HOW DOES YOUR GARDEN GROW?

By Jesi Steiber−

This is certainly our Thursday night tradition. We don’t partake of the experience every week, but when we do it’s one of our favorites. It was just the four of us, as we played games together on the children’s menu. We’ve taught our love for a patio seat to our grandchildren, so at their request we sat outside near the waterfall. The iron tables were similar to our own patio with other diners adding to the chatter as we talked amongst ourselves. It was then an older gentleman walked outside talking loudly on his cell phone. His white hair and struggle to use his phone confirmed our thoughts he was likely old enough to be one of our parents. He brought a smile to our face watching his zealous conversation take place.

Due to the volume of his voice it would be difficult to say we were eavesdropping. We weren’t intentionally listening it just happened to be almost impossible to ignore. He stood next to our table as he communicated with his intended party. “Hey listen, do you want to come here to eat with us? We want you to join us for dinner!” he passionately spoke. “Where are we? We are at … at…” his words trailed off as he bent over to my husband and quickly requested “Where are we?” We both chuckled as my husband told him the name of the restaurant. It quickly became obvious he was speaking to his grandson.

He ended his conversation and walked back inside. As we proceeded with our games while waiting for dinner my thoughts trailed off temporarily. I began to wonder if the grandson would show up. Did he understand or know the expression of love in his grandfather’s heart? If only for a moment, I felt a jump in my own heart as he offered an invitation to his grandson. I looked at my own four year old grandson sitting across the table as he drew with colors and talked expressively with broken words and funny animation. What is it, I wondered, that will bring my grandchildren willingly to spend time with us when we are older and they are grown and on their own?

As we walk with the Lord, isn’t this the same? He presents an invitation for us to spend time with him. He loves us in a way we can’t begin to understand. His Word is filled with expressions of love for us. But do we hear Him? Are we willing to set aside our own plans and busy schedules for a few minutes with God? Is He like the grandfather at the restaurant–letting us know He is there waiting for us to respond to his invitation for some of our time?

Early in the morning, when I first wake up there is a plan for quiet time with my God. But I may oversleep or wake up with a million things on my to do list and hop out of bed without a thought to the time lost with my Father. Instead I begin thinking ahead, maybe while the kids are at school, or possibly tonight before bed. If I allow my time to get away, I find the day is over and the invitation passed without a second thought. But my heart yearns for a relationship with Him, just as the grandson in the restaurant dropped everything he was doing, to spend time with his grandparents. This didn’t come from years of being too busy, it came from years of them being a part of his life, it’s their relationship.

Are you hesitating to walk away from the world’s distractions? Or do you respond to His voice calling out to you, wanting you to spend time in His presence? My time with God is growing as we develop our relationship spending time together throughout the day. He is with me, all day every day. I listen for His voice and press in when He calls out to me. I encourage you to set aside your distractions and cultivate your relationship with Him. Be as the grandson who came at his grandfather’s call. Express your love for God by inviting Him to be a part of your own life.

 

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Jesi Steiber lives in Fort Worth, Texas and is our newest addition to the MPN authors. She is married to a man she describes as “awesome,” who makes her smile every day. They have four children and four grandchildren. A favorite scripture is Ruth 3:11: “Now my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you whatever you ask. For all my people in the city know that you are a woman of excellence.”

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Posted in Feature Article

LOOKING BUT NOT SEEING

By Karen DeArmond Gardner─

Jesus grew up in Nazareth; he was the oldest son of Joseph and Mary with many brothers and sisters. He apprenticed under his father to learn to be a worker of wood. The town-folk watched him grow up and knew everything about him. Though Jesus was perfect, it had to be irritating to family and friends. Always doing what is right, being kind, doing his best no matter what he did. At 30 he left home to begin a new journey.

Jesus visited town after town, teaching in the temple, on the hillside, revealing himself as the long awaited Messiah. He healed the sick, blind, deaf, broken, and the shattered. No one was turned away. Jesus poured his life into all who came. He came to bring life where there was death. To turn mourning into dancing and ashes into beauty.

One day he went home. They (whoever they are) say you can never go home. In this case theywere right. Mark and Luke tell the story of Jesus’s home going which was not all he hoped it would be. On the Sabbath Jesus went to the synagogue, he stood and read from Isaiah

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,

for he has anointed me to bring

Good News to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim that

captives will be released,

that the blind will see

that the oppressed will be set free,

and that the time of the Lord’s

Favor has come. 

