Distracted.

I come from a family that loves sports almost as much as they love me.

Maybe more.

Just joking.

In my younger years we were heavy into softball. I can vividly remember my dad, and my big sister, telling me to keep my eye on the ball.

Because let’s be honest – I am easily distracted. I have a creative spirit. I’m a dreamer. Focusing on one thing is hard for me.

Since I’m focusing on how to focus this year, I’m working my way through Philippians 4:8. I had a huge a-ha moment while digging deep into “whatever is just”. Just comes from the Greek word dikaios which means deemed righteous by God. When we relate our lives back to this scripture the question is: Are we focusing on what’s deemed righteous by God, or are we focused on what’s deemed righteous by the world?

My dad and my big sister knew that for me to be successful I couldn’t let my eye wander. They knew that I could easily be distracted by shiny things, butterflies, or friends eating french fries in the bleachers. I had to have unwavering focus.

God knows that, too.

Today, I challenge you [and me] to be unwavering in your faith and your focus. If Godly success can be attributed by focusing on what’s deemed righteous by God, then that’s what I want to do. That’s what I need to do. And if that’s what I need to do, don’t you know the devil’s gonna be slanging all kinds of glitter my way.

Don’t take your eye off of God, y’all. And rest assured that He never takes His eye off of you.

Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. 1 Peter 1:13

The Will of God

The will of God

As Christians we spend a considerable amount of time wondering about the will of God for our lives, or at least I have in the past. In the last year or so God has been showing it to me in black and white.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 tells me His will is for me to rejoice, pray, and give thanks in all things. 1 Peter 2:15 tells me His will is for me to do what is right, to silence the ignorance of foolish men. Seriously, if I just work on those I’m going to be pretty busy.

In order to follow His will in these things I’m going to have to battle my flesh and keep it crucified. My flesh wants to stress out, discuss the problem with whoever will listen, and gripe when things don’t go as planned. To win the battle I have to stay in the Word and fill my mind with His truth. I have to obey Colossians 3:2 and set my mind on things above.

Things just look different from there y’all. God knows all the things. Things I can’t even fathom. He knows about pandemics ✔️, elections ✔️, and all the general craziness that swirls around in our personal lives✔️✔️. He has it all in the palms of His hands and that allows me to rejoice, pray, and give thanks. It allows me to continue to do what is right and not say or do things that would prove the foolish men right.

When we are obedient, when we focus on Jesus and strive to stay in His will in the small things then the big things will follow. (I think our host Daisy is a great example of that. ❤️.) We don’t do for the blessing, we do out of gratitude and love, but there are so many promises that say blessings follow obedience ( Psalm 91, Psalm 128, 1 John 2:17, James 1:25 ………) and God is faithful to His promises.

So today go forth, rejoice, pray, give thanks, do right, repeat.

Hope.

Yesterday Dianne Smith Timberlake and I were deep in conversation, and she said this to me, “What we think is hardship could actually be hope.”

That’s good stuff.

I’ve been all over the Bible, the dictionary, and commentaries this morning looking at “hope”. Here is one of the definitions I found in the dictionary for hope: a person or thing that may help to save someone.

Y’all.

We all know that person is Jesus. Today, I pray for anyone reading this that needs that hope. He is right here to save you. Just ask.

“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people,” Ephesians 1:8

May the Lord bless you and keep You

Guest Post by Mrs. Stacy Shultz

My whole life has been a direct result of different individuals and their impact on my life.

When I think of people, who I admire, respect and treasure I remember their words of wisdom, their actions, and most importantly how they made me feel in their presence. Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

These influences, whether they knew their part in my life or not, truly resembled and embodied this scripture. As I look at my life as a mom, aunt, and educator, I am always questioning myself wondering did I do or do I give enough?

Growing up, there was always one scripture that was said weekly at youth group, and when I think back to that scripture, it is one that truly holds a special place in my heart. When I began my current job, I decided that my sweet little school needed this scripture too. It is said with a purpose each week at chapel.

We explain to the students that this is our benediction or blessing and that we offer this not to just ourselves, but to those who cannot be with us. Our benediction is Numbers 6: 24-26.

“May the Lord bless you and keep you; May the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious unto you; May the Lord lift his countenance upon you and give you peace; now and forever more. Amen!”

Oh, how this has truly blessed my life, but how do I know that by sharing this with others I am blessing them? This past week, I saw this scripture in action letting me know that people are listening and paying attention. Due to COVID-19, we have not been able to have chapel every week, but when my fabulous students ask to close our day with the benediction so we can remember those that cannot be with us, my heart warms.

There it is, an impact made that will forever be in my heart and hopefully theirs. Then a few days later, BOOM again! The two middles of our family or the “blonde ones” we call them, both got their letterman jackets. As we are bragging on both of them and their accomplishments, there on the back of my niece’s jacket under her name is Numbers 6: 24-26. It is there because this scripture is one that has impacted her life, too.

