Friends Like Diamonds

It seems to me as if there’s something in the water around here-everyone seems to be getting into relationships, engaged or married! This past Friday I was blessed to witness and celebrate the marriage of a long time friend, Morgan, to a fantastic guy-her Mr. Right, Josiah. I’ve known Morgan since she was five. Now she has not one but two rings on her finger. One of my best friends, Michaela, is Morgan’s older sister, and the maid of honor at the wedding. Both of our ring fingers remain bare-but did that deter us from celebrating, dancing the night away and smiling until our faces hurt? Not one bit. I must’ve hugged Michaela a gazillion times Friday night and we just laughed. I am so grateful that I can laugh with all my friends, no matter what stage of life we find ourselves in. Each of my friends is utterly unique-like a unique facet on each and every diamond. Trust me, I’ve seen a lot of them recently on the hands of my friends!

Romans 12:6 says, Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them…

Through each of my friends, I have been the recipient of much grace. Each of our unique gifts only enhance our friendships, our relationships with family and everyone we come in contact with. What’s funny is that my dearest friends and I-we don’t even go to the same church. But we all serve, love and worship the one true God and further His kingdom in a myriad of ways. Each of our callings is different-but one thing remains the same, one reason I am eternally grateful to God for MOHL. As God’s daughters, our Christian walks are not meant to be walked alone.

Also like diamonds with many facets are the gifts we have that may have been borne through a difficult time or season in life. Diamonds are mined. Then pounded and broken. Then, slowly but surely, diamonds are refined until they gleam and sparkle in the light. Proverbs 17:17 says, A friend loves at all times, and  a brother is born for adversity. Those friends who have stuck by you in the heartbreaking times, the best times and everything in between? Our gracious God gave them to you so you could be drawn closer to Himself, so gifts and skills could be developed by His perfect plan.

I wrote in the back of my book to two such diamond-like friends, I am forever thankful for all you are, all you give, and how you love. Every person we ever come in contact with impacts us and is used by the Lord for His divine purposes, yes, even those no longer in our lives. But there are those you can count on for a lifetime, who have been there for you all along, thanks to the abundant grace of God.

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Behold, a New Creation!

February always goes by fast-& then March sets in. Normally, at least here in the North-East, winter is still very much here to stay. This new year is close to being a quarter gone & those resolutions seem not-so-easy as they first did. At any rate-I think it’s safe to say we are all more than ready for spring. For sunshine, newness of life & renewed vim & vigor for life. Sometimes though, it’s hard to remember that spring always follows winter.

I think this thinking can sink deep into our hearts as well. When our expectations for ourselves fall incredibly short; when plans fall through. When life overwhelms & sucks you in like quicksand & makes us feel like everything is slipping thru our fingers. Sisters-life wasn’t made for us to hold & control. It’s God’s & His story alone to write. How then do we find  a balance between letting go & letting God-& not falling into complacency?

By remembering Whose we are & what we are, through Him. Our great High Priest whose name is Love. Whatever your past; those beginning chapters that may’ve found you growing up in the church, or coming to the Lord more recently. All of that doesn’t matter. We are called to remember the past only so far as to recall God’s faithful hand. Not our mistakes & messes & failures.

If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ.
2 Corinthians 5:17&18 NKJV

I encourage you, beautiful soul-sister, to preach the Gospel to yourself as winter plods on. As those resolutions weigh heavy, & life throws you for a loop. We are not the choices we made, the failures we’ve had, nor the falls that found us flat on our faces. We are more than that, through Jesus our One & Only Savior. Preach Gospel to yourself-open your heart, better yet-still your heart before the Lord for a just a few moments, & His still small voice will remind you of all you are.

