Mindful of Me

Facebook Twitter Email

I love sunsets and sunrises, ocean and mountain views, pouring rain and drifting snow, sunny days and foggy mornings.   Nature is beautiful. More importantly, it is a reminder of two things:

1. God is awesome and creative.
2. God makes amazing things.

Psalm 8:3-4 says, “When I consider Your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have ordained, what is man that you are mindful of him?”

As we consider the work of the Lord’s fingers, we are in awe.  No two sunsets or sunrises are the same.  Each are unique in their colors. There may be many clouds, a few, or none at all.  And consider the power of thunderstorms, how dramatic the thunder and lightning can be or the peacefulness of it all.

God has placed the sun, moon, and earth in their proper places.  Consider if He’d placed them slightly differently, maybe just a few miles closer or further apart.  That would greatly impact life on earth.

The stars in the skies have been placed in the heavens for specific purposes as well.  Many explorers have faithfully used them to navigate.

Yes, nature is amazing because God is amazing.

And God created us as well.

God is as mindful of us as He is of nature.

We are each unique.  Although we may have the same weight and height, our hair and eyes are different. Our appearances are different. Our personalities are different.  No matter how alike we are, we are different.

But God is mindful of us.

He cares for us in ways that are specific to our differences and needs.  He provides for us in ways we could never imagine.  He loves us tremendously, which is proved  by the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ.

We all have times we get down on ourselves.
I’m  not pretty enough.
I’m not athletic enough.
I’m not talented enough.
I’m not rich enough.
I’m not……..enough

Let’s take today to look at how God is mindful of us…..
For instance,  maybe God provided a friend at just the right time.
Maybe God provided an answer to a prayer.
Maybe God said no to a prayer and it was the best thing.

My challenge to you today is to look at how God is mindful of you.

Look for what makes you unique and praise God.
Look at what you enjoy and praise God.
Look at your family and friends and praise God.
Look at your job and your home and praise God.
Look at the cross and praise God.

I promise…..if you look, you will see how God is mindful of you and only you.

Don’t compare yourself to anyone else.  You are not the same as anyone else. When my cousin was going through her chemo treatments, she said that several of them were comparing their treatments and would become upset that they weren’t getting the same treatment. The nurse had to stop the discussions and remind them that their diagnosis were different, that they couldn’t have the same treatment plan.  And we can’t compare how God provides for us with how He provides for someone else.  We have different temperaments. We have different sins. We have made different decisions in life.

We are different because God loves us that much.

How has God been mindful of you?

 

***This post was originally posted on my personal blog in 2016.***

Posted in Christian Living, Devotional | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Choose to Celebrate

Facebook Twitter Email

Today is my 40th birthday.  Let me be honest: I’ve thought a lot about this day and the number 40. I know women who’ve stressed out and flipped out over turning 40 years old.  I’ve seen women go through their midlife crisis by purchasing sports cars and a younger, hipper wardrobe.  But as I think about this number, this age, I just want to say that I feel blessed.

I’m thankful for what I once was – a teenager, a college student, a young wife, a young mother, a young career woman.  I’m thankful for the mistakes I made, the obstacles I overcame, and the choices that led me to where I am now.

 

I’m thankful for where I am now in my life: a mother to 3 sons, a pastor’s wife and military spouse, a teacher, and a writer.

 

I’m thankful for where God is leading me. I have no idea what His plans are for me, but over these forty years, I do know this: God is good and wherever He leads, I’ll go!

 

My first forty years have not been perfect.  I’ve struggled to be the daughter, sister, and friend I’ve been called to be.  I’ve failed to be an A+ teacher.  I’ve lost my temper with my children, and supposedly, one time I even stuck my tongue out at my husband.  During my first forty years, I’ve experienced financial difficulty, sick children, health scares, miscarriage, and deployment.  I’ve been hurt by those I’ve loved. I’ve been accused of doing things or being someone I’m not.  But in all of those valleys, God has proven His faithfulness, His goodness, and His mercy.

 

Y’all God is so good!  That’s why I’m celebrating.  I’m celebrating how He chose me and created me for a purpose. I’m celebrating how He has worked miracles in my life. I’m celebrating how He has used me to further his kingdom.  I’m celebrating that He isn’t done with me yet.  I am so unworthy of God’s love and grace, yet He bestows it upon me anyway.  I’ve failed the Lord so many times in so many ways, yet He has remained faithful and true.

 

I refuse to allow Satan to convince me that turning 40 is the end of the world.  I know differently, because I know Jesus!  And with that, I’d like to give you a gift.  I’m giving you scripture that should encourage you, lift you, and remind you how wonderful our God is.  So, whatever birthday you will be celebrating, whatever season of life you’ve found yourself in, remember this: This is the day that the Lord has made! Let us rejoice and be glad in it! Psalm 118:24.

