Happy Easter 2019

EASTER cross

“For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him.”  

On this day, let’s remember the true meaning of Easter as we visit with family and friends.  Treasure the moments for the days go by quickly, loved ones are gone and kids grow up.  Today holds so many mixed feelings for me…..

Growing up, I used to go to my grandparents while my parents and aunts went to sunrise service on the beach.  Then home to get ready for church.  Totally new outfits to wear to church.  Sometimes even a trip to the Boardwalk for the Easter Parade in Asbury Park.  Then back to my grandparents for a traditional Easter dinner with the whole family.  Easter baskets overflowing with candy from the “Carmel Shop” and “Old Monmouth”.  Happy memories of my childhood.

Fast forward (many years) to having my own home with my daughter, Belinda.  Easter took on a different meaning.   Gone were the tradition of church.  For the first 3 Easters, I was still in my addiction so it was dinner with family and an Easter basket for Belinda.  When I entered recovery, things changed slightly – I had a relationship with God but still did not have a church.  As Belinda got a little older, we did Easter baskets but they were filled with toys and games because she didn’t like chocolate.  I know can you believe it!  She did like white chocolate but only in small amounts.  And of course “stale” marshmallow peeps.  It was a treasure hunt to find the basket with clues left in Easter eggs throughout the house.  I can still remember the squeals of excitement as she found the basket.  I even remember making her Easter outfits (I know she hates this picture but I think it is cute!) and heading to Atlantic City for the Easter parade.  Dinners were a little smaller but family was still together.

Now, as the miles stretch between us, we each celebrate Easter with our extended family.  Gone are the Easter baskets filled with candy.  Gone is the traditional family Easter dinner.  There will be loved ones in heaven celebrating together while those of us left behind still struggle with making new traditions.  The true meaning of Easter begins to shine through…

After relapsing and returning to recovery, my relationship with God has grown a little stronger.  I am grateful he loved me enough to sacrifice his son for my sins.  Today, I will count my blessings and treasure the memories I can remember.  I miss the traditional family holidays (what little I can remember) but am learning to create new memories with each passing day.

Share your Easter memories with us.  Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

My Battle With Pride

Come to Me

Thank you Wendy Speake for today’s message:

Since the start of the new year, three words have been ringing in my ears: “Come to Me.” Matthew 11:28 has been hidden in my heart for as long as I can remember, but recently I’ve heard the Lord speak this intimate invitation to me personally, in light of all the things I tend to run to, turn to, “come” to.

“Come to Me.”

As I turn to comfort food: “Come to Me, I’m the Great Comforter.”
As I turn on my computer; “Come to Me, I want to connect with you.”
As I head into Target for a little retail therapy, “Come to Me, let me be your Counselor.”
As I make a phone call to talk through my stress with a friend; “Come to Me… Call on Me!”
As I turn into Starbucks for something sweet; “Come to Me, my words are sweet as honey.”
As I scroll through Facebook; “Don’t follow them, follow Me. Come to Me.”
As I open up Amazon Prime; “Come to Me, I’m free and I’ll set you free!”
As I binge watch another late-night TV show; “Come. To. Me.”

“Come to Me.”

There are so many things that I mindlessly “come to” each day — so many things that I eat, read, watch, buy, consume… But God is speaking clearly to me: “Come to me, consume Me, and let me consume you.”

Are you weary and heavy laden? Experiencing a void that social media, food, and shopping simply can’t fill? Take the weight of it all to the Lord. If you’re worn out, exhausted, running to all the false gods this world has to offer… take it all to Him. He has the shoulders to carry your burdens. The One who shouldered the cross, can shoulder your pain. It’s what He does. Amazon Prime can’t do it. Facebook can’t do it. Brownies can’t do it for you either. It’s not their job. It’s God’s job.
“Come to Me.”

He is able to carry your hurting relationships square on His shoulders. He can handle your fears and your failures. He can carry your sin-struggles and your shame. He alone can carry the weight of it all, all the way up Calvary’s hill. And at the foot of the cross, He can lay it down on your behalf. In exchange for those heavy burdens, He offers His light yoke. That’s what He gives us when we give it all to Him.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Where Can I Find True Love?

