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Making It Home

Renee Ann Smith —  August 24, 2015 — 6 Comments

EMILY WIERENGA MAKING IT HOME

This post is part of Emily Wierenga’s Making It Home series, leading up to the release of her next memoir on September 8th. You can check out Emily’s new book by clicking here: Making It Home: Finding My Way to Peace, Identity, and Purpose.

I grew up a daydreamer, spending many lonely hours imagining how different I would be in another place or at another time or with another family.

Not because home was bad. Our house was a comfortable, busy place. But I was a timid, fearful child and viewed home more as a safe little cage than a launching pad.

I wished for the courage to break free and spread my wings but never found it in real life—only in my dreams.

Then I came to know Jesus, and He showed me something better than wishing away my life.

For He had dreamed me before I was even born.

“My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place,
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”
Psalm 139:15&16

At the touch of the Spirit, gifts, talents, abilities I didn’t even know lay within me blossomed. I focused on Jesus, knowing Him, serving Him, putting Him first, and found peace, purpose, identity—and even some courage. Courage enough to leave home, move states away to attend college, move again for various short-term jobs, and finish a teaching degree.

Finally the day came when I stepped into a classroom of my own, and everything clicked. Teaching at a small Christian high school, mentoring students, ministering to families seemed the fulfillment of what God had dreamed for me. Over the years, my co-workers, my students, and their parents became my extended family.

I was happy with who I was and where I was.

I was home.

But life goes on and difficulties arise and dreams fray . . . To continue reading this post & to pick up today’s graphic, follow this link to Emily’s blog!

**Photo Backstory: I create my graphics from iPhone pics or free images from sites like Unsplash & Death to Stock Photo plus the effects at PicMonkey. Feel free to Pin, Tweet, download & share. Pass them on!
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Live To The Hilt

Renee Ann Smith —  August 10, 2015 — 14 Comments

Sometimes it feels like life has grown complicated.

My daily tasks are simple enough. Once I’ve done some planning, I could walk through my days without thinking or feeling much.

And that’s the problem.

I don’t want to just  go through the motions and mark time from now until Jesus calls me home.

Jim Elliot said, “Wherever you are, be all there. Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God.”

Jim Elliot Wherever you are be all there

But this world is a messy place. Experiencing all the highs & lows, allowing our feelings to be touched by the heartaches & hurts of those around us, can be painful and exhausting.

Many people end up doing whatever it takes to avoid feeling the guilt, loneliness, despair, rejection, fear, and regret that seem to characterize life. Whether it’s drowning their sorrows or closing their hearts off in a safe, little bubble.

It’s tough to be in the world but not of it.

On one hand, God put eternity in our hearts and we long for . . . 

Beauty that will never fade

Love that will never die

Peace and hope and happy

Enough to fill every empty place inside us.

Yet we live in this transitory world, and just like fall turns to winter, people disappoint us, pleasures come and go, kids grow up and move on . . .

Sometimes the good-byes to be said at the end discourage us from even beginning.

We yearn to freeze our best moments and hold them close. We yearn for joys that last. 

Yet we feel them slipping through our fingers.

Fortunately, God has made a way for us to straddle both words.

Because in Jesus, time and eternity meet.

He is 100 percent God, made the world, knew us before we were born, and even appeared in the Old Testament.

Yet He came as a man. He lived in this world as an eternal being limited by a human body. He ate, slept, hungered, wept, laughed, grew weary, felt pain . . . just as we do.

And this God-Man, who knows our frames and guards our hearts, helps us embrace life without fear.

In Him, we find balance, a soothing balm, a buoy to reach for when we’re sinking.

He saturates our days with eternal value as we navigate this world

And afterwards receives us into glory.

Amen.

Heaven Peter Kreeft

Let’s look for glimpses of glory today. Blessings, friends!

**Photo Backstory: I create my graphics from iPhone pics or free images from sites like Unsplash & Death to Stock Photo plus the effects at PicMonkey. Feel free to Pin, Tweet, download & share. Pass them on!
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Corrie Ten Boom Prayer

Corrie Ten Boom had a way of getting right to the heart of a matter and making folks re-evaluate their priorities. Her quotes never fail to bear fruit in my heart.

These insights by C. S. Lewis follow a similar theme . . . 

“We regard God as an airman regards his parachute.

It’s there for emergencies but he hopes he’ll never have to use it.”

“If God were proud He would hardly have us on such terms: but He is not proud, He stoops to conquer.

He will have us even though we have shown that we prefer everything else to Him,

And come to Him because there is ‘nothing better’ now to be had.”

Their words bring to mind how God gives grace after grace in response to my heart’s fickle yearnings.

And I am grateful.

“For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace.” John 1:16

Thanks for stopping by today. Blessings, friends!

