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Posts Tagged ‘encouragement’

When My Heart Stopped

It’s been almost 3 years since I last posted anything here. I don’t know if anyone is still following this blog, but if there is, I just wanted to explain my absence, and share my story.

On February 6, 2016, my 13 year old son, Christian, passed away in a tragic accident, and life as I knew it ended. My heart was still beating and my lungs still took in breath, but my mind went numb and my soul seemed to leave me. I was no longer alive.

I saw a post on a grief support group that said, “I died that day too, but they forgot to bury me”.  I thought, “how true”.

The “me I was” no longer exists, because that “me” had hopes and dreams for a future, one that included Christian in every aspect, a future that will never be. And so, that life ended.

A long time ago I said that my words were seldom polished or rehearsed, that I didn’t follow any fancy writing style, but that my writing came from the heart. But when your heart is shredded into tiny particles, words and thoughts don’t make any sense. Neither does life. So, I stopped posting. I did some journaling from time to time, but it was full of darkness and pain, not the kind of words to encourage hope and faith. I was dead inside.

CPR for My Soul

I woke up each morning and did whatever needed doing that day, but it was like watching someone else through a misty veil living a life that didn’t make any sense.

The next winter my Dad passed away and I slipped even further into the empty darkness. In just a few short years I had lost so many family members, I was beginning to feel like Job from the bible. And I kept begging God to take me too, but He didn’t.

About a month after my Dad passed, my pastor’s Dad also passed away unexpectedly. Being a pastor, he upheld a face of dignity and faith, and on the surface he showed great strength. But when I looked into his eyes one evening shortly after his Dad’s funeral, there was a reflection of pain that I knew all too well. When Christian died my pastor had said he couldn’t even imagine what I was feeling. But that evening as we talked about his Dad, I knew he now understood, and a connection was made.

I felt compelled to try to offer a sense of comforting, but I had none to give. Or at least so I thought. My pastor is a man I have always looked up to and felt a deep respect and admiration for (and still do). So when he told me that evening that he felt inspired and hopeful because of the strength and faith I had shown, I felt a little awkward and insecure. But I listened, and we exchanged a few memories and stories.

Later, I saw 2 memes on Facebook that I knew I had to share with him. One said, “Someone had to go into the fire in order for Nebuchadnezzar to see God” and the second said, “God uses broken people like you and me to fix broken people like you and me”.

I understand now that every one of us goes through all kinds of struggles, trials, and pain throughout our lives. But we have a choice in how we react to it. We can allow it to consume and destroy us, or, we can allow it to be used to help someone else, even if only to listen and try to understand on some level.

Many times in the past few years I’ve asked God what He wants me to do. I don’t know how I got the idea that He would speak to me in a loud booming voice and give me step-by-step instructions on what to do (probably too much Hollywood and not enough Holy Bible), but that is not how He answered.

I kept finding myself coming to these bible verses, and it finally occurred to me that these are God’s instructions for me:

“And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31 KJV)

“Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established.” (Proverbs 16:3 KJV)

Coming Back to Life

I have been broken by my grief and there are many pieces of my heart that are gone now. But it has opened my eyes to others that are hurting, and it has stirred compassion in a heart that I thought was dead. That spark of compassion led me back to writing, to share hope and encouragement in any way I can.

I know I will never be the same person I used to be. But in my heart and in my writing, I am coming back to life. It will not be easy, but the journeys that make good stories and testimonies never are.

My goal here is to make connections in sharing our journeys, to lift each other up with stories and prayers, to share hope and smiles where they are needed most.

Since I have forgotten practically everything about the functions on how to run this site, I appreciate your patience as I get reacquainted with the workings. I plan to begin posting a couple times a week and look forward to your feedback. As always, please feel free to share, leave any comments, questions, prayer requests, etc. I welcome the interaction!

God bless!

– Amber Lea

 

 

 

 

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Last week I wrote a post announcing the release of my friend, Pam Thorson’s new book, “Out from the Shadows”. She is celebrating with a launch party on Facebook on March 28, 2014 from 7 am to 7 pm and everyone is invited! There will be prizes given away each hour, but you must join the party to enter for a chance to win.

Let’s help Pam celebrate, and show our support by spreading the word.

