Life’s a Journey

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Life is a journey…

Made up of peaks and valleys, many roads-some long and narrow, some bumpy, some treacherous, some winding, and some seem never to end!

Many times, we start on our path, believing we know the destination-but as we go-we realize each curve in the road, each intersection-is more challenging than the last.

All the variances and places in between ‘here and there’ in the roads we travel in life are being used by God in shaping us, molding us, into His image.

Sometimes, we set our cruise control, sit back, and enjoy the beauty in our surroundings!

Sometimes, the scenes are splendorous and breathtaking!

We travel through so many different sceneries!

The snowy peaked mountains, rolling hills of countryside, changing fall colors, the plains…

Miles of corn fields, and wheat farms-sometimes even alongside the oceans… sweet fragrances to enjoy, and we reflect on Gods beauty everywhere.

Not every road in our life’s journey offers beautiful scenery-

Not every stretch is pleasant…

(Or enjoyable.)

Sometimes- when we are traveling, we get stuck in traffic.

It’s NEVER convenient. NEVER planned. Just as we thought we were making progress…bam!

In one hundred degree temperatures.

Sometimes, the air conditioning stops working-and life gets sticky, unpleasant.

Sometimes we have to roll our sleeves up, and our windows down.

Sometimes, instead of the enjoyable fresh country air, and sweet aromas of honeysuckle- instead, is the stench of cow manure from the dairy farm, or from the garbage truck next to you!

This IS life.

God will use each part- every mile of our travel, especially the little side trails where we wander- and will use them for His glory.

It may not ‘make sense’ to us-and may not always ‘feel’ good…

Sometimes, part of our ‘journey’ seems as if we are stuck in a tunnel for miles and miles…with very little light surrounding us to help navigate clearly through.

Yet, as the song ‘Waymaker‘ goes-

‘Even when I don’t see it, He’s working-

Even when I don’t feel it-He’s working-

He never stops-never stops working, He never stops! Never stops working!’

God takes the little things we don’t usually understand and works them out for our good.

Listen-

Hear His voice, the still, small voice on the inside-

Rest in Him.

Trust in Him.

Do what is right, even when it’s hard.

Don’t compromise.

When the rose bush is being trimmed, the pruning process is painful at the time-but it’s so necessary for the growth and blooms about to follow!

When God’s doing the pruning, He will make it right.

I read a devotion this morning that made me think along this lines, ‘Simple Living’ (TearFund). Here’s an excerpt:

God is in the business of taking small, tiny offerings and using them to create a huge impact. The small, smooth stones in David’s sling. A little boy with five loaves and two fish. The tiny mustard seed. A widow’s last few drops of oil and flour for a final meal with her son.

We often think of what we lack. The problems are too big; the world is too broken. But God is able to do abundantly more than all we could ask or imagine. He’s blessed us with creativity, ingenuity–and each other.

In considering the small things we can do and when we are uncertain of the way ahead, we can be encouraged that God takes our small steps–and our offerings along the way, inadequate though they seem–and breathes His life through them for His glory.

Chew over the words in Psalm 84:5 and thank God for the blessings He gives to those who set their hearts on pilgrimage.

God is for us! He is with us-through every step of our journey. He is faithful, and will never leave us or forsake us.

It’s easy to enjoy the enjoyable seasons of our lives… trusting God during the difficult times is where we see our inner character outwardly.

When we are stuck in a season when everything seems to be crumbling around us- the spotlight highlights us in moments of raw transparency-

Remember… the journey of life continues… this particular ‘mile’ will fade., bringing us closer to our destination.

Like a road map, so are the days of our life. All have meaning and purpose.

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Hope.

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All throughout the winter, I have been driving past this tree on my way to and from work.

Always captures my attention…

This tree has a lesson. So does this empty fruit basket.

It’s been speaking to my soul. And yes, trees can speak.

We read about Jesus speaking to the fig tree in Mark 11… it spoke back to Him, in obedience. It heard what He said, and did what He said.

Regarding THIS tree-and THIS empty basket…

Most specifically the little fruit basket sitting as if it’s waiting. It has been speaking to me.

A lot.

It is a symbol of hope and of new life.

When we look at things that seem lifeless and hopeless, the more we let our gaze dwell there unchecked, we grew weary and depressed.

