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Christ the Lord has risen today! And here’s an amazing testimony of just one of His MANY miracles.

They called a time of death on Jeff. Then, his doctor heard the Lord say, ‘Pray for him.’

Truly a miracle. Check it out: http://www.cbn.com/media/player/index.aspx?s=/vod/SAF13v5_WS

Time. It’s the most precious gift we can give to God, our family, and our friends. The big question is – how will we spend our time here on Earth?

As much as we don’t want to think about it sometimes, our days are numbered. Our time on this planet will go so fast…so what impact can we make that will last beyond us?

Today’s sermon was about this – our time and how we should use what little of it we have to invest in people. A very powerful message, especially as we enter into a new year.

As I pondered this, a very special thing happened today while I was in the dressing room at Marshall’s. I was trying on a couple of things when I heard the small, sweet sound of a child singing. I smiled and chuckled to myself, not paying much attention, as I tried to decide if I should buy what I had on. The child kept singing and I paused to listen, as I realized I knew the song.

The little boy, who couldn’t have been older than three, was singing “Beautiful One” by Jeremy Camp. It’s a song written about Jesus and he repeated the lyrics from the chorus: “Beautiful one I love, beautiful one I adore, beautiful one my soul must sing.”

After a few moments, he switched to “Our God” by Chris Tomlin and he sang the words:  “And if Our God is for us, then who could ever stop us? And if our God is with us, then what can stand against?”

Hearing this child sing about Jesus with no reservations or worries of being judged, made me remember what exactly we are supposed to be doing with our time on Earth – share God’s love.

It’s really a treasure to hear a child sing about the love of Jesus and it’s wonderful to know his parents took some of their precious time to teach their little boy about our Savior and the love He offers. This child will grow up with God’s love in his heart and he is already sharing that love with others he encounters – even those in a dressing room.

So now I pray, God, how have you called me to share your love? How do You want me to spend the time I have left?  Perhaps it’s not singing praises in a dressing room, but what do you think God has called you to do with your time?

A Smoke Signal

Okay, so I’ve decided to cheat, again, and use a story from a book I have, but it’s a really good one – promise. My next post is brewing, I just need a little more time to get it all together.

Have you ever had an incredible urge that you just can’t explain? One that goes against your personality, behavior, or usual way of thinking? I know I have, and this story proves those urges may be on purpose.

Carol asked her friend Julie to spend the weekend with friends in the north Georgia mountains, with the intent of watching the beautiful fall leaves and hiking through the all the colors. Julie asked her 15-year-old son if he wanted to join, but he wasn’t interested. “Enjoy the leaves,” he said. “I’ll be fine here by myself.”  

Saturday morning, Carol, Julie, and their other friends hiked along the mountainside, taking in all the magnificent colors. Once it was evening, they headed back to the cabin, had dinner, and played cards by the fireplace. “I could spend all week out here,” Julie said. “Me too,” Carol answered.

As Carol stared at the smoke rising from the chimney, she suddenly was overcome with a terrible feeling. “Go home,” a voice seemed to urge her. She couldn’t explain it. Her intuition was that she wanted, no needed, to go home. “Carol, you’re being silly,” Julie said. But the urge kept getting stronger and stronger.

“I’ve got to leave,” Carol said. “Julie, if you want to stay, you can get a ride back with everyone else tomorrow.” “No, I’ll go with you,” Julie sighed.

Carol and Julie barely spoke on the two-hour ride back. Carol felt guilty for tearing Julie and herself away from a blissful weekend of leaf watching with friends. But, Carol couldn’t ignore the urge.

Carol drove to Julie’s house to drop her off. The lights were on, but something was strange. The windows seemed fogged up. Julie opened the door – smoke poured out. “Mark!” she shouted. Carol and Julie dashed inside and found him asleep on the couch. Julie shook him awake and grabbed him while Carol seized the source of the smoke – a pillow set too close to the fireplace. Carol took it outside and threw water on it.

Mark had built a fire to keep warm and some embers had flown out when he forgot to replace the screen. The whole house could have gone up if Carol and Julie had not been there to wake up Mark.

Carol stared in wonder at the smoke hanging in the air. Just like the smoke that triggered the urge to go home.

Thank you God for giving us those unexplainable urges when we need them most. Help us to heed to those impulses, knowing they come from You.

Source: 2010 One-minute Devotions

I am happy to share this wonderful post written by my college friend, Adam Gingrich. He was kind enough to think of my blog and share with me this inspiring story about finding his right path. Enjoy!

Just short of two weeks ago, I picked up and moved to Cincinnati to begin graduate school at Xavier University.  In many ways, I have never done anything more unconventional in my entire life.  I moved to a brand new city where I knew almost no one.   

This past Saturday, I was enjoying a break from my studies with a walk in Ault Park, a large park located within the hills here in the city.  The place was bustling with people going around the sidewalks that framed the huge gardens.  At first, I went along with the crowd, walking this same path.  I soon noticed sidewalks went in squares–where you started you would once end up at again.  There were a few places were you could divert and go on another path, but few people did.  I did and this led me to an observation deck that overlooked a seemingly endless valley.   

