Tag Archives: Encouragement

Heaven Grows Sweeter by the Day.

African dawn at saltpans in Botswana

Baobab tree

HEAVEN GROWS SWEETER BY THE DAY

The following Nugget is a personal testimony of an experience I had and I feel prompted to share it today. For many of our peers it seems we are seeing dear friends and loved ones take the final step into the portals of Heaven. As strange as this might sound to my readers, for me personally, heaven grows sweeter by the day! Come sit with me as I share this experience.

On September 8, 2009 I underwent eye surgery that required an anesthetic. While under the anesthetic my brain stem reacted to the drugs that were being administered and the subsequent results were that I suffered multiple “mini strokes” over a period of 7 days plus the brain stem kept malfunctioning and sending negative electrical charges to all the nerve endings in my brain causing the most excruciating and debilitating pain in my head.
I was re-admitted to the hospital for emergency intervention and on the night I was most critical I was lying awake trying to focus on scripture verses that would strengthen my faith. I began to muse what leaving this world of pain and trouble and taking wings to my eternal home, was really going to be like. I drifted into a pain filled half sleep and the following account was a “dream” I experienced:

I suddenly became aware that I had left my bed and my pain wracked body was floating with absolute lightness. Wholeness and vitality rushed through my being with such force that I felt I could take wings and fly. I sensed a Divine Presence walking with me. I knew it was the Lord, as His comforting Presence totally enveloped me. I looked around and found I was standing in a beautiful valley surrounded by majestic mountains.
The valley was lush beyond human description! My eyes were experiencing a sensory overload from the beauty that lay before me.
The valley floor was covered with flowers of every color and description. It appeared that the Master Gardener had sprinkled flowers with gay abandon throughout the valley, yet all the colors and flowers were in total harmony.
The air was filled with the sounds of bird songs; once again their musical calls were in total harmony.

I was struck with the over-riding sense of total peace and tranquility that completely invaded every corner of the valley which began to permeate my very being.
There was nothing in that valley that spoke of strife, discord or the clamor that fills our earthly world.

The Lord took my hand and said, “Welcome home Norma, we have been waiting for you. Come walk with me as I have some people who are waiting for you.”
I became aware of a small group of individuals standing some distance from me and we began to walk towards them. Their bodies seemed to be translucent yet I began to clearly see their faces. Gone were the ravages of disease and age on their faces. Glowing health radiated from them.
Joy whelmed up within me like a bubbling brook as I realized I was looking at my mother, my father, my husband’s mother and father.
I began to run towards them and then noticed that in my mother’s arms was an infant. I let out a cry of joy as I realized that my mother was holding our infant son, Gary Anthony, who never lived long enough to see his first sunrise.
Our reunion was ecstatic and joyous! Mother placed Gary in my arms and I began to run my fingers through his curly hair, his face had lost the “waxy-like death pallor” that I remembered the moment he was drawing his last breath. His little cheeks were the picture of health; he too seemed to have a translucent body but I was very aware of feeling him in my arms.
The empty void of my aching arms for the infant son we lost 36 years ago was gone instantly and the mother’s heart in me was whole again.
The family kept asking me why I had taken so long to come and they told me that they had been waiting for me.

Suddenly I became aware that my earthly attachments were fading fast. I had absolutely no desire to return to this world filled with its pain and toil. It seemed as though my focus and vision had moved to an eternal focus instead of an earthly focus. I had absolutely no desire to leave this valley of total peace and tranquility. I turned to the Lord and asked him if I had to go back and He said, “My child you have come home, but you must return as I have more work for you”.

At that instant I became aware of my earthly surroundings, I heard myself whispering in my half sleep, “I’ve come home! I’ve come home!”
Then reality set in as the wracking pain tore through my head and I realized I was still in this earthly body and obviously had been dreaming.

Peace filled my soul though as I felt that God in His mercy had, for a few seconds, lifted the curtain and given me a glimpse of the glory that awaits the child of God.
The peace and tranquility of heaven transcends anything we can even begin to compare with here on earth. A child of God should never fear the dying process as, glory beyond our wildest imaginations; await us on the other shore.
I carry in my heart continually now, the comforting assurance that I can look forward to the day when I can “go rest high on that mountain, when my work on earth is done!”
Yes, “heaven grows sweeter by the day”!

