Resting In The Truth-God Is Always Present

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Wow.  September has not been a good month for me in regards to blogging.

My inner circle has been rocked with the passing of a couple of dear friends, a marriage being tested, friends diagnosed with a disease, and of course smothering in hot Louisiana weather.  Can I be real?  Right now, God does not feel present and it has been difficult for me to write.

But because of my faith, I know He is here.  And this is what I hang on to; at this moment.

I have to push through the waves of sadness and despair and turn to the Bible for comfort and strength.  When I want to search for something specific, such as faith, I start by searching the internet for scripture related to faith.  Once I have found several choices in scripture, I open my Bible and start reading them one by one.  Inevitably, God directs me to the one which I need.

Today, I was directed to Isaiah 40:31 which reads, “But those who hope in Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run, and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” * In this chapter, Isaiah is sharing how God is comforting His chosen people, and reminding them there will be the judgment on their behavior, but there is also redemption in store for them.

I can relate to this scripture right now.  I have hope in God and when I rest in this truth, I am restored.  I need to do this daily as a way of preparing my mind and heart to face the evil of this world.  Sickness, death, and despair are around us daily.

I will choose to arm myself with God’s promise and know He stands beside me in facing the enemy.  As I renew myself every day in His word, I will soar above all the temporary ailments of this world.  I will have the strength to endure all issues thrown my way.   And I might teeter and wobble briefly, but ultimately will stand tall because my roots run deep in His principles.  I might briefly be dazed and confused by white noise, but will find clarity through His grace.

I have a choice and I chose to hold close these truths about my God.  He will comfort, support, and direct me in my life.  Bad situations will happen and having Him as my foundation formulates how I process and react to my circumstances.

Another favorite scripture which I hold close to my heart is from Romans 5:3-4, “Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.”*

Friends, I might be knocked down temporarily, but because of my faith and hope, I will continue to rise and face the next day.  I am armed with His grace, mercy, and love.

* The Holy Bible, New International Version Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

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Why Prayer Is A Powerful Piece Of My Worship

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“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18  NIV*

Have you ever prayed and were totally at peace with whatever the outcome?  I mean the legit calmness and “all is well within my soul” kind of feeling?  One particular prayer of mine was all about me.

I had been a widow for two and a half years and quite frankly I was not thinking about, meeting, dating or looking for another husband.  I know my family and friends had good intentions and would ask frequently if I had gone to any of the singles events at church or would I be interested in online dating.  I took their advice and visited a couple of singles bible study groups and events.  Can you say-AWKWARD?   I discovered quickly there is a big difference between being single because of divorce and the death of a spouse.

I quietly panicked at the thought of possibly being alone for the rest of my life.  There would be no one to share life with day to day, inside jokes, laughter, intimacy, or growing old together.  I quickly came to the conclusion I could not do this on my own.  So I started praying.  It was not a prayer to bring me a husband, but a genuine, heartfelt plea to God.  Let His will be done and let me swallow and accept the outcome.  I received such peace from this prayer and understood I could face my future with grace and embrace it.

Only God could answer this type of prayer in His timing and His perfect plan.  I lived in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area with six million other people and then I met Randy. The God thing is how I met Randy.

A girlfriend and I decided on a cruise which meant flying to Florida to catch the ship.  I got on the luxury liner with my friend and to fill a full dinner table in the evening, we were seated with six other women.  The group was from New Orleans, LA and I became fast friends with one of the ladies, Robin.  She had a beautiful smile, loved life, and was celebrating with her friends on her remission from breast cancer.  We dined, talked to one another, and hung out over the next few days.  When the cruise was winding down Robin started asking me if I was ready to date.  I laughed and told her my family and friends were ready for me but I was not as confident.  She explained she had a brother who was forty-one, a care-free bachelor who lived in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area.  She got my information and told me she would be in touch.

