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Barren One

Speak the Truth:

“Sing, O barren one, who did not bear; break forth into singing and cry aloud, you who have not been in labor! For the children of the desolate one will be more than the children of her who is married,” says the Lord. Isaiah 54:1

Talk the Talk:

I’ve never quite understood women who say they don’t want children. I think that is because I have always wanted them so badly.  It is one thing if having children is simply not a desire of your heart; however, what about those of us that have that unquenched maternal instinct seemingly oozing out of our pores? At least, that’s what others would have us believe when they say, you would have made such a good mom, or other words such as those. What happened to us? Were we all just destined to be childless? Did God have a plan for us that we just didn’t/haven’t yet recognized? As for me, I was pretty bitter for a long time after I found out I wasn’t able to have children. My husband wasn’t willing to adopt, and that, along with a number of other problems found us soon divorced. I had always been really close with my nieces and nephews and spent lots of time with them, thinking they would make up for the lack of my own children, but even though I desperately loved them, that desire was still there. It wasn’t until after I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior that I began to see that He might have a plan for me after all! I earned a doctorate in special education and began to teach college. Well, most of you know about my meeting up with Amanda Williams (a former student), the daughter I always wanted, and her husband, Jeromy (another former student), but you don’t know about the multitude of students that became like my “temporary” children throughout my career.

Walk the Walk:

I taught approximately 2,000-3,000 students over my career. Many of those students are still my friends on facebook or come to visit me, etc. It has truly been a blessing to me to have the opportunity to spend time with so many young people, to present myself as a substitute “Mom” while they were away from home. My prayer has been that I presented a godly role model to them. So, for those of you that, like me, wanted or still want children, Isaiah 54:1 tells you that you can have them! My advice is to step out into some area in which children of whatever age you feel called to are involved and begin to work/play with them. The affection they will share with you along with the all-encompassing love of Jesus will fill you to overflowing!

 

My parents are smarter now…

Speak the Truth

Train up a child in the way he should go;
    even when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6

Talk the Talk

Do you remember the day you turned into your mom or dad? Maybe you haven’t crossed this wonderful bridge yet but believe me, it exists. Occasionally (read that as daily), I find myself doing things or saying things that are so them. Sometimes Husband will say, “Ok John” or “Ok Beth” when he notices too. I certainly do not mean to do this. Somehow my DNA or earliest impressionable memories makes me cross my legs like my mom or move my hands like her. I drive like my dad and get mad like he does when I can’t find kitchen utensils.

I think my parents started getting a lot smarter shortly after I got married. How do I make this recipe again? How do you decide when to rent versus buy? and the list goes on. When we moved far away, I started calling them every day. All of these years later, I still call every morning and maybe another time or two throughout the day. Why? Because my training isn’t done. I still need my Mom and Dad. Somewhere along the way, they became two of my closest friends.

Daddy always said, “When you give someone your word, you better complete the task or die trying.” To this day, I hear that in my mind. I don’t always complete the task physically, but mentally, I sure do. It has also saved me from giving my word a few times. Daddy also said, “If you are on time, you are late. Be 15 minutes early.” It drives me absolutely bananas to not be early – a task I fail at daily with the whirlwind of life. Husband likes to tell a story of how well this training sank in. My father had arranged for Husband to work in an internship at Daddy’s work the summer before we were married. Husband had to go to the main office to complete part of the interview and some paperwork. He arrived at the office promptly at 2 pm and was told his appointment wasn’t until 2:30. It wasn’t until years later that he realized his scheduler (me) had purposefully made sure he met my father’s standard of “on time”.

Techy Tween – my precious 12 year old – has missed only a handful of worship services since God placed him in me all those years ago. We have faithfully tried to teach him how to worship, how to deal with conflict, how to talk about his thoughts and emotions. As Techy Tween moves through his middle school experience, we frequently have conversations about scripture. Why did God choose to do things this way? How can he help others know Christ? Then there is the favorite, “Is coloring your hair a sin? Scripture says that gray hair is a sign of wisdom. Why would you cover that up?” Great. Just great.

Techy Tween and Tiny Tornado will both have their moments of testing boundaries, of moving from a faith that is taught to a faith that is personal. Sometimes, those “moments” will be brief, sometimes they may last a little longer. We all have the potential to be a prodigal child though I truly pray they both do not go down that path. As they grow and mature in Christ, I hope they remember the lessons of scripture lived out before them by us and the dedicated team of people that have invested in their lives. From the earliest days of nursery to junior kids worship to Awana to VBS, baptism and more, God has faithfully placed workers alongside of us to help “train them up in the way they should go.”

Here’s the cool part. Scripture promises that they will not depart from it. When there are moments that we worry about their decisions or where they are, this is a promise to count on. It should help us channel our prayers into more meaningful focus. Instead of solely praying for physical safety, though important, we can beseech our Savior that they would be wise in whatever situation they are facing. Help them to remember His Word of instruction and wisdom.