This image paints a different picture to focus on-if only we have eyes to see and ears to hear…

The tree branches are empty.. there’s no sign of life…

There’s a hint of life however on the bottom, of the green grass starting to grow… but the symbol of hope here is in the empty bucket waiting at the bottom… it’s a sign that good things will come in the future.

I believe this is a message to encourage somebody.

Are you facing a hopeless situation?

Anyone feeling as if life will never come again the way you want it to?

God has different seasons in our life for a reason.

While we learn to wait on God, let’s purpose to trust Him!

“Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Hebrew 11:1),

Based on the true uncompromised Word of God!

We need to learn to be obedient and to do what God says to do, in order to get the results God says we can have.

“call those things that are not as though they are!” (Romans 4:17)

God is a speaking Spirit!

He spoke everything into existence and to this day there are new galaxies still being created based on His original command to exist!

“Words are powerful! Words can be our salvation and words can be our damnation.” (Matthew 12:33 MSG)

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue!” (Proverbs 18:21)

What are we saying?

What are we declaring?

What are we confessing?

We need to learn to look adversity directly into its face and declare our victory!

Like this little basket sitting at the foot of this barren tree, waiting for the right season of fruit to come-anticipating…

let’s “trust in the Lord with all our heart and lean not on to our own understanding- in all our ways acknowledge Him and let Him direct our steps!” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Lets look with eyes of faith! And speak into our future right now the expected end!

Be encouraged, dear loved ones- hope never disappoints!

Wake up Church!

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I find it interesting that so many people in America place their value and worth on their possessions.

Material possessions, value and appearance of vehicles, houses and church buildings; yet Jesus did not put importance on things.

In fact, other than the clothes on His back and the sandals He had on His feet, He had no material possessions.

Jesus didn’t have a house to call His home. He left His home, he became homeless, so that we might find our eternal home in Him.

He didn’t stay in one place. He was nomadic. Truly, Jesus was a ‘mobile church.’

He initiated ‘Go Ye.’ He gave us the example- watch what He did.

That’s how we are to do. GO to the people, be about teaching, preaching, and healing all who are oppressed.

Jesus placed all importance and emphasis on people. PEOPLE. All people.

He knew people are a priority for God. So people (not buildings, not clothing, not material items) should be important to us as followers of Jesus.

He left His everything in Heaven to come to earth and give us ‘everything’ -Himself.

Yet many reject Him, and chose their ‘g’od of self, and chose ‘things’ to love.

People are created to be loved while things are made to be used.

But often times, we have this backwards because many are holding onto their things that they love and use more than being willing to let go and give to those who are in need.

Sadly, this is true within the walls of churches all across America. Is this bringing honor and glory to God? (Colossians 3:17; 23)

The Bible says that Satan has blinded the eyes of man, and I can see where lust for money and things has blinded eyes to real needs of so many people.

People living here in our own town have genuine need such as a roof over their head, food to eat etc. as well as people in other countries who are just as valuable to God.

I just returned from a mission trip in Africa with husband and one of our daughters.

The stark contrast of lavishness and luxurious things money is spent on- even within our own churches-give me cause and pause to think:

Is this pleasing to God? Are we really being good stewards of all God has given us? What is God thinking?

Do we really have Jesus’s priorities?

How are we really living biblical values?

Are we putting needs of people before our personal comfort?

Unless you leave your country and travel to another, you really have no idea.

It’s so difficult coming home and seeing the thousands of things that we take for granted that many have never experienced.

A bed that soft and comfortable with clean sheets with pillows with blankets…

Climate controlled rooms with air-conditioning, or heat adjustable at a moments touch of a control-

Clean, accessible drinking water whenever and wherever we are.

A roof over our head that covers multiple rooms in our house filled with multiple things that we don’t even use…

Stores everywhere within a moments reach that we can buy anything to our hearts desires.

Maybe it’s time we line up our hearts desires to mirror God’s Heart.

Maybe then, real people with real needs will see a real Jesus in us… and start receiving real love.

Food for thought…

Found on Josie’s Pinterest

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Many people have opinions that social media is a tool of the enemy, so they avoid it like a plague. 

I have  come to believe that Satan has no creative abilities, only those that may corrupt, pollute or distort something beautiful that God created, because I believe God is the almighty Creator- and that all things were created BY God and FOR God (Colossians 1:16).

No one person can ‘create’ something totally by scratch.  They can use the creative abilities bestowed upon them and inspired by God.  

