Pressing Forward

Philippians 3:13 (New King James Version)

Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead.

I lived through so much this year. Sickness, loss of loved ones, bills, disappointments and the list can go on and on for all the bad things. If you are reading this, there is no doubt in my mind that you have survived some issues too. There have also been moments of pure joy as I watched God move on my behalf and others as well. I still am amazed at how this year seemed to have flown by and we are facing yet another New Year’s Eve! There have been changes this year, some good, and some not so good. I have kept to some of my resolutions for 2011 and some have fallen so far by the wayside that I don’t even remember what they were and why I made them in the first place.

As I reflect on the changes that 2011 brought us, I am grateful. One important decision that we made as a family was where to worship. A family discussion revealed that we needed to move. We spent some time visiting other churches and it was amazing to me how collectively, we would say after each visit that this was not the place for us. We went to visit where we worship now in August, and actually have not visited anyplace else. We all were happy when we left after that first visit and as a family, we joined in October.

What has made me the most grateful is that we did it together. This is the theme that radiates with me in reflecting on where I have been and where I am going. Doing it all together, in love, with friends and family is what counts the most. In May, we lost my cousin, Karen, unexpectedly. Since that time, the extended family has drawn together and talk more often via phone calls and interactions on Facebook and support each other through good and bad days. We are actually planning a long overdue family reunion in August 2012. I hate that tragedy sparked the need to come together, but it has happened regardless of why.

I have decided that this year, I will not make any resolutions. The only statement I will make about my life is that I want to be in the will of God more than ever before. For me, I have to go higher in my worship, my praise, my giving, my faith in standing on His Word and being faithful to His work and will. I am in a new place of worship and a new place of purpose. It is way past time to stop playing games with myself about my destiny. I want to use my gifts to influence my children and everyone I come in contact with to use the opportunities that are God given to build up His kingdom.

Time is surely marching on for us all. I don’t want to waste anymore of the time that is given to me worrying over things that really won’t matter in the end. Who is talking about me, who doesn’t share my point of view, who doesn’t understand that I must do what God says do cannot be what I focus on. I cannot change a thing about 2011. That part of my life is over. I can use the experiences to guide me as I enter into a new year. The hurts and disappointments of yesteryear will not interfere with what God has planned for my tomorrows. Pressing forward means I release the past. Today, I choose to let go of everything that is weighing me down. My mind is now focused on where I am going and how to get there. I believe that with God on my sides, in 2012, the impossible will happen.

Doors will open that were shut until now. Doors will shut that needed to be closed a long time ago. My family will not lack. I will  be healthy and pain-free! Projects started will be finished. God will have His way in my life!

Believe the same for your life. God has blessings tailor-made just for you! Know without doubting that your circumstances won’t always be like this and stand firm on His promises! A new day and a new year is coming! I’m pressing forward and reaching out to all the new that God has for my life.

God, it’s you and me for 2012! Nothing more, nothing less! Game on! In Jesus Name!!  Amen, amen, and amen!

May God bless you to have a new year so full of blessings you will have no other choice but to share them with others!

In 2012, Victorious Living is What I Will Do!

Be Still

Psalm 46:10
Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. (King James Version)

We are living in the final days, hours, moments and seconds of 2011. I watch as people scurry here and there. They drive fast to catch this sale and that deal in preparation for the arrival of one day – Christmas. Everyone and everything seems to be in such a hurry. In the midst of all this, I hear the call to just be still.

As a young member of the choir I was in when I was growing up, I didn’t understand then the meaning of a song we sang called Be Still and Know That I am God. It was a beautiful, melodic piece that called for us to stand in awe of the presence of God and meditate on Him. It was without a doubt, one of the best songs I have ever sung. I remember each word and the tune.

