Faith, Trials, Uncategorized

Count Your Blessings

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Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

James 1:17

 

We all have Christmas traditions. One of ours is to play the movie White Christmas while the tree is being decorated. I love all the music from that classic movie. Of course the iconic “White Christmas” song by Irving Berlin is one of the most beloved Christmas songs of all time. And I do love that song. But there’s another song from the movie that I love. “Count Your Blessings” was also written by Irving Berlin. He wrote it during a time he was suffering from insomnia brought on by stress. A doctor suggested to count his blessings instead. Good advice.

When I’m worried and I can’t sleep
I count my blessings instead of sheep and I fall asleep counting my blessings
when my bankroll is getting small I think of when I had none at all
and I fall asleep counting my blessings.

 

I think about a nursery,
and I picture curly heads,
and one by one I count them
as they slumber in their beds.

If you’re worried and you cant sleep,
just count your blessings instead of sheep
and you’ll fall asleep counting your blessings.

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Worry and stress are exasperated during this “Most Wonderful Time of The Year”. While it should be one of the happiest times, for many it can be one of the hardest. I think of this song often throughout the year when I feel stressed. When I stop and count all of my many blessings it gives me perspective. The problems will always come, but the gifts from our Heavenly Father will come too. So let’s thank Him for all He has given us, for all He has done and continues to do.
The Word of God is clear about what we are to do with our worry. Give it all over to Jesus. Here are just a few verses:
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7 (NIV)
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Phillipians 4:6-7 (NIV) 
When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. Psalm 56:3 (NIV)
No matter what you are facing today, stop and take a few moments to thank God for everything He has blessed you with. Write these blessings down and look at them daily to remember how faithful God is. Let’s count our blessings! Our lists should be so long that we run out of paper. If you are in a painful place, at least write a few blessings down. There is always something to be thankful for. Your list will grow as you begin to think about all the good God has done.
Here is big blessing to start you off. Jesus came into this world as a tiny baby to save us. Thank you Jesus for the blessing and miracle of Christmas.
When we thank God for His many blessings something happens. We stop focusing on the problems and stress and start focusing on God. That changes our mood and our attitude. Our faith grows, and our praise gets stronger. That’s powerful!
May your load be a little lighter today. May God give you fresh joy and perspective when you think on all He has done.
Love you all,
Meghan
P.S. If you need prayer leave your request in the comments or on my contact page.
Images by monicore from Pixabay
God, Holy Spirit, Uncategorized

When God Whispers

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“I have had enough, Lord

Have you been at your wits end? You can’t take another moment of trouble, trial, pain, and hurting. I have been there countless times. I have cried out to God in pain I can’t take it anymore! Every time, God meets me right where I am at. He comforts me, encourages me, and speaks to me. God is faithful to respond to our pleas for help. He is not going to turn us away. How He responds to each of us may not always be the same.

God spoke to Moses in a burning bush. There are days when I would love that kind of certainty. Only God is going to talk from a bush that’s on fire. If that doesn’t get your attention I don’t know what would. I have not had that experience, and as far as I know, only Moses got that privilege. Moses also had the huge responsibility of leading the Israelites, so the talking bush makes sense.

God can and will speak to us in many different ways. Through His word, through Jesus, through other people, through circumstances, through nature, through the Holy Spirit. I see no limit to how and when God speaks to us. The issue is, are we listening?

I love the prophet Elijah. I’m kind of in awe of him and the hard things God had him do. Elijah came to the end of his rope. He told God he had enough. Elijah had killed all the prophets of Baal and when Queen Jezebel got word of this she was irate.

Now Ahab told Jezebel everything Elijah had done and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. So Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah to say, “May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them.” 1 Kings 19:1-2

When you hear someone use the name Jezebel negatively this is why. She was not a nice lady. After marrying King Ahab, Jezebel became queen of Israel but still worshiped Baal. That’s a big no-no in the eyes of God and Israel, so she was despised. Jezebel also took Naboth’s land and had him stoned to death. Let’s just say as a woman, you don’t want to be called Jezebel.

Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, while he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” 1 Kings 19:3-4

Elijah was done. He was tired and worn out just like we all get. Of course Elijah had the massive responsibility of being a prophet and God’s mouthpiece. So Elijah had given up and even prayed that he would die. But God didn’t give up on Elijah.

Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep. All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” He looked around, and there by his head was some bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again. The angel of the Lord came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God. There he went into a cave and spent the night.” 1 Kings 5-9 

What happens next is one of my favorite experiences in the Bible. I love reading this and it always encourages me and I hope it does you as well.

And the word of the Lord came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

10 He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”

11 The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” 1 Kings 19:10-11

A powerful wind comes by tearing up rocks. The wind is so strong that it shatters rocks. That has got to be God, right? Nope. The Lord was not in the wind. Then an earthquake happened. Surely God was in the earthquake. Nope. Then there was a fire. OK, this must be it. God is showing up big in the fire. Nope. All this crazy stuff happens, and still no sign of God. (1 Kings 19:11-12)

And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 

13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. 1 Kings 19:13

God was in the gentle whisper. The King James Version says “a still small voice” to describe when God spoke to Elijah. God was not in the wind, or the fire, or the earthquake. He was the still small voice. How kind and loving of God to speak to Elijah, who was worn out, in this manner. It’s calm and you have to pay attention when God speaks quietly.

God can speak any way He chooses. God loves each of us so much, and has so much to tell us if we stop and listen. I have found that hearing God’s voice takes me stopping everything around me, and just sitting quietly at His feet. Not easy to do, but so rewarding. Hearing the Holy Spirit speak is powerful because it’s God. Those of us who know Jesus as Savior have the gift of the Holy Spirit living inside of us. We have God’s Spirit in us! Incredible.

Sometimes, we need to be worn out and burned out to seek out God’s voice. Just like Elijah. If you are at the end of yourself, stop and rest at the feet of God. Ask Him to speak, and then wait and listen. He will not contradict His word, and it will more than likely be that still small voice. So quiet yourself before God, who holds you and the entire universe in His hands, and listen.

Love you all,

Meghan

 

 

 

Lord,

Thank you for your amazing love and grace. Thank you that you speak to us. Please help us to listen and know when you are speaking. Teach us through your Word, and the Holy Spirit, and whatever means you choose to speak. Give us wisdom and discernment to know your voice. Let us hear your voice above all the noise. We love you and praise you God.

In Jesus name,

Amen

 

 

Living Water  A post I wrote last year on the Holy Spirit

All scripture was taken from NIV Copyright © 2011

Photo credit: Christine Sponchia from Pixabay

 

 

God, Jesus, Trials, Uncategorized

Get Back Up

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Though a righteous man falls seven times,
he will get up,
but the wicked will stumble into ruin.

Proverbs 24:16

When our oldest son, Dylan, was thirteen he asked to play football. We were brand new to Texas and thought that may not be the best idea. After all, kids in Texas are born holding footballs. He would have to catch up. Dylan was so sure of what he wanted that we agreed, and in no time he was at workouts and then spring football camp. I’ll never forget how excited he was when tackling started. It was a huge adrenaline rush for him.

Time and time again Dylan would get tackled and taken to the ground. We would ask him, “Did you get back up?” And he always answered, “Yes”. That’s what we wanted to hear as parents. We didn’t tell him you will never get tackled or don’t get taken down. We knew he would take some hard hits as he was learning, and that more than likely, he would end up on the ground. The key was to get back up. Keep going.

We all take some hard hits in life. Sometimes we get hit so hard we can’t get back up. We get tired of taking the hit. We may even lay there for a while. Some of us took a hit and we decided that was it, we aren’t getting back up again. The hit was devastating. Job loss, divorce, death of a loved one, bankruptcy, disease, homelessness, abuse, addiction and so many other painful things.

If you’ve been laying there for a while too afraid and too weak to move, would you consider getting back up today? Because you aren’t laying there alone. You see, Jesus has been with you the whole time. He will never ever leave you. If you’re ready to get up, He’s reaching His hand out to you. He will help you get back up. Yes, it is scary to know that we will get hit again. It’s inevitable in life.

