Jesus, thank you.

Jesus, today I am just here to say thank you.

So often our prayers quickly fill up with concerns, questions, doubts, and heart desires. It’s important to remember to give thanks to the Lord. He didn’t promise us a beautiful easy life. He did promise us to be a loving Father that walks along side us as we run the race set before us. (Hebrews 12)

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.” Psalm 107:1

Does the Lord want to hear our concerns, questions, doubts, and heart desires? You know it. Fill your prayers with it. His ears and arms are open. But through this may we walk with gentleness and remember to give thanks. He sculpted us and made us in his image. He knows our heart. You don’t have to worry about that. He sees your worries. Your heartache. He wants us to run to his arms. Whether that is crying out for help or guidance or to voice our concerns. Through this – may we remember the scripture. Remember the Father’s everlasting love he has for us. He is good. He has been faithful and loving since the garden and will continue to be. With that knowledge, give thanks. Thank him on the good days. Thank him through the tough seasons that you’re unsure of his plan. It’s difficult. Trust me, I know. It’s difficult to find thankfulness when we live within a dark world. Let’s be honest, it’s difficult to say thank you when we feel like the plan within our mind would be a lot smoother. Thank him anyways. He understands our human nature. On the days it’s extra hard to give thanks, may the Holy Spirit fill your heart and mind with the goodness and faithfulness of Jesus Christ.

So today Jesus, I thank you. I know you want to hear from me. I know your ears and arms are open for me to voice my concerns, worries, doubts, and heart desires. I know you are faithful. But today Jesus I also want to emphasize how good of a Father you are, and give you ultimate thanks. I don’t say it enough. I want to thank you for being all you are. Thank you for loving this world, even though we don’t deserve an ounce of your love. Thank you for loving and guiding me. Even on my extra rough days. Thank you.

A heart problem.

November brings Thanksgiving celebrations that call us to remember the past, while encouraging an awareness of our present. November reminds me of my daddy’s birthday. Although I’m always thinking of him, there’s something about seeing the date on my calendar. With his birthday comes sweet memories of days gone by. We call them “precious memories” – valuable memories stored in my heart. I liken it to a personal filing cabinet that only I have access to.
Some people have amazing memories and can recollect things like the names of their classmates from 40 years ago, the toy they received on their 7th birthday, etc. My memory is okay, I guess, but my husband’s is better. He will ask me things like, “Remember so and so?” “Remember when we saw this or did that?” Many times I honestly cannot remember or the details are rather foggy.
Did you know there are individuals who have what’s called Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory- HSAM? These individuals are able to accurately recall dates and details of their lives, even going back decades. According to research, HSAM is extraordinarily rare with less than 100 people in the world that have been diagnosed with HSAM.
There came a time that my daddy forgot who I was.
It didn”t happen instantly, but over time. It was a slow fade of his memory and then the diagnosis came-Alzheimer’s. When we first noticed the difficulty he would have retrieving information about people and events, we would engage him with stories of the past, display pictures, and place mementos out that we hoped would keep him with us a little longer. Eventually memories of his life and his family became silent. His memory problem became a heart problem – my heart problem.
A memory problem became a heart problem… I”ve found myself reflecting on this thought.
Moses warned God’s people about what memory problems could do to the human heart. He called the people to remember all that God had told them and done for them in the past as they prepared to go in and occupy the land God had promised.
“Deuteronomy 8:11-When you have eaten your fill, be sure to praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you. Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws, and his decrees that I am giving you this day.”
“vs. 14 – then your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.” We know that the people did forget and that caused a heart problem.
Because God knew we would have a heart problem, He gave His one and only Son. I am thankful Jesus was willing to give His life as a perfect sacrifice. A sacrifice that redeemed me from the slavery of sin. I am thankful that God knew I would need help remembering, so that a

memory problem wouldn’t become my heart problem. I am thankful that I have His Word to remind me… because my memory isn’t always the best.
Bless the LORD, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases, Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies, Who satisfies your mouth with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. Psalms 103:2-5 NKJ
Happy Thanksgiving!
May you always be reminded of the great things He has done.

Be careful

Be careful little eyes what you see

Let not desire keep you from being free

A content heart

A grateful heart

Full of thanksgiving

Is what keeps the soul from being captured

Ensures it remains in peace.

On New Year’s Day several years ago, I created a “thankful” jar. For that year, every time something happened for which I was grateful, whether for me or my family, I wrote it on a piece of paper and placed it in that jar.

The following Christmas morning, I gathered my family, and one by one, we retrieved each of those papers and read them aloud. We took the time to recall every memory and verbally gave thanks to Jesus for what He had done in those moments. That was His birthday present from me that year, my intentionality in remembering all the things He had done. It didn’t matter the size of the moment, God still showed Himself big.

Sometimes, we can become so overwhelmed by what we are lacking that we forget to remember and be thankful for what we do have. I encourage you to find something like the thankful jar and begin to cultivate a garden of thankfulness in your heart and mind, a garden that can be harvested from no matter the season, and watch your perspective of everything you encounter each day shift.