I found this be a timely metaphor of my life over the last 14 months- since graduating from Mount Union. 

I worked a few different jobs during this time that I really enjoyed, but was not sure what was next for me in life.  I had accomplished something big-graduating college- where God blessed me with many friends with which I was assured I could grow in my relationship with Him and not just academically. 

Early in February, I took a lonely 4-hour road trip south to Cincinnati to visit the program here at Xavier.  During this drive alone, I really connected with God in a way that I hadn’t since college—I had since given Him the excuse I was “too busy” trying to figure out my life to include Him.  To let Him be the potter and myself the clay.   

I questioned Him, “If you love me God, why isn’t life more purposeful?” He answered, “If you love me, why don’t you trust me, spend time with me and see beyond something greater than your own needs?”

Many times, I think we tell God, “I’ll go with your plan as long as I can do it my way and it doesn’t require a lot of risks.”  Because a lot of risks would require a lot of, well, faith.

I took advantage of the long Ohio winter (oh how I love it) to apply to different programs and study for the GMAT.  I doubted the logic of what I was doing.  “What I am doing?”  I told myself.  “You’re wasting your time. I’ll never get into that program. I’ll never get that good of a GMAT score.”

I kept the course studying and got involved with a small group at church.  God assured me many times that this was what He wanted from me, including a semi-truck that pulled up next to me while I was on my way to a GMAT prep class that said, “God can.”

So my friends, God can.  “In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5).  Whatever you doubt about yourself or your future, you can accomplish it as long as you let God take the led and you’re not afraid to take a risk and step outside of the box.

As I start this new endeavor, I look forward to continuing to grow academically and with Him, once again.

And the verdict is…

I had no idea what to expect. All everyone ever told me about jury duty is I would be super bored and would just sit with my laptop for two weeks. This however, was NOT my experience, well not the first day anyway.

Within an hour and half of being there, I got selected to be potentially part of a jury. I was talking and laughing with the others I had met there, still having no clue what was about to happen. I was still chatting away when we entered the courtroom. Everyone was silent and stood as we entered. My heart starting beating faster, as I realized, “Okay, this is a big deal…”

After a series of questions were asked by the prosecutor and the defendant’s attorney, we filed out for jury selection. I was nervous I might be selected, but someone has to do it right? Despite my anxiety, I wanted to be strong, unbiased, and serve my American duty to the best of my ability.

I suppose you can guess what happened – I was one of the 12 jurors selected for this criminal case. I could feel my body temperature rising with nervousness as we entered the courtroom again, this time, to hear the witnesses testify.

Initially, I thought I could handle it. But after hearing the two witnesses, I realized this was not the case for me. A 21-year-old college student was on trial for sexually abusing his four-year-old step sister. It was too much to handle, too much to bear. I didn’t want to hear anymore, let alone decide his fate.

I barely made it to my car before I burst into tears. Why? Why did I get selected for this case? God knows I am too weak to handle such a subject matter and once I look up from my hands, I became frozen with fear and regret. But I was on the jury now, I keep telling myself, and I needed to pull it together to give this kid a fair trial. But, why, why did I have to get this case.

The evening didn’t get better. In fact, I spent the entire night sick to my stomach and couldn’t eat or sleep all night. I was completely terrified. I knew a typical juror should not have this reaction, but I couldn’t help it, it was just such an upsetting subject. I prayed to God all night for peace, strength, and guidance. I had no idea how I could face another day in the courtroom.

While we weren’t able to talk about the case, my friends and family knew how upset I was and they also prayed for peace. My mom especially kept the prayers coming all through the night.

After maybe getting an hour of sleep, I knew what I had to do. My mind was made up. I had to get out of this case, someway, somehow. So, without eating, sleeping, or really thinking, I went to the courtroom an hour before we were support to report.

There I found the judge’s bailiff, and I choked out that I couldn’t handle this case and I really didn’t think I could be on this jury anymore. I apologized for not realizing it sooner, as I had already heard most of the trial. She looked on me with sympathy and said she would see what she could do, but that she could not guarantee anything since I had already heard so much.

So, I spent the next hour and 45 minutes in a trance, not sure what God was going to do. The judge kept telling the jurors they needed more time, but this just prolonged my agony. Unexpectedly, though, the more time that went by, the more I began to feel a sense of peace, and I came to find out later, my mom also felt that same sense of peace.

It had almost been two hours of waiting when the judge appeared in the juror’s deliberation room to let us know the case had resolved in a plea bargain, and we were no longer needed for this case.

I can’t even explain my feeling of relief – my heart soared – now light and free. God had relieved me from this burden and I didn’t even have to face the judge or the other jurors. I hadn’t even thought of the possibility of the case being resolved like that – it was a miracle! At least, to me.

Thank you God for answering my prayer and giving me peace. I learned a great deal about myself during that stressful 24 hours and I will never forget what you did for me.

