Celebrate His Promises


My heart remains true and is awed by Your words. 
I celebrate because of Your promise, 
like someone who discovers great treasure. 
I despise and abhor lies, 
but I love Your law. 
Seven times every day I praise You 
because of Your right rulings. 

Psalm 119:161-164 The Voice

Homesick & Heartbroken

It was my freshman year in college. I was 500 miles from home and looking forward to a long weekend home for Easter. I was packed to go and even had riders to share the cost. I woke up Thursday morning for my last day of classes and there was snow on the ground. I received a call from my father in Wisconsin. He strongly suggested that I not come home because the weather between Kentucky and Wisconsin was pretty severe.

I was so heartbroken. I had had a long year fighting homesickness and I really wanted to go home. Dejected, I went to my first class. Being at a Christian college, the professor always opened class with prayer. That is, he always asked a student to pray. That morning, he asked me to pray.

I wondered, “How on earth could I pray?” I was so disappointed that I was not going to be able to go home. We all bowed our heads…


“Lord, thank you

for the beautiful snow…”


I’m not sure what else I said. I was shocked to hear myself say it. Certainly, I was not thankful for the snow. It was the cause of my demise.

Psalm 119 Celebrate his promises
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Thankful in the Midst of Trial

It’s hard to be thankful when you are in the midst of trials. Your mind is so centered on your trouble, you can’t really think of anything else. But maybe praise and thankfulness are what helps ease our mind. Maybe it is what helps us make it through. Could it be the way to keep from spiraling down into despair is to continually have His praises on our heart and our mind?

This celebration of His Blessings may very well have been the beginning of a wonderful Easter weekend. I was invited to go to Georgia instead. I visited with a friend AND my aunt and Uncle.

Celebrate His Promises

 Soon after the start of my chronic pain. I was introduced to the writings of Ann Voskamp. You have probably seen to droves of Thankful posts on Facebook during November. When I realized that this came from Ann, I decided to read her book, A Thousand Gifts.   I was challenged to list three blessings every day for an entire year. That was the beginning of the return of smiles in the midst of the pain.

It truly does make a difference to begin listing the things for which I am grateful.

As the women’s director, I challenged all the ladies at church to take the Joy Dare with me. Several did it along with me. One couple shared with me several times how not only did the Joy Dare make them stop and think of things they were grateful for, but also, gave them laughter. The prompts weren’t always easy to find answers to, but they would laugh trying to think of ideas. What a blessing!

Psalm 119 Celebrate His Promises

You have probably seen these Joy Dare prompts on Facebook. Go download them and begin your own journey to joy today! It will change your life as it did me and my friends. And as it did for Ann.
Notice again the last line of the scripture above. The Psalmist says he gave praise to God SEVEN TIMES A DAY.

Wow! Seven times. I know I’m behind.

Join me and Celebrate his Promises!

Tybee Island, GA

My Journey with Chronic Pain

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his eye is on the sparrow

I Sing Because I’m Happy and Free

This post was prompted by the gang at Five Minute Friday Each Friday we take five minutes to write on the same prompt. It’s a lot of fun to see what others are inspired to write from the same prompt. Give it a try or click and do a bit of fun reading.

So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Music is my life.

There was a day when you would always find me singing. But lately, I find it hard to sing. It’s like there is a lump in my throat. And I feel kind of sad. So what’s a girl to do?

Always a Reason to Sing

2 Corinthians reminds me that our Christian life is not about being happy but about serving Christ.  We are indeed jars of clay, cracked and broken but shining out the love of Christ. It’s those cracks and breaks that show the world we are His and that life can be fulfilling even in the valleys.

We are not promised a good life. We are not promised a bed of roses. Though if we were, I remind you the roses have thorns. 

These scriptures remind us that even when we feel we cannot sing, we should look back at what God as done for us. If nothing else, He has saved us from our sin and promised us life eternal! This should be enough to give us His joy. 

I’m reminded of the beautiful hymn, His Eye is on the Sparrow.

Why should I feel discouraged,
Why should the shadows come,
Why should my heart be lonely,
And long for heaven, heaven and home,
When, when Jesus is my portion,
My constant Friend is He;
Oh, oh-oh, his eye is on the sparrow,
And I know He watched, watched it over me.

I sing because I’m happy (happy)
I sing because I’m free (free free free)
For His eye, his eye is on the sparrow,
And I know, I know He watches over me.

He is my Constant Friend

God is watching over us. He cares about every detail of our lives. God sees us as His treasured possession! We can sing in this reality.

So don’t give up. Keep Singing.

Keep your eyes looking up. Be faithful to Him.

Allow His light to shine through you so that when you arrive at heaven’s gates, you will be bringing along a whole host of believers that found Christ because of your perseverance.

I will sing to the LORD as long as I live. I will praise my God to my last breath!

