Thankfulness and Joy

Friends, I am at Petersburg this weekend visiting my son for Thanksgiving. I wanted to share with you a personal reason for my joy and thankfulness. If you would ever have told me that I could have a son in prison and still be joyful, I would have said you were crazy! But I do have a son in prison and I am still joyful! He came to know Jesus just before he went in, a little more than two years ago. That blesses my heart daily! But through his experience it has caused me to evaluate my own faith and I realized I was not living as one who really believed in faith righteousness. I was instead living as one who had failed God and felt as if I could never do enough good to make up for it. I had lost my joy.

(I will give you a few seconds to process what you just read here. YES, I do have a son in prison. Yes, he did some bad things, but God has saved him and forgiven him just the same as he has me.)

BUT…here is the truth of the gospel in a nutshell.

We serve the Risen King! The God of this universe saw us struggling in our sin and loved us, in spite of it. Jesus then bore our punishment on the cross and rose again to life after 3 days in the tomb. By doing this he offered us not just an escape from judgement but an inheritance too! It is ours when we believe through faith! We don’t have to do anything more to achieve it and nothing more to keep it! The good works that we do now are simply a byproduct of our love for him and a natural outpouring of our gratitude and thankfulness to the one who bore our suffering and shame so we could have a life of joy and peace. They are not an attempt to earn his love or keep his love. We don’t need to do that.

Romans 8:38-39 tells us that nothing can separate us from the love of God! It says:

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Amen and Hallelujah!! That means if we screw up (as we all do), God doesn’t withdraw his love from us.

Matthew 7:24-27

Therefore everyone who hears these words of wisdom and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on a rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rise and the winds blew and beat against that house and it fell with a great crash.”

I love this analogy.

Jesus is our rock. Our righteousness comes from him. When we put our faith in Jesus as our righteousness, our foundation is sure, stable, concrete!

Now What happens when I fail? If I trust in faith righteousness, my foundation will stand firm even when I fail or fall short of the mark. It is not shaken even a little.

When we try to create our own foundation using pieces of God’s promises stuck together with a good work or two to connect them, we are building a very rickety house- one that will never stand.

If I trust in works righteousness and I fail, suddenly my house begins to wobble and sway. When I fail again or when Satan breathes down my neck that I am a failure and don’t measure up, my house crumbles and falls with a loud crash.

Trust only in Jesus for your salvation.

Ephesians 2:8-9 For it is by GRACE you are saved THROUGH FAITH, and NOT of YOURSELVES- it is a GIFT from God, NOT OF WORKS lest anyone should boast.

When is the last time you have to work for a gift?

Be blessed and be a blessing to those around you that they may see God living in you!

Jamie

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Today I was a hot mess.

So many things going wrong all at once has me feeling like an emotional train wreck. I want to cry over silly inconsequential things, argue with my husband, throw in the towel on some frustrating situations. Then, I am mad at myself for not being stronger, for even being a hot mess. I think I should be able to easily rise above such things. That adds to my desire to sit and cry. I feel like a failure.

I thought about going for a walk but didn't really want to be caught crying as I walked around the neighborhood or at the local park I favor. Instead I saw my Bible on the table and I sat down in front of it.

Ok God, I need you to talk to me. I need you to both strengthen me and comfort me so I can get a grip and make it through my day without doing something I will later regret.

I opened the Bible randomly and was going to flip forward until I decided where I should read. Should I go to Matthew where I left off my reading? Maybe I should go to Psalms and find some comfort there. Or maybe I should turn to Proverbs for some wisdom that I surely need. My random page I turned was in Lamentations, not the most uplifting book of the Bible and not what I would have chosen for myself. But on the lower right hand corner I have a couple verses highlighted in blue because they talk about God's love.

What I saw said this. "Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions (mercies, love) never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, "The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him."! Chapter 3:21-24.

I suddenly feel blessed, and loved, and comforted and strong.

Oh how sweet is the Love of a Father who waits patiently for us to turn to him so he can speak truth into our hearts.

Is God Trustworthy?

A father and his two young sons went to the community pool to swim. The older of the two boys had previously completed swimming lessons and eagerly jumped in the water and began swimming around. The younger boy was timid and afraid to get in the water.  The father stepped into the shallow end and encouraged his youngest to follow him.

“Uhuh”, the boy said as he stood feet firmly anchored to the concrete.

