“Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!” Psalms 139:2
I can say and do some crazy things when I am excited. This past February, my family and I were on vacation and I was broiling meat in the oven for dinner. Five minutes into the cooking process, smoke started billowing out of the oven. I opened the oven and discovered the grease from the meat was on fire. I pulled the meat out of the oven and extinguished the flames. The condo was full of smoke and the smoke alarm was blasting. While the boys fanned the smoke away from the alarm, I flipped the meat over and stuck it back under the broiler.
In an effort to clear the smoke from the condo faster, I tried creating a cross breeze by opening the sliding glass door and the front door that led to a hallway. As I opened the front I looked back at the oven. Once again smoke was billowing out and when I opened the oven door I discovered that the grease from the meat was on fire again!
While the smoke alarm was going off, I said to my husband Sean, “We need to call the front desk so they know we don’t have a fire.” Just as I finished my sentence the fire alarm in the hallway started screaming. Now the whole building is fully aware of my inability to safely broil meat.
Just then the phone rang, I forcefully pointed to the phone and yelled at the top of my lungs “WE ARE NOT ON FIRE!” My husband simply said, “I know”. He calmly answered the phone with “Hello?” like nothing was going on. Condo management was calling because their central monitoring system indicated two activated fire alarms and they wanted to know if they needed to call 911.
After the smoke cleared and the fire alarms stopped, we sat down to charred meat and we began laughing uncontrollably. No one could figure out why I put the meat back in the oven after it caught on fire the first time or why I yelled, “We are not on fire!”
Although there is some humor in this situation, the things we say and do under stress can be surprising and can reveal what is really going on in our hearts. C.S. Lewis gives some keen insight in his book Mere Christianity when he explains how our sinful actions often occur when we are caught off guard by unexpected, stressful situations. He remarked, “Surely what pops out before the man has time to put on a disguise is the truth.”
So often we pray for a trouble-free life, but it is these troubles that help us see the sin we excuse or ignore. When life is easy and things are going our way, we can be blind to the sin that is lurking in our hearts. The Lord will use the pressure and stress of life, to reveal what is really going on deep inside. David prayed, “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” Psalms 139:23-24 (ESV)
This is a very different prayer than the prayer for a trouble-free life. This prayer expresses a desire for the Holy Spirit to conform us into the image of Christ. This is the kind of prayer I want to have the strength and faith to pray.
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.