Archive | November 2014

Thankful

On Thursday, my oldest daughter and her husband joined my niece, my father, and my sister and me to celebrate Thanksgiving. After eating a delicious meal, we decorated the Christmas tree while my son-in-law played the piano. It was lovely!

Throughout the day, I kept telling myself that I needed to write a Thanksgiving blog, but besides a few memories, all but one having to do with Thanksgiving Day, nothing came to mind. Since the same few memories have continued to go through my head ever since, I have decided to just go ahead and write about them.
“Can we please buy him something to eat?” I once again petitioned. Our family had been driving most of the night so we could celebrate Thanksgiving with relatives in Denver. It had been snowing since New Mexico. We had pulled into a fast food restaurant to get a quick bite. As I sat around the table with my husband and our four children a homeless man walked in the door and sat down at a table near us.

I asked my husband if we could buy the man something to eat. He had told me “No!” I’m not sure why I thought that he would have answered differently. In those days he had no sympathy at all for the homeless. The answer had always been, “No!”. But it was Thanksgiving, and my heart was breaking for the man. So I reduced myself to begging and asked twice more. The last time was just before the man got up and walked out of the door. We left shortly afterwards.

As we drove away, I saw the homeless man walking down the street in his worn coat. Snow continued to fall around him. Tears began to roll down my face. I felt so helpless. I looked at my husband and said, “Nobody should be hungry and cold on Thanksgiving Day!” He kept on driving.

A FEW YEARS LATER

“Let’s get him something to eat!” my kids chorused. We were on another holiday road trip. Since the divorce, my kids and I had been led to give money or food to homeless or needy people on many occasions. On this particular day, the Lord had stirred our hearts to bless a homeless man near the gas station where we filled up our car. We drove to a fast food establishment, bought him a meal, and gave him a blanket. As we drove away we thanked God for blessing us so we could bless others.

2008
“Please pray that I can catch some fish so I can feed my family?” His desperate plea pierced my heart. I was standing in front of a prayer line at a late night crusade in the Philippines—another man, another need. We were in an impoverished area where many people still lived in what resembled crude tree houses. For a moment, I felt the same hopeless feeling I had felt the Thanksgiving when my husband wouldn’t give me money to buy food for the homeless man. But this time I was not begging an unsympathetic man, I was serving a compassionate God. As I looked into this father’s despondent eyes, I looked into my heavenly Father’s heart. As a single mom, God had provided for my family in so many miraculous ways, seeing God do the impossible had become our normal. Although I had nothing to give the man, I knew that God did! There would be no tears rolling down my cheeks this time. I placed my hand on the man’s shoulder and agreed with him, knowing that God cared and would provide.
As I thought of these times of wanting to bless and being able to bless others I was so incredibly thankful. I am thankful that God has given me freedom in so many areas of my life. I am thankful that God has blessed me to be a blessing. And I am thankful that when I don’t have whatever others need financially, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually, God does! And He is more than ready to provide!

FYI-One day many years later, my ex randomly commented, “Just so you know, quite a few homeless individuals around town have eaten hamburgers since that Thanksgiving in New Mexico.”

Yes! I am so very thankful!
Thanksgiving has now passed, but we should always have thankful hearts. This holiday season, I pray that we would be sensitive to the needs around us, bless others, and always keep in mind and that God loves us.

 “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’[a] 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31 NIV.)

Have a blessed day!

Jeannie Diane

Beautiful Feet

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Sunday, our pastor challenged us to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit in our giving, not just in church, but every day. At the end of his message he showed a short video clip of the church’s clothing closet. The video explained how the clothes and shoes were gifted to the homeless and needy. After scanning over racks and racks of clothes, the camera showed a close up of what was missing—shoes. Pastor then asked the congregation to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit about if they were supposed to help supply shoes. Everyone who felt led, was encouraged to go and place the shoes they were wearing at the altar and leave with “beautiful feet”–feet that were bare from giving from the heart. I prayed, but I did not feel led. As the shoes piled up at the front, I continued to ask God if I were to give my shoes and searched my heart for selfishness. Instead of gifting the 4″ stiletto boots I was wearing, I felt to go home and bag up some of my other shoes and gift them later.