When I look at both of my children, I see how they help others and how they provide kindness and generosity openly and freely with others. I have often wondered about what footprints I have left behind. All I need to do is simply just take a look around and keep my focus on God, and the footprint will be there for others to see.

Remember Matthew 5:16, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” This is my job, my career, my goal, to shine my light brightly, so that others will in return spread the love, joy and kindness that everyone deserves.

To all of you reading this, I truly mean this: May the Lord bless you and keep you; May the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious unto you; May the Lord lift his countenance upon you and give you peace; now and forever more. Amen!

The Missing Piece

Guest Post by Miss Maggie Marino

Maggie was not scheduled to write this month 😆 but she sent me this and asked me to share on Rays of Sunshine.

————————————————————————-

Feeling Puzzled?
Confused about what’s going on?
Not certain about what is supposed to happen?
Not sure what you want to do?

Maybe Jesus is the missing piece.

When Jesus is missing everything is blurry. You’re not sure what to do, when to do it, and why it’s happening.

But, when Jesus isn’t missing, things may still be blurry but you are able to trust in God that it is for his plan.

So, feeling puzzled? Find Jesus, because he IS your missing piece.

“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭56:3‬ ‭

The Throne of Grace

Guest Post by Mrs. Kim Price

When our daughter, Payton, was little she believed candy to be essential to life. Healthy food held little to no appeal to her. One evening, when we violated her clear constitutional right to sweet goodness, she dramatically and tearfully declared that she absolutely had to have it. It was as ridiculous as you might imagine hearing our four year old reason that her greatest need in life is processed sugar.

Often, as children of God, we are not much different than our Payton. We pursue what is earthly, unnecessary, and sometimes unhealthy for us. We even convince ourselves these pursuits are essential for a happy life. All the while, we fail to recognize God’s abundant provision for our truest needs.

Ephesians 1:3 states, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.”

Paul, in Ephesians 1:3, tells us that God the Father, through Christ, has granted us every spiritual blessing. The word blessing used here translates well to benefit. Imagine the grandeur of this promise! Everything essential to abundant spiritual life is already ours in Christ. These never-ending spiritual resources are mediated to us through the Holy Spirit in the form of grace.

Now, please note that it doesn’t say material or earthly blessings. God never promises those things. In fact, to help put this verse in perspective for us, we should observe that in 1 Corinthians 4:11-13, Paul gives an account of his earthly and material status. He wrote that he had nothing, was hungry, thirsty, homeless, dressed in rags, persecuted, slandered, and treated as scum of the earth. How can a man who clearly had so little good on earth teach us that the Father has given us everything we need? Paul understood that Christ, and the benefits of being found in him, are the only essentials for abundant life.

The year 2020 wreaked havoc on many of our earthly benefits. It wrecked our economy, our ability to freely move about and travel, our entertainment, our political stability, our health, and so much more. This left us all a little disoriented and perhaps even feeling hopeless at times.It seems that 2021 is already ushering in its own set of troubles as well. However, we can cling to this promise and all its hope: our Father has given us every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms through Christ. Those benefits cannot be removed.

Let us go to the throne of grace and find the unending supply of spiritual blessings we need for this day and every day. If we are sinful, let us find mercy; if we are sorrowful, let us find comfort; if we are weak, let us find strength; if we are lonely, let us find friendship; if we are poor, let us find the riches of Christ. His blessings are immeasurable, unceasing, essential for life, and they are waiting for you. Now that’s sweeter than the sweetest of candy.

Here I Am.

Guest Post by Mrs. Sarah Sapp

I was a runner. As a young girl, if I saw my mother going for the paddle, I was outta there, instantly engaged in a game of cat and mouse. My impulsive, little brain could not see through to the end result of my actions (more punishment). I only knew in that moment, it didn’t make sense to me to stand there and take the discipline I deserved.

Hebrews 12:10 says, “Our parents corrected us for the short time of our childhood as it seemed good to them. But God corrects us throughout our lives for our own good, giving us an invitation to share his holiness.”

Now, I don’t know about you, but this past year has brought me my fair share of discipline from the Lord. I’ve become aware of things that I valued more than His presence: busy-ness, plans, conveniences. I’ve allowed discontent with my circumstances to take root in my heart, and I’ve been convicted of pride in my own ability to get things done. But God did not leave me in my sin.

Our holy God can’t be in the presence of sin, but because of His faithful love, He is constantly inviting us into His presence. As we move closer to Him, we must be willing to become more disciplined. His embrace is waiting on the other side.

