Tis The Season – For a Change of Heart

I should probably preface this post by saying it is not at all strange for me to be thinking or daydreaming about all things Christmas, no matter what time of year it is. You see, I am a Christmasaholic. Even as I sit in my rocking chair on my front porch enjoying this beautiful 72 degree May evening in Kentucky; I can’t help but wish it was almost Christmas again.

My mind was repeating, the song “Pretty Paper” by Randy Travis. If you’ve ever heard it, I’m sure the unique voice of Mr. Travis is ringing through your ears with those familiar words. I slowly rock back and forth as I watch the sunset over the horses in the field, humming the holiday tune. But the rocking stopped, and I felt myself scowling as I paused on the following lyrics:

“Crowded street, busy feet, hustle by him
Downtown shoppers, Christmas is nigh
There he sits all alone on the sidewalk
Hoping that you won’t pass him by
Should you stop? Better not, much too busy
You’re in a hurry, my how time does fly
In the distance the ringing of laughter
And in the midst of the laughter, he cries….”

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My feelings of holiday spirit quickly shifted to ones of concern and sadness. How often have I been guilty of that very thing? How many times have I been too busy or distracted to notice someone I could help? I’m flooded with conviction as I think of this morning’s drive to work. It was pouring rain; I could hardly see through the windshield. Through the rapid swiping of the wipers I could see a man riding his bike in the same direction I was headed. A raincoat synched around his face and wearing a backpack; I am confident he was doing what he could to get to the school that’s a few miles down the road. The next thing I know, I am looking at him through my rearview mirror as I drive on. I could’ve stopped. I could’ve put his bike in the back of my SUV and got him out of the rain. Yes, I would’ve gotten drenched, and I had no way of knowing if he was a good person or not (you know, all the excuses I let justify me not doing the right thing). But isn’t that the point? Sacrificing for someone else?

Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God. Ephesians 5:2

My heart aches at the thought that our world, or should I say, the people in it, can be described much more accurately by the lyrics of that Christmas song than by the example set by our savior.

Think about the last time someone did something nice for you that was a complete surprise. Those moments in life when people go the extra mile to encourage and lift us up really makes us feel special. Why do their actions have that effect on us? I’m sorry to say that they probably stand out because it’s so different from what we experience the rest of the time. Day in and day out, most of us are forced to deal with people who care more about themselves than they care about others.

We have allowed ourselves to become a people who are no longer willing to carry the burden for someone else. We make every excuse in the world to justify our behavior. “I’ve got my own problems; I can’t worry about them right now.” “Someone else will do it; I just don’t have time.” Or my favorite, “I just don’t feel called to do that.” So engulfed in the business and worldly things we have worked so hard for; we are suffocating from our toxic self-centeredness as we choke God out of every aspect of our lives and effortlessly make those in need around us invisible. Just look away, don’t make eye contact…the second you are out of sight, they are out of your mind.

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These quotes from Francis Chan’s book Crazy Love are spot on:
“God’s definition of what matters is pretty straightforward. He measures our lives by how we love.” – Chan isn’t referring to how we love our families and friends. And neither is God.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments. Matthew 22:37-40

You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. Matthew 5:43

How are you doing in that area of life? How often do you find yourself showing love, compassion, and respect for those that aren’t your favorite people in the world? One of God’s greatest commandments is for us to love our neighbor as ourselves. To regard their needs and desires as highly as we regard our own. THAT is what God measures our lives by…are we imitating the life of our savior and putting the needs of others above our own?

“It is true that God may have called you to be exactly where you are. But, it is absolutely vital to grasp that he didn’t call you there so you could settle in and live your life in comfort and superficial peace.”

Chan is reminding us that God didn’t create you and me to merely exist and make our goal in life to get as much money as possible so we can be as comfortable as possible. He puts us where we are because He has something for each of us to do at that very moment. I passed that man on his bike and FAILED! God’s plan was still fulfilled. Someone did stop to help him. I drove right past an opportunity to serve and glorify God and be used by Him out of complete and utter selfishness. So He used someone else. That shouldn’t be a relief to anyone. I want to stand before a Holy God and hear Him say, “Well Done Daughter, Well done.” Not, “Is this all you did with the time I gave you.”