You are complete in Him. Colossians 2:10

 

I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content. Philippians 4:11

 

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

 

I will praise You, O Lord, with my whole heart;
I will tell of all Your marvelous works.
I will be glad and rejoice in You;
I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High.
Psalm  9:1-2

 

I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Psalm 139:14

 

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11

Posted in Christian Living, Devotional, Women's Ministry | Tagged , , , | 1 Response

What Can I Pray For?

Facebook Twitter Email

The adoption process has been just like I imagined…in only one way: we are waiting for a baby.  Other than that, the paperwork grew beyond my expectations quickly in extent and content, the support and encouragement from friends, family, and even strangers has exceeded our imaginations, and the emotions and prayers my husband and I share have been changing our perspective on a birth momma, on our own ideas of adoption, and even how to pray through it all.  What we have quickly learned is that we are confident in the calling God placed on our life this year to pursue adoption when we did (2 months before a scheduled hysterectomy and a month before finding out we ourselves were expecting a biological baby).  In that confidence, we have prayed about God’s timing in all of this and trust, sometimes as impatiently as we know how, that He is working through our story.

A few weeks ago, we presented our profile to a birth momma.  We knew her name and many specifics about her and her expectant baby girl.  We prayed for her more fervently than we have prayed in a long while.  We prayed for this opportunity and even asked God to send her to a family that He had chosen for this baby, all the while expecting that to be our family.  We only had to wait a few days to hear that the birth momma had not chosen us to be the adopted parents of her baby.  In devastation, we worked through an emotion we had not been prepared yet to handle: rejection.  In our confidence in God’s calling and even humanly trying to trust in His timing, our hearts were still crushed at the thought of waiting some more to see this story unfold.

Honestly, I began questioning His timing and even some Scripture I had clung to for a while.  One verse that stuck out to me in particular was in Psalm 37:4 that says, “Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.”  That promise gave me the illusion in my human thinking that God would grant me what I wanted if I just prayed for it and wanted it bad enough.  But listen to the verse immediately following, “Commit everything you do to the Lord.  Trust Him and He will help you.”

Was I praying out of my own heart’s desires or were the desires of my heart a response to committing them first to the Lord?  In my prayer life the last couple months, God has revealed to me that I can and should bring any of my desires, burdens, or thoughts to Him at any time.  He wants to hear from me.  However, even as I utter the words to Him in prayer, His Holy Spirit has begun the transformation of my heart.  Sometimes my prayer changes mid-conversation with God because He rearranges the desires of my heart to understand Him more fully.  And sometimes He just stops me as I pray asking me to be still even in my waiting to hear from Him.

“Be still in the presence of the Lord and wait patiently for Him to act.”—Psalm 37:7

I still don’t have all the answers even when I pray, and I am learning that is ok.  I don’t know why God is writing our story in the way He is, with this timing in our lives, or with the desires He has placed on our hearts.  What I can be certain of is that He is in it and His plan will be unfathomable to me when this story finally sees a beautiful blessing in the end.  What I also know is that God’s blessing isn’t waiting til the end to be revealed to my husband and I.  Even through the heartache of not being chosen a few weeks ago, we received the blessing of praying for a special birth momma who was in need of those prayers at a time when she needed them most.  We know that the blessing of being patient in the presence of the Lord has given us strength in the waiting.  My husband and I can even say with more certainty than any other thing in our lives that God is calling us now to adopt, and that He didn’t call this journey to be easy for us.  But the blessing even now is knowing that with God there are no coincidences and that our story will not be an ordinary one.  The blessing in the end of all our praying and waiting isn’t even going to be one biological baby and one adopted baby, but the glory that God will receive through their lives and the story we will tell.

Praying through this adoption and our life’s circumstances right now is just revealing the first part of our blessing.

“I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and He turned to me and heard my cry.  He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and mire.  He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along.  He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God.  Many will see what He has done and be astounded.  They will put their trust in the Lord…O Lord my God, you have done many miracles for us.  Your plans for us are too numerous to list.”—Psalm 40:1-5

Posted in At Home, Christian Living, Moms, Prayer, Women's Ministry | Leave a comment

Go Boldly

Facebook Twitter Email

Hebrews 4:16

Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (NKJV)

 

Even as I type these words, my hands shake and my heart is in pieces. I wonder if yours is too… What has you coming boldly to the throne of grace? Maybe you are like me and become overwhelmed when you turn on the news, or counsel that friend, or receive an unexpected diagnosis. Life is hard. But our God tells us that when we come boldly to the throne of grace, we will find both mercy and grace to help in our time of need.

