No! Not My Coupon Folder…Beth Farley

No! Not My Coupon Folder!!!securedownload-4

A few weeks before I moved to Texas my daughter gave me a crash course on extreme couponing. I took notes, clipped my coupons, browsed the web sites and became hooked. I didn’t think I’d become a “stockpiler” but guess what? I am. I am unemployed with very little means of money so this is a way of saving, BIG TIME. I only stock pile on things that we can use. Anything beyond that boundary is donated to the food pantry down the road.

I had an unsettling day this week. I was so distracted by the chatter in my head. I couldn’t settle down to my devotions or Bible reading time. I was bopping all over the house, trying to keep busy from my feelings. Have you ever been there?

There was one thing though that was pulling me towards sitting at the table; it was my desire to do my coupon clipping. I made a cup of coffee, started clipping and sorting and stacking. I began to feel peaceful and content.

Once this blissful task was done, which by the way, takes quite a bit of time, I went over to my desk to get my purple coupon folder only to find it wasn’t there. I went out to my car and checked under the seats, in the trunk and glove compartment. I retraced my steps for at least 45 minutes. My body was gripped with frustration and anxiety. I was frantically looking for my purple folder. All of the Sunday coupons were in that folder. I had not even redeemed half of them yet. I think I might have even spewed a few unnecessary words while in my crazy attempt at finding the folder.

Plopping on the couch and feeling deflated, I realized that I had been so engulfed in the tantalizing coupon folder that I kinda felt ashamed of my behavior. I had not done my devotions. I had not looked at my Bible. I had not prayed nor done any writing which God had called me to do. Why hadn’t I been as passionate about spending time with God this day as I had been about trying to find my coupon folder?

Has that ever happened to you? Have you ever been so engulfed in something that you just can’t wait to dig in? You know, the Sunday football game, your golf game, your pedicure, shopping or craft project; these are all great things and God wants us to enjoy them but we all know as Christian we need to find the balance.

John 10:10…A thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance. HCSB

One of the greatest things about being human is our tenacity. Life goes on. Sometimes worse for the wear, sometimes better for our efforts, but it always goes on. God takes these things, these daily distractions and files them under the category of “GRACE”.

We are human; He is ALL. We make mistakes; He fixes them. We get distracted; He pulls us closer.

There are times where you just have to drop the whole thing and start again. The purple folder is still missing but today I’m writing. Today I’ve spent time with Him and today…I set out for a new folder….

Psalm 96:1
Sing a new song to the LORD Sing to the LORD, all the earth.

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Escorting me to Words…Beth Farley

prayer with crossIt was Nicodemus who came to me in my prayers today.

It was Nicodemus that made me reflect and ask Jesus some tough questions. Jesus tells us to seek and we shall find in the seventh chapter of the Gospel of Matthew. Are you afraid to ask God?

It was Nicodemus that came to Jesus at night asking a very deep question. It was he, the Pharisee of the Jewish ruling council that said, “Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.” Nicodemus came to Jesus at NIGHT; in the dark with some deep questions. How do you ask your deepest questions with Jesus?  In the book of John, we read Jesus’s words,  “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”…

When I lay my head down at night, looking into the deep darkness of the room, I re-evaluate my day. I thank Jesus for my re-birth in Him. But, when I have some serious questions that need answering, it is then that I write in my journal; it is where I feel comfortable enough to ask God my hardest questions.  It is a place where my soul connects with the resurrected Jesus and my questions are tenderly answered.

I come as professional writer seeking answers to even some unasked questions.  Jesus knows what we will be asking. Matthew 6:8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. My pen connects with my journal and revelations enter my heart and soul; revelations that I can share. I enter as a writer but leave as a personal follower. I become blessed through the words that flow.

An ember of Gods love fell into my heart today; an ember that will most certainly ignite into flames of burning love. It is yet another rebirth that will escort me to write words of encouragement and hope.

How do you seek answers to your questions? livingbygracepic.jp

 

In the Dust I Humble Myself

 

prayer with crossPhoto by graur razvan ionut.