Psalm 104:33

Sing to the Lord!

Mandy Signature
Savannah, GA

Beauty Broken

I was cleaning windows Saturday, and to make room I had to pick up my nativity platform (yes it was still outside). After picking it up and turning it over I discovered a butterfly cocoon.

I bent down and saw that it was already open. Shoot! I was hoping to take it in the house and maybe get to watch it emerge. As I moved my hand from the fragile, dry cocoon I saw it.

There still shriveled up was the beautiful yellow swallowtail butterfly. It had emerged from the cocoon but was trapped in a situation of no escape. I stood there for a minute and then the tears started to flow.

I cried because I thought of beautiful things placed in wrong places. People in my life giving away their beauty to only have it destroyed. I walked to the shaded grass area and cried.

God! Why? Why does this all have to be so broken? Innocent placement. Wanted safety only to be met with death. Trey was now looking at me and became concerned with my tears. So I shut down the “water works” and smiled.

Somethings can’t be fixed and that is hard. We just have to do our best to learn and move on.

-Weeping with you over beautiful things we have placed in wrong places.

Michele
#bullies #tickandstones #attitudeofchrist

Bullying: Sticks And Stones Crush our Hearts

School Time Troubles

It’s time to send our children off to school. And we all know that going to school can be pretty stressful; not just due to studies, but also peer pressure and social stresses. I thought this would be a good time to talk about how to help our children deal with bullies.

These days we hear so much about bullying, so much that it seems we are majoring on the wrong-doer and maybe we are not teaching our children how to deal with bullying when it happens. I don’t mean to make light of bullying, because certainly, I have been on the receiving end of it myself, as a child and as a mother having to comfort my children.

Bullying can crush our hearts. Bullying is not an acceptable way to act and often someone needs to step in and intervene. But how can we help our children through these times? Running straight to the principal may not be your best option, at least not your first option.

Steps For Dealing With a Bully #bullies #schooltime Click To Tweet
#bully #meangirls #roughandtoughboys
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Preparing Our Children to Deal with Bullies

What we must teach our children is that in this sinful world, bullying will always be out there. As Christians, we’re given that promise…

“If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you…. If they persecuted Me they will persecute you… for they do not know the One who sent Me.”

John 15:19-21

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

John 16:33

That promise is a bit harder to claim in comparison to the ones we choose to claim, isn’t it?

Along with the promise that “we will have troubles” we should remind our children that God always goes with us through whatever we may face. Talk about men and women in the Bible that face dire circumstances but God walked with them through it all. Just a few to start with are Joseph, David, Daniel, the Hebrew children, and Jesus, himself. Introduce and help them memorize verses like this one from Isaiah 43

But now, O Jacob, listen to the Lord who created you.
    O Israel, the one who formed you says,
“Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you.
    I have called you by name; you are mine.
When you go through deep waters,
    I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty,
    you will not drown.
When you walk through the fire of oppression,
    you will not be burned up;
    the flames will not consume you.
For I am the Lord, your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.

First, When Your Child is Bullied with Words, Ask This

1. Is there any truth in what the person said?

I’m reminded of an episode of Little House on the Prairie. Laura had been in an altercation with Nelly ‘again’. Upset that Nelly had called her father a smelly farmer, she finally told her father. Charles asked Laura, “Well, it is true, right?” Then he explained why he smelled like a barn and sweat. Because he worked hard and that was something to be proud of.

a. Become Better, Not Bitter

If there is truth in what was said, then we should correct what can be corrected. Use the situation as a tool to improve ourselves. Let it make you better, NOT Bitter. Just as a test shows us what we haven’t yet mastered, our trials show us areas in our life that need improving. Yes, criticism is hard to accept, but it can make us a better person if we allow it too. 1 Peter 1:6-7 instructs us …

” So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold-though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.

In the Little House episode, Charles can’t help it that he gets smelly while he works. He can try to improve by bathing or changing clothes when he goes to town but even that may not be practical. So he needs to be proud that he has a job and that he is a hard worker.

Focus on the good stuff. Don’t dwell on the negative thoughts that were expressed. Make a list of all your good qualities. Review them over and over in your mind. Remind yourself that you are not defined by that one negative aspect in your life. This is not so that you can downgrade the bully by telling him you are better than him. This is self-talk to remind yourself that God made you

Secondly, Whether there is Truth or Not

A. Be Encouraged

If there is no truth, Be encouraged! because we know that through our struggles and weaknesses, we are strong in Christ.

For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
—2 Corinthians 12:10

B. Forgive and Forget

– Again we must forgive and forget. Think of the times that Jesus was wrongly accused, even on the cross He said: “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do“. ( Luke 23:34 ) And later in Acts 7:54-60, we see that Stephen, forgave his persecutors even as they stoned him to death. So shouldn’t we do likewise? Aren’t we taught in the Bible to forgive as we are forgiven? Ephesians 4:32–5:2. Our actions show others how much Christ loves them.

