Monday, November 20, 2017

Happy Thanksliving!, and A Speech from My Christmas Soapbox

"In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you."
I Thessalonians 5:18
(KJV)


~ Thanksliving ~
living a life of continual giving of thanks to God for our many blessings...
not just on the 4th Thursday of November each year,
but every, single day we are given to live.

Thanksliving is not always easy to do.
Hard times will come.
Days will sometimes be long.
Nights even longer.
But, regardless, God is still God, and He is good, in spite of trials that He allows to come our way.

How I love this time of year!
The other morning, I took some pictures, and then, the other day, as we were driving down the interstate, Zach took pictures from the car of the amazing beauty of the mountains all clad with colors that only our amazing God could create.
I wanted to share some of them with you, along with some Bible verses that support a life of continual Thanksliving!
These verses would make great additions to your Massive Scriptural Arsenal.
Feel free to pin away or print them out to memorize and remind you to live thankfully every, single moment of life...not just on Thanksgiving Day each year!








Every year, at about this time, I step up on to my little soapbox about something that is very important to me...the American Family Association's Naughty or Nice List they post before every Christmas on their website.
We were so happy to see that it was posted today!
In our quest to live minimal, more eternity-focused lives we have scaled waaaaay back on not only our Christmas shopping, but our purchasing, period....but we are thrilled to see that the two places we do most of our shopping are both on the "nice" list!
Otherwise, we would have had to make other arrangements, because we refuse to patronize stores who refuse to acknowledge why they see such an increase in their sales every November and December.
Jesus is the reason for the season, and I know there are those of you who contend that Jesus has nothing in the world to do with the madness of this time of year.
I agree with you that the chaos and stress that accompanies Christmas couldn't be more polar opposite to that quiet, peace-filled night so long ago in Bethlehem.
BUT, if you are going to shop and make purchases at this time of year,
wouldn't it line up more with your Christian values to only shop in stores who recognize Christ,
who use the name "Christmas" in their advertising and public displays,
and who are not against His mission?
And, at the risk of offending some of you who are loyal to Target, I will mention one more thing....while I am still up on my little soapbox. ☺
I must express my family's and my extreme disdain for them and our continued resolve to BOYCOTT TARGET, by any means necessary.
If you would like to know why, this article will fully explain and will also give you an opportunity to sign a pledge and take a stand for what is right.
How can we, as Christians, hand our hard-earned dollars over to a company who continues to promote such filthy, vile behavior?
The answer is, we can't, and, here in the Smith household, we don't, and we won't!
We are far from being fanatics, but enough is enough!
There are sooooo many competitor stores who do not condone such perversion, and there are plenty of other places to buy our necessaries.
We would do without before we would give Target a cent,
and that is my two-cents' worth.  ☺
Just sayin'...and steppin' off my soapbox...at least for the moment.

Thanks for still loving me and for hearing my heart.
I say everything I say here from a heart filled-to-the-brim-with-love...for God, for His Word and cause, for my family, for my country,
and for you, dear readers.

As you gather together and count your blessings with your loved ones on Thursday,
don't forget to say a special prayer for the brave souls who sacrifice and put their lives on hold day after day, so you and I can live in this beautiful land of the free.
Pray for our President and Vice President,
our dedicated military men and women who are away from their families for our sake,
and our amazing police officers who risk their lives to keep us safe.

We are so very, very blessed...every, single one of us,
and we have so much to thank God for!
May He grant all of you a wonderful Thanksgiving Day!!

Please, if you will, continue to pray for my brother-in-law, LD, who is in the throes of battling stage 4 lung cancer.
My family and I appreciate your prayers SO very much!

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Free Fallin' & Update on LD

"But it is good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, that I may declare all Thy works."
Psalm 73:28
(KJV)


It's amazing how inspiration to write comes to me.
Sometimes, I write from the deepest points of inward pain.
Sometimes, I am crying out to God for a glimmer of hope...some shred of encouragement,
and when I can't find any...anywhere around me...I end up here.
Writing out what my soul needs to hear.

I think if I was given the task of figuring out which 2 Bible characters I am most like,
I would be able to answer real quick, because I already know.
Think of two of the most flawed ones, and you'll know right away, too.
One is Old Testament; one is New.
Both made monumental mess-ups.
Both were redeemed by the grace of God.
Both loved God fiercely with all their heart, soul, and passionate nature,
in spite of their bend towards doing the wrong thing.

Any guesses who they might be yet?