I can hear the words of the verse in my head as I type this and the meaning is so clear to me now:

Up into a mountain, I went apart to pray

Carefully I worded all I meant to say

But the green, still silence of fern and forest tree,

Taught my soul to listen and let God speak to me

My take on this – I went up on a hill to pray, and I had it all worked out what I was going to tell God, I knew exactly what I needed to tell Him so He would know what was on my heart. But as I beheld the beauty of His creation and recognized His greatness and my smallness, I became silent and in the silence, He spoke to me. He graced me with His presence and told me what He wanted me to know. While I thought I had it all together, He changed me.  In a moment, my life changed forever!

The last line was simply the theme of the song. The harmony was tight! We followed the hands of our beloved director, Sylvia, as she directed each note as we sang:

Be still, and know, that I am – God!!   

Beautiful!! When we sang that one, the audience was quiet, you could hear a pin drop as people basked in the presence of God and imagined being so still that they could hear Him speak.

I didn’t know then that I would grow into a woman who would need to hear from Him just as sure as I need to breathe. I didn’t realize then that to be in His presence is all a child of His would want to do!

I wonder, as I see people hurrying around, have they taken the time to be still enough to hear from the God we will all celebrate on December 25th?  Have we really stopped and taken to the time to remember that this holiday is not about the presents and food, but the birth of the Savior of the world! That, yes, we should celebrate His birth, only because it did not stop there! This story of our salvation only begins at Christmas!

In this season, I plan to be still enough to read for myself, again, the written accounts of how Christ was born. I want to read how He lived, died, and rose again – just for me! With all that in mind, I want to hear from Him the plans He has for my life in 2012. I am not planning to make any resolutions other than this – In 2012, I will do what God tells me to do!

This year has to be about bringing my relationship with God to a new level. To be in His will is all I want for my life for the new year.  I know that if I am doing His will, the rest of my life that is uncertain, will certainly fall into place.

As I stand still and listen, I will hear what He has to say concerning me. (Numbers 9:8)

Be blessed in all your endeavors! Enjoy this holiday season and know that the best is yet to come!

I am being still before Him and hope you are too!

Until Next Time,

I Remain Your Advocate for Victorious Living

A Peace That is Greater

Philippians 4:7 New Life Version (NLV)

The peace of God is much greater than the human mind can understand. This peace will keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

I am a person that likes to know where I’m headed in life. While I do love surprises with the playfulness of a child, when it comes to planning out my activities, bills, children’s schedules, etc., I need to know what is going to happen. I get off centered when a glitch in the plan comes up and I suddenly don’t know what is going to happen. I need to know what is really going on. I have analyzed myself and came to the conclusion that it must stem from experiences in my childhood. While I had two parents in the home, I have to admit that there were some rocky times due to alcoholism with my father and somehow, I emerged with an overwhelming need to have to know exactly what is happening or I get upset and off-balance.

You can imagine that life’s changes often rock my boat. There is no way I can be sheltered and pampered into believing that all will be well and on an even keel at all times. It just doesn’t happen that way. I have found that even with the best laid plan you can ever make, there will be times when life will send something your way that will shake you to the core.

I have had many experiences in my life that have shaken me but I am still here, by the grace of God!  I have been shaken upside down and right-side up but I plunged forward with God on my side. I had to remember that and hold on to that since I received some news today that is unsettling. Seems like the storms of life are raging on every side of me. This cannot be happening!

I’m not sure what to do. How can I wrap my mind around this? What do I do when I don’t know what to do? How do I smile when all I want to do is scream? If I took off running down the hall, folks would think I am crazy and call for the police to take me to the psych ward. There are times when I wanted to take myself there and check in for a few days. Today is one of those days that if I did take off in a run, you would understand, trust me!

Yet, in the midst of it all, eerily, quietly, it’s really almost surreal – I am peaceful. I am not crying or having an anxiety attack or putting myself through imaginary scenarios of what could happen based on the newest issue in my life.

I am peaceful and it’s making me smile. I know that my God has taken care of me and will continue to do so. I am not wavering in my faith that He can fix any problem. He is my Lawyer, my Doctor, my Deliverer, my Jehovah-Jireh!

