Sunshinelittleone's Blog

All about my love for the Lord

The Wildflower…

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Living in this world but not being of it. WOW! That’s a tall order.

I am learning as I walk in Christ’s amazing grace that I am to walk in His abundance and not the abundance of this world. I am learning that by choosing to live fully in Him, I am walking securely on paths of righteousness. Not my own self-righteousness, but His righteousness. That still small voice that urges me to dig deep into His heart and to live for Him and His ways. To deny self and live abundantly in His truth. To live ‘not of this world’.

I am reading this amazing little book. It’s a classic. I don’t know why it has taken me so long to discover, but it has come at just the right time. I am not even a third of the way into the book, and yet the gems I am unearthing in the text are transforming me and encouraging me and helping me to wage a battle against self and clothe myself in the Armor of the Lord. The story is of Much-Afraid and her journey to High Places. She is being led by The Shepherd, who promises to never leave or forsake her. Sound familiar?

I was taken breathless by her questions about the wild flowers that grow for no one to enjoy. I have often wondered the same. Why does beauty occur where no one can appreciate it? I wonder, did the Lord create hidden beauty to balance out the sin and pain he bears witness to each moment?

So, in being taken breathless by her wondering about wildflowers, I am rendered speechless by The Shepherd’s response…

“I must tell you a great truth, Much-Afraid, which only the few understand. All the fairest beauties in the human soul, its greatest victories, and its most splendid achievements are always those which no one else knows anything about, or can only dimly guess at. Every inner response of the human heart to Love and every conquest over self-love is a new flower on the tree of Love.
“Many a quiet, ordinary, and hidden life, unknown to the world, is a veritable garden in which Love’s flowers and fruits have come to such perfection that it is a place of delight where the King of Love himself walks and rejoices with his friends. Some of my servants have indeed won great visible victories and are rightly loved and reverenced by other men, but always their greatest victories are like the wild flowers, those which no one knows about
. Learn this lesson now, down here in the valley, Much-Afraid, and when you get to the steep places of the mountains it will comfort you.”

Hinds Feet on High Places

 

We all wage battles of self. Our victory is in Christ and following His will for our lives. They are silent victories to be shared between you and the Lord. The battles and the victories draw us closer to His heart. He delights in our obedience. He will fill us with His strength and endurance.  He helps us to live not of this world, but of His kingdom.

Be drawn in by The Shepherd, Jesus Christ, who is our greatest champion and our ultimate comforter. He created us for LOVE. We are the flowers of His garden. Bloom in the goodness of the Lord, beloved.

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I am not her…Yet…

A Virtuous Woman

A Virtuous Woman (Photo credit: Becky F)

I am intrigued by the Proverbs 31 woman. There has been a great deal of discussion recently about this extraordinary woman of God. She has qualities that all women should aspire to achieve. Her character is exemplary. She is willing to rise early to care for her family. Her children and husband call her blessed. She is wise and faithful in what she says. She is not idle, but rather, she works diligently and earnestly. She is of great value in the eyes of all who love her. She smiles at her future…

A question, of late, has been raised…”Why is she smiling at her future?” “What makes her smile at her future?” I can’t get this out of my mind.

This woman is seemingly full of grace. She loves well and works hard. We all know her.

I long to be her. I long to be considered a Proverbs 31 woman. But, it’s a tall order, and for every amazing act she does in the name of the Lord, I am probably undoing equal amounts. There are most likely days when the Lord shakes His head in astonishment at my actions and thoughts. He has placed her on my heart this week…perhaps in an effort to refine me and create in me a spirit of diligence and obedience.

It’s funny, no matter how hard we work to be Godly and upright and take special measures to be ‘good’…we ALL fall short of the grace of God. And, while I am not entirely “ok” with that, I am grateful for His Amazing Grace. His deep LOVE for me…for you. I am awed by His SACRIFICE of His one and Only; the One who took my sin to the cross and washed it clean in the blood of the Lamb. I am grateful.