Walk the Walk

It would be easy to read the stories above and decide that I had the perfect life, childhood on up. That would be a lie. We had trials and hard moments. We had illness and loss. The stories above are simple snapshots with a whole lot of stuff under the ground level but there was always, always love.

Today, as we celebrate the 120th Labor Day honoring the hard work of Americans through the generations, let’s remember some of the work put before us this very day. God has given us this great promise from Proverbs 22:6 to “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Doesn’t that sound like something cool to be a part of? What are you doing to be a part of this promise? Do you need some ideas? We have plenty, so please comment below if you would like some more information.

 
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Posted by on September 1, 2014 in Faith and Spirituality

 

The Story (First Baptist Church of Ocala, Florida)

Everyone has a story, and that story has a beginning, a middle, and an eventual end. Do you sometimes feel like your story is only a paragraph from a much bigger story? Do you feel like you are part of a plot, but aren’t sure how it is all going to unfold? Are you unsure of your purpose, getting up everyday doing the same old same old? Read ahead….you are a part of something much bigger and better and…..eternal.

The Story (First Baptist Church of Ocala, Florida).

 
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Posted by on August 29, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Got Direction?

 

Speak the Truth:

13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” Matthew 7:13-14

Talk the Talk:

I met some friends for dinner at Cracker Barrel and to give donations for them to take to Uganda. Before it was time to leave the restaurant a torrential downpour started. We made a run for our cars but decided to pull under the cover at a nearby gas station to move donations from car to car to minimize getting drenched.

As the transfer was completed a lady pulled up next to me, rolled down her window and asked, “How do you get to 441?” I walked over to give her directions. She only had to make 2 turns to be at her destination. However, she kept asking me to repeat the directions. I think the rain made her even less confidant in her ability to find her way.

At this point I was getting frustrated (thinking in my head–lady you’ve got this), and I was soaked at this point from the rain blowing under the overhang of the gas station. However, seeing the trepidation and uncertainty on her face, compassion kicked in. So, I told her, “Just follow me. I will go that way to show you how to get there.” She looked shocked and asked, “Really, you will do that?” So, I did.

When we approached the gas station on the right hand side of the road (exactly where I told her it would be) there was also a huge road sign that said 441 with an arrow pointing to the right (again, just like I said it would be). I put my turn signal on and she followed my signal into the turn lane, rolled down her window and said, “turn here” and when I said yes, she said, “thank you.” Then, she was on her way. Her license plate said Ohio. She was not familiar with Florida, let alone Ocala.

Walk the Walk:

I had the directions she needed. I told her, and for some people that would have been adequate. However, she needed to be shown. Just telling her wasn’t enough. This experience made me think…I have the directions that all people need for eternal life–The Bible. Jesus. Forgiveness. Many have heard of this Book but they don’t know of the treasure it contains. Some have never even heard of this Book and are unaware of the Truth it contains. I have. I know the way. I need to direct people to my Jesus. I need to live my life for Him, so they will see Him through me and want what I have. I want to point people to the direction that will give them what I have. There is NOTHING more important I can do. So, if you have Directions to Him, start giving them out, do not delay!

 

 

 
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Posted by on August 28, 2014 in Missions and Discipleship

 

Dependence

SPEAK THE TRUTH:

Isaiah 41:13 “For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.”

TALK THE TALK:

Several years ago I participated in a Mother’s Day triathlon. I prepared for months to get ready for that race. With many insecurities about whether or not I could actually do it, the result ended with a significant accomplishment. I learned how to swim, worked up to swim a half mile, biked over 16 miles and ran over 3 miles. I could not have done it without extensive preparation and encouragement from friends. Just recently, I ran in the Ocala 4-miler Freedom Race. A friend had encouraged and challenged me to run this race with her. I thought, “Why not?!” So, off I went. This time it was one of those spur of the moment kind of things. Yes, I had been running. However, my running was inconsistent and sporadic. I ran when I had time.

Ever been there? I had not trained and prepared my body and mind like I did with the triathlon. I ran in intervals during that long four miles with some precious friends. Honestly, it was by their encouragement that I even continued or finished the race. I did not feel physically or mentally prepared for that run, but I did find spiritual strength in God’s Word and through prayer. I found myself quoting scripture and praying as I ran.

Philippians 4:13… I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.

Ephesians 3:20-21… Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory.

Colossians 1:11… May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy…

2 Timothy 1:7… for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control…

2 Timothy 4:7… I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

I prayed, “Lord, give me the endurance to keep on keeping on. Help me dig deep to finish this race.” As I continued to run, I found that the race not only tested my physical body and mind, but it tested my spiritual dependence upon God. I found myself thinking about the race we call life and how hard it can get. It is physically, mentally and emotionally exhausting at times. Even though life can be tough in these areas, as long as I am focused on Jesus and His great power, I can endure anything. Why? Because I have hope that He has already overcome any physical, mental, emotional and spiritual challenges that I may face. When I am dependent upon Him, He always gives me strength. He is my Helper.

