"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."
A few weeks ago, my family and I packed a few overnight bags and headed for a weekend getaway an hour away from our home, a staycation if you will. It was much needed as I have been feeling the strain of going back to work for the first time since Asher was born. Balancing the duties of home and work are proving to be more of a challenge than I expected. A weekend away was exactly what I needed.
During the day, while Brandon was working, Asher and I would explore the area around us. We waded in the bay water as we tried to catch fish, and built sandcastles that were instantly washed away by the roaring waves. We walked the streets of vendors, ate overpriced food, and just enjoyed each other's company. Something we had not done in several months.
One of our adventures led us to the pier where we stumbled upon the cutest little Discovery Center. Inside we found tanks of colorful fish, the softest sand that you could play with, and Asher's favorite, a center filled with microscopes where one could observe plankton to the heart's content. But what caught my eye was a little diorama showcasing two little houses on the bay. In front of one of the houses was a set of mangrove trees, various vegetation and an oyster bed. The second house only had sand in front of it. A button on the display said, "push". Naturally, I pushed the button, and watched as a rush of water surged toward each of the houses. The one with the oyster beds and vegetation stayed dry, the water never reached the house. The vegetation served as a barrier, a means of protection, against the flood waters. On the other hand, the house with just the sand sustained severe damage as there was nothing to stop the flow of water.
Asher, being completely enthralled with the contraption, continued to push the button, drowning that poor house over and over again. It was in that moment that God spoke to my heart, "Sarah, you are the house that is being pummeled with water because you have removed the safeguards that I put in place to protect you." You see, I have a tendency to shut down when I am feeling overwhelmed. Reading my Bible daily, chatting continuously with God throughout the day and meeting with my sisters in Christ take a back burner as I allow the worries of my heart and mind to take over. Those three things I just listed are my means of protection from the very one who is out to destroy me. John 10:10 says, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." Nothing will stop Satan from pushing the drown button over and over again. Oh, but God! He is greater! He is for me, and for you! His desire is for us to have life to the full. This is why He prepares the battlefield before me by setting up safeguards. It is my job to keep them in place. As I do, priorties fall into place, my heart aligns with Jesus's heart and I am protected from the schemes of the evil one.
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, make their home in central Arkansas. They have five grown children and are grandparents to wonderful grandchildren. 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.