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!!

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!

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!

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!!

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!

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!

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!

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!!

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!

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!