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Posts Tagged ‘family’

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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Dear Friends,

As some of you may know, I took some time off for a vacation to visit with my son and daughter-in-law in Texas, and then off to Virginia to spend some time with my parents. I arrived back home on Friday morning, then received news that my Mom passed away Saturday morning. I have returned to Virginia and do not know when I will be posting again.

I know my Mom is with Jesus now, no longer in pain or suffering, but free. It was said that she had been holding on, waiting to see Christian and I again. It had been almost 7 years since our last visit. She went peacefully in her sleep, and I am so very thankful that we got to spend time with her before she passed. I will always treasure our memories and the love we shared with her.

I allowed distance and cost to become obstacles preventing more frequent visits with those I love, and it is now a deep regret. Even though money was still an issue, God stirred my heart with a sense of urgency to come. Then He provided a way to make it happen, proving once again He is all knowing and a compassionate God. My Dad told me that our visit gave Mom peace and comforted her.

My heart is aching, but I know I must be strong now, for my family. I do not have any more words right now, except to say: never take the moments you have for granted because they will never come again, and never pass up the opportunities to say “I love you” because it may be your last chance.

Rest in peace Mom, rejoice in the presence of Jesus, and we will see you again someday. You are forever in my heart! Thank you God, for giving me the privilege of being her daughter!

 

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Good morning! Before the post, I wanted to share a quick update on Daniel. He did have to go back into surgery on Tuesday due to some bleeding, but he’s doing much better and recovering now. He’s been moved out of ICU and he’s eating solid foods, even being a little ornery. I am one thankful mom! And thank you all again for your prayers and support!

And now, on to the post:

Technology and the Distant Family

Lately I’ve been reminiscing about the “old days”, as my 10 year old puts it. It has always intrigued me how children’s minds perceive time and distance. Thankfully I am not easily offended when my son asks me questions like “did you ever see any dinosaurs when you were young”? At the same time, since he’s growing up surrounded by technology, it’s hard for him to imagine what it was like to live without it.

In many ways, parts of Alaska have been somewhat sheltered from the constant barrage of technology, though it’s been rapidly assimilating our younger generation lately. It used to take a few years longer for our state to catch up with the use of current gizmos being used regularly in the Lower 48 states. Things like personal computers and cell phones took longer to become a “normal” way of life here.

I’ve shared many stories with my young son about the days when I first moved here. Yes, we had TV’s back then, but no VCR’s and DVD’s. The telephones still had coiled wires going from the handsets to the base set (no wireless). Answering machines were mainly used in businesses, not homes. And most video games were in the form of large stand alone machines in arcades. Christian tries to imagine that time, but I get the feeling it’s an alien world to him.

I was thinking about living so far away from my family without all this technology. When I first moved here, personal computers were still in the idea stage. So the only forms of communication were long distance phone calls, or hand written letters sent through the post office. The time it took to write letters and the expense of long distance calls made it more difficult to keep in constant contact with my family. It also made me realize more just how far away they were. I could no longer just jump in the car and go for a visit. Airfare was also expensive, and it still took over 12 hours to get there. As a result, the visits have not been very frequent over the years.

I can remember the day I bought my first computer. I was so excited! The internet had only recently been brought to Alaska, and I had never actually seen it except screenshots through TV shows. I carefully read the manual and got everything all hooked up. Back then our local phone company didn’t have a server, so I had to find an independent provider to get access to the internet. I spent hours learning how to “surf the net” and send emails. Not many people in my family had computers, so I still had to call or write for a while. But eventually, my parents got a computer as well as my sister. Our communications improved, though at times there was a lot of frustration on both ends as the quirks were still being worked out. Slow modems and spotty transmissions were a real bother, especially for impatient people like me.

Slowly, reception and speeds improved, while better and faster processors were being invented. By then my computer needed replacing. The new one worked so much better, and the ties to my family improved. I was only able to manage airfare every couple of years or so, but at least I could talk to my loved ones when I wanted to.

I had always dreamed of living in a place such as Alaska, and that dream had come true. But it was at the expense of putting a great physical distance between my family and me. And that has taken its toll on all of us to some degree. We have always agreed that no matter the miles between us, or the time that goes by, the ties of our hearts remain strong. Today we use emails, Facebook, Twitter, text messages, and phone calls. But no matter how advanced our technology is, it simply cannot replace the feeling of a real hug, or the touch of a hand on yours.

In my younger years I never realized how much my family meant to me. I was too involved in myself, thinking about what I wanted or thought I needed. I have since learned that my family is one of the most precious parts of my life. They are what I want and need, second only to Jesus. As I’ve grown older and more mature, and more importantly, grown with His grace, my priorities have changed. I’ve learned it’s not the places and things in our lives that are the most important. It’s the people and the relationships we build with them.