“Do you know that nothing you do in this life will ever matter, unless it is about loving God and loving the people he has made?” – I don’t think Mr. Chan needs my help explaining this one at all, do you?

Tounge-Tied

I find it interesting to find out what dictionaries give as a definition of things we already know. Sometimes they have things I never knew.  Take the word “tongue” for example; The Merriam Webster Dictionary states this: “a fleshly movable muscular process of the floor of the mouths of most vertebrates that bears sensory end organs and small glands and functions especially in taking and swallowing food, and in humans as a speech organ.” So in this definition, the last part caught my attention, “in humans as a speech organ.” I don’t know if I ever considered we have an “organ” for speech.  Now, when I hear the word “organ” I automatically think of an instrument that makes beautiful music, not necessarily an organ like our lungs. 

Now, if the person playing the organ is experienced, they play beautiful music, but if someone plays it and doesn’t have a clue what they are doing it sounds like cats running across the keyboard. So, this got me to thinking about our tongues and if we are using them to make beautiful music or ugly sounds.

There are several scriptures about our tongues. Seriously, get a concordance and look the word tongue up, and you will learn a lot about what God says about our tongues.  One that comes to mind is Proverbs 15:2-4 (there are a lot about tongues in this book) “The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly, but the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness. The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good. A wholesome tongue is a tree of life, but a perverseness in it breaks the spirit.” Another one is Proverbs 21:23 “Whoever guards his mouth and tongue keeps his soul from troubles.” One more Philippians 2:11 “and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Now, I hope and pray that the tongues we are using to tell others that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior, is not being used to “break the spirit,” or get our “soul in trouble.”  I pray each one of us is making sweet sounding music with our organs; but if this is something you struggle with ask God to take control of your instrument. Ask Him to help you to control it and only use it to make great praise music for this world to hear, and to tell others that Jesus is Lord of Lords!

If you do not know Him as your Lord and Savior I invite you to stop reading right now and take this opportunity to confess to Him you are a sinner and you need Him to come into your heart and save you. It will be the best thing you will ever do, and it is a life changer!!

                                                                                    God Bless,

                                                                                    Rhonda Lange

“Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”

There was room…

This past weekend my husband a I decided to take our three boys to the Ark Encounter. So we got a hotel room booked and took off in a mad dash toward northern Ky!

We live around the Paducah, Ky area so it was around a five hour drive. We arrived at hotel and I could tell the kids were excited and were fairly talkative for teenagers. We soon fell asleep and woke up and heading toward our adventure. I will tell you, it really is in the middle of nothing, but it is a gorgeous, hilly area! We parked, got our tickets, and before we knew it we were on a bus that takes you up the huge hill to the ark! We got off and let me tell you the size of the ark was amazing! Even three teenagers were really awe struck! We took our pics and walked up to the entrance. I seriously felt God stirring my heart, as we approached the bow, we could not believe how massive the ark was. I immediately asked God :

” Lord, this work was truly the work of your hands, Noah, was just your hands and feet.” I heard God speak to my heart and say ” There was room.”

Me not understanding at that moment went on, as we entered I thought to myself…

How many prayers that must have been said? In building this ark and the real ark?

How much faith must have taken for Noah to trust God truly?

How difficult it truly is to have faith at times, how many times did Noah wonder if He was crazy?

I couldn’t help relate that to my life, I see what Noah was called too and I see how big things resulted from his continued obedience. Small steps, Big steps, and in-between steps. The steps that Noah must have stumbled upon, and steps that left him possibly scratching his head. Nevertheless, they were steps of faith. Just simply believing God and believing His word.

Until you have seen what this simple man and his family were called to, you can not fathom it. The ark is so large that you without a doubt you know that God, Himself, could only have planned it. Every detail, every single thing was thought of with tender and careful love. To prepare a place for us all.