I once heard someone say, “You steer where you stare,” and it’s true. If you keep your focus on what you lack, that’s where you will steer your heart, life, and mind, and you’ll find yourself wondering why you cannot see the light of day. Keep your eyes focused on Him and what He has provided, and you’ll find yourself fully surrounded by all of Heaven.

Make no mistake, all of Heaven is around you no matter where you’re staring, but it’s so much harder to glimpse something that’s in your periphery than it is when you’re eyes are locked directly onto it.

When God created Adam, he could have spoken him into existence just like he did everything else, but He didn’t. He formed him with his own hands and then breathed life into him. When Adam first opened his eyes, the first thing he saw was the Father’s face. Why? Because that’s where God wanted our focus from the beginning. He wanted our eyes on Him and nothing else. He knew that if our eyes ever left His face we would fall. And we did. Just ask Peter what can happen if we take our eyes off of the One.

Be careful little eyes what you see

Let not desire keep you from being free

A content heart

A grateful heart

Full of thanksgiving

Is what keeps the soul from being captured

Ensures it remains in peace.

You can.

Mama, you can’t fix it. God can fix it. But you can’t.

You can pray.

You can guide.

You can hug and you can hope.

But you can’t fix it.

You know what else you can do?

▪️You can model a lifestyle in which your children see a momma that gives it to God.

▪️You can model a lifestyle in which your children see a momma unfazed by the world.

▪️You can model a lifestyle where your children see that all that matters to their momma is how God views them – not how the world does.

▪️You can model a lifestyle where prayer is your go to – not anything else.

You can.

And I pray that you do.

Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken. Psalm 62:1-2

Thankful

Jesus, thank You. Everything I will ever need is found in you. This time of the year can be stressful for some, while for others it is an exciting time filled with great anticipation for all the holiday festivities to come. It’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of all the earthly things that we might even forget the source of it all. Today, I want to slow down and focus on the great blessing of Jesus. 

 

When we receive the gift of Jesus, there’s so much to be thankful for. Jesus is the perfect friend that you’ve always craved. He is the greatest Counselor, Teacher, and guiding Shepherd who you can always depend on no matter what your circumstances may be. 

 

Let’s be honest, there are many things happening in this world that can poison our view on life. Because of sin, we can’t always rely on our family and friends. Christians, this is why it is so important to turn your eyes upon Jesus. We have every reason to be thankful when we become fixated on the ultimate Savior. You will never be let down; instead, you will feel the need to share this great news with everyone in your path! 

 

“Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.” Colossians 2:6

Words scare me.

Let me be vulnerable.

My biggest fear – that would be words. It’s a real struggle for me.

At any given point anyone can say anything they want to about you. About your spouse. About your kids. About your friends. About your co-workers. They can just make it up and just say it. I’ve seen it happen so many times with people that I know.

People can create and conspire. They can spew and spit. They can just downright lie. It’s mind blowing to me because it’s not how I think. I can’t fathom just sitting around dreaming up some drama.

No, nothing has happened. I just felt compelled to share this weakness of mine with you. Maybe someone else struggles with this same irrational fear and maybe just maybe by me sharing how I feel – it will make you feel a little less crazy. I hope so.

So I will say it again – words scare me.

And I know that I know that I know that God has His people. I know that truth always wins. I know that that no weapon will prosper. Right? But I’m human.

The ironic thing about this whole situation is that words are also like my favorite thing in the world. I love words. I love writing them. I love reading them. I love digging deep into the meaning of them. And my husband may say that I use too many of them. 🤩

And like with everything else in this ol’ world – it’s all about the use.

So, how will we use our words today? Tomorrow? Next week? I hope we will use them kindly, lovingly, to build one another up, and to spread the love of Jesus.

“But in that coming day no weapon turned against you will succeed. You will silence every voice raised up to accuse you. These benefits are enjoyed by the servants of the LORD; their vindication will come from me. I, the LORD, have spoken!” Isaiah 54:17

Give your worries to Him

My husband and I were preparing for our youngest daughter’s first birthday party when I got the call that I had breast cancer. It was a blow to the gut. She was turning a year old in a week and my oldest was in first grade. How can I have cancer?

Let’s go back to how this started. When I was pregnant with my youngest daughter, I was told about a lady that lost her battle with breast cancer shortly after her child was born. There is a history of breast cancer in my family. I felt a powerful urge to talk to my doctor about having a mammogram after giving birth. I now know the powerful urge I felt was God moving me to discuss this with my doctor.

My doctor advised me to wait until my daughter was a year old. When I had the mammogram, I honestly wasn’t worried. I was just being proactive. I didn’t have a lump or any reason to believe I had cancer. After two mammograms and a biopsy, I received the call.

The next couple of hours I went from being numb to terrified. I lost my mom three years before, and I needed her. Her words came flooding into my thoughts. “Give your worries to God.” Anytime I was worried over the years, she would tell me to do this. I “tried” in the past but I would continue to worry.

Sitting that day, taking in all the information and feeling helpless, I asked God to to heal me and take my worries away. I felt a true peace come over me. It was the first time in my life that I was able to let go and trust in the Lord’s plan.

