Who is God? Part IV

Who Redeems Your Life From Destruction, Who Crowns You With Loving Kindess And Tender Mercies – Jehovah Nissi God Our Banner and our Go’el, God our Redeemer Psalm 103:4

Many of us still have times when we strive and struggle because we revert to a mindset of having to earn God’s grace. We fight our own battles and take care of our own problems. We think we are the one who is in control of the battle. That is wasted energy, and I don’t know about you, but I do not have energy enough to waste it. 

We need to release the lie and embrace the truth that we are made worthy in God, through Christ, so that we can walk unencumbered in the Way the Truth and the Life. Jehovah Nissi is raising the banner of victory, over our lives.

He replaces the shroud of shame and guilt with the crown of loving kindness and tender mercies. (“Shame off me Grace on Me” Robin Jones Gunn)

Our spirits should be bursting with gratitude as we consider how God chooses to bestow his benefits on us. 

Who Satisfies Your Mouth With Good Things So That Your Youth Is Renewed Like The Eagles – El Shaddai – The Lord God Almighty & Jehovah Jireh our provider Psalms 103:5

What does He provide?  

                                    Salvation Romans 3:23-24

                                    A way out of temptation and sin I Corinthians 10:13

                                    Freedom Galatians 5:1

All I have needed thy hand hath provided

The fruit of being satisfied by God’s goodness is that we will share His love. Our life will become a living testimony. We need to know and trust God’s name for our every need so we can authentically speak words of hope, life and comfort into someone else’s life. When His loving kindness is shown through us, His benefits multiply.

The ENEMY wants us to forget all these benefits. He wants us to base our relationship with God on feelings and emotions. He frequently reminds us of our failures, mistakes, and sins, but Jehovah Rophe (our healer) has redeemed us from all our iniquities. Jehovah Shalom (our God of peace) alone can bring us the peace that passes all understanding. 

We may become distracted or disillusioned about who our King is and what he has done for us. But remembering His benefits will remind us of His character. It will empower us to rejoice and share His goodness and those benefits with others. 

John 7:38 tells us, “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” 

As the river of living water flows into us, as we know God more intimately, the natural (or supernatural) action is for the Living Water to flow out of us.

You may be feeling a bit thirsty, or like a mud caked stream or dried out riverbed, but Matthew 5:6 tells us “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness for they shall be filled.” (NKJV)

And the Holy Spirit, our Paracletes, our counselor, comforter, keeper, and helper is alone the one who fills us with all good things. (John 15:26)

John 4:13-14 (NLT) Jesus replied, “Anyone who drinks this water (the water the world offers) will soon become thirsty again. 14 But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.”

I am praying for you today, that if you are hungry, you will be fed and if you are thirsty you will be satisfied, and that the wellspring of God’s goodness and faithfulness can flow through you in whatever work He has called you to today.

We have one more week in the “Who is God” series, and then we will take a look at who we are in Christ.

Please feel free to share this with anyone you know who can be encouraged by it. If you haven’t already, you can sign up to receive more encouragement like this right in your email inbox. Just hit the follow button and fill in your information.

Have a blessed day.

Keri

Jehovah Rophe/Rapha Who is our King? Part III

My daughter has spent much of her adult life as a medical ICU nurse. After some time off for having a couple of major surgeries, she dove back into the deep end, serving in a very COVID populated ICU throughout 2020 and 2021. As proud as this mama’s heart was of her, it was hard to grasp what she was dealing with daily. 

As a nurse, she is tasked with caring for her patients’ entire well-being; physical, emotional, and even spiritual. Her patients were alone without family or friends to sit beside them, encourage them, or hold their hands. Many of them could not communicate, because they were intubated. Most did not realize the blessing of the tender loving care of this nurse, placed in their lives by the Great Healer, as she administered lifesaving medications and breathing treatments. 

They did not know that as she quietly went about her work, caring for their every need, she was beseeching Jehovah Rophe on their behalf. Many did not know she was silently singing the songs and hymns that have comforted her throughout her life. Some heard her humming and asked her to come closer and sing to them. She did. 

God, Himself, has given her the gifts that she uses every day. He has given the doctors skills and knowledge, but still, much about the human body is a mystery. 

Throughout Scripture God is referred to as our healer. He is the God who heals. 

Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. 

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:

Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases;

Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies;

Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s. Psalms 103

PSALM 147:3 Says He is the Rophe (healer) of the brokenhearted. He is the one who bandages their wounds. 

We don’t know what healing will look like. Maybe God gives you grace to endure. Maybe you or a loved one enjoys physical healing. Maybe God chooses to remove your thorn in the flesh.

Paul was given a thorn in the flesh to remind him of his redemption and his dependence on God.

Our healing may not be from a physical ailment; it may be spiritual healing, release from a bad habit that has had a strangle hold on us. It may be emotional healing or a supernatural ability to forgive others as He has forgiven us. 

My dear Aunt Jean loved Jesus more than anything in this world. Her life reflected that, but it was not without trials or pain. When she was at my home for her very last Christmas on earth, as I helped her into bed, I asked her if I could do anything else for her. She said “pray for me to not be in pain.” I prayed for her that night and continued to in the months to come. 

I prayed that she would be free from pain and that she would be able to have joy in her circumstances. Months later, as I prayed for her to be free from pain, I immediately had an overwhelming thought. For Aunt Jean to be completely healed, she would be in Heaven. In my heart, I knew this would make her joy complete. The very next day she met Jehovah Rophe, her healer, face to face, never to experience pain again. 

Our bodies and minds are human and frail. We are all in a state of diminishment, but 2 Corinthians 4:16 says “We do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.”  Every day in these messed up earthly bodies is one day closer to heaven because we are redeemed. 

Whatever season you are in, know that Jehovah Rophe is the God who heals because He is the God who hears. He hears your cry, knows your pain, and wants to bring you peace even in the Valley of the Shadow of Death. Psalms 23

Know that if you are reading this, you have been prayed for.

Feel free to connect with me by leaving a comment, signing up to receive this blog right into your inbox or email me at soulwater@kerilynnwillis.com.

If We are Children of the King, Who is our King? Part II

If we know that God is absolutely trustworthy, then it is our responsibility to grow in our trust of Him. This takes time and investment and will lead to understanding of His nature and character which will allow us to more fully be dependent on Him. 

Over the next several weeks, we are going to dive into scripture and look at some names of God and other descriptions of our indescribable God. As a disclaimer, I am not a Hebrew or Greek scholar. As I did my research, I found that several names were written and spelled several different ways. Original Hebrew, translated to English, Old English translated to new English etc. What we do need to know is that the Hebrew people used names of God to describe the attributes of His character they experienced or knew. These names help us to better understand who God is.  

Then Elohim said, “Let us make humans in our image, in our likeness. Let them rule the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the domestic animals all over the earth, and all the animals that crawl on the earth.”GENESIS 1:26 (Names of God Bible, http://www.biblegateway.com)

ELOHIM is the plural form of EL or God, indicating the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit co-existed as one from the beginning of time. Of all creation, They chose humans to make in Their image. Throughout Scripture there are over 2000 uses of this name of God.

Exodus 3:5-14 (NLT)“Do not come any closer,” the Lord (Yahweh/Jehovah) warned. “Take off your sandals, for you are standing on holy ground. I am the God (Elohim) of your father —the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” When Moses heard this, he covered his face because he was afraid to look at God.

God appeared in a burning bush that did not burn up and told Moses who He was, why He was there, and what He wanted from him, but Moses needed more convincing to go face to face with Pharaoh. 

12God answered, “I will be with you. And this is your sign that I am the one who has sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God at this very mountain.”

13 But Moses protested, “If I go to the people of Israel and tell them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ they will ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what should I tell them?”

14 God replied to Moses, “I am that I am. Say this to the people of Israel: I am has sent me to you.”

15 Again Elohim said to Moses, “This is what you must say to the people of Israel: Yahweh Elohim of your ancestors, the Elohim of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, has sent me to you. This is my name forever. This is my title throughout every generation. (Vs 15 from the Names of God Bible www.biblegateway.com)

Yahweh or Jehovah is the same name of God, translated it means “The Existing One” or Lord – I am that I am (Ehyeh) – indicates that He has no beginning and no end, is all powerful and needs no further explanation. In Revelation 22:13, He says “I am the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.”

Some of us are like Moses, we think we need to see a burning bush to really believe in God. Elohim came to Moses and introduced Himself in a very powerful way. The power of God and His name does not come to us in a burning bush today, but He has given us sixty-six books to explain Himself and His work and all of creation reveals His majesty.

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. Romans 1:20 (NIV)

What is your burning bush? Where do you see God? Has God done something to prove Himself real to you? We would love for you to share it with us in the comments or send me an email at soulwater@kerilynnwillis.com.