So, I wake up to a new day. I will keep my eyes on God and (try with all my might) to walk humbly in His will for my life. I will look to the Proverbs 31 woman, not as a perfect woman, but rather as an example of a woman who gives her very best in living for and glorifying the Lord. I will humbly repent when I am not in line with the Lord’s will. I will rejoice when I am obedient, because it is His self-control and discipline that creates in me a desire to stay on the narrow path to His heart.

Beloved, we are in this together. We are, as I wrote recently, here to love and learn. We must love Jesus well; love others as we love ourselves. We must ask forgiveness and be forgiving…of others and ourselves. We must rejoice in the divine presence of our Savior who lights upon our hearts and makes our conscience tender and repentive.

Don’t wallow in the misgivings of your day. It’s not great when we are sharp tongued or hassled by the demands of our lives, but it is great that we serve a Lord who is quick to forgive and set in us a desire to do better.

In my interpretation, this wonderful woman of Proverbs 31 is not a new bride. She is a mature woman who has lived a long and refining life. She has suffered and rejoiced many a day. She has been through a multitude of obstacle and challenge. She smiles, why? Because through it all she is loved and loves the Lord. She knows that her reward is not on earth, but rather on the eternal riches of Heaven. Amen.

Proverbs 31:10-31

Amplified Bible “A capable, intelligent, and [a]virtuous woman—who is he who can find her? She is far more precious than jewels and her value is far above rubies or pearls. The heart of her husband trusts in her confidently and relies on and believes in her securely, so that he has no lack of [honest] gain or need of [dishonest] spoil.  She comforts, encourages, and does him only good as long as there is life within her. She seeks out wool and flax and works with willing hands [to develop it]. She is like the merchant ships loaded with foodstuffs; she brings her household’s food from a far [country].  She rises while it is yet night and gets [spiritual] food for her household and assigns her maids their tasks. She considers a [new] field before she buys or accepts it [expanding prudently and not courting neglect of her present duties by assuming other duties]; with her savings [of time and strength] she plants fruitful vines in her vineyard. She girds herself with strength [spiritual, mental, and physical fitness for her God-given task] and makes her arms strong and firm. She tastes and sees that her gain from work [with and for God] is good; her lamp goes not out, but it burns on continually through the night [of trouble, privation, or sorrow, warning away fear, doubt, and distrust]. She lays her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff. She opens her hand to the poor, yes, she reaches out her filled hands to the needy [whether in body, mind, or spirit]. She fears not the snow for her family, for all her household are doubly clothed in scarlet. She makes for herself coverlets, cushions, and rugs of tapestry. Her clothing is of linen, pure and fine, and of purple [such as that of which the clothing of the priests and the hallowed cloths of the temple were made]. Her husband is known in the [city’s] gates, when he sits among the elders of the land. She makes fine linen garments and leads others to buy them; she delivers to the merchants girdles [or sashes that free one up for service]. Strength and dignity are her clothing and her position is strong and secure; she rejoices over the future [the latter day or time to come, knowing that she and her family are in readiness for it]! She opens her mouth in skillful and godly Wisdom, and on her tongue is the law of kindness [giving counsel and instruction]. She looks well to how things go in her household, and the bread of idleness (gossip, discontent, and self-pity) she will not eat. Her children rise up and call her blessed (happy, fortunate, and to be envied); and her husband boasts of and praises her, [saying], [b]Many daughters have done virtuously, nobly, and well [with the strength of character that is steadfast in goodness], but you excel them all. Charm and grace are deceptive, and beauty is vain [because it is not lasting], but a woman who reverently and worshipfully fears the Lord, she shall be praised! Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her own works praise her in the gates [of the city]!

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Love and learn…

Love Story

Love Story (Photo credit: JeremyHall)

I saw a sweet, kindred spirit yesterday. She and I have not known each other long, or really all that well, but our hearts are knitted together in a deep love and faith in the Lord. We long to be in the arms of Jesus, we know that He holds us tight and secure.