Philippians 1:21-24 (NKJV) “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. For I am hard pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you.”

 

The Rewards of Trusting God

Balancing Rocks, Rhodesia(Iconic Balancing Rocks in Rhodesia/Zimbabwe taken by my hubby)

Romans 8:28 (NKJV) “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”

This is probably one of the most quoted passage of scripture; I am sure at one time or another we have quoted it in our walk with God.
My question today is; “How does this verse of scripture uphold us, when troubles roll in like a raging river, ripping apart everything we hold dear?”

Consider this:
As believers in Jesus, we aren’t promised a bed of roses. But, we do have the assurance that God is working out all things for our good (Romans 8:28), even when the ride isn’t completely smooth. Sometimes, though, we hit a rocky stretch that just won’t let up.
What do we do then?

It’s easy to hold on to God’s promises initially. But even the best of us have days when our faith wavers just a wee bit, when that little speck of doubt flies in, when discouragement seems to weigh us down. Even the big hero of faith, Abraham, had his moments of shaky faith.
It’s in moments like these that we have two options: to think we’ve failed and condemn ourselves, or to hold on to God’s Word, get back up and be strong, while the dirt road appears never ending.

If there’s anything I’ve learnt from the hard times, it’s to not beat myself up over those days when I’m unsure of how things will turn out.
How can I say this? The answer is simple.
God doesn’t count those days of my wavering faith.
Instead God looks and remembers the times I trusted, endured, and came out victorious!

If God were to publish the story of our lives for all to read; it would read something like this…….
In His version of our story, we are mighty men and woman of faith!
He will count us with the heroes of faith like Abraham!
God doesn’t condemn us or count the number of times we wavered.
He doesn’t measure our faith against our moments of doubt.
He credits our faith as righteousness as He did with Abraham.

Genesis 15:6 (NKJV) (And he (Abraham) believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.

I don’t know about you, but that sounds like seriously exciting news to me.
Think of all the times you’ve trusted God and believed Him to come through for you. That’s righteousness!
This gives me total assurance that during the unexplainable trials that overwhelm my life’s journey I can know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God IS AND WILL work for my good!

 

A Rose for a Stone

(My rose taken by Terry Griffin

(My antique Eleanor Roosevelt Rose taken by Terry Griffin)

A ROSE FOR A STONE

On Sunday May 7th. Glyn discovered he was bleeding from his kidneys. Little did we know that this would launch us on an emotional and physical roller coaster ride that nightmares are made of!
I was recovering from my second surgery to my hands, so had very little strength and was restricted to only very light household duties.
Each new day dawned with one unexpected complication after another! There seem to be absolutely “no light at the end of the very dark tunnel” that we were stumbling through!
The kindness of neighbors, our Pastor Richard Orrell, friends living here in Springfield and our children Bruce & Donna-Mae Washburn, all came “alongside” and steadied us when we felt we could not take another step. Added to that we were lifted in prayer by dozens of friends and family, literally across the entire globe! The gates of Heaven were shaken by intercession of God’s children on our behalf!

Two surgeries have passed since that Sunday six weeks ago and Glyn is still passing stones! Yesterday he passed stone #10!! I am beginning to think he is growing the “Rock of Gibraltar” in his left kidney!
I was starting to wonder if it was not time to ask for a “second opinion”; then the Lord reminded me that He knew exactly what we were going through and His “opinion” and “solution” was the only one that really matters!
The Lord reminded me that if we will but believe His Word, during these seasons of driving rains of trial, we would see the Hand of God molding us and growing spiritual roses of such fragrance and beauty in our lives!
Without these times of bitter trials where our darkened path seems filled with jagged stones we would never grow these roses of beauty, to minister God’s grace to others suffering deep trials.

Indeed, we all are lashed by the harsh storms of life.
Don’t focus on the storm but focus on the fragrant roses God is growing in our lives!
Yes, we are pained by the time of testing. But remember, God sees the sweet rose of faith which is springing up in our lives under those very trials.

This verse of scripture brings such hope:
“For God hath made me fruitful in the land of my affliction.” (Gen. 41:52.)