Pam Thorson
Author Bio:
Pam Thorson is a licensed practical nurse, author, speaker, and full-time caregiver. She pioneered in the homeschooling movement from 1982-2006 and authored her first book, Song in the Night, in 2008. Her newest book, Out from the Shadows: 31 Devotions for the Weary Caregiver (Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas), pulls back the veil on the unique joys and challenges of caregiving. Pam resides with her family in the Northwest. Visit her here:
http://www.pamthorson.com
http://www.twitter.com/PamelaThorson
http://www.facebook.com/officialpamthorson

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I began writing many years ago, without having any college training or professional background. I just put down on paper what was in my heart and in my head. Several family members and close friends told me that my writing was very good and that I should consider becoming a writer. But that’s what family and friends always say. So I didn’t take it too seriously.

Then I joined a chat room and began joining in a few of the forums there. It was during a time of political debates and elections, and there was quite a bit of tension and heated arguments in many of the forums. So I began a discussion based on sharing humorous stories about my children and animals, as an attempt to cool things down.

Soon there were several hundred people joining in, leaving comments regarding my writing a book of these stories. Several of the comments were from professional writers, and they were encouraging me to become a writer. Me! A real writer?

I had no knowledge of the writing industry, but I asked questions. And to their credit, I found that these writers were more than willing to educate me. Through their kindness, I found some confidence and encouragement, and I began pondering the idea of becoming a writer.

Of course, the picture I painted in my mind was one of me, sitting at my computer, furiously typing out a best seller in a couple of days, while the phone was ringing with offers and pleas from several publishers. I pictured crowds surrounding me in public, asking for my autograph. And I pictured financial success. (Yes, I know that’s funny, but it’s MY picture, so don’t rain on my parade.)

I bought several books on writing, publishing, agents, and marketing guides. After I finished reading them, I think I was more confused than before I started. And I felt a sense of fear, realizing that I had no idea of what I was doing.

I lost contact with the writers I had met in the chat room when the site was suddenly closed for unknown reasons. And things were changing in my life circumstances that were beyond my control. So for a time, I didn’t give much more thought to writing for a living.

But I kept writing, and sharing stories with friends and family. And my biggest fan was always my mom.

Then a few years ago there was an incident which hospitalized my youngest son. There were many people wanting updates and to share loving prayers, but even texting was difficult. So one of the hospital volunteers arranged for me to get access to a computer and set up a webpage where I could post updates and people could leave messages for us. The site was similar to a blog, and I began posting once or twice a day.

The posts were similar to a journal style of writing, and I included my own thoughts and feelings about what was going on with my son. I was writing to share with our family and friends. But by the end of the first week, there were several hundred people that were following this journal, leaving messages of hope and prayers, and requesting that I continue the posts. There were hundreds of people that I didn’t know, I didn’t even know how they found the site. But it was being spread by word of mouth (or computer links) and it continued to grow.

I was a little overwhelmed when I realized that in a short time, there were almost 4,000 people following this journal. And many of them were thanking me for sharing our story, and repeatedly asking me to consider writing a book about our ordeal. My mom was among them.

Over the next year and a half, I wrote the book, “Faith, Hope & Miracles”. And while I was writing it, I was also learning everything I could about the publishing industry. Without knowing any writers or having any contacts in the industry, I knew that it was not going to be an easy endeavor.

When I finished writing the manuscript, I sent it to my mother and asked her to review it and give an honest critique, along with editing. I knew she had taken a few English and writing courses in college, so I felt confident that she would spot any grammar mistakes and such.

When she called after reading the manuscript, her voice was soft and shaky as she said, “Hon, you are a very gifted writer, and you did an excellent job”. At first I thought her emotions were very strong because of the subject of the book surrounding her own grandson. But it was more than that. She told me of how proud she was of me for completing this work, and that she believed in my ability as a writer.

Even when I confided in her that I had no idea of how to go about getting the book published, she said she had faith in me and that she knew it would happen. And she told me to never give up.

After careful consideration, I had decided to self-publish that book. To accomplish that required learning even more about the publishing and marketing industry than I ever really wanted to know, but I was determined to do it. It was a bit overwhelming and even frightening in some ways, but when the book was finally available for sale, I felt a great sense of satisfaction. And I finally realized that writing was what I wanted to do with my life.