But, God is in control.

29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30 But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. (Matthew 10:29-30, ESV) 

It can be difficult to understand how and why God allows painful circumstances. His ways are not our ways.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.

“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9, NIV)

I can’t pretend to have it all figured out. I have plenty of questions, but I choose to trust God. He’s God, and I am not. If you have questions, it’s O.K. It’s normal. Bring those hard questions to the Father.

He is working things out for you and me.

28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28, NASB)

This verse in Romans gets quoted a lot, but it’s true. I love that it says and we know. That’s a sure thing. We can count on the God of the universe to work things out for our good. Every time we get tackled by life and get back up, we get a little stronger. Our faith gets a little bigger. When we grab Jesus’ hand as He pulls us back up, we are reminded that we aren’t doing it alone. Those of us who follow Jesus have an advantage. He equips, calls us, carries us, cleans us up, makes a way, does the impossible.

With Jesus, we have all we need to get back up.

“I was pushed hard, so that I was falling,
    but the Lord helped me.

The Lord is my strength and my song;
    he has become my salvation.” (psalm 118:13-14, ESV)

 

Love you all,

Meghan

 

 

Heavenly Father,

I lift up all the hurting to you. Those who can’t get back up. They are stuck, afraid. Give them courage and faith to take your hand and get back up. Comfort them and bring healing. And remind them that you are working out something beautiful through their pain. Let them feel Jesus’ loving arms.

Amen

 

 

Photo credit: Elle Dee from Pixabay

God, Trials, Uncategorized

How Soon We Forget

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“Remember the goodness of God in the frost of adversity.”   Charles Spurgeon 

Oh no! Panic! Panic! Panic! What’s gonna happen to me? Will God help me? Where is God? How quickly I forget when things go wrong. My first reaction used to be fear. Not anymore. The Lord, in His grace and mercy, has taught me to trust Him. That did not happen overnight. That took years. Now that doesn’t mean I don’t have short term memory problems when it comes to God’s faithfulness. Sometimes I forget, we all do.

What triggers those feelings of fear and abandonment? Trouble. Life stops going our way and we may assume God has left us. Where did we get the crazy idea that life is supposed to be problem free, and if we do have problems, that God must have left us. That couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Trials will come. I know, not exactly what you want to hear. But, it’s the reality of living in this world.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33, NIV)

Jesus tells us that the trouble will come, but he’s already overcome the world. He will take care of us and get us through any trouble we face.

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6, NIV)

God will never leave us. Ever. Trials will come, but He will be with us. Guaranteed.

Sometimes we forget what God has done when things are going great. It doesn’t mean it’s intentional, but it happens. It happened over and over again to the Israelites in the Old Testament. God warns them in Deuteronomy 8 not to forget Him.

“Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands.” (Deuteronomy 8:2, NIV)

“Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day.” (Deuteronomy 8:11, NIV)

But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today.” (Deuteronomy 8:18, NIV)

When we forget God a nasty thing slips in. Pride. At first we aren’t even aware of our pridefulness. But it can take over before we know it. Everything is going well. Do I really need God? I’ll just call on Him when I’m in trouble. And there it is. I’ve done it many times. I don’t recommend it.

Remember what God has done for you. That same God will do it again. He loves you so much. You are His precious child. God takes care of His own.

“I will remember the deeds of the Lord;
yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.” (Psalm 77:11, NIV)

Years ago, I started writing down all the times God showed up in my life and did the impossible. If you’ve never done it, you may want to try it. Take a few minutes and think back on all the times in your life you were up against a wall and God made a way. This is important to remind us of His faithfulness.

God is not a person. God is reliable, dependable, and will always come through. Maybe not the way we expect or exactly when we would like, but He will make a way. We are the creation and He is the magnificent Creator so He knows best. Trust Him.

Love you all,

Meghan

 

 

Father God,

Thank you for your faithfulness, even when we are not faithful. Thank you for your perfect love and care for us. I lift up all those who are afraid because of their circumstances. Remind them of your faithfulness in the past. Give them peace as they wait on you. Nothing is too hard for you. We praise and thank you and remember your goodness.