Thank you Mary Southerland for today’s message:

In the early days of the automobile, a man’s Model – T Ford stalled in the middle of the road. No matter what he tried, he couldn’t get it started. A chauffeured limousine pulled up behind the stalled car and a wiry, energetic man stepped from the back seat to offer his assistance.

After tinkering with the engine for a few moments, the stranger said, “Now try it!” Immediately, the engine leaped to life. The well-dressed man then identified himself as Henry Ford. “I designed and built these cars,” he said, “So I know what to do when something goes wrong.”

When our lives are broken, when the plan falls apart and everything goes wrong, we need to wait on God to show up, knowing He created us, and that He knows us best and loves us most. We are chosen … and He knows exactly what to do when things go wrong.

You and I were created as a living, fleshed out depiction of God’s love. We can celebrate the precious truth of Psalm 139:14-16 (NCV) that says, “I praise You because You made me in an amazing and wonderful way. What You have done is wonderful. I know this very well. You saw my bones being formed as I took shape in my mother’s body. When I was put together there, You saw my body as it was formed. All the days planned for me were written in your book before I was one day old.”

Think about it! God supervised our formation. We were created in love – for love – and with a specific and holy purpose in mind. Wow!

We can rejoice with the Psalmist who wrote, “Know that the Lord is God. He made us, and we belong to Him; we are His people, the sheep He tends” (Psalm 100:3, NCV).

Many women buy into the lie that we are little more than puppets in the hands of God; that He created us as tools for His personal use or slaves to do His bidding and carry out His plan. In this verse, “Lord” literally means “Father” or “dearest Daddy,” indicating an intimate relationship between a loving Father and His child.

God undoubtedly has plans for us, but we misunderstand the character and heart of God when we assume those plans serve as a punishment or penalty for not being good enough. The best plan, the highest plan for our lives rests in the hands of the One who created us and loves us most.

We are all desperate to be loved and to love. We innately search for significance and are created with the powerful need to belong.

We pursue worth in worthless places.

We demand validation from invalid sources.

It is only through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ that we can truly experience authentic love, a love that displaces thoughts of rejection and banishes feelings of abandonment. It is in this priceless gift that we comprehend the amazing truth that even if we were never wanted or planned by human heart and mind, we were planned and wanted in the heart and mind of God! And that, dear friend, is enough!

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Fear Has a Really Big Mouth!

Thank you Gwen Smith for today’s message…

I often try to quiet fear by pretending it doesn’t exist. Clever… I know. But alas, it does exist and that’s not always a bad thing. To the contrary, it can actually keep us safe in proper context. When my house was struck by lightning and lit with fire, fear sounded an emotional alarm, insisting that I escape – and fast. In this instance, fear was good. It kept me safe.

In many instances, however, fear is not good.

I’ve found that while it’s natural to be afraid at times – human, even – it’s best to not allow feelings of fear to consume and control large spaces of real estate in my heart. David handles the intersection of his fear and faith nicely.

In Psalm 56, captured by the Philistines in Gath, and in Psalm 57, hiding in a cave to escape the pursuit of Saul, David sifted through honest feelings of vulnerability and desperation. I imagine his reality was one of shaky hands, pulse raging wild and brows soaked in sweat. Yet fear was silenced as he made the powerful decision to redirect his emotions toward a more productive, more faith-filled response when David chose to trust God.

By choosing to trust God in the hiding and in the chains, David’s fear shifted to faith.

Faith shuts the mouth of fear.

“When I am afraid, I will trust you.” (Psalm 56:3, CSB)

“You yourself have recorded my wanderings. Put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book? Then my enemies will retreat on the day when I call. This I know: God is for me.” (Psalm 56:8-9, CSB)

These weren’t just flippant statements or memorized verses.

These were sturdy declarations.

Deliberate choices made by a deeply determined worshiper. The kind of choices that change and calm a frantic heart. The kind of choices that speak peace to anxiousness. The kind of choices we can make when we’re afraid. The kind of choice we can make when fear screams loud within.

Bring it.

Fear is a liar.

We can choose faith, knowing God is for us.

Decision made.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!