However, in order to do so, they are using ingredients or supplies or materials…already created by the Creator.
It is humanly impossible to create something that never before existed, using a substance that they alone created, out of nothing.  
Only a Creator can do this, and only God is the true, one and only, Creator.
For something to be made, reproduced, invented, etc, something had to already previously existed or be created- then, using the creativity one possesses, an individual could potentially assemble something unique… using materials already created by the Creator.
Everything has potential to be used for the good, or to be used for bad.


Jesus said this:  ‘The thief comes only to kill, to steal and destroy, but I have come so that you might have life more abundant.’  (John 10:10)

We choose to use social media for either good, or bad.  
  
We can promote good (God) in all we do and say, or we can promote bad (Satan) in what we do and say.
I think you understand my point.
This morning, I read a post on Facebook from a friend.  

This friend suffered a tragic, sudden, unexpected loss of her beautiful, young, carefree, talented, full of life, full of God, daughter, 7 months ago. 
We lost our youngest daughter in a tragic, sudden, unexpected bizarre hurricane related accident 6 years ago next month from severe brain injuries when a tree fell on our van, but only for 6 minutes…somehow, supernaturally, God restored life and healing to our daughter…, whereas for my friend- her daughter’s death was sudden, complete- yet her daughter is complete, healed, restored, and alive as well, only living in Heaven.
So I can relate, to a degree, of the emotions a parent feels seeing their own child lifeless…& my heart still aches for my friend… Sonya… and for all of her family who each one is still affected by the shock, still grieving from the unexpected, so I am still covering them in prayers for God’s supernatural comfort.
But back to the post I read this morning on Facebook…

It simple said ‘found on Josie’s Pinterest’ and included a picture of a beautiful poem that brought my friend, this grieving parent, an unexpected positive memory… 
I’ve since googled this poem.   I wanted to read the whole poem, and to learn who penned it.
It’s called ‘After a While’ by Veronica A Shoffstall.


Simple.  Yet profound.  Healing balm to a wounded soul.

Intrigued by these beautiful words, I was prompted to research more about the poet, and this particular poem that captured Josie’s attention on Pinterest that my friend shared this morning on Facebook…

And in doing so, discovered the rest of the poem.


It’s called “After a While You Learn” and actually is part of the authors wordpress blog, copied below in the link.  
I encourage all to read, as it’s beautifully written and contains more gems of wisdom.  Here’s a link to do just that, if you’d like.

https://purenourishment.wordpress.com/2012/10/21/after-a-while-you-learn-by-veronica-a-shoffstall-1971/amp/



Social media was used in a positive way this morning.  It gave my friend a glimpse into the past of her precious daughter’s life- and shared a precious moment of a mutually appreciated poem…

Through Facebook, a Pinterest ‘like’ temporarily connected a departed daughter, now living in Heavens eternity,  with a grieving mother, still passing through life’s journey here on earth, in a beautiful God moment. 

All because of social media.  
Something God created to be used for good, not evil.  It’s up to us to choose how.   

Today, I choose for good.

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Being a mother is not always an easy ‘job’.  
Pain is associated with the joys that come with the title ‘mom’… 
Iamjesusgal Ministries
When we open our hearts to a newborn baby, we become vulnerable to heartache.  
Sacrifice begins, and never truly ends. 
As the baby grows, into an active demanding toddler, we wonder if we will ever sleep.  
Then toddler grows into a school aged child- and we wonder how we will survive the separation of child leaving us, if only for a few hours a day- and hold back the tears, adjusting to ‘sharing’ our child with the teacher…
Then teen years come- and for some, additional children may follow the one- so that the juggling of emotions become more skilled- how can we possibly love another child the same?  
We realize we can’t.  Our love for each is unique.
Many of the child-rearing milestones we reach come with a price… 
They fall. They get hurt. They become sick. They get rebellious. They make mistakes.  They grow into people.
You spend sleepless nights when they are late coming home, waiting for the phone to ring or the front door to squeak open… holding your breath until they are finally home. 
They exhibit a strong will, sometimes a stubborn streak, and they go a different direction than the plan you envisioned for them…
You cry yourself to sleep many a night, until you realize it’s better to trust God for them, and then you spend much time on your knees, in prayer.  
Then they grow up. 
They leave for college, but you soon realize they never really come ‘home’ again. 
You were not prepared for this.
Or were you preparing for this allaling, from the very beginning?
They move on and move out.   They come home to ‘visit’ and leave again. 
They get married. They move away. And they get busy living their life, independent and successful. 
And as proud as you are of them, you miss them. 
 You miss the sounds of their little feet running up and down the stairs… you miss the slamming of doors and sweet hugs and goodnight kisses. 
You miss them climbing in your lap, asking you to read the book ‘just one more time, mommy!’ 
You miss the walks in the parks, the swings and the slides.  You miss their mastering accomplishments, beaming with pride.
You miss cheering for them at soccer games, encouraging them at cross country meets.
You miss the squeaky missed notes of instruments & voice while rehearsing a song, and applauding them at band concerts and choral concerts. 
You miss all of their friends coming by the house, some staying overnights… 
You find yourself adjusting from a full, boisterous house of five + to a quiet home of two… 
And then somehow, you adjust again to how it all began…just the two of you, only different.  
Part of yourself is no longer nearby.
But the joys of motherhood, with all the heartaches, is only one part of my life, indescribable. 