He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the attendant and sat down. He then made a bold statement, “The scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day!” (Luke 4:21 NLT) The people were amazed at his teaching, wondering how he became so wise. Isn’t this Joseph’s son, you know the carpenter? We know his brothers and sisters, his mom is Mary. They saw the boy and not the man. His next words sent them into a rage, according to Luke they wanted to force him off a cliff. According to Mark Jesus could only heal a few people.

Out of their short-sightedness, without realizing it, they limited God.

God stopped speaking.

God stopped healing.

Just as they were amazed at his teaching, he was amazed at their unbelief.

A couple things struck me as I read of Jesus’ homecoming. The town folks could not see the man, only the boy. They saw a carpenter, not their Messiah thus limiting his power.

Have I kept someone in their past by not seeing who they are now? Have I limited God with my unbelief? Have I decided there was nothing he could do in my situation because I could not seehow he could fix it? Unfortunately the answer is yes. Currently I am in a situation to see someone as they are not as they were, to see God work when I see no solution.

Be amazed.

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Karen DeArmond-Gardner: I found myself in my early 50′s shattered, divorced and without a job – moving to a new state to begin over again. There were times I thought the “start would stop me.” I had no clue what my purpose was and quite frankly thought I had messed up so bad that even God couldn’t put my life back together again. Within the last 6 years I started a new career, enjoyed being single, became a grandmother, reconnected with my family and at 57 I married the most amazing man ever. Because God never does anything small, He asks me to step out of my box and begin writing. Only God….if He did this for me, He will do it for you. Join us on the journey to discover Your Purpose Now.

 

Posted in Feature Article

GOD IS IN THE REFRESHMENT BUSINESS

by Jayme Hull-

Are you a person who continues to give and give until you run dry? Have you ever wondered secretly, is what I’m doing really worth it? Or maybe your silent question is; why do I even care and reach out to others?

Have you ever considered how easy it is to encourage others on a daily basis by sending a quick text, email or a weekly phone call? Allow me to persuade you that just a few words of encouragement can make all the difference one person may need to survive through their daily life of busyness, disappointment and conflict.

Look at the following verse from Proverbs 11:25(NIV) “The generous will prosper. Those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.”  When I read this Scripture for the first time, I shouted, “That’s it!  That’s why I mentor and encourage others.”

I am a living testimony confirming this verse. I have experienced over and over again the personal refreshing hand of God as I pour into others and in turn watch them be refreshed. Using encouraging words comes natural for me and it can for you as well. But you must trust God at His promises and believe in your heart that He is trustworthy and Praiseworthy. Do you trust God? Have you given Him your life? Jim Elliot said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

Now is the perfect time to truly believe and trust the Lord and His promises. As a thank you to God for all of His gifts to you, why not begin to mentor someone from the next generation and make a difference. Go ahead and spread the good news of Jesus Christ. I promise it will change your life for the better!

God is in the refreshment business. He sent the Holy Spirit to live inside of us to be our personal encourager and helper. In the Old Testament we find another promise from God: “I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.” (Jeremiah 31:25 NIV) Only God can satisfy us, refresh our souls and give us eternal strength.

Everyone has the gift of encouragement. Once you fully trust in God’s Sovereignty you will be able to find your purpose. Trust God at His Word and be refreshed as you pour yourself into mentoring others with love and encouragement.

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Jayme Hull: Jayme is a graduate of New York University with a B.A. in Speech Communication Education and Musical Theater. She married her high school sweetheart John and together they live in Nashville TN. Jayme and John have three incredible godly adult children, two beautiful daughter-in-laws that love the Lord and one granddaughter . She went to NYC to meet the Broadway Entertainment world but instead she met the Lord Jesus Christ as her personal Savior. From that moment on her life was changed forever. Her new ministry, Woman Face toFace, is a Christ centered, Bible based, non-denomination ministry to equip women of all ages and stages of life to learn how to help each other as a mentor or being mentored. Check out the website at www.jaymeh.com

Posted in Feature Article

THIS IS MY STORY

by Deb DeArmond−

Sandy walked toward me following the Sunday morning service. “I’m coordinating the women’s Spring Tea this year,” she said. “I know that you are a professional speaker, and I was wondering if you would be willing to share your testimony as part of our program?” It was a question I had dreaded for many years. In that moment, I would have loved to be able to snap my fingers or blink my eyes and find myself on the other side of the sanctuary. Or the other side of the planet.

