Sunday, November 19, 2017

Season Of Gratitude

Thanksgiving is here and that means the 2017 holiday season is in full swing. The level of activity increases for most people. Holiday parties, gifts to buy, recipes to try, family dinners and cards to mail add to our level of stress this time of year.

There is a way to change your mental health during this stressful time of year. Today my Pastor spoke from I Thessalonians 5:16-18 and it has the perfect prescription for success.

Always be joyful.
Keep on praying.
No matter what happens, always be thankful...

Shifting our thoughts to gratitude helps us focus on what is here versus what is missing. It grounds us to truly understand the real reason for the holiday season. Although someone else might win that coveted parking spot at the mall, or skip you in line at the grocery store always be joyful, keep on praying and always be thankful.

This Thanksgiving, can you find at least three reasons to be thankful? 

Well here is my list:

  1. Family
  2. Friendship
  3. Protection
It's that simple. 

What is on your thankful list this holiday

Once you compile it, keep pondering it in your heart. Every morning and night recite at least three things you are thankful for. Sometimes, we can feel we are in a horrible situation only because our focus is solely on the negative circumstance happening. But remember, there is always a reason to give thanks. 

I listened to Pastor Frank that leads First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. He preached a week after a massacre that took 26 of his parishioners, including his 14 year old daughter. His words gave me a newfound belief that gratitude in the midst of hurt and pain DOES exist

He told his congregation one week after the tragic church massacre to "stand, clap and praise the Lord." What incredible spiritual maturity! He understands that in all circumstances to keep on praying, always be joyful and always be thankful. 

From our family to yours, Renee and I wish you a Thanksgiving filled with laughter and gratitude. For those of you experiencing deep loss and sadness we are praying with you for comfort during this tough time of the year. (Posted by Roslyn)

Sunday, October 29, 2017

In God we Trust. Really?

U. S. Flag

Everyday we are bombarded with images of division and evil in our country. Sometimes you walk away from the television wondering, are we really one nation under God? Why does it seem like we are moving further and further away from God? I now realize, from my own personal journey,  one important fact.

To be healed from your past, you must confront the painful areas that are buried deep. 

That's true in my life, your life and it's true for our country. The journey to uncover and deal with your past can be dark, often hurts and maybe full of tears. However, it's all necessary to adequately complete the healing process.

Three years ago I found myself in a broken place. During a women's conference I attended, God brought me to my knees. It was sudden and unexpected. There was a broken area of my life that I never confronted. My way of coping was to bury my feelings and not deal. God had a different plan.

In that moment during the conference, the memory of it all came flooding back and I knew a season of brokenness was on the horizon. 

To give myself the time needed to heal, I stepped down from church responsibilities and allowed God's gentle whispers to restore my soul, piece by piece. If you find yourself in a dark place with images of your past invading your mental space, remember that God is your healer and He wants nothing more than your FREEDOM!

My situation relates to what we see happening in our country today. The darkness, pain, division and confusion that we witness each and everyday is a reflection of an unpleasant and nasty history that is now bubbling to the surface so that we can confront, deal and heal.

Racism, bigotry, and hate is not new.

It's been here and if you haven't been a victim of it, count yourself blessed. Could it be, we're going through the uncovering and unmasking of these ills in our society because there's restoration on the way? That's what I believe. Don't worry or fret about what you see in the world today. God is in control and He doesn't waste any experience to be used for His glory. Be mindful that He is not the author of evil. It was inevitable when sin entered this world. God is merciful and loving and desires that none should perish. Not even you!

Remember, you cannot heal what you won't confront.

Our country will only grow stronger in unity once we return to our foundation in God and focus on brighter days. Colossians 4:2 commands us to continue praying, keeping alert and always thanking God. As you trust Him with every fiber of your being, He will make changes in this nation. Remember, in God we trust! (Posted by Renee)

Sunday, October 8, 2017

I am for ME!

Isn't it easy in our world to ONLY be focused on ME - my plans, my agenda, my preferences, my reputation, my kids, etc. At this point you can have anything customized to your taste, from the food you eat in a restaurant, the temperature in your home, smartphone screen and even the firmness of your mattress. It's all designed to fit your taste.

How can I NOT be focused on myself when everyone else is?

Magazines, billboards, gyms, and commercials plead with you to take time for yourself. But it really will mean more revenue for them if you spend money on their products that they highly suggest you need in your life.

It is easy for me to look around and associate with only those that look, talk and agree with my way of thinking. But is that helping the greater good of humanity?

How can WE be positive and light in a dark world, if we didn't expand our own borders to include those that are different from us?

There will always be those in the world that don't agree with you. Don't distance yourself from them. Your treatment of them in a loving and kind way, EVEN when they don't agree, shows them an alternative way to be treated.

You can't change them! You can only change your response to them.

Sometimes we have to just agree to disagree.