Technology is advancing at an almost scary pace now. There is little that we do now that doesn’t include some form of it. We can do so much more than ever before in history, and some of it is good and useful. But no matter how great science and technology are, they can never replace our family or friends.

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New Beginnings

 

I’d like to take a moment to wish everyone (a day late) a very happy and blessed New Year! My son Christian and I were able to spend some time celebrating with some very good friends that we don’t get to see very often. It was a wonderful day, and we will cherish the memories.

Over the past several weeks, I have had many thoughts of family and friends and the importance of our relationships. I had been battling with many frustrations, feeling like I was always behind on something and yet always too busy to do the things I wanted to. And I realized that I was too busy.

My priorities had become out of whack, which tends to happen from time to time. And I had taken on more obligations than I could actually accomplish. As I get a little older, I’m realizing that I don’t have the same energy levels I did when I was a teenager. But my “to do” lists seem to have grown longer, making it impossible to complete all the things I want to do. And this was causing a lot of frustration for me. I don’t like to leave things undone.

So I took some time off for Christmas and New Years, and I spent some of that time going over my responsibilities and obligations. I realized that there were some things I was spending too much time on, and not enough on others. For one thing, I was spending too much time on frivolous things like TV and the internet, and not enough time on my relationship with God. I also had not been spending enough time with my family and friends. Most of my family lives far away, and it’s been many years since I’ve been able to visit. And I’ve been so busy with working on projects and chores, etc. that I have not even spent much time visiting with the family and friends we have near us.

I started considering my priorities. Not the obligations of what I am supposed to do, but the real desires of my heart. Spending time with God, my family and friends, and my animals are my top three desires. Writing is also a passion of mine, but without any of the first three, my writing becomes forced and begins to lack any heart. In college we were taught that there are certain basic principles of how to write well: specific elements of style, grammar, methods, etc. To be honest, I always hated that part of the courses. I know it’s important to learn how to write properly, but for me personally, it’s about putting the feelings in my heart down on paper to share with others. The stronger the passion and emotion in my heart, the better and stronger my writing is.

With that being said…as some of you may know, I completed and published my first book, “Faith, Hope and Miracles”, last July. It’s the true story about my son Christian and the horrible accident he had back in 2010 that earned him the nickname of “miracle boy” by our local newspaper. The trauma that our family went through over that next year and the thankfulness in my heart for his revival and recovery led to a strengthening of faith and hope that I never would have expected. I learned more through that year, than all the years of schooling put together. And it stirred such a passion in my heart, that I could not contain it. I had to share it! I had not written professionally before, but I let my heart pour out onto the pages and before long, there was a book. Writing the book was not the hard part for me, it was having to learn everything from scratch about how to get it published. But with a lot of determination, relentless research, hard work, and most of all, God on my side, the book was released for sale on July 9, 2012 on Amazon.

One of the things I learned about during the publishing process had to do with marketing and publicity and social networking. This was a big drawback for me in many ways. For one thing, it led to many hours more than I care to admit, on sites like Facebook and Twitter. While that’s not necessarily a bad thing, (actually it’s a very necessary part) it became very easy to let precious time slip away very quickly. Thankfully I have realized this, and am now limiting my time on the internet and learning to make the most use of it.

For this new year of 2013, I have set some very specific priorities of what I will be spending my time and energy on. God will always be first, as He should be. And my loved ones, (including the furry ones) will come next. I have set aside specific times for my writing in order to accomplish the goals I have for my next book, and I have decided not to worry so much about the little things. I will achieve whatever I have time to finish, AFTER my priorities are taken care of. I guess that is my New Year’s resolution, a new beginning for me.

What are some of your resolutions for this new year? Or some of your new priorities? Please share any ideas or solutions you have in maintaining a schedule to accomplish your tasks. And here’s to a bright, beautiful and blessed 2013!

 

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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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Lessons In Faith & Hope

By Amber Leggette-Aldrich

 

 

 

Recently our Pastor posed a question to the congregation: “Why do you love your church?” There were as many different answers as there were people. I had a few reasons that came to mind that night. For one, it is where I began to learn about God’s truth. One of the first scriptures I studied that had taken a strong hold on my heart was Proverbs 3:5 & 6 “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

 

For most of my life I had put my faith and trust in myself, believing that others would only hurt and disappoint me. I had believed that it was up to me alone to make myself happy and to provide for myself. But no matter what I did or how hard I tried, things just never seemed to be good for very long. My life was not working out in the ways I had planned.

 

After I began hearing God’s Word, my heart began going through many changes. One of the most important was from learning to put my trust in Him. It was very hard for me to do at first, but I soon found that the more I put myself in His hands, the better my life became.

