Category : Blog
Category : Blog
Yesterday, at Pearls of Promise Ministries we were talking about our hearts. What it means to have a pure and clean heart, and what it means to pour out your heart. So much of my time recently as been spent examining my heart.
This time of isolation has really allowed me to reflect on my relationships. I have journaled and blogged about my relationship with God, my husband, my girls, my parents and with my siblings. I have had the chance to love on my niece and my nephew-in-law from afar, as they welcomed into the family the first child of the next generation. And, I have spent countless hours of blessed, quality time via phone calls and zoom calls with my friends. I have loved every minute!
Pouring out your heart starts with love, and communication is the key foundation to every relationship so I have been in extrovert heaven. I must admit I have missed hugs and there are some family and friends whom I just can’t squeeze in person—yes, you Baby Russell!
Thankfully, this time allowed me to pour my heart out to the Lord daily and sometimes well into the night. I have cried out to Him for myself, my family, friends, our country and our leaders, for our neighbors in all the countries around the world. What a time to pour out of hearts. Psalm 62:8 says, “Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts for Him, for God is our refuge.”
In Him, I have found my refuge, my strength during this time and I am blessed to have deepened many of my relationships. There are so many of you who are struggling. Jobs lost or overworked, moving, families separated, death of loved ones, and even celebrations, births, or graduations diminished or put on hold because of this time. Yet there has been so much love too.
When we get through it all, I pray that we pour out our hearts even more. I pray that marriages become strengthened, family bonds grow stronger, and the things we truly care about stay our number one priorities. Our Faith. Our Families and One Another. These are the places where YOU need to continue pouring your heart out.
That’s what author and pastor Mark Batterson says we need to do to hear the voice of God. I am currently at the beach where I feel closest to God and where I’ve received some profound direction like “I want you to quit your full-time job” after I felt a call to seminary back in 2003. I resisted at first and laid down some parameters for proceeding: “You need to replace my salary in my husband’s salary and make it his idea.” Both happened, but not before I ended up in the Emergency Room with panic attacks at finals and once again the following semester at mid-terms. I should have listened and taken a leap of faith, but didn’t.
Shifting back to current day, there has not been a direct message from the Lord on this beach trip. There has been some great family time and really good food. We also put a 1000 piece puzzle together and had some relaxing outings at the pool and beach. But I think I haven’t heard from above because I have not done any “proactive listening.”
I’ve started the days with my usual morning routine:
But no true silence and meditation.
There is a scenario in my life right now where I need a word from God. I need to know whether to proceed or pull back, because if I am supposed to move forward I may have to let go of something else. I’ve learned my lesson about overextending.
So I am thankful for the reminder during my time with my heavenly Father this morning. I need to be intentional about listening. I need to be more like Jacob who wrestled with God until he received a blessing. Or like Jesus who spent long periods of time with the Lord so He would receive direction from His Father. John 5:19 says Jesus only did what He saw the Father doing.
What about you? Do you need direction about something in your life? Consider Proactive Listening. Push all extraneous thoughts out of your mind. Sit in His presence without saying a word, and ask God to speak.
“Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long. Your commands are always with me and make me wiser than my enemies. I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statutes (Psalm 119:98–99).
This Wednesday May 27 is our monthly POP Chat at 6:30 p.m. Our Subject will be “How to Have Peace in Your Life.” We hope you will sign up and join us for a powerful time of Worship, Prayer, Teaching and Conversation online. The link to register is below:
Do you feel like sending out a distress signal right now? Need a life raft?
The universal distress signal is S.O.S. It is Morse Code and not an acronym, but everyone knows what it means. Over the years, however, some people have turned it into an acronym: “SAVE OUR SHIP,” so if that’s the case, what is on your ship that you feel needs saving right now?
As we think about what needs saving, I want to offer some other acronyms for S.O.S.
SINK OR SWIM. In light of COVID-19, sometimes we feel like the world is sinking. Over the Memorial Day Weekend, I am here at my usual happy place, South Padre Island, but this time it’s a little unsettling walking around in a “masked” environment. I have to make a choice: Will I allow myself to sink emotionally because it’s different or will I choose to have a good time and swim? Swimming is always the better choice but it takes more effort.