I am praying with and for those that are hurting in this moment. Let us run without hesitation to our God that promises us help in our time of need!

Going Boldly,

Shana

Posted in Christian Living, Devotional | Leave a comment

Seasoned Words

Facebook Twitter Email

“Your speech should always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should answer each person.” ??Colossians? ?4:6? ?HCSB??

Recently, someone hurt me to my very core and I wanted to scream and shout ugly things at them so they would hurt too. But the Lord whispered this verse in my heart and I prayed for Him to keep my mouth closed or season my words to say what was needed. He gave me the strength to say what was needed, no hurtful words, and carry on my way. The Lord is faithful.

When people hurt us, especially with their words, we want to lash out and say ugly things to make them hurt too. Beloved one, Jesus knows and sees our hurt. He wants us to practice wisdom and bear sweet fruit for Him. We should be careful with what we say, allowing our words to be from the Lord, not our sinful hearts. It’s difficult, but so worth it in the end.

I am fervently praying for those who hurt me. I know that they hurt me because they are hurting. Hurt people hurt people. I am thankful to the Holy Spirit for allowing me to remember key verses such as this to quiet my broken heart. I pray this encourages you to move forward wherever you are and let God deal with the hurtful people.

Lord, please be with those who hurt me. Help them with their struggles. Let them see You no matter what. I love You Lord. In Christ I pray, Amen.

~Lauren Ray

Posted in Christian Living, Prayer | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

A Stone’s Throw Away

Facebook Twitter Email

Click here to read John 8 :1-6…

As I read the story of the woman caught in adultery, I wondered what she must have been thinking.  Had she heard of “this” Jesus as she stood a stone’s throw away from impending death?

Caught in the very act of adultery, she was taken to the temple and forced to stand in the middle of the crowd, most likely facing Jesus.

Jesus never failed to respect the law. Nor did He fail to be merciful, stating “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her” (John 8:7).

Was her heart beating wildly as she waited, just a stone’s throw away for…wait, did He just say, “let him (who is without sin) be the first to throw a stone at (me)?”  The woman knew that she was surrounded by her accusers, but what she didn’t know was that she was also a stone’s throw away from her only Hope—the Man who would restore her dignity among the crowd and inside her very heart.

Now read John 8:8-11…

What are you a stone’s throw a way from right now?  Are you the one seemingly standing alone in the crowd—guilty as charged OR maybe wrongly charged—but there you stand? Outside of Jesus Christ, we all stand guilty in the crowd, and most importantly, guilty before God.  For some reason, we, as the accusers did, want to look upon another’s sin as worse than our own, condemning them.

Our God offers the same forgiveness and mercy today. Don’t let the “stone,” any stone stand in your way. Our God does not condemn you (as the world…and oftentimes the very people of God).

Oh, Dear Heart, you have not run too far or out sinned God’s forgiveness.  Return to your first Love today by asking forgiveness and living obediently to Him. Not a Christ-follower but want to become one? Go to www.findithere.com, and become a Christ-follower today!

Here’s to y(our) spiritual health!

~Shelly

Posted in Devotional | Leave a comment

Comfort from the Great Comforter

Facebook Twitter Email

“I relieved his shoulder from the burden; his hands were freed from carrying the basket…” Psalm 81:6, HCSB

Have you ever cried out to God with such a need for Him to comfort you in that exact moment? You’re in such distress and despair that only our Almighty Father can calm the demons tormenting you? It is in those moments, when we realize how badly we need a Savior, that Christ comes to our aide.

A little while ago, I was driving home from work and my mind was in utter chaos. I was overwhelmed by many things that had happened and were going to happen in the near future. As I was driving, I asked God to send the right songs on the radio so I could be comforted and have restored peace. I kid you not, AS I WAS PRAYING THE PRAYER, Jeremy Camp’s “Word of Life” begins playing on the radio. The very first line is, “Word of life, speak to my weary heart…” and I instantly thanked the Lord for sending this upbeat worship song my way. After the song, I changed the radio to another Christian station and THEY INSTANTLY BEGAN PLAYING Casting Crowns’ “Oh My Soul.” Well at this point, I have lost it. I am bawling, crying out to God, giving my burdens over to the One who hears my cries! It was a well-needed worship service in my 15 minute commute home. Dear sisters, The Great Comforter WILL comfort us. He will free our hands “from carrying the basket.” He will relieve our shoulders “from the burden.”