Yesterday, a dear friend Terry Griffin, took me to pick up some groceries and when we returned I was showing her one of my treasured rose bushes. The fragrance is so sweet and it blooms through-out the summer storms that we have here in the Ozarks.
God used this very rose to remind me to not falter in the storms of life and birthed this Nugget in my heart!

 

A Trilogy of Triumph

Ele imitating each other by Michael North Imagery

(Elephant family by Michael North Imagery – used with permission)

A TRILOGY OF TRIUMPH

Our lives are regulated by times and dates. Before the proliferation of electronic gadgets many people carried a small “date minder” with them to write down appointments, dates to remember, birth dates, wedding dates, anniversary dates, dates projects are due, vacation dates plus a whole host of other dates.  Some dates come and go and its events are never thought about again, other dates are etched into our memory down to the most infinitesimal detail never to be forgotten.

My husband and I have many dates we can recall but there is one that stands out like a defining landmark in our lives……..the date is April 20th.

A trilogy of miraculous events over a period of years in our lives; has happened on this date. Let me pick up the thread of these amazing God-ordered events beginning with the birth of our second son, Gary Anthony at the Gatooma Hospital in Rhodesia. (Zimbabwe)

Gary did not live to see his first sunrise and Glyn had the heart wrenching task of burying our infant son all alone.  Then a series of medical errors left us with the diagnosis that we would never be able to have any more children.  Even though this was a huge heart-ache we knew that Lord had our future steps in His Hands and we were content to trust Him.  We focused on our calling as missionaries and poured ourselves into the lives of the African people that God had placed us among. Five years passed; then during a routine checkup my doctor told me that he had some amazing news for me. I was six weeks pregnant and did not even know it!

Our beautiful daughter, God’s gift to us, was born on April 20, 1971 at the Lady Chancellor Maternity Home in Salisbury (Harare) Rhodesia (Zimbabwe).  Our cup of joy was running over and we knew God had intervened and over-ruled the medical mistakes.

Seventeen years passed and April 20, 1993 arrived but instead of celebrating her birthday, Donna-Mae sat with her Dad and many church members of our congregation in the hospital surgery waiting room in Lowville, New York waiting for news about me. Before long the surgeon broke the news to them that I had Cancer and would undergo a Radical Mastectomy the next morning. Not exactly a birthday that any seventeen-year-old wants to have to remember. The prognosis for my length of life, even with treatment was poor. Once again Glyn and I turned to God knowing that “my times” were in His hands.  God was the only One who would make the final decision, whether I would out live the medical prognosis or not. So, I was determined to live each day as a “gift of life” from God.  Friends that was 24 years ago today and God is still giving me breath!

Another twenty years passed and on April 20, 2013; I stood in the delivery room filled with wonder and feeling as though my heart would burst, as I shared with Bruce and our daughter, Donna-Mae, give birth to their third child, also another miraculous gift from God!

As I stood in the delivery room cradling this precious new life in my arms, drinking in the perfect face of our little Owen; the empty void in my heart, that I had carried since our son Gary Anthony had slipped away, was once again filled. I felt like Naomi of old, must have felt when she held Obed in her empty arms and those around declared to her: “….. may he be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age;……” Ruth 4:15 (NKJV) Our little “buddy” certainly has been a restorer of our old age.

A trilogy of events on April 20th stretched over 37 years; each one standing as a landmark of a miracle of life from God’s abundant mercy to us!

For the child of God, the path that we walk is illuminated by His Divine love which pierces the shadows that continually press in around us. His shining love shepherds our footsteps even in the darkest of hours.  Listen to His promise to us in the words of the Psalmist:

Psalm 32:7-8 (NKJV) “You are my hiding place; You shall preserve me from trouble; You shall surround me with songs of deliverance. I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye.”

What have we to fear? We can walk with confidence in the journey of life as God will lead us. The Lord will surround us with “songs of deliverance” during our deepest times of testing. His very personal interest and care for His children is reflected in the fact that “He guides us with His Eye….”

HE IS NOT AN INATTENTIVE GOD!

I draw intense comfort from this image as it means that God is intricately involved and focused on every facet of my life; NEVER letting me out of His sight!

Yes, these “dates of triumph” are glorious memorial stones reminding us that no matter what our tomorrows hold, we have nothing to fear for our God WILL ensure His best plan for our lives.

