Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for You. Jeremiah 32:17
Imagine a group of young children being asked the question, “How big is God?” I would imagine that some would share by demonstrating on tiptoes with arms outstretched and fingers wiggling to attempt to stretch even higher. Some children would probably say, “He’s bigger than ______.” The blank would be filled in with words like “mountains” and “the tallest building ever.” And this would all be shared with great confidence.
The Bible, also tells of God’s bigness:
Isaiah 55:9 reveals to us, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.”
With a childlike faith (Matthew 18:2), I invite you to meditate on God’s ways. Bring this verse into the inner chamber of your heart and let the Holy Spirit speak to you.
And what are some of the things that He knows about each one of us?
Luke 12:7, “Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered.”
Psalm 139:2-4, “You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord.” (NLT)
How powerful is our BIG God?
Jeremiah 32:17, “Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for You.”
Psalm 147:4-5, “He determines the number of the stars; He gives to all of them their names. Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; His understanding is beyond measure.”
This is obviously only a small sampling of the vast number of verses that reveal our truly magnificent God. The purpose of sharing these verses, though, is to help you with a challenge. I would like to challenge you with the same challenge the Lord laid on my heart recently.
Let ME be BIG in your life!
My immediate thought was, “I’m trying to Lord!” Then He seemed to reveal the areas in which I needed to be stretched and to trust more completely.
To borrow a saying from a bumper sticker I once heard about…
If your problem is too big, then your God is too small.
With arms stretched up high, offer your concerns and struggles to the Lord. You may even want to wiggle your fingers like a child --- not only to demonstrate His bigness, but also as a picture of no longer holding tight to your problem!
He has made everything beautiful in its time.
I had my white activity tracker watch; she had her silver, stretch band Timex Indiglo. We both wore our watches every day. And we were both in the rehab hospital. She was the patient; I was the family member in town to help care for her and to make sure she knew that she wasn’t alone.
My mother-in-law and I had never really gotten along, I am sorry to say. I’m not sure if it was because we had very different personalities or if it was because I had married her third-born and youngest son. Or maybe it was just extenuating circumstances and family dynamics. Maybe it was all of the above. But, for over 30 years, the amount of time that I had been around, since being engaged to and marrying her son, she and I had not really gotten along.
We had experienced some good moments. But, in a span of three decades, to have only had a few good moments is sad, to say the least. So, when I showed up to see her in the hospital, along with her son, my husband, on the evening of Mother’s Day, I wasn’t sure how she would respond. She welcomed us both.
We told her “goodnight,” as the lights in her room were already dimmed for the end of the day, and assured her that we would see her the next morning. I wondered what the next morning would be like as well as the next two weeks, when I would be left as the only family member in town to help care for her.
My mother-in-law had suffered a stroke a little over a month earlier. She had endured the additional trauma of the death of her second husband two weeks after her stroke. Though she was making tremendous progress in her recovery and functionality, the progress came to a screeching halt when she had a second brain hemorrhage, which meant a second trip to ICU and starting all over again at the rehab hospital.
The rehab hospital is where I first saw her. It is where I would begin learning how to interpret her garbled language. Her speech was what the brain hemorrhages had affected most. Though she had regained a lot of speech ability working with speech and occupational therapists after her initial stroke, she was now back at the starting line all over again.
Not being able to speak clearly or be understood was very frustrating to her. I decided that I would seek to be a patient listener to try to help her communicate. After 30 plus years of knowing one another, thus began our friendship.
During the compressed time of two weeks, I would visit my mother-in-law at least twice a day in that rehab hospital. I would sit with her in the dining hall while she re-learned how to use eating utensils. I would push her wheelchair down to the physical therapy room. I would sit with her in the evenings by the large window in her room, overlooking a pretty park. I would read to her from her devotional or from the book, “Mary Poppins.” Sometimes we would just sit on the side of her hospital bed and hold hands. She confided her secrets to me, all be it in her garbled language, but I could understand a lot of it. At least, I could definitely understand her sentiment when she apologized for her part in our relationship difficulty. Each night, I would tuck her into her bed, say a prayer over her and kiss her goodnight.
Our friendship over the next couple of months would be beautiful and meaningful to us both. It would be precious to the two of us and to my husband as well. Unfortunately, the brain hemorrhages in my mother-in-law’s head would continue to occur. She would pass away just two months after our friendship began.
While I was sad that we had so little time together, so to speak, I am also grateful for the healing that took place, not only in the relationship between the two of us, but also in our family.
The Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes tells us that “there is a season and time for every matter under heaven” (Eccl. 3:1). It also tells us that God “has made everything beautiful in its time” (Eccl. 3:11). For my mother-in-law and me, our best season and most beautiful time was at the end of her life. But I am oh-so-grateful that we had that season. It was a miracle orchestrated by our Heavenly Father!!
So, if you have some difficult relationships in your life, take courage and have hope! God is in the making-everything-beautiful-miracle-working business. All He wants from us are willing and humble hearts to work with Him
A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.
Do you like to run? I do not - especially not by myself.
However, I will run because I love the comradery of running with my daughter(s), granddaughter(s) or friends. Several of my family members and I will be running in a race and we are in training. Recently, no one was available to run with me, so I ran in my neighborhood all by myself. I didn’t want to run alone and it was cold.
As I was running down the street, I heard the sound of little feet running behind me! Before I could turn around, two BIG CREATURES brushed past my right leg. Naturally, I SCREAMED!! I didn’t know what was about to attack me!!! When these creatures got in front of me, I saw that they were two full-size goats!!
We do not live on or near a farm. The goats were running free and a complete SURPRISE. Once I realized they meant no harm, I regained control of my breathing and resumed running. The drudgery of running by myself quickly shifted to an adventure that no one was ever going to believe.
The goats were running with me! When I slowed to walk, they walked; when I ran, they ran. Drivers slowed down and stared as they passed - straining their necks to see what kind of pets I had. Walkers asked if they were my goats.
They certainly looked like they were my goats. Our running was in sync as if we had trained together for years. These goats certainly made running fun and entertaining! My attitude quickly changed and I was enjoying running, even laughing at my new friends. The Lord sent me happy little running partners! The saying, laughter is good medicine is taken from Proverbs 17:22, “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones” (NIV). I certainly had a cheerful heart and felt as though I could run faster and further!
Laughing didn’t change what I was doing, but I felt better and had a better outlook. Another translation of this verse states “If you are cheerful, you feel good; if you are sad, you hurt all over” (CEVUK). We each encounter various seasons in life. Some seasons seem wonderful and worry free. Other seasons may be full of devastating and heartbreaking situations, perhaps life-threatening and even dying days.
Recently, I attended a funeral for a precious one-year-old little girl. Her parents shared stories of their sweet Lorelai and these stories incorporated laughter into this heartbreaking service. In their grief, their laughter was definitely good medicine.
No matter what season of life you are in, because Almighty God is on His throne - and He certainly has a sense of humor - there are things around you that can inspire a cheerful heart. Sometimes we need the help of someone else - or perhaps a couple of goats to help.
"Laughter is good medicine and there are no harmful side affects!" (Unknown)
*Check out a video of my running partners
Do everything without grumbling and arguing
For the past 10 years I have led children in worship through music. We have an incredible Children’s Director who taught me there is more to leading worship than singing. It’s about encouraging children to focus their hearts on worshipping God for who He is, and to help the truth of God’s Word sink deep into their hearts through music.
Many of the worship songs have great words, unfortunately the kids don’t understand words like grace, mercy, redeemed, glory, rejoice, trusting in God’s name and others. I love how the Lord gives me an opportunity to teach the kids what they are singing about so they can focus their hearts on the Lord.
Philippians 2:14 says “Do everything without grumbling and arguing.” Wow did the Lord sear this command on my heart. Last week my brother and his family came to visit from Kansas. My husband is a firefighter and the only day we could take them out on the boat was Sunday. However, I was scheduled to sing in Children’s Church and I couldn’t find a replacement.
All week I threw a tantrum with the Lord, I grumbled and argued. I said things like “I can’t believe I have to do this, it’s not fair” and “this is really going to mess up our whole day.” I drove to church Sunday still complaining when the Lord whispered to my heart, “you are looking at this as a responsibility to fulfill instead of an opportunity to serve Me.” With tears in my eyes I confessed my sin and prepared my heart to lead worship.
During the welcome time I went over to greet a boy who hugs me every time I see him. I asked him how he was doing. In a quiet voice he shared something that happened that week that no little boy should ever have to experience. He told me he was scared. I instantly wrapped my arms around him and asked him if I could pray with him and he said “yes.” As we prayed, my heart just broke as we brought his fear to the Throne of Grace.