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Grandmas, Cranberries and Cinnamon Rolls Part II

Reposted as a tribute to my grandmothers on Mother’s Day 2022.

My favorite Christmas memories from childhood stem from the heritage of faith and love shared by my grandparents.  As I remember my Grandma B, this scripture comes to mind, clearly articulating her testimony as being a woman of faith. 

II Timothy 1: 5-7

I remember your genuine faith, for you share the faith that first filled your grandmother Lois and your mother, Eunice. And I know that same faith continues strong in you. This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you. For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

Gram was a tiny, meek, compassionate lady. Her favorite Christmas carol was, “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day,” written during the Civil War. Take a minute and look up the words. It is a pretty powerful song.  She was born during WWI and had her babies during WWII. She truly desired peace on earth and had goodwill toward men.

She was plagued by MS and depended on a wheelchair by the time I was in high school. She loved and prayed for us as long as she lived.  When my sister and I were little, she would encourage us to make cards for the elderly and frequently took us to sing to Granny Thompson, who was over 100 years old and lived in a rest home. I remember her pushing us up closer to the railing of the bed and encouraging us to “sing a little louder” so the sweet granny could hear us. 

Grandma B was always prepared with a meal for a shut in, often took in laundry to help out a friend and showed love in every way she knew how. She was a living picture of James 1:27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.(NIV)

From the time I was able to reach counter, she would give me free reign of her kitchen. About eight years old, making a cake, waist length hair hanging down in front of me, the mop of hair caught in the hand mixer. The mixer rolled my hair right up to my scalp. All I could do was scream for help. My mom rescued me, calmly unplugging the offender and retreating to the other room to laugh in private. I still have a dent in my forehead! … One of my best Grandma’s Kitchen memories.

Every Christmas, we would grind cranberries for Gram’s special cranberry relish. Eventually, the cranberry relish became my job. When I made it for about 150 senior citizens, they recognized it for the “old fashioned” recipe it was but didn’t believe that I made it.  Since then I have found a much easier way to make her special recipe without using a grinder. I use my Vita-mix, but any blender will work. 

This recipe is not a gourmet dish, but it is my grandmother’s recipe, and in making it every year, I honor her and share the love of cooking and sharing my heart with my family and friends as she did for so many years. 

GRANDMA BONEBRIGHT’S CRANBERRY RELISH

  • Grind (or blend in your blender) one bag of cranberries 
  • Mix with one can of mandarin oranges (don’t blend these)
  • Add one large package of orange Jell-O prepared with called for hot water and no cold water
  • Add sugar to taste. 
  • Refrigerate until firm.
  • ADD-LIB 
  • Add raspberries or other fruit 
  • Garnish with fresh mint and oranges
  • Put in a Jell-O mold & make it fancy

Grandmas, Cranberries & Cinnamon Rolls

Reposted May 2022 in tribute to my grandmothers for Mother’s Day.

It is still dark in the house. The warmth of the fire crackling in the fireplace and the delicate lights on the Christmas tree spark memories of my youth. Cinnamon and vanilla scents wafting from my oven kindle the comforting nostalgia growing inside of me.

As a child, we would spend a quiet Christmas Eve with my paternal grandparents. Fire in the fireplace and a lovingly prepared meal greeted us. They loved us so much and loved to lavish us with special gifts and treats as only grandparent can.

Christmas morning would take us over the river and through the woods (or down the street) to the other grandmother’s house. The quiet and meekness of Christmas Eve was replaced with raucous laughter, food frenzies, games, and spontaneous trips to the beach. Grama Sandy would be singing Christmas carols in her rich, contra alto voice, as she prepared the Christmas feast for us. Aromas of her cinnamon rolls, with sometimes more than twenty of us waiting for them to come out of the oven, built anticipation of the day to come.  

I was very blessed to have both of my grandmothers well into adulthood. They were as different as could be, but their love of Jesus and their families united them like sisters. I don’t remember my tiny little Gram B ever singing. I don’t remember robust Grama Sandy ever NOT singing (My secret dream is to be able to sing as beautifully as her).

Gram B was quiet and kept her opinions to herself. She kept a beautiful home, towels folded just so, sheets ironed, widows and orphans fed and cared for. Grama Sandy conducted a symphony of her seven children who always brought strays and wafts home with them, for which I am grateful, because I married one of them. She impacted every single person who entered her home.

Both grandmas instilled in me the joy of serving as a means of worshiping the One who gives us every good and perfect gift. 

Psalms 103:17 (NIV)

But from everlasting to everlasting
    the Lord’s love is with those who fear him,
    and his righteousness with their children’s children

Because of their amazing cooking, I am a food snob. I make almost everything from scratch. There are two exceptions; Gram B’s cranberry relish and Grama Sandy’s cinnamon rolls. The best kind of gifts are the ones that don’t wear out and that you can share. Today I am going to share the timeless gift of Gram’s cinnamon rolls, and tomorrow you will be blessed to receive the recipe for Gram B’s cranberry relish and a tribute to this special lady. 

Turn on your favorite Christmas music and sing along with Grandma Sandy while embarking on this sentimental journey with me. I believe Gram would choose Andrea Bochelli or Josh Groban and harmonize with them all day long. I never saw Gram Sandy measure anything. She baked from her heart as much as she did from her memory. She made do with what she had available and improvised whenever necessary. So, add your own flavor or twist to this recipe, and make it your own.

Grandma Sandy’s Cinfull Cinnamon Rolls

1 package Bridgford frozen bread dough

(3 loaves; each loaf makes 8 rolls)

1 cup or so of brown sugar for each loaf

3 Tablespoons or so of cinnamon for each loaf

1 cube of butter or so for each loaf

About 1 Tbsp vanilla or other flavoring

NUTS & RAISINS TO ADD-LIB

  • Let bread dough thaw on a cutting board 
  • In the bottom of the pan cut enough butter so you have about one chunk every inch
  • Sprinkle with plenty of cinnamon and brown sugar
  • Shake some vanilla over all this and set pan aside
  • Smash bread dough flat so you have a rectangle 
  • Spread a little butter on the surface 
  • Sprinkle cinnamon & brown sugar, nuts, raisins or any thing else on that. 
  • Start rolling & stretching until your loaf is completely rolled
  • Slice in half, then in half again, then in half again until you have eight even rolls
  • Place on top of cinnamon & sugar in pan 
  • Spray sides of pan with cooking spray
  • Let rise until light & fluffy (I usually let them rise over-night and bake in the morning before everyone gets up, so they wake up to the smell of baking cinnamon rolls and coffee).
  • Bake at 325* for about 30 min (The middle roll should kind of thump when you tap it, and they all should be a golden brown)
  • Immediately turn over onto prepared platter or plate, scraping all of the caramelized sugar and cinnamon syrup onto the rolls.
  • Eat up!

Feel free to make your own bread dough if you don’t want to use the frozen bread dough. I just run out of time and energy by Christmas Eve when I make Cinnamon rolls for the entire neighborhood. I also have found this method to be consistent even when I am off my baking game.

What is your favorite family holiday tradition or grandma memory?

 

Lessons From the Moms in My Life

Updated May 2022. The moms mentioned in this blog are my own sweet mom, Marci Bonebright who is still a fun and influential person in my life, my mom-in-law, Elizabeth Willis, who is worshiping in heaven with my grandmothers, Sandy DeBruyn and Eleanor Bonebright. I will be reposting several tributes to these ladies in the next few days.

As Mother’s Day approaches, I try to take time to step back from the daily chores and reflect on the impact my mother had on me and that I have had on my own daughter. One of my earliest memories is going to church as a family. Learning to love Jesus was at the top of Mom’s priority list for her girls. Memorizing Scripture was a daily practice. Cooking… well, she says she just got out of the way when I entered the kitchen, except the time that she had to rescue me from the eggbeaters that wrapped my waist length hair in them all the way up to my forehead. Arriving to my pleas for help, she just calmy unplugged the offending appliance and unraveled my hair and sent me to the sink to wash out the cake batter. “Respond don’t react,” were words that she repeated to me often, especially after I became a mother. James 1:19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.

In a college writing class, I was required to write a ‘descriptive’ paper. I didn’t even hesitate. My descriptive paper would be on a virtuous woman. My mother would be my muse. If you read Proverbs 31, and you know Mom, you would agree. There hasn’t a day gone by that she has not worked hard. She has supported her family spiritually, emotionally, and financially. She sewed so well that she even made my dad’s suits. I drew a picture of what I wanted for a wedding dress, and she made it without hesitation, exactly as I had dreamed. Her children call her blessed. She fears the Lord. She deserves to be honored and praised.

Proverbs 31:13-17 She selects wool and flax
    and works with eager hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
    bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up while it is still night;
    she provides food for her family
    and portions for her female servants.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
    out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She sets about her work vigorously;
    her arms are strong for her tasks.

