A Good Hard Year
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A Good Hard Year

It’s my usual practice to spent time during December reflecting on the year-gone-by and prayerfully making decisions about how I choose to live the next 365 days. 2019 was a good hard year, and I am grateful for every good hard moment. I look back and see the manifest presence of God in my life, and I end the year with an overwhelming sense of gratitude—not because I accomplished all the goals I’d set (I didn’t); not because the year wasn’t riddled with challenges on every level (it was); not because I got it all right (I definitely didn’t); not because of the numerous victories and triumphs (there were many). And not just because God wowed me in ways that made Ephesians 3:20 an even greater reality in my life (He did). I am blessed and I am grateful because it was a good hard year! Had it been good without the hard, I may have missed the transformative lessons it presented. I may have rejected the wisdom it provided. I may have overlooked the blessings that manifest in hard places or, worse, have taken them for granted.  I’d be entering 2020 a very different person than I am today. I’d be entering the New Year unarmed, unprepared, unchanged, unresolved.  Had it been hard without the good, I wouldn't have recognized every challenge as an opportunity for growth and greater faith; I may have grown cynical and disdained the wisdom the year offered; I may have dismissed even the…

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Emmanuel – God With Us

"How's it going?" a friend asked me recently. "Great!"  I said. "Are frazzled and sufficiently stressed about Christmas?" "I don't do that anymore," I replied. "Don't do frazzled. Don't do stress." "Maybe you can teach me," he chortled. Truth is it has taken me years to get to this place.  To not get caught up in the Christmas vortex, but be at peace simply because it's the season when the Prince of Peace was born.  To learn to rest in one truth and let that anchor me—Emmanuel!  If you find yourself a bit unwrapped because you don't feel quite ready for the big day, I want to share this post from last year.  Hope it will bless you and keep in a place of peace!  Merry Christmas! "Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel."  Isaiah 7:14  "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." John 1:14 I have a confession to make: It is exactly 6 days before Christmas and I have not put up my tree nor have I bought one single gift. I am not a Grinch by any means.  I love Christmas. I love all the sights, sounds, and smells of Christmas. I love shopping for others and surprising them. I love all the merry-making with family and…

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Finding God in Interruptions

So we are convinced that every detail of our lives is continually woven together to fit into God’s perfect plan of bringing good into our lives, for we are his lovers who have been called to fulfill his designed purpose.  Romans 8:28 TPT I’d made the decision! After a year and a half of near-constant pain and cortisone shots that were becoming less and less effective. After standing in my bathroom one day in so much pain all I could do was cry (and then get angry at myself for crying).  After being given all my medical options.  “You have to decide how much pain you can live with,” Dr. S had said.  “We can try to manage the pain, but the only way to be pain-free is. . .” After years of praying and believing for a re-creative miracle, I prayerfully decided to have total knee replacement surgery. I had completed practically all the pre-surgical requirements:  blood work, total joint replacement class, exercises to strengthen quads.  All that was left was to get clearance from my dentist and a check-up with my primary care physician.  I was all set! “No surgery for you, my dear!”  Dr. Hill said. “You have an abscessed tooth.”  The look in my eyes must have shown utter disbelief coupled with disappointment because he proceeded to paint a very graphic picture of what might happen if I had surgery and got an infection (a picture, I might add, I did not need to envision). …

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A Different Kind of Sacrifice: Rethinking Lent

"Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, As in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams." 1 Samuel 15:22   "Lent comes providentially to reawaken us, to shake us from our lethargy." Pope Francis Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Lenten season. Lent wasn’t a part of my Baptist upbringing. I actually didn’t know much about it until my years at a Catholic university and, seeing some spiritual benefit, I began my yearly observance of Lent – at least superficially. I’d decide on something I could live without for 40 days and suffer through abstinence of junk food, Coke, maybe an hour or two of television. By the time Resurrection Sunday arrived, I don’t know that I had grown or changed deeply in anyway. I can’t say that I was closer to God. Truth: I  was just ready to indulge in all I’d missed for six weeks. As we enter this season of Lent, Holy Spirit encourages me to view with fresh eyes all this season can be as I surrender these 40 days along with myself to Him. He urges me to see beyond the sacrifice of my daily visit to my favorite coffee spot for a large vanilla latte with nonfat milk, beyond Tuesday nights spent with the Parsons family on "This Is Us", beyond that slice of key lime cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory. Even beyond…

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Jesus Loves Me!

Then you will be empowered to discover what every holy one experiences—the great magnitude of the astonishing love of Christ in all its dimensions. How deeply intimate and far-reaching is his love! How enduring and inclusive it is! Endless love beyond measurement that transcends our understanding—this extravagant love pours into you until you are filled to overflowing with the fullness of God! Ephesians 3:18,19 The Passion Translation It was a God-ordained moment that August morning in 2005.  A rare moment when my mother and I were completely alone in her hospital room. No doctors prognosticating.  No nurses prodding.  No visitors praying.  Just the two of us, engulfed in God's peace.  A moment-–poignant and precious—that I will always hold in my heart. I gingerly climbed in the bed with Mommy and snuggled close.  She was tired. She hadn’t slept for days as if  she knew that if she closed her eyes, she’d awaken in the Presence of God.  Not that she was afraid of death; she wasn’t.  She’d seen beyond this earthly place and knew Who awaited her.  All she needed to know now was that I’d be OK. I snuggled closer and began singing:           Jesus, loves me this I know;           For the Bible tells me so;           Little ones to Him belong; They are weak, but He is strong. Mom shifted in the bed. I continued:          Yes, Jesus loves me;          Yes, Jesus loves me. . . She looked at me with knowing and sang, her…

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Unapologetically (Sorry, Not Sorry)

"But God's amazing grace has made me what I am! And his grace to me was not fruitless. In fact, I worked harder than all the rest, yet not in my own strength, but God's, for his empowering grace is poured out upon me." 1 Corinthians 15:10 The Passion Translation  She’d answer the phone speaking in tongues! “Hello, Mother Clark!” I’d say. She’d laugh with such delight as she always did when I called, and she’d say (as she always did), “Ah, Sister Deborah! Daughter, I was just thinking about you!”  She’d barely give me a chance to ask how she was or if she needed anything before she’d go straight prophetic on me, give me a “thus saith the Lord,” and then pray for me.  I’d hang up, eyes filled with tears and heart filled with gratitude. I admit I don’t remember a lot of those conversations now. But there are some that I will never forget, for the words lodged deep in my spirit.   They didn’t necessarily take root at the time, but from time to time now those words returned to me to heal, to shift my perspective, to settle me more deeply, to strengthen my resolve. I’d come home from work one afternoon and called Mother Clark just to check on her. She began telling me about a segment of the Oprah Show about birth order that she’d just watched. Then she said, “You are bold, full of dazzle and sparkle! Full of life! Gifted…

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