Over the past few months, our ministry, Pearls of Promise, has been forced to cancel a Level-Up Conference, speaking engagements came to a halt, because of the “Shelter-at-Home” order, we could not gather as a team for our new television show, POP Talk. We also couldn’t do in-person radio interviews, and we felt like we were not teaching/encouraging our Pearls of Promise connections anymore. What to do? We had to make a choice. Sink Or Swim?
SEEK OUR STRATEGY. We chose to swim so this led to seeking a strategy and ultimately, the strategy or chess moves for our lives must come from God. Proverbs 19:21 says, “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”
As the leader of this ministry, I overcame the initial shock of the hard stop brought on by COVID-19 by spending extended time in God’s presence. It was like I was a little child again, wearing holy floaties. How and where do you want us to swim, Lord? Do we simply float, or do you want us to keep moving forward in some way? And He was faithful to provide the strategy, just as He will provide a detailed plan for you in your life.
SEASON OF SLEEP. This is an acronym that we might not have thought about. Maybe the Lord is taking some things off your plate so you can relax, recharge and bask in His presence. Even though Pearls of Promise is still busy doing ministry, my days are still less hectic and contain more margin than ever before. The pace feels better and allows for a longer quiet time in the morning.
SEEK OUR SAVIOR. Jesus does not want us to sink. He wants us to work things out with Him at the center, and then desires for us to walk on the water, holding His hand so we don’t go under. He is the foundation in the midst of continued uncertainty.
I will close with one of my favorite passages from Psalm 40:1-2:
“I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.”
SERVING OUR SAVIOR! Here’s the link to sign up for our POP Chat for this Wednesday, May 27 at 6:30 p.m. We hope you will sign up and join us for a powerful time online.
Our guest blogger today is Janice Stroman, Ed.D. Jan, a native of Hot Springs, Arkansas, now lives in Las Colinas, Texas. She is the Founder and Director of “Ladies in Touch,” a ministry group that connects with God and others. She is a Bible Study Leader and Teacher, Writer and Blogger of “Jan’s Jewels for Jesus,” that can be found on the Ladies in Touch website, www.ladiesintouch.com.
Jan is also a private music teacher and an Irving League of Volunteers Member and an Irving Salvation Army Advisory Council Member. She has extensive experience in Educational Leadership and Teacher Training and has taught all ages and grades from Elementary School through Graduate School. Both her Masters and Doctoral degrees are related to research on how to teach the reading-writing process more effectively.
Jan’s Hobbies include decorating, gardening, photography, cooking, and entertaining. Most of all she loves, and is dedicated to helping others discover the reality of a faith-based life. She is married to David, her husband of 55 years. They have one son and two handsome grandsons who are the joy of her life.
Are you currently in a Life Detour that has you worried or scared? Or maybe you’re thinking that you are completely alone and Jesus doesn’t care? Perhaps your situation has depleted you of both emotional and physical strength to the point of feeling numb and depleted of all energy.
Please allow me to share with you, my precious friend, that I have been there. In fact, I am right there with you as I write and share these thoughts. Yes, the detour I’m experiencing seems impossible and without any hope. Ever been there? Are you there now?
Jesus tells us in the Bible that He will never leave us or forsake us. He reminds us of that one lost sheep that He took time to find and rescue. Maybe you are the sheep that needs help or rescuing. Could it be that someone very close to you might need to be rescued? Do you ever literally feel like crying out to God, “HELP! AND MAKE IT QUICK!
I am once again reminded that Jesus says in His Word, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, except through me.” It is only through Him and by Him that any of us can find our way out of darkness and despair. He longs to be our dearest and closest friend. He says that we are to cast our burden upon Him because He will never give us more than we can endure. “For my yoke is easy to bear, and my load is not hard to carry.” He asks us to believe in Him with all of our heart, body, mind, and soul, and as we travel though this rough time or detour together, when we do what He asks, we will feel His presence walking along beside us. If we are too weak to walk, He will carry us. Jesus will never leave or forsake us if we keep focused on His everlasting and precious love for us.
So if something or someone has caused you to feel afraid, sad, lonely, rejected, or without hope, think of the words of the familiar chorus entitled “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus.”
“Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, In the light of His glory and grace.”
A friend who is currently fighting a fierce battle with cancer often sings this chorus when the battle she faces begins to wear her down. I’ve literally seen fear and distress disappear from her face as she sings this chorus. Peace and joy instantly replace fear and distress.
Why? The answer lies in the words of the chorus I shared with you. When you look into the face of the One who is Love personified and trust in Him as a child, then and only then, will you find that everlasting peace that passes all understanding.