One's name begins with a "D"; one begins with a "P".
Both plunged into forbidden territory, in spite of knowing better,
and ended up swallowed in regret and deep remorse and depression,
but, at the end of the day, one was called "a man after God's own heart" (Acts 13:22),
and the other's name was changed to a name that literally means "rock" (John 1:42).

Okay, so, you probably know the answer is David and Peter.
One of the things I can relate most to David about is the fact that when he was distressed and depressed, "David encouraged himself in the LORD his God." I Samuel 30:6.
Do you know what I think?
I think it was during these times that David wrote most of the book of Psalms.
I think when David was in the pits of despair, he looked around and could find no outward solace,
and, in those anguished moments, he cried out from the depths of his soul to God,
and he wrote those feelings down.
And, now, you and I can turn to his beautiful, poetic, heartwrenched words,
and we can find an instant connection to a kindred spirit who refused to give up in some of the hardest, most tormenting times of life.

So, this post is coming from my heart to yours...from a moment of particular anguish of soul,
during one of those times when I need something to cling to...to hold on to...something that will steady my unstable, upturned emotions.
God led me here.
To search, as I type.
How often He has given me the answers I crave in just this way!

This morning, He is still attempting to teach me what it means to trust.
Remember that?
Yes, I have been telling you that God is teaching my family and me about trust...
for a very long time now.
In fact, it was even our "word of the year" for 2016!
Yes, I said God is "still attempting to teach"...not because He doesn't know how to teach,
but because I don't seem to know how to learn what He is trying to get across to me.

I worry more than anyone I know.
It is tormenting.
I worry so much that my dear Dad nicknamed me "WW".
Any guesses what that stands for?
If you guessed "worry wart", you got it right.
Not the most attractive thing to be dubbed, for sure.
Dad used to get a kick out of the fact that when he and Mom would leave our house late at night, after a visit in our home, I would fret and worry and imagine all sorts of horrors, until I heard the phone ring, and their voice was on the other end telling me they were home safe.
I think Mom and Dad and me reversed roles shortly after I was born,
because it seemed to be me who did most of the worrying from as far back as I can remember.

It is no wonder I was diagnosed with an ulcer, presumed at or near the bleeding stage, earlier this year.
And, you know what?
That makes me downright angry.
Because I do not want to be this way.
Truly, I don't.
I have been living for Jesus for over 40 years now.
And, I still don't trust Him.
I am so ashamed of that.
I am so sorry when I think of how that must make Him feel.
After all, His track record is impeccable.
He has never broken a promise to me.
He has never failed.
There has never been a moment in my chaotic, turbulent life that He has not been there...
with me...faithful, stalwart.

Stalwart:
loyal, especially for a long time; able to be trusted

So, why?
Why am I so suspicious of Him?
Why can't I believe what He has told me time after time?
Why do I doubt?
Why do I question His motives?
Why am I always looking for one that is ulterior?

This morning, I fight yet another round in the ring with the opponent that has dealt the most TKO blows to date and most often left me broken, bleeding, and lifeless, face-down on the canvas.
He is ugly.
Monstrous.
Grotesque.
Evil to the core.
Mean-spirited.
Ruthless.
He does not fight fair.
All boxing rules are left outside the ring when he steps in.
When I see it's him who has stepped into the ring opposite me, I cringe, cower, run to the nearest corner post, grab onto the rope with both hands, close my eyes,
and I wait....heart pounding so loud, I can hear it inside my head.
He is my Goliath.
My nemesis.
I feel the vibration all the way from the rope inside my tightly-clenched fists to the canvas beneath my trembling feet, every time he takes a thunderous step in my direction.
All the way, he shouts terror, spews venomous slurs, and laughs this hideous, heinous shriek that literally makes my skin crawl and hair stand on end.
He knows he's landed me on my face before.
He remembers every, single round we've ever fought.
He knows my weak spots...all too well.
He couldn't be more gleeful or confident of his win.
I feel my body tense, as his mammoth frame stands over me.
His hot, vile breath falls on the top of my head and trails down the back of my bent neck.
I brace myself as continual pounding of jabs below the belt start coming...
over and over, relentless, unceasing, unfair, far outside the boundary of what is "legal".
He spits, rabbit punches, headbutts, and breaks every rule in the book.
He is like a shark in the water.
Once he sees or even senses blood, he is fueled with a vicious determination to finish me off.
Once again.
I lay flattened near his hateful feet, as taunts of "victory" bellow from his wicked lips and linger like a lead balloon in the air around us.
Then, he does the unthinkable.
He begins to kick with all his might.
Doesn't he know?
You never, ever kick or hit your opponent when she is down...on the canvas...defeated, at your feet.
But, he doesn't stop...it is never, ever enough...for him.