I realized I was isolating myself from those that were different. I was pro ME, pro my religion, pro my race, pro my political party, etc. I fell into the trap like so many Americans. We are all different and that is the beauty that makes us unique.

Choose not to isolate yourself from those that have a different political party, different race, different religion or different views of life.

Embrace Diversity

My yoga buddies

Diversity adds to our uniqueness

Now more than ever we have to wrap our head, heart and minds around understanding our differences. I've found when you do, guess what, you start to realize you are more alike than you are different.

Find the common ground you have with others. It could be love of scrapbooking, photography, running, yoga, fishing, reading, sports, gaming, etc. Let that lead your conversations NOT what you don't like about each others view on life. (Roslyn)

When I am with those who are oppressed, I share their oppression so that I might bring them to Christ. Yes, I try to find COMMON GROUND with everyone so that I might bring them to Christ. I do all this to spread the Good News, and in doing so I enjoy its blessings. ~I Corinthians 9:22-23

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Stop What You're Doing!

When was the last time you rested? Not just a few hours of sleep in the evening or even an afternoon nap.

I mean, taking an entire day to REST.

Our world is so full of  activities, work, sports, cleaning, cooking, caring for kids and so many other distractions that we often lose sight of the commandment that God gave us in the 20th chapter of Exodus.

Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

This is one of the longest commandments given as part of the Ten Commandments shared with Moses on Mount Sinai. We often find it easy to abide by the commandments where we are told  not to murder, lie, or commit adultery, but when we are commanded to take a day of rest, we often shrug it off.

Push it aside or not pay attention to it at all.

The Ten Commandments aren't answers to a multiple choice question where you pick a few to obey and then decide whether or not you will follow the others. ALL of them are important and serve a purpose in our lives. 

There should be at least one day of the week that you set apart for rest and worship with your Heavenly Father. Sabbath rest is vital to refresh your body and soul.

Not only are we supposed to rest, so should our children, employees, and even our visitors. God thought so much of this commandment that He demonstrated an example of Sabbath rest when He formed the world. Now let's be honest, God didn't need the rest. He did however want to lead by example. Let's read the scripture again from another translation:

 Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Work six days and do everything you need to do. But the seventh day is a Sabbath to God, your God. Don’t do any work—not you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your servant, nor your maid, nor your animals, not even the foreign guest visiting in your town. For in six days God made Heaven, Earth, and sea, and everything in them; he rested on the seventh day. Therefore God blessed the Sabbath day; he set it apart as a holy day.

I now understand why my mom didn't cook or clean on Sunday when we were growing up. Our Sunday's started with church and concluded with rest. We watched very little television on Sunday's especially before church. It all makes sense now.  This time of quiet provided a time of reflection before a time of worship. I hope you will find the ability to trust God and give your body the rest it needs. Trust me, whatever you need to get finished, it can wait. He's got you covered! (Posted by Renee)

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Hurricane Irma Wreaks Havoc

What a difference a week makes. 

Radar of Hurricane Irma

Last week I sat in the aftermath of the strongest storm in history, Hurricane Irma. Power loss, boil water ordinance, friends and family in distress, low water pressure, long gas lines, debris cleanup and grocery stores with empty shelves appeared as an apocalyptic movie scene.

Local Grocery Store - Empty Shelves

Grocery Store struggle to fill shelves
I remember walking out of my home for the first time to see what Irma left behind. Thankfully, nothing but minor inconveniences compared to so many in Key West, Naples, Puerto Rico, Cuba and the Caribbean islands.

I think like many Floridians, I've been so humbled by the many comforts of home that I take for granted. The ability to make that hot cup of coffee, take a hot shower or turn on a light and have electricity in the home. Having it all taken away humbled me to realize every community is only one disaster away from total devastation.

Floridians over the next weeks and months will continue to recover from Hurricane Irma. We will also have our eyes and ears keenly aware of any other tropical waves or disturbances in the Gulf of Mexico or Atlantic Ocean.

Renee and I want to thank YOU for your prayers and well wishes as we weathered the storm. We both have sought ways in our community and beyond to give back and help those who are most vulnerable. To every first responder, emergency management official, meterologist and electrical workers that left their family to ensure our families were safe and informed, we thank you.

Our attitude of gratitude will continue. Will you join us? 

Can you start each day thankful for the little comforts of home you easily take for granted? Can you find someone or organization that might need your hands or financial donation? I truly believe we have so much to be a blessing to someone else. Can you continue to pray for Houston where 20,000 are still in shelters and transitional housing.

Our small acts of kindness make a BIG difference. Communities helping communities. The human race and American spirit seem to always rise in the midst of storms, crisis and adversity. God bless America. (Posted by Roslyn)

Prayers for Florida, Houston and so many others!

