Blessings, Seen and Unseen

So much to be thankful for, blessings that can be seen and blessings that cannot be seen.  Here are some of the unseen blessings of knowing Jesus as Lord and Savior from Romans 8.

  • No condemnation in Christ Jesus
  • Freedom from the law of sin and death
  • A mind set on the Spirit
  • Life and Peace
  • Life in the Spirit
  • A living Spirit
  • No obligation to the flesh
  • Son (and Daughter) of God
  • Spirit of Adoption
  • Child of God
  • Heirs of God, heir with Christ
  • Saved
  • All things caused by God for my good
  • Foreknown
  • Pre-destined
  • Called
  • Justified
  • Glorified
  • Overwhelming Conqueror
  • Cannot be separated from God’s Love

I am so incredibly blessed that in addition to these wonderful spiritual blessings I also enjoy a wealth of blessings here on earth.  Here are some I am most grateful for…

  •  A good and godly husband
  • My kids and their loving partners
  • My wonderful family
  • Loyal and encouraging friends
  • My home – in Florida – an added gift
  • A new job I am enjoying
  • A wonderful church and church family
  • My Bible
  • Food to eat every day
  • Heat in winter, AC in summer
  • Sunshine, Rain, Clouds, Beaches, Flowers, Trees…

A never ending list of things I am grateful for on Thanksgiving and every day.  Feel free to add a few some of your own “gratefuls”!

Storm Warning – Acts 27

Soon after moving to Florida, I was greeted by several serious looking men as I entered church one Sunday.  The men were distributing a large and ominous looking flyer entitled, “Will You Be Ready?”  What?  Is it the end?  Armageddon?  Nope, this is Florida and the men were part of my church’s Disaster Recovery Team and the flyer a guide to hurricane preparedness.  Hurricanes are serious business in Florida!

Technology can tell us that a major storm is imminent but what about the storms of life?  That diagnosis we didn’t expect to hear, the spouse who just walks out, the child who is on the path of self-destruction sometimes we get blind-sided but sometimes we are forced to realize that there have been hints and we just did not recognize the signs.

We’re Warned

Paul, the great traveler is now a prisoner in Caesarea and is ordered to Rome; as a Roman citizen he has appealed for a hearing before Caesar.  Winter is approaching and sailing conditions are not ideal, Paul warns against the journey but his warning is disregarded.  Are you being warned of an approaching storm?  A friend tries to confront you about your choices and behavior.  The principal of your son or daughter’s school calls you again to discuss their behavior in class. A persistent cough does not go away, your spouse wants you to see your doctor.  Your spouse is always angry, never home, unavailable by phone and in person.

Look for a Nugget

The sailors and crew decide that weather conditions seem conducive to sailing, they ignore Paul’s warning and set sail.  When criticized or told about a possible problem don’t immediately react defensively or in anger.  Not all criticism is valid but sometimes a nugget of truth, a warning, is buried in words that seem harsh or judgmental – not always, but give it some thought before dismissing it.

We Pull Up Our “Big Girl Panties”

Faced with a “life-storm”, we think, “Ok, I can get through this, I’m tough”  or maybe we create a plan of action to “solve the problem”.  Sometimes we are told, “Keep your chin up.”  “You can do it.”  “Act like a grown-up.”  Any or all of these might work for a short time especially if it is not a big storm.  But for Paul and the men on the ship, when the storm hits it hits big – a major Nor’easter.  As the ship begins to fall apart they use cables and ropes to undergird the ship, hoping to keep the ship in one piece.

We Compromise

We attempt to make deals with God, “God if you just get me through this I will never ask for anything again, I’ll start going to church again, etc.”  We make deals with ourselves, “I will only drink on week-ends.”  We make deals with others, “If you just stay in school you can hang out with your friends on week-ends.”  “I will only call you in an emergency.”  The sailors jettison all the cargo on the ship, hoping to lighten the load.

We Change Our Behavior

Next the sailors toss off all the ship’s tackle; they get rid of the tools they need to sail the ship.  We return to church, we pray and read our Bibles.  We give up smoking and start jogging.  We start cooking elaborate dinners and make sure our spouse knows dinner will on the table at 6.  We search the internet looking for 5 easy steps to health, happiness and self-improvement and jump right to step 5.  We stop drinking or maybe we start, just to calm down.

We Despair

God seems silent, our prayers are not being answered.  It is too cold, too hot, too rainy, too snowy, my calves hurt too much to jog.  The first night our spouse is late, we smile.  The second night when our spouse doesn’t arrive until 8, we seethe.  The third night we throw out the dinner and eat cereal from the box.  We give up.  We have tried everything we know to do, everything the internet has advised.  We enter the dark pit of abandonment, frustration, and despair.  The ship that Paul is traveling on breaks apart completely – all of their effort to save the ship and themselves has failed.