Yes, yes, Lord! This peace is greater than my mind can understand. I don’t know how I can be this peaceful with what I am facing. How can I be so calm when the worrier in me usually is spastic by now?  It really is much, much greater than I can comprehend.

But whether I understand or not, the peace is here. A gift from God as a reward for my faith. I believe He will provide. I believe He will continue to take care of me and my family. I believe that He will never leave me or forsake me, that He is with me until the end of the world!

I am no longer walking in doubt or worry! I do not have time to go back to a life where I depend on myself to make things happen. If I can sing All to Jesus I Surrender, then surrender it shall be!

This trial, this test, not even the next ones, will get me to doubt that GOD IS ABLE!!  I see the fruits of the Spirit in action in me and it’s amazing! I’m in a new level in Him and its showing up strong today.

Galatians 5:22 (King  James Version)
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith

I am concerned about what is going on but I am not worried. I know that the Lord will make a way somehow! It is well with my soul! I thank God today for this peace. Though it may greater than what I can understand, I am grateful for its presence today.

God, help me to maintain this peace in the midst of this present storm and any to follow. I am releasing my faith and trusting that You hold me in the palms of Your hands! I love You and cast all my cares on You, knowing You see the end. I praise You for Your love, grace, and mercy.  In Jesus’s Name. Amen

Until Next Time,

I Remain Your Advocate for Victorious Living

Keep Up Your Courage

For Yvonne Chesson Simpson

Acts 27:25, 27 So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me.  But now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed. (New International Version)

I was watching James Robison’s Life Today program this morning and they had a guest speaker talking to a live audience. I did not catch her name but the message was loud and clear. She was talking about the story of Paul in Acts 27 and his journey to Italy. They were caught in the storm and the passengers feared for their lives. In verses above, Paul told them to “keep up your courage”.  That line resonated in my head and I had to stop and get myself together.  I kept saying it over and over – KEEP UP YOUR COURAGE, KEEP UP YOUR COURAGE!

Faced with the trials and cares of this life, it is oh so easy to become discouraged.  Bill after bill, more month than money, sickness, death, aches, pains, children acting crazy and I still have to feed them! I get over one hurdle and here comes another.  I’m so tired of caretaking….can someone just take care of me?

BUT………..I keep hearing KEEP UP YOUR COURAGE! Keep it up, Vic! Why this word courage today? He has heard my inner groanings and sent me to His Word for the answers. Here is what I found:

Deuteronomy 31:6
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.

Joshua 1:9
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.

Matthew 14:27
But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

God, you won’t leave me, I don’t have to be afraid!  I thank God for these precious promises. It seems like so much is going on right now. My hands are tied on several sides and I don’t see an end to the madness.  Again comes the Word: 

1 Corinthians 16:13
Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.

I have to stand firm on this  – that the same God who orchestrated these words to be written so long ago knew that I would need to read them and apply them to my situation NOW! They are not promises made to them over there, or those folks way back then. They are made to ME because I am a believer and a Son of God. It’s not a gender thing but a position thing! (Pastor Ronald Godbee)

Galatians 3:26
For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.

I have to muster up the strength and courage to withstand this storm and any other.  I understand that these trials are not only about me and my ability to simply hold on. As a son of God, my faith is the key to my success. It is my lifeline to my Savior! If I believe that He is the Deliverer of my sins, Redeemer of the world, why can I not know without a doubt that He has my back in every situation?

I lastly looked at this verse:

Acts 4:13
When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.

My witness, my walk through the cares of this old world, has to be about telling others what Jesus has done for me. As I share my stories, as I navigate through the process – others will know that I have been with Jesus and that He is a “rewarder of them that diligently seek Him”! (Hebrews 11:6)

Courage NOT to Quit!  O, yeah!! That’s me today…not sure of what will happen but sure that whatever the outcome, Jesus is right here with me! My ship may be destroyed but I will not be lost. Blessed be the NAME OF THE LORD!!!!  Keep Up Your Courage!!!  