A week later I received an e-mail from Robin with her brother Randy copied in on the message.  Randy kindly thanked Robin and asked her to butt out.  For a couple of weeks, Randy and I emailed back and forth.  We had common interests in recreational sports activities, music, food, and our faith.  We decided on a lunch date in early December 2003.  I was extremely nervous since I had not dated in over twenty years!  After a couple of dates, I invited him to my church and we began to date exclusively.

On June 18, 2005, we were married in our church’s garden with our best friends and my three children.  Now they are our three children as Randy calls them his own.  He is a genuinely selfless man who listens to us tell stories about my first husband over and over again.  He told me if he had ever met him they would have been good friends.

 Remember how I prayed about my future and would be at peace with the outcome?  I am so blessed because God did bring another man into my life.  A new best friend who makes me laugh, shares inside jokes and a partner to grow old with gracefully.  I was totally prepared for how my journey would play out and knew God was in control.  Prayer is all about developing, strengthening, worshiping, and deepening the personal relationship with God.   Prayer is powerful and as long as you are open to His will, it can move mountains and make possibilities into reality.

Please visit my prayer request page because I would love to pray for you.  Lord, I hope to encourage others to pray more openly with You and build a relationship.  Your will and timing are perfect and I thank you for all of Your blessings.  Amen!

* The Holy Bible, New International Version Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

Church: It Is More Than A Place Of Worship

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I sat in the small room, facing my pastor, and desperately tried to listen to his words.  Questions were swirling around in my head and I had to keep internally slapping myself and screaming, “FOCUS!”   A couple of weeks prior, my pastor had confessed a sinful nature to the congregation.  It rocked the church to its soulful core, dividing the members, and fueling harsh criticism of his behavior.  I was numbed by the news and tried to make sense of it all.

My pastor and his wife had asked me my husband to meet with them to hear their side and ask for our support.   This was the man who spoke at my sister in law’s funeral, counseled my children, and prayed for us during extremely difficult times in our lives.   After he asked me the question, “Can you support me in continuing my role as the pastor?”  I collected my thoughts, and whispered to myself, “God give me the wisdom.”  I proceeded to tell him, I loved him and forgave him, but at this time, I could not trust him to lead our church.  My husband agreed and we made the decision to walk away.

Church is a sanctuary for me.  For the past several years, our family has been part of an awesome church.  As I grow older, I find myself wanting to be more involved in church activities.  I could have easily been dissuaded after my previous church experience, but have come to an understanding of what defines a church.

A church is nothing more than a gathering place of sinners.

A church is made up of people, some who are Christ followers and some who are searching for answers.

A church is a place to worship my Lord and Savior and to strive in improving my heart and mind.

Because the church is built and led by humans it is not a perfect place.  But I have found if I make the effort in building relationships in the church, the members become more like family.  And we know family is hardly ever perfect!  A church home has been an intricate part of my Christian journey and I believe it has a purpose in our world today.

Strength in Numbers– I believe God listens, blesses, and comforts those who gather together in His name.  Whether it be Sunday morning worship, bible study, prayer circles, or community service, God is present.  He hears our prayers, sees our good deeds and is pleased with His people.  The members’ actions of a church can be the light shining into the numerous dark places in this world.  “Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven.  For where two or three come together in My name, there am I with them.”-Matthew 18:19-20 NIV*

Encouragement For All-Our church provides many services open to the community such as Celebrate Recovery, Grief Group, Discovering your purpose, finance classes, mission trips, and bible study.  The support groups and classes provide a service for both members and non-members.  What a great example of demonstrating how Christians are not “perfect” and have issues and need assistance like everyone else.   We can open the doors of the church and invite anyone who needs encouragement or support to come in.  “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another-and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”-Hebrews 10:25 NIV*