In Jesus name,

Amen

 

Photo credit: Strikers

 

Marriage, Uncategorized

24 Years

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This picture is from actual film, from an actual camera. Not a phone, and not a digital camera. Unfortunately, I had to take a picture digitally of this black and white photo, which doesn’t do it justice. I don’t even know if a wedding photographer would use film today. The point is, times have changed, but we are still in love. We may not look quite as shiny and new as that day, but we love each other more, and deeper than in 1995.

Twenty-four years ago, on September 30th, we made this covenant. I know, it sounds like a big scary word. It kind of is. I don’t think I would have even used that word then. But I get it now. It just took a whole lot of years, and God teaching me through my husband, what marriage really is. Last year I wrote about God’s definition of marriage and how it symbolizes Christ and the Church. You can read it here Marriage Is A Blessing

A few things I’ve learned about marriage:

“You complete me” is ridiculous. Thanks Jerry Maguire for putting that false mantra out there. It is not my husband’s job to be my everything. Tom does not complete me. Jesus fills me up, completes me, and is my everything. No person is designed to make another person whole. If I expect Tom to take care of all my needs, all the time, we will both be miserable since it’s not humanly possible. Younger me thought that on some level. That was foolish me.

God uses our spouse to grow us up in our faith, if we let Him. The fastest way to have your flaws revealed is to get married. It all comes out when you are married whether you like it or not. It’s what you do with it, when all the issues and weaknesses come out. Be honest when the ugly is sitting in front of you. We’ve all got some ugly stuff that needs dealt with.

It’s not my job to “fix” my husband. This is that age old stereotype of the wife wants to change her husband and the husband doesn’t want his wife to change. In our early years I made this mistake. I thought it was my job to be Tom’s fixer. Hahahaha! I am not the Holy Spirit. I can change me and that’s it.

Put your spouses needs above your own. We come into the world selfish and we bring that same selfishness into our marriages. Me, me, me. It’s all about me. I’ve got needs and my husband better fulfill those. What I have learned is to put Tom first even when I’m tired, even when I’m needy. God says:

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,” (Philippians 2:3, NIV)

“Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” (Romans 12:10, NIV)

God created marriage and it is so good. God ideas are the best. He made marriage and He knew exactly what He was doing. Anything God makes is excellent. Better than any idea I could come up with.

 For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24, NASB)

Keep God at the center of your marriage. The only way to have a healthy thriving marriage is Jesus. We cannot do it alone, just the two of us. It takes three for success. Again, God’s design, not mine. God’s ways work. I can’t explain it, but I have experienced it in my marriage.

The couple that prays together stays together. You don’t need some lengthy super spiritual prayers with all the right words. Pray together. Simple honest prayers. That’s it. Tom and I pray every night before bed. Our prayers aren’t fancy, just real.

A lot has happened in our twenty-four years of wedded bliss. There have been moments of sheer joy, like the birth of both of our sons. There have been years of exhaustion, like when Tom went back to school. He was working at night, and going to school during the day. That five year period was us just surviving. Not a lot of time for romance and gazing into each others eyes. Those would have been blood shot eyes anyway. But God, in His goodness and grace, carried us through.

I am not a marriage expert. I am good at making mistakes, and sharing what I’ve learned along the way. Marriage is an incredible blessing. God gave Tom and I to each other. We take our marriage serious, and work hard to guard it, and let Jesus grow us in the process.

Happy anniversary to my wonderful husband Tom. You are the best person I know. It’s been the most incredible twenty-four years of my life. I love you always.

And…..I love all of you!

Meghan

Family, Food, Uncategorized

I Scream, You Scream

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We all scream for ice cream! It’s still officially summer and still quite hot in most of the U.S. You need ice cream. I need ice cream. We all need ice cream, except for the lactose intolerant. But hey, there are really great alternatives now so all can partake. There’s something about an ice cream sandwich that brings joy. You’ve got cookies and ice cream together. That’s a win-win. I have so many memories involving ice cream.

