A Happy and Blessed New Year
I want to wish all of you a very happy and blessed 2013! I pray that this new year brings a renewed joy and peace to your hearts, that your spirits are filled a burning passion for Jesus that shines bright, and that His great love overflows from you to everyone around you!
Over the past few weeks I have been spending some thinking about my priorities and my schedule. Life seemed to be getting filled with many frustrations of not being able to accomplish all of the tasks on my lists. I realized that I was spending too much time on unnecessary things, and not enough time on the things that really matter.
My first priority is God. Although I had made the decision for making Him my number one a long time ago, lately there had been so many other things in my life that I felt like I was rushing through my time with the Lord, to hurry up to get onto other things. This is not right, this is not treating Him with the honor and respect that He deserves!
This was also the situation for me with my family and friends. I was telling myself that I had to wait until all of the other things on my list of “to do’s” needed to be done first, and then I would have time to spend with my loved ones. The problem with that is my “to do” lists never seemed to get completed, or if they did, I was too tired to do anything else. And some of my relationships have ended up suffering for it. This is not right either.
In retrospect, I have always tried to be a responsible person, taking care of business and getting the job done. However, it was always my decisions and goals that I was working on. I did not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ for the first half of my life, and seeking His guidance on what to do with my life has been a difficult thing for me to learn. Being raised with an independent personality, I was used to directing my own path, and I couldn’t figure out why things didn’t work out the way I planned. It wasn’t until I learned that I am not in control, that I even began to seek His counsel.
For the past couple of years, I have been feeling the Lord directing me in my heart toward certain endeavors. But I was trying to figure out how to follow His directions and mine at the same time. It was a hard realization to finally figure out that I can’t do both. But it was an easy enough choice to decide who to follow, especially with my established track record. My ways did not work outside of His plans for me.
And so I have spent a lot of time praying for His guidance, asking Him to reveal to me what He wants for me and from me. This was how the subject of my priorities came up. In addition to God now, my greatest passions have always been my family and friends, animals, and writing. There are many other things that I care about and enjoy, but these are the areas that Jesus wants my main focus. When I realized that I had been spending more time on things other than these four priorities, it made sense that this was where the majority of my frustration was coming from.
This past two weeks I had slowed down my hectic schedule and began spending more time with my son, just to enjoy his company. And I spent more time in prayer and reading the bible. I discovered that our time in church was also far more enriching to my spirit and my joy was returning. I also made time to spend with some of our friends, and with our pets. Even though some of my tasks did not get completed, I felt a renewed sense of joy that I have not felt in a while.
One particular thing that had been heavy on my heart was my family. Most all of my family lives far away, and it’s been many years since I’ve visited with them. Money and time have always been an issue, which in itself has caused a lot of stress. But a few nights ago, I was feeling a strong desire in wanting to see my family. I went onto the internet and looked up the specials on airfare and found a 65% discount available. I checked my savings account and found that I could actually do this! There may be some things that will have to be sacrificed for now, but my family is worth it! So I will be taking 3 weeks off in February to spend with some people that are very dear to me.
After making the reservations, the excitement in me has grown and created more energy than I have felt in years! God is leading me into a new direction, showing me the importance of letting Him have total control, and the precious peace and joy that comes from it. And I have a renewed spirit for my writing as well. My writing has always come from my heart, but lately it had started to feel more like an obligation or another task that needed doing. And it felt like I had to force the words out, one at a time, instead of letting it flow like water. But the enjoyment of it has returned, and I look forward to my time putting the words down again.
I can’t say exactly what all this new year will bring, but I can say there is a positive outlook to it. I am expecting good things, even though I know that it may not all be good. I am expecting joy and peace, even though I know there may be times of chaos. I am expecting many blessings, because I know God is good, all the time. He has already blessed me in more ways than I count, and I have learned that the greatest blessing of all is love! Jesus loves me! HE LOVES ME!!! What more could I possibly ask for? And yet, He gives me so much more! A family and friends that I love very much, the awesome beauty that surrounds me, a home that keeps me safe and comfortable, a Pastor with a heart for truth, a church where I know His Spirit flows, a mind that can form words and a desire to share them, comfort in times of trials, strength when I am weak, courage when I am afraid…the list goes on forever!
I know every day of my life is another chance for learning something new. Each day brings new opportunities and blessings. I have a new excitement in my heart, to see what wonders God will bring each day, and knowing that no matter what, He is always with me!
I am thankful for everything God has done and is doing for me. And I am thankful for the opportunity to share it with everyone. I pray that this new year will be filled with many good things for all of you, and I pray that many more souls will come to Him that saves!
God bless, and Happy New Year!
Moments and Memories
By Amber Leggette-Aldrich
On Thursday as we gathered around giving thanks for our Thanksgiving dinner, my mind was filled with memories of all the people I have loved over the years. My thoughts drifted on to loved ones that have passed.
I’ve learned over and over again how quickly life can come to an end, suddenly and without warning, it’s gone. Sometimes we don’t get a chance to say goodbye. There is pain in losing a loved one, but there can also be joy in remembering the love shared.