I’m not afraid to speak; it’s what I have done for more than 25 years. That’s not the issue. My dilemma is much more complicated: I’m not a recovering addict, was never caught up in a cult, my husband never cheated on me, nor has he ever abused me in any way. I never lost a child to an incurable disease or a tragic accident, and I have not been healed in the face of a death sentence diagnosis. I have no testimony.

Or do I?

I am always moved by the stories of God’s faithfulness when I hear the account of someone whose life was changed under incredibly dramatic, and often overwhelming circumstances. I am awed at the power of our God to rescue, restore, and recover what seemed hopelessly lost. Times when lives teetered at the very edge, and God swooped in and saved the day. Those amazing stories leave a mark on our hearts, and make an impression that pulls us toward a Savior we so desperately need in our world. These stories are the stuff of Christian conferences, best selling books and altar call success.

I often have felt apologetic, even embarrassed, that I have no such dramatic story.

But God. Because He wrote my story, the Lord began to reveal to me that my testimony is no less than those that capture our hearts and compel us toward decision. He showed me that my story is the one He desired for me. No less, no greater than the others. Just different.

This is my story: I made a decision to follow Christ at age 17, the night before my high school graduation. At 19, I married the incredible young man who introduced me to Jesus. We have three amazing sons, all serving God, with wonderful Spirit-led wives. We have been blessed for nearly 37 years with a happy loving marriage. Life has not always been perfect, but it’s always been good, and it’s always been centered on Him. Not very dramatic is it?

Don’t misunderstand. I have lost loved ones without warning or way too early. I’ve lost jobs, suffered financial setbacks, had kids who seemed intent on driving me nuts with antics I didn’t understand, and we had a son serve overseas with people shooting at him. All big stuff. We got through it, with lots of prayer and trust in the greatness of our God.

The drama of those situations is what I missed, and that is the testimony. Not that we didn’t deal with some situations that could have caused us to go into a tailspin. But a life hidden in Christ is blessed beyond understanding, covered and protected, and preserved to tell the story of the One who is responsible for what some may consider great good luck. It’s not luck.

So here it is (drumroll please): I don’t get the credit for what others have been drawn to ask me about. He does. THAT’S my testimony.

My brother once told me that he thought I was a really good person and that he didn’t understand what I needed “saving” from. What did He rescue me from? Plenty.

To God, sin is sin. Black and white, no shades of gray. And that’s true whether the sin is addiction, abuse or adultery or it’s the garden variety of anger, envy or unforgiveness. Few of us rush to stand in the pulpit at the women’s spring tea and admit that we have hated our mother-in-law, envied a co-worker’s promotion, or refused to forgive a friend or family member who attempted to make things right. Sin is what separates us from God.

God rescued me from a life of sin, just like the former addict. He saved me from sadness and loneliness, like the abused wife. And He has protected my marriage from adultery and abuse. He has been faithful to His Word at every step of my life. His Spirit has warned me, rebuked me, instructed me, comforted me and redirected me. He has gathered me in His lap and dried my tears.

My sister-in-law said recently that for her, those of us who never chose to live in obvious sinful lifestyles and never pulled away from God had a greater testimony. I disagree. It’s not greater, it’s just different.

God made each of us to be unique – we are by design, individuals. He formed and created us, as He desired with a specific plan and purpose in mind. But we are encouraged to conform—to Him. Ephesians 5:1 (NIV): “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children.” It’s a lifelong commitment with lots of obstacles in the path, but it’s the pursuit He longs to see us take up.

He instructs us to pattern our lives specifically, in our own individuality, to the image of Christ.  The journey is different for each of us. But each on our own road trip, moving toward that image, is designed to demonstrate to a diverse world that Jesus is alive. We need to stop trying to fit in. We were made to stand out.

There is a wonderful song by singer/songwriter Cody Barnes that says: “I am all He says I am—and He says I am His own.”

This is my story.

___________________________________________

Originally appeared on Destiny in Bloom, an online magazine.

Posted in Feature Article

THE SANDWICH GENERATION

By Mona Shriver-

July is Sandwich Generation Month. Members of this group care for their children as well as their aging parents. Sometimes it feels more like a tug of war with parents on one arm and your kids on the other—each needing you right now!