The same thing for you and me, what we are called to can only be accomplished by God alone. We are just the hands and feet of what He is doing in the earth. Our job is to receive instruction and follow through with the steps. Oh! That sounds so simple when I write it out, but how hard it is at times when I am walking it out. I struggle with holding or keeping the faith! Especially when I am just overwhelmed by what God is asking!

As I walk through and I see the handiwork of God, I hear that still, small voice say again, ” There was room.” I simply just listened, but not putting it together.

We get finished at the first level, and there is a place where a short movie is being played. I literary said to myself, ” Lord, there is so much room and space, even with all the animals being kept there is so much wasted space???”

I sat down on a bench with my kiddo’s and we watched a video, I looked around again and thought….

“Lord! There is so much room???? Why??? Why didn’t the people listen and get on the ark?”

and right there in the middle of a crowd of people God said to me,

” There was room for all of them, they had a place, they had a purpose, but they had a choice in it all, I made provision for them in hoping they would choose me.”

And the light-bulb went off in my mind and my heart. The people missed God’s plan and purpose for them because they thought it was crazy! They thought Noah went insane, but what they didn’t realize that God was all along trying to save them. God still faithfully provided for them, but because of their choice to not believe God, they perished. But, God! Faithful and True made room even for their rejection, my goodness, that is how much He loves. He would call a man to make a vessel for people who would never choose Him.

We are right in the middle of Holy Week, and I began to think of how the Jew’s did the same thing, they missed God, because they did not think he would come as a lamb because they wanted a mighty lion! How they missed Yeshua because He came for the least of these. How many people in our world think Jesus is a myth! How many won’t be in heaven because just like the people in Noah’s day thought Noah was a fruitcake! It hit me in so many ways this week that even if what God has asked of us to do never leads to one person, believing and trusting in Jesus, it is not in vain. God used Noah and not one soul other than His family entered that ark. Think about the heartbreak God and Noah felt like as that door, the way, closed tight. They knew that a choice leads us to life or death. Noah never saw those people again, what agony haunted him, I can’t even imagine. But even greater than Noah was Father God. How grieved He must have been having to close that door. I won’t get into the theology about it, but what I want you to think about today is this simple truth. There was room on the ark for every single person who wanted to live, they just had to believe. The same today, there is room at the supper table of God for you. There is a seat with your name on it, and the Son of God, Jesus Christ, with open arms saying, ” Believe In Me?”

Will you today, believe God?

You can have peace with God by saying this simply prayer to Him

Jesus, I believe you are the Son of God. Jesus, I am a sinner, I am lost! I believe you died for all of my sin. I believe that you rose again, proclaiming victory and life in you. Jesus, come into my heart, help me know you, change me and guide me. In Jesus name I pray, Amen!

If you prayed that prayer I want to welcome you into the family of God! I love you, and I pray that God would raise you up mighty in Jesus Name! If you will comment or email me I would be honored to send you a Bible. You can email me @ mystrengthmysong5@gmail.com

How’s The View?

I think most people will agree with me when I say that experiencing a moment, or multiple moments, of conviction, can be one of life’s best teachers.  You know what I’m talkin’ about right?  That second you want to crawl in a hole because you’re feeling smothered in guilt, remorse, shame…need I go on?

ashamed I am sure it doesn’t take long for us all to recall those, not so fun, life lessons.  Whether we impulsively stuck our foot/feet in our mouths, blew a situation out of proportion, or continue to fail at that one thing you’ve been trying to work on; if you’re a follower of Christ, His Spirit will quickly begin to weigh on us.  I can just picture His Holy Spirit standing in front of me with His arms crossed while tapping His foot out of frustration until I have that Ah Hah moment of, “Yeah, I probably shouldn’t have done/said that.”