I come to realize that motherhood IS joy.  Joy is a state of being, not a feeling.
Joy doesn’t change because if our emotions, or circumstances.
Being a mother, with all the hurts, and fears, brings indescribable joy.
A joy that is not to be wasted.  A joy that is a privilege and a cause for praise.
I have dear friends who long for this experience & my heart aches for them. I pray for them, and try not to take my blessings for granted. 
I am far away from being an expert, or a ‘perfect’ Mom.  I have made many mistakes as a mother, tried to ‘figure it all out’ while raising our three, while trying to figure out life in general. 
Not easy. But- I have come to realize, as imperfect as I am, that I was the ‘perfect choice’ as mother to my three, because you know why?
Because God chose me.
And that???
THAT is the main thing I’ve never figured out- 
God, You have given me the absolute BEST gift ever- of being chosen to be the mother of Douglas Roundy Jr, Helen Roundy and Morganne Skinner, and now You’ve given me another son, through marriage, Asa Skinner.  
I can’t comprehend the love of God, in that He blessed me, undeserving me, to marry my high school sweetheart, Doug Roundy…
Or how God blessed us to grow an amazing family, with each of our quirks, and shortcomings, yet also with each of our unique talents and abilities, and hearts desires.
God, You somehow created us imperfect people perfectly, and formed us together into a family, to do life together.  
It’s part of Your perfect plan, even though in part, we don’t really understand.
As Mothers Day 2017 comes to a close, I ponder all the myriads of emotions, and memories collectively over the years of being a mother- and I say Thank You God, for choosing me for the best ‘job.’
The best ‘job’ in all the world, is being chosen by God to mother my children, the 3 +1.  
As a mother, I’ve learned what unconditional love looks like.
It’s the picture of God’s love.
It endures with patience and serenity, its being kind and thoughtful.
Unconditional love is not being jealous or envious;  does not brag and is not proud or arrogant. 
It is not rude; it is not self-seeking, it is not provoked nor overly sensitive and easily angered.
Unconditional love does not take into account a wrong endured. 
It does not rejoice at injustice, but rejoices with the truth when right and truth prevail. 
Unconditional love bears all things regardless of what comes, believes all things, looking for the best in each one.
Unconditional love hopes all things-remaining steadfast during difficult times, endures all things without weakening.

Unconditional love never fails, it never fades nor ends. 
 

Hope arising-Sunflower miracle

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Every time I see a sunflower, I smile.  It reaches deep into my soul, and takes me back to a time where I was filled with despair, heartache, and anguish over the death of my beloved Great-Aunt Zippy, but how faithful is my God who hears and heals the brokenhearted!    What does this have to do with a sunflower?  With Hope arising?  With a miracle?

I’ll tell you.  Growing up the oldest of three, and the only girl, and as a military child was difficult for me.  My younger brothers had each other as playmates regardless of where we moved to, but I never seemed to fit in.  My Aunt Zippy, who lived in Charles City Iowa, had a soul connection with me.  Though I didn’t get to see her often, the times we did get to visit were so instrumental and profound, the memories of our visits boosted me.  She always had a way of making me feel special, even long-distanced.  She seemed to read my mind, and know when I was struggling.  Sometimes, I’d get a letter in the mail from her, in her curly old-fashioned handwriting; always ending with “Aunt Zippy loves you!”  Other times, I’d get a phone call from her, with her saying “Aunt Zippy just needed to hear your voice dear. Is every thing OK?” And all of my troubles would spill out into her listening ear.