I must say that going about it the way I did to become a writer was probably the hardest way. I highly recommend that anyone wanting to pursue a career in writing start by taking writing and publishing courses, and earning some credentials. It is hard enough for a first book to be a success when you know what you’re doing. But when you are learning as you go, and no one knows anything about you, it’s even harder.

I sent a signed copy to my parents and several other family members and friends. But I’m pretty sure that no one was more proud than my mother. It was a little over 6 months later when I finally was able to go visit, and she had my book proudly on display on her living room coffee table, next to her bible.

On that visit, I shared a few ideas I had for a Christian fiction series, and my mother liked the ideas. She said she looked forward to reading the books, and I knew she would always be my biggest fan.

My mother passed away the day after I came home from that trip, one year ago today.

In this past year, I’ve written a few articles and worked on a couple of different blogs. But when it came to working on the series I had started, I seemed to have developed writer’s block.

I managed to scratch out a few paragraphs now and then, but I just couldn’t find the time to really go after it.

It wasn’t until this morning that I finally realized that I have been feeling an underlying depression. I know it’s perfectly normal to grieve after losing someone you love. And in this past year, I have often missed my mother very much, and I’ve cried. But what I didn’t realize was that somewhere in my mind, my writing was, in a way, connected to her.

It’s funny how our brains work, making associations and connections that we don’t even realize are there.

But I also realized something else this morning. I remembered back to when my son was in the hospital and I began keeping that online journal. I knew as events unfolded in that hospital that there was a miracle that needed to be told. I could feel it in my heart that God wanted for me to share it with others, and I felt compelled to do so. I also felt a sense of pride with my mother’s encouragement to continue writing. But in this past year, I have not been doing what I was led to do. I was not honoring my mother, or God, with my procrastination and lack of commitment.

This day has been hard, and I know there will still be more hard days ahead. I also know that my mother would never have wanted grieving for her to stop me from doing something that is dear to my heart, and something that she was so proud of.

In realizing the connection I feel between my mother and my writing, I know now that I can turn that into a strength. It can be the inspiration to keep writing, even when I can’t think of what to write about. It can be the motivation I need to stay committed to my work, even when I’m too tired. And it can be the strength I need, to pour out my heart on paper, the words of my stories. And it can be a way for me to continue to say, “I love you Mom. Thanks for believing in me”.

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Imagine you are at the end of your life. Today is your last day. What legacy will you leave behind?

It’s not exactly a cheerful thought, thinking about our own end. And for the young, it may seem a long way off. But then again, we never know when our time will come. So what do you want to be remembered for?

If today was your last day, what would you do with it?

Perhaps it’s because I’m getting older (I’m not quite ancient yet, but…) I sometimes ponder these things. Perhaps it’s because I wonder what the future will be like for my children. I do not fear my own death, because I know where I’ll be going. But I sometimes wonder what my family and friends will remember of me. Have I made any difference to them?

I have never chased after fame and fortune, although a little more fortune in the financial area would be much appreciated. But when I look back over my life, I realize the majority of my time and efforts have been centered around relationships with others. But do those relationships matter? Will they be remembered? I hope so.

My family and friends have always been important to me. So after the loss of several members of my family over this past year, I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting on those relationships. I ask myself, “Did they know how much I loved them?” “Did I make them feel like they were important and treasured”?

I think about the people I will leave behind when I am gone. What imprint will I leave on their heart? And I ask myself, “What do I want them to remember about me?”

There are times when I look at the world around me and think about what I like or don’t like. I think about the things I would like to change. I would put an end to things like hate, oppression, poverty, and hunger. But how? I am only one person, what difference can I make?

I cannot change the world. But I can teach my children how to love others, by showing them my love. I can teach my children how to be just and fair, by how I treat them and those around us. I can teach my children how to be generous and giving, by my own examples. And I can teach them how to share hope and encouragement by sharing it myself.

The world doesn’t know my name, and I may be forgotten entirely in the years to come. But what I leave in the hearts of my children, my family and friends, will be remembered, at least for a while.

The memories I leave may not be a huge thing by themselves, but if they are shared, they can grow.

So if today is my last day, I will spend it loving my family and friends. I will help with whatever needs to be done. I will encourage love and hope in Jesus. These are the things I am spending my time on today. And tomorrow, if it comes.