I have been so blessed to have a heritage of Christian women in my life. As early as I can remember, my Grandma Bonebright (my dad’s mom) involved me in and set an example of Christian acts of service. Whether it was taking a meal to a sick person, doing somebody’s laundry, or singing to Granny Thompson, Gram planned her life around meeting the needs of others as her service to Christ. She did not make a big deal about it. She did not preach to me about why I needed to serve. She gently and quietly just set an example of godly living and self-sacrifice. She often took my sister and me to visit “shut ins” We sang all of the sweet Jesus songs we could think of, always being encouraged to sing louder and get closer. I still remember the soft- hands of Granny Thompson reaching out to hold my hand. These served as her eyes, because her 101 years had robbed her of her eyesight. Even though her eyes were not seeing her physical surroundings, they were still the window to her soul, as the joy of the Lord beamed from the inside out as the light of the world.  

As the MS set in, my Grandma Bonebright was afraid to go out in public for fear of falling or causing an accident. The last time I remember her driving was when I was in Jr High. She picked me up from school and headed out onto the freeway. We topped speeds of 20 miles an hour, and that was with me sliding over and putting my foot on the gas! Dear Grandma was transitioning from the servant to the one being served and needing care. A few of her friends were not too shy to come around. Some were afraid of hurting her or embarrassed at her inability to take care of herself as she once had. For those who could not get over their own uneasiness with Gram’s condition, they missed knowing one of the most wonderful ladies with a most godly, gentle and quiet spirit.   

She taught me, from her recliner and wheelchair, how to cook, how to serve, how to love my neighbor as myself. I learned compassion, patience, and true joy of serving through practical experiences of lifting, transferring, schlepping wheelchairs, bathing and grooming, cleaning her house, shopping for my grandparent’s groceries and cooking their favorite foods until they no longer needed the foods and trappings of this earthly life.  

One of the greatest blessings of building this kind of a relationship with my grandmother is that she knew me well. She knew my weaknesses, my strengths, my likes and dislikes, but more than any of that, she knew how to pray for me. I am confident that I was one of the main beneficiaries of her prayers. She did not always know what my every need was, but she daily placed me and my needs at the throne of our Savior. 

Proverbs 31:25-27

25 She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.

In several scriptures referring to older believers or wise women we see the word dignity. One of my greatest challenges is protecting the dignity of the grandmas. There is nothing dignifying about having someone else have to take care of your personal needs, dress you, bathe you, feed you, and tell you what to do. As I meditated on these scriptures and what I would be sharing, I thought about what dignity must really mean. 

  1. a formal, stately, or grave bearing: he entered with dignity
  2. the state or quality of being worthy of honor: the dignity of manual labor
  3. relative importance; rank: he is next in dignity to the mayor 
  4. high rank, especially in government or the church
  5. a person of high rank or such persons collectively

I like the second definition and the word origin. It implies that dignity does not come from being “haughty” or even “private” but in being worthy of honor and accepting of one’s role in life, like Paul being content in whatever state. I will probably continue to try to protect our grandma’s dignity, because I think that is honoring to her and to God, but also because we live in a sinful world that despises being inconvenienced or uncomfortable. 

26 When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness. 

One time I heard Grandma Willis(my mother-in-law) “teaching” in her sleep. What an amazing and encouraging teacher she must have been. In her conscious and subconscious, she loved the little ones that came to her. As each of her students brought her work, she told them how hard they had worked and how beautiful this or that was. She also guided them gently and lovingly in correcting their behaviors or schoolwork. God can use even these moments to teach us, moments that we might, as humans, worry about her mental or emotional state. Not only did I hear her teach, but I heard her pray. I have never heard anyone beseech God on behalf of her family the way Grandma Willis did.

What a joy it was for me to have my own daughter be able to experience this relationship with her grandmother. So many times, we wonder why God allowed a saint like Grandma Willis journey for 100 long, hard years on this earth. My daughter, Jordan called me from Virginia her first year in college. Hearing from her was like water to my soul. She explained, (paraphrased) “I know what Grandma’s ministry is. Her ministry is to pray for me, and I need that a lot! I am so fortunate to have someone so close to God, be so close to me.” 

Not too much later, we went to visit my mom’s mom in Washington. Before we left, Grandma Sandy grabbed Jordan’s arm and pulled her close. She said “take a look around this room and know that there is not a day that goes by that you do not have a lot of people praying for you. Sometimes it takes me a while to get to you because my kids and grandkids need A LOT of prayer, but you do get prayed for every day.” Now Grandma Sandy is interceding for us in Heaven

So many times, we are just too busy to even notice when there is a learning opportunity. We often don’t engage our aging fellow believers in conversation for fear of being uncomfortable or weighted down by their burdens, or we may even think that they don’t have anything meaningful to share. 

A while ago, I decided to start making notes on the amazing treasures that Grandma Willis had to share. I would like to share a few of them with you:

One time, when I stopped to see her, I commented that the trees outside her window were beautiful… She replied, “Yes they are, when I see the trees, the remind me of the strength of the Lord.”  She was like a tree planted by the river. This experience led me to Psalm 92: 12-15 But the godly will flourish like palm trees and grow strong like the cedars of Lebanon.  13 For they are transplanted to the LORD’s own house. They flourish in the courts of our God.  14 Even in old age they will still produce fruit; they will remain vital and green.  15 They will declare, “The LORD is just! He is my rock! There is no evil in him!”

Another time she told me: “Every day when I wake up, I wonder what the Lord has planned for the day.”Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV) 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

On her  90th  birthday she prayed… “Lord help us to do more and better for you each day”

She later told me, I don’t know why the Lord chooses to keep me here on Earth, but I guess my work is not done.

Proverbs 31:27 She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness

I too, have questioned what the Lord has for me to do… On one particular day, He gave me this verse: John 6:29 (NLT) Jesus told them, “This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.”

My daughter, Jordan, called me with relief one day.  It is so wonderful when your children ‘get’ the lessons you have been trying to teach and live. She said “I understand James 1 so much better because I see you and daddy put it into practice by taking care of Grandma.” Practicing true religion is taking care of widows and orphans in their distress and by keeping oneself from being polluted by the world.

I can never remember a time in my life when I did not have an older believer, often a widow, that I was participating with in ministry. Whether it was my grandparents, Alma, or my mother-in-law, I have seen the impact of their seemingly invisible ministry and, I have to say, it grieves me when we see them as “no longer active” in their walks with the Lord or we dismiss them as old and not as useful anymore.  

My challenge to you is, if you are not seeing this, if you are not experiencing this, then go looking.  Seek out those who have gray hair, drink in their wisdom.  Go for a walk, take them to coffee or treasure hunting, LISTEN to them.  You would be surprised how much they may be ministered to, if only you allow them to minister to you.

Proverbs 31: 30-31 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.31 Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

None of us can, on our own, live up to the standard set in Proverbs 31, but with God’s help, we can be who He created us to be and use the gifts He has given us. 

Take time to read Proverbs 31 for yourself. Who do you picture? Give honor to that person this week.

If We are Children of the King, Who is our King? (Part I)

If we are Children of the King, why do we so often live like paupers? Why do we look to the world for our satisfaction and comfort? 

I am not talking about the house we live in or clothes we can afford to wear. I am talking about taking the leftovers this world has to offer and never having enough of it to satisfy our deepest longings and fulfill our greatest desires. 

I think the answer is that we don’t know our king. We must know someone to trust them. Today, I want us to begin a dive into God’s Word to discover who He is and why we can trust him. 

How many of you know the name Ronald Reagan? From what I know, I have a lot of respect for him and how he led our country. I have even driven past and seen the rolling hills of his Santa Barbara ranch, been to the Reagan Library and read his autobiography, and yes, I voted for him. But I don’t REALLY know him. I don’t have a heart and soul relationship with him. 

We need to do more than know God in our minds, we need to know him and have a heart and soul relationship with him. Fortunately, He has offered us that invitation and there are no secret service or bodyguards between him and us. 

Let’s read this together, slowly, considering each line:

Psalms 103 Bless the Lord, O my soul;
And all that is within me, bless His holy name! (Adoni, El Elyon, El Shaddai )
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget not all His benefits: 
Who forgives all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases,  (Jehovah Rapha)
Who redeems your life from destruction, (Haago ‘El)
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,
Who satisfies your mouth with good things, (Jehovah Jireh)
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

Our circumstances might tempt us to believe we have been abandoned, neglected, overlooked, or ignored. Our minds will tell us not to trust; our flesh is weak, but our spirit, our souls can be at rest with God when we stay fixed on His presence and who He is. 

Psalm 9:10 says Those who know your name will put their trust in you. For you Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.

Knowing God by name will help us understand His character, knowing his character will help us trust Him more, and trust is at the center of any good relationship.

