Unbroken 

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.” Corinthians 9:24

Today we began a series entitled “At the Movies.” Our pastor takes a popular movie, shortens it to fulfill  the purpose of his message, and inserts himself in the film and provides biblical commentary.

The film today was Unbroken, which is about the life of Louis Zamperini. It recounts his amazing odyssey of triumph that he contributes to the unfailing grace of God.

His life was such a powerful testimony! We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us and Louis proved just that! His brother Pete gave him a mantra-“If you can take it, you can make it.” This gave Louis strength for the journey  during his 97 years on earth.

I was moved to tears during the showing and sat on the edge of my seat. It was hard to watch the evil he endured.

I could relate to so much of his life-the low self esteem, facing trial after trial that would break most, and the strong will to make it despite the odds.

Pastor Dave reminded us that the devil has no real power over us and he can only trick us into destroying ourselves. He plays a lot of mind games and excels at convincing us that we  are worthless. In the case of Louis, the devil used the Bird to try to break his spirit. It was obvious that the Bird saw greatness in him, too and hated him for it.

Pastor Dave also talked about how living out of season can hamper us. Louis defined himself as an Olympic runner and was almost destroyed when he lost a race as a prisoner. His focus should have been on survival instead of his past glory. We must stay in the present in order to appreciate the blessings that we do have.

It is true that God prepares us in advance to fight future battles. Louis was “trained” as a youth with the many gladiator type battles he faced as an Italian immigrant in his neighborhood and his Olympic training as a runner.

The most astonishing part of his story was the ability to forgive his captors-the very men who tormented him as a POW. He actually met with them all except for the Bird who refused. Again, another solid example of how we can do anything as long as we rely on the strength of the Lord.

Louis spent 47 days at sea after their military plane crashed. He vowed to God that he would dedicate his life to him if he would only let him live. God granted his request and Louis eventually kept his promise.

I have been down-but never out, bent-but not broken, and I’ve been through many fires-but I never smell like smoke-Hallelujah!!!!

I want to encourage anyone reading these words today to keep running the race! Our sufferings are never in vain and all things can be used for good by God. He hears every prayer we utter and stores them in His golden goblet in heaven. Never grow weary of fighting the good fight of faith my friend!

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Refuge 

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”—Psalm 46:1

In July I had the pleasure of spending a week in beautiful San Juan, Puerto Rico-in the Condado Beach area to be exact. One morning I decided to take an Uber and go to old San Juan. I heard it was a sight to see and indeed it was. I fell in love with the colorful buildings and the blue-yes blue, cobblestone streets. 



I wanted to take a picture or two of myself but it was hard to get a good shot solo. I saw a group of ladies on a corner and approached one of them to take my picture. She happily agreed and they all participated and turned it into a photoshoot.  


Afterwards I asked where I could go for breakfast which is where they were heading and they invited me to tag along. The ladies ranged in ages 61-68 and had been friends since they were small children. Maria and Frances still lived on the island. Nell lived in New Zealand and was there to visit friends and her ailing parents. Mary lived in San Antonio and was there for the same reasons as Nina. 


I spent about five hours with “the girls” who treated me to breakfast and taught me a lot about Puerto Rican history and culture as they graciuosly took me on a walking tour. They dropped me back off at my hotel and I left them transformed by their kindness to a stranger. I hoped that we would stay in touch.


Sometimes our lives intersect with strangers and we are richer for it. In light of the hurricanes that hit both Puerto Rico and Texas, I have not stopped thinking about my new friends. I have been trying to get in contact with them to no avail. I pray that they are okay. Through my church we have sent more than $100, 000 in funds to Texas, Florida, the Caribbean, and Puerto Rico. But I wish I could do so much more. I have agonized over this and today God told me to write this post and pray. 


So I ask you all to please help me stand in the gap for “the ladies” as well as the thousands of others suffering due to the storm. Let’s gather in His name on their behalf. Let us pray that they remain hopeful and faithful in their time of trouble. Let their needs be met and take comfort because Help is on the way!  The Bible says that the prayer of the righteous availeth much! 

Sunday Sermon

“There will be a shelter to give shade from the heat by day, and refuge and protection from the storm and the rain.” Isaiah 4:6

Today’s sermon was right on time. I have been struggling with maintaining my faith and hope in a few things I am dealing with. Not to mention, there have been a lot of storms weather wise. Puerto Rico, Florida, Texas, and many Caribbean nations have been besieged. Storms, physical and metaphorical, are inevitable. 


As a result we do not know what storms or the magnitude of them that we will face however, be warned that they will come in a myriad of forms. Belief in God’s word can help fortify us against the attacks. 

As my pastor pointed out, storms can help teach us what is important in life. I want to encourage anyone currently facing stormy weather to hold on to your faith. Storms can cause depression. Depression is the result of spiritual dryness. When you don’t read the Bible, attend church, or commune with God, your spirit becomes barren. Hope cannot take root in dry places. Nothing can grow without the Living Water. 

In closing, He gave us five principles to apply during trials: 

1. Laugh in your circumstances-this reminds me of the Proverbs 31 woman who laughed without fear of the future. She was wise knowing that no matter what her future held, God would use it for good. 

2. Decide what is true-remember, the Father of Lies loves to confuse the mind and paint everything black so that life feels hopeless. 