 

 

Trusting God’s Leading

Luke-5_10-1024x576

TRUSTING GOD’S LEADING

Luke 5:1-6 (NKJV)  “So it was, as the multitude pressed about Him to hear the word of God, that He stood by the Lake of Gennesaret, and saw two boats standing by the lake; but the fishermen had gone from them and were washing their nets. Then He got into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, and asked him to put out a little from the land. And He sat down and taught the multitudes from the boat. When He had stopped speaking, He said to Simon, “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”  But Simon answered and said to Him, “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net.”  And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking.”

For a few minutes, I would like you to put yourself in the disciple’s shoes and Peter’s shoes.

Imagine you have literally toiled all night out of the rough waters of Lake Gennesaret attempting to catch a large amount of fish so sell at the fish market. Yet no matter how hard you plied your greatest skill; or moving your fishing vessel; your nets still came up empty. The early rays of morning light began to pierce the night skies. Exhausted, frustrated and discouraged you head back to shore to wash your nets, knowing that there would be no profit from your long night’s labor.

About the time, you have pulled the heavy nets from your boat and set to work washing them, along comes Jesus and He borrows your boat and puts it out in the waters near the shore in-order to avoid the crush of people waiting to hear Him teach.  Once Jesus has finished teaching he turns to you and asks you to do something that is unthinkable to your exhausted body and mind.

How would you responded to the Lord’s command to re-launch your boat into the deep water and catch a boat-load of fish, considering the frustrating unsuccessful night you had just experienced?

I know what I would probably say!

My answer would be something like this; “You have to be kidding me Lord! The shoals of fish have avoided my net all night long and do you think for one minute anything would have changed? Obviously, Lord, this is not a fruitful time to fish!”

Peter answered the Lord’s command in a similar fashion EXCEPT for his declaration of trust when he said; “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless, at Your word I will let down the net.” (Luke 5:5)

The result of Peter’s declaration of faith and trust in the Lord command, was that they caught so many fish their nets were full to breaking point.

What a lesson for us to learn from this passage in Luke chapter 5!

The real test of our faith comes when nothing we’ve tried has worked, and God tells us to do something that stretches our faith to its limit. At that point, we have two choices: Give in to our doubts, or say with Peter, “Because You say so, I will.”

This account in the scriptures teaches us God works in three ways:

Firstly, God uses the common to do the uncommon.

Jesus commanded them to trust Him in their workplace where nothing special had happened; but then the miraculous happened and this changed their lives.  So too we need to look for God in our daily routine, and don’t be surprised when He surprises us.

Secondly God moves us out from the security of the shallow to the risks of the deep.

By this I mean that the great catches and the great storms are BOTH in the same sea. If we want one, we must contend with the other. No risk, no reward.

Thirdly God involves us in one lesson in-order to teach us another.

Christ’s plan for these men was to involve them in an even greater miracle: fishing for souls.

Today during these last days of time God is calling us to step out in faith and trust to “fish for the souls” of hurting mankind.

This can only BEGIN though, when we say as Peter did, “Lord, because You say so, I will.”

Our Timeless God

Seeing through the heart by Linda ElliotGrand Canyon taken by Linda Elliot -used with permission

A dear friend, Linda Elliot, recently posted a beautiful picture that she had taken during a visit to the Grand Canyon. The picture was taken through a split tree that appeared to be the shape of a heart and looking through it; was an incredible vista of the Grand Canyon’s time carved cliffs plunging all the way to the Colorado River.  I am sure hundreds of people had walk by that spot and never saw this amazing image because they did not see it through a talented photographer’s eyes!

I have visited the Grand Canyon and the vastness of its splendor can’t not be comprehended in a simple glance. Those craggy canyon cliffs that plummet countless yards down to the winding Colorado River have been slowly eroded by years of wind, beating rain and erosion resulting in one of the most breath-taking wonders of the world. Centuries of time are represented in the magnificence of this place!

We all can relate to time!

One author writes: “We manage time, waste time, spend time, and save time. We wish it would come…we wish it would pass…we see time fly…we feel it drag. We watch clocks and carry calendars… time literally controls our lives”. (Bob Gass)

God is the one Who set time in motion and He controls time.

