idle well. I am trying to return home after eight days of vacation after all, so I’m kind of in a hurry to get back home to the family and the critters. However, there is nothing I can do but wait…and praise God…and tell you good folks about the wonderful vacation we are returning home from.

My husband, Jeff, planned this vacation, booked it, and handled all of the details. All I had to do was pack and go. I wasn’t sure what to expect, and I’ll admit that I was a bit leary, but as always everything turned out even better than expected. He booked an eight day vacation in the Grand Tetons in Wyoming. Oh, I’ve seen the Tetons first hand before and was very happy to return. The part I wasn’t sure about was the middle 4 days and 3 nights of the trip. Those days would be spent on a wagon train in the mountains, camping in cowboy tents….without the comforts of electricity….or running water. This country girl can adapt, but I must admit that I have a great fondness for electricity and hot showers!

Although I wasn’t sure what to expect, the moment that we landed at the Jackson Hole Airport, I knew that this would be a vacation of a lifetime. How? It was simple. I was greeted by the majesty of the Grand Tetons upon landing, and I saw, once again, with my very own eyes the absolute majesty of our Lord and Savior. The splendor and detail of His creation took my breath away. I just knew that everything would be alright.

We spent a couple of days in the town of Jackson Hole, WY, and on the third day, a bus picked us up and drove my husband and I and 34 other strangers up into the mountains to a very remote place. We were given a brief overview, served lunch, and then we either rode horseback or rode in covered wagons to our campsite. Once we arrived, we set up our tents and began to get busy getting to know the crew and the other campers. Each day, we rode horses, enjoyed visiting with new found friends, learned to throw knives and tomahawks and learned to rope a steer, and each night we slept under the stars. We also learned to share an outhouse with about 50 people. The cook served delicious hot meals three times a day cooked over an open fire and in Dutch ovens. After a good nights sleep each night, we awoke each morning to hot cowboy coffee and a hot breakfast. We would then break down our tents, pack up camp, and travel by horse or by wagon to the next camp.

My description probably doesn’t sound terribly exciting, but I must confess that this was truly one of my most memorable vacations ever. It was definitely different than any we have taken before, but it was not a bad kind of different. On the trail, we prayed openly before every meal inviting God into our camp and asking his blessings on our trip as well as praising Him for His goodness and glory. We went up on that mountain with 34 strangers and about 10 wranglers who were also strangers, but in four short days, we made friendships that will last a lifetime. We had no cell phones or internet distractions. There were no electronic devices. We had the mountain, the wagons, the horses, and the people. We communicated with one another. We shared our life stories, and we listened. We were taken back to a different time when people actually communicated with one another, worked together, prayed together, and laughed together. Most importantly, we saw and experienced the great majesty of our Lord. We were surrounded by unexplainable beauty.

Come, let us sing to the Lord! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come to him with thanksgiving. Let us sing psalms of praise to him. For the Lord is a great God, a great King above all gods. He holds in his hands the depths of the earth and the mightiest mountains. The sea belongs to him, for he made it. His hands formed the dry land, too. Sometimes, we need to slow down and get away from the chaos of everyday life so that we can remind ourselves of the greatness of our God. We tend to get so overwhelmed with all of the white noise that roars in our ears daily, and it becomes difficult to recognize God’s majesty. You don’t have to go up on a mountain, my friend, but I do pray that you take some time to look for God in all things each day. He is in the glorious morning sunrises and the late evening sunsets. He is in the laughter of a baby, the colorful fluttering wings of a butterfly, and in all of the vibrant flowers we see each day. For it is our great God that created all of these things. His majesty is on the mountains for sure, but it can also be found in the valleys. You don’t have to take a vacation to find Him. He is right here, right now, waiting for you to enjoy His presence. Let us sing praises and shout joyfully to the Lord of our salvation.

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Give me a word, Lord: COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS

Numbers 6:24-26 The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

Psalm 34:8 Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!

Count your blessings is an old hymn that many of you probably sang in church through the years. I woke up singing this song in my head this morning. The chorus says, “Count your blessings; Name them one by one. Count your blessings; See what God hath done. Count your blessings; Name them one by one. Count your many blessings; See what God hath done.”

This song was written by Johnson Oakman, Jr. in 1897. Johnson was born April 21, 1856 to a merchant in Lumberton, NJ. His dad was proclaimed to have the finest singing voice in town. Johnson unfortunately did not inherit his father’s beautiful voice. I feel his pain. My dad sings making a joyful noise, but I can only make a happy racket.