“You can come in son, I will keep you safe.  Come jump into my arms, I will catch you”.

The little boy stared at the water thinking “It looks really deep, I could fall in, what if daddy doesn’t catch me? I could drown!”,  He looked up at his father and said “I am scared daddy, I don’t want to fall in”.

The father once again reassured him. “It’s ok son, there is no reason for you to be afraid.  You can trust me to catch you, I promise that I will not let you fall in”.

Now, the older brother swam over to the edge and coaxed his baby brother “Come on in brother, jump!  Daddy will catch you. He catches me too”.

You see the older brother had seen his daddy keep his promises again and again.  He knew how very much his daddy loved them both and would not let them drown.  He knew his father was trustworthy and faithful.  He knew and understood how great the father’s love was for both his sons. As an older brother he had previous experience that he could recall to mind and could share when his younger brother was struggling to believe.

As Christians, trust can be really hard when it is impossible to see what we are trusting. We must call to mind other situations where God has shown himself faithful and rely on that knowledge. We must search the scripture for God’s character to be revealed to us to increase our trust.

I recently heard one of the best lessons on trust from Jill Driscoe about trusting God in the storm.  If you would like to hear it too, listen to it here. Trusting by Jill Driscoe

Psalm 9:10 “Those who know your name trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.”

Proverbs 3:5-6   ‘Trust in the LORD, with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. ‘

Psalm 56:3 ‘When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.’

Scriptures tell us that when we trust God, he is our:

  • rock (2 Samuel 22:2-3, Psalm 18:2, Psalm 62:6, Isaiah 26:4),
  • fortress (2 Samuel 22:2, Psalm 18:2, Psalm 62:6, Psalm 91:2, Psalm 144:2)
  • deliverer (2 Samuel 22:2, Psalm 18:2, 2 Corinthians 1:10)
  • shield, faithful shield  (2 Samuel 22:3, 2 Samuel 22:31, Psalm 18:2, Psalm 18:30, Psalm 31:14, Psalm 33:21, Psalm 91:4, Psalm 115:9-11, Psalm 144:2, Proverbs 30:5)
  • salvation (2 Samuel 22:3, Psalm 18:2, Psalm 62:6-7, Isaiah 12:2)
  • stronghold   (2 Samuel 22:3, Psalm 18:2, Psalm 144:2)
  • refuge, place of shelter  (2 Samuel 22:3, Psalm 18:2, Psalm 62:7-8, Psalm 73:28, Psalm 91:2, Isaiah 51:13, Nahum 1:7)
  • savior  (2 Samuel 22:3, 1 Timothy 4:10)
  • protection (Psalm 5:11)
  • giver of good (Psalm 13:5, Psalm 31:19)
  • redeemer (Psalm 34:22)
  • rampart (Psalm 91:4)
  • sovereign LORD (Psalm 141:8)
  • Our help (Psalm 31:14, Psalm 33:20-21, Psalm 115:9-11)
  • Our Strength (Isaiah 12:2, Psalm 31:14)
  • Our song (Isaiah 12:2)
  • He is merciful to those who trust in him (Psalm 31:14)
  • He subdues our enemies (Psalm 144:2)
  • He shows us and surrounds us with unfailing love (Psalm 32:10,           Psalm 33:22)
  • He will save us (Psalm 86:2)
  • He directs our paths (Proverbs 3:5)
  • He will keep us in perfect peace (Isaiah 26:3)
  • He will fill us with joy and peace (Romans 15:13)
  • He will keep us safe (Proverbs 28:26, Proverbs 29:25)
  • He will answer our prayers (1 Chronicles 5:20)
  • He brings justice (Isaiah 51:5)
  • We are blessed when we trust him (Psalm 40:4, Psalm 84:12, Psalm 112:7, Proverbs 16:20)
  • We will prosper (Proverbs 28:25)
  • We will not be shaken (Psalm 62:6, Psalm 125:1)
  • We don’t need to be alarmed, we can feel secure (Job 40:23)
  • We do not need to fear bad news (Ps 112:7)

Well this all sounds very good!  The benefits of trusting God are amazing!

The Bible also tells us who/what we should not trust to save us.