God will sometimes allow the foundation we have constructed to fall apart.  The sailors in Acts 27 depended on their ship to get them to Rome, in the midst of the storm, as the ship split and shattered, they abandoned hope.  Has your foundation been crumbling?  Are you down to one or two bricks?  The foundation of “doing the right thing”, “being good enough”, “a big bank account” – if you are building your life on things or appearances it can and will fall apart in the storm.

Paul shares the vision he was given and reminds his ship-mates to hold fast to God’s promises.  In the storms of life we need to remember the vision and the promises God has given us.  The Bible gives each of us a vision – a picture – of heaven, our future, eternal home.  A place full of God, His peace and joy, a place where there are no more tears, suffering or pain.  Each of us has also received many promises.  Promises that God will be with us through the storms, that He hears our cries, that all things work to our good.

Ultimately, Paul, the other prisoners, the soldiers and sailors reach land, and all of them survive the shipwreck and the storm.  I don’t know the storm you are facing today.  Some storms are so intense, so devastating that it seems hopeless.  But to those who believe in Jesus, we have a sure and certain hope.  Don’t despair, cry out to God, trust His promises, the One who calmed the storm and walked on water will run to you!


20/20 VISION

Today’s post by Guest Blogger, Tiffany Barnett.  My friend and sister in Christ whose love for the Lord burns bright!

Why is it so easy to see the worst in others while being blinded to their best? Our inner, hypocritical struggle plants little seeds that harvest a garden of hatred. We tend to forget God created all of us from dust; and what we despise in others is actually a reflection of what resides in our selves. It may not always look the same, but its’ origins never differ. The origin is this: we all have fallen short of the glory of God.

Christ died for all, not some, so that those who believe in him can be reconciled to a Holy God, who we all have sinned against. What a humble reminder when God lovingly but sternly removes us from our man-made pedestal, reminding us He bore our sin and shame. How quick we are to see smudges on the windowpane, as the beautiful view behind it goes unnoticed.

Out of all of Jesus’ disciples, Peter always comes to my mind as an example of placing the focus on a person’s failures and forgetting the glory of God through their life. Peter walked on water with Jesus but quickly sank when he tried to swim in his own self-sufficiency. Jesus rebuked him, even calling him Satan, for having his mind on the here and now rather than eternity. Many times Peter seemed to have it all figured out; yet his actions demonstrated that the depth of Jesus’ words was like a shallow puddle evaporating in the summer sun. There was one incident in Peter’s life that stands out so profound, it has attached to him like a title, a last name. Peter denied Jesus not once, not twice but three times. The disciple who said, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” (Matthew 26:35), later said, ” I don’t know the man!” (Matthew 26:72). This outspoken follower of Jesus, cowardly turned on his heels back the way he came; turning his back on Jesus.

How easy we remember the ugliness of Peter’s failures, quickly forgetting the beautiful totality of the outcome. The beauty in Peter’s life wasn’t about Peter at all; rather the immeasurable love, grace and forgiveness of God shown to him. The worst possible outcome was not the denial, but would have been the absence of return. But God, being so great in his love and mercy, encouraged Peter to turn back to Jesus and not walk away. Jesus later built the Rock, His church on Peter! Wow, what an amazing comeback for Peter through the power of God. We fail to see the love of God, when we only see the things in which He died for in others. Is it not our selves we see when looking at Peter? We all have denied Christ at one point or another, and many times we deny Him daily. God never asked us to be perfect, so why do we demand it in others?  Perception through our own eyes fogs our vision, unable to see Christ’s clear, 20/20, loving view of them. The Bible says to encourage each other, considering your brother better than yourself; to love as Christ has loved us, forgiving each other as he has forgiven us. Oh, how wonderful the world would be if we encouraged each other in the gifts God has given those around us, building them up; rather than creating blueprints for their reconstruction and renovation, tearing them down. How is it that Christ saw all that was evil in us and still died for us? The answer is simple; He loved us.

My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, 
Colossians 2:2

…the good old days…

Is there a period in my life I would consider “the good old days”?

The short answer? No.

My early childhood years were carefree and fun.  As I look back, I realize our family had very little in terms of money and stuff but I had everything because I had a family that loved me and made me feel safe and valued.  I recognize not everyone receives such a rare and special gift.  But kids have no control over their own lives and I always wanted to do my own thing!

The teen years, lots of awkward nerdiness – don’t wanna go back there, don’t hardly even want to think about it!