2 Chronicles 20:15
…….This is what the LORD says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.

KEEP UP YOUR COURAGE!

Miracle in the Match

My heart is heavy tonight. I wrote a blog a month ago about my friend Sharon’s brother. He needed a bone marrow transplant in order to survive his battle with leukemia. Sharon gave the bone marrow (which was a painful process for her) but his body was simply tired. Yesterday, before he could get strong enough to have the life-saving marrow transplanted into him, he passed away.

You can read my first blog about their story, Our Only Chance of Survival, here: 

stillwatersrunningdeeper.wordpress.com/2011/11/05/our-only-chance-of-survival/

So many have prayed for Sharon and her family. Prayed that she would be ok throughout the procedure and most importantly, that the miracle in the matching of the blood between siblings would see this brother restored to health and here with us living, laughing, and loving.

What do we say now, what do we do? Our corporate prayers, especially the prayers of those closest to him, were not answered the way we had all hoped.  I was reminded tonight of the story of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. This was the same Mary who anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped them with her hair.  (see the story in John chapter 11.) This family loved Jesus so much! And He loved them back. But something happened.

Lazarus became sick, and died. When I heard that my friend’s brother had died, the shock hit me like a brick. How can this be? How can this happen when we all prayed? Sharon had given up her marrow, willingly, unselfishly, painfully! Ok, I confess right now….I thought like Martha…Lord, where were You in all this? She questioned the Master boldy!!  John 11:21 Then Martha said unto Jesus, “Lord, if Thou hadst been here, my brother would not have died.

If You had been here, Lord, my brother would not have died, I would not have to hurt so much, I would not have to struggle so much for everything, I could be happy – no pain, no sorrow, no trouble, not when You are here Lord! If You loved me like You said You did what happened to my miracle, Lord?

In a flash, my answer was here – crystal clear. Maybe the miracle didn’t come the way we wanted it to. But does that mean a miracle didn’t happen? When Jesus heard that Lazarus had died he said this:

John 11:4 ……He said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.”

That’s it!! Whatever happens in my life, I have to believe that it is all done so that God will get the glory!

I admitted to Sharon that I had prayed selfishly. We talked the day she heard the news that her brother’s body was shutting down. I told her flat out that I didn’t want to see her go through losing him when she had gone through so much. It was Sharon who comforted me in that conversation when she said, “Vic, I have left it all in God’s hands. Whatever He wills, will be ok with me. Yes, I will hurt but I know God will see me through!

Ok, tears are coming now as I think about that. Yes, we do question why and play the what-if game with God. Why did this happen and what if it had happened another way?

Truth is, we will never have the answer to some of our questions. That is just how it’s going to be. I do know this – I’ve come too far in my journey with God to turn back now because I have questions. I will either believe He has my best interests in His heart or I will stop being a Christian. And my faith will not let me do the latter.

I choose today to renew my commitment to God. I may not understand everything but I believe that come what may, He will see me through every test and every blessing! Because it all is working together to bring Him glory in my life!

Even now, I do see some miracles beyond the pain. I have seen my friend become willing to endure suffering to save the life of her brother. She says she would do it again but being real, how many of us would have done it in the first place? She has told me about the love and support that has been showered on her sister-in-law and niece during stressful days that is unmatched by anything we ever experienced. I’ve heard my friend begin to talk about God in new ways. Her devotion to God is deeper and stronger. This is a testimony in itself and a witness to her family and others about the transforming power of God.

I hope you will join me in praying for this dear family. It is not an easy time for them but they are being comforted by the stories of how much this brother impacted many throughout his lifetime. I believe that these testimonies will show those of us who remain that a life lived pleasing to God is what matters the most.

I trust God that anything we go through is not meant to truly harm us, even though we may cry. It is all meant to bring us to a place where we know without a doubt the truth in Romans 8:18 –

For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

Even so, come Lord Jesus, and take us to that place of no more sorrow, suffering and separation from loved ones!

Until Next Time,

I Remain Your Advocate for Victorious Loving