True Love

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Next week, dozens of roses will be delivered to women everywhere.  Expensive chocolates will be bought, and cards will be sent. Eventually, all of those things will end up in the garbage.  For some, feelings well be hurt because they didn’t get that diamond ring they were anticipating and that expensive meal they waited hours to get just wasn’t worth it.  The problem with Valentine’s Day is it focuses on “stuff” to make us feel loved.  It doesn’t focus on the One who offers real true love.

 

As women, we want to be loved and to know without a shadow of a doubt that we are truly loved. Unconditionally loved.  We are emotional creatures and the slightest thing will cause doubts to creep in about our lover’s intentions.  Why?  Because of our worldly desires.  Our desires should be Christ centered.

When we focus our hearts on Christ, we experience real true love.  We receive a love that is faithful. We receive a love that is unconditional.  We receive a love that will make our dreams come true.  Jesus loves us so much that He gave his life so that we can spend eternity in heaven, eternity in peace.  Why would we not accept that gift?  If you were starving would you deny the food and water placed before you?  If your house was burning, would you deny the hoses that would extinguish it? Then why would you deny Christ who offers you more than this world ever could?

 

This Valentine’s Day, as candies and cards are exchanged, I pray that you focus on the true love only found in Christ.  The things of this world will disappoint, but Jesus never will.

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The Flu

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Everyone’s heard about it.  Actually, almost everyone has had it.  The dreaded and dangerous flu that has been going around this season is no joke.  It is crippling even the healthy and even claiming lives. Scary is an understatement, especially for me.  With a 4-year-old and a 7 week old, I am frightened that they will contract some strand of this nasty virus and face what could be traumatizing times.  I have even gone so far as to almost become barricaded in our home with our new baby, attempting to shield her from any unwanted germs (or a wandering touch).  It’s serious, y’all.

Some may call me overprotective or even a little bit silly for keeping her in this bubble.  But I am adamant to do whatever I can to keep my girls safe and well.  My 4-year-old has even had to resort to applying a layer of vaseline on her dry, chapped hands before bed at night from washing them so much.  I know that there is only so much I can do to keep my babies safe.  I understand that even in all my attempts for them to stay well, there is still a chance sickness could find our home.  Does this however cause me to throw up my hands in defeat and give way to any and all germs because my efforts could still be thwarted?  Absolutely not.

Sin is like the flu.  It is running rampant in our world and even has crippling effects.  Sin can be dangerous, nasty, traumatizing, and could even claim lives.  But God has offered us a remedy.  A treatment for our sin sickness.  Jesus Christ came to overwhelm our sin.  His death on the cross creates the cure, but we must still remain vigilant daily to thwart the effects sin can have if we don’t try to stay away from it.  In Proverbs it says, “Give us clean hands (YES!), and give us pure hearts.”  Our hearts’ sin problem is cured when Jesus becomes our Savior.  But may we remain adamant about trying our best to have clean hands from our daily sins so the sickness does not overtake us.  Will I stumble?  Absolutely!  Does that give me a reason to throw my hands up in defeat?  Absolutely not!

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The Smile Button

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Psalm 118:14-16

The LORD is my strength and my defense; He has become my salvation. Shouts of joy and victory resound in the tents of the righteous: “The LORD’s right hand has done mighty things!” The LORD’s right hand is lifted high; the LORD’s right hand has done mighty things!

As I read these passages and I recall all the hard seasons, the Holy Spirit hits the smile button. There has never been a time that the LORD has not been my strength and defense. I thank Him as I type for His faithfulness.

Kristen Dimarco said, “If you want to experience the faithfulness of God, you have to have been in a position of where you needed God to be faithful to you.”

We may not be able to smile at the circumstance or the hurt or pain of a hard season. What we can smile about is the faithfulness of our God. That’s where the smile button is.

Maybe you’re like me and this is a really hard season. There may not be much that makes you smile right now. What I have found is that no matter the ‘thing’ or ‘circumstance’ I am learning to think on those things that are eternal and not allow my joy be present according to the situation. I used to question how Paul had learned to be content in any and every situation, it’s so hard and yet so simple. Paul knew strength and joy only comes from our Father. How do I tap into that? Through prayer and speaking God’s Holy Word over my circumstances. It’s an instant push to the smile button!

Smiling,

Shana

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In God We Trust

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For those of us who are military families, uncertainty is just part of life.  We often live a life of “hurry up and wait.”  Uncle Sam could knock on our doors at any time. Military families live with a lot of unknowns, yet it’s important for us not to place our faith in the government, but in Christ alone.