Sunday, September 10, 2017

We're Being Hit by Hurricane Irma

Hurricane Irma

At the time of this post, Roslyn and I both live in a state being pounded by Hurricane Irma. Millions of people are in the path of the storm causing it to be a historic event. Schools, churches, and even Walmart are closed for the next few days until the storm passes. All week it's been nearly impossible to purchase the basic hurricane necessities like gas, water, bread and batteries.

I knew my area was in the path of the storm to some degree, but with the shift in Irma's track, the eyewall will come within miles of my home. Since it was nearly impossible to find plywood for our windows, we will hunker down in our safe room where there's no windows or exterior doors.

The sobering reality that nearly 100 mph winds will soon change the atmosphere caused me to take years of memories off my walls. 

This entire experience is humbling. Matter of fact, downright frightening. 

Hurricanes are common this time of year. I've weathered many storms but there's something about Irma that leaves even the strongest of believers  a bit nervous. I KNOW that my faith is in God and not plywood or shutters. 

Even in my fears, I'm fully confident in an amazing and sovereign God! 

During the preparation for the storm, God constantly reminded me that He's my resource. When parts of me wanted to panic because I couldn't find water or batteries for our flashlights, God used neighbors and friends to call out of nowhere to offer these supplies to us. 

Even though our house isn't boarded up and we don't have shutters, it's well built and God continues to whisper, "if you needed those items, I would've sent them your way." 

I choose to trust Him!

There's a few things that God is demonstrating with this event.

  • The opportunity for "Sabbath Rest"

On a typical Sunday most people will find themselves worshiping at churches all over this state. Thousands of church employees and even volunteers work hard to prepare beautiful atmospheres of worship.

Not today. 

Most churches in the state are closed and it's a time when we will all enjoy "Sabbath rest". It's one of the ten commandments that we often read about but never follow. In a world full of distractions, the command from Exodus 20 gets easily overlooked.

8-11 Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Work six days and do everything you need to do. But the seventh day is a Sabbath to God,your God. Don’t do any work—not you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your servant, nor your maid, nor your animals, not even the foreign guest visiting in your town. For in six days God made Heaven, Earth, and sea, and everything in them; he rested on the seventh day. Therefore God blessed the Sabbath day; he set it apart as a holy day.
  • God is our source

I'm sure that for some pastors, church being closed today is a scary thought. For churches of all sizes that depend on the tithes and offerings of its members each week for various budget items or to the employee of the numerous restaurants, retail stores and gas stations that can't work today and won't get paid as a result, God is providing yet another opportunity to trust Him in a deeper way. Here's His word: 

Philippians 4:19And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

  • God owns it all
For those concerned about their homes, churches or businesses being damaged, understand that it all belongs to him. He allowed you to acquire it, He will help to sustain it.

Even if you have to rebuild.

I Chronicles 29:16 God, our God, all these materials—these piles of stuff for building a house of worship for you, honoring your Holy Name—it all came from you! It was all yours in the first place! 

  • God is our protector
These scriptures give the greatest encouragement in scary times...

Psalm 32:7You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.

Psalm 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.

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

(Posted by Renee)

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Through Her Eyes

Summer is quickly evaporating. We all wait with baited breath to see the solar eclipse that happens on Monday, Aug. 21st. Children and parents are hurriedly returning to a new pace with the school year starting and for some school is already in full swing. Young adults are excited about their new college life. Before we blink, it will be Christmas.

I am one of those parents with a teenager starting his senior year of high school and youngest son entering 7th grade.

Where did the time go?

That is the question that most of us are asking ourselves. I've been blessed to have a refreshing Summer that came with a ton of travel.  Puerto Rico, Dallas, River Ranch Florida, Palm Beach, Melbourne, Naples, Atlanta, Cincinnati, New York, Toronto, Valdosta Georgia it seems that I was away more than I was home. Country living, beaches and metropolis cities I've experience so much in three months with my boys. My suitcase is still packed by the foot of my bed.

Roslyn at River Ranch, Florida watching buffalo

My Summer vacation capped off with traveling with the two of the four living matriarchs of our family to Cincinnati. We have an annual family reunion that usually is hosted in Florida. For 45 years we gather, eat and reminisce about earlier days when many more of our family members were alive. This year, after about two decades, we made the trek to Ohio. The weather was 58 degrees, low humidity and a refreshing break from the hot temperatures in Florida.

The ability to see the friendly skies with my aunt was priceless. I often take air travel for granted since I do it so frequently. My aunt sat by the window in awe of the large aircraft that held her. The clouds, the skyline, the ocean all of it kept her captivated and smiling by her window seat in 10C.

Aunt enjoying the view in seat 10C

As we start a new year, let's see life through the eyes of those that are much wiser than we are. Life for them moves at a slower pace. No agenda, no rushing, no where to be just enjoying the amazing world that surrounds them. Although not perfect, it's the one that God has provided for us. I hope the following verse encourages you in whatever season of life you find yourself. (Posted by Roslyn)

"Don't be troubled. You trust God, now trust in me." ~John 14:1