Wednesday, November 5, 2014

30 days of Thankful

30 Days of Thankful
During the Thanksgiving holiday, we focus on our blessings and express our gratitude to God for them. But thanks should be on our lips every day. We can never say thank you enough to parents, friends, leaders, and especially to God. When thanksgiving becomes an integral part of your life, you will find that your attitude toward life will change. You will become more positive, gracious, loving, and humble.

It is good to give thanks to the LORD, to sing praises to the Most High. It is good to proclaim your unfailing love in the morning, your faithfulness in the evening, (‭Psalms‬ ‭92‬:‭1-2‬ NLT)
Every year since the boys were little, we've made it important to take the 30 days of November to remember to be thankful.  I'm sad to say that this is the first year that they haven't been willing participants.  This, however, has not stopped me from being thankful.  I hope that at some point they will join in :-)
  Day 1 - I am thankful for my salvation.  I am also challenged this year more than I have been for a while to make sure that everyone knows that Jesus is my Savior.  Not just my friend, prayer partner, umbrella for when times get tough or the guy I think of in church on Sunday.  He IS THE ONLY way for me to have fellowship with the Father and make Heaven my home!!  I know this isn't popular in today's thinking, but it doesn't change that it is the truth.  Jesus is the BEST thing that ever happened to me. He IS my best friend.  I DO call on Him when I am praying and He IS a help in times of trouble.  But all of that is possible, because when I was 10 years old, I asked him to save me and come into my heart (By way of the Holy Spirit),  I have not been perfect and I've still failed Him, but I have tried to live for Him most of my life.  THAT is why He can be all those things to me.  If you don't know Him in a personal way - Today could be the day!!

 Day 2 - Today I am thankful for my boys - ALL of them.  Andrew, Zachary and Anthony have changed my life, over and over again.  Drewby waits in Heaven for me and I can't wait to see his face.  Zachary and Anthony have grown into fine young men (not perfect, but they are a work in progress).  This season of my life is new.  The boys are grown and although in my life that may look a little different than in others, it is still a change from when they were little.  Many of the "growing up" traditions have changed and especially Anthony has begun to develop his own life.  So my life at this point is a single woman, who can no longer work, but isn't free to just do as I please.  My sons are grown, but I am not fully able to just leave them on their own.  It's a strange dynamic, but one that I am sure I will adjust to.  No matter what the future holds, I will always be thankful that in 1998, I went from a newly married woman to a mother of 3 - 2 of which had just started school!  It's been a crazy ride, but I don't think I'd change very much, if I could.
 Day 3 - I am thankful that Heaven is my real home!  This world is just a holding place while my Father prepares my mansion.  I don't really care about the mansion, but I do know that God is preparing a place especially for me.  One day He will send Jesus to take me home.  This is a promise that I can depend on! In John 14, verses 1-3, Jesus tells us that we shouldn't worry, because He's coming back for us and taking us home.  What a great thing to look forward to!!!  Now, that being said, they is lots of work for us to do, while we are here!  I pray that I will do the work God has called me to do, to the best of my ability.  I don't want ANYONE to say that they missed heaven, because "I" didn't tell them!!  I challenge you to do the same!

 Day 4 - Today I am thankful for my 3 closest friends on this earth, Kimberly, Debbie and Rachel.  To say that we have been through a lot together would be a gross understatement!!!  Our friendship had crossed state lines, weathered, sickness, death and all kinds of tragedy.  We have experiences, single life, married life, divorced life, births, adoptions, teenagers and just plain joy along this journey together.  I am truly blessed with many friends.  I am thankful, as some cannot say that.  However, these 3 woman share my heart.  I can't imagine the last 20+ years without them.  For that matter the next 20+ either!!  We don't get to spend as much time together as any of us would like, but I know that any time of day or night, I can depend on them and I hope they feel the same.  I love you, my Tennessee Golden Girls!!  Can't wait to see you all this weekend!!!!