I received the following poem the day after my oldest son Jason passed away in 2002. It was circulating the internet at the time as a tribute by an unknown author to the victims of the 9-11 attacks on America. Upon further research I discovered the author’s name was Norma Cornett Marek and that she had actually written this poem in 1989 in memory of a lost loved one.
The words of this poem struck very deeply into my heart when I first read them, and 10 years later they still affect me. I am reminded again that it is the moments that we don’t share that become regrets. The moments of love that we do share become the memories that will bring joy and comfort. Never pass up the opportunities that God gives you to share your love with others.
If tomorrow never comes…
If I knew it would be the last time that I’d see you fall asleep,
I would tuck you in more tightly, and pray the Lord your soul to keep.
If I knew it would be the last time that I’d see you walk out the door,
I would give you a hug and kiss, and call you back for just one more.
If I knew it would be the last time I’d hear your voice lifted up in praise,
I would tape each word and action, and play them back throughout my days
If I knew it would be the last time, I would spare an extra minute or two,
To stop and say “I love you,” instead of assuming you know I do.
So just in case tomorrow never comes, and today is all I get,
I’d like to say how much I love you, and I hope we never will forget.
Tomorrow is not promised to anyone, young or old alike,
And today may be the last chance you get to hold your loved one tight.
So if you’re waiting for tomorrow, why not do it today?
For if tomorrow never comes, you’ll surely regret the day
That you didn’t take that extra time for a smile, a hug, or a kiss,
And you were too busy to grant someone, what turned out to be their one last wish.
So hold your loved ones close today, and whisper in their ear,
That you love them very much, and you’ll always hold them dear.
Take time to say “I’m sorry,” “Please forgive me,” “thank you” or “it’s okay”.
And if tomorrow never comes, you’ll have no regrets about today.
© Norma Cornett Marek ~ 1989
When I contacted Mrs. Marek back in 2002, she kindly granted permission to share her poem, providing proper credit be given.
Norma Marek suffered a massive stroke in 2002, then lost her battle with cancer in July 2004. But before she passed away, she had written many inspirational poems. A book of her poetry was compiled titled “Whispers from the Heart”. I have not been able to locate a current link to purchase the book, but I did find a link to some of her individual works. http://www.heartwhispers.net/
For those that have gone on, may our memories bring us joy in times remembered. For those still present, let us always grab hold of the moments we have and turn them into precious treasures.
(Originally posted on July 11, 2012)
The Trials of Life
By Amber Leggette-Aldrich
“But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.” (1 Peter 5:10)
“…May your character not be a writing upon the sand, but an inscription upon the rock! May your faith be no “baseless fabric of a vision,” but may it be builded of material able to endure that awful fire which shall consume the wood, hay, and stubble of the hypocrite… May your whole life be so settled and established, that all the blasts of hell, and all the storms of earth shall never be able to remove you. But notice how this blessing of being “stablished in the faith” is gained. The apostle’s words point us to suffering as the means employed–”After that ye have suffered awhile.” It is of no use to hope that we shall be well rooted if no rough winds pass over us. Those old gnarlings on the root of the oak tree, and those strange twistings of the branches, all tell of the many storms that have swept over it, and they are also indicators of the depth into which the roots have forced their way. So the Christian is made strong, and firmly rooted by all the trials and storms of life. Shrink not then from the tempestuous winds of trial, but take comfort, believing that by their rough discipline God is fulfilling this benediction to you.” (Spurgeon’s Devotionals)
Suffering. Not so pleasant a thought. Certainly it is not something that anyone would desire. Yet it is through the suffering that we, as Christians, are made strong. Think about a chunk of coal. After many years of tremendous pressure, it becomes a beautiful diamond. It is from the pressure put on us during our times of trials and suffering that we are being perfected for God’s Kingdom. It is through our faith and trust in God that we have the strength to go through the storms, knowing that there is victory on the other side.
In my book, “Faith, Hope & Miracles”, I shared some of the toughest trials a person could go through. But my faith gave me the strength to go through it all. I endured the suffering because God gave me hope in the knowledge of His eternal love. There were times when I said, “In spite of the storm, I am strong”. But now I know that it is because of the storm that I am stronger.
After the storm comes the rainbow. God gave me the privilege of witnessing and sharing in a precious miracle. It has been a privilege and joy for me to see the impact in people’s heart in sharing that miracle. What a blessing it is for me to share God’s love and goodness, not only when life is good, but even more during the trials!
“Faith, Hope & Miracles – the true story of a journey from tragedy through blessings” is available on Amazon in Kindle version and paperback copy.
“And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof“. (Revelation 21:23)
The Lamb as the light of heaven. Light in Scripture is the emblem of joy. Light is also the cause of beauty. No beauty is left when light is gone. Without light no radiance flashes from the sapphire, no beauty shines from the pearl.
Light is also the emblem of knowledge. In heaven our knowledge will be perfect, but the Lord Jesus Himself will be the fountain of it. All that puzzles us now will become plain to us in the light of the Lamb.
God’s Word has become my light. Without it, I live in darkness and cannot find my way. The bible tells us that “the Word was made flesh”, which is Jesus. He is the source of all joy, all beauty, all knowledge.