Johnson wanted to take part in the ministry, and after working for the family business a while, he studied ministry and ministered at the Methodist Episcopal Church. At age 36, he discovered his musical talent that he had been searching for. His talent for song writing became apparent, and he penned 200 songs per year, and eventually over 5000 songs flowed from his pen. You will recognize “No, Not One” and “Higher Ground”.
From what I see researching Johnson, he was a man with a strong desire to lead others to Christ, and he had a strong desire to sing praise to our Father. However, he lacked the physical talent of a voice for singing. That did not stop him. He knew that God gave him a talent and an ability to serve, and he found that he was able to preach the gospel through songs that he wrote. What a legacy of beautiful praise hymns he left for us to enjoy over a hundred years later!
This morning as that song resounded in my head, I couldn’t help but count my blessings as I said my morning prayers. Sometimes we get caught up in all the bad things going on or even dwell on the bad things that we’ve been through. We start a poor pitiful me campaign in our head, and then all we can see is the trouble we’ve endured. BUT if instead of dwelling on the bad, we remember the good we start recognizing blessing upon blessing that our loving Father has bestowed upon us. Even in our darkest hour, He is there, holding our hand, blessing us through our struggles.
The last verse of this song is my favorite: “So amid the conflict, whether great or small,
Do not be discouraged; God is over all. Count your many blessings; angels will attend, Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.” Today, spend some time counting your blessings and thanking God! I can’t sing, I’m not a song writer, but glory be to God that I can praise Him for all of the blessings He has given me!

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Give me a word, Lord: UNITY

Colossians 3:11-17 Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all. Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Unity is the state of be joined as a whole. It is being a team and working together for a common cause. I see examples of unity on a daily basis at work. Our crew is a team of finely skilled professionals who come together to address the needs of any patient who walks through the door. For the receptionist, the manager, the nurse, and the provider, the patient is our priority. Our goal is to deliver high quality care whether it be for a splinter removal or a chainsaw laceration! The way that we achieve high quality care is through continued education opportunities, daily refreshing of our skills and knowledge, and knowing the strengths and weaknesses of our team as well as knowing the individual team member on a personal level. We aren’t just a bunch of co-workers. We are family, and we work together like a well oiled machine.

Now you know I don’t like to stand on a political soapbox, and I promise that I’m not going to do that today, but I just have to say that I have never in all my days seen this wonderful country that we live in be so un-united. As a nation, we are so divided, and it isn’t just due to one agenda. You can pick your own corner, but just be ready to come out fighting because someone is going to have a very strongly opposing view, and they are going to be ready to fight you for their viewpoint.

Wait a minute! Before you put on your boxing gloves, hear me out. I’m not trying to start a fight. I just want to end the fighting.
So what we do? Where do we go from here? Paul tells us the answer in Colossians 3. We are all very different people created uniquely by the divine Creator of the universe. As such, we are all going to believe differently, act differently, and yes, sometimes have very strong, deep opinions that are different from others. But if we have Christ within us, we are all unified in that one unique quality. We are God’s chosen. We are His children. As a child of God, we must clothe ourselves as His children. We have to learn to show compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. We have to learn to forgive as Christ forgives us. But most of all, we have to learn to love. These are the virtues that bring us to unity. I know that some of these virtues, maybe even most of these, don’t come easily or naturally to some of us. But I also know that as our love grows deeper for and in Christ, these virtues become our second nature.

I say all of that to say this; we need unity in our nation, our homes, our churches, and our families now more than ever. We need peace. The only way that we will achieve that is by practicing these virtues outlined by Paul. We have to become more like Christ, and more importantly, we have to share the love of Christ and the good news of salvation with this broken, hurting world. It’s not an option, Peeps. It’s our calling. When I see the mess that this country is in, I think, “there’s not much little old me can do to fix it.” And as an individual, I probably can’t, but when we join together, united as a body of believers in Christ, we can make mountains move! Let’s start trying hard to live in unity!

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Give me a word, Lord: EMPATHY

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

Hebrews 10:24-25 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

Galatians 6:2-3 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves.

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. This involves not just actively listening to what someone says, but truly hearing what they are saying. That sounds silly, but it’s so important. How often do we listen, but not really hear? How often do we just nod and say uh-huh, but then minutes later we don’t even remember what the person was saying?

To be empathetic, we must train ourselves to be active listeners. I remember back in my early years of school while training to be a family nurse practitioner, I wrote down every thing I heard. In class, I wrote down everything the instructors said. Oh yes, I had some awesome notes. When I began seeing patients in clinicals, I wrote down everything the patient said while interviewing them. I was afraid I would forget something important. A very wise physician who was precepting me said, “stop writing down everything. Just listen and remember what they say.” That was probably some of the best advice I received while in school. I then had to retrain myself to listen and remember. I had to pay attention to not just what the patient was saying, but how they were saying it. Instead of writing notes, I was looking eye to eye with the patient. They had my full attention. I learned to not just hear what the patient said, but rather to feel what they were saying.