Try looking into the glorious face of Jesus. Feel His loving arms surround you and His enduring peace rest within you. “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalms 46:10).
I just finished listening to a marvelous book by Andy Andrews called the The Heart Mender. In his own voice, with a range of character voices, Andy performed a story of bitterness that was vanquished by unconditional love and forgiveness. I know a thing or two about forgiveness, yet I was surprisingly pulled into the story about how, unknowingly, another person can be the catalyst that mends a broken, bitter, or hurting heart.
After being riveted to the story for nearly three days, trying to listen in between household chores, yard work, and the daily activities needed to keep a family fed and home running, I finished the audio book this morning. I was supposed to be working on a blog for Pearls of Promise, but I seemed to be experiencing a block. So I woke up this morning intent on finishing the audio book so I could focus on blogging.
But after wrapping up the book I still had no topic to write about. This time at home seems to have stopped me in my tracks from gathering experiences to write about. However, I have had a lot of time to think. Too much time, because every time I think about something it just seems to race into another thought. It’s not like a solo race, more like a relay run. You know the kind of relay were you keep passing the baton to the next person—that’s how my thoughts have been—one thought passing on to another, never really staying focused except for a short sprint.
And this morning has been much of the same. You see, in just the short three hours I have been awake, I have passed the baton from needing to blog, finishing Andy’s book, to thoughts about the gardening I did yesterday, to house chores needed to be done, to my daughters’s college journey, to exegete vs eisegesis sharing of scripture, to my thinning hair and needed nutrients, and then back to my need to get the blog out.
I get so mad at myself for not staying focused long enough to accomplish tasks, let alone get them done ahead of schedule, which would be preferable for all of those involved in Pearls of Promise Ministries.
So when I got back to the topic of needing a blog, my mind went back to the audio book I just finished listening to and its topic of forgiveness as a way to mend one’s heart. Welcome to my mind. I hope I haven’t lost you, but the inner working of my mind is a continual relay race of thoughts. Somehow what is really important seems to find its way back, and this morning it seems to be forgiveness and the people who help us forgive.
Once I finally focused on this topic it seems like a flood of stories came to mind. One from my childhood sparked my heart so I want to share it with you. It’s about Sara. We were best friends when I was young. She was the exact opposite of everything I was. She was blonde-haired, blue-eyed as compared to my very curly brown hair and brown eyes. She was thin, and let’s just say I was not. She was in the gifted and talented programs at school, and again let’s just say I was not, but we were the best of friends.
As best friends we spent so much time together that I knew everything about her family, but she knew very little about mine as we spent most of our time together at her house. It was like she was an only child but she was really one of those treasured surprise children, born late to her parents. She appeared to have their undivided attention, which was something I always craved from my own parents. And, because she was the last child left at home she didn’t have to share, but she always did with me; that was of course until I took her lipgloss. Yes, I confess. Envy took over and I stole from my friend. I thank God that I’m not a deceitful person now, but at the time I was mortified because she caught me.
We never spoke again. That was until about a month ago. After many times throughout the years looking for her via the Internet, I finally found her. Would she talk to me? I was surprised when she replied to my message. Indeed, she had remembered me, and what transpired in the next few emotionally charged communications from me was a beautiful moment of forgiveness. I told her that I had been looking for her and said I was truly sorry for taking her lipgloss. She replied that she was surprised that I had remembered what had torn our friendship apart, because she didn’t. I said yes, I remembered, and it had been one of the my greatest regrets, losing such a beautiful friend over something so stupid. I admitted that I thought she was rich and was envious so I took the lipgloss.
The next few texts were from Sara easily accepting my apology and then going on as if we had always been friends. Chatting about all the years that have passed, all the things that we have done, where we are now, and who we are now. Since then, Sara and I have continued to talk, but most importantly we mended our hearts. She freely gave forgiveness and I finally forgave myself. I have no idea how our friendship would have been had I not hurt her so, but I learned a unforgettable lesson from her—the cost of friendship is invaluable.
As Andy’s story illustrated, God sends people into our lives who can help us mend our hearts. Sometimes the mender can be just one person, or it may take an army, as it has in my life. Mending may be immediate or it may take years. Regardless, it’s important to learn that when given the opportunity—apologize, but most importantly, forgive.
Thank you Sara! You truly are a dear friend.