Certain foods can be such an important part of our childhood. I can still hear the ice cream truck music. We’d quickly empty our piggy banks and run to that truck. Another ice cream memory is my birthday party at Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlor. When the Zoo Party was brought out with singing and music, the restaurant paused for a moment to take notice. Exciting childhood memories all involving ice cream.

It’s good to be a kid now and then. For some fun, make these scrumptious, super duper easy ice cream sandwiches.

To get more of my ice cream memories and the directions for the sandwiches, click on the link below.

https://www.mustardseedsentinel.com/post/meghan-s-corner-ice-scream-you-scream

 

Love you all,

Meghan

Faith, Jesus, Uncategorized

The Mustard Seed

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He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

Matthew 17:20

One of the tiniest seeds grows a very large plant. Mustard bushes at maturity, can reach heights of six to twenty feet with a twenty foot spread. That’s pretty big considering its small beginning. When Jesus tells his disciples to have faith as small as a mustard seed, he was responding to their question. The disciples asked Jesus why they couldn’t drive out a demon from a boy. (Matthew 17:19) His answer was their lack of faith.

Seeds grow when they are planted and watered. Our faith too grows when we plant it in the firm foundation of God. Jesus tells us that even small mustard seed sized faith will cause Him to move on our behalf. The mountain is just the metaphor for whatever obstacle we are facing. Many times it can feel like an insurmountable mountain. It looks impossible. This is where our faith comes in. Do we believe that Jesus is who He says he is? Do we believe He truly can do absolutely anything?

Our faith will be refined our entire lives. Jesus tells us to start with a tiny amount of faith in Him, and what He can do to help us. He can do anything. Nothing will be impossible with Jesus.

I’m sharing a story that beautifully illustrates having mustard seed faith. I have kept this article for many years after tearing it out of a magazine. It’s edges are frayed and the paper has yellowed. About once a year I read it to remind myself what a little bit of faith can accomplish. Enjoy this wonderful story of one woman’s faith.

Love you all,

Meghan

 

 

The Mustard Seed By Patricia Anand

My husband and I had enjoyed raising our family in the San Fernando Valley in California. Yet as retirement neared, we felt we wanted to live in a quieter, cooler area. We began house hunting farther north along the coast.

     During the years that I had been thinking about our retirement home, a set of mental “specs” had evolved. We needed a two-story house (for cardiovascular exercise), a den/bedroom downstairs (to use as an office) and a kitchen area that gave me something interesting to look at. We wanted no yard work (after all, we had mowed a lawn for years).  Oh, yes, a crystal chandelier in the dining room, a fireplace and a water view would be nice.

     As I began praying for our dream home, the Bible I had in my hands fell open to Matthew 17:20: “If you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘move hence to yonder place,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.” I thought, Yes, Lord, that’s right. All I need to do is have faith. On impulse, I went out and bought a pair of pillowcases for our future bedroom, some pot holders for the kitchen, and a crystal lamp finial for the living room.

     I shouldn’t have been surprised when one day our real estate agent led us to a house on a marina that exceeded my expectations. It had main channel water views from the kitchen, living room and master bedroom. Instead of a backyard, there was a large redwood deck! All the rooms were exactly as I had prayed for! The kitchen counters were 37 inches high-a loving Heavenly Father had even provided a comfortable working height for a tall woman.

     We went happily into escrow. Then a period of testing began. We had planned to sell a piece of property and use that as a part of the down payment, but it stubbornly refused to sell. We tried everything.

     One day, in desperation, we talked to the vice president of a small local bank near us. As we explained our problem, the man began to smile. He had relatives in the town where we wanted to move, and he went jogging on weekends over the bridge near our dream house. He knew exactly  where it was and what it was worth. He told us to pick up our “swing loan” check the next day based on our signatures alone. We floated home.

     We have been happily retired for some years now. I often think of the day when the realtor first showed us our dream house. For there, beside the front door, a previous owner had written in the cement: THE MUSTARD SEED.

 

*This Article is from Family Circle 4/3/01 written by Patricia Anand.