 Day 5 - Today is Anthony's 19th Birthday.  WOW, it's hard to believe that almost 17 years ago, he entered my life as a 2 year old.  We've been through a lot.  He's my first child, but yet my baby.  That whole birth order thing didn't seem to be as important at the time, but I've learned a few things along the way!!  Anthony struggles.  He has low self esteem and unresolved anger.  He is Bi-Polar and ODD,  He has many challenges.  He's come a long way, but still has trouble excepting who he is in Christ and why that makes the difference.  I love all my boys with all my heart.  I don't know how to be any other way.  But I guess like most mom's our attention goes to the one who seems to need it the most.  Zachary and Anthony have competed for this spot most of our lives together.  Right now, Anthony is the focal point.  I don't love him more, I just see his struggle is greater at this time.  Please pray for him - and me!!  I know that he needs me and I know that in some ways, I have to let him go.  This balance has proven much harder than I ever imagined.  God has big plans for Anthony.  Sometimes Anthony forgets that we need to patiently wait and runs ahead with both barrels blazing, only to find out that it was God, but Anthony that wanted that path.  These are the growing pains that we all experience.  The ones that made our parents concerned and sometimes lay awake at night praying or in tears.  It seemed easier to be on the child end then it is on the parent end.  It makes me appreciate my parents so much more, but that's another post ;-).  Mainly, I just want to say that I AM very thankful for Anthony and I covet your prayers on his behalf and on mine.  I know God has a plan and like the comforting words to an old Twila Paris song, "I Will Listen" and I pray Anthony will too.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

A new adventure....

Tomorrow is a BIG day for me!!  Not just for me, but for a group of 50 Kids and some volunteer mentors too!  Tomorrow is the first day of Discovery Bible Club at Highland Park Elementary School!!!!  I am so excited about this new ministry.  I can't wait to see what God does in the lives of these 50 (and hopefully soon more) Children!!  Last year a Discovery Bible Club began at Brown and the hope was that a second would begin at Highland Park.  As a part of Grace Church, I know several of the children in our neighborhood go to Highland Park.  This is just an additional way to tell them about Jesus and how much He really loves them!!

This is something that has been on my heart for years, but a little out of my comfort zone too.  I have had a pretty bad back week and I am unsure of exactly what all tomorrow will entail.  But I am stepping out on faith and I ask that you pray for physical strength and holy boldness. 

I will follow up tomorrow, with what I pray will be a very exciting report!!

Also, I meet with disability tomorrow at 9am, hopefully to move forward, prayers appreciated for this as well.

Nearly two years ago, Pastor Mark asked us to pray a BOLD prayer.  To ask God for something we wanted in our life, even if we saw no way that it could happen.  I prayed that I would be available to do more for the Kingdom, and although my disability is the reason I can, I know God answered that prayer.  I have been able to do "behind the scenes" things that I would have never been able to do before.  I know it is a bold step to commit to help every Thursday during school with Bible Club, but I know God will give me the strength to do what He wants me to do!  Phil. 4:13 tells me that I can do ALL things - through Christ .  I've prayed the bold prayer and I have listened and now I am going to move.

To God Be The Glory!!!!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

It's so Overwhelming...

Christian Contemporary Artist, Big Daddy Weave, has a new song out called "Overwhelmed"  It accurately describes the awesome, overwhelming God that we serve.  The words are so poignant and real.  I have been singing the words over and over in my head for weeks. 

As many know, I have spent the last two Saturdays at Festivals with "Jodi's Jewels".  My last one is this week.  Anyway, the first one was a 2-day and it Rained and POURED and the wind blew and the weather did not cooperate, at all!  On the second day, when I knew that it was probably going to rain all day, I was getting ready to go and this song came to my mind.....I started thinking that I was currently overwhelmed, not in a good way.  I started to sing and ask God to let me be overwhelmed by HIM.  It still rained ALL day, but God was good to me and I still managed to have some good sales.

Yesterday, I was again overwhelmed, but in yet another way.  My nearly 14 month process for disability ended with APPROVAL After no income for almost18 months and one denial under my belt, I received this news and I almost couldn't believe it!!  Rest assured the process is by no means complete, but there is a glorious light at the end of the tunnel!!  As you can imagine, several times during this journey, I have been overwhelmed.  Overwhelmed by fear, depression, anxiety, pain, but also by God's peace and protection and the reminder that I was still His child and that he was holding me in His hand. 