My friend and I were talking about our fallen, human-condition. She encouraged me and told me that I am blessing. I have a light about me. I appreciated her compliment and can attribute it to only one thing…Jesus. He fills me each day with His amazing grace. He sets me on the Rock that is His Word. To all of my sweet friend’s compliments I replied, “Oh, I am broken.” Aren’t we all? Truly, until we are in the Throne of God in His heavenly kingdom, we will remain broken. But, not unfixable.

My friend shared with me that we are here on earth for two purposes…to love and learn. I agree.

I try with all my might to love well. Even the unlovable. Because that’s what Jesus did. He loved. He may not have always liked or approved of what those He loved were doing, but He loved. I want to be like that. I pray that each day He fills me with the Fruit of His Spirit. Love, being the bowl, cradles all of the other Fruit so tenderly.  When I love I am filled with peace and patience. When I love, I am joyful and kind. I am able to speak gentle words and set my sights on the goodness of the Lord. In loving, my faith increases and I feel the presence of our Lord settling deep into my heart. Most of all, love helps me to be self-controlled. It helps me to resist temptation. When I feel tempted to be unkind or filled with strife, love bubbles out and extinguishes my desires to be anything but a servant of the Lord’s peace.

I am learning. Each day is filled with immeasurable opportunities to learn. We are created to glean wisdom and knowledge. We are created to learn the Word of God…and It’s mighty power to keep us on the straight and narrow path to His heart. I don’t always like the learning process, often times it is difficult and refining. More often than not, it draws me away from what my heart desires, but in the end, through the uncomfortable growing pains, I become wiser in the Lord’s desire for my life.

“So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall. No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.  But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” 1Corinthians10:12,13

I will be grateful in my brokenness. I will rejoice when the Lord corrects me and turns my heart from the things of this world to Him. I will bask in thanksgiving when the path I am on seems rocky and I become weary and worn. But, He takes my tired and nearly extinguished self and makes me bright and new…a new creation in His amazing grace.

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God Bless America…

Patriotic Storm - American Flag  - Lightning S...

Patriotic Storm – American Flag – Lightning Strikes (Photo credit: Striking Photography by Bo Insogna)

National Day of Prayer. Oh, how this nation needs it.

Father in Heaven,

Forgive us. Forgive us as a nation for our meandering and straying ways. Father, forgive us our trespasses and our apathy and our negligence. Forgive us, Lord, for living for self instead of denying it.

Lord, forgive our disregard for life. Forgive us our deliberate unkindness and aloofness toward our neighbor. Forgive us the inability to love fully and wholly those who are in times of trial.

Forgive us for coveting and desiring what is not ours.

Lord, we are fallen. As a nation we are sinking into an abyss of immorality.  We are consumed by what feels good instead of what is right. Lord, forgive us.

Forgive our nation for innocent blood shed and disregard for human life.

Lord, forgive our nation.

I pray an indwelling of Your Holy Spirit in the hearts of those who are lost. Call on the ‘one’ O, Lord. Shepherd us back to Your heart. Lean in close, Father, that you may hear our cry for peace and grace and mercy. Lord, turn our faces to Yours.

I pray for each unborn child, each miracle created by you. None is a mistake. Lord, I pray for the women afraid and lonely apt to make desperate decisions. Lord, fill them with Your presence. Save the life they carry.

Father, I pray for our leaders. I pray that their decisions would be wise. I pray they would seek to unite our nation. I pray favor for our country.

Father, bless us.

I pray we are united in thanksgiving and love. I pray that we rise up as a nation strong and whole; an example to the world around us.

I pray these things in the Saving name of Jesus. Amen

“Thank You Lord that You will make us a great nation and You will bless this nation, and make our name; and so this nation shall be a blessing. “Genesis 12:2

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His Grace Will Fill You Peacefully…

Template elf

Template elf (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Nighttime meets us with rambling thoughts of ‘what ifs’ and ‘how comes’ and ‘if onlys’. These thoughts enter our mind like elves in the cobblers shop. Working away, instead of fixing, but undoing all the peace and joy of a day. Nighttime brings about that ‘my problems are so large’ feeling. The feeling that creates fear and doubt. I have entertained these elves for a lifetime of nights.  I have spent sleepless hours questioning my purpose and my motives. I thank God for being bigger than my thoughts.