Think about your good human relationships. Trust is there. Think about the bad ones; trust is absent.

The Bible tells us in Numbers 23:19 (NLT) God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act?
Has he ever promised and not carried it through?

Sometimes (good and bad times) we forget that God is not a person like us, muddling along; He is the Almighty, Elohim, El Shaddai. God is who he says he is “Yahweh, I am” and does what He says he will do. It is His character to fulfill His will. 

If we know that He is absolutely trustworthy, then it is our responsibility to grow in our trust of Him. This takes time and investment and will lead to understanding of his nature and character which will allow us to more fully be dependent on him. 

For the next several weeks, I will be sharing more about who God is and why we can trust Him. If you have not already, I invite you to click the “follow” button and enter your email so you can receive this encouragement directly in your email inbox.

Know that if you are reading this, you are in my prayers. Have a blessed week.

Behold The Lamb

Behold The Lamb of God

… John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! John 1:29

Abraham and Isaac must have been dumbfounded as they trekked up the mountain where they would build an altar and make a sacrifice. They brought wood, a coal to light the fire, and the other necessary tools, but no lamb. 

When Isaac, Abraham’s son, questioned why they did not have a lamb, Abraham replied, “God will provide.” Genesis 22

Abraham had been asked by God to sacrifice his son. As a parent, I have never been able to get my mind wrapped around this part of the story. The climb up that mountain had to be torture, knowing what was to come. But Abraham did not question God; he made the journey in faith, knowing and believing the promises God had already made to him. (Hebrews 11:17-19)

As he laid his son on the altar, he heard it, God telling him to stop and not lay a hand on the boy, and he heard a ram rustling in the bushes. 

I can only imagine the relief Abraham felt when he heard the ram bleating, there right in front of him and as he released his son from certain death. Abraham believed God and it was counted as righteousness. Genesis 15:4  

He was called to sacrifice but only required to surrender.

Abraham was so overwhelmed with gratitude that he named the mountain “Yahweh Yireh” or “Jehovah Jireh” which means the Lord will provide. To this day, people still use that name as a proverb: “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.” Genesis 22:14

In the Old Testament, to make amends for sin, to worship, and for purification, individuals and families would bring a sacrifice of a pure, unblemished lamb. The most well-known story of this is when the Israelites were asked to sacrifice a lamb and put the blood on the door post to show their obedience and to protect them as the “death angel” descended and passed over Egypt. The celebration of “Passover” began then and is continued today as a remembrance of God’s deliverance. 

“In fact, according to the law of Moses, nearly everything was purified with blood. For without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness.” Hebrews 9:22 (NLT) Christ, our Passover Lamb has been sacrificed for us. I Corinthians 5:7 (NLT)

Forty-two generations after Abraham, God sent another sacrificial lamb, His son Jesus. 

Jehovah Jireh saw the way things were going in the world and wanted to provide a new way and new covenant for there to be forgiveness and reconciliation.  On another mountain, He  provided a perfect lamb that would end the need for sacrifice once and for all time. He gave us His precious son to pay the ultimate price for sin, past, present, and future. 

Because God’s children are human beings—made of flesh and blood—the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the devil, who had the power of death. Only in this way could he set free all who have lived their lives as slaves to the fear of dying. We also know that the Son did not come to help angels; he came to help the descendants of Abraham. Therefore, it was necessary for him to be made in every respect like us, his brothers and sisters, so that he could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God. Then he could offer a sacrifice that would take away the sins of the people.  Hebrews 2:14-17 (NLT)

For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. John 3:17

In a conversation with my middle-grade Bible study girls, I asked them what was the same and what was different between the ram Abraham sacrificed and Jesus, the Lamb of God, who died on the cross. They enthusiastically started throwing the answers out. Both provided a “blood offering.”  The ram nor Jesus did anything to deserve death. It was clear to the girls that the ram only provided atonement for one man and his family, but Jesus’ death on the cross provided the sacrifice for all mankind. Also, the ram died and stayed dead. Jesus conquered sin and death and rose from the dead on the third day and lives still today.

 And when God counted him (Abraham) as righteous, it wasn’t just for Abraham’s benefit. It was recorded for our benefit, too, assuring us that God will also count us as righteous if we believe in him, the one who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was handed over to die because of our sins, and he was raised to life to make us right with God. Romans 4:23-25 (NLT)

Sometimes, as adults, we get caught up in the details and culture of the Gospel. We can think we are so sinful that we are unredeemable or that we are good people and don’t need saving.  Then we forget the simple truths contained in the Gospel: We have all sinned. God loves us. Jesus died for our sins, was buried and rose again so we can have life, life more abundant. (Romans 3:23-24, John 3:16-17, John 10:10) All we have to do is trust in Him alone for our salvation.

If you haven’t already, please receive this precious gift of salvation today. If you already believe, I pray that you truly have a life more abundant and full of the peace that passes all understanding. 

I hope you have a blessed celebration of His Resurrection this Sunday. 

He is Risen!

Book Review The Grumble-Free Year

The Grumble-Free Year by Tricia Goyer

 Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. Philippians 2:14-16

Driving to the airport this morning, the book “The Grumble Free Year” started echoing in my head. I buy into all of Tricia’s ideas of how not to grumble, but, honestly, it is almost too much to ask for me drive on our Southern California freeways and not grumble. 

All of that to say, Tricia reminds us of what it means to have a heart of gratitude and grace rather than one of grumbling and grumping. Rather than grumping about the crazy flow of traffic or the lack thereof, maybe I should be grateful that I have a car to drive my husband to the airport where he will be able to take a plane to the other side of the country in a couple of hours where he will learn and teach new skills to help him be more successful in his job. 

Tricia is a full-time author, homeschool mother of nine and minister’s wife who understands the benefit of having a home and heart of peace and lack of grumbling. Each of the family members helped to identify their own ways of grumbling; eye rolls, crossed arms, whispering words of criticism, outright complaining etc. They all agreed to work with each other to encourage hearts of gratitude. After a while it became a habit to NOT complain, and Tricia was able to see genuine change in her family and their home. 

We get to receive the benefit from their work. Tricia journaled the family progress, what worked and what did not. She challenges the readers with activities after each chapter to help us also become grumble free.

I recommend this book to people of all ages with 5 stars. 

The Ultimate Act of Worship

The last time I went to the Grand Canyon, I got out of the car, looked over the Rim and the liquid worship began to flow from my eyes. I was so overwhelmed by God’s handiwork – his masterpiece – that I was immediately drawn into worship. However, a few years later, I had one of those moment. I don’t live on the Rim of the Grand Canyon. So, as I was cleaning up after my dog in the backyard, I began a journey in finding worship in my heart not in my surroundings, not only in song, not only on Sunday… I had to choose to make my heart a sanctuary and my focus, my Ho’Omana, on God.

I love to be creative – decorating, working in the yard, sanding wood and seeing the intricate and unique prints within the grain. I love to sing and play the harp. I am definitely not a musician, but I really enjoy making a joyful noise unto the Lord, and a Harp almost can’t sound bad. When I use the gifts and talents He equipped me with I am reflecting Amago Dei – The Image of God.  He is creative, and He made me in his image to also be creative. 

How do you worship? When do you worship?

When a choir director assigns music to the choir, he or she would be sad if the members only sang those songs when the choir was together. Or the musician only played the instrument when they were with the orchestra. It takes practice to perfect the song. We are His choir, His orchestra. He wants us to be practicing the “song”, the “mele” with every Aloha – every breath

What do you do that would change if you could do it with an attitude of worship? 

Instead of scrubbing the toilet, we could be polishing the throne. Instead of yelling at the stupid drivers on the road, we could pray for them. Instead of wallowing in our frustration, we can lay that burden at the feet of Jesus. 

What prevents you from worshipping?

Could it be our Expectation: what if we woke up every morning and thought “Wow, I can’t wait to see what amazing things God is going to do today?” Or Show me Lord how I can worship and serve you today?” 

I was visiting with a friend recently. She was conveying a spirit of unrest and told me she just wanted to know her purpose, what is she supposed to be doing with her life. I could not give her specific direction; However, I was able to encourage her that every day she should wake up and say ok, Lord what do you have for me today, how can I bring you honor, how can I serve, how can I worship? Sometimes we must come to the complete end of ourselves and our own resources and strength to see that our only peace comes through an absolute focus on God. 

What if we woke up in the morning with a song in our hearts?

In The Morning When I Rise Give me Jesus”

“I Stand in Awe of You”

“Praise the King, Praise the King”

We should expect our hearts to be moved and changed and our prayers to be answered!

We must put our immediate focus on God. We must take our focus off what lies ahead: work, kids, trouble, challenges, or even fun stuff and put our eyes on Him. Remember Peter… he probably was not worshipping very well as the water was inching up his legs, encroaching on his little late night wild water walk. He was falling because he was failing to keep his eyes on Jesus.