Lead by Example-Our church has a focus and commitment to future generations.  The mentoring of the youth is a priority for our church and offers Sunday school, bible study, vacation bible school, and Sunday evening worship for the children.  Classes are also offered to learn the different volunteer areas in the church (music, video, mission work, scripture memorization, etc.) and assist in developing the talents of our children through media, music, choir and play performances.  We have a ministry called AIM (All Inclusive Ministry) which meets the special needs of people in our church and community.  We also host an annual Special Needs Family festival to celebrate the abundant life of special needs families and provide connections to vendors in our community.  “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”-Proverbs 22:6 NIV*

 

Human beings are made to be social and worship, or have faith, in some object or ideal.  I choose to have faith in Jesus and to worship Him as my God.  I also choose to be in a setting with other people who share the same ideas of God, praise, and worship.  I see the church as a safe place to be social and practice my faith.   It meets all my personal needs and provides aid to those who are less fortunate in the community.   So when someone asks me the question, “Why do you belong to a church?”  My response is “because it feels like home.”

* The Holy Bible, New International Version Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

A Study Plan to Enrich My Worship Time

WORSHIP

“All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17*

I have a confession.  I am a Christ follower and have difficulty studying God’s word.  I enjoy Bible study groups and listening to others’ teachings, but find hardship in reading scriptures on my own and unraveling the message.

I enjoy reading books and generally don’t have an issue with understanding the plot, but I am intimidated by the pages of the Good Book.  Why?

The Bible has some beautiful stories nestled in the Old and New Testament with rich and infallible teachings written in several different versions.  I prefer the New International Version because of its simple and current English translation.   I have wondered where to start the Bible and opened up at the beginning and have gone through page by page.

Only to get stumped by the Chapter Numbers and asking myself “Am I pronouncing the names correctly?”  I am determined to get to a comfortable level of studying the Bible on my own.  Below is an outline I have started following to achieve this personal goal and deepen my worship.

PRAYER– My first act is to pray and ask for guidance in what I should focus on in the Bible.  Recently, God placed on my heart the word devotion.  Oh boy, this is a doozy for me.   So in my quiet time, I have asked him to point me to specific scripture to study.  I have compiled a list of scripture relating to devotion and this is my current study.

PRACTICE– I start by writing the scripture down in my journal.  I read over it a couple of times and then I research around the scripture.  I want to know the background of the chapter such as who wrote it and to whom, what is the time frame, and what actions are being taken during this period.  I use reference materials such as Bible Notes.net, a Bible dictionary, and concordances.  A concordance is a book which outlays the different words alphabetically and their contexts for easy reference.  Another key component of my Bible study is to make time daily.  In focusing on opening my Bible daily, creates a good habit of taking time and being still with God.  To me, this is where my growth starts to get real.

PREVAIL-When I apply the first two steps I find I am becoming more effective in diving into the word and learning it through my eyes.  It is the opportunity to commune with God and comprehend what the Bible means to me.  I know my relationship with God is deepening and gives me the confidence and ability to talk to others about what I ascertained from scripture.

Believe me, I am no expert on deciphering and teaching the meaning of the Bible.  I have found it less intimidating for myself to use the three steps above in my daily devotional time.  I continue to go to Bible study groups because I learn so much from those who are blessed to be teachers of the Bible.  For me, the combination of church, group Bible study, and personal Bible study has drawn me closer to God and understanding my purpose.

Would you be willing to share some of your Bible study habits?  Please post in the comments what you find most effective in your study time and how to improve your worship.  Blessings!

* The Holy Bible, New International Version Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

Do I Actually Need To Change My Worship Time?

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“Worship the Lord in the splendor of His Holiness; tremble before Him, all the earth.”-Psalm 96:9*

The month of August I want to focus on worship and what it means to me.  Worship is defined by the Merriam Webster dictionary as “to honor or reverence as a divine being or supernatural power.”*   I like to say I set aside dedicated time every day to do this, but I would not be totally honest.  There are a lot of distractions in my life which jeopardize my worship time with God.   The easy part is identifying what I am choosing to do instead of having certain focus time with Him.  The hard part is making it happen.