That is when the old religious spirit with which I used to be cloaked, once again tried to wrap itself around me. “I am going to gift quite a few pairs of shoes,” I thought to myself. “But I am not walking out in bare feet or socks. My feet will not look beautiful. They will look selfish. I started to feel ashamed.

Let me interject, I think the giving of the shoes was a God inspired idea. A legitimate need was met. But as with everything God does, it’s more about hearts than feet.

I’m sure everyone who placed their shoes on the altar left more than their shoes. Some probably left greed. Some probably left pride. Some probably left fear or a poverty spirit. Some just left the sweet fragrance of sacrifice. Most, probably also left with more than they gave as they experienced joy, peace, freedom, and hope. For some, it would not be a sacrifice at all. They could easily buy another pair. For others it might have been their widow’s mite.

There were probably also a few people who gifted their shoes out of guilt or the fear of man. Their bare or socked feet would have looked just as beautiful to those around them as those who gave from pure hearts, even though, they would have left with the same pride that they had when they walked into the building earlier. Only God would know the difference.

Then there were other people, like me, who kept their shoes on. I am sure each of them have a story as well. Some probably walked out in confidence and peace knowing that they had done or were about to do what God had called them to do. Some might have walked out perturbed that they were put on the spot. Some might have walked out in disobedience because they told God, “No,” when He told them to give their shoes. Some might have walked out in greed. There were probably even a few who walked out in pride like I did because they were concerned about what others thought of their apparent lack of sacrifice, or more importantly—their hardness of heart.
Later that afternoon, as I was bagging up shoes to gift, I started thinking about the phrase “beautiful feet.”

If I had placed my shoes on the altar that morning, I would not have left with beautiful feet, because I would have been walking in disobedience. But since I was walking in pride and the approval of man, I still didn’t leave with beautiful feet. God didn’t call me to leave my shoes at the altar, but He did call me to lay down my pride, which especially became apparent when I felt I had to explain myself to my family.

So what are beautiful feet?
Beautiful feet are feet that stand in confidence of God’s love and their identity in Christ.  Beautiful feet are not perfect, but purposed. They purpose to walk in obedience, peace, surrender and sacrifice. They walk in compassion, freedom, and blessing. They bring salvation, hope, and healing. They walk in love, as they bless their families, friends, strangers—and even their enemies. As I continued to think about having beautiful feet, I once again, removed my shoes of self-righteousness, self-sufficiency, pride, and fear, especially the fear of man, and laid them on an unseen altar. After putting on the shoes of love and peace, I stood, and walked out of the room with my now bare “beautiful feet”–feet that purpose to walk in the footsteps of a Jesus.

Yes, Lord, give us “beautiful feet”—feet that are moved by a beautiful heart—your heart!
“And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!” (Romans 10:15 KJV)

“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of the one who brings news of peace, who announces good things, who announces salvation, who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!” (Isaiah 52:7).

Remembering Mark

mark initialsI was the first child in my family to see Mark. I still remember the day so clearly. I was five years old. I rode in the taxi with Mom over to a house I had never seen before. I didn’t realize the woman was a foster parent to whom Mom had been lending a helping hand from time to time.

I noticed Mark as soon as I walked in the door. He looked like a doll sitting in the carrier seat in the middle of the kitchen table. It was love at first site!

Mark had big brown eyes, a round face, and the cutest little dimples I had ever seen. He also had casts that went up to his thighs. I’m not sure if it was his contagious smile, or the fact that he was crippled, that stirred my heart the most. I just knew that I wanted to keep him forever!

And we did!!!!
baby mark

Today is Mark’s birthday. It would have been his 47th. I have thought about him all day long. As I look across the hall I can remember him breaking his casts against his crib at six months of age. Even then, he was determined to not be confined to the limitations that had been placed on him. Many casts, leg braces, a few surgeries, and a whole lot of prayer later, Mark not only walked–he ran.

Mark learned a myriad of skills, raised two wonderful children, and helped all with whom he came in contact. He was known for both his giving heart and his resilient spirit.

Tonight, I happened to glance at the door jam when I was putting my clothes away and saw Mark’s initials carved in the wood. My heart melted all over again.

When I first saw Mark I wanted to keep him forever. Now, I wanted to cut out his initials and keep them forever.