 

The prayer of St. John XXIII

Only a few hours more and this year too will come to an end and pass into history. I too finish the year and await the New Dawn with joy…I go down on my knees before my God and recalling his kindness to me this year. I humble myself in the dust and thank Him with all my heart.

A new year is here. We have been given God’s mercy to write our own spiritual history. I however, will get on my knees more now than ever asking Jesus for His continual mercy and guidance upon my life. Why now?

Now, because I’m rediscovering a new love relationship with Him; one filled with humility and mercy of my own. I will not hold onto the worlds wondrous schemes; but rather make a positive, deep soul changing deal with God to be a better light towards others; to be warmth during their dark season because God was my warmth during may dark seasons.

In Ecclesiastes 3:19-22; Solomon acknowledges that God has given people the hope of eternity. We have a unique purpose for our lives and when one person is struggling to see that or feel that for themselves, it is our place to step in and help them. Psalm 103:8-14 reminds us  of God’s gracious mercy and compassion. We are reminded that we came from dust but we all have purpose. When we are fragile and fail Him, His mercy takes everything into account. We are human and He knows that. Now go share that with others whom you know are justifying their sinful nature. Walk along side of them; remind them that you too are a sinner and God’s mercy is trustworthy.

The miracle of new beginnings is to step out in His mercy and explore. There are so many opportunities out there to share God’s love without being abrupt, hollow or in-thier-face. Show mercy towards others as He shows mercy towards you.

I love the line above in the prayer of St. John XXIII…”I humble myself in the dust and thank Him with all my heart.” What does that mean to you? Humble yourself in the dust? I’d love to hear what you think about that line; please share your thoughts.

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Mercy Before Us…Beth Farley

 

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Do you think a well seasoned public speaker steps onto stage before a large audience trembling in fear? I don’t. I think he fixes his attention on a few listeners and returns his gaze whenever the needs to refocus.

Of course, this got me to thinking about my ow fears, anxieties and what I fix my gaze upon. Have you ever had to speak your mind and heart without worrying about what your audience may think of you or say to you? I have; every time I post a blog I open myself up to anyone’s opinions or thoughts.

How do I continue to write and blog without fear of stepping on toes with my unconventional words? By being mindful of God’s mercy and favor for me. I am often reminded of the times Jesus was before large crowds doing what the Father called Him to do, without the fear or trembling. God has placed the challenge of writing Christian literature for the sole purpose of drawing others closer to Him or by drawing others to Him when they don’t even know Him. It’s a huge challenge and huge responsibility and frankly I don’t always feel worthy of the assignment.

Every day His mercy passes in front of us drawing us to do what He calls us to do and when we fail, His grace is sufficient. He doesn’t give up on us. We are all a work in progress. Thank God.

So, what do you think? Is there something God is asking you to do for His name sake and you’re not doing it? Are you fearful or anxious? Just gaze upon our Merciful Jesus. Come and join us at Livingbygrace while we talk again about the Mercy of God.living by grace

God’s Mercy was in front of Moses as well. In Exodus 33:19 God says to Moses:

And the LORD said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the LORD, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.

Lord, please remind me that Your mercy is in front of me and that you proclaim your name as Lord, ruler of me; master of me; lover of me.

 

 

Mercy Me…Beth Farley

vera bradley

How much mercy do you have? Mercy and the concept of mercy appears to be a word that God is making me focus on. I have gone through the Bible and have looked up 33 verses that contain the word mercy in them and am challenging myself to memorize those verses. Why? Because sometimes I don’t display much mercy towards others. You did the crime; you do the time!

The first verse I would like to write about today is 2Sam. 24:14
David said to God, “I am in deep distress. Let us fall into the hands of the LORD, for his mercy is great but do not let me fall into the hands of men.” (NIV)

When I can’t see the other side of the story or feel distressed and am to stubborn to be forgiving, I’m usually following man’s perception of mercy, not God’s. In the past I have found myself wanting to hog my feelings and push others away just because I was tired, angry, frustrated, sad, anxious or depressed.