His name is FEAR.
Ever met him?
Perhaps, you have fought a few rounds with him yourself.
He is the most
Ferocious
Evil
Arrogant
Rival I have ever met.

Worry is driven by fear, and "fear hath torment".  (I John 4:18)

I grew up through high school hearing Tom Petty's music and being familiar with him,
but I was 23 when Kevin's and my favorite Tom Petty song came out in 1989.
I was just thinking of  "Free Fallin'" a few days before we got the news that Tom Petty had died.
That news made both of us sad...deep, down inside.
I just can't believe he's gone...it seems way too soon, makes me feel old and ever more aware of my own mortality and inevitable date with death.

Free Fall
move under the force of gravity only; fall rapidly

As I thought about my trust issues, my many rounds in the ring with FEAR, and how I have such a hard time believing God will take care of me and the ones I love, the thought came to me that I need to just "free fall" into His arms and stop worrying so much.
That I need to make an attempt to overcome my contemptible opponent of fear,
and that the most fool-proof way of doing that is to stop allowing him to bully me.
To just let go of what I FEAR might happen, lay it all down, and lighten my load.
To go "free fallin" straight into the eternal arms of the one who has never let go of me...
not one time throughout my troubled life.
To just jump, cut the cord of worry, and leap, light and free, out into nothing but the assurance that His arms will absolutely catch me.

"The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms."
Deuteronomy 33:27

There is no parachute during a free fall into the arms of God.
No safety net.
No back-up plan.
Just a reckless-abandonment-kind-of-trust.
An Esther-like, "If I perish, I perish" mentality.
A "Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be)" sort of attitude.

This morning, as I lay battered, bruised, and barely-spiritually-breathing on the canvas,
feeling the effects of the perpetual kicks from fear, I made a firm decision.
And, don't get me wrong.
I'm not saying it will be our last round.
Oh, he'll be back.
I don't ever pretend this war will end.
But, for this round?
For this battle?
I made up my mind.
Somehow, the precious still, small voice of my Savior drowned out the 10-1 countdown and the obnoxious, deafening, gloats of my opponent, and I heard Him remind me that I CAN win.
That all I have to do is fall back into His open arms....and TRUST.
That He has everything in His control, and nothing in this world can foil His plan for our lives.

I don't know how I mustered the strength or the courage, but I let go.
I took that leap of faith, and I felt myself falling, and at the end of my fall, He was there....
safe, secure, strong.
I felt His perfect love surround me, and all is well.

"There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear..."
I John 4:18

And, do you want to know the most astonishing part?
There was never one thing to worry about, and it turns out, FEAR was all a big figment of my imagination.
He was all smoke and mirrors.
He wasn't real....at all.

Update on LD

LD isn't doing well, my friends, and is still in the hospital.
He is in A-fib, and there is blood in the fluid they draw from around his heart.
He has undergone some radiation treatments, as they are trying to shrink the tumor in his lung,
and there is still one more radiation treatment to go, before they begin chemotherapy.
I want you to know that LD, my sister, Debbie, nephew, Mark, and all other family members appreciate each one of your prayers more than they could ever express.
I keep telling them how many people are praying, and it just lifts their spirits so much.
And, no one could appreciate your faithful prayers any more than I do.
I just thank you from the bottom of my grateful heart.
PLEASE, please keep praying for him and the miracle he needs.

"But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them,
With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible."
Matthew 19:26

"The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in Him."
Lamentations 3:24

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

My Will Versus God's & Update on LD

"And He was withdrawn from them about a stone's cast, and kneeled down, and prayed,
Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from Me: nevertheless not My will, but Thine, be done."
Luke 22:41,42
(KJV)


When God created Adam and Eve, He did not create robots.
He made them in His image, and within the fiber of who they were, was something called a "will".
God has a will.
He wanted mankind to have one, too.
According to dictionary.com, the will can be defined as,
"the faculty of conscious and especially of deliberate action; 
the power of control the mind has over its own actions:
power of choosing one's own actions:
the act or process of using or asserting one's choice; volition:
wish or desire:
purpose or determination, often hearty or stubborn determination; willfulness:
the wish or purpose as carried out, or to be carried out."