  • Do not put your trust in riches (Proverbs 11:28, Jeremiah 12:6, Jeremiah 48:7 and 49:4, 1 Timothy 6:17)
  • your family, neighbors, friends, others, men (Isaiah 31:1, Isaiah 36:7, Micah 7:5)
  • worthless things (Job 15:31)
  • other things (Job 8:14)
  • idols, false gods (Psalm 115:8, Psalm 135:18, Jeremiah 13:25, Habakkuk 2:18)
  • deceitful words (Jeremiah 7:4, 8)
  • self (Proverbs 28:26, Isaiah 47:10, Jeremiah 48:7)
  • fortified cities or walls (Deuteronomy 28:52, Jeremiah 5:17)

So the next time you feel uncertain, anxious or afraid – remember that we can Trust God to save us, guide us, protect us if we are truly trusting in him and not other things.

Father God, help me to trust you even when things don’t make sense. When my back is up against a Red Sea and the enemy is in front of me wanting to destroy me, help me especially then to trust you to part the water so I can walk through on DRY ground. Help me to not rely on myself for even the mundane of decisions. Help me to not put my trust in my bank account, my husband, my friends or family. Your word says that these things are fragile like spiders webs and will not save me, protect me or sustain me. When someone that I love dies, when I am betrayed by a friend, when I don’t get that job I wanted or my child goes to prison…whatever it is that wants to make me fear, help me to remember that I can trust you, I do not need to be afraid. What looks big and scary to me is not at all to you. I thank you for being my rock, my deliverer, my refuge, my salvation and my song. Surround me with your joy and peace as I begin to trust you more fully!  I love you Father because of your great love for me.

In Jesus name

amen

jamieleigh

How do you say “I love you”?

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love with a passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints, — I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! — and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death. Elizabeth Barrett Browning

We all need to love and be loved. It is a need instilled in us by God.

  • 1 John 4:7Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God
  • John 13:34So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other”.

If you have been alive and talking for more than a decade or two, you can tell more about what someone says by the tone and body language they use than by the words themselves. Telling someone that you love them while gazing into their eyes and holding their hands evokes more warm fuzzy’s than when you shout it at them in the midst of conflict.

We also know that actions speak louder than words.  This is especially true in the arena of love.  Saying I love you and coupling that with a nicely prepared meal or a box of chocolates on Valentine’s Day is really nice, but how about on the day after that or March 18th, June 5th or October 12th?  Really loving someone is to constantly be looking for things we can do every day (not just on special occasions) to show them we value them, we appreciate them, and we don’t want to live without them. Living unselfishly is one of the greatest ways we can demonstrate love on a continual basis.

  • 1 Corinthians 13:4–8aLove is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails”. (NIV)
  • 1 John 3:18 “Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth”.

Do we put our jobs above our families? Our hobbies?

  • Matthew 6:24-25No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.  Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing”?

Do we like to spend time with our kids, our spouse?  Do they know this?  If you are constantly looking for ways to spend time with your family, I can assure you that they know you enjoy being with them.  If you are constantly gone from home because your hobbies are more important to you than sitting around the supper table with your family…..I can assure you they don’t feel as important as they should.  This is an area where the actions are shouting and the words are being drowned out. You may think that being with your family one or two nights a week is enough or taking them on a big outing once a month is enough, but it is not.   If this is you, your priorities should be re-evaluated.

  • Luke 12:34  “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also”.
  • Exodus 20:3  “You shall have no other gods before me”.

Does your spouse carry all the responsibility of the household? Do they have to do all the cooking, cleaning, maintenance, bill paying and caring for the daily details of raising children? If so, this is not demonstrating love on your part. It is taking advantage of a loving spouse and is not Biblical. This could be said for husbands or wives.

  • Ephesians 5:25 “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her”
  • 1 Peter 3:7 “Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers”.

Are you a single parent, working to pay the bills? What you do after work tells a pretty accurate story.  When you have free time, are you excited to be with your kids or do you prefer letting off steam with your friends?  If you are working hard to take care of your kids, you may think that is enough, but it is not.  They need emotional bonding time to feel the love and see it in action.  They need story time, and play time and cooking dinner together time.  These times of togetherness will show them that you want to enjoy life together with them to the fullest.

“The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread. “~Mother Teresa

When you are separated from your spouse or kids for more than a day, do you make the time to call them or text them to let them know you are thinking about them?  Do you make them a priority and give them value?  Doing this will cement in their minds that you miss them when you are not there and that you want them to feel loved and cared for.  They need to know you are there for them even when you are apart from each other. (We may not be able to physically be there for them but we need to be emotionally available to them).