He created time, and His creations are fenced by His time, directed and guided by His loving hand.

So many times, we are surprised by unexpected developments in our lives, but God is NEVER surprised by even the most disastrous turn of events.

Just this morning I was praying on the phone with a dear friend who was just a few hours from undergoing very serious surgery. I reminded my friend that God was not taken by surprise by this turn of events in her life!

God is at work in our life circumstances and our outlook on life changes dramatically when we allow this truth to permeate our thinking. Once this truth becomes a reality in our faith we can know with unwavering assurance that God is working within us to ‘to carry out His purpose.’ In the events of our life. (Ephesians 3:20)

Think about how you would live if you were certain God was at the end of your life’s deadlines. That even if there were mere seconds left, you believed with certainty He was working through your circumstances according to His Will for your life.

Believing God is intricately involved in “our times” is the essence of faith.

The scripture teaches us that ‘Jesus…is the same yesterday, today, and forever’ (Hebrews 13:8 ).

Time cannot change Him!

Time cannot diminish His love or His power to work within our life.

He was there in the past.

He is present in the now.

He will be there in the future.

The truth is, He has ‘all the time in the world…a thousand years or a day, it’s all the same to Him!

2 Peter 3:8 (NKJV) “But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.”

God’s ultimate goal, is to bring you into eternity, not just get you through to the end of the week. Today remind yourself that in EVERY situation “His power Is at work within us to carry out His purpose and do super-abundantly…above all that we dare ask or think beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes or dreams!

Our God is a timeless God. Do not fear your tomorrows as He already is present in them!

Ephesians 3:14-21 (NKJV) “For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height– to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”

Unfailing Comfort

www.hdnicewallpapers.com

UNFAILING COMFORT

I would like to challenge each one reading this Nugget today to take time and reflect on some of the hardest circumstances that you have had to experience during your life’s journey. Many will not want to do this because it brings back so many painful memories but bear with me.

Once you have reflected on deep valleys you have had to walk, stop……..now remember how God walked with you and sometimes even carried you during these difficult times!

What I am trying to evoke in each one’s heart; is the truth that God can make you comfortable in some of life’s most uncomfortable places. He can bring you through situations you think you won’t survive, or feel like you’ll be stuck in forever.

He will give you peace when you’re under pressure.

Before our journey on this earth is over, every one of us will experience loss, financially, materially or the passing of a cherished loved one. Yet, losing some things will help you to appreciate the things you have!

Another facet of loss can be total failure on our part in some unreachable dream.

Until we have tasted the bitterness of failure, we will not fully appreciate the sweetness of success!

We all live not knowing what tomorrow holds, but one truth is CERTAIN, we know that God has ALL our tomorrows in His control!

Our future isn’t in the hands of your boss, your banker, your spouse, or anybody else.

Nor is it in our own hands to control.

All our tomorrows are in God’s hands!

Just because we don’t understand the path we are on, doesn’t mean God isn’t leading us.

He promises: “I will lead them in paths they have not known. I will make darkness light before them, and crooked places straight. These things I will do for them, and not forsake them” (Isa 42:16 NKJV).

So, my challenge today is press in and get to know God more intimately—because you need Him.

He will be there when everybody else has failed you, and He will be there for you in the dark places.

The Psalmist writes, “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning” (Ps 30:5 NKJV).

Let me encourage you today; however long the night, morning will come—and with it the sunlight of His joy!

Looking back, you’ll realize that His grace has protected you, provided for you, calmed you, comforted you, and brought you through.

Times, seasons and people change, but NOT the Lord. He is “the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8 NKJV).

I love the words to that beautiful song:  His Eye Is On The Sparrow.

Why should I feel discouraged, why should the shadows come

Why should my heart fell lonely and long for Heaven and home

When Jesus is my portion, a constant friend is He

His eye is on the sparrow and I know He watches over me

His eye is on the sparrow and I know He watches me

I sing because I’m happy, I sing because I’m free

His eye is on the sparrow and I know He watches me, He watches me

His eye is on the sparrow and I know He watches

I know He watches, I know He watches me

(Songwriters: CHARLES HUTCHISON SR. GABRIEL, CHRIS E. MARTIN, PETER MATZ)