But my eyes are fixed on you, Sovereign Lord; in you I take refuge—do not give me over to death. Keep me safe from the traps set by evildoers, from the snares they have laid for me. Psalms 141:8-9 NIV

Where is your focus?

 Is your daily life bogging you down in your walk with God? Scripture gives us a multitude of examples of praising under arduous circumstances. 

Habakkuk 3:17-18 (NLT)

Even though the fig trees have no blossoms,
    and there are no grapes on the vines;
even though the olive crop fails,
    and the fields lie empty and barren;
even though the flocks die in the fields,
    and the cattle barns are empty,
18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord!
    I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!

Is there something buried deep in your soul that you need to reconcile with God or someone else? 

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Colossians 3:13

 Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord.15 Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many. Hebrews 12:14-15

What is your response when one more thing goes wrong? 

Job 1:20-21 Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head, and he fell to the ground and WORSHIPPED God. He said, naked I came from my mother’s womb and naked I shall return there. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord 

How can you change your response?

It can be as simple as turning off the TV – we can hear God better that way. – In quietness and confidence is my strength. Is 30:15

It could be we need to change our reading habits.

Maybe it is sharing with someone in need. If you have done it unto the least of these, you have done it unto me.

Sharing the gospel… living the gospel.

Maybe it is as earthshaking as giving up your dream of ____________ a new car, a career, a perfect family. Romans 12:1 Present your bodies a living sacrifice holy and acceptable to God which is your true and proper worship.

Whatever it is we must put our own selfish desires and dreams aside and let God make us into who he wants us to be so that we are a reflection of Him.

Do you need to change your focus from your circumstances to giving your full attention to God? 

Because we have these promises dear friends, let us cleanse ourselves from everything that can defile our body or spirit and let us work toward complete holiness because we fear God. 2 Corinthians 7:1

What do you need to “surrender?”

          * Worry about my children

         * TV or reading habits

         * Career

         * A relationship


Write down in your journal or Bible as a reminder to daily surrender these things. Are you willing to give that burden to Jesus? Are you willing to refrain from taking it back out of His hands? I encourage you to unburden your heart so that you can worship, worship in Spirit and in Truth.

Growing up, I never really listened to the words of the song I Surrender All.  The song was usually an alter call, just another song we sang at the end of the service. I did not realize that surrender was my ultimate act of worship. Read through the words of this song and worship with me in surrendering it ALL to Him, the Author and Finisher of our Faith, our Creator, our Redeemer, our Friend.

I Surrender All by Judson W. Van DeVenter (Public Domain)

All to Jesus I surrender,
All to Him I freely give;
I will ever love and trust Him,
In His presence daily live.

Refrain:
I surrender all,
I surrender all;
All to Thee, my blessed Savior,
I surrender all.

All to Jesus I surrender,
Humbly at His feet I bow;
Worldly pleasures all forsaken,
Take me, Jesus, take me now.

All to Jesus I surrender,
Make me, Savior, wholly Thine;
Let me feel the Holy Spirit,
Truly know that Thou art mine.

All to Jesus I surrender,
Lord, I give myself to Thee;
Fill me with Thy love and power,
Let Thy blessing fall on me.

All to Jesus I surrender,
Now I feel the sacred flame;
Oh, the joy of full salvation!
Glory, glory, to His Name!

Worship is More Than a Song

Worship is more than a song; it is the posture of our hearts. 

I had an ah ha moment last week during a writing workshop. The discussion was on who is our reader. It dawned on me that I am really putting down in words lessons that I, myself, need to be taught or reminded of. So know, that as you are reading this and any of my other posts or blogs, I am looking in the mirror and preaching to myself and just hope someone else along the way can use some of the same encouragement I need. 

I often sing and pray with my eyes closed. I do this to block out the distractions (And I am so easily distracted! I am sitting in my yard right now experiencing the worship composition of the birds and trying to identify them instead of doing my writing assignments). around me and to focus on the words of the song and meditation in my heart. I also need to be able to focus my worship on my Audience of One.

In my college days, there were only two students in the entire body of several thousand who raised their hands in worship. We prayed for them. It was not something I, for one, (insert self-righteous attitude here) was comfortable with. Honestly, I am still not “comfortable” with it, but in my thinking this occurred to me: 

What do our little children do when they want to be close to us? They raise their hands and say, “Can I hold you?” They want to cling to us and holding their hands out to us shows us that. Doesn’t God want us to hold our hands up to him and tell him how much we want him to hold us? Doesn’t He want us to cling to Him? 

I cling to you; your strong right hand holds me securely. Psalm 63:8 NLT

And when we need comfort or a hug, don’t we reach out to a friend, spouse or loved one?

I call to you, Lord, every day; I spread out my hands to you. Psalm 88:9  NIV

What do we do when we have a question? Raise a hand… 

“To you, O LORD, I call; my rock, be not deaf to me, lest, if you be silent to me, I become like those who go down to the pit. Hear the voice of my pleas for mercy when I cry to you for help, when I lift up my hands toward your most holy sanctuary” (Psalm 28:1 NIV).

What do we do when our sports teams score? We hold up our hands in celebration. Isn’t salvation and the defeat of The Enemy worth celebrating? 

Your hand will be lifted up in triumph over your enemies… Micah 5:9 NIV

When we want to be picked for something, we raise our hands and say oo oo pick me. Don’t we want to be among the chosen?

What do criminals do when they surrender? They hold their hands up. Doesn’t God want us to worship through surrender? 

May my prayer be set before you like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice. Psalm 141:2 NIV

Our “song” is only evidence of what is in our hearts. It is a vehicle transporting our hearts to the throne of God. – What we think all day, what we do all day, how we act all day should be out of obedience and worship to God. Our song is like outwardly saying “I Love You.”  

But it is the posture of our hearts that is the true measure of our worship.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in thy sight oh God my Rock and my Redeemer. Amen

I hope to see you back her next week for another meditation on worship. Feel free to poke around on my website for other messages to refresh your soul. If you would like to receive this directly to your inbox, fill out the “follow me” box that pops up in the bottom right hand corner of your screen. See you soon.

Ho’Omana…

I watched in curiosity as a fellow teacher walked across the playground with arms lifted high. Entering the teachers’ lounge, I inquired what was going on. “Was a fly after you?” I said, “it looked like you were having your own private worship service.” Her face lit up the room when she replied, “It seemed like a good day to worship.” The joy of worship erupted out of her. She didn’t need a song. She didn’t need to be in church. She lives life believing that it is always a good time to worship. She lives a life of worship and her light shines everywhere she goes. I want to be like her when I grow up, joyful and unhindered in worship! 

What is the theme of your life? As my mind scrolls through my list of friends and family, themes begin to reveal themselves to me: Service, Worship, Mercy, Joy, Overcoming, Contentment…  

Ho’Omana: It is the value of worthwhile work; it is an attitude of intention and full presence in whatever you do. It is the Hawaiian word for worship. 

Colossians 3:23 Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people

Before you can give full attention and presence, you need to know the One you are giving that consideration to. If you don’t know Jesus as your friend and father, now is a good time to introduce you to my best friend. 

Romans 5:6 When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners.

Jeremiah 29:12-13 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 

Romans 10:9 -10  If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.

I will pray that through these words and scripture you will feel “safe in the arms of God” fully experiencing Ho’Omana. 

As we commit our whole selves to Jesus in obedience, He meets us, and then we truly know what it means to worship in spirit and in truth. John 4:23-24

There are around 500 verses in the Bible with the theme of worship. Abraham worshiped in sacrifice, building an altar to God. Genesis 21:33. Moses pled for the release of the Israelites – he said, “Let my people go so that they may worship.” Exodus 10. He also worshiped in repentance, often building an alter to remember who he was worshipping. Exodus 34:8 David worshiped in song and dance, even to the point of becoming undignified. 2 Samuel 6:22

What is Worship?  

Worship is to honor with extravagant love and extreme submission (Webster’s Dictionary,1828).

Ho’Omana: It is the value of worthwhile work, it is an attitude of intention and full presence in whatever you do.

My pastor and dear friend Steve Whitten describes worship like this: Every act of obedience is an act of worship.”

RT Kendall says “Worship is any activity which is carried out under the impulse of the Spirit of God.” 

It is a state of our hearts.

It is a lifestyle.

It is serving.

It is obedience.

It is healing.

It is a living sacrifice.

It is communion.

It is using our gifts.

It is creative.

It is longing.

It is faithfulness.

It is listening.

It is expectation.

It should be every breath every Aloha of every moment of every day

It is Surrender…

It is Colossians 3:23 

What is one word that comes to mind when you think of worship?

How do you worship?