I have to choose to make the change.

Making time for God should be natural and from what I hear from others, first thing in the morning.  It seems reasonable to me to wake up, grab a cup of coffee, and open up my bible.  Problem is, it rarely happens in the morning and here’s why.

I am a grump and a mess when I wake up.  It doesn’t matter what time I set the alarm and rise early or sleep in.  I don’t even like myself when I first wake up, why would God?  It takes a miracle for me to motivate, clean up, dress, and get out the door to make my contribution to the world.  My usual time is to find a few minutes around lunch to read the bible, but I generally feel like I a failure since half my day is gone.

What’s a girl to do?

I ask God for forgiveness and extend myself a little grace.

I spend daily time with God, but it is more fluid than structured.  I pray daily, and multiple times throughout the day so I am confident in talking to Him.  I also sing along to the Christian radio station daily and know this type of music is uplifting and a form of worship.  I belong to a church and am involved in activities which allow me to be the hands and feet of Jesus.    So, why can’t I be like all the others who start their day off in God’s word?

Well, perhaps I need to understand I am unique and because I am such a slug in the morning, I would not absorb the knowledge which He intends for me.  Perhaps I need to stop comparing my study ways with others and focus on reading the bible.  And inevitably I need to accept this works for me and God is okay with the choice.

The reason I share this is not when and how I worship, but why.  I find peace and comfort in all the ways I worship and my why is Him.  My life is so full of blessings and gifts and it is because I have a personal relationship with God.  He is there through the good, the bad, and the ugly me in the morning.  I honor Him no matter what time of the day I choose to spend praying, singing, or reading.  My worship is carving out my time to be with Him.

My hope is God understands me and is willing to meet with me no matter what time I open up His word.  And perhaps He is a little thankful I am not pursuing the early morning meetings with Him.

* The Holy Bible, New International Version Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

**https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/worship

Sometimes The Silence Is The Answer

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“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”-1 Thessalonians 5:11*

It has been a while, my friends.  I didn’t plan on taking a writing hiatus, it happened.  You know what?

I needed it.

Life got really busy with family and I have so enjoyed it.  There were laughs, hugs, tears, and arguments, but for a small stretch of time, I had all my kiddos under one roof (and two granddaughters, a niece, and a third dog).  It was way overdue and I wanted to embrace this precious time and make memories.

But somewhere along the way, I realized I had not been writing and it appeared no one else noticed my absence either.  Which got me to thinking, am I supposed to be writing?  Is this truly what God has called me to do?

The answer is I don’t know.

When I started this writing venture it was to talk about my grief journey.  I have covered this topic a lot; maybe even beating it into the ground.  Now I wonder, do I have more to give other than relating to grief?

I hope so, but am not sure what it exactly looks like.  I am also not sure if I have it in me.

One thing I do know is I am not giving up, yet.

I have invariably been a person who likes to see the glass as half full, find the silver lining, and celebrate the small victories.  I have been an encourager, champion, and cheerleader for others.  I like to give rather than receive, and I consistently root for the underdog.  Now, I need some of this and I actually don’t know how to go about focusing on me.

It is scary and makes me feel vulnerable.  Not my strong suit.

So, I have been reading other people’s blogs, books, and articles.  Trying to let go of my pity party and look for a spark, a light, to inspire me not to give up and keep writing.  I am praying about it and trying to hear God in all this mess.

Sometimes the silence is also the answer.

I share this because perhaps you too have been discouraged at some aspect in life.  I find the best way to get out of the funk is to know I am not alone.  There are others who struggle and find their way up and out.  I know I will too.

I believe this is what God wants for all of us.  To be there for one another, boosting and lifting up, not fighting and tearing down.  Most of the time I love to encourage others, now I am the one seeking encouragement.