I had just such an experience this week.  Several of them, I’m sure, but one that is really tugging at me.  I have been struggling for about a month with kidney stones.  I was passing seven at one time, had surgery to have a stent placed, and finally began feeling better last week as I was starting to recover.  By the end of the week, I could tell I was passing more.  I went to the doctor, and they did see multiple stones.  Good times (deep sigh).  Ladies and gentlemen let the pity party begin!

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Can’t you just hear the thoughts I was having…”Why is this happening to me again? What did I do to deserve this? Wah wah wah…” Poor pitiful me.  I could feel the frown on my face.  All while sitting in my air-conditioned home, on my comfortable sofa, reclined with my heating pad, my fourteen-year-old daughter making my plate of food, and watching all the Netflix my little heart desires.   Sounds hideous, doesn’t it?

I have been blessed with the opportunity to go on two mission trips to very poverty-stricken areas in Uganda over the last couple of years.  Each time coming home feeling terrible about how so very spoiled we are as Americans, and we don’t even know it.  We don’t realize how ridiculous we sound to people around the world when we complain about standing in line too long, and wi-fi being too slow, and “I don’t really feel like eating there…”

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 I would get so aggravated when people would moan about their “first world problems”, yet here I was, doing just that.  I realized it while I was sitting through our weekly Women’s Bible Study group discussing missionaries over the centuries that have literally sacrificed and lost everything to be obedient to God.  One, William Carey, traveled to India in the 1800s with his wife and children.  While there, one of his sons and his wife died.  He continued to serve the Lord through it all, and His ministry impacted innumerable lives.

The way I would have seen that situation if it was me, I’m afraid, would be a much different view than what he saw.  Through the pain, sacrifice, grief, and struggle, he saw the path that God had laid before him from the beginning.  He could see the lives that would be touched, and the Glory God would receive if he persevered.  His view was filled with the desire to show Christ to a lost world, the faith that knew God was in control, and the expectation of Him to do something absolutely amazing with his situation.  Not only that but what a testimony for people to witness a man walking out His faith in such a way.  We claim to have hope, but so few of us show it when the rubber meets the road.

As we read Carey’s story, I could feel myself sinking in my chair.  How much had I complained that day and the days before?  My view was filled with self-pity and impatience.  I was focused on my circumstance instead of fixing my eyes on the One that was in control of it.  I lost sight of all the blessings that fill my life that I know I don’t deserve.

With that being said, I type this with a smile on my face (while sitting on a heating pad 😊) because I am so very thankful for God’s sanctification process through conviction.  NOT CONDEMNATION.  That’s a whole other topic that I won’t get into tonight.   I am thankful for the tests we must go through, whether I succeed or fail.  I am thankful for conditions that He allows me to endure in order to continue to mold me into the person He created me to be.

Consider changing your view to one that sees struggling in the Christian life as a temporary privilege.

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance.  And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.  Romans 5:3-5

DON’T MISS IT

DON’T MISS IT!

“Ladies and Gentlemen, we are surrounded by insurmountable opportunities.”  (unknown author)

Isn’t it just like us, humans, to overcomplicate things?  I have recently had a realization that is going to change the landscape of my everyday life.  God has already revealed His plan for my life. And yours!!  And yet I, like many believers, have spent so much time making “doing His Will” way more complicated than it actually is.

Over the last several years, I have been blessed with the opportunity to be a part of some incredible works.  I have participated in two mission trips to Uganda where I witnessed God’s glory in a way that forever changed my heart and how I see the world.  I have watched our church family here in Kentucky transform into a church determined to spread the gospel as far as it can reach.  After seeing so many miraculous and wondrous acts of God, I allowed myself to be convinced that that was the only way He could use me.  In the “Big Stuff.” You know, the important stuff like mission trips, and church planting, fostering children….so I sat and prayed, “God, show me your will!”  “Lord, I just want to do Your will, please reveal what you want me to do next.”  “God, I’m still here…waiting for you to tell me the next big thing….” (crickets, lots of ‘em).