Well, the day came when she passed away.  When my mother called me, and said she had to tell me something that was going to upset me, suddenly in my heart, I knew.  “Is it Aunt Zippy?” I asked.  And mom confirmed.  A part of my heart stopped beating at that moment, and I fell into a depressed, numb shock. NOOOOOOOOOO!  I screamed silently.  It couldn’t be true!  I wasn’t ready for her to die!

We weren’t sure how we were going to afford driving to Iowa for her funeral.  Our available cash was non-existent. At the time, I was selling Longaberger Baskets, and had a large amount of the collector baskets, and a few avid customers who loved deals.  I decided to bundle a bunch together and offer a grouping too irresistible to refuse, and was soon able to exchange a truck load of baskets for the cash we needed, and we were on our way, with our 3 children in tow.

We were asked to sing at her funeral.  Our son plays the guitar and sings, along with the rest of us.  We decided we would sing “I Can Only Imagine”.  I couldn’t imagine being able to sing, when I wasn’t able to talk without crying, and breathing was difficult.  I kept praying for the Lord to give me strength.

Aunt Zippy’s favorite flower was the Sunflower.  Due to a drought in the area, it was difficult  finding sunflowers for her funeral.  Her son, my cousin Paul, was able to get a few ordered for her casket.  Seeing her like that was the hardest sight I ever witnessed.  I missed her so much!  I was consumed with the deepest anguish, and struggled to find peace.

You see, only a few weeks before her fiftieth wedding anniversary, her husband, my Uncle Red, passed away following complications with heart surgery.  She was so angry at God!  She felt cheated.  When I would try to talk with her about it, she’d clamp up, and I sensed the bitterness that was settling in, mixed with her heartache.  I knew she was raised in a church, and knew she was a member of the local church in fact; but didn’t know for sure she’d given her heart to Jesus, and received Him as her personal Lord and Savior.  The uncertainty of her eternal rest was eating away at me, and was the source of my agony!

Desperate to know, I cried out to God.  On our return trip home, still numb with grief, still in shock, still searching within, I asked God “Father God, You know where she is.  You know how much she means to me, and how much I am hurting.  I know all things are possible with You.  I ask that You show me a sign dear Lord, that she is with you in Heaven.  I need a miracle dear Lord.  Please let it be, In Jesus Name, amen.”

My head against the window, looking out at the roadside, tears streaming down my face, Iowa corn fields passing by us as we traveled, all of a sudden, I see the most amazing sight!  There on the right side of the road growing wild were several beautiful, tall sunflowers!    I jumped up, and exclaimed to my family “Look!  Did you see that?  There were 2 or 3 large sunflowers right there!  I know God placed them there as a sign for me that Aunt Zippy is alive in heaven with Him!”  My husband laughed and teased me, “Mommy must have had a dream kids” he said.  They laughed a bit too, while I insisted I wasn’t dreaming, and that I knew what I saw. I even suggested my husband turn around and go back to see it himself, but he didn’t.

I guess I must have dozed off, but shortly after I was awakened by my children hollering “Mommy!  Look!  Look!  Look out the window!  Look at all of the sunflowers mommy!”  I looked and couldn’t BELIEVE what my eyes were seeing!  The entire roadside for about a mile or so was FULL OF SUNFLOWERS!  Amazing!  I couldn’t believe it!  They were soooo beautiful!  God is so good!  He answered my prayer, and tears were flowing, as I was knowing…my aunt Zippy was in heaven!  God is faithful!

I called my cousin Paul and shared with him.  I just wanted others to have the peace that was flooding my heart in knowing she was with God!    He seemed subdued, and a little skeptical, but was happy for me.  I can’t describe to you the depth of my joy!  I was thrilled my children and husband witnessed it too.  WOW GOD!  And just like God, when we finally pulled into our driveway of our Virginia home, after 2 days of driving, guess what was there at our front door, welcoming us?  Yep.  You guessed it.  The biggest, largest sunflower bloom you ever saw, growing in our flower garden next to our front steps, with its petals wide open.  I’ve never planted sunflowers there before.  It wasn’t growing when we left.  It was heaven-sent, with arms wide open, welcoming us home.  Our sunflower miracle!

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