There is a saying, to “Live each moment as if it were your last”. That is the way I want to live today. I want to give all of my energy, time and love to those around me. I want to make their lives more joyful in any way I can. I will love God with all my heart, and do my best to glorify Him.

Will the world remember me tomorrow? Probably not. But perhaps it will come to know my children, my family, or my friends.

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Hello Everyone!

I just wanted to say thank you to everyone for their prayers and well wishes. Life has been difficult the past few months, but as always, Jesus has carried me through and given me strength to move on.

I have settled back in to my writing again, beginning a new series in Christian fiction. The idea was inspired by a story my son wrote for a Language Arts project last year. The outline has been completed and the story has begun, though the flow seems to be intermittent right now.

This brings me to an article I came across this morning that I would like to share with you. It sums up the struggles that many of us face when trying to find the time to write. As a single mother home schooling an active 10 year old boy, my writing time is often limited to late night and early mornings. This usually equates to little or no sleep. But with a truckload of determination (and coffee) combined with hope and strength from God, I continue to write.

So, this article is for all of you writers out there that may be facing some of the issues mentioned, to let you know that you are not alone in your struggles. Don’t give up on your writing, even if it might seem impossible. Take it one day at a time, one step at a time, even one sentence at a time. (I am reminded that patience is a virtue. For a writer, it is a life line!) Trust that you will get it finished, and enjoy and celebrate your accomplishments along the way!

http://plottersandpantsers.wordpress.com/2013/05/06/when-life-writing-collide-goal-setting-for-the-busy-writer/

God Bless, and have a Happy Writing Day! – Amber

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I just wanted to give a quick update, and a VERY BIG THANK YOU for all your prayers!

I just received word, my son is out of surgery and in ICU. He is doing well!!!

He was born with Aortic Stenosis, a defective heart valve. They have waited for many years for the technology to improve in replacing these valves. He now has a mechanical valve which should last a lifetime, and without further surgeries.

I am a very thankful mother this morning! God blessed me with three beautiful sons. My oldest went Home and walks with Jesus. My youngest went Home for a visit, but was returned to us. Now my second son has a new heart. And I pray it will always be filled with a love for Jesus!

With all my heart, I thank you all so much for your prayers! I know God hears, and answers. He has surrounded with caring and kind hearts that have lifted me up and encouraged me with hope! He gives me courage to face the storms, and strength to go through them. Thank You Jesus! – Amber

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The Trials of Life

By Amber Leggette-Aldrich

 

But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.” (1 Peter 5:10)

“…May your character not be a writing upon the sand, but an inscription upon the rock! May your faith be no “baseless fabric of a vision,” but may it be builded of material able to endure that awful fire which shall consume the wood, hay, and stubble of the hypocrite… May your whole life be so settled and established, that all the blasts of hell, and all the storms of earth shall never be able to remove you. But notice how this blessing of being “stablished in the faith” is gained. The apostle’s words point us to suffering as the means employed–“After that ye have suffered awhile.” It is of no use to hope that we shall be well rooted if no rough winds pass over us. Those old gnarlings on the root of the oak tree, and those strange twistings of the branches, all tell of the many storms that have swept over it, and they are also indicators of the depth into which the roots have forced their way. So the Christian is made strong, and firmly rooted by all the trials and storms of life. Shrink not then from the tempestuous winds of trial, but take comfort, believing that by their rough discipline God is fulfilling this benediction to you.” (Spurgeon’s Devotionals)

Suffering. Not so pleasant a thought. Certainly it is not something that anyone would desire. Yet it is through the suffering that we, as Christians, are made strong. Think about a chunk of coal. After many years of tremendous pressure, it becomes a beautiful diamond. It is from the pressure put on us during our times of trials and suffering that we are being perfected for God’s Kingdom. It is through our faith and trust in God that we have the strength to go through the storms, knowing that there is victory on the other side.

In my book, “Faith, Hope & Miracles”, I shared some of the toughest trials a person could go through. But my faith gave me the strength to go through it all. I endured the suffering because God gave me hope in the knowledge of His eternal love. There were times when I said, “In spite of the storm, I am strong”. But now I know that it is because of the storm that I am stronger.

After the storm comes the rainbow. God gave me the privilege of witnessing and sharing in a precious miracle. It has been a privilege and joy for me to see the impact in people’s heart in sharing that miracle. What a blessing it is for me to share God’s love and goodness, not only when life is good, but even more during the trials!