In Him, we are …

  • Beloved …
  • Forgiven … Psalm 103:5, 1 John 2:12
  • Rejoiced over & quieted … Zephaniah 3:17
  • Not consumed … Lamentations 3:22-24
  • Saved … Ephesians 2:8
  • Redeemed … Romans 8:23
  • Crowned … Psalm 103:4
  • Renewed … Isaiah 40:31
  • Precious, honored & loved … Isaiah 43:4

I have called you by your name; you are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned … for I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
Isaiah 43:1-3 NKJV

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The Upward Call

January's theme verse

January’s theme verse

January is over  halfway over. How did that happen?

Middles puzzle me. As much as I love to read, the beginnings-if good-& ends are my favorite part about books. Even some of the middle books of the Bible are the more difficult ones to push through & glean, in comparison to the New Testament or even the Psalms & Proverbs.

I’m a writer-& I have to be transparent, here. When I begin a book, the points most clear in my mind are the beginning rise to the conflict, right down again to the resolution/happy ending. The middle is the part that takes me the longest to complete. Up until then I’m excited & running on the adrenaline of starting a new book. It’s like a writer’s middle of the day slump-you know that time of day. When you feel a wee bit sluggish, cranky even, & the yawns commence.

Middles are a very necessary part of life. However, God did not create those waiting seasons in life in between schooling & marriage/children for our comfort. He works even in the messy middles. Even in this mid-month slump after the holiday excitement & rush. If anything, the middle parts of our work, our day, & our lives should be spent all the more diligently pressing on in the upward call of Jesus Christ. Paul’s words from Philippians, not mine.

Wherever we find ourselves in life this very moment-this nineteenth day of January, 2014-our gracious God does not want us to grow lackluster in complacency & go through the daily motions. Recall the purpose you felt prayerfully jotting down resolutions or your One Word for 2014 … or the purpose you feel in those blessed moments when you can almost literally feel God’s smile upon you when you are doing exactly what He wants you to do.

Most of all, sisters-remember the grace & immense goodness of our Lord. He is the one to give joy in the mundane. Purpose in the pain, & in every moment of life in-between. He is to be our ultimate purpose, aim & goal more than any yearly list. It is when we lose sight of the brilliant hope God & His salvation are, that we slump back into complacency & go on our not-so-merry way through life.

It’s easier said than done, I know-but walk with your gaze focused upwards at our amazing God. He’s the one who’s literally doing 10,000 things at once when we may only see a paltry few in the day to day. Press on when your joy seems snuffed by stress, or your drive hindered by bumps in the road or interruptions.

We’ll always be works in progress-but by grace.

Amazing grace-how sweet is it’s sound?

Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected;

but I press on.

Philippians 3:12

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A Thrill of Hope {Sunday Specials}

Post by: Melinda

Imagine the hope that Joseph and Mary felt that night when they held that precious bundle of a Savior in the form of a tiny babe. This was the Savior of the world in the form of a helpless babe. Imagine the hope of the shepherds that night when they heard the glad tidings of great joy that their long expected Messiah was born.

We don’t have to imagine. That thrill of hope is our own. On that night in Bethlehem, our King and Savior was born for us. His life and death brought freedom from the damnation of sin and death. Because of Him, I wake up every morning living in the reality of a Risen Savior whose blood has freed me from my sin.

Praise Jesus for the hope I have in Him! That Hope that was born on Christmas day lives still. Christmas time fills me anew with that ancient thrill of hope and renews me vision of joy in a weary, troubled world.

Have a blessed and delightful celebration of our Savior! :-)

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Sweet Hymns of Joy {Sunday Specials}

