The Road

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Again, my guest blogger this week is my hubby, Pastor Jim Garrett. Read his blog and be encouraged and  be challenged.

The Road

It was a hard, cold, snowy winter in the mid-west this year. Historical temperature and snowfall-level records were broken and new ones were set. And schools in my area surpassed their allotted levels of cancellations several times over. Some have even said that the students are going to have to go well into the summer break in order to make up for those cancellations.

And many people continually fussed about the depth of the cold. In fact, it seems that complaints about the winter of 2014 far exceeded the appreciations.

But I chose to take a different tack. This year, I am learning to count my blessings and to appreciate the winter, the cold, the snow, and all other parts of life. In fact, for four weekends in a row, my wife and I had to travel between Chicago and Toledo round-trip. We experienced icy roads, sub-zero temperatures, white-out conditions, cars and trucks driving too fast and dangerously, and a doubling of travel times.

But rather than complain, I learned (and am still learning) to embrace this winter. I learned (and am still learning) to appreciate the cold, the snow, the wind, and the long travel times.

Why?

Because the Bible tells us that we are to focus on “what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. (Philippians 4:8 NLT)

Our attitudes must be transformed from the negative, sorrowful ones that many display into that which is full of hope, purpose, and vision. In fact, one of my favorite Christmas movies expressed a similar attitude as Bing Crosby sang:

When I’m worried and I can’t sleep
I count my blessings instead of sheep
And I fall asleep counting my blessings
When my bankroll is getting small
I think of when I had none at all
And I fall asleep counting my blessings

As I looked at the snow, felt the coldness, experienced the wind, and drove through the extreme slowness of the traffic, I chose to count my blessings, and to enjoy the journey of being blessed by Him.

I embraced this winter season.

Can you embrace the winter season of your life? And THEN move beyond it.

DeadlinesDeadlines

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Deadlines

Guest Blog from hubby, Dr. Jim Garrett

As I write this, I am aware that recently, the last night of late night show host Jay Leno was on the air. My favorite part of his show has always been his Monday night “Head lines.”

But in this blog, I want to mention something that sounds similar, but plays out much differently:

Deadlines.

Deadlines are those things that many of us hate and yet, others of us love.

The deadline is that final moment when all must be said and done … And all must be turned in and submitted.

As I said, many hate these things. For those of us, these bring unneeded stress and pressure. These have driven men and women to do things they would later regret or to live in such a manner that one’s life could be shortened or caused to be less than full.

And other people love deadlines. For those of us, deadlines bring something similar to an adrenaline rush … And cause greater and more concentrated focus of attention and on detail.. Somehow, the need to finish by a certain time causes that time to be a motivator.

We all respond differently to deadlines.

But I want to suggest to each of us that deadlines are nothing to be played with. In fact, we each have an appointed time when life as we know it will all be over and all will have been said and done.

For that reason, I urge each of us to respond more intently to that focus of the journey of our life.

Our journey is not about what we have done right or wrong. It’s not about what we have planned and dreamed. And it’s not about what we have succeeded in or failed.

Instead, it’s about how we have lived. It’s about how we love God. It’s about how we treat others.

As Martin Luther King Jr. has said (and others have repeated):

    • It’s not about how long you have lived …
    • It’s about how well you have lived.

And Hillary Cooper once said,

    • Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take
    • But by the moments that take our breath away.

So I ask you today as you live, as you breathe and as you enjoy the journey:

    • How have you loved God?
    • How have you treated others?
    • How have you lived and forgiven yourself?

Answer those questions before the deadline is upon you

… while you still have time to do something about them …

While you have time to truly love and honor God …

While you have time to show and tell those whom you love that you really do love them …

While you have time to stop beating yourself up for all your shortcomings and failures …

While you have time to forgive yourself and to love yourself …

You know the time I’m talking about …

I’m talking about that time …

Before the deadline is up.

Wider … Longer … Higher … Deeper

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God’s love for you is wider than you will ever need!wide and long and high and deep love

God’s love for you is longer than you will ever run!

God’s love for you is higher  than you will ever rise!

God’s love for you is deeper than you will ever sink!

“Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow
down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand,
as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.
May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then
you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.” Ephesians 3:17-19 NLT

As you open up your heart for Him to take up residence … as He makes His home in you then your roots will grow down deep in His love.