“Now all discipline seems to be more pain than pleasure at the time, yet later it will produce a transformation of character, bringing a harvest of righteousness and peace to those who yield to it.” Hebrews 12:11 TPT

I’m not running anymore. If discipline means that I get to be pulled closer into the arms of Jesus, then Lord, here I am. Though this past year was sown in difficulty, the Lord promises that a harvest of righteousness and peace are coming for those willing to yield to Him. Because of this promise, we can look with anticipation and excitement at the coming year, no matter what may come!

Remember When

Guest Post by Mrs. Britni Bryan

I think we can all agree that 2020 was a rough one. As I ponder what 2021 might hold, I’m hit with conflicting feelings— excitement for the new, anxiety for the unknown. And if I’m honest, sometimes the fear of the unknown can crush any desire to dream of the goodness that this new year could hold. Perhaps it’s a guard I’ve put up in effort to block the blows that may come. As I wade between my conflicting feelings, I feel the Lord gently whisper just one word: “Remember.”

This year throughout my study, it’s come to my attention how many times scripture calls God’s people to remember. In Joshua 3, we find the Israelites in the home stretch of their journey to the Promise Land. They found themselves standing before the Jordan River, where God, once again, split the waters as the priests stood with the ark of the covenant in the center. He was leading them out of the wilderness and onward toward promise.

In chapter 4, the Lord gave one final instruction as they transitioned from one season into the next. He commanded Joshua to choose twelve men, one from each tribe, to take twelve stones from the very place where the priests had stood, the place where the Lord delivered them safely across the river. The Lord commanded them to carry them with them. These stones would serve as a symbol of their deliverance from the wilderness, as well as the fruition of God’s promise.

Joshua said to the Israelites, “In the future, when your children ask their fathers, ‘What is the meaning of these stones?’ you should tell your children, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan before you until they had crossed over, just as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which He dried up before us until we had crossed over. This is so that all people of the earth may know that the Lord’s hand is mighty, and so that you will always fear the Lord” (Joshua 4:21-24).

You see, God, in His kindness, knew His people would need reminders of His faithfulness. Why? Because life is hard. And just like the Israelites, we also need to be reminded of His faithfulness in our own lives. We will not always be on the mountaintops, and when we find ourselves in trial, we, too, must remember the countless times God has delivered us. It keeps us focused, trusting that the God of the universe and God of our hearts can do all things. And just like those stones, carry them with you–those moments He’s already shown himself faithful to you. Because it’s those moments that will also carry you. Write them down. Memorialize them however you choose, but remember.

So, if you find yourself discouraged or afraid to hope or dream this new year, recall these three words: Remember the Lord.

Big Dreams

The other day I had – what I thought was – a great plan brewing in my mind. I was telling God all about how to bring said dream to fruition, and you know what He said to me?

For real – clear as day – He spoke these words right to my heart, “Daisy, when are you gonna stop telling me what to do.”

Insert awkward side-eye emoji here.

Yikes. Are there any other Daisys out there? You know – someone that’s always telling someone else what to do including God. Honestly, I’m the worst about that.

I’m a planner and a dreamer and a big idea-haver, and boy can I delegate the how-to-get-it-done to the left and to the right. Listen, there’s nothing wrong with having big dreams if [and that’s a big IF] I keep the focus of all of these big ideas and dreams where my focus should be – and that’s on God.

Are these dreams:

God centered.

God driven.

God purposed.

Some days – ok most days – I have to remember to take off my bossy britches and hand them over to the one they belong to in the first place.

As we journey into a brand new year I’m going to reiterate to myself and to anyone else reading this – God’s plan is always the best plan. Let Him be the one in charge.

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” Proverbs 19:21

On Purpose

I’m an educator.

I’m an educator that loves to rest over Christmas Break. Each morning while slowly sipping coffee I sit on my comfy couch and listen to my praise and worship music.

With my Rae Dunn cup in hand:

I read my Bible.

I do my devotional.

I write.

I pray.

And I always think – wouldn’t it be nice if this were my normal? If all mornings were unrushed. No hair and makeup to be done. No leg prisons [aka pants] to put on.

And then I remember.

I’m here for a purpose. I’m here on a mission. And if I sit on my couch slowly sipping coffee and nothing else then what good am I to God’s Kingdom? I can read my Bible all day long, but if I’m keeping everything I’ve learned to myself then what’s the point? Honestly.

God’s girls are movers and shakers – no doubt. We have to get up and get out. Whether it be the grocery store, the hospital, the school house, or the home, we have to run to our mission field and fulfill our purpose.

Yes, Christmas Break for an educator is good. It’s so good. Educators need the rest and the refresher. We need down time after running in literal circles for the past few months.

But then we need to get up. We need to get up and get out to that mission field. We need to remember why we are here.

My house is my refuge. It’s my safe place. But God didn’t call His girls to be safe. He called us on purpose for a purpose.

So, in less than a week let’s be ready to go girls.

“He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace” (2 Timothy 1:9).