A whole lot of people are hurting right now for a countless number of reasons. As christians, we are to show compassion for others and comfort those going through troubled waters. Giving advice isn’t always the answer. When feeling troubled, people aren’t always looking to others for answers. Sometimes they just need to know that they are being heard and know that someone cares. Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care.”
Today I challenge you to be empathetic. Look, listen, and hear what those around you are saying. We are all carrying a few burdens of our own, but how nice would it be to lighten someone else’s burdens today. Don’t try to solve the problems of the world. (I’m so guilty of this one.) Rather be a comforter. Show compassion. Love as Christ loves. Be empathetic! Point others to Christ by showing His love and compassion to this hurting world!

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Give me a word, Lord: ANCHOR

Hebrews 6:19-20 We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.

Storms in life will come and go. Weather in the deep south is predictably unpredictable. The kick off of summer also brings the kick off of hurricane season. When there is a tropical storm in the gulf, we begin to make preparations. We spend a little time picking up and preparing for the winds and the rains. We clear the back deck, put away the umbrellas, turned tables upside down, stored chairs away, all in preparation for possible strong winds. All small crafts on the coast of Louisiana and Mississippi will be ordered in. Even the strongest anchor wouldn’t be able to withstand hurricane force winds and waves. Oh but we have an even stronger anchor: an anchor of hope in Christ!

I’ve read this scripture from Hebrews 6 before. I’ve even quoted it, but I didn’t really understand all of it. I understand the part about Christ being the hope that is an anchor for the soul. It is truly my hope in Christ that anchors me firmly in my faith. But what about the rest of the verse? “It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.” During biblical times, the Hebrews gathered around and within the tabernacle to worship. There were curtains or large veils within the tabernacle. Behind the innermost curtain was the holiest room on earth. This is the place that held the sacred ark of the covenant and the brilliant light of God, the shekinah, shone down. This was the God room. Once a year, the high priest would enter the God room with a pan of blood and pour it over the mercy seat. God witnessed the priest offering the sacrifice in the correct manner. This pleased God, and He graciously forgave the Hebrew people of their sins.

We don’t have to continue in this ritual any longer though because God sent a Savior. Jesus walked through life, took on life’s sufferings, and has gone before us. And now He pulls us towards Him. He invites His followers inside the curtain where we find hope in Him, relief from worries, doubts, and fears. Christ is a constant priest, not a once a year high priest. He is sitting on the throne next to God in the God room. He represents our needs to Him. There is nothing that we endure that is too great for Him to handle. Don’t forget where your hope is fastened. Jesus is the anchor. Rest in peace in Christ! If you aren’t feeling that hope in Christ, check your ties. The anchor has to be tied to the boat to work!

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Give me a word, Lord: JOYFUL HEART

Psalm 17:22 A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.

Psalm 47:1 Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy.

John 15:11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.

Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

A joyful heart is good medicine. Take if from me. I’m a family nurse practitioner! LOL. But seriously though, it really is. No matter what is going on around me, no matter how bad things appear, there is still joy that only comes from Christ in my heart. It is that joy that I cling to daily.

I’ll admit that there are days that I don’t wake up all grins and giggles. Some mornings, I need an extra strong cup of coffee to get me started, but then the joy of Jesus gets me going!
How does one get joy? How does one keep joy? Well, the answer is simple. Joy is found in the presence of Jesus. No matter what is going on, no matter how hard things get, no matter how big and bad the events of the world are, we can still find joy when we are in Christ.
I’ve been asked many times through the years why I am always smiling or how do I keep a positive attitude when things look grim. I love the line from the movie “Elf”, “I just like smiling. Smiling’s my favorite.” I love to smile, and I know that it is because I have Jesus in my heart. I have complete faith in Christ, and I know that no matter what is going on, I’m His and He is mine.

Peeps, life is hard, and it seems to be getting harder with each passing minute. Happiness fades in the midst of the troubles we encounter, but joy remains. If we remain in Christ, He remains in us. His joy also remains in us.

Don’t let the trials of the day get you down. Start each day with a cup of coffee and quiet time with Jesus. By growing closer to Christ each day, the joy within us grows and suddenly no matter the circumstances, we find that we have joy overflowing. Joy flows out through our words, our actions, and our love for others. Then, others will see that joy is overflowing from you, and they’ll want some of that joy too. They’ll even ask you where your joy comes from, and then you can tell them: Jesus. There is joy to be found in Jesus! Keep going to the throne of Christ. Keep studying His Word. Keep speaking to Him. Let the joy of Jesus overflow from you!