  • Genesis 31:49  “May the LORD watch between you and me when we are absent one from the other”. 
  • Joshua 1:9  Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Have you ever noticed your child or spouse being sad?  Have you noticed how much you can cheer them up by just noticing how they feel and telling them that. Expressing a desire to help alleviate their sadness can often make them smile before the conversation is over. This doesn’t mean you need to or are responsible for fixing them, just simply showing support can go far to remind them they are not facing their situation alone.  Offer to pray with them and for them. By bringing Jesus into the conversation, we can help them lay the burden down and find rest and peace.

  • Galatians 6:2  Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
  • 1 Peter 5:7  Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you”. (NLT)   
  • John 14:27  “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid”.

How do we treat those around us that are not our favorites?  Those we may not even like?  Do we treat them how they deserve to be treated? Do we let God’s love flow through us and splash on them, or do we selfishly hold onto his love and keep it for only those we deem worthy?

  • Luke 6:35  “But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked”.
  • Matthew 5:44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”.

Love is much more than just saying “I love you”.  It is living our lives conscious of those around us and demonstrating true love daily by our speech, by our attitudes, and by our actions. How do you say “I love you”?

What’s in a meme?

Everyone has seen those funny, inspiration or satirical memes that are shared over the internet. Have you ever wanted to create your own?

While exploring a website (www.socialmedia.examiner.com) for my Social Media class, I found an article entitled 44 Social media tools Recommended by the Pros that had many helpful apps. Three of these tools enabled text over pic editing and I thought I had hit the jackpot, since I have been searching for an app to do this very thing for over a year without any success.   In order to decide which one was best, I decided to test them all myself. Being a beginner, I would be able to see which one was the easiest to use, which had the most bells and whistles and which produced the nicest looking product. I created one photo design with each of them and will describe a bit about each app and show my finished product for each. Then you can judge for yourself what will work best for you.

The first tool was called Pablo. It is not an app, but a free website for “Design engaging images for your social media posts in under 30 seconds” (https://bufferapp.com/pablo#). I did not complete my task quite that quickly my first time around but I think with continued use it would be very quick. It had significant limitations for text design, sizing and layout. It did have the ability to upload your own image which I did and it also has a very limited selection of sample images you can use as well. Just picking my photo took me probably five minutes or so. Trying to edit my text and playing around with layout and size, I easily used another 15 minutes. Pablo has an easy upload feature to share your picture directly with Facebook or Twitter. Another drawback to this product was that I copablo(1)uld not find this as an app for my iPhone.

Here is my design. I wanted my name in the corner as a watermark, but it would not allow me to make it transparent.

The second tool was actually an app called Word Swag. It is optidandelion wordsmized for apple products with no mention of androids. This worked for me since I have an iPhone but I did have to pay $3.99 to purchase the download. It has a lot of exciting graphic design layouts and plenty of blank backgrounds to choose from. The one drawback I found was that I could not adjust font size for individual words or the watermark. It was pretty easy to use and the end product was professional looking.

Lastly, I tried Studio. It is free for apple products and androids. It allowed me to add multiple layers to my photos which allowed me to adjust all who are wearysizes and fonts for any of the words. Once finished though, I was not able to go back and edit it. I think this product gives me the most interesting looking designs and it will probably be my personal favorite.

I am happy that I found these apps for adding text on my pics. If you are aware of any others you use, pass them on to me. Let me know if you like these.

Be Blessed,

JamieLeigh

My very first blog

Hello everyone!  I am very excited to be writing my very first blog. For the first 8 weeks I will be using this for a college class.  After that, I will write about our identity in Christ.

Do you ever feel like you are living from a place of fear?  Do you feel like you always need to be in control? Do you ever feel like you are not measuring up?  I will expose  these emotions and show you how to rid yourself of this sense of lack that can drive a person to make destructive decisions in their life.  I have definitely been there and done that.

God sent Jesus to redeem our lives from destruction. He died on the cross to give us His righteousness and to eliminate our need to perform for our self worth.  HE gives us HIS worth. 1 Corinthians 1:30 tells us we have a righteousness that is not of our own doing. It is not based on anything we could possibly do, but is based on what Jesus did for us on the cross.

That’s all for now. I will be back in 8 weeks with my first official blog on the personal identity that we can each have in Christ.

In the interim, I will blog about whatever my social media class bids me to do.

Be blessed,

Jamie