I could tell you that I have "remained faithful" and "NEVER" felt alone, but I would be lying. I am only human and all the human fears that come when you have NO MONEY to pay bills, and have no idea what will happen next, have been sent by the enemy and sometimes in the strangest ways.  What I can tell you is that GOD was ALWAYS FAITHFUL....ALWAYS.  Even when I was scared and didn't know what would happen next, He was always there.  He held me when I was scared and comforted when I was frustrated.  He forgave me when I didn't trust him like I should.  I was many times overwhelmed by circumstances, but God's presence and peace, his love and forgiveness were far more overwhelming!

This morning during my quiet time, I thought about something else.  Yes, financially, my burden has been incredibly eased.  Physically, I do and will still struggle with pain and life changes that I wasn't ready for.  You know what?  The same overwhelming questions, fears, etc that will still come, will be nothing for my Heavenly Father.  I have trusted him and He has never let me down.

Everyone faces something.  Sometimes we think we are the only one who has to face problems.  We are not! God rains on the just and the unjust, the righteous and the unrighteous.  He is no respecter of persons.  The flip side of that, He is there for EVERYONE who will call upon him name.  What a precious promise!!!

Please  watch this video and remember  who God is  - He is overwhelming!!!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Is this my life?

This picture was my workspace today. Lots of cloth and sewing tools. I have been very crafty. Not my usual scrap booking or jewelry crafty, but sewing. This is really not usually my thing. I guess I kinda go in spurts. My grandmother taught me how to sew and the summers with her, sewing and making quilts are some of the fondest memories in my life. Since I was a kid though, not so much. This too shall (probably)pass so I am enjoying it while it's happening.
Over the last several weeks, I have been thinking a lot about my grandmother. I loved all my grandparents and had special relationships with both grandmothers, but I was especially close to my mom's mom. Grandma E. She was my "sweetie grandma". That's what all of my friends called her and, of course, I agree :)
The other day, I saw a young woman, probably in her 20's and she was helping (what appeared to be)her grandmother in Walmart. I got tears in my eyes, as I remembered all the shopping trips and times spent with my grams as an adult. I would give almost anything to have those times back. If I close my eyes, I can almost see myself in her apartment in Detroit. I can almost smell the food, hear Wheel of Fortune on the TV.....Anyway, sometimes I think about my life. Like the picture above, if you told me that in 2014, I would be spending countless hours making hand sewn crafts, I would have laughed out loud. Yet, here I am.
This weekend, my youngest cousin, Bill, got married in Pittsburgh. It's just Jill and Bill and me on my mom's side and although we're not best friend close, mainly due to never living geographically close when we were growing up, we've tried (mainly Jill and Bill) to be involved as much as we can in each others lives. Anyway, I have known about the wedding since earlier this year and had big hopes to be able to go. Zachary has always wanted to go the Philly and see the Liberty Bell and I dreamed of us taking the long way home and stopping. None of that happened... Over the last few years, I learned to just "roll with it" when things don't go my way. That's my life...
So here's the question, Is this my life? Yep, sure is! I am blessed and even though, sometimes I can honestly say, I'm not happy about everything in my life, I still have so much to be thankful for. In the last year, my family has faced some health issues with my mom. We recently found out some news that was definitely not the answer we had hoped for, we know that God is STILL in control.  In my human thinking, I ask, why?, I even ask, Are you kidding me? Really? But as I allowed, and continue to allow God to speak to my heart, I know that he has everything under control.  Does that mean, I like it?  NO!!!  I will never like or understand that my precious mom, one of the sweetest woman I know, is having to go through this trial!  Does that mean that in the midst of this trial, I will find a way to praise God? Yes, it does.  Who am I that I could ask that my family be spared, when I see brothers and sisters with just as much faith and just as sweet a testimony, going through things as bad or even worse? 
So this is my life.....Sewing, dreaming, disappointments, rejoicing, incredible blessings, heartache, struggle and one day....HOME.  Jesus, my grandma, Andrew and eternity without another care.  Yep, this is my life.  I might change things if I could, but ultimately I am trusting my heavenly Father, until I get home....