In 2008, my mother having been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s alternated weeks between my sister’s home and mine. We did this for over two years before placing her in an assisted living facility where she currently resides. My sons, like many in their generation, are more dependent on us than we’d envisioned.

I am a member of the Sandwich Generation and I’m not alone. Increasing lifespans and the current economy contribute to the sandwich generation size. The truth is the number of aging parents and dependent children are on the rise.

The good news is that because we’re not alone, there are resources out there to help guide us through the maze of needs and deal with the emotional and financial drains. The looking can be daunting but with some networking and research the finds are worth it. Below are a few suggestions to help you navigate these unchartered waters.

TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF.

Sound a bit selfish? Not really. If you’re depleted of energy, resources, and health, you have nothing to offer others. We hired Granny sitters to go out or get away. College kids, a friend, maybe even those dependent adult children. And we let Mom pay for her own sitter when it was necessary. It gave my husband and me a chance to be us for a while.

I also started taking Mom to get her nails done. It got impossible for me to contort both of us so I could care for her feet. I found a nail spa that would do her hands and feet for $30—a bargain for my back. So once a month we both had our nails done.

ACCEPT HELP.

You’re not a bad daughter if you can’t do everything. My sister and I both had to work. We found an Alzheimer’s Day Care facility and sent Mom there three to four days a week. She paid the cost. Our local dial-a-ride picked her up and brought her home—at a discounted rate for the senior and disabled. She enjoyed the bus ride as much or more than the day care. And it gave us scheduled days off.

We also took Mom with us on outings. Camping, picnics and found that accepting the help of our friends who were with us allowed us to enjoy some time. They visited with her, pushed her around the park in her wheelchair, and watched her while I went off to prepare a meal or go for a quiet walk. It was a gift we learned to accept and appreciate.

EDUCATE YOURSELF.

Information gathering is easily accessible but time consuming. Take notes and keep a log. When we discussed placing Mom I was amazed at the trail my phone calls took. I spoke with health care and elder care professionals who made recommendations. And eventually was able to apply for and receive some Veterans benefits for Mom.

There are also some wonderful websites out there. Just browsing for this article I found two I’ll be checking out further. www.sandwichgeneration.com and www.simplysandwich.net.

Being a Sandwich Generation member is stressful and challenging. But it can also broaden your horizons and make you rethink your priorities. That’s not always such a bad thing.

“The King will reply, `I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’ (Matthew 25:40 NIV)

 

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Mona Shriver: Mona Shriver worked as an emergency room nurse until the Lord called her out of that profession and into ministry. She is a Precept trained Bible teacher, has been active in women’s ministries, and speaks at special events and retreats. She serves her local church body in central California.

Mona has been married to Gary since 1974 and they have 3 grown sons. She and Gary co-founded Hope & Healing Ministries Inc. http://www.hopeandhealing.us which provides support and resources for couples in adultery recovery. They co-authored the book: Unfaithful, Hope and Healing after Infidelity. Learn more at Website:http://www.hopeandhealing.us

 

 

Posted in Feature Article

I WILL NOT BE MOVED

By Deb DeArmond-

“I will not, I will not, I will not be moved!”

Remember that chorus we sang many years ago? It could be my theme song in the last few weeks.

We are moving. We’ve moved. We are not yet done moving.

I don’t like moving and I’ve done it only a few times in my life. I’d rather stay put. But we’ve spent the last three weeks clearing out, throwing out, and carting out the stuff we’ve accumulated in the last 8 years. We’re attending to last minute details in the home we have sold.

Life is a bit chaotic.

We have physically moved into our beautiful new home, a true blessing from the Lord. We are grateful to have sold our previous home at what we believe was a fair price at a time when that’s been hard to come by. It closes in a couple of weeks.

So for the moment, we are  living in two worlds.

And all of a sudden, God showed me this parallel to the way I live. Not really there anymore, but not as fully settled in here, as I’d like to be.

I’ve never been a closet Christian; those who know me know where I stand as a Christ follower. I left behind my life before Him long ago and have never looked back. But the past couple of months I’ve found myself struggling to focus on much besides the move. Things legal, financial, and practical continually present themselves for our attention or approval. Time with Him has been a hastily spoken prayer on my way to the next task. I talk and assume God’s listening without ever slowing down sufficiently to hear from Him.

When might it be more important to hear from the Lord than in the middle of this kind of life change? Yet I’ve let the demands of the stuff crowd out His voice.