What are the things you do that make you mindful of God, His presence and the need to have a heart of worship?

Do you have a song in your heart today? If not here is a good place to start.

“Is He Worthy” by Chris Tomlin

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FkRiYsTN7KY

Every day is a good day to worship our God, our Father, our Creator and Friend.

Check in next week for another message to prepare your heart for worship or better yet, drop me your email and it will arrive right in your mailbox.

She Had Hope

I want to tell you a story about a sweet little girl. She was born on January 24, 1919, in the midst of a pandemic that was threatening to rob her of her family and her very life, on a farm in Reubens, Idaho. The War to End All Wars had just come to an end. The country was reeling from the loss of friends and family members, mourning and celebrating taking place as strange bedfellows. People were just beginning to lift their heads from the grief when the Spanish Flu began spreading.

“Although there is not universal consensus regarding where the virus originated, it spread worldwide during 1918-1919.  In the United States, it was first identified in military personnel in spring 1918. It is estimated that about 500 million people or one-third of the world’s population became infected with this virus. The number of deaths was estimated to be at least 50 million worldwide with about 675,000 occurring in the United States.” CDC (at that time the US population was about 103 mil, now is 331 million)

At two, this little girl became a big sister to a baby brother named Willard that she loved and doted on. A few years later, she gave her heart to Jesus at the little country church her family attended.  Life seemed like it was getting better. The farm was flourishing. The family grew. The country was experiencing financial growth and security. And in 1929, when she was ten years old, the stock market crashed and the whole world entered a new kind of war. A war on poverty. 

Elizabeth was a farm girl. She really did not go hungry. Her mother made all of her clothes, including her underwear. Anything that one person outgrew would be remade for a new piece of clothing for the next family member in line. Their hope had not been in financial status or a bank account. She saw her friends line up in bread and soup lines. Her peers who had once looked down on her because she was a country bumkin, now came to her home for food and scraps of material to patch their worn-out clothing. 

As the impact of the Great Depression lessened, she was “sent” to college to become a teacher. In the meantime, a handsome forest service firefighter from North Carolina entered the picture, and three weeks before she finished her first year of college, he swept her off her feet, said “we are going to get married,” and they did, on May 24th, 1938. She kept the marriage a secret for three weeks, still living in the girls’ dorm. The school would have expelled her if she revealed that she was married. 

Life seemed blessed, but Evil is always lurking about, seeking whom he may devour, and by 1939, evil had a new face. It came in the form of a self-righteous, arrogant, and revengeful leader by the name of Adolf Hitler. As an agent of Hell itself, he convinced millions that they were superior to everyone else and they needed to rule or destroy anyone and anything that stood in their way. Americans were not ready to step into this battle, but soon would be sacrificing their own sons and daughters at the altar of Nazism. 

I Peter 5:8 warns us, Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.

Within three years, Floyd and Elizabeth were blessed with a son and a daughter. They did not have a lot, but they loved each other. As the war raged, food was rationed, jobs were scarce, and healthcare was not easy to come by. So much focus was on the war ravaging the world, that there was not very much attention to the devastation happening in our own backyard. Elizabeth was carrying their third child. She did not know how she would love and care for another, but she had hope. 

She, remembered God’s truth: Isaiah 40:31 – But those who hope in the 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.

On June 3, 1943, Martha Elizabeth Willis came into the world in Los Angeles, CA. Immediately the hospital staff took baby Martha from Elizabeth’s arms and told her she was not strong enough to have a third child and the baby was not strong enough to survive. Records show that this sweet baby girl died on June 4th 1943

Only a year and a half later, the little brother that Elizabeth loved so much was now a grown man, kind of, he was 20, and he was called on to defend Europe and the US from the evil that was spreading throughout the world. He left his family and fiancé’ to join up. He learned quickly and flew 30 missions as a bomber pilot in the US Army Air Corps. He had done his duty and was set to come home but volunteered for one more mission. On Christmas eve, 1944, in the Battle of the Bulge, his plane was shot down over Schweinfurt, Germany. He got his most of crew out safely, but he did not survive. 

Still mourning the loss of her baby and her brother, Elizabeth accompanied Floyd as he answered a call to serve in a church in Rock Hill South Carolina. This was an excruciatingly lonely time for Elizabeth, but the still small voice was speaking to her…

Hebrews 13:5 I will never leave your or forsake you.

I don’t know for sure, but I am guessing her prayer went something like this;

Psalm 33:20-22 We put our hope in the Lord. He is our help and our shield…. for we trust in his holy name. Let your unfailing love surround us, Lord, for our hope is in you alone. 

Elizabeth had learned that true hope could come from no one other than God

She had two small children, did not have any friends in the area, had to deal with extreme culture shock going from Southern California to South Carolina. She did not feel loved or welcomed by the family or community in the area… But she had Jesus. 

When I heard the song “There was Jesus” by Zach Williams and Dolly Parton, it seemed as if they had been silent observers of her life and had written her testimony into a song. 

Every time I tried to make it on my own
Every time I tried to stand and start to fall
And all those lonely roads that I have travelled on
There was Jesus

When the life I built came crashing to the ground
When the friends I had were nowhere to be found
I couldn’t see it then but I can see it now
There was Jesus

In the waiting, in the searching
In the healing and the hurting
Like a blessing buried in the broken pieces
Every minute, every moment
Where I’ve been and where I’m going
Even when I didn’t know it or couldn’t see it
There was Jesus

For this man who needs amazing kind of grace 
For forgiveness at a price I couldn’t pay 
I’m not perfect so I thank God every day
There was Jesus (There was Jesus)

On the mountain, in the valleys (There was Jesus)
In the shadows of the alleys (There was Jesus)
In the fire, in the flood (There was Jesus)
Always is and always was
No I never walk alone (Never walk alone)
You are always there

In the waiting, in the searching
In the healing and the hurting
Like a blessing buried in the broken pieces
Every minute (Every minute), every moment (Every moment)
Where I’ve been and where I’m going
Even when I didn’t know it or couldn’t see it
There was Jesus

In that South Carolina town, on the way home from church one day, Floyd stopped to help a stranded motorist. The family waited in the car while he helped fix the broken-down vehicle and help the family waiting in it. They happened to be a black family. Remember this is in the late 40s, in the deep south. No matter to Floyd, they needed help, he could help, and so he did. However, other people in the community did not see it that way. They thought he had no business working on a black man’s car and set out to prove to him that there would be consequences if he continued to behave in such a manner. 

It wasn’t long before the family moved back to CA where Floyd attended seminary. Elizabeth taught elementary school, instilling growth in everyone and everything she touched. In addition to teaching, she was the church pianist and piano teacher almost everywhere they served. 

She never gave up hope.

In 1949, the Lord gave them another little girl, Beth, and nine years later, a surprise bouncing baby boy entered the world, bringing joy and maybe just a little heartache. Grandchildren were added to her fold. She loved them more than life itself. Three of her grandsons suffered grave tragedies in their lives. Two passed away as young adults and another was left with a debilitating spinal injury. Others have gone on to serve the Lord in the medical field and other professions, bringing great joy to the grandma heart.

Floyd and Elizabeth served the Lord together for almost fifty years. On a hot August day, after preaching and having a fried chicken dinner, Floyd went to visit a parishioner in the hospital. He was at the bedside, speaking words of hope and healing, when he shed the earthly trappings of a tired body, now absent from his body, he was present with his Lord.  

Elizabeth was a widow at sixty-six years old, alone, but not without hope. 

I Thessalonians 4  Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.  For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him… comfort one another with these words

I met Elizabeth four months after Floyd went to heaven. I never knew my father-in-law. One year after Floyd joined Jesus in heaven, I joined his youngest son in holy matrimony.  

Throughout her life, Elizabeth allowed the Lord to pick her up out of the miry pit and set her feet on solid ground. (Psalms 40) She held everything and everyone with surrendered, open hands. More than anyone I know; she lived the verses in Job. She grieved her losses but found hope in the Lord. 

Job 1:20-21 Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped.  And he said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of theLord.” 

Retired from teaching in the public school, she volunteered to teach full-time in a private Christian school. Elizabeth was sixty-seven when I met her and lived just outside Yosemite National Park. She could hike up the side of the mountain as well as any mountain mama I have ever known.

As a busy new wife and mother, I appreciated my mother-in-law and worked to invest in her and have a relationship with her. I called frequently, and we took the family to visit her as often as possible. However, she NEVER wanted to be a bother or a burden. She often hid her physical ailments from us, not wanting to worry us or take us away from our work or ministry. 

In one of our phone conversations, I noticed that she seemed distraught, but she did not want to share what the problem was. I loaded the kids in the car and headed north from San Diego to Midpines, CA. I accompanied her to the doctor who shared the news with us that she had Alzheimer’s disease. There was a time of grief and fear, but there was something that remained in her until the day she went to be with Jesus. She had a song in her heart, and this was it. Think about these words and meditate on them with me. 