Just when I thought I had a better handle on this, I found myself smack dab in the middle of being without mercy with my dog; my favorite friend! How could I do this to my faithful furry friend?peek for vera bradley

There she was on the couch hogging my new monogrammed Vera Bradley blanket that my daughter gave me for Christmas. It’s my new special blanket and I don’t want to share it. I was cold, frustrated about something and looked at my snoring dog all curled up in my blanket and said aloud, “That’s got MY initials on it not yours so get off.” With that, I gently pushed her away as I hogged the blanket and curled up with it. I looked over at her cute little eyes and immediately scooped her up and put her under the blanket with me. I felt terrible; she had mercy on me and loved me just the same.

When you want to hog your feelings of distress and have no desire to show mercy, reevaluate the situation and scoop up some scripture time, hunker down under the warm blanket with Jesus and ask Him to reveal to you how to have mercy towards others.

 

Just One Day…Beth Farley

meditating

Why is it that people make comments like, “It’s not good to be alone; or, you need to get out more often?” What is the matter with being a hermit? What is the matter with not wanting to get out into the cold dark night or dreary, drizzly, day just to say, “I got out today!”

I can never get lonely in the Lord’s presence. I call it my “Hidden life with God.” It’s a place where in my solidarity I feel alive and well. It’s a time where I can enjoy the monastic life such as the monks, well, not quite that extreme. It’s my time to dine with Jesus. It’s my time where I seek my spiritual path and listen to Him. I can sing, read, or simply be still.  I bet there are people mingling at restaurants or around the bars who are very lonely. Heck, they may be the people who are sitting in our church pews. Maybe you are one of them?crying-woman1

I would like to see an increase in what I would call a modern-day-hermit movement. We are called, every one of us, to be still and pray, especially now because of the danger that lurks around us. Maybe we are!!! Maybe we are finally seeing more and more need for God to bring this nation back to its roots? Maybe it’s also indicative of the loss of religious order? We should all be spending more time in solitude, praying for our country, our leaders and our men and women who are fighting for our freedom.

Could you imagine how effective we could be if we just took some time to stop and get alone with God and pray? Prayer is incredibly effective but not if we’re not doing our part by being alone with the Great Jehovah Jireh: The Lord who provides. (Gen. 15:1-6;Gen.21:1-6)

How about putting down the TV remote, fold down the lap top, turn your cell phone on silent, throw the newspaper into the recycling bin and get alone with God. Christ put down everything for you when he went off for 40 days in the desert to be in solitude and prayed.(Luke 4:2)

What do you think?  If you had the opportunity to have just one day to yourself, how would you spend it? Or even a couple of hours; would you at least dedicate some time to pray for our leadership in this country, or  peace for this country? Think about it…What would you do if you had a day to yourself? Come and join us at livingbygrace for a conversation. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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Get Up You Lazy Bones

 

bones                         The human skeleton is very fascinating!

When my kids were young and we were homeschooling, we used a skeleton that hung from a hook while learning the skeletal system. My son named it, “Bone Daddy.” It was important to remind them of God’s awesome love for them; He knit their bones together to create a fantastic body. Having Bone Daddy hanging in front of them was a good visual to grasp that concept; God created them, bones and all.

When I think of my own body, I know there have been times I have cursed my bones. I often get angry with them when they do something they should not have done or don’t work hard enough to spread the love of God.  Our bones have so many stories to share.

There is a story in the Bible about a man named Ezekiel. Ezekiel found himself in a desert valley surrounded by dry bones. Well, he didn’t just get up one morning and think, “I know, I’ll go looking for a place that is full of bones!” No, according to the Bible, Ezekiel was sort of teleported into a barren valley full of bones. He was scared and lonely. How would you feel if you were alone with a bunch of dried up bones in a barren land?

But God asked Ezekiel a question. “Ezekiel, can these old dry bones live?” Ezekiel didn’t know what to say, “Only you know the answer to that.” God told him to speak into the bones and say to them, “Dry bones, listen to the word of the LORD!” God said, “ Look! I am going to put flesh and muscles on you and cover you with skin. I will put breath into you and you will come to life. Finally, the winds came and filled the bodies with breath and they came alive! The winds came and there was life.” If God could perform this miracle with Ezekiel, then He most certainly can help us get our lazy bones off the couch and do more for His kingdom.