Twenties and thirties – a time for spreading my wings and making my own decisions, some of them very wrong.  There were lots of changes, and some major life bumps, marriage, divorce, learning how to live a single life, then re-marrying and starting a family.  I was overwhelmed with joy to have a baby, then two years later another baby and three years later a third baby!  Early years with kids were unbelievably busy with little sleep but much joy and happiness.  I became a Christ-follower at 39.

Forty – that number felt like hitting a wall, a big number, the realization that my life, statistically, was more than half over!  These years were good as kids grew and my world got bigger, God sent friends, allowed some challenges and different opportunities for learning and growth.

Fifties, sailed by, full of work, really enjoying the years of raising teens and young adults, celebrating my kids steps to independence. Working full-time brings increased income and freedom to travel and enjoy more of what life has to offer.

Sixties, another big number!  I am in the final years of my life. Although I do not know when God will call me home my body reminds me that it’s all downhill from here.  But so what – I’m just getting closer to heaven!

I am blessed with good health, I get to live in a beautiful part of the world, the beach is 15 minutes away and the sun is shining most days.  I have the love of family and friends, I eat every day, I have a home to live in where I feel comfortable and safe.  Compared to most of our world I have it all and I am humbled by this and grateful beyond words!

As I look back over the decades of my life it has just kept getting better and better.  Not because of stuff but because God has been so very gracious to me.  I feel more secure about who I am, my talents and abilities, more confident with each passing year.  I care less what others may think and realize more and more the value and importance of the people God brings into my life.  Stuff, achievement, acquisition, position, recognition, power – all of these are less important to me daily.  I realize I brought nothing into this world and will take nothing out with me; that I need to invest my time, energy and talent into doing what I love with the people I love.  My desire is to leave a vast legacy of happy memories, to ease the burdens of as many as I can in some way and to share the joy and wisdom God has given me with others.

Is there a time in my life I consider the “good old days”, that I would like to return to?  Nah!  Right now is just right!

Blogging 101 – Good Neighbor Inspiration

Assignment for Blogging 101: Visit and comment on four other blogs and then write a post about one of the comments you made.

One of the aspects of blogging I am enjoying very much is reading and connecting with other blogger’s out there.  There seems to be a blog for any topic and category you can imagine and many are very creative.  For this assignment I decided I would visit blogs I had not visited before.  Here is a list of my four favorites from this “expedition” and I enjoyed each one of these for different reasons:

Life in the Boomer Lane had a very humorous piece on the “Booty Pop”.  Never heard of it?  I hadn’t either!  Now, let me warn you this is not a “usual” topic for my blog and I fully intend to rant a bit here.

For those of us living in ignorance, Booty Pop’s web site claims, “Now you too can have a Hollywood backside that turns heads!  No expensive surgery or overpriced trainer required.”  “A booty-licious booty in an instant!”

Ladies, why are we never satisfied to just look like ourselves?  What is our crazy obsession with looking like someone else?   Especially when one of those someone’s admits she spends 2 hours a day – 2 HOURS A DAY – to look absolutely perfect.  Please read that again, 2 HOURS A DAY!!!  First, who has that kinda time and second, how self-absorbed can you possibly be?  Oh wait, I guess I just answered that question, 2 hours a day is pretty self-obsessed!  I confess I have my own image issues, I dye my hair and rarely leave my house without make-up.  I would not say I am a slave to fashion but I like to think I keep up with styles a bit.

In a world full of women struggling with body image issues and eating disorders do we really need to convince women that our booty’s or any other body parts must “pop”?  I don’t think so!  And here is the part that makes me craziest.  On one hand, we all applaud strong and independent women who celebrate their advancing age with grace (think Helen Mirren or Judi Dench) and women who are confident in their own skin ( like Gabourey Sidibe or Rebel Wilson).  But when we talk about ourselves, most women I know say they want to change something about their appearance and they are not totally content with themselves.   We believe the lie that we are not good enough, not slim enough, not tall enough, not booty-licious enough or we go the opposite direction and complain we have too much belly, arms that flap or muffin tops!  We convince ourselves that we are simply not enough, ever!  Why?  Any one who really loves me, any one who really loves you, accepts and loves us just as we are and we ARE good enough!

I’ll repeat the tongue in cheek comment I made on Life in the Boomer Lane, “In my case FBS (Flat Booty Syndrome) is genetic but still no less shameful or embarrassing.”  Well, the truth is that yes, I have a flat booty and I formally and officially reject all types of booty enhancement!  Yes, you can find me at Steak and Shake suckin’ down a few burgers and Egg Nog shakes!  Yes, I’m flat and I’m proud – deal with it!!