 

When my husband found out he was going to be deployed back in 2012, we began making preparations.  Then, his orders were rescinded.  Whew! He wasn’t going to be deployed…..or was he?  There was talk that he would go and talk that he would not.  I really dislike the unknown, so I made it a point to be in constant prayer, that whatever he was called to do, I would support him, and I would not stress and worry because ultimately, God was in control.

 

Needless to say, my husband deployed.  Throughout that time, there many unknowns.  Yet, through prayer, God sustained me during that time.  He provided for my family in so many amazing ways.

Whether you are a military family or not, life is still full of uncertainties.  It is important for us not to put our faith in government, in our financial advisors, or even in our doctors.  Our faith should be placed in Christ.  He is the one with the answers. He is the one who is unchanging.  He is the one who knows our pasts, is with us now in the present, and will remain beside us in the future.

 

So, Sister, I pray that whatever you are going through, that you will place your faith in Christ.  Trust Him to care for you and provide for you.  He will stand with you on the mountaintops and walk with you through the valleys.  Why? Because He is faithful and true.

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TTFN – Tah Tah For Now

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“My soul, praise Yahweh, and all that is within me, praise His holy name.” Psalms 103:1 HCSB

It’s been a full year since I was asked to blog for the KBC. In that time, God has moved and my life has been transformed. I have enjoyed every moment of this journey and can’t wait to see His story continue. He is our faithful Lord Almighty. He is deserving of all our praise.

If you are currently in a waiting period, a storm, or a time of suffering, know this truth: you are not alone. You can have perfect peace through the One who gives it. Praise Him with all of your being and see how He transforms your perspective. Psalms 103 is a beautiful psalm, full of truth about our Lord.  I love that David starts it out with praise! We are called to enter His gates with thanksgiving, with praise. And that’s what I want to do through this post.

I want to praise Jesus for giving me the ability to write for Him and for my sweet baby, who will be here in a month! I want to praise Jesus for a loving husband who cherishes and takes care of me and for my dream job which gives me the ability to love students who so desperately need it. I also want to praise Jesus for those of you reading this. The Lord has allowed me to shine His light and I hope that you, dear sister, can see how bright it shines! He loves you and wants your heart. I pray that you have given it to Him. I will continue to pray for you, beloved ones, as I take a break from writing for a few months. I can assure you my return post will be brimming with stories of first time motherhood and the Lord’s faithfulness. As one of my favorite cartoon characters once said, “TTFN, tah tah for now!”

Lord, thank You so much for Your blessings. Thank You for this blog. Please bless it, the writers and the readers. In Christ I pray, Amen.

Blessings!

~Lauren Ray

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Faithful Lord

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“The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and rich in faithful love.” Psalms 103:8 HCSB

If you would have told me a year ago that I would currently be at my dream job and expecting my first little one, I would have laughed at you. I knew God had big plans for me, but I would never have realized how soon they would come to fruition. Our Heavenly Father is amazing. His love knows no bounds. I am awestruck by His faithful love. He alone is faithful. I apologize for the short post, but sometimes less is more.

God bless my sisters!

~Lauren Ray

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…In Honor of His and Many Others’ Efforts

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 Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.

Free at last, Free at last, Thank God almighty we are free at last.

~Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. was born on January 15, 1929. He was a Baptist minister, Nobel Peace Prize Winner, and civil rights leader who championed justice and equality. As he said, “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Today, many honor the efforts of Dr. King, as well as those who knew and acknowledged injustices, working to provide equality.  Martin Luther King’s dream was: that the inhabitants of the United States would be judged by their personal qualities and not by the color of their skin.

We can still peacefully fight injustice. We can pray; be watchful, speak up, or even be prepared to dial 9-1-1 when we see someone being mistreated.  We can also admit our personal struggles with various forms of injustices, ask God for forgiveness and the strength to treat All people according to His plans.

So, whatever your thoughts about Martin Luther King, Jr., as God’s children, we can see clearly to combat the injustice around us with a merciful attitude (Micah 6:8; James 1:27).

I am grateful for God’s provision through Martin Luther King and many who spoke out against injustice and those who continue to do so in and by God’s strength and wisdom.

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. –Martin Luther King Jr. (1929–68)

~Shelly

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When Storms Come

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On Thursday afternoon, I made the dreaded trip to the grocery store.  We are under a Winter Storm Warning, so we must be prepared. You know the drill: milk and bread in every shopping cart.  When the forecast calls for extreme weather events, it’s only natural to prepare.  Even those of us who live in “the bubble” here in south central Kentucky prepare although somehow, we often miss the brunt of the storms.  We prepare our homes by stocking our refrigerators and gathering supplies.  We err on the side of caution for those “What If” situations.  Yet, how often do we prepare for those other storms of life?