 

Shortly after I joined our church, my faith and my commitment to follow Christ was tested in a way I could have never imagined. I had to choose to hold onto my faith, and it was not easy. But because I did, I was blessed with peace and comfort that helped me through that trial. Even in the middle of my distress, I could feel God’s presence with me and it gave me strength to go on.

 

My faith became stronger over the next few years. As I learned more of God’s Word and believed what it said, my trust in Him began to grow as well. It was still hard at times, because I had to learn to let go of believing that I was in control.

 

God used my youngest son, Christian, to teach me some very important lessons about faith and trust. I have been surprised many times with the ways God uses people, places and events to teach us. As an adult, I had never thought I would be taught as much as I have from a child. But as Christian was being brought up in the church, he exhibited a profound faith and trust in God that I truly admired. Even as young as 3 years old, he had an assuredness in his spirit that everything was in God’s hands and that He was taking care of things. When Christian prayed, no matter whether it was for himself or someone else, it was a done deal to him. He knew his prayer was heard and was sure it was taken care of. I felt rather puny in my faith compared to his! But it caused me to grow more in mine.

 

I began to pray more from the center of my heart, and I gained a deeper understanding of the messages our Pastor preached. I learned what it meant to submit myself to God’s authority, and from this I was blessed with more security. I was learning the message that God is in control. My trust in Him was also growing, and I began letting go of the fear that I had for so long, the fear of being hurt. But it still took time to fully let go of the desire to try to be in control of my own life. Even though my heart and my life had gone through many changes and God was blessing me far beyond my wildest dreams, deep inside my heart I was still holding onto the notion that I was in control of my own day to day living. I still made my own plans, and lived my life according to what I thought was best. Then came time for another test and time of learning one of the strongest lessons of my life.

 

When things are going good in life, it’s easy to give God praise and glory. But it gets harder when things start to go wrong and the trials come. I had been in the habit of reading the bible and praying first thing in the morning, and most days it helped bring me peace throughout the day. But there were times that things would happen during the day, and I found my peace had dwindled away because of the circumstances. I was aware of this and had been praying for God to help me to become stronger.

 

When Christian’s accident occurred, everything happened so fast I didn’t even have time to think about it. As I watched my son dying in my hands, my first reaction was to pray like I had never prayed before! I was so utterly helpless to do anything of my own accord, except to pray and put it all into God’s hands. I remember the first words of my prayer were “I believe in You, and I trust You completely”. And that was true, and from every cell of my body, I called out in Jesus name. The next words I spoke were “I know in my heart, that You will heal him and make him whole again, if not here on earth, then in Heaven”. I can’t explain how I knew, but I did. And for the first time in my life, I also knew that I’m not in control. Right then and there, I put not only my life but my son’s life into God’s hands alone and I felt complete confidence in trusting Him.

 

God gave us many miracles that day. He brought Christian back to life. A tremendous revival of faith and love began to grow, and is still growing. And the beginning of a remarkable journey began for many. Throughout the following days while we were in the hospital, my faith never wavered, even when the doctors said it was likely that Christian would not survive. Watching the amazement in their eyes when he not only survived, but recovered fully in such a short time, strengthened my praise and faith even more.

 

I had reached a point where I didn’t think it was possible for my faith to be any stronger than it was. But when Christian told me that he had been in Heaven, sitting in Jesus’ lap, that was the moment when my faith was made whole and complete. Whatever doubts there may have been in my heart had been completely and permanently erased.

 

Over the next 18 months there were still more trials that came. Sometimes it seemed that the more I tried to share about God’s miracles and goodness with others, the more trials and temptations came. Many times I questioned why these things were happening.

 

Through reading God’s Word and hearing many sermons, I continued to learn God’s truth. I began to realize that God’s blessings aren’t only about when good things happen, and it’s not always the enemy attacking when bad things happen. I began to understand that a major part of life is about learning, and then responding to what we learn by putting it into practice in our life. One of the things I have learned is that trials can be counted as blessings too, because they can help us to grow closer to the Lord. They can help us to become better than we were. And they can prepare us to be able to help and bless others who need it. Whatever trial or hardship I may face, I know God is with me and He will make a way for me to go through it. I know that it will be used to help me in some way, whether it is for my own personal good, or to equip me to help someone else.

 

Our Pastor has taught me about God’s truth through his preaching. There have been many in our congregation who have encouraged me and helped me. I have found genuine peace, comfort, support and love in our church. But I think what I love most about my church is that it was where I first knew the love of God, and then I fell in love with Him.