In those deep hours of slumber my mind begins to recount the words I have spoken, the actions I have taken, the thoughts I have. But…just as my focus sharpens on the wrong, the Lord reminds me of the good. He whispers gently in my heart that I have done, in my human condition, much to delight Him. He reminds me of how I have served and loved and encouraged. He gives me a new and joyful perspective. He clears away the doubt and fear and anxiety and lets me rest peacefully in His grace.

That’s what it is…Grace.

When we long to be filled with the Amazing Grace of the Lord, then we are positioning ourselves against attack from the ‘what ifs’ and ‘if onlys’. We are living each day abundantly in His sight. He gives us armor to defend ourselves from lies and deceit from the enemy. Our days are laced in His goodness when we cry out for His mercy and love.

In those deep dark corners of the night when your mind starts to wonder and wander…I urge you to pray the prayer our Lord and Savior plainly taught us….

Our Father who art in Heaven, hallowed be your name. (You are Holy and above all, Creator of all things good…including me.)

Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. (Help me, Father to be a servant of your mercy and grace.)

Give us this day our daily breath and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. (Thank you for provision and forgiveness and the ability to love through Your Son, Jesus Christ.)

Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. (Help me, Father, to possess sound judgment and to walk away from that which makes me stumble.)

For Thine is the kingdom and power and the glory forever. Amen. (I am Yours, now and forever. Amen.)

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On the diamond…

I am a mother to an eight year old ball player who, this year, seems to have figured out the physics and patience of the game of baseball. He wants to lead. He wants to try hard. He wants to encourage. But mostly, He wants to please God. He remarked to me the other day that he is playing, really, for the Lord. He trusts God to give him the ability. He trusts God to instill in him  concentration and endurance. I admire this. Do I trust God this much? Do I confide that He is my all and that He leads my every step?

My son has played, in some fashion, the game of baseball since he was eighteen months. He would toddle out to his batting tee in the back yard with ball and bat in hand and swing away. Proud with his ability to just make contact. He delights in the game. He looks forward to Opening Day. He waits with wide eyed anticipation to see his favorite players hit home

A baseball. Svenska: En baseboll Foto: Tage Olsin

A baseball. Svenska: En baseboll Foto: Tage Olsin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

runs, catch pop-flies. He always asks, “Mom, do you think he is a Christian?” He believes that ability comes from God. I admire this.

I have learned a lot about God in baseball. Not by the game itself, but by the trust my son has in the Lord each time he hits the field. He knows that God goes before him. He knows that talent is not from his own ability but a gift from God. He knows that each hit and strike give rise to glorifying the Lord. He knows that each play is an opportunity for refinement-to be a good sport. He knows that God’s will is greater than his own. I am encouraged by that.

As an adult I don’t always trust that God is in control. And I repent. I get mixed up in my own wants and desires, I forget that His will is perfect and purposeful. I forget that each hit or strike I make He is refining me and teaching me to be steadfast in Him.

So, each night I am at the field I seek Him. I trust that if, in the details of Little League, He has Max, then in the big details of life, He has me.

Thank you, Jesus!

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Seeking Him…the book

Friends,
I have finished my first book!
It is a collection of devotionals. Forty days.
I pray that it encourages a deeper walk with the Lord.

 

God bless you!

http://store.blurb.com/ebooks/379250-seeking-him

available as an ebook for $2.99 or in print for $30.00

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His Loving Kindness…

Pink Bleeding heart

 

“I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving kindness.” Jeremiah 31:3

 

These words incase my heart with gold.  To think that the Creator of the Universe loves ME and YOU with an everlasting love. Do you know what that means? It means that no matter how fallen we are, the Lord will always love us. He will never forsake us or leave us or turn from us.  Our poor judgment, bad choices, ill behavior does not turn His heart from us. He draws us to His heart with loving kindness. He forgives.