Can you image speaking into your bones, Get out of bed you lazy bones. Go exercise you lazy bones! Help that lady cross the street you lazy bones! Be the one to welcome others at church you lazy bones! Oh there are times that I just want to speak into my bones to make them do more work for God but sometimes they are just plain ol lazy. Know what I’m saying?

I’m not one to preach on getting out there and doing more of God’s work because I’m very inadequate in areas of service and realize that it’s not my place to tell anyone how to serve God. However, when I feel I’m filled with His Spirit to serve, I know that I need to get  my lazy bones in gear and scatter myself in the areas e has called me to. How about you? Been acting lazy lately? Are you too tired, too cold or too distracted to get your bones moving?

Lord, I know that I have a destiny here on this earth and that You’ve knit my bones together for many reasons that I don’t quite know. Help me to be of better service to you today.

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Shannon/Chris/Emma

Sharing Christmas Traditions

christmas kids

It’s kinda fun to listen to the different holiday traditions people have and how they make every effort to keep them alive year after year. For instance, although I’ve been divorced and my three grown kids live very far away, my one my daughter that can get home for Christmas asked, “Mom can we dip the pretzels and make our popcorn dish? Oh and mom, don’t forget to make your famous chip-dip on Christmas Eve.”

I look back and reminisce about the day’s on the farm in Kansas when my kids got goats for their first Christmas there. I think of when we lived in the city and how they all got shiny bikes for Christmas. So many memories flood my mind as I age, but, lately, I wonder what they remember and treasure?

Do they think of all of the candle-light Christmas Eve services I took them to? Do they remember opening the Christmas Advent boxes I hung on a tree? Inside I tucked inside a scripture and piece of candy? Do they remember being in church musicals, singing Christmas carols, partaking in youth Christmas parties and do they remember the blessing of the wreaths?

Each one of them have grown up into such good, loving individuals. They’ve learned to endure big hardships and carry on with their lives. They’ve become very supportive of their mom’s silly antics and talk to me like best friends do; sharing secrets and giggling. Oh and the best part…When they do get to come and see me, they don’t hesitate to jump onto my bed with me and sip some coffee and gab.

This Christmas season, don’t forget to continue your traditions. Don’t forget to share your stories with your family. Try to let go of the ugly relationships you might have and become friends again. Savor the season…before you know it, the gifts will have been opened, the paper will be picked up, the roast beef will have been eaten and the sadness will settle in…UNLESS you remember to keep Jesus alive in your heart every day until the next Christmas rolls around.

Shannon, Chris and Emma, I love you more than anything and am blessed to have you so involved in my life. You have all made me very proud. Mom

 

Being Thankful for my Hands

 

hands of hope

 

I am an advocate of loving seniors. I am a insistent on giving them all I possibly can give. It’s the gift that God has given me and I cherish it.

Back in my early 20’s I became very involved in volunteering at a local nursing home. As part of my home-school-curriculum with my children, we would visit the elderly twice a month. I wanted my children to learn that it’s okay to become older; to have wrinkly skin and be in wheelchairs. I wanted them to know that one day they will be a precious senior in a wheel chair also in need of someone to listen to their stories.

As my family moved around and my professions changed, I never stopped engaging with the elderly. In one form of another, my hands and heart have been fixated on serving them. I have worked as a Certified Nurses Aide in nursing homes; worked for the library facilitating out-reach programs for seniors and have gone door to door singing to seniors at Christmas time. They truly have my heart.Alzheimers_friend_zpsea9b8729

Recently I created a picture of hands in my collage circle class and while pondering over the picture I realized that I am so very thankful for my hands. I am so thankful that I have the hands and heart that God has given me to help the elderly. I am so thankful that my hands can do the things in which God would like for them to do. I am so thankful that I have the tender loving hands that will reach out to any needy senior that I can. I am so thankful that although my hands get struck by eczema at times, they still continue to do all that they can to bring joy to a senior.