C. Respond in Love

– We must respond in love. Remember that the bully probably does not yet know Christ. We need to show them the love and mercy of Christ by how we react to them. Remember, that we are the only Jesus some people will ever see. Responding in love will also, many times, dumbfound your accuser because they will be expecting you to hurl insults back at them. When we react with love and mercy, it will many times silence them.

Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.

Psalm 8:2

I recall a time in my life when I was first out on my own. I didn’t have laundry equipment and had to take my clothes to a laundromat. Finding a dryer with time left on it, I placed my laundry into the empty dryer.

I was later folding these clothes, a woman came into the laundromat and began accusing me of stealing her clothes from the dryer. I replied that there had been no clothes in the dryer and that she was welcome to go through my stacks of clothing to find anything that might be hers. She continued to accuse and yell, backing me up against the dryers and hitting me in the face. But when I would not retaliate, she finally, gave up and walked out.

It turned out that this situation for me became a blessing in disguise. When my church family heard the story, a lady came to me and said, “You will no longer have to go to a laundromat. Bring your dirty clothes to my house every Monday and I will wash them for you.” She not only washed them but made any repairs needed as well!

D. Pray for your Accuser / Abuser

Be a Prayer Warrior. We must Pray for our Accuser. 

“But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you

Matthew 5:44

There is usually a reason someone lashes out at us. They may have a bad situation at home, they may be grieving a loss, they may be jealous of you, they may be under conviction of the Holy Spirit. Look for these things and pray for them.

Then look for ways that you can reach out to them as a friend. Find out what their interests are and give a gift or strike up a conversation about their interests. Be a friend.

See if you can find out why they want to lash out. You might be amazed at the results. I’ve heard of “enemies becoming dear friends” because one of them reached out in love.

E. Remember God is With You

Be Encouraged… God is with you and God will be glorified!

Our true purpose on earth is to glorify God. There are times when our trials can bring glory to Him because of the way we react. Others will see Jesus in us when we respond as Jesus would.

We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.

2 Corinthians 4: 8-11

F. Endurance Brings Reward

Be Encouraged .. You will be rewarded!

We can be encouraged when insulted or persecuted because our reward in heaven will be great.

“Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11″Blessed are you when men cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me. 12″Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Matthew 5:10-12
Prepare Your Child for Trouble at School #bullying #parenting #school Click To Tweet

Additionally, Here Are A Few Ways to Prepare Your Children in Advance for Bullies

The temptation is to encircle our children and prevent any harm from coming to them; however, this may only make things worse. Our children need to learn to stand up for themselves and to resolve conflict on their own.

They don’t need Mommy running to their defense all the time. This makes them feel and seem helpless. It could also cause them more harm because a bully is likely to retaliate when their mischief is reported.

Rather parents should prepare their children for troubled times by discussing real-life situations and Biblical accounts that reveal how to respond when troubles come.

1. Study the Scriptures Together

1 Blessed are they whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the LORD.
2 Blessed are they who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart.
3 They do nothing wrong; they walk in his ways.

Psalm 119

Each morning before you send them to school, read the scriptures together. This doesn’t need to be lengthy and drawn out. Read the scripture and talk about what it means in our own lives. Just one or two verses could do the trick. Here are a few places to start.

  • The Proverbs – Proverbs discusses character and lends itself to discussion. Plus Proverbs has 31 chapters. Chose a verse or two for the chapter that correlates to the day of the month. Read chapter 1 on day 1
  • Bible Story Book – There are many storybooks available. I like Ann Voskamp’s Unwrapping The Greatest Gift. While this is an Advent book, it can easily be used throughout the year. It begins with Adam and Eve and relates each lesson to the genealogy of Christ. Talk about the character of each man or woman. How did they respond to adversity? How can we relate that to our situation?
  • Sunday School Take-Home Papers – Some Sunday School curriculum comes with take-home papers that give scriptures to read at home during the week. This would be advantageous because it will correlate with what they are learning in Sunday School.
  • Look for More Ideas in Gladys Hunt’s Honey for a Child’s Heart and Honey for a Teen’s Heart.
Regular Family Bible Study Makes for School Success. #schooltime #studies Click To Tweet

2. Memorize Scriptures Together

“This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.

Joshua 1:8

I cannot emphasize enough on the importance of scripture memory. If you want to be encouraged by the Lord throughout the day, memorize scripture. It’s the only way God can bring it to mind in the middle of your trouble. Here are a few ways to help your children memorize.