We are fallen sinners in desperate need of a Savior. We have the gift of a relationship, a personal relationship with the Lord through Jesus Christ.

Take religion out of the equation. Take away the ritual and ceremony of ‘church life’. Take away the way we baptize, marry and even repent. Rid yourself of the weight of it all and come, unburdened, to the Cross. There is nothing that stands between you and a deep, committed, loving relationship with Jesus, save your reluctance and the baggage of the religion of your youth. This relationship is not about how many prayers you pray. It is not about your place in the church. It is intimate and personal and YOURS. Completely and totally yours. The relationship you have with Christ is unique to you and Him.

Come to the Cross. Ask the Lord to forgive your transgressions. Accept that through God the Father Jesus saves us from our sins. Believe that He absorbed all of your inequities on the Cross and that He washed you white as snow. Believe it. It’s that easy. There is no mystery or magic or secret password, there is only Jesus. He is benevolent and kind and Yours. An everlasting love.

Father,
I pray a renewing of faith in my life. I pray that my days would be laced in hope. I pray that I would trust that Your word is true and life-giving. I pray that you would fill me with the Holy Spirit so that I may be assured that my salvation is not contingent on whether or not I am good, but whether or not I believe that you died for my sins. I thank you for the simple gift of salvation. “For you so love the world you gave your only son.” (John 3:16)

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Tuesday Devotional from KPC

Asking For Forgiveness

Asking For Forgiveness (Photo credit: hang_in_there)

Humbling and Powerful

February 12, 2013

This Week’s Key Verse: Colossians 3:12-13 (NASB)“So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you”

Take a moment and pray that the Lord will speak to you in this time of study.

Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, “Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins… Matthew 9:4-6

I remember the day like it was yesterday. My dear friend Ellie and I were walking around the little circle of houses that was our neighborhood.  I was seeking and questioning the love of Christ, trying to make sense of relationship vs. religion and trying desperately to let go of a lifetime of hurt.  We were talking about my mom and her broken condition and how it had permeated every pore of my body. I had been so affected by the relationship, as I should; she was, after all, my mother.  But I was having the most difficult time forgiving her.  I had grown up in a faith that had middlemen; I wasn’t encouraged to seek forgiveness of the Father without going through a “father.”  Repentance was contingent on a string of prayers.  At this point in my life, I felt overwhelmed with uncertainty.  I had no desire to sit in the presence of a stranger and pour my heart out in seeking forgiveness, but I had no other idea of how to rid myself of this desire to forgive.  And then Ellie offered this simple suggestion, “Give it to Jesus. Only He can truly forgive her. Ask Him to forgive you.”  Ah, a light-bulb moment.

Was it really that easy? By simply asking Jesus to forgive me, and giving her completely to Him, I could be washed of this ache that settled deep into my marrow.  This sounded more like a relationship than a religion.  It made so much sense.  I didn’t need a mediator between myself and the King of kings, I just needed to open my heart to Him and He would wash me and my troubles, white as snow.

I was beyond grateful.  My heart felt light. My eyes seemed to see the world in fresh and vibrant colors. There was newness to the way I perceived life and living … and, mostly, relationships.

Through the years, the Lord has given me the precious gift of remembrance.  And I am not talking about Hallmark moments laced in lovely and pretty memories, but rather the raw and humbling moments of my past.  The moments that seem to leave a pit in my stomach.  He gifts me the memories so that I may repent of those days of poor judgment and bad choices.  When I repent, truly seek forgiveness, He erases those times; as though they never existed.  I am left feeling refreshed and clean and a bit more full of His goodness.

Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Colossians 3: 13

It’s a tough pill to swallow, forgiveness.  It’s humbling and powerful all at once. There is release and beauty in the seeking and the giving, but, at times, our human condition prevents us from doing either. We must be constantly seeking His forgiveness. In times of flesh-filled turmoil, we must cry out to Him to fill us with His peace and love and forgiveness. We can cry out for redemption … time and time again.   We must constantly seek forgiveness, because in each moment of our lives we are sinful. On our own we are fallen and completely imperfect, yet in Christ there is a bounty of perfect, forgiving love. Love that heals and restores and sets us on righteous paths in His will.