Thursday, September 25, 2014

I'm Baaaacccckkkkk!!!!!

Wow nearly 3 years!! I can't believe it's been that long...well really I can. Over the last 2 or so years, I have been posting to Facebook and Instagram, what probably should have been blogged. In my defense, Life has really happened!!!! Moved to a new house, 2 graduations, health issues, loss of job, death, sickness, immense joy, new adventures, 2 trips to the beach (only one for me, but I can live vicariously :)). Like I said....LIFE. Anyway, I won't bore you with incredible details, but God has been telling me to BLOG again. So here I am. I tried to make this public, but couldn't, so if you ever want to add someone. have them send a request and I will add them as a follower. I really want this BLOG to serve as a ministry tool. By giving you a "Window Into My World", You will see the good, the bad and even some ugly, but hopefully will always see that God has a plan and if we just trust Him, he will direct us....even when times get tough. This week, I have had something just ringing in my head. When I pray, when I study, even today when a sweet friend came to pray for me. IF you know me, you know that I try my best to encourage. I feel it is one of my strengths and quite frankly, my calling. Does that mean I NEVER get discouraged or sad or doubtful or look up to the sky and say, "Really, God?" OF COURSE NOT!!!! I used to think it was a sin to question God. Job questioned God many times....He never cursed God, but he did question. God is a great big God!!! He can handle our humanness....After all He made us! He can take our questions, even our doubts. He just wants them to be followed up by our recognition that we don't have to understand, we just have to trust. One of my favorite passages is Proverbs 3:5-6 "Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways, Acknowledge HIM and he will direct your path." What incredible comfort. Now if we start winging it on our own and doing our own thing, that's a different story! He makes provision for us to come back, but we can't be surprised if there are a few detours, from our own navigating! My life has not been easy. Really, Who's has??? But, with that, I will admit that sometimes, my burden has been heavy. I have wondered how much more until I break. I can honestly say, I've thought I was there, but His grace has ALWAYS, I mean ALWAYS been enough!!! The evil one, the devil, Lucifer, the serpent, the slithering snake, as I like to call him, is limited in his days. He knows that he will never see Heaven and that he needs to destroy as many as he can while here on earth. This does not mean we need to help him!!! We need to guard our heart. Stay in the Word. Have friends that can keep us accountable. Someone to "talk us off the ledge" so to speak. If we surround ourselves with the things of the world, how can we possible be upset when it seems God is nowhere to be found???? I am not saying that we are not a part of this world, let's face it, we are the LIGHT of this world, if we know Jesus!! But that doesn't mean that the world can't tell us apart from themselves. That doesn't mean we're better, it just means we're different. It doesn't mean we shun, it just means we don't embrace sin. We are called to love God, above all, and love our neighbor as our self. If we ALL practice this, the world would be turned upside down, but in a good way, not like it is right now!! I'm sure, by this point, you're thinking, "she hasn't blogged in 3 years and she's saying everything under the sun with no real point", I hope that you will change your mind in a minute......The point is, Life can be a tough road. God is always enough. Don't let the enemy steal your joy! Over the next little while, I will share stories from my own life. I hope they will help you in your own life. I can't say that I will BLOG everyday, but I will try to be more consistent. 30 days of Thankful is coming up in November, so maybe I'll be in the habit by then. Most of all, if you don't know Jesus, I mean personally, as your very best friend, find Him. Ask me, ask someone. He LONGS to be your Savior. He died for you. He loves you more than anyone...ANYONE....HE loves you more than you love yourself. He is the peace that passes all understanding. Trust me, when the phone rings with bad news. When the pain (physical, emotional or mental) seems to much to bear. When you feel like you cannot go on. When you feel all no one else cares or understands, I promise Jesus is more than enough. As I share my life, I pray that you will see that nothing I have EVER faced has been to big for my God. He is a GREAT BIG GOD and he holds us in His Hands!! Jodi