  • Start with Sunday School Materials. That aforementioned S.S. paper has a memory verse on it. learn it together as a family. Write it out and put it on the refrigerator. Recite it aloud every time you go through the kitchen. Ask each other, “What is this week’s verse?” (NOTE: I’m not averse to giving awards for scripture memory)
  • Make little verse cards that fit into your pockets. Then review it all day long. It will surprise you how quickly you learn.
  • Memory Apps – I enjoy Scripture Typer which is available online, or on your phone or kindle. It keeps track of what you are learning, helps you review, and you can add your own scriptures in your preferred version.

As an added bonus, did you realize that the more you use your brain, the better it works? My cousin, now a surgeon, wondered how in the world he would learn and memorize all he needed while in medical school. His father told him, “Memorize Scripture”.

What?

More memory work?

Yes! It works too!

The more you use your brain the better it works! #scripturememory #successinlife Click To Tweet

3. Pray Together

For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

Matthew 18:20

We never let our children set foot on the school campus before praying together. The old adage says that a family that prays together stays together. I think more than staying together, you become one. It creates a bond not easily broken. This bond is a force that reminds us that we are not alone. Our child will know that you are cheering for him and also that God is fighting for him.

Prayer has a way of helping us see things from one another’s points of view. Hearing another pray causes us to feel his pain. It also helps us celebrate big wins that might otherwise go unnoticed. It’s also training for adulthood when they may be asked to pray in public.

Praying Together Creates a Team Bond. #praytogether #bondingtogether Click To Tweet

I hope that this will be a help for you as it was for me and my family.

May God bless you.

Mandy Farmer

Do you have other suggestions that you implement with your family? Share with us in the comments.

broken heart

What Can We Learn From a Broken Heart?

broken heart

My experience of love these past two years has been heartbreaking. But when I look back- it’s the areas that broke my heart that taught me the most.

Broken Expectations

Broken expectations leave a person left with what remains. And what remains is the truth, no matter how painful that truth may be.

Often in family and friendship- especially the kind of friendship that is viewed as family, we expect these friends and family to always have your back, always be there for you. After all, when we think of love, that is one aspect that seems most definitive of it.

The truth of love, however, is that the depth of it runs differently for each person. Their depths of love are based on their understanding and perception of love and those things are based on a person’s experience in life.


Unconditional Love is rare

All that to say, love, true, unconditional love, is rare. Love that doesn’t expect things in return and isn’t based on anything other than simply wanting the best for another person, because you simply and only care about that person’s wellbeing- that experience, is rare.

When experience breaks your heart enough- soon expectation is broken. And it’s there that humans are left to decide how they will allow love back in their hearts.

Allow Truth to Define your Heart

What I have learned is that your heart, is your responsibility. Giving someone the power to influence it is a big gift and it is one that shouldn’t be done lightly. You’re responsible for allowing what shapes and defines your heart. It is very important to have a healthy boundary for yourself and to allow truth first to define your heart. Truth takes awake selfish ambition, truth keeps you humble enough to know you’re not perfect and brave enough to know when to stand and speak up.

I’m not sure that this post is so much about love as it is about self-respect, but I believe one cannot love from a truthful place without first having self-respect.

Love and Self-Respect

Truth and an Open Heart Builds a Foundation for Love Click To Tweet

It is up to you to find Truth and to open your heart to it. When you do, you will find humility and strength. And then, you will receive the foundation to love, truly, yourself and others.

-Thoughts from Jessie ❤️✊️

How God Restores a Broken Heart

So many of us find ourselves BROKEN. But God can make all things BEAUTIFUL if you will let Him.

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I picked up Gwen Smith’s book from a pile of books I have purchased and never finish reading because I am writing a series of devotionals on emotional trauma. I wanted to find out how others dealt with their own traumatic events and how God helped them recover.

We have all found ourselves broken and unable to fix it. Only God can restore our hearts and make us whole again. Gwen brings to mind how this life can beat us up and break our tender hearts. Each chapter tells of someone she knows personally and links her together with a Biblical woman. She then shows us that “God can use each and every person who surrenders her brokenness into His hands…no matter what.” It doesn’t matter if we are broken from past sin. Sometimes, we ourselves have sinned. Other times, those around us have sinned and we became the object of the sin. Either way, God CAN use the brokenness and turn it into something beautiful. The key is our own surrender of the heart. We must allow God to do the work in our hearts and lives. Then and only then will the beauty shine through.

Gwen reminds us that Satan would like to take us down for the last time. He wants to defeat us and convince us that God does not care. These crafty lies of the evil one can hold us back and keep us struggling in the hurt. We must let the lies go. Stop believing the lies and begin believing in the God who created us. Gwen tells us that “when we invite God into our circumstances, He will faithfully respond to our needs”. And then we will experience His peace, his presence, His power!

At the end of each chapter, Gwen leaves us with lyrics to one of her songs

 

 

From one beautiful heart to another!

 

Mandy Farmer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Enjoy Gwen Smith’s Music