**Photo Backstory: I create my graphics from iPhone pics or free images from sites like Unsplash & Death to Stock Photo plus the effects at PicMonkey. Feel free to Pin, Tweet, download & share. Pass them on!
**Find me on Facebook at this link & follow!
**Let’s be Twitter pals!
If you’re on Twitter, I’ll follow you—if I’m not already. Just let me know in the comments. You can find me here.
**Let’s connect on Instagram!
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He Is Greater

Renee Ann Smith —  August 3, 2015 — 7 Comments

”Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him,
‘We have seen the Lord!’

But he said to them, ‘Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side,
I will not believe.’”

~John 20:24&25~

Because of these words, Thomas will always be remembered as Doubting Thomas

But I think of him more as Pessimistic Thomas. Or maybe Cautious Thomas.

Poor guy, even when his friends offered him hope that Jesus had risen from the dead, Thomas couldn’t quite bring himself to believe it.

I don’t blame him for thinking that his friends might be wrong or easily fooled or perhaps even delusional. Think of what had been happening all around him during the last few weeks.

The world as he once knew it had gone crazy. It had become a place where ordinary men—upstanding, law-abiding citizens—had to fear for their lives. Not because of they were swindlers or thieves or murderers or abusers of any kind.

But simply because of what and in whom they believed.

At the center of this maelstrom was his Lord, a man-God who raised the dead, restored the sick, exercised power over wind and wave, and gave meaning and purpose to Thomas’s very existence.

Yet the world looked at Jesus–teacher, healer, shepherd, a man who never hurt anyone–as a threat.

Like today’s world, they “called good, evil and evil, good,”*** hunted God’s Son as a criminal, tortured, and killed him.

Maybe it all seemed like a bad dream from which there was no waking.

And God let it happen.

Thomas had been close enough to Jesus to feel the chill of those evil forces.

What might they have in store for him?

No wonder he was afraid to trust good news. He could barely believe what he had recently seen with his own eyes much less put stock in hearsay from some emotional friends.

The wounds sin inflicted were painful, deep, and deadly. How could there be any recovering from them?

Thomas wanted to touch, to see, to be sure . . . and Jesus answered his request.

“A week later, Jesus’ disciples were in the house again. Thomas was with them. Even though the doors were locked, Jesus came in and stood among them. He said, ‘May peace be with you!’

Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here. See my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.’

Thomas said to him, ‘My Lord and my God!’

Then Jesus told him, ‘Because you have seen me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen me but still have believed.’”

~John 20:26-29~

I don’t look at Jesus’ last comment so much as a rebuke to Thomas but as a promise to us. We might find ourselves looking around at the things going on in the world today and thinking exactly as Thomas did:

How can we survive against the evil forces of this world?

Why does God seem to stand silently by?

Where is Jesus?

And the Lord answers, “Blessed are those who have not seen me but still have believed.”

Let’s help each other keep believing, and we can be sure that the blessing will come. It might not look the way we expect—but it will come!

Here’s a verse reminder that greatly comforted me this week . . .

Greater is He that is in youPlus a bonus graphic just because . . .

Blessed is she who believes

I’m thankful that God understands our hearts so well and makes sure to show us again & again that we can trust His.

Thanks for stopping by today. Blessings, friends!

**“Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!” ~Isaiah 5:20~

**Photo Backstory: I create my graphics from iPhone pics or free images from sites like Unsplash & Death to Stock Photo plus the effects at PicMonkey. Feel free to Pin, Tweet, download & share. Pass them on!
**Find me on Facebook at this link & follow!
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When We Hurt Beth MooreSometimes when we’re hurting, we wish for a God whose arms we can feel and voice we can hear.

But Martha and Mary’s story reminds me that if Jesus were still on earth, His ability to be physically with each one of us would be severely limited.

Part of the faith journey is learning to live in the world of the spirit,

Where God’s comfort comes to our souls in a miraculous work of grace

That is beyond what I can explain or describe.

During the times when I have hurt the most, God has used His faithful servants and His Word and His peace that passes understanding to show me His heart for me.

Here are some favorite verses to immerse myself in during those times. What are some of your favorites?

From Psalm 34 . . .

“The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are attentive to their cry.” (vs. 15)

“The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them. He delivers them from all their troubles.” (vs. 17)

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (vs. 18)

“The righteous person may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all.” (vs 19)

“The Lord will rescue his servants. No one who takes refuge in him will be condemned.” (vs. 21)

Psalms 73:26: “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

Isaiah 41:10: “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

John 14:27: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”

Philippians 4:6&7: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

I love how those Philippians verses sound in The Message: “Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns.

Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down.

It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.”

Psalm 139:16: “Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth. All the stages of my life were spread out before you, the days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day.”

Psalm 139:9&10: “If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there Your hand will guide me, Your right hand will hold me fast.”

Psalm 139 God Knew me at conception

And, of course, I can rarely end a post without sharing some quotes! I appreciate these wise words from a man who has been through dark times himself . . .

“Your most profound and intimate experiences of worship will likely be in your darkest days,

When your heart is broken,

When you feel abandoned,

When you’re out of options,

When the pain is great and you turn to God alone.” ~Rick Warren

I’m thankful that God understands our hearts so well and makes sure to show us again & again that we can trust His.