“Faith, Hope & Miracles” is available at  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B008J0Z2FQ

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Overcoming Fear

By Amber Leggette-Aldrich

 

About 2 years ago, a young female cat wandered into our yard late one night. Watching her through the window, I could tell that something wasn’t right. After 40 minutes of coaxing with a can of food, I finally got a closer look at her. She was so weak from starvation, she had a hard time walking without falling over. But she was also so terrified that it took a long time for her hunger to overcome the fear enough to come to the food. By the time she was working on her 3rd can, I was finally able to bring her into the cabin and she has lived with us since.

Li’l Bits is very shy and easily spooked, but her main fear is of humans. She has enjoyed being pet, but only if she was on the floor. Every attempt to pick her up or even approach her sent her into a panic attack, indicating that she had been dropped before or maybe even thrown. It’s sickening to think about, but I know she had been badly abused to cause the kind of fear she displays.

I’ll never know the details of what happened to her, but in the time she’s been with us she has finally begun to trust us somewhat, on her terms. She is gaining a little more confidence in herself now, actually risking letting other people see her and even walking up to a few. She has even let me pick her up and hold her a few times now. When she first came to us, the main concern was getting her back to health. She recovered physically in about 4 months. But watching her live in such a state of constant fear just about broke my heart.

I often see a look in her eyes that says she wants to trust, but the memory of whatever happened to her is still there, causing fear and uncertainty. Perhaps in time she will be able to feel safe enough to trust us not to hurt her.

To be alarmed of danger is a benefit to keep us safe and alive. But fear can become our ruler and destroy us as well. It can rob us of peace, joy, contentment, and even love. It can also prevent or even kill our faith.

I have seen fear destroy many things, including opportunities and relationships. A few people I have known have let their fears stop them from being able to develop a lasting bond with anyone. Their fear tells them not to take a chance on anyone because they will be hurt, just like my cat. Fears also cause us not to grab hold of an opportunity that could be something great. In my own case, fear has caused me not to speak up when I should have.

I have had a fear of speaking in front of an audience. I can talk to anyone on a one to one basis. But when I stand in front of an audience, my heart begins to race, my knees begin to shake and I feel like I want to run away. I can’t explain why I feel like that, but it is fear. I also have fears of “what if”. There have been many times in the past that I would experience a panic attack because of thinking of all the bad things that might happen.

Thankfully, I can say that I have been delivered from unfounded fears. The first step was in learning to trust God. I had to decide if I believed that God does truly love me, like it says in the bible. I decided “yes”. Then I had to ask myself if I really believed that God is honest and good and keeps His promises. Again, my answer was “yes”.  I had read a verse in the bible that promised God would never leave or forsake me. That brought me some comfort, and gave me some confidence.

For many years I had avoided putting myself in situations that caused me to fear, like speaking to an audience. But there were still the always present fears of “what if”. I have a very creative imagination, so I could conjure up many possibilities to be afraid of. Then I read a scripture that really touched my heart. “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7) As I studied this verse I realized that God doesn’t want for us to be ruled by fear. He wants for us to feel safe, under His protection. He wants for us to trust in Him.

There was still a hesitation in me that allowed my fears to prevent me from doing certain things. I prayed and prayed for deliverance from these fears, but they didn’t really go away. Eventually I learned that part of trusting in God means that I can have courage to try something, even while I’m afraid. That requires complete trust. “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5) As I learned more about giving God my complete trust, I began stepping out in faith, believing that He would be there with me and help me to get through the fear. And He did. I still feel fear when I stand up in front of a crowd of people. But I remind myself that God is right there with me and He is much stronger than my fear. Sometimes I picture in my mind that God is holding me in His arms while I’m talking, and there is an invisible shield around me that nothing can get through. And even though I may feel nervous and afraid, I know His strength is protecting me and I can make it through anything because of that.