Two Things Matter

If there were “frequent walker miles” the Apostle Paul would have to be a tier 1, A-list, gold card member! In The Book of Acts we see him going all over the ancient world. He traveled to the many cities including Corinth, Thessalonica, Antioch, Rome, Jerusalem and Damascus. He was an amazing man; highly educated and cultured he was an accomplished and persuasive public speaker able to tailor his presentation to his audience. Regardless of the language he was speaking or the nationality of his audience, his message was always the same:

I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you publicly and from house to house, solemnly testifying to both Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. Acts 20: 21,22

Repentance – turning away from sin, asking God for forgiveness, changing my mind about Jesus (no longer rejecting Him but accepting Him) and turning toward God.

Faith in Jesus Christ – fully God and fully man, Jesus is the only one who was capable of paying the penalty of death our sin deserved and conquering death.

True repentance changes everything, my mind, heart, life, words, and actions. True repentance enables me to view others with humility and not judgment because I have a correct view of myself in relationship to God. True repentance will cause me to worship and obey God, not because I have to but because I sincerely want to demonstrate my love.

Faith in Jesus gives me irrevocable security; I know my eternity in heaven is guaranteed. I don’t have to worry if I am “good enough” for God – I am because Jesus is! I change from a sometimes self-confident woman to a “God-confident” woman, knowing that Jesus is my sustainer. Covered by Christ, I abandon shaky self-esteem for “God-esteem”; He sees me as worthy and dearly loved and His view of me does not depend on my accomplishments, looks, failures or successes or any other temporary condition.

Repentance and Faith are unique and foundational to Christianity and God must draw you to both!

No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day. John 6:44

God will gently and persistently draw you to Himself; He takes the first ninety-nine steps towards us – we, individually and personally, need to take one single step towards Him. But it is the important and necessary step of repentance and faith.

The church you attend or don’t attend, your style of dress, the language you speak, decisions and choices in your past, none of these matter. Everything about the Christian Life flows from true repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. The two-fold step of repentance and faith is unbelievably simple but not always easy and it all begins with God’s grace; grace in granting repentance, grace in the person of Jesus, grace that redeems and grace that forgives. Step into grace, step towards God!

Blogging 101 – Dear Dream Reader

Today’s assignment – create a post that addresses your “Dream Reader”, the person who hope to reach through your blog and do something different.

Dear Dream Reader,

Be encouraged, be inspired…

But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 8:37 – 39

With a prayer for you…

Blogging 101 – Introducing…ME!

For the next few weeks many of my blog posts will be assignments for Blogging 101. The goal is to improve my blogging skills – you be the judge!

Todays Assignment: Who I Am and Why I’m Here.

I have always enjoyed writing and have learned to appreciate how difficult it is to really write well and to express yourself clearly.   Many years ago God gave me a love of the His Word, the Bible. I love reading, studying and teaching the Bible and I was able to do that in different settings and ways. Along the way my husband and I were given the opportunity to fulfill one of our dreams – living in Florida. So about 18 months ago we made our final decision and started the process of relocating from Northeast Pennsylvania to the Gulf Coast of Florida. We arrived at our new home in January of 2014.

Condensing the past 18 tumultuous months into three sentences make it sound so easy – it has not been; we greatly underestimated the impact of this decision. A big change for me was relinquishing my teaching and ministry leadership positions, something I dearly loved. God replaced this work with time; lots of time, a rare commodity that I had not had too much of for years. God and a few dear ones, encouraged me to write. My blog, State of My Heart, is the result.

My goal for State of My Heart is in the tagline, encouragement and lessons from The Word of God. I believe that God speaks through The Bible and His Word is the source of all wisdom and encouragement. The Bible is the primary way to get to know God, who He is and His character and to know His will for my life. The Word of God is the only mirror that shows me as I really am, sometimes weak, sinful and foolish but also dearly loved and clothed in Christ’s righteous; I am a princess, the adopted daughter of My King. The Bible reveals the true State of My Heart!

I am convinced the Bible is for everyone and is relevant for today. I know many will not agree. My blog is not an attempt to persuade or convince anyone to believe as I do; that’s God’s work not mine.  I write what God has shown and taught me and how His truth applies to my life; my hope is to inspire the reader to read and apply God’s Word to their own life and:

  • Be Encouraged – I am not as bad as I thought I was,
  • Be Inspired – I can do it,
  • Learn Something – I didn’t know or never thought that way, or
  • Be Challenged – I am worse than I thought I was!

Over the next year I would like to continue to improve my writing skill and improve the look and navigation on my blog. I would love to publish a book. Because I have many other interests some of those may also make “guest appearances” here – I love movies, reading, traveling, the beach, time with friends and family, eating, the beach, crafting and the beach – and that’s the short list!

Hope you will read, enjoy, and taste and see that the Lord is good!

Enjoy the Son-shine! Fantastic Betty

PS – the “Fantastic” part is a nickname given by a friend many years ago!  Topic for another post 😉