Solid Rock by Edward Mote

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.


On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.

When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.

His oath, His covenant, His blood
Support me in the whelming flood;
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my hope and stay.

When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh, may I then in Him be found;
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne.

The transitional time in this disease was difficult, but it served as a refining fire for Elizabeth and for me and my family. I was given the gift of caring for her through the last years of her life. Often, I wanted to share the gift of Grandma Willis with so many people, but mostly, the gift was for me. 

I received a gift in observing a saint go through the slow process of losing herself and gaining Jesus. 

Everywhere we went, from restaurants, nail salons, ambulances and hospitals, people saw Jesus shining through her. I had doctors and ambulance drivers inquire at to her “religion” not so they could get the right pastor or priest in, but because they saw something different in her, a joy and peace that they had trouble explaining. 

They saw hope. They saw Jesus

I often wondered how brightly her halo was shining. I have people tell me that they didn’t know why, but they were just drawn to her. They wanted to experience the joy that she radiated.

The last several years, Grandma Willis lived in a group home type of situation about a mile from our home. She shared her love for Jesus, not by words, but being a fragrant aroma for Him. Her caregivers played her music on CD and were blessed by the joy it brought her. She always thanked them for helping her eat, shower and even use the bathroom. “Thank you, sweetie,” was always quick to her lips. A smile of gratitude and joy was a testimony of her Hope even when she did not have words.  Well into her 90’s, she could play hymn after hymn on the piano.  One time I said to her, “You remember all of the hymns.” She replied, “It is in here,” and tapped her heart. Some of her favorites were “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus,” “It is Well with My Soul,” and “Joy to the World.” All had a theme of surrender and hope. At a point, she could not carry on a conversation, but she certainly shared her hope in Christ.

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect. 1 Peter 3:15 (NIV)

Why is it important to remember her now? Because she is a picture of joy in adversity, hope in the midst of devastation, peace in the midst of the storm. She was a testimony of God’s grace in her life and an example of a godly woman. Her inner strength did not come from climbing mountains, although she did that. It did not come from healthy eating, although she tried. It did not come from being the popular kid or having a multitude of family or friends surrounding her, because that was not often the case. 

Her strength blossomed from His strength becoming perfect in her weakness. 

In conversation one day as I was helping her eat her lunch, I drew her attention to the trees blowing in the breeze. She loved all plants and the outdoors. She got a dreamy look on her face and said “It reminds me of the strength of the Lord…the strength of the Lord,” once again relying on God’s promises that she had hidden in her heart

 But blessed are those who trust in the Lord
    and have made the Lord their hope and confidence.
They are like trees planted along a riverbank,
    with roots that reach deep into the water.
Such trees are not bothered by the heat
    or worried by long months of drought.
Their leaves stay green,
    and they never stop producing fruit
. Jeremiah 17:8 

She produced good fruit until she breathed her last breath. 

If you have ever been a care provider, you know it can get ugly. It can get frustrating. It can be thankless. So, in desperation, I asked the Lord to show me the blessing in the drudgery; I asked Him to help me not to just survive this time but enjoy and thrive in it. I prayed that He would help me to love and serve Grandma as unto the Lord. 

On my knees, cutting her toenails, I pictured myself, not on the floor of the bathroom, but sitting at the feet of Jesus

On October 9, 2019, I got a call that Grandma needed me. Her breathing had become irregular and her hands that used to grip mine, holding tight, and tapping to the rhythm of the music in her soul, were limp. 

I turned on her favorite hymn playlist and climbed up next to her. I held her in my arms and reached for her hand one more time hoping to feel her keeping time to the music. As I snuggled up next to her, the Hymn, Take My Life and Let it Be Consecrated Lord to Thee played in the background as she slipped from my arms into the arms of her Hope and Peace. She lived one hundred years, at least ninety-five of them consecrated and surrendered to Him. 

Psalms 116:15 says, Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints. It is precious because they are joining him in eternity; because He gets to welcome them to Heaven and say “Well done my good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your master.”

I am convinced that Gram’s ability to have joy in every season of life came straight from the heart of God to her. I am confident that this song, even when she could sing no longer, was the theme song for her life. 

Count Your Blessings by Johnson Oatman

When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done. 


Count your blessings, name them one by one;
Count your blessings, see what God hath done;
Count your blessings, name them one by one;
Count your many blessings, see what God hath done.

Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, ev’ry doubt will fly,
And you will be singing as the days go by.
 

When you look at others with their lands and gold,
Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold;
Count your many blessings, money cannot buy
Your reward in heaven, nor your home on high. 

So, amid the conflict, whether great or small,
Do not be discouraged, God is over all;
Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end. 

I hope Grandma’s testimony helps you to remember to count your blessings and to be aware of the lessons you can learn from observing a life of a faithful servant of Jesus. Too often, we dismiss or discount the immense wisdom that is available to us through our gray haired saints.

What song is in your heart when you need to lean on Jesus name? 

 

Listening for the Still Small Voice

And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. I Kings 19

However inconvenient, the first wave of the pandemic and lockdown was a gift of quietness and solitude. It gave me ample time to pray, worship, listen to scripture and great books while doing yard work and other home repairs and maintenance. It gave me time to be still and hear God’s voice and put the messages he was giving me into words.  So many of the distractions and obligations of life were removed, until the proverbial earthquake hit. 

I was not damaged by the initial tremor of the disaster but was caught in an abundance of aftershocks, often feeling battle weary. Like Elijah, I felt like one disaster after another was coming, and I could not get my feet on solid ground. It was hard to hear God’s voice through all the pandemonium, but I was listening. 

It is a new year. Tasks are completed. “Things” are settling down. As always, there are new challenges. I hear the still small voice whispering again, imbedding His Word in my heart so that it can once again flow out of me like a river of life. 

My goal for this year is to bring those messages to my soul weary friends twice monthly on my blog at www.kerilynnwillis.com and other media outlets. If you want to get the blog sent directly to your email, go ahead and fill in the “follow me” box that pops up in the bottom right corner of my home page. 

My prayer for you today is that you will find His strength in your weakness and allow the water of salvation quench your thirsty soul. 

What Are You Doing to Prepare for Advent?

What are you doing to prepare for Advent? This was a question posed to me by a colleague that caught me quite off guard. She knew I was a believer and wanted to share a heart-to-heart conversation about the meaning of Christmas. Honestly, at that point, I had not really thought about the idea of Advent. 

Advent: The arrival of a notable person, thing or event

I celebrated Christmas. It was a meaningful time of celebrating Christ’s birth with family and friends. I love the music, the time sitting in my home with just the fireplace and the Christmas tree to light and give warmth. But the idea of “preparing for Advent” escaped me. 

I am pretty sure I responded with a blank stare and a response about decorating my tree. I was unprepared to give and answer for the hope that was in me. I Peter 3:15. I pondered the idea of Advent the rest of the day and well into the night. 

As I closed my Bible the next morning after my quiet time, I thought to myself, “This is how I prepare. It is not a once-a-year occurrence, but a steady, daily, moment by moment infusing of God’s Word into my soul that is preparing my heart for the celebration of the most precious birth of all time.”

When I shared this with my friend the next day, she embraced me with a bear hug that communicated gratitude. Gratitude that I took to heart her inquiry, gratitude that I gave her an honest and thoughtful answer, and gratitude that, in my naivety I pointed out the obvious, we should always be preparing our hearts for the coming of our Savior. 

See the parable of the Ten Bridesmaids in Matthew 25. Some of the bridal party were prepared with enough oil to wait for the Groom, others ended up in the dark. Be in the light

I have probably sung Joy to the World a thousand times. With great passion, I sing, “Let every heart prepare Him room.” Honestly, I probably spend more time preparing my home for Christmas than I do my heart. Often, I am worshiping as I decorate my Christmas tree and clean for company. But sometimes it leaves me so drained that my heart becomes the storage shed for grumpiness and frustration instead of the Joy He desires to fill me with. 

While I do take time each day to prepare my heart for Advent and believe it should not be a once-a-year event, I think it wise to slow our busied pace and our distracted heart, listen for the still small voice of the one who sent His son 2000 years ago, and remember the sacrifice that was made on our behalf. 

Every Sunday our church remembers Christ’s sacrifice through communion. We sing songs about the cross and take time to examine our hearts. We have to be careful that it does not just become a good habit. So, as we sing our Christmas Carols, it is essential that we don’t just celebrate Christmas as the world does, as just another time to party and spend a ridiculous amount of money on things people may not need or want. We cannot just sing Christmas carols without grasping the words we are professing. 