After my grand worship service, I went home and opened up my Bible. The very first verse I saw was Psalm 81:6. I am so thankful that the Lord hears us and comforts us. He knows every burden. He catches every tear we cry. He is faithful and WILL protect us from the evil one. All we need to do is trust in Him. I praise You Father for comforting us in our time of need, for loving us and telling us you love us when we need it most. I love You Lord! In Christ I pray, Amen.

~Lauren Ray

Posted in Christian Living, Devotional | Tagged , , , , | 1 Response

Pack Light

Facebook Twitter Email

In the next month, I have the privilege of flying to Las Vegas, Orlando and Puerta Vallarta.  Being the OCD-list maker-packing professional that I am, I have already begun my list of what I will need to pack.  I will be going the carry-on route for these trips, so I am trying to pack as efficiently (and light) as I can.  The lighter I pack, the easier it will be navigating through the airport and less money I have to spend on those crazy baggage fees

It is amazing that we work so hard to lighten our load when traveling, but we want to hang on to our “baggage” as long as possible.  We keep filling our suitcase with unforgiveness and bitterness, willing to add more bags if necessary.  The weight that we carry and the cost we have to pay is way too high.

When we can’t or won’t forgive, we are packing our suitcase with items too heavy to carry.  We become so laden down with unforgiveness and bitterness that we can’t run the race to win, we can barely walk through our day.

Forgiveness is not:

  • Saying the offense is ok
  • Proceeding without boundaries
  • Instantaneous
  • For the benefit of the offender
  • Only given when an apology has been offered

Forgiveness is:

  • A choice of obedience
  • A process
  • For your benefit
  • Sometimes given even when the offender hasn’t apologized

Jesus tells us we are to forgive 70 x 7.  Sometimes that doesn’t mean 490 offenses, it means forgiving someone 490 times for one offense that The Enemy wants to use to keep us carrying the baggage of bitterness.  When Jesus died for our sins, he died to cover sins we hadn’t even committed yet, therefore hadn’t pleaded for forgiveness.

Jesus set the perfect example of forgiveness through obedience.

Forgiveness isn’t easy, but it is necessary and worth it.  Lighten your load and become free of the excess baggage that weighs you down and keeps you from fully enjoying the freedom that can be found in Christ.

Choosing to Forgive,

Lisa

Posted in Christian Living, Ministers' Wives, Moms | 1 Response

He Hears Your Voice

Facebook Twitter Email

Psalm 116:1-2 (NLT)

I love the Lord because He hears my voice and my prayer for mercy. Because He bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath!

The theme for Psalm 116 is worshiping as a thankful response, not as a repayment for what God has done. (NLT Life Application Study Bible)

The writer of this Psalm was conveying a wonderful message of how the Lord remembers His children. We sometimes feel like He doesn’t hear our prayers, see our broken lives, or even feel our disappointments. We oftentimes wonder, “Do I ever cross His mind?”

I can declare today, “YES!” He hears, sees and thinks about you! The greatest tactic of Satan is to put you in a position of feeling all alone. If you feel deserted by God then Satan has you where he wants you.

You can feel the love this writer has for God. It is a love that has grown with each answered prayer!

Maybe you have felt unheard, unloved, pushed to the side. Please, dear sister or brother in Christ, know that according to Psalm 116, the Lord hears your voice. He even bends down to listen. So what do you do from here?

You pray for as long as you have breath!

 

Till next time!

~Shana

 

Posted in Christian Living, Devotional | 1 Response

Super Saturday: a mini-spiritual spa day

Facebook Twitter Email

The count down to the final Super Saturday has begun.  Super Saturday Louisville is just days away!  It’s the same event as years past but with a NEW, abbreviated schedule.

Are you a leader who longs to connect with other leaders in your specialty area? Need new ideas for your ministry area? Want to have your heart massaged as you connect with God and other leaders for half a day? Perhaps a time of spiritual renewal at Super Saturday Louisville is just the experience that you need!

Super Saturday Louisville will be held at Highview Baptist Church, 7711 Fegenbush Lane, Louisville, KY, and there is still room for YOU!

When I think of Super Saturday, the phrase “iron sharpens iron” comes to mind.  Proverbs 27:17 shares what happens when God’s people (Christ followers) do things such as fellowship, pray, encourage each other, and study His Word together: “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” In ministry and life, we become sharper and more useful in and for His service.

Super Saturday is only half a day but packed with tons of refreshing ideas to provide just the mini-spiritual-spa day that YOU need!

Register today and tell a friend!  Simply go to www.kybaptist.org/supersaturday!

Here’s to our spiritual health!

~Shelly

Posted in Christian Living | Leave a comment