He was listening, He always is.  He was just waiting for me too.  So, to give me a little nudge it the right direction, he sent my friend Akim from Uganda to shake some sense into me.  He came all the way to Kentucky in the middle of winter to visit the non-profit organization he works with here and in Uganda.  I grew very close to him on my trips there and was thrilled to have him come and speak at our church about mission work.   As we were standing around catching up, he asked how I was and what I had been up to the last several months.  I responded with something like, “Oh, just going to work and church and chasing my teenager around.  I have been praying for what God wants me to do next.  I am seriously considering quitting my job to go into full-time ministry.”  My tone must have been dripping with a bit of frustration. I could tell by the look he gave me when he asked, “Quit your job so you can what? Be in full-time ministry? Are you not in full-time ministry everywhere you go as a believer in Jesus Christ? Does He not have you right where He wants you in order to make the biggest impact at this very moment? Are you surrounded by more people that need to hear the gospel at your work or at your church?”  Oh, how I wish you could read that in his soothing Ugandan accent just as I can hear it in my mind.  I wonder if I looked like how I felt at that moment.  You know that feeling where you want to crawl in a hole and cover yourself up?  Even as I type this, I am shaking my head.  Praise the Lord for His patience with us and the gentle nudges He gives to remind us of His Word and promises.

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The Great Commission wasn’t meant for special occasions, huge church events, and mission trips.  We are called to be everyday missionaries on the lookout for the opportunities God places in front of us, big and small. Everyday missionaries are those who practice life on mission where God has placed them.  As followers of Jesus Christ, our lives have a mission. God has a purpose and plan for us. In fact, He wants to do more “in” us and “through” us than we can even imagine. But it is not about us—it’s about Him. EVERYTHING we do—our jobs, our parenting, our words, our actions, our life’s mission—should be done with the intention of bringing glory to His name.  Never missing the chance to shine a light in this dark and fallen world.

1 Corinthians 10:31— “… Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for God’s glory.” (ESV)

We are everyday missionaries, and God has created each of us in a special way to take part in His plan. From high school students to retirees, from stay-at-home moms to CEO’s, we each have a part in the greatest story ever told. This is a story about an extraordinary love.  Too many people think that only “extraordinary” believers can be used for Christ.  God has called each of us to live a life on mission wherever we are – no matter our age, occupation, biblical knowledge, or busy schedule.

He’s asking us to see what He sees. Opportunities within our realities.

DON’T MISS IT!!

Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it. 1 Peter 3:15

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Own Your Worth


Greetings to all reading the blog today.  May it be a blessing to you as it is for me sharing.

Let’s pray

Dear Heavenly Father, as we continue to grow deeper in love with you, help us, to be aware of those around us needing your love as well. It’s easy to get caught up in “our truth” and lose focus on you. Be BOLD to us when we fall short of the messages you have for us; when we lose our attention from you.  May we Lord, glorify you, by reaching out to the ones who can’t seem to find their way. Help us, to reveal to them the only way is through you in our actions and words. Help us, to relate to one another in one accord so that we appear as one army in connection with the Holy Spirit.  Let us acknowledge the Holy Spirit when it’s present and declare its power over our lives.  I pray these things in Jesus name, Amen.

My Truth…

February 23, 2018. A day like any other day.  I woke up to get out of bed, I turned on my children’s lights and woke them up for school.  I proceeded to order some products online before I took them to school.  I don’t usually do work things before 10 a.m. because I wanted to exercise; I thought that I needed to get this one thing done. Ten minutes from walking out the door my ordinary life took a turn that I couldn’t imagine, I suffered a stroke.

While my children were scrambling to get their things together to walk out the door,  I was trying to figure out how to get back in my house from going outside to warm up my car.  Finally, making it back in I mumbled, that they needed to call their grandmother, who was only minutes away.  The look of fear on their faces.  I’ll never forget it. As I stumbled around trying to see correctly,  I felt as if I was in a cloud. I felt light as a feather.  Everything I was experiencing didn’t seem real.  My children were so upset, and I couldn’t get upset with them! I had zero pain or discomfort. I was disoriented and couldn’t see properly, but for some reason I had peace.