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32

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Tuesday KPC devotional

coins

coins (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Secure in His Provision

 

January 22, 2013

 

 

This Week’s Key Verse: Malachi 3:10 (NKJV) “Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and try Me now in this,” says the Lord of hosts, “If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.”

Take a moment and pray that the Lord will speak to you in this time of study.

Job loss can rack your brain and turn your world upside down and inside out.  It can either set panic deep into your soul, or cause you to reach for the mighty hand of God to guide you through the trials of “budget re-navigation.”  Such was our case in the spring of 2009, when Rick lost his job at a major car rental company.  Downsizing . . . our nation always seems to be downsizing at the cost of families.  But, God doesn’t downsize His provision . . . ever.

I remember the conversation we had with such clarity, debating the notion of tithing and offering as we read our bedtime devotions.  I was certain of God’s provision; Rick, being pragmatic and our family’s earthly provider, saw it in a different vein.  We lay in bed nearly breathless over what the future held.  How, in this economy, with the state of our nation, would we possibly make it?  What would God’s provision be?  We even considered the possibility of losing our home.  Would God’s provision be a shelter?  How He takes care of us is not always the way we desire . . .

Our conversations were always strained, as we labored over our financial situation.  This particular night was no different.  With great conviction I announced that no matter what, we had to trust that God would provide for our needs.  We had to give out of the meager resources we had.  Rick replied, “We will give when we are able, but until then, we need to hold on to all of our resources. By simply tithing and trusting, God is not going to put $10,000 in our bank account.” I was incensed by his seeming disregard for the Lord’s provision, remembering that God has always provided for us . . . even when we were not walking hand in hand with Him.  I’m sure I huffed and turned away to show my discontent.  But, truly, Rick wasn’t being nonchalant or dismissing God’s provision; he was being realistic and honest.  Our current state was such that we needed to be prudent and good stewards of what little we had left of our finances.

“I will continue to put my trust in Him.” Hebrews 2:13

We continued to tithe, and as He always does, God started to work in mysterious and miraculous ways. We put our home on the market when we were invited to move into the home Rick had grown up in. After his dad’s passing, his mom was moved into an assisted living facility and the home stood vacant.  Our house sold in an unprecedented six weeks.   Even more miraculous, we made a little off of the sale and were able to pay off our mortgage and put money in savings, which served as provision for our next season.

Rick’s desire was always to be a teacher.  When he found a newspaper announcement for Regent’s career switcher program, he enrolled.  What a blessing!   He was able to dedicate the next 18 months to getting his teaching certificate.  During that time, our neighbor had a job opening in the school system working with behaviorally challenged teens.  Rick took the job, albeit part time, and it was enough to put food on the table.  We lived cautiously on our savings, being sure to spend only what we needed to.

We were also able to (abundantly) bless others. It seemed like each week we were able to participate in meal trains, host life groups, and care for those who were less fortunate than ourselves.  God seemed to be filling our bank account.  Several times we remarked that we had “no idea” where the money had come from, knowing full well that the Lord was blessing our sacrifice of tithing.

The best moment was when our accountant looked at our taxes and remarked about our earnings, “How on earth do you guys make it?”  I simply replied, “God is good, He provides everything we need.”  She just shook her head.

“For nothing is impossible with God.” Luke 1:37

In the summer of 2011, Rick interviewed for countless teaching positions. The day before his birthday, he got the call to accept a job as a fulltime teacher in a special education school . . . his heart’s desire.  We were thrilled, but what gave us even greater joy was knowing we could increase our tithes and offerings.  Just as Pastor Vic shared on Sunday, we too give before we figure out our budget.  We don’t get emotional about it, we just give.

I can promise the hand of God has carried us through our time of want . . . but, it was really a time of plenty.  He has blessed us abundantly and continually.

Be blessed, be a blessing, and trust God to be your ultimate provider. “Go, it will be done just as you believed it would.” Matthew 8: 13

 

 

 

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