It will take patience, prayer, and peace.  I need to quiet my mind and heart so I can receive it all.  Help a sista out and pray for me.

Blessings!

*The Holy Bible, New International Version Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

Love One Another And Do Your Job!

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“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.  Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone.  Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”-Colossians 3:12-13*

The last installment of my love series is about agape love.  Agape is Greek for love.  The essence is goodwill, benevolence, and willful delight in the object of love.** As I see it, this is something which is extremely needed in today’s society.  There is too much hate, bigotry, and rudeness in this country and it saddens and disappoints me.  I am a firm believer change starts at the top, and those who exhibit positive behavior will influence others creating a chain reaction.  How can I affect a needed attitude adjustment to this madness?  I have decided to send an open letter to all my elected officials, who represent me, asking them to do the unbelievable; show agape love to one another and do their jobs which they were elected to perform.

Dear Elected Official,

Greetings from south Louisiana and thank you for taking time to read my letter.  I am compelled to write this because I am so disappointed in the state of our great nation.  I am an independent who believes our federal government has been given way too much power and my religious beliefs have been compromised way too often.  I personally don’t think the federal government should be running mail service for the country or establishing educational standards for our children.  I believe the federal government should protect its citizens from foreign threat, secure our borders, and strengthen our infrastructure.  I share this so you can understand although we may not agree on certain topics, I am willing to listen to your side and ask you give me the same courtesy; find the items we agree on, and reach a compromise which is win/win for both sides.

If I am not mistaken, this is why you were elected as a representative for our area.  One of the actions expected of you, in representing me, is to exhibit this type of positive behavior with the other elected officials.  Have you heard of agape love?  Agape is Greek for love by demonstrating goodwill, benevolence, and willful delight.  All Americans should insist on this type of role modeling from all elected officials.  As I see it, you are a paid employee of the American citizens and if you are not meeting the basic standards of handling debate and compromising for the good of all people, then you need to be voted out.

I have three simple suggestions for you and your cohorts:

  • Find common ground-I would think before any type of legislation is proposed, the committees who introduce it should find out what they can all agree on. I bet you could ask a Democratic or Republican if they want to protect their families, find affordable healthcare for all, and keep the illegal criminals from crossing our borders, they would all say yes!  Start there.  Discuss options on how to come to a proposal.  Where I come from this is called brainstorming.
  • Compromise-Start focusing on the ideas which could work. Discuss and debate in an adult manner.  No need to call names or point fingers if someone does not agree with you.  You should be paid for achieving results and up to this point, I don’t think many of you have earned a salary.  Compromise is about give and take.  Shoot for the stars and settle for the moon.  Your expectation should be to reach a reasonable solution from both sides.  I bet if both sides presented an option together, united in their proposal, and eager to stand behind it, the country would take notice.  An extra bonus might be the media focusing on something positive for a change.
  • Be Civil-The fact I have to even bring this up is embarrassing. Please give less fodder to the media who highlights your vulgar actions, disparaging threats, and disrespecting one another.  You, as an elected official, have a duty in representing the American citizens and should not be name calling, pointing fingers, or belittling other elected officials.  The last time I witnessed this type of immature behavior was when I was in high school.   You have been chosen by the people and should maintain goodwill and benevolence at all times (do unto others) and set the bar for the nation.

I know it might sound like I am lecturing you and in a way I am.  Think about all the young children, teens, and adults who are witnessing the actions of many of the elected officials in the federal government.  Is this the type of behavior we want our children to emulate?  This is probably another area where we can agree on and the answer is no.   I believe you should treat others as you would like to be treated.  Try and get to know someone personally and understand how it is to walk in their shoes.  Perhaps it may change your mind.

I will be praying and watching to see if you will be the one to start a positive trend in our capital.

Sincerely,

Kelsey Remmelts

“Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” Proverbs 16:24*

* The Holy Bible, New International Version Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

**https://www.gotquestions.org/agape-love.html