We all have our ministries. We all have a desire to help someone in need. Sometimes we use our gifted hands to help others and sometimes we just fold them together in prayer for others.

Look at your hands today. Is there someone that needs you to reach out and touch them?

My hands will continue to deliver the stories that God has asked me to write. My hands will continue to help my favorite elderly friends for as long as I can.

Thank you Lord for my hands.Thank you that you have given me the very tender spirit to help the seniors in need. I pray that I will always be able to look use these hands for your glory.

Have a very blessed Thanksgiving and remember, your hands were created to help others.

 

Looking Beyond…Beth Farley

christa kay's picture beyond

Picture by: Christa Kay; Topsham, Maine

What do you see beyond this branch? A friend of mine took this picture and right away I felt the urge to write about my clouded vision and how I can become too self-dependent. How about you? Can you look beyond your situation and cling to God?

Sometimes we just have to look beyond what’s in front of us to see God’s provision. Sometimes there is a world of  love, peace and forgiveness beyond what we are capable of seeing. When our vision becomes blurred, we will indeed miss the beautiful-rhythmic-flowing-waters designed by God’s hands.

Unlike many, I like when the trees are bare so that I can survey what’s beyond them. When I lived on a farm in Kansas, I would take long walks through the cold timber observing what lurked beyond the bare trees. I was reminded of God’s love while gazing upon the deer tracks, the beaver dams, the bird nests, the flowing brook and the frosted grass. It was quiet…still…pretty…and while spending time just observing God’s wonderful works, I would be reminded to look beyond what was in front of me.

Why is it that we have a hard time seeing beyond what’s in front of us? Are we afraid of what might be lurking about, possibly being a threat to our own self-dependence? Are we afraid to rely on what we can’t see? I know at times I am, but I also know that during those times, God is trying to break me of my own self-dependence so that He can bless me.

Look at Genesis 32. Jacob faced a crisis. He was returning to the land of Canaan in obedience to God, but that meant he would have to face his brother, Esau, whom he had cheated 20 years prior. Jacob wanted to push this situation away. Do you experience times where you want  the problem to be pushed away. Jacob begins to wrestle with God in vs’s 22-32.

That night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two female servants and his eleven sons and crossed the fork of the Joabbok. After he had sent them home across the stream, he sent over all his possessions. So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched and he wrestled with the man. Then the mans said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.” But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” The man asked him, “What is your name?” “Jacob,” he answered. Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.” Skip to verse 31: The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel, and he was limping because of his hip.

I have wrestled with God during times of my life where I have limped towards my victory. How about you?

God answered Jacob’s prayer for protection from Esau. Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.” Do you struggle with God and situations? Look beyond what is in front of you.
I have learned over the years that when I cling to Him during the good and the bad, He will allow me to see beyond my issues. How about you? Won’t you cling to Him so that you can see beyond your problems?

Our greatest victories come out of our greatest defeats.

What’s My Part, God?

 

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Becoming a Christian means that we put our trust and faith in Jesus as our Lord and Savior. We believe that He died for our sins, meaning, He took the weight of the sins of the world and hung on a cross. Three days later, He rose from the dead and He now lives within each one of us through His Spirit. When we become a Christian, we also leave our sinful life behind and walk with Jesus.

If God is willing to enter our hearts, what’s our part in pleasing Him?

  1. We need to accept His unconditional love for us. He loves us not matter what. It’s never too late to say you’re sorry and turn your life around.
  2. We have to be willing to do for others and not boast about it. By this I mean that when we become a follower of Jesus, we think of others first and help them where they need to be helped. BUT…we do not boast about it.
  3. We also have to be willing to forgive others. In forgiving others, we are showing God that we accept His grace and mercy; so we too will pour out our forgiveness on others.

I visited a knitting group the other day and thought about how St. Faustia asked God to grant her the grace of conversion to as many souls as the number of stitches that she made on a particular day with a the crochet hook. (Diary, 961) That’s a lot of conversions. She prayed through faith and did not boast when a soul was won over for Christ.

Are you praying for the lost? Do you find yourself boasting at times?

Join us in the conversation today as we discuss what it means to you to be saved?

 

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