 

In my heart I know that God is using my life to encourage others in faith and hope in Him. I believe that it is a part of all of our lives, to be a help in some way to others. And that is my prayer for today, that faith and hope in Him grows, spreading like a wildfire that cannot be put out. May you find peace and comfort as you put yourself into His mighty and capable hands. God bless!   – Amber

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For Jason

By Amber Leggette-Aldrich

The temperature outside was in the 90’s, something I was not accustomed to. The air inside was much cooler, but I did not want to go in. I remember the room was filled with so many people, ranging in age from 7 to 70 plus. They were all very kind and most seemed very caring and friendly. Some I knew, others I did not. Music was playing softly, but I did not hear it. My eyes were focused on the floor as I was led to my seat, I didn’t want to look.

A man began to speak, but I couldn’t focus on what he was saying at first. My thoughts were drifting somewhere else. A flood of memories was filling my head, memories of the first time I saw you, and the last. It seemed like it had been forever, so many things had happened. My head began to clear a little and I began to look around. The faces were all very somber now.

The man speaking was the youth pastor. He was talking about what a treasure you were to the youth group, and how your smile would light up a whole room. He spoke about how enthusiastic you were, not only in the group, but in the services too. He said your dedication to serving the Lord, the church and the community was inspiring to all who knew you.

Next, the pastor got up to speak. He was an older man with a soft and gentle way about him. He talked about how it had always touched his heart to see you at the door greeting the congregation as they entered. He said you were always one of the first to arrive, and one of the last to leave. He shared a story from just a few weeks earlier, when you told him you were looking forward to going home. He said it was apparent you were speaking about Heaven, but he said he smiled and told you that you still had many years to come. Tears began to fill his eyes as he said, “but looking back, I think Jason knew”. He couldn’t speak anymore, and the choir was asked to sing.

A short while later we were all gathered outside. It was a beautiful setting, and there were lots of flowers. One arrangement that caught my attention had been made in the shape of a saxophone, your instrument of choice. I remembered the private “concert” you and Daniel had put on for the family when you were first learning to play. As hard as I tried, I could not swallow the lump I felt in my throat.

Standing there beside your final resting place, I could not fully absorb the fact that my firstborn son was gone. I was consoling myself with knowing that you were in Heaven, but it still felt as though I was in a bad dream and I kept waiting to wake up.

From the moment I had received the news of your death until after the funeral, everyone around me seemed so concerned about the possibility of my grief causing me to lose the unborn child I was carrying. For their sake, your brother Daniel’s, and your unborn brother’s, I tried to be strong. I even managed to smile as people came up to me to give their condolences. But in truth, I had just gone numb inside, and I wanted to stay that way. I didn’t want to think about anything.

After the funeral I was kept busy. There were still unfinished projects to get ready for the new baby, and the salmon runs were beginning. That meant it was time to get all the smoking and canning stuff out and ready. Even though I hate salmon, I looked forward to filling the jars and the smoker. It kept my mind occupied. I worked until I was too exhausted to stand anymore, and then stayed up half the night on the computer. I didn’t want to sleep because I didn’t want to dream.

Just over a month after your funeral, your brother Christian was born. And when I looked at his shining little face the first time, I saw you. The last words you had said to me the day before you died were, “I’m really looking forward to meeting my new little brother”. As I was thinking about those words, a feeling came over me and it was like you were there with us. I felt peaceful for a moment, filled with such a strong love. It was overwhelming.

I never told anyone but the night Christian was born, when no one else was around, I cried for you even harder than I had when you died. And part of me felt guilty. I was being torn between the extreme sadness of missing you, and the extreme joy of having this precious new baby. I didn’t know what I was supposed to feel, but my insides felt scrambled. I thought about some things that I regretted not doing with you or not saying to you when I had the chance. It taught me to never miss an opportunity to say “I love you”.

Ten years have passed as of today, and I still miss you. But I know I will see you again. When Christian died and came back, he told me he met you in Heaven. I have no words to describe how that made me feel, but something tells me you already know. God has given me strength when I didn’t know how to go on, and He’s given me comfort and a peace that only He can give.

God blessed me with 3 beautiful boys, and I am thankful to have had the gift of being your mom, even if only for a little while. I am glad beyond words that you found Jesus and hung on to Him in faith, and that you are there with Him now. I know that you are alright, and it helps make me alright. You brought so much joy to so many, and inspired many more with your love for Jesus. I will treasure that always.

Jason, you were my precious firstborn, and you will always be in my heart. Not one day in 10 years has gone by that I haven’t thought of you, and loved you and missed you. It took a while for me to see it, but God has taught me that you have always belonged to Him. He only let me borrow you for a time. He sent you here for a purpose, and then He called you home. While I may wish that you could have stayed longer, I have come to accept that things must be in God’s time and in His ways. I believe His ways are perfect, even if I can’t always see it. In your own way, you helped me to learn about what real faith and real love means. And I am thankful for that. And I am doing the best I can, with God’s guidance, to help pass that faith and love on to your brothers. I will love you always Jason! – Mom

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