3. Discipline your body-Take care of yourself while enduring the storm. Otherwise you are even more vulnerable in a weakened state. We need all of our energy to fight the good fight of faith. 

4. Fight for your life-you have to do your part alongside God. The Bible says faith without works is dead-so work your faith!

5. Preach your message-this resonated deeply within my core. God allows some storms to pass through our lives to shelter others. This realization is powerful. Your “mess” can be a message for someone else. 

Confirmation 

“…You, who have shown me great and severe troubles, Shall revive me again, And bring me up again from the depths of the earth.  You shall increase my greatness, And comfort me on every side. ” ~Psalm 71:20-21 

Tonight I was reading the Bible and came across this gem of a scripture. This is spiritually right on time for as I was in dire need of a word.  

This gives me strength to continue. I know that God is well aware of all that ails me. 

Verses 14-17 of the same Psalm tells me just what I need to do: “But I will hope continually, And will praise You yet more and more. My mouth shall tell of Your righteousness And Your salvation all the day, For I do not know their limits. I will go in the strength of the Lord GOD; I will make mention of Your righteousness, of Yours only.” 

Strange Days

“Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy” ~1 Peter 4:12-13

It’s been a long while since I posted. I have gone through various things that have left me depleted, but yet not defeated-so I’m back counting it all joy. 

I have so much on my mind, plate, and heart. I’m worried about being able to pay my son’s college tuition, dealing with the sometimes debilitating effects of fibromyalgia, the demanding pressures of teaching at an urban high school that will be closing soon, BILLS, BILLS, BILLS-paying student loans and hospital bills from a life threatening illness I endured two years ago, balancing work and life, family problems, the various natural disasters and people suffering as a result, has had my heart heavy-you name the problem and rest assured I’ve been laden down with it. 

What’s a girl to do other than to put on the garment of praise for a spirit of heaviness? I know that there is glory on the other side. I know that there is a place of peace in which I will have a moment to catch my breath from the attacks hammering my daily existence. I simply have to press onward because I know despite what I face, God is good all the time AND all the time, God is good!!!

Gratitude is an Attitude 

“The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!”

~Ephesians 5:20

I need to cherish every blessing I have. Here are a few things I’m grateful for today: 

1. Heat-it’s winter in Indiana and baby, it’s cold outside! 

2. The fact that my oldest son is able to attend college. 

3. I have a lot of laundry to do today. But I’m okay with that. I get to do it in the comfort of my own home, I have plenty of cleaning supplies to get the job done, and the fact that I have clothes to wash says a lot. 

Smile

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12

I almost let the devil win. I have been spiritually, mentally and physically bogged down by a trial that I am going through and that it is showing on my face. 

I’ve lost my smile. I felt like if I smiled that I was content with the situation. 

But this morning I practiced smiling. It felt strange at first and then it felt so good! Hallelujah! Trouble doesn’t last always so I’m counting it all joy. 

I Called…

“And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.” ~1 John 5:15

…and God answered. Today I feel so triumphant. This morning on the drive to work I prayed specifically that God would use me to help someone. 
 After making some copies during my prep period, I was headed to my room when a student called out to me. I didn’t hesitate when she beckoned me over, but I wasn’t sure she meant me. I did not know the girl. Iheaded her direction and saw that she had a friend with her who was crying. She explained her friend’s dilemma so I invited them to my room. 

I won’t go into detail, but let’s just saw I received the opportunity to serve as well as glorify God. 

Hallelujah! 

I don’t know why I am so in awe that God knows what is going on with me, cares and hears. But I tell you, I was almost in tears. My road has been a tough one. 

As if to confirm that He is indeed listening to me, I received this email today: 


I requested to be prayed for a few months ago. How timely this was for me. I was beyond overjoyed! And thankful that He hears! 

Shut Your Mouth 

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue. And those who love it will eat its fruit.”  ~Proverbs 18:21

When things are not going well in my life, out of fear, I have the tendency to complain, gossip and resort to a negative mindset. It’s like I already know the terrible outcome based upon “evidence”- the very antithesis of faith. 

 It took me a while to realize that this behavior is merely a display of faithlessness. It shows that I don’t believe in the omnipotence of God. If I did, I would “be still.” I quickly forget that His promise is that ALL things will work for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. I surely love Him and believe that I have been called by Him. So what’s my problem?!

I’ve concluded that sometimes we just need to shut our mouths. The Lord has everything under control. He has already told us that the battle belongs to Him. All we have to do is hold our peace in the midst of it. 

And when we don’t shut our mouths, He will shut it for us. The angel Gabriel tells Zachariah the priest he’s going to have a son. But the priest needs proof.  

“How can I be certain? My wife and I are well passed childbearing years.”  
The angel responds “Your mouth will be shut because you did not believe the good news.” Luke 1:5-23

This week I plan to be quiet. I want to hear every message that God has for me. I AM going to trust Him to guide me through the challenging situation I am currently navigating. I need His guidance and I can’t afford to let my mouth get me in trouble. It can’t be done without HIM. I’m leaning on Him for what He promised. 

My lips are sealed! 

Bible Art

I’m loving my journaling Bible. Though I’m not an artist, I am enjoying being creative. You can pretty much do anything within the space provided. 
Today I took notes. 

I have also written key points of rembrance from the scripture. 

And important words. I’m really trying to imprint His Word in my brain.