  It is so hard to describe into words what I was feeling emotionally and physically.  I felt as if I was in a different place. My body was here, but my spirit was somewhere else.  To see my kids upset usually ignites anxiety in me, but I had no emotions to express.  I now understand the words “out of body experience.” I was lucky….or was I?

God’s mercy reigned supreme.  I was hospitalized for three days and sent home.  I spent twenty weeks in rehab.  My body responded as well as it could. I am grateful where I am physically and emotionally. I am a new person, I know I could be much worse. There is a point of which your body and mind will only allow you to do before it literally shuts itself down.  It is a science, I wished, I could explain, but I know that there is only one explanation…

God the creator of the Universe!

In many ways, I feel that my life parallels with many others.  For instance, I feel as if I somehow can relate to stories I have read in scripture. I don’t mean literally but figuratively of course. The Bible was written thousands of years ago, yet, as I read through it, I’m amazed at the way each story is told and how relatable it is to my truth.

For instance, let’s take Joseph’s story. He came from a large family. He was not liked by his brothers so they conspired against him. His brother’s thought that murdering him would be the answer. Then his oldest brother Rueben stepped in, and he was sold instead. For years he was enslaved then became Potipher’s right-hand man with one request to not have any relationship with his wife. Well, she desired to have a relationship with Joseph but he is a man of God,  a man who honored his position under Potipher’s leadership.  So she lied and Joseph was thrown into jail. There he gained trust from the warden. He beyond his troubles had favor with God. God gave him the ability to interpret dreams. Pharaoh was very pleased with his gift.  Joseph went on to save the people from famine in Egypt.  (Read Genesis Chapters 36-46.)

Joseph could have easily, from adolescence age, have made a decision to not follow the calling God had for him.  He could have rebelled at each place he was brought to. Eliminating his chances at making his environments better than they were. But, because of his obedience to God, Joseph chose the right side to be on. He made a decision to fight for his dignity by doing things that were pleasing to God. He forgave his brothers.

Through everything, you’ve been through, have you made decisions that could have put you in a good position with God and your neighbors? If not, it’s ok, you still can, you have the same freedom as we all do and the many others before you.  Having Faith makes things possible, not easy. You just have to believe that your truth doesn’t define you in any way. That your unique experiences refined you, made you stronger, wiser, and gave you more endurance for the next hurdle to get through.

I’m about to celebrate my “Strokeversary!” That is Stroke Anniversary.  1 year ago this could have been a totally different outcome and yet he has me here sharing with you how you can be your better self.  All you have to do is be encouraging to others. Igniting a fire of inspiration for someone who needs it.

I believe my parallel to this is that through it all, being an orphan, living in a group home, many health issues,  gaining the trust of those around me through my heart on display, being willing to be obedient at any cost, believing that Jesus is the only way to my happiness. I know without a doubt that my testimony, who I know I am through Christ, is the Truth that I need to survive until he calls me home.  What he equips me to be through the process, is his will and I can submit to it. That means I’ll take whatever fire that comes my way in the namesake for the King of King’s and Lord of Lords.  I am invested because He is invested in me.

So don’t let your identity be sold by others. Your identity is in Christ Jesus the son of God who came to redeem you in his name.  Live out your story with integrity and honor to the one who gave, Jesus, so that you can live forever beside him.  The things we endure are not in vain nor are they to define us; they are to refine us.  Today is a new day, live in obedience to God and own your truth.

Check out a book about Destiny! Follow the link below

Detours by Tony Evans

Have You Seen My Seeds? What about Yours?

I often get asked how I went from being an outright Atheist to a woman madly in love with Jesus Christ. I guess that does raise an eyebrow if you haven’t lived it out with me.

If you haven’t read my testimony, please feel free to read my very first entry “Introductions are In Order.” That keeps this from being extremely lengthy. To summarize: for most of my life, all but the last 10 years, I was an atheist. A very angry, volatile, broken atheist who loved nothing more than arguing the fact that there could not be, and was no God.