WALK THE WALK:

Do you tend to depend on your “superwoman” self, with the thoughts of, “I’ve got this,” only to find yourself feeling defeated, discouraged and drained? This journey is so much more peaceful, encouraging and joy-filled when our thoughts, words and actions are focused on Christ. He will give us what we need to endure anything. May we depend on Him to help us and may we glorify Him as we run with endurance. Come on! You can do it!!

photo-13

 
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Posted by on August 27, 2014 in Health and Wellness

 

I’ve Got This—NOT!

Speak the Truth

Proverbs 3:5 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your understanding.”

Talk the Talk

You would think at my age, I would have learned to never utter the words, “I’ve got this God, it’s just a little problem, I can handle it.” I think at that moment God shakes His head, and Satan starts the party. As I begin to solve this problem on my own without calling on God for answers, Satan finds his first foothold. The mind starts to build and exaggerate the situation from a molehill to Mt Everest. My thoughts turn to hurt, confusion, frustration, and even betrayal. Satan adds the what-ifs and the doubts to the circumstances and before long, I am not in control. Okay, so I tell God that I need His help. At this point, I have told God I need His help, not that I am laying it at the Cross and relinquishing control. As days pass, I am feeling good about the entire “little problem”, but Satan is laughing because I am still in “control”. So, the doubts once again take on life. The hurt resurfaces. I wonder why I am not at peace, why I have tension, why I cannot “let it go”. Finally, I reach the point of getting on my knees, calling out to God, searching in His Word for understanding and wisdom, and giving it ALL to Him. I ask forgiveness for my pride and stubbornness, and God doesn’t condemn or say, “I told you so.” Instead, as He welcomes me back with loving and comforting arms, I am filled with “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding.” (Philippians 4:7) God reveals the many roles that Satan played in the situation, and how the foothold became a stronghold because I did not follow the wisdom of Philippians 4:6 which states, “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” This vicious cycle not only affects me, but also those I love.  Hopefully, one of these days I will realize that I cannot do anything on my own. I need to be in His Word and on my knees everyday seeking His Wisdom, His Will, His Way, and thanking and praising Him for being beside me even when I think, “I’ve got this!”

Walk the Walk

In Kristian Stanfill’s song, “My Heart Is Yours”, he pleads with God to, “take it all, my life is in Your hands, my heart is Yours.” He goes on to sing, “And all to Jesus I surrender, all to You I freely give, I will ever love and trust You. In Your presence I will live. May our prayer be to give it ALL to Him, and may we remain in His Presence no matter where we are, or what we are experiencing.

 

Sword Play

Speak the Truth:

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.  2 Timothy 2:15

Talk the Talk:

The only people I am comfortable handling weapons are people who know what they are doing with those weapons.  Captain obvious statement?  Yeah, maybe.  But think about it.  Before anyone picks up a gun, bow and arrow, hunting knife, or even mace….they should truly know what they are doing.  Why?  While they have the power to protect, they also have the power to hurt.  So think about a sword.  I know in the twenty first century, people don’t walk down the streets with their swords strapped to their sides, but back in the Bible days….swords were a weapon of choice.  I went to the trusty biblegateway.com site and put sword in the search box.  Sword is mentioned 375 times in the Old Testament and 33 times in the New Testament.  Most of the time, it is referred to in reference to a tale of war and destruction.  Then we enter into the New Testament and we begin to see the sword in another light, the light.

Matthew 6:34  “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.”

Ephesians 6:17  “…and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God”

Hebrews 4:12  “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”

The Bible.  That Book.  The Word.  I’m going to speak for myself here.  I have been privileged to own many kinds of Bibles from the time I was very young.  Sadly, I didn’t always appreciate them.  There have been seasons in my life when my Bible sat on a shelf for….months, unopened, or in the back of my car, or on a coffee table, or on a decorative stand, but the words were not read, studied, or treasured.  Ashamed and full of remorse?  Yes. Forgiven? Praise God, yes!  The Bible is now a vital staple to my existence.  It is precious and often my lifeline between waking up and going to bed.  It is my mirror, my comfort, my reality check.  It is also living, breathing……and dangerous.  It pierces and discerns.  It lays truth out.  It lays me out.

As believers and followers of Jesus, we have a responsibility to read and study the Word of God.  Revere His Word and handle the scripture with reverence.  Know its power.  Respect it.

I realize this takes discipline, practice, prioritizing and intentionality.  However, in this modern age the tools are very streamlined and accessible.  Only God Himself knows the timeline ahead of us.  Only God Himself knows our day of presentation.  Be diligent. Read and study the Word of God.

Walk the Walk:

Father God,

Light a fire in us that can only be quenched by the Word of Truth. Plant a desire in our hearts to know You through your Word.  Help us to see the time you have put in our day for time with You.  Give us the desire to make and keep that commitment.

Amen

 

 
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Posted by on August 25, 2014 in Faith and Spirituality

 
 
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Angela Thomas

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