Our God didn’t stop there! He sent me an army of supporters that included friends, family, and people I just met the year before when my oldest daughter was in Kindergarten.

My army of supporters took care of my girls, cooked for us, drove me to treatments, and sold hundreds of “I wear pink for Tara” shirts to help pay my medical expenses. They even took turns spending the night with me in the hospital so my husband could be with the girls.

Treatment days were actually FUN! A different friend would drive me each time. It was a day of catching up and laughter. People would brag on me and tell me how positive I was about my diagnosis. I immediately told them that it wasn’t me, it was God. It was the first time in my life that I was truly able to give my worries to him. I had faith I would be healed and I was! November 7th will be the 14th anniversary of my diagnosis!

Here is what I pray you take away from my experience :

1. In times of struggle, surrender your worries to God and trust in his perfect plan!

2. Never put off that mammogram!

Worry Wart

I am not a worrier.

A scaredy-cat in the moment – usually involving shenanigans from my daredevil of a husband – 100 percent yes.

But not a worrier.

So I was a little thrown off a few weeks back when I placed my head on my pillow and couldn’t let something go. It’s just not who I am.

But it was taunting me.

Teasing me.

Let me be honest – it was straight up freaking me out.

I started playing scenarios over and over in my head. I literally could have won an academy award that night with the script I was vividly scribbling out in my mind. A best seller full of drama, and I was the star. It went on for hours.

The next day my sweet friend (who didn’t know anything was even bothering me) asked me if there was anything she could pray about for me. I said, “Girl, you don’t even know.” And then she prayed.

And then God.

The situation I was so worried about played out in the most beautiful way. Like unimaginable- not possible without God’s hand. I wish I could give you all the details, but I can’t. You’ll just have to trust me.

I can say this though – bring your burdens to the Lord. All of them.

And try your dadgum best to lay them at His feet. And if for some reason you just can’t let them go – keep trying.

And keep trying.

And keep trying.

Y’all, you don’t have to worry. God’s for real got you.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

And then God

Are you struggling with saying yes to God? I haven’t told this story in a long time, but I feel deep within my spirit that someone needs to hear it. Maybe it’s you.

Three years ago I was sitting on my floor folding laundry – minding my own business – and God came at me. He came at me with something that I thought was absolutely nuts.

He told me to start a non-profit.

A business.

A what?

That thought had never crossed my mind. It was not a dream I had ever dreamt.

I told Him I couldn’t.

I told Him I wouldn’t.

I told Him no.

And I didn’t tell a soul.

Now y’all know how close I am with my sisters, right? I tell them everything. But not this.

Uh-uh.

No way.

Nope.

I wasn’t about to speak this into existence.

And then we wrestled. For three long weeks. I wrestled with God. I bet you can guess who won.

Rays of Sunshine Inc has been running smoothly for three years now. I wish I knew the number of kids we’ve helped, but I don’t. I just know it’s a lot. And I know it’s exactly what God made me for.

This dream I didn’t dream.

This thing I wasn’t equipped to do.

And then God.

So listen up – if God is telling you to do something – just do it. Don’t waste time. Don’t wrestle. Don’t say no.

It’s time to live out the life you didn’t know you would. It’s time to live out His dreams for you.

For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14

Who are you?

Who are you?  

Have you really sat down and pondered this question? When someone asks “Who are you” what do you say?

 A lot of us will say something like: I am a Christian, Child of God, wife, mother, daughter, sister, aunt, niece, granddaughter, teacher, and friend. Even though these tell the many hats we wear and who we are in these hats – they do not really tell us who we are.

For most of my life, through high school and beyond, I struggled with who I was. I never saw myself with value or of worth. In high school I really tried to be invisible and didn’t want people to notice or “see me”.  I felt like I would not be of worth to them as a friend or person; therefore, I shut myself away from people. When you think you have no value as a human being you tend to shut down and not live life.

This is the value I saw in myself. “I’m ugly, not worthy, dumb, not smart, etc….” When you dwell on these things they take root in your life and you believe them and can’t see past them. These words were like a tape running over and over in my mind.

In 1995 I accepted Christ and only then did I begin to see my life as valuable and that I mattered to people. I saw that I mattered to Christ and that He died for me, so maybe I could matter to others.

All the years of the negative had to be rooted out, and I had to regrow the positive. One verse that helps me know who I am is Ephesians 1:3-7.

    3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, 5 having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He [a]made us accepted in the Beloved. 7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace

There are 6 key words that stand out in the passage. Blessed, Chosen, Adopted, Accepted, Redeemed, and Forgiven.

I am Blessed through Christ with every spiritual blessing.

I am Chosen by Christ.

I am Adopted and receive the inheritance by being a Child of God,

I am Accepted just as I am by the work of Christ on the cross.

I am Redeemed. Christ paid the ransom for me and plucked me out of the miry clay.

I am Forgiven. God’s limitless grace is given to me.

So now instead of the ugly tape that runs through my mind – this tape runs instead. I am blessed, chosen, adopted, accepted, redeemed, and forgiven,

So know when you are asked who you are you say: I am blessed, chosen, adopted, accepted, redeemed, and forgiven.