 

All to often, we find ourselves unprepared for what lies ahead: sickness, financial difficulty, loss.  Usually, these storms come out of nowhere, there’s no forecaster to predict we will be diagnosed with cancer or we will lose a loved one unexpectedly.  So, how do we prepare?

 

We continue to grow in our relationship with Christ.

 

As we study scripture, spend time in prayer and worship, and lift our hearts in thanksgiving, God will not reveal our upcoming trials.  However, He will mold us. He will teach us. We will grow closer to Him.  Then when those storms approach or hit us out of nowhere, we can stand strong.  We can thrive because we never stopped preparing.

 

Spending time in fellowship with the Lord is never wasted time.  God uses this time to prepare our hearts and minds for what’s to come.  As we grow in our relationship with Him, we see how God has proved Himself faithful.  When those big storms come, we have faith that He will provide for us again.

 

Dear Friend, I pray that you spend time with the Lord each and every day.  I pray that as you pray and study scripture that you remain confident and steadfast in whatever lies head. God is good all the time even in our storms.

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Altars of Remembrance

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“For your steadfast love is before my eyes, and I walk in your faithfulness.”
??Psalms? ?26:3
I have talked before about the story in Joshua chapter 4 where God instructs Joshua and the Israelites to build an altar of remembrance near the Jordan River where God had just stopped the waters so they could all cross into the Promised Land. God wanted this to serve as a reminder to them and generations to come of His faithfulness. We are called to do the same.

Where is your altar of remembrance where you can take someone to and tell them the story of God’s faithfulness in your life? I have so many and more that were added just this year.  I could take you to the doctor’s office where the specialist who had been seeing me for almost a year informed my husband and I that getting pregnant again was not in the cards, and he would recommend a hysterectomy for me to alleviate the long time problems we were still having after hemorrhaging 3 years prior.  We could visit the room where my husband and I had made the phone call to the agency that would begin our adoption process because we knew God had called us to step out in faith on this journey. The places where we have done fundraisers for our adoption would show you God’s faithfulness as we prepared for the costs of an adoption. The doctor’s office where we scheduled the hysterectomy and then a few weeks later came back to find out that we would not be having any surgery because we found out I was pregnant. Or I could even take you to the many specialists appointments where we never knew what to expect with our very unexpected pregnancy that eventually led us to the delivery room where our miracle baby girl was born.  All of these places could hold an altar for our family so that we could take you there to share our story of what God has done for us.

However, every January 1, I get to go back to one place where I get to remember God’s faithfulness for me and my family that was the beginning of this story. The first night of the new year we went back to Target to pray and remember that even through the darkest nights, His mercies are new every morning. I got to share the story with Caroline about how God took care of us and always will. I got to take baby Elsie in her car seat, just like Caroline was 4 years ago, and see how far God has brought our family since a life threatening scare. I got to hear my husband pray, thanking God for hard times so that we are able to share our story to point others to our God who is so much bigger than we are.
Is it easy to remember difficult times? No. Were tears shed? Yes. Do we lean more on our fears than our faith sometimes? Yes. But Brannon and I have reminded each other that we can’t let our fear overshadow our faith. Our prayer in this new year is the same as it has been the last 4 years: that God allows someone to see Him through us.
Thankful for the opportunity to point someone to Christ.

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Fight the Good Fight

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My sons are gamers. They have played video games since they were old enough to hold remotes in their little toddler hands. I have watched them over the last 20+ years beat game after game. If you were to ask one of them how they do that, they would tell you they begin with learning each move that will bring down the enemy. This method is full of trial and error. Some days they win, some days they lose. It is only by continuing in the fight, that they learn more about the enemies tactics and use the weapons they have been given to successfully defeat the enemy. Once they understand how to use the weapons they have been given, the battle is half over.

This life is no game. We don’t have lives reserved for another play, we don’t get any second chances to do this over. But, this is what we do have… God has given us all the weapons we need to defeat the enemy in Ephesians 6:10-18.

Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore,

having girded your waist with truth,
having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 

having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.
And take the helmet of salvation,

the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God;
praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints. 

The enemy has come to steal, kill, and destroy. (John 10:10) But when God’s children know the weapons they have been given to successfully navigate the battle, we will be able to withstand the evil day, and stand. Just because we get an eye blacked or have a bloodied nose, this doesn’t mean we have been beaten. It means we continue to fight.

Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

Fight the good fight!

 

 

 

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