I did though, forget to mention one thing that I think is a very important part of the story. The bailiff’s name for the judge was Faith.

It’s All in the Name

Wow, it’s been way too long since I last posted. I have definitely gotten caught up in the hustle and bustle of planning for a wedding – well, now it’s here! We’re getting married on Saturday and I couldn’t be more excited or blessed.

God uniting two people together to be married is a marvel and an amazement. It is almost unfathomable that God chose Dirk for me before I was even born. God knows all the days of our lives, before we even live them, and He even knows who we are destined to be with. So, before I leave for for our wedding, I just thought I’d share a quick story about one way I knew God wanted Dirk and I to be together.

My entire life, I have never been able to find my name written anywhere. As a little kid I would run into gift shops at the zoo, amusement parks, museums, and carnivals and search for name among the racks of keychains listing Jennifer, Jane, Josie, Jackie, and on and on. I would comb through looking behind each one hoping, just hoping perhaps there would be a “Jacey” listed somewhere on that rack. And 24 years later, no luck.

Dirk, as I came to find out, had the same problem. Never once did he find his name written anywhere on a mug, bottle opener, or wallet. “Derek” I think was the closest he ever got.

December 2008, before we were engaged, Dirk and I went to Amish country to look for Christmas presents for our families. We went to several stores, amazed at all the handmade crafts and homemade treats. In the attic of one of the craft stores I found a rack with lists of names on cardstock with a Bible verse written underneath the name. I sighed, wishing my name would be among them, but after years of searching, I knew better.

I was just about to pass the rack when I saw the “J” row. I hesitated, but then I decided, “Oh, what the heck, maybe I’ll look one more time.” I got toward the back, and was about to give up when I saw it – there it was – my name written by someone other than myself – JACEY “God’s Gift” and the Bible verse underneath it said, “The Lord is my strength and song, and is become my salvation. ” Psalm 118: 14.

My heart almost stopped. I couldn’t believe it. My entire life I could never find my name written anywhere and here it was listed with all the other “J’s.” I pulled it out of the rack and ran over to show Dirk who was also in awe.

Then I thought, could it be? Would we be able to find Dirk’s name too? Dirk and I started pouring through the “D’s” and low and behold, we found it – DIRK “Adventurous Spirit” and the verse read, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29: 13.

We both looked at each other and knew this was the sign from God we had been praying for. We knew this had to be God’s way of telling us we were meant for each other and He would bless our union.

Today, both of our names along with our engagement picture is hung up in our home. And soon, I’ll be able to replace the photo with one from our wedding day.

Thank you God for uniting Dirk and I, and I pray that together, Dirk and I will always praise your Name.

Ever feel this way?

Ever feel like everything is perfect is your life, but yet you feel empty? Why is it that I only turn to God during storms, but never remember to praise Him when there’s sunshine? It’s like I always run to God when there’s a bump in the road, but walk away from Him when the path is smooth.

So here I am, writing a blog post at 11pm after not having written for over a month. It’s the happiest time of my life – in less than 60 days I will be married to the man of my dreams, the man God has chosen for me, and I feel that with all my heart. Yet, I go about my day, forgetting to praise God for all His has done for me, not bothering to pray for others, and neglecting to read my dusty Bible.

Now, more than ever, is the time I should be connecting with God, building and maintaining a relationship with Him that I refuse to ignore, but I don’t. The past few weeks I have been happy, busy, excited, but remain unfulfilled, unsatisfied, and undone. Know what I mean? Feel like you have the whole world, but something’s missing?

The amazing thing about God is, He never gives up. He will wait, patiently, until we come to Him. He will just keep knocking, hoping we don’t slam the door this time, but leave it open, even just a crack. I am worthy of this? Worthy of His grace, forgiveness, eternal love? No. Not even close. But He loves me, just the same. He will wash me clean, just the same. He will welcome me back with open arms, just the same. That is an amazing God.

So, I am going to attempt to reprioritize. I can’t have this mentality that because everything is great, I don’t need God, that I can do this life thing all on my own. The truth is, sooner or later, it hits you, like it hit me, that you can’t go through life without God. Ever wonder why? I think Christian artist Toby Mac’s song, “I Was Made to Love” sums it up perfectly: (listen to lyrics)

“The dream is fading, now I’m staring at the door
I know its over cause my feet have hit the cold floor
Check my reflection, I ain’t feelin what I see
It’s no mystery
Whatever happened to a passion I could live for
What became of the flame that made me feel more
And when did I forget that…

I was made to love you
I was made to find you
I was made just for you
Made to adore you
I was made to love
And be loved by you
You were here before me
You were waiting on me
And you said you’d keep me
Never would you leave me I was made to love
and be loved by you”

God made us to love Him, adore Him, and made us for Him. Without God, we are empty and unsatisfied. We need God and He is reason we are here. We are born to serve Him and fulfill the very specific plan He has for each of us. I pray this week I can humble myself, think beyond my own needs, and listen to His calling. For a God like ours, it’s worth it.