Every, single one of us descends from those first two created human beings.
Therefore, each one of us possesses the same inherent characteristics.
This includes a "will" of our very own.

God does not force us to think like or as He thinks.
Rather, He gives us the power to think as we choose.
To believe according to our own preference.
To do what we want to do, without restraint.
We can "go our own way", like the old rock song, written by Lindsey Buckinham and sung and made famous by "Fleetwood Mac", tells us to do.

Though God has put into place specific, definitive laws, mandates, and boundaries,
and though He has clearly laid out in His Word the exact way He wants us to live,
and though the absolute only way to Heaven is to walk within those designated, precise perimeters,
and though it breaks His loving heart to see us veer and wander outside the protective fringes of those appropriated earmarks, He allows us to decide whether or not we will "go our own way".

Though He woos us and draws us with His great love, He does not coerce us into loving Him back.
Though He longs for our love and devotion with all of His heart,
He made the decision to hand us the "gift" of choice.
Along with an endowment of such significance and magnitude comes monumental responsibility.

I have read the recorded words of Jesus' anguished prayer prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane shortly before His arrest and the most tortured, agonizing night of terror known to man.
I have read of how He prayed so hard that His sweat literally fell to the ground as great drops of blood.
I have imagined the intensity of such a prayer.
But, it is only now that I have grasped a new truth concerning the words He said.

"Not My Will, but Thine be done."

Like you and me, Jesus Christ had a will of His own, and, in that moment,
His will was different from His Father's.

Can you blame Him?
Who among us would "will" to be brutally scourged within an inch of our life?
Whose will would line up with being openly humiliated, slapped, spit upon, reviled, and tortured?
Whose will would rejoice in the thought of a crown of sharp, pointed thorns being forced through the tender, thin skin of any one of our heads?
Whose will would compel us to want to take hold of a rugged wooden cross and feel the excruciating moment of contact between splintered, jagged weight and freshly-lacerated, mutilated, skin-torn, still-bleeding, raw back?
Whose will would prefer to carry said, heavy cross through the Via Dolorosa,
peppered every inch by continual friction of splinters and raw back?
 
The human side of Jesus drew back from this every bit as much as yours or mine would recoil.
But, He prayed until He could say from the heart, "NOT My will, but Thy will be done."

The battle was won in the Garden of Gethsemane before He faced the agonizing scourging and crucifixion, because that is where He won the battle of the wills.
Once Jesus surrendered His will and made up His mind to allow God's will to supersede His own,
peace that passes all human understanding came to His spirit, and He was able to endure the awful path that was laid out before Him.

It is hard for me to comprehend that Jesus had to "learn" anything.
After all, He is God.
He made the worlds.
He holds all in the palm of His hands.
But, when He walked the earth, the flesh, human side of Jesus had to be brought into subjection to His Father's will,
and the way He learned obedience is through the awful things He had to suffer.

"Though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered..."
Hebrews 5:8

If Jesus Christ, the Son of God, had to learn obedience, how much more must we?
If His learning came by way of suffering, shouldn't we expect ours to come that way, too?

Lately, God has been teaching me about endurance, and how, as humans, we must learn to endure.
Just as Jesus had to learn to endure His sufferings, so must we.
If we are to be His followers and walk in His footsteps, won't our path resemble, at least in a small degree, His?

Recently, while Kevin worked 3rd shift, Zach and I were called to a task that was, to say the least, taxing.
I arrived at the premises of the all-night obligation dog-tired and bone-weary, as the old saying goes.
Just physically and mentally exhausted.
As I turned off the motor and prepared to walk inside, I whispered,
"Lord, HOW am I going to get through this?"
This is what I instantly heard from His still, small voice,
"You are just going to have to endure it."

Need I say that this is NOT what I wanted to hear?
This was NOT my will, but it was obviously His.
There was an instant conflict between the two.

Though He has called upon me to endure much throughout life, I've never had the Lord say something like that to me....so straightforward...so matter-of-fact and in a tone that was gentle, of course, but firm and non-negotiable.
Usually, in undesirable situations, a familiar, comforting Scripture verse will come to mind...
one like, "My grace is sufficient for thee." (2 Corinthians 12:9),
or
"There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it." (I Corinthians 10:13)

Never, have I had the dear Lord simply say, "You are just going to have to endure it."

It is not my will to "endure".
Enduring is hard.
So unpleasant and against the grain of my ease-loving nature.