by Meghan
The holidays are out in full force & I have to say-one of my favorite things about Christmas is the giving. The blessing of giving gifts to friends & family & volunteering is immeasurable, but oftentimes year in & year out I find myself getting overwhelmed. The money, the time, the extra activities on top of the usual weekly busyness for me & my family all fry my brain. When this happens, I’m reminded I’m human-& how much God’s given me to thank Him for. Most importantly through every day & season but most especially the holidays-He is to be our joy & strength.
There are some Christmas carols & hymns we can sing by memory-but what if we really took the time to listen & lift our voices in thanks to God who loved us enough to give His own Son? Would our my outlook be changed on the holiday hustle & bustle to really shine a light to the world who watches? An old song from a classic holiday old movie, White Christmas, encourages us to count our blessings instead of sheep. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Thanksgiving precedes Christmas. 
While God calls us to living a life of daily gratitude & praise, this holiday season is a special time to re-focus in again on the Giver of all gifts. In accordance with MOHL’s Live It challenge this year-let us do so & let our lifesong sing to our Lord. He gave us the Light of the World so we may not walk in darkness-but in the light of life. Take a few moments, count some blessings & sing the Christmas hymns below. Be blessed this Christmas!

{1 “Hark the Herald Angels”} Hail the heav’n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings
Ris’n with healing in His wings
Mild He lays His glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

{2 “O Holy Night”} Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we
Let all within us praise His holy name
Christ is the Lord!
Their name forever praise we.

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The Best Kinds of Gifts {Sunday Specials}

By: Melinda

It’s that Christmas time of year when a lot of us are searching for the “perfect” gift to give those dear to us. I enjoy giving gifts almost more than I love getting gifts so I’m usually in a flurry of joyous Christmas preparations. It’s always an adventure for me to keep my gift plans secret from my parents and siblings. ;-)

In the midst of my searching for the “perfect” gift, I have to keep in mind the bests kinds of gifts I can give are not things. I can’t wrap them or stuff them in pretty holiday bags. They’re not things I can feel, taste, or smell. Most importantly, these “best” gifts are not exclusive to a holiday once a year. What are the best kinds of gifts?

{Time} - While it’s fun to give gifts that they can unwrap and enjoy, what those I love want most from me is for me to spend time with them. I don’t want to get too busy with life to not be able to spend moments with those I love. It’s special for them when I share my life with them, not just at Christmas time.

{Joy} - Am I giving those I love the gift of a cheerful heart? It’s not a pleasant thing to have to be around someone who lacks the joy of the Lord. It’s a good reminder for me to show others how much I love them by being a blessing to be around instead of an annoyance.

{Humility} - I would say the gift of a humble heart is priceless. Am I truly being teachable and willing to admit my faults and repent from them? Or am I stubborn and prideful and hard to get along with? A humble heart is truly repentant and forgiving. I want to give that gift to those I love this Christmas.

What are some other “best gifts” that you would like to give others this Christmas? :-)

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Enter into His Gates with Thanksgiving {Sunday Specials}

By: Melinda

“Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!
Serve the Lord with gladness!
Come into His presence with singing!
Know that the Lord, He is God!
It is He who made us, and we are His;
we are His people, and the sheep of His pasture.
Enter His gates with thanksgiving,
and His courts with praise!
Give thanks to Him; bless His name!
For the Lord is good;
His steadfast love endures forever,
and His faithfulness to all generations.” 
(Psalm 100, ESV)

 I could spend some time talking about how every day should be “Thanksgiving day” for Christians. However, I’m not going to say that. Yes, it’s a true fact, but I am not opposed to special days of celebration and thanksgiving.

I love Thanksgiving best of all the holidays. I don’t expect gifts or anything other amazing fanfare. What happens at my home for our Thanksgiving celebrations fills my heart with joy and gladness to the Lord. 

For me, Thanksgiving means seeing all my siblings home for a long weekend. I’m blessed with a big, happy family that truly enjoys being together. I know not everyone has that and it’s something I’m so thankful for. 

Thanksgiving means all us kids (guys included) get in the kitchen and cook up a huge feast. We laugh, we joke, we make messes, we playfully fight over who gets to bake what…it’s so special. It fills my cup to overflowing with praise to Jesus for the wonderful time I get to have with each family member.

It also means that we play all kinds of fun games inside and outside, shoot guns, and talk about anything and everything. It’s a time when we sit down and reflect on the goodness of the Lord in our lives in the past year and remember His faithfulness. We usually spend time singing praises to the Lord. 