Thanks for stopping by today. Blessings, friends!

***Photo Backstory: I create my graphics from iPhone pics or free images from sites like Unsplash & Death to Stock Photo plus the effects at PicMonkey. Feel free to Pin, Tweet, download & share. Pass them on!
***Find me on Facebook at this link & follow!
***Let’s be Twitter pals!
If you’re on Twitter, I’ll follow you—if I’m not already. Just let me know in the comments. You can find me here.
***Let’s connect on Instagram!
I so enjoy scrolling my Instagram feed & admiring everyone’s pics. Let me know if you’re on Instagram or find me at this link.
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Remember This

Renee Ann Smith —  July 22, 2015 — 8 Comments

Feelings C S Lewis

“The great thing to remember is that, though our feelings come and go, God’s love for us does not.

It is not wearied by our sins, or our indifference;

And, therefore, it is quite relentless in its determination that we shall be cured of those sins,

At whatever cost to us, at whatever cost to Him.” ~C. S. Lewis~

“Feelings and feelings and feelings. Let me try thinking instead.” ~C. S. Lewis~

“Don’t bother too much about your feelings.

When they are humble, loving, brave, give thanks for them.

When they are conceited, selfish, cowardly, ask to have them altered.

In neither case are they you, but only a thing that happens to you.

What matters is your intentions and your behavior.” ~C. S. Lewis~

“Love is not affectionate feeling, but a steady wish for the loved person’s ultimate good as far as it can be obtained.” ~C. S. Lewis~

“Nobody can always have devout feelings: and even if we could, feelings are not what God principally cares about. Christian love, either towards God or towards man, is an affair of the will.” ~C. S. Lewis~

I’m thankful that God understands our hearts so well and makes sure to show us again & again that we can trust His.

Thanks for stopping by today. Blessings, friends!

***Photo Backstory: I create my graphics from iPhone pics or free images from sites like Unsplash & Death to Stock Photo plus the effects at PicMonkey. Feel free to Pin, Tweet, download & share. Pass them on!
***Find me on Facebook at this link & follow!
***Let’s be Twitter pals!
If you’re on Twitter, I’ll follow you—if I’m not already. Just let me know in the comments. You can find me here.
***Let’s connect on Instagram!
I so enjoy scrolling my Instagram feed & admiring everyone’s pics. Let me know if you’re on Instagram or find me at this link.
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These words from Pastor Bill Johnson captured my heart this week . . .

“Heaven is filled with absolute, perfect, confidence in God. This world is filled with absolute mistrust.

And you and I will always reflect the nature of the world we are most aware of.

What you live conscious of is what you will reproduce in the world around you.

I try to live in such a way that nothing ever gets bigger in my awareness than my conscious awareness of the presence of God upon me.

I don’t care what the problem is—

If it’s an international crisis or a personal issue—

The moment that problem gets bigger than my awareness of the presence of God, then I will live in reaction to a problem.” ~Bill Johnson~

Wise words! God used them to help me assess my own panic-driven thinking & calm my troubled mind. 

Let’s continue to remind each other that whatever problems we’re facing in life—He is greater!

Here are a few of my favorite quotes on life to begin your week . . .

God Meets Our NeedsGeorge Mueller Trials Problems

Thanks so much for stopping by today. Blessings, friends!

***Photo Backstory: I create my graphics from iPhone pics or free images from sites like Unsplash & Death to Stock Photo plus the effects at PicMonkey. Feel free to Pin, Tweet, download & share. Pass them on!
***Find me on Facebook at this link & follow!
***Let’s be Twitter pals!
If you’re on Twitter, I’ll follow you—if I’m not already. Just let me know in the comments. You can find me here.
***Let’s connect on Instagram!
I so enjoy scrolling my Instagram feed & admiring everyone’s pics. Let me know if you’re on Instagram or find me at this link.
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The People God Uses

Renee Ann Smith —  July 15, 2015 — 13 Comments

Ability Corrie Ten Boom

 “Embedded in the larger story of redemption is a principle we must not miss: God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things in the lives of others.”
~Paul David Tripp~

“When you are beyond your ability, God has you right where He wants you.”
~R. Thomas~

“Hardship often prepares an ordinary person for an extraordinary destiny.”
~C. S. Lewis~

`”Your ordinary story bears the fingerprints of an extraordinary God.”
@SheReadsTruth

Thanks so much for stopping by today. Blessings, friends!

***Photo Backstory: I create my graphics from iPhone pics or free images from sites like Unsplash & Death to Stock Photo plus the effects at PicMonkey. Feel free to Pin, Tweet, download & share. Pass them on!
***Find me on Facebook at this link & follow!
***Let’s be Twitter pals!
If you’re on Twitter, I’ll follow you—if I’m not already. Just let me know in the comments. You can find me here.
***Let’s connect on Instagram!
I so enjoy scrolling my Instagram feed & admiring everyone’s pics. Let me know if you’re on Instagram or find me at this link.
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