My baby brother’s memory will be forever carved in my heart. As I traced Mark’s initials with my finger, I thought about his casts and his courage, especially when he was battling cancer. Then I thought back to when I first saw him. I had been told then that he would probably never walk. He didn’t just walk—HE RAN!

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 timothy 4:7NIV).

Happy 1st Birthday in Heaven, Baby Brother!

Mark Daniel Boatright (11/13/1967-5/9/2014)
markbaby mark

Stuck

last clockThere have been seasons in my life when I have felt stuck. Sometimes it is because of difficult circumstances or difficult people. Sometimes it has been because I am living in in a particular place. Sometimes it has been a combination of all three.

In my stuck seasons, I have tried to be faithful to what God has called me to do as I have anticipated my freedom. One day, while I was praying, (begging would be a more accurate description) for God to end the season I have been in and let me “get on with my life,” I saw a vision of a clock. Its hands were rapidly spinning, signifying the passing of not only days, but years.

The hands seemed to be spinning out of control, but I felt a sense of God being in control—not just in control of the clock, but of time itself, particularly the seasons of my life. God spoke to my spirit that things were getting ready to accelerate in my life, due in part, to the people with which He had surrounded me. At that moment, I realized that I hadn’t been stuck; I had been placed.

God had placed me exactly where He wanted me. He had placed me where I and others would prosper the most. My stuck season had really been a season of equipping, growth, and connections, that would cause much to come about quickly in the upcoming season.

Once again, I was reminded of Joseph. In the 37th chapter of Genesis, Joseph’s dreams of his destiny, but in Chapter 39, he ends up on jail duty. His purpose leads him to prison, for a very long season. I am sure there were times when Joseph felt stuck. The Bible tells us that Joseph was faithful in all that was put before him. He also had favor. While he was stuck in prison, God was setting up his acceleration. As Joseph managed the books, God was writing Joseph’s book—a story that would instantly take him from the prison—to the palace—to the position of second ruler in the land. His prison time, his “stuck season” prepared him for the destiny for which he had been created—a destiny that would save many lives!

Are you are in a “stuck season?”. Has God has given vision you haven’t seen come to pass? Are you trying to hold onto your sanity while holding on to your dream? If so, be encouraged. God is going before you and setting things in order. Continue to be faithful with all that is before you. The hands on the clock are turning and will soon begin spinning. Get ready! God is going to accelerate time as He moves you into a new season–a season of changed positions and answered promises!
Lord, you are so faithful! Thank you for all of the seasons in my life, including when I feel stuck. Thank you for your equipping and favor, even when I don’t recognize it. I am confident that where you have placed me now will accelerate where you are taking me. Help me to be faithful and learn all you have for me to learn. Help me to trust you as you lead me toward my destiny. In Jesus’ Name…Amen!

Giving Your Change Away

change in hand 1A couple of years ago, after making a simple purchase, God led me to give my change to a man standing outside the store. As I pressed the coins into his hand, the Lord spoke to my heart, “I am taking you into a season of change. I want you to start giving your change away.”

As I continuously gave away my change, I entered into a season of continuous change that has often resembled a roller coaster ride—a ride that has taken me through both the frustration and pain of sickness, injury and loss, and through the joy of new opportunities, friendships, healing, and restoration.

The challenges in the midst of the changes have definitely changed me!.

Early last week, I woke up with a certain goal in mind. As I walked out of my room into the hallway, I felt the presence of God so intensely I almost fell down. (Maybe that is what is meant by the “weight of His glory.”) As I grabbed the door jamb to keep my balance, I heard in my spirit, “Everything just changed!” In my mind I saw a picture of a clock with both hands on the twelve. Later that evening I received a phone call informing me that God was answering some of the prayers I had been praying for almost 30 years.

Today, the Lord reminded me about the day He led me to start giving my change away. He then said, “It’s time for you to give your change away again.” This time I knew He wasn’t taking about money.

When God changes us in the midst of change, He equips us to bring change to others. Have you, like me been in a season of change? Have you been changed in the midst? Has God softened your heart, or given you wisdom and revelation? Do you have testimonies of answered prayer or of His abounding grace to see you through? If so, are you ready to start giving your change away?

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 5 For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ” (2 Corinthians 1:3-5 NIV).
Have a Blessed day!
Jeannie Diane