Endure:
"to hold out against, sustain without impairment or yielding, undergo,
to bear without resistance, tolerate,
to continue to exist, last,
suffer without yielding, suffer patiently"

I found it interesting that the antonyms for endure are:
fail and die

What doesn't kill us makes us stronger, right?

As soon as I heard the dear Lord's words, my mind went to 2 Timothy 2:3,
"Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ."

The very next thought, came in the form of Hebrews 12:2,
"Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
For consider Him that endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds."

Jesus was God's son, in the flesh, living in a human body with a will of His own.
He had to bring that human body and will into subjection and agreement with the will of His Father
in order to endure the cross and such abuse from sinners.
The human side of Jesus had to be surrendered to the Divine.
Because He surrendered...because He endured....because He outlasted the trials, you and I can, too.
Are we not joint-heirs with Him now?
Are we not His siblings?
Have we not been adopted into the Kingdom of His Father?
Are we not all His children?

"The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together."
Romans 8:16,17

"If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?"
Hebrews 12:7

Suffering and enduring are all a part of the package in being a child of God and following Christ.
He bore a cross that is immeasurably beyond any cross you and I will ever pick up and carry in this life.
He endured all, so that we could be adopted and elevated to the position of sons and daughters of God, and He said, "If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me." (Luke 9:23)

Denying ourselves means surrendering our will to God's.
It means allowing Him to take full control of our lives.
It means coming to a place of willingness to endure whatever He asks us to, regardless how unpleasant.

Notice that little five-letter word, "daily", in the above verse?
Just because we surrendered our all and allowed God's will to trump our own yesterday,
does not mean it is not a whole new ballgame today.
Each day presents its own unique challenges, its own exclusive barbs that will inevitably go against our grain and create a "cross".
Each new day requires a fresh consecration and surrender of our will to God's.
This is the only way we will ever be able to endure the fiery trials that He allows to come our way.

Zach and I endured and made it through that awful, trying night, and many, many others,
by continuing to surrender what we want to what God wants, by steadily praying Jesus' prayer from the Garden of Gethsemane,
"Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from Me: nevertheless not My will, but Thine, be done."  Luke 21:42

Sometimes, it is as simple as A-B-C.

Acknowledge that there is a conflict, and my will is in direct opposition to God's.
"For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want."  Galatians 5:17 (NIV)

Be still, and know, and accept the reality that He is God, and I am not.
"Be still, and know that I am God..."  Psalm 46:10
Consecrate what I want on the altar of sacrifice to Him in total surrender to what He wants.
"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service."  Romans 12:1


Thy Will Be Done - Hillary Scott

Update on my brother-in-law, LD
I want to thank each one of you for your earnest prayers for LD.
Praise God, he is off the ventilator, and his kidneys are functioning on their own!!!
He has been moved from the Intensive Care Unit to a regular room.
This is nothing short of a Divine-intervention miracle, and we give all glory to God for getting him through this crisis!

Now, he faces the reality of stage 4 lung cancer, with all of its complications.
We know God is not limited by anything or any stage of disease.
He has all power, and nothing is impossible for Him.
We would so appreciate your continued prayers for a miracle for LD and for strength and comfort for my sister, Debbie, nephew, Mark, and all of our family during this time.

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for every prayer you have prayed and for your faithfulness to encourage, support, and befriend us through all of life's ups and downs.
I love each one of you readers so dearly.
You each hold a very special place in my heart.
God bless you and meet any needs you have today.
I am praying for all who will read these words, as I type them.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

URGENT PRAYER NEEDED!!!!!!

"In my distress I cried unto the LORD, and He heard me."
Psalm 120:1
(KJV)

Dear friends, I come to you today with an URGENT plea for prayer.
My brother-in-law, LD, is in the Intensive Care Unit of the hospital.
He was just diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer,
he is in kidney failure, and he is now on a ventilator.


This has all happened very suddenly, and my dear sister, Debbie, and nephew, Mark,
are in such shock and distress.

LD has prayed for many others,
including myself, my precious Mom, Kevin, Zach, and so many in our family, and now, he is the one who is standing in the need of earnest prayer.

James 5:16 says,
"The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much."

Regardless of what the doctors are saying, we all know the power of the Great Physician,
and He is the one we call upon today, out of our broken hearts.

"And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: 
for with God all things are possible."
Mark 10:27

"But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, 
Do not fear, only believe.”
Mark 5:36

Please agree in prayer with us for a miracle!!
My family and I appreciate it SO very much!

God bless each one of you dear readers, and may He help you through any troubles you now face.