There are boxes everywhere. They are marked to identify the contents and where each box belongs: office, kitchen, or master bedroom. Boxes have been neatly arranged in the appropriate space, so they won’t get mixed together. They are well managed, each getting attention as time permitsHave I done the same thing with God? Have I placed Him safely aside until I have time for Him?

The Spirit of the Lord gently poked me this morning and revealed to me it’s not the first time I’ve become absorbed in some project or task and placed Him neatly aside, fully intending to get away for time with Him, and never quite getting there.

“He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be moved,” Psalm 62:6 (NKJV)

Ouch. Our move will be completed and we will transition to our new home. But my perspective must remain steady: I must not be moved. He alone is my defense against the challenges that come each day. He is the consistent rock in my life that preserves and protects me.

It made my heart ache to realize how the Lord had been watching me and waiting for me. He missed me. I missed Him.

The boxes will have to wait. I have an appointment far more important than getting the pictures hung or the office set up and arranged.

I shall not be moved.

 

Posted in Feature Article

A TRIBUTE TO MY DADDY – PART II

By Melody Fawn Heal−

In honor of my father, who has gone to be with the Lord 10 years ago now, this is my tribute to him. I wrote and read this at his celebration service after his passing. I shared the first half of my tribute in June, the following is part two.

Richard Eugene Lawson
August 25, 1926 – January 9, 2002

Daddy, your greatest joy was the fact that all your children served the Lord and your utmost desire was that we’d share His love with others. During your later years, it was an encouragement to hear as well as precious and inspiring to observe your growing passion for sharing the gospel with an array of waitresses, neighbors and complete strangers. I recall a time when you wept tears of joy while sitting in a Polly’s Pies restaurant booth after sharing with you a chapel talk I had given at Arcadia Christian School. You were thrilled beyond measure that I had the awesome privilege to impact lives everyday for God’s kingdom as an assistant administrator at work and as a pastor’s wife.

Throughout the last weeks of your life, I recognized a precious change in your countenance, attitude, thankfulness, and conversation that I will never forget. Calling you on my cell phone each day on my way to work, hearing your gentle voice and kind words will be one of my favorite and lasting memories of you.It was our special time with one another. Daddy, I thank the Lord for the sweet closure and peace he allowed you, your children, and those closest to you experience during your last days here on earth.

The special attributes Daddy possessed, were developed due to God’s divine power and the years of dedication, prayer, encouragement, perseverance, patience, and love mom shared and bestowed upon you as a godly wife. Her investment made a difference in your life, for standing in the gap, helping us memorize scripture verses while giving us baths, preparing delicious Sunday afternoon meals, training us to sing and play assorted instruments, and most significantly teaching us how to pray.The 45 years of dedication poured into our lives is evident today as we reflect on the magnitude of what is left behind.

Daddy, I know you are smiling as you look down from heaven.Your desire was for us to have a celebration for your homecoming to express our thankfulness to God for His goodness and blessings he gave you, your wife and your family.I know if you were here to say it yourself, you would tell everyone you know and love to, “Get their lives right with God and plan on meeting you on the other side.”Daddy, you can count on me!I’ll see you in heaven.I love you with all of my heart, daddy, and have been so blessed to have had you as my father.Anticipating our reunion!

Your first born daughter,
Melody Fawn Lawson-Heal

Tears of loss, joy, memories and gratitude flooded over me as I re-read my tribute in preparation for honoring my father ten years later through this article.More than ever, I realize the value and heritage a dad’s investment of quality time, love and Godly guidance makes on his children. As we partner with our husbands in prayer and encouragement, may their role as a father provide a firm foundation impacting mightily our offspring and the generations to come.

 

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Melody Heal: A life-long joy and passion of Melody’s has been mentoring and sharing life with women of all ages encouraging them to grasp hold of the full potential the Lord has for them. The empty nest season has provided Melody a new luxury of living out her heart’s desire working professionally as a Christian school administrator, serving as the Featured Resource Writer for My Purpose Now website along with speaking at women’s events. Her greatest delight is being married to her husband Doug while being inspired by her two married children and their devoted Christ-following soul mates who all live in Southern California. Melody has proven to be passionate about prayer walking, gardening, and helping women identify, rekindle, and achieve their God inspired dreams. Interested in having her at your next event, contact her at: mfheal@gmail.com

Posted in Feature Article