I love Thanksgiving. It’s a special celebration of the Christ in me. It fills me with renewed hope and strength every year. 

May each of you have a blessed Thanksgiving. :-)



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Who Lifts Up My Head {Sunday Specials}


What a fellowship-what a joy divine. Leaning on the everlasting arms of our Lord. I’m coming to you all in the moment today-I’m writing to myself. Think of the phrase, “Preaching to the choir”.

So much can be muddled in the trip that knowledge & truth takes from our head, to our heart. If you’re like me-raised in a Godly, Biblical home-then perhaps you did not have a definable moment or a testimony. Certain lessons I’ve been re-learning … & surrender is one we will all never fully learn till we draw our last breath & enter into paradise with our Lord.

Growing up & branching out takes many forms-all are anything but comfortable or safe. Complacency is a trap-we are called to give our utmost for His highest glory. But what does this look like in the day to day? How do I exhibit trust & obedience to the One who is everything when life turns upside down & I’m sent sprawling?

Sometimes life overwhelms; stress, anxiety, negativity & crowd in while life speeds by at it’s not horrible but busy pace. And that’s just life. The Bible tells us to be anxious for nothing-but by prayer & supplication, give thanks. It’s humanly impossible to be anxious for nothing-however it is possible for us to put forth effort in how often we give into those anxious, worrisome thoughts. Taking every thought captive is not possible for us on our own. My own efforts, on my “best” day, still fall short. And this is why we need our most gracious Lord, sisters.

He has been so abundantly faithful to lift up my head to behold His majestic plan & ability, all the while comforting my heart & stretching my faith. Many times He lifts my head, & it’s with tears I lift my hands to believe again in my refuge & strength.

Wherever you are right now, whatever you’re facing or have gone through-give thanks to our God & King for His love endures forever.
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No Place for Worry {Sunday Specials}

Post by: Melinda

Life it filled with many things that can cause our hearts to be unsettled. Things are happening in the world that can cause us to be frightened. Our plans for the future have the potential of being broken.

However, there is no place for fear or worry in our hearts. God is in control. He is Sovereign and He knows what lies before each one of us.

That sure is easy to say (and type), and much less easy to live. I am really bad about letting my mind go crazy with all kinds of cares and worries until my stomach gets tied into a huge knot and my hands get tense. I always feel foolish when I catch myself with my hands all tense, my jaw tight, and my stomach in a knot. “God’s got this!” I tell myself and I relax. Well, most times. Other times I keep on trying to be in control and then things go from bad to worse.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7, ESV)

Do not be anxious about anything. No excuses. What’s the alternative for worry and anxiety, fretting and frustration? According to that verse above, the alternative is peace from God that surpasses all understanding. The Lord’s unexplainable peace will guard my heart and mind if I choose to let go of my worry and seek Him with prayer and thanksgiving.

I see that now and think, “and why do I ever worry?” It isn’t simple when things are falling apart around me and problem stacks on to top of problem. Yet, the promise of His peace is what keeps me going in the midst of those times. In my imperfect way, I somehow cling to that peace and find Him true every time. There is peace from God every time, in every situation. There’s no room for worry in my heart.

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He’s On His Throne {Sunday Specials}

In this crazy, uncertain world I live in I have confidence. I have confidence in the frailty of the human race. The government will fail us, relationships will hurt us, and we all will stumble at times.

However.

I also have confidence in the mercy, power, victory, and grace of Christ. No matter what happens tomorrow, in the end He wins. God is always on His throne. I serve a pretty awesome God!

“I remain confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living.
   Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the Lord.” (Psalm 27:13-14 NIV)

Do not be afraid of sudden terror or of the ruin of the wicked, when it comes, for the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being caught. (Proverbs 3:25-26, ESV)

In the fear of the Lord one has strong confidence, and his children will have a refuge. (Proverbs 14:26, ESV)

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