Fear of the unknown is one of the hardest fears to overcome. As I said earlier, my imagination can go quite wild with “what if”. What God finally showed me was that anything can happen or change without warning, and I have no control over it. I had to learn that I am not in control at all, He is! I have no power in myself, He is all powerful. And I had to learn that things are not according to my will, but His will. That is when I was able to put my complete trust in Him. Now I know that no matter what happens, it is all in His hands and I have trust in Him to work it out for the best according to His plans. Because I can trust in Him completely, I can accept that bad things may happen. But I know that He can use it for His purpose to cause something good to come from it. I know that I cannot always understand why things happen, but it is ok because He knows. I do not know the future or how things will always affect other things, but God does.

This doesn’t mean that I am without any responsibility. I can’t just sit here and do nothing. But it gives me a freedom in knowing that I do not have to live my life being controlled by fears and anxiety. I can step out in faith, knowing that as I walk under God’s protection and grace, He is always there with me, helping me to overcome any fear. He has given me deliverance and victory, and all doubt has been removed, being replaced with total faith and trust in Him.

 

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I Am B.A.D. (Blessed And Delivered)

Jesus Set Me Free!

by Amber LeggetteAldrich

 

Our church youth group returned from Youth Camp this past weekend. I had been reading some of their posts on Facebook about their experiences, and I could feel the excitement and joy in their hearts. It has always been a tremendous blessing to me to see our young people so full of fire and enthusiasm for Jesus! And their willingness to openly share what God is doing in their lives is something that I deeply admire. These young people are not just talking about God, but they are walking the walk as well.

 

At the Wednesday night service several of the youths gave testimonies about what they had experienced at the camp. As each one shared, I found myself crying inexplicably. It wasn’t out of sadness, but more from a deep sense of thankfulness. Before long I began to realize that I was remembering what my life had been like before Jesus set me free. There was so much bondage in my life, mostly from my own doing. I can’t even begin to explain the deepness of the gratitude I feel for what Jesus did for me. But when I think about it, and how I have been changed by His love, there is a joy that just explodes inside of me, and I want to share it with the whole world!

 

Each new day is another opportunity to let that joy shine into the world. I don’t have to wait for something to stir me up. I only have to think about what the Lord saved me from, and how much He loves me. I can find His goodness in the promises of His Word, and I know where I am going when my race is finished here. My God is more than enough for me! He is bigger than any storm I face! And I am no longer a slave to sin!

 

I am not perfect, yet. But God is working in my heart, changing me day by day, moment by moment. And I will be made perfect when I enter His gates! Knowing that gives me an assurance and contentment, as well as excitement. I no longer live in condemnation, but in liberation.

 

Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world:” (Galatians 4:3) Things like anger, unforgiveness, doubt, fear, drugs, rebellion, hate, hypocrisy, enviousness and more, were all chains of bondage to me. No matter how many times I tried to change, no matter how hard I tried, I could not do it. Maybe for a day or two in one or two areas, but it never lasted.

 

But then I began to learn about Jesus. “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32)  “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) Through learning the truth about His pure and unconditional love for me, I began to trust in Him. I called out to Him for help, to set me free. The chains that had held me hostage for so long were broken. I repented and was baptized in Jesus’ name. My sins were forgiven and washed away. As I opened up my heart to Him, He filled me with His Holy Spirit and great love, and my life began to change.

 

My journey since then has not always been easy. Many trials and temptations have come my way. But the freedom I have in Jesus replaces the fear I once had with peace and comfort. He is always with me, and He gives me strength and courage to continue on. I remember what my life was like before He saved me, and I won’t go back. “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” Galatians 5:1  I may fall down and scrape my knees, but He helps me to get back up and keep fighting. He gives me the heart to love others, and to forgive as He has forgiven me. I put my life in His hands, and there’s no better place to be! He has shown me the wonders of His love, and profound miracles too. I AM SO B.A.D. because Jesus has set me free!

 

(Our youth group performed this skit at camp. The song and the skit brought out a lot of emotions in many, and was the main inspiration for this post. The song is “Set Me Free” by Casting Crowns. I hope you enjoy it!)

 

 

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Are You Too Busy For God?

By Amber Leggette-Aldrich

How often do you ask someone “How have you been?” and get the reply, “Oh, I’ve been so busy”? I hear it all the time.