  • His love completes you.
  • His loves keeps you strong.

Praying that you experience His love in new ways today!

Absolutely Nothing!

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EngravedNOTHING can separate you from God’s GREAT love for YOU!  Absolutely NOTHING!

“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death
nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about
tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.”  Romans 8:38 NLT

BE convinced today that He loves YOU with a love that nothing can EVER separate you from … death CAN’T … life CAN’T … NOT angels … NOT demons … Your fears CAN’T … Your worries CAN’T … not even the powers of hell can ever separate you from God’s love for YOU!

Speak this to yourself and meditate on the TRUTH of His great love for YOU until you are convinced!

He loves YOU so much that you are engraved on the palms of His hand!  Now that is better than being a picture on His refrigerator.

Who are you?

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This morning I want to encourage you by reminding you of who you REALLY are …god-says

YOU are chosen by God.
You ARE redeemed.
You are FREE.
YOU are forgiven.
You ARE blessed with every spiritual blessing.
You are HOLY.
YOU are blameless.
You ARE without fault.
You are MARKED with a special mark that identifies you as belonging to Him.
YOU are guaranteed to receive ALL He has promised.

You are EVERYTHING God says you are! You HAVE everything God says you have. Receive it! Walk in your true identity today!

Loyal…

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afresh each morning

Today I want you to grasp another truth about this GREAT love that God loves you with!  And that truth is that God’s love for you is LOYAL.

“God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out, his merciful love couldn’t have dried up. They’re created new every morning. How great your faithfulness! I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over). He’s all I’ve got left.”  Lamentations 2:22-24 MSG

The definition of loyal is to have or show complete and constant support for someone or something.

God’s love for you is shown in complete and constant support for you.  His love for you is constant … dedicated … devoted … good … faithful … steadfast … steady … and true.  That is what loyal love does!

 

  • His love for you is loyal…it never runs out on you.
  • His love for you is merciful…it never dries up on you.
  • His love for you is new every morning.

How GREAT is God’s faithful love for you!  Live today in His amazing, loyal love!  Stick with Him!

 

That Kind of Friend

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FriendWomen are busy, busy people!  And taking care of ourselves many times …. most of  the time, ends up on the bottom of the list.  We absolutely can’t be our best  if we are not caring for ourselves.

In this post I want to talk about taking the time to develop friendships.  This is vital to your wellbeing!  We can develop friendships with lots of women with whom we can have fun, go to coffee, go shopping, go to a movies, etc.  And that is GREAT!  We NEED those friends!

But don’t stop there.  Don’t fool yourself into thinking that is the only kind of friend you need.  See you also need 1-3 friends that are the kind of friends that stick through thick and thin.  They are there when the budget overflows and when the budget drys up.  They can hang in there when all hell is breaking lose and you don’t know what to do.  They will stay with you in in the long droughts and then celebrate the rain.  They get your passion and dreams … and are there to see you accomplish them.  They won’t let you give up.  They encourage you and admonish you and speak life into you when you feel hurt and defeated.  You can trust them … completely.  You can share your heart and know they still love you and they are still in your corner.  They pray for you and with you.  They cry with you and they celebrate with you.  They tell you to get over yourself when you need it and you are okay with that.  They tell you the truth even when the truth is not very pretty.

I must be honest and say that these kinds of friends don’t come along very often in a lifetime.  So when you get one cherish her.  I have one such friend in my life at this moment in time.  She has been my friend for over 20 years.  She has seen me at my worst and at my best.  And she has told me the truth even when I didn’t want to hear it.  She has come after me when I just wanted to crawl in a hole and hide.  She prays fervently for me.  She encourages me.  She is my “iron that sharpens iron” friend.  We kind of lost each other for a few years when I moved to Chicago.  We emailed some and texted some.  She got breast cancer and I got too busy.  Thank God that He reconnected us since I have been back in Ohio these past few months.  I love her.  I need her.  And I am so much better with her in my life.

“There are “friends” who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother.” …OR a sister…  Proverbs 18:24

It takes time and vulnerability and investment to build this kind of friendship.  They don’t just happen.  But I need them … and YOU need them!

You NEED a friend that will stick closer than a sister!