As I look back over those years trying to piece together the events that unfolded to ultimately lead me here, the incidents that come to mind first (and most vividly) are the handful of genuine Christians that God strategically placed in my life. I say genuine because their church attendance and program schedule had nothing to do with the impact they had. It was their everyday lives. Their relationships and interactions; the way they spoke, treated others, and most of all, the way they reacted to adverse situations in their lives. They were unapologetic about their faith but very humble in approaching a person as abrasive as myself with a topic they knew I wasn’t fond of. But they did it anyway. And all though I brushed off what they were saying at the time, they planted seeds. When they would share their faith with me, it was as if they were digging back the packed in soil of my mind and placing a precious seed of hope. As I would watch them go about their days, really living out their faith, those seeds were being watered and nurtured. When I would hug them or try to comfort them during a hard time, I would always be amazed at their hope. I’m not talking about optimism here. I’m talking about real, unshakable hope built from faith. That type of witness and testimony of the God they worshiped was like pouring miracle grow on those seeds.

Everything we experience in life begins as a seed. Our relationships, marriages, businesses, churches, the choices we make, and most importantly, our spiritual growth. But NONE of those things can happen until the seed has been planted. What God can do with a seed planted in faith is something we, as humans, can’t fathom. That’s why it’s called faith. But we have a part to play. The planting of those seeds has been left up to us my friends. A good portion of the time, we won’t even know we’ve sown a seed (or seeds). We can trust that if we are living as followers of Christ are called to live, and acting on the guidance of the Holy Spirit to step out and step up for the glory of His Kingdom, seeds are being planted…and God does the rest.

Out of our gratitude for His grace, we should be compelled to live this out; to walk our talk and let what we hear in the pew on Sunday morning meet the pavement on Monday. We should gladly take uncharted paths, letting go, surrendering, trusting, and knowing that we don’t have to do the heavy lifting. Living out our faith is much like working in a garden. No matter how hard I work in my garden, my efforts alone don’t force plants to grow. I do my part by carefully planting, watering, fertilizing, and pruning — and then I wait and trust that God will do His part to cause the growth. Take a leap of faith, live it out, and then sit back and watch God do His thing.

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‘It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow. ‘ 1 Corinthians 3:7

Have you ever really thought about the part you play? If you are a believer, if you proclaim to be a follower of Christ, you have officially been drafted. His Word makes that clear. God has uniquely equipped you, through your life experiences and circumstances, with your very own batch of specially formulated seeds. Only you can fulfill the duty of sowing those seeds because of God’s specific plan for you at this very moment in time.

‘For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.’ Ephesians 2:10

‘Now may the God of peace— who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep, and ratified an eternal covenant with his blood— may he equip you with all you need for doing his will. May he produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, every good thing that is pleasing to him. All glory to him forever and ever! Amen.’ Hebrews 13:20-21

If it had not been for those bold, Christian men and women that God purposefully placed in my life at just the right time, doing their part and being obedient, those seeds might have never been planted. Praise God for those who are unafraid, unashamed, and are more concerned with God’s opinion about them than the world’s.

I’ll end with this question for you, and myself, to mull over…. Is there evidence of fruit in your life that is the result of seeds being planted?

‘Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better.’ Colossians 1:10

“I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. ‘ John 15:1-5

‘You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name.” John 15:16

Kindness Doesn’t Cost a Thing, yet it’s the Richest Gift You can Give.

I am always amazed at how God uses difficult situations in our lives to offer us an opportunity to stop and take a good look around and within.  Generally, in those moments, it’s much easier to become self-focused; worrying only about what we are going through and ways to overcome it.  But the more I listen to God’s Word in my life, the clearer it becomes that, that is not how He intends for us (believers) to respond.