Recently I began watching what people are being kept busy with. Our children are being raised by TV and video games and the internet, involved in a deluge of sports and classes of every kind, or hanging around in the malls or on the street. Adults are away from home, working to pay for all of the necessities and luxuries we have, or trying to find a way to escape from all the stress of life.  For me, it seemed like I was always on the go, running errands, working, going to appointments, and being a shuttle service for my family and friends. In addition to that, there were the day to day chores. Things like taking care of my son, dishes, laundry, cooking, paying bills, tending gardens, feeding the animals, cleaning the house, chopping firewood, etc. along with phone calls, emails and texts. My relaxing time was mostly spent on movies, facebook & other internet sites, or spending time in idle chatter with my friends, if I even had time to relax. Many times I was busy from the time I got out of bed in the morning until I got back into bed at night. Of course I would squeeze in time on Sundays and Wednesdays for church, but it was almost like another appointment I had to plan into an otherwise already busy day. And my energy was soon drained. Even when I had an opportunity to do something for fun, I didn’t enjoy it anymore. My mind was still flooded with all the thoughts of things that needed to be done or taken care of.

Individually, there wasn’t anything bad or evil about the things I was doing. And for the most part, I didn’t mind doing most of these things. What was bad, was that my life was so flooded with so many things that it kept me distracted from building an intimate relationship with Jesus. I had a really hard time trying to figure out how I could balance things out in my life so that I could have time for Him.

Then it hit me one day. I was listening to a tape from a bible study, and the verses, “And it shall be unto you for a fringe, that ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the LORD, and do them; and that ye seek not after your own heart and your own eyes, after which ye use to go a whoring” (Numbers 15:39) & “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.”  (Mark 12:30) I thought to myself, “God doesn’t want some little part of my heart. He wants all of my heart! He doesn’t want to be squeezed into some small corner of my busy schedule to occupy my mind for a few seconds. He wants my mind to be consumed with thoughts of Him!

One thing that God showed me in my heart was that Satan is very smart, and very patient. The enemy has a plan to keep us separated from God. An essential part of that plan is in keeping us so busy, so occupied with what we call ordinary things of life, that we don’t have time for God. Satan keeps our minds so full of unnecessary junk, in order to prevent us from being focused on what really matters…our Savior! We are constantly bombarded with the ways of the world. And we are continually focused on ourselves. The bible tells us that we are to put God above all else. But our minds tend to think about everything according to what we want or think we need, instead of Jesus. And that’s just what the devil wants.

The devil knows that if he can keep us busy enough, he can keep us from being focused on God. Sure we may still go to church and read our bible occasionally, and pray when we need something. But we are not focused on a deep and meaningful relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ. When the world looks at us, they don’t see much of anything that is showing His Holy Spirit dwelling in us. We might still make it to Heaven, but it’s not very likely that we will be inviting many other souls for God’s Kingdom.

Consider what you spend most of your time thinking about. Is it Jesus, or yourself? When we truly love God with all of our heart, soul, mind & strength, then our thoughts are most often on Him and not on ourselves. We must remember that it is Jesus who has the power, and is the power, it’s His great love that reaches out to us. It has nothing to do with who we are or what we can do. It’s about our personal relationship with Christ, having the desire in our heart to want to know Him and fall in love with Him, becoming willing to follow His leadership. We need to be consumed by His Spirit, letting ourselves be completely given to and for Him!

We do that by spending time with Him, reading and hearing His Word, and through prayer. We do it by opening our heart and letting Him fill us and dwell in us. And when we do that, His light shines through us. Our thoughts are transformed, and therefore our hearts. Our words, actions, attitudes…our lives are changed. Then the ways of the world are not so appealing to us. “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God”. (Romans 12:2) We must resolve in earnest to make this “renewing of our mind” consistent, and constant. The power to do this comes from God. It takes hope, faith, courage and determination, not in ourselves, but in Him who is all powerful!

It wasn’t easy for me to let God change me, and I know I am still not perfect. But the first thing I had to learn was that I cannot change myself, only God can. I had to choose to want Him to change me, and then to let Him change me. As I began to fall more deeply in love with Him because of who He is, I soon realized that a lot of what my time had been spent on before no longer mattered to me. My heart and mind now belong to Jesus, and I am so blessed!

We can find the time or make the time for what we consider important to us. So perhaps the first step is asking, “How important is my relationship with Christ to me? Am I really willing to give myself up to Him completely?”

If you want to know where your heart really is, just look where your mind goes when it wanders. Is your life too “BUSY”…Being Under Satan’s Yoke?

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