Shortly after we prayed it was time to sing a song straight from Psalm 33:20-22. I invited the children to come to the front with me as we sang on our knees. The boy almost ran to get the spot beside me. We were on holy ground as I watched this little boy kneeling with his hands raised, worshipping and singing:
“In you our hearts rejoice, for we are trusting in your name
We depend on you, for we are trusting in your name
Our hope is in you Lord, for we are trusting in your name”
I cried all the way home completely humbled by God’s grace. I had spent the entire week grumbling and arguing with the Lord because I thought boating with my family was more important than serving Him. In spite of my selfish and ugly attitude, God allowed me to help my young friend trust Jesus in his pain.
My precious husband, Bill, and I have been planted in Fort Myers, Florida for almost 35 years. As a newly married couple, God most graciously had placed people in both of our jobs to share Christ with us. Its hard to believe it has been almost 34 years since we asked Jesus into our hearts! Bill and I have been blessed with four children, 3 daughters, then a son. These blessings came quickly, all within 6 years!! During these years I'm so thankful I was able to be part of women's ministry classes at our church, helping me to grow in my walk with Him. Then came the day when I was asked that question that stretched me way outside of my comfort zone...will you teach a class? Its hard to believe that I have now been teaching more than 20 years. Bill and I love to travel, most of the time going to visit our 9 grandchildren, oh ya, and their parents! I also love reading, walking and hanging out with some very special young moms in Beloved that bless my socks off!
Julie is a Kansas girl who resides in sunny Southwest Florida. She's been married to her husband Sean for 23 years and they share two boys ages 21 & 17. She enjoys baking and biking, but her absolute favorite thing is snow skiing which is a little difficult to do in a sandy 80 degree land.
She became a follower of Christ at age 10. She loves studying and teaching God's Word. She has a passion for encouraging moms to love and follow Jesus.
Beth grew up in a loving home; however, in her early 20s she faced a very lonely time. During that time, she cried out to God and asked “If You are real, please show yourself to me!” God met her where she was and she trusted in the Lord Jesus at that time. Her life verse and desire is “no matter what happens, to conduct herself in a manner worthy of the gospel.” Philippians 1:27
Beth now resides in Tampa, Florida with her husband Larry. The Lord has blessed them by blending their family of five children. They currently have eight grandchildren and are hoping that there will be more grandchildren in the future.
Donna accepted Jesus as her Savior at the age of nine and has been amazed at God’s goodness and faithfulness throughout her life. She has been blessed to have had many mentors through each season of life, who have shown her what trusting God looks like. Donna and her husband, Bryan, have five children, one son-in-law, one soon to be daughter-in-law, and one wonderful grandson. Donna and Bryan have recently moved back to their home state of Arkansas after livingin southeast Alabama the past 23 years. Donna enjoys spending time with her family, laughing with friends (usually over coffee), going for long walks with her husband, and reading a good book (which may also be accompanied by a cup of coffee).
Sarah is a true Florida Cracker. She was born and raised in Southwest Florida. At the age of 6, Sarah accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior, and she hasn't looked back since. Hebrews 13:8 is one of her favorite verses, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever." Eating delicious desserts, spending time with her family and friends, and teaching people about Jesus are a few of the things she enjoys to do in her spare time.
Sarah has been married to her best friend and husband, Brandon, for 7 years. They have been blessed with one beautiful, determined son, Asher, who keeps them on their toes. Sarah and her family live in the Tampa area. They love exploring their community together, family hugs, and eating pizza whenever possible.
Katie Flint just recently moved back home to Fort Myers, Florida with her husband, Ryan and two children, Collins and Madden. At the age of 5, Katie accepted Jesus Christ to be the Lord and Savior of her life, after attending Vacation Bible School. Through each phase of her life, God has shown her that He alone is trustworthy. The verse that has been her life source is Psalm 46:10- “Be still and know that I am God.”
She is a stay-at-home mom and enjoys exercising and baking. She has been married to her husband Ryan for almost 9 years, who is her high school sweetheart. They enjoy trying new restaurants, family trips to the beach, and relaxing at home.
Marsha grew up in a small rural town in upstate New York. In 2006, after finishing college, she moved to sunny SW Florida where she met her, now husband, Shawn. Together they enjoy spending family time with their two fun-loving toddler boys Zachariah and Kairos.
Marsha enjoys living an active lifestyle, which is helpful, considering that her favorite hobby is baking.
Though she attended church as a child, Marsha was not saved until adulthood when her eyes were finally opened to the love and mercy of Jesus Christ.
Since being saved, God has placed a loving burden on her heart to share the truth about God’s healing grace with those who may feel like forgiveness is not possible for them.