As I have been pondering Advent again this year, I began to think of it as a time to still my quiet heart and “prepare Him room” cleaning out the proverbial storage closet, disposing of the accumulated junk of the year and replacing it with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, and self-control. https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Galatians+5%3A22&version=NLT

I want my heart to be a sanctuary where the Holy Spirit feels welcome to dwell. I want the time I spend in the Word, in prayer, and being still before the Lord to cause my countenance to radiate the Light like shepherds witnessed so long ago. 

I love Christmas. It is my favorite time of year. I love the music, the food, the scents and even the presents, but more than all of that, I love that the whole world is celebrating the birthday of my King. As I prepare my heart for this celebration, I cannot let it be relegated to once a year or even once a week, but a day by day, moment by moment appreciation of the gift of God’s precious son. I pray that as I go out into the world each day, I will be like Peter and John in Acts 4:13 

 When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished, and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.

Dear Heavenly Father, 

In the busyness of this season and throughout the year, when I leave the comfort of my prayer closet help the world to recognize that I have been with you. Please help me to be a fragrant offering to you and always be prepared to give an answer for the hope that is in me. 

Ideas for Advent:

Emily P Freeman’s Quiet Collection $10 https://www.theschoolforcreativedirection.com/offers/Ue8j6jJy/checkout

Mariel Davenport’s Tending Through Advent $10

Listen through Matthew and Luke on the YOU Version Bible App $0

Study some of our traditional Christmas Carols

Open the Box!

As I meandered along the shore in the brisk morning air, the steady tide continually lapping at my feet seemed to be pursuing me. This reminded me of how God pursues us; steady, constant, and sometimes with great force and power. HE PURSUES US! All we have to do is BE STILL and KNOW that He is God and receive the gift… Way more than that a career, a salary, or the best Christmas present ever. HIS GRACE IS ENOUGH. We do not have to be “good enough” to receive this gift.

This is what the Sovereign Lord,
    the Holy One of Israel, says:
“Only in returning to me
    and resting in me will you be saved.
In quietness and confidence is your strength.
    But you would have none of it.

 So the Lord must wait for you to come to him
    so he can show you his love and compassion.
For the Lord is a faithful God.
    Blessed are those who wait for his help.

 O people of Zion, who live in Jerusalem,
    you will weep no more.
He will be gracious if you ask for help.
    
He will surely respond to the sound of your cries. Isaiah 30

Chuck Nolan, the character that Tom Hanks played in Cast Away, had quite the opportunity to be still before God. He was the lone survivor of a Fed Ex plane crash. Living on an uninhabited island for several years, his only friend was Wilson, the volleyball, and his hope was placed in an unopened package addressed to someone in Texas. We never find out what was in the package. What if it was something that could have rescued him? (In fact, Fed Ex did a commercial speculating that it was a satellite phone in the box.)  I remember feeling like shouting… Open the box, Chuck!

We do not have to go through life feeling like we are living on a deserted island with only an inanimate object as a friend; desperately holding on to an unopened gift as our only hope. 

The Maker of the Universe pursues us to be His FRIEND!

John 15:15 (NLT) I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me.

We have been given the lifesaving gift of grace.

Ephesians 2:4-8  But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God

We just need to open the box!

HE pursues us not because we are worthy or deserve it… but because He loves us and desires us to not just have fire insurance but to receive the gift of salvation and exist, live, rest, breath, thrive fully in his grace.

John 1:16 For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.[e] 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

John 10:10The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

Have you been staring at that unopened gift, hoping that it will be just what you have always wanted? This gift has your name on it, and you don’t have to wait until December 25th to open it. He is holding it out to you in His loving and outstretched arms. Receive it, open it. In it, you will find hope, grace, peace, and salvation. It is the gift of God

Becoming Us by Robin Jones Gunn

Book Review

Becoming Us by Robin Jones Gunn takes the reader on a tour of real life. Emily, new to Southern California, and characters we have met in other stories come together with their insecurities, trials and triumphs in ways that give the reader hope as they walk through their own paths. Robin does not mind taking on the tough issues such as infertility, alienation, and surrender but does it with such grace that the reader might even feel the hugs as we are guided to God’s Word as the way to face “life.” It doesn’t stop there though, Robin also brings us into the celebration of friendship and womanhood with laughter, adventures, and parties. The story is sprinkled with practical ideas for embracing our “community” and developing deep, meaningful friendships. We see Emily grow from an uncertain and embarrassed failure to one who becomes content and embraces what God has given her as enough.  I look forward to the next book in the Haven Maker series, Being Known.

Teapots And Power Tools

Hi Friends, I finally got my devotional, “Teapots and Power Tools” in an eBook format. Because I want as many people to have it as possible, I am offering it for $0.99 for the next 30 days. I would love it if you could leave a nice review of it on Amazon. This was my first big writing project other than research papers and newsletters. I look back and see things I would change now, but as it is, it is a strong and heartening message that the Lord put on my heart. All of our experiences can have spiritual lessons. These devotionals are stories from my life with biblical application to encourage your walk with God. 

https://amzn.to/3Avm0ZY

“A Woman of Words” Book Review

Have you ever wondered how Matthew was able to so articulately tell stories from Jesus’ youth? In A Woman of Words by Angela Hunt, the history of the New Testament is masterfully researched and brought to life through a story of the writing of the book of Matthew. Angela Hunt, a biblical scholar herself, uses over forty scholarly writings in her research to bring a historically and biblically accurate telling of a fictional account of Mary revealing to Matthew many of the events of her life as the mother of Yeshua. Biblical truths are carefully woven together with imaginative portrayals of how they came to be recorded. I can almost see the dust of the Jerusalem roads, taste the dried figs and honey water and smell the aroma of baking bread as I read the artfully written story that draws the reader into the days of the early church. 

Not often do I want to read a book slowly, but this one was one to savor. This book is not just a good story; it contains spiritual struggles and truths that give the reader much to consider, look inward and apply in our daily walk with God.

You do not have to read the books in order, but I suggest starting with Book one in the Jerusalem Road series.

Daughter of Cana (Jerusalem Road)

Shepherd’s Wife (Jerusalem Road)

 Woman of Words (Jerusalem Road)

I am a Martha

I guess there could be worse faults to admit. At one time in my life, I was teaching/working full time, raising kids, going to school full time, being a wife, involved in ministry and taking care of my aging mother-in-law. In hindsight, I wonder who got gypped the most. Probably my husband, maybe my kids, but I told myself that I was just doing what needed to be done. After all, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” But what if He doesn’t want me to do “all things”?  What if what He really wants me to do is learn the art of saying no to things that are not of eternal significance? 

I look back at that time and shake my head. *Insert side note; my husband just came in the room as I was writing this and asked me if I wanted to have some prayer time. My first response was to tell him I was focused on something right now that I needed to finish while it was fresh in my head. Then I thought about the last sentence of the first paragraph and was a bit convicted. Maybe this will go better if I practice what I preach. I stopped typing and prayed.

So, I look back at the time that I was so busy and wonder how I did all that. I make myself tired! I set unrealistic expectations for myself and, in turn, for others. I jokingly say that my next book is going to be titled “Diminished Capacity” and it will be filled with blank pages. One by one, the Lord is removing the distractions from my life and drawing my eyes to Him and asking me to sit at His feet and listen like Mary did. 

Luke 10:38-42 (NIV) As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Events such as COVID have forced many of us to be at home more. For some it has caused a tremendous amount of stress. People laugh about the COVID 19, talking about the weight they put on from being sequestered with never ending food shows and the kitchen as their playground. As sad as the whole last year has been, I rejoiced in the time to be silent, to take long walks, to work in my yard, to hear God’s voice. 

The past six weeks I have been relatively silent here on FB, my Blog (Soul Water at http://www.kerilynnwillis.com), and Instagram. Maybe I should have been more prepared to drop out of sight for this time, but my family needed me, and I was done being overcommitted. I checked out and focused on being 100% present in the activities and moments that needed my attention. It was not all without stress. There were moments of feeling completely overwhelmed. 

At one point, the Lord really impressed on my heart the need for surrender. I closed my eyes, relinquishing my need for control over things that were far beyond me. The picture started forming in my head with a pencil drawing of Jesus’ nail scared feet. With each whispered prayer, another face, home or event was sketched at his feet. While they all still demand prayer and even some work, I think I will try to only visit them at the feet of Jesus. They need to stay put. If I pick them up and try to put them in my burden bag, I must consciously place them back where they belong. 

I probably will never be very good at sitting still. But I am learning. Learning to hear God’s voice in the noise of this world, in the silence of my yard, in the song of the birds, and by the posture of my heart. 

What do you need to place at the feet of Jesus? There is plenty of room for you to sit, listen, learn at his feet and leave your burdens with Him.

Over the past few weeks, this song has been on repeat in my heart. Christy Nockels sings it so beautifully. “Find Me at the Feet of Jesus” 

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