Over the last week or so, I have had the unfortunate experience of having multiple kidney stones.  Several of which were too big to pass, leading to a surgical procedure to place a stent in my left ureter.  And yes, it IS as painful and uncomfortable as it sounds.  Even though I was dealing with pain and the stress of trying to make last minute plans and arrangements because penciling in a surgical procedure wasn’t on my radar, I could see God’s sovereign hand all around me. Even though it was a “last minute” procedure, everything fell right into place. Each nurse and medical professional that I came in contact with seemed to genuinely be happy.  They were very kind and accommodating.  One of the nurses even liked the snow as much as I do.  That might sound odd, but around “these parts” in Kentucky, most people don’t like the snow.  But there is a small niche of us crazies that actually pray for it.  We had a good laugh about it as they wheeled me down to the operating room.  What better way to get someone prepared for what can be a terrifying situation?  I drifted off to sleep with a smile on my face and laughter still lingering in my heart.

As I woke up in recovery, I can remember opening my eyes, and the first thing I could hear the staff discussing was the opportunities for foster care and adoption.  Again, I instantly began smiling.  My husband and I have recently started the process of fostering, and it was as if God was using that moment to give me confirmation.  Still being a bit groggy from the anesthesia, I’m not at all positive what I said, but I do know that I interjected myself into the conversation.  They smiled and happily allowed me to join in.  Possibly just for entertainment purposes, nevertheless, it was very kind of them.

Once I had spent the necessary amount of time in recovery, they wheeled me up to my room where my parents were waiting for me.  At that moment, my new nurse walked in.  As she was introducing herself and starting to take my vitals, I can remember looking up at her and wondering why she looked sad.  She was never rude or cross in any way, but my mother and I could tell something just wasn’t right.  She seemed very busy and was struggling to juggle everything.  It also appeared as though she might not mesh very well with the other staff members.  It was apparent that she was the outcast and the sadness was from being lonely.  She was always surrounded by people but still felt alone.

I went out of my way to smile and talk to her.  I told her what a good job she was doing and to take her time.  I told her to go finish up whatever it was that she needed to and not to worry about me.  I wasn’t going anywhere.  She cracked the first smile I had seen from her and sighed a breath of relief.  As she would walk in and out of my room, bringing me things to sign or asking me questions, it appeared that she walked a little taller and was even beginning to laugh a little.  She thanked my mother and me for our patience and instantly tried to make us understand why she was struggling.  We again encouraged her and let her know that she has a tough job and is doing the best she can, and that’s all that matters.

God blessed me with so many compassionate people as I was going through that procedure.  Maybe He sent my mom and me there to be a blessing to that nurse.  All I know is when we left, and she wheeled me out to the truck, she hugged me and had a smile on her face.  Even if that smile only lasted a few minutes, I am thankful that God chose to use my situation to put it there.

Could I have been inpatient because I was in pain and wanted to get out of there as quickly as possible? Yep.  Could we have treated her like everyone else had been treating her, perpetuating her misery just because we were too worried about ourselves to notice? Yep.  Do people do that to her, and others, EVERY single day because we live in a society that is so consumed with self that we aren’t even able to see the pain and heartache of those around us? YEP!

We often ask how things have gotten this bad or why everything and everyone seems broken.  We live in a world that simply doesn’t show or receive enough kindness.

We go about our days with our headphones in, and instead of being aware of those around us, we often choose to exist in our own little world. Sometimes we’re just not conscious of our surroundings, but often we are entirely aware but make the conscious decision to stay introverted and ignore the fact that there are people besides ourselves on this planet.

People who are hurting.  People who may be doing just fine. People who may need a kind gesture or smile.

Despite the needs of others, we often choose to be stingy with our acts. Why are we acting as though kindness is costing us time or money?

So, to sum up these ramblings… compliment someone’s shoes if they stand out to you. Share your umbrella with the person without one. Strike up a quick, cheerful conversation with the cashier who probably feels invisible a good part of time unless someone is irritated. Reach out to those in need. It may not seem like much, but these little compliments, gestures, and conversations could go a long way in making someone’s day and changing the world.  Who else is going to do it? BE THE CHANGE YOU WANT TO SEE IN THIS WORLD!

”Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. 32 Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:31-32

“Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.” Colossians 3:12

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