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Give me a word, Lord: LOVING OTHERS

John 13:34-35 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Romans 12:9-20 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

If you turn on the news or even take a look at social media, you will see an occasional act of love and kindness, but more often than not you will see a lot of hate, people who are angry and acting out on that anger, people who are spewing words of hate rather than showing acts of love, and people just being plain old ugly. If we aren’t careful, we will get all caught up in that anger and hate, and before we know it, we are leading an army of angry people who seem to support our cause. Whoa there Peeps! We have to stop this! We have to stop right now! Why? Because when we react to situations with anger and hate we are not loving like Christ loves, and those who are not Christians are watching and seeing the example we are setting.

Wait a minute. Isn’t there a scripture about Jesus getting angry and turning over tables? (Matthew 21:12-13) It’s okay to get angry sometimes right? Yes, but in this scripture, Jesus was pointing to Himself and His coming death and resurrection. When we get angry, we must be careful that in our anger we aren’t pointing people away from Christ.

I’m not going to sit here and tell you that I have never been angry. Oh, have I been angry! Have I said things I later regretted? Yep, more times than I want to admit! I’m human. I mess up. I’m still a work in progress. The thing is though that as a follower of Christ, when I do these things, the Holy Spirit gently nudges me and let’s me know that once again I messed up. I realize that I messed up, and then I realize that I need to get things right. I need to apologize to the person or people who I’ve offended and show love. I ask for forgiveness.

One of my biggest fears is that my stupid, selfish actions would lead someone away from Christ. People are watching our behavior. They watch to see how we are going to handle bad situations. They watch to see how we react. As christians, we are expected to behave at a higher standard. We are expected to show the love of Christ no matter what we are going through. Why? Because Christ loved us enough to die on the cross for our sins and rise again so that we may have everlasting life. That is true love my friends.

So even though it’s hard, we have to daily strive to love like Jesus loves. Feed the hungry. Peeps, we always have food at our house! When someone is sad, cry with them. When someone rejoices, rejoice with them. We have to learn to live in harmony with one another. If you mess up, and you will, make it right. Make amends.

If I speak out in a way that seems very unChristlike or unloving, people are quick to associate my statements to my relationship with Christ, and they may even further associate the things I said to my family or my church family, and maybe, just maybe, I just steered someone away from Christ or visiting church because of my big mouth. Doing this would devastate me. I know I’m not perfect. I’m just a sinner saved by grace. If I have spoken in offense, I beg forgiveness.

I want to love like Jesus loves. I love you Peeps! If I have offended in the past, please know that I am sorry. As Christians, we are like toddlers learning to walk. With each passing day, we get better at walking with Christ. We learn from our mistakes and our love grows stronger for Christ and others. He said love others like we love Him. He didn’t say just love the ones that love you. He didn’t say just love the ones that act like you. He said love ’em all! We have to love everybody. Do it!

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Give me a word, Lord: NOTHING IS TOO HARD FOR GOD

Genesis 18:14 Is anything too hard for the LORD?

Matthew 17:20 He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

Jeremiah 32:17 Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.

Have you ever had a really bad day? I’m sure if you are being truthful the answer is yes. We all have had bad days. Look around the world right now, and we see bad days repeating themselves and only seeming to become worse days! It looks like some crazy apocalyptic mini series playing out before our very eyes. The year of 2020 has proven to be a very bad year. We have had the first pandemic in over 100 years, there was then a rumor of murder hornets taking us over, murders and protests occurred, concerns of election fraud are still floating around, and a crisis at the border is ongoing! Jobs have been lost. Businesses have closed. It has been a messy year for sure, y’all, and we have had some very bad, terrible,, awful days this past year.

Bad days can get worse in our minds when we start dwelling on the problem and when we take our eyes off of the problem solver. We can easily get so caught up in the anguish of the terrible moment and the horrible things that are happening around us. Then we begin to worry and fret, and we do the worse thing possible: instead of turning to the Word of God, we turn on the news, we listen as some reporter gives us which is many times false or twisted information, and this just sends us into panic mode.

When we panic, we are focusing on the world, the problem, and on self. Oh but God! God is all powerful, and there is not a problem going on that He doesn’t know about. There is not a problem going on that He isn’t currently behind the scenes working on. He is working all things out for our good and His glory. We only have to have faith and knowledge that He will. But what if our faith isn’t strong enough? What if we feel too weak? Have no fear! God is here!

God’s power is exponential. The power of God isn’t relative to the amount faith we have. (Praise the Lord!) It is exponential in nature. God’s power is not dependent on the amount of faith or the level of faith that we have but rather on the amount of goodness and grace that God has. On those really horrible, tough, hard days we only have to remember that God is all powerful. There is nothing that He can not do. Trust that He will work it all out in His timing. He has a plan. Just trust Him to work it all out for your good and His glory!