One of my favorite summer traditions is to start the day on our back deck with coffee, my Bible, and a journal. The past few weeks I haven't got out as often as normal so when I went out the other day, I was amazed at how the flowers and plants had grown so much. Nature is always growing and blossoming, while I missed my mornings on the deck, I'm thankful for the opportunity to recognize the amazing beauty in my own backyard.
I need to thank my parents, husband, and brother-in-law for it all. Mom and Dad planned the landscaping, with 95% of the additions at our house, being transplants from their house, my childhood home. It's like having the best of both worlds, past meets present.
As if the dew wasn't enough, a light rain dampened the morning briefly, and a bee collected honey before I was finished capturing a few photos. A wonderful start to the day, one of many. Choosing to seize the positive.
Tomorrow morning when you wake up - look outside and see what's new?
What can I say? I love hanging out
Pastor challenged everyone in church that morning to "get out of the holy huddle" and spend time with the people around us. If you've attended VBS, read the Bible, or even sang a Veggie Tales song then you know Jesus hung with the lowest of low...even a tax collector. GASP! So why do we, as Christians tend to stick close to our church families and friends?
I have an idea, it's safe. If the only people we "hang" with are other Christians, do we truly believe the message we claim to live out? Are we really living our faith if we don't keep ALL our friends and family close and involved in our lives? I'll admit, in the beginning, there was a "pruning process" necessary. Sometimes the sin in one's life requires them to huddle with positive role models and mentors until strong enough to stand on their own. But at some point, we need to trust our faith, testimony, and God as we step out of the "holy huddle", aka, our comfort zone, and share how God worked in our life.
I don't want to be a Bible thumper and I don't recommend it to you either. If you thump people with an over zealous testimony and push them to accept Jesus, you might push them further in the opposite direction. Instead, live a life that models God's love, peace, healing, and working. To "see" Jesus working in and through you will mean more than any Bible verse thrust at someone with condemnation. Does this make sense?
Many quoted Bible verses to me and attempted to guilt me into going to church and such but it was a child who reached my heart. He didn't wave his Bible at me, quote Bible verses, or demand I change. Instead, he told me I needed Jesus and invited me to church. God knew what and how I needed to hear this invitation. Some might need a Bible thumping but I think those are far and few between. People need to know you care for them and are hungry for positive relationships.
So let us all get out of the holy huddle and share the Good News through our thoughts, words, and deeds...not the memorized speech. Jesus and a friendship with Him aren't rehearsed...it's open, loving, and constant. Okay, getting off my soapbox! Have a great day!
“Alright Christians, huddle up! We have a lot of people out there hurting, searching for that something that’s missing in their lives. They don’t know Jesus because nobody has ever told them. The Lord is looking for messengers to reach out to these people, messengers to bring the good news! Christians, we are the messengers! So when we break this huddle, let’s expand our relational circles! Let’s reach out to those in need! Let’s be the beautiful feet! Alright messengers…..send me on three. 1-2-3 SEND ME!”
To Read Entire "Holy Huddle" article - click here
Are you in the "Holy Huddle" or are you Living the Call?
It's been a couple years since I embarked on the great journey after a little change from a building assignment of ten plus years to a new one. The change and relocation was a blessing and brought many friendships and God-stops. If we don't take the first little stop towards the change God's placed in our path, we'll never experience the great journey He placed before us. To look back I see so many instances of God working in and through me, I feel blessed and humbled. I don't know why God would choose me to be a vessel for Him in my imperfection yet this is how God works.
If something is broken, we generally discard it.
However, God uses broken things to accomplish His purposes...
Yes, God uses broken things. Perhaps your life has been been broken by sin,
but unlike Humpty Dumpty and the king's men, God can put it back together again. - Larry Acuff, Lithia Springs, Georgia (to read entire article click here)
When faced with little or big steps,
do you look forward in anticipation?
I don't receive anything from Amazon for sharing with you, unless you count the joy of knowing you can shop on https://smile.amazon.com/ and Amazon will donate 0.5% to your favorite charity. Are you wondering how you can shop on Amazon and have 0.5% of your purchase donated to a charity of your choice? I thought you might.
Enter https://smile.amazon.com/ into your URL. Log into with the same user name and password like you normally do. The first screen you see will ask you to select your charity, there is a search box. My parents and I are donating 0.5% of our Amazon purchases to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. What's your favorite charity?
Is it worth two minutes of your time to switch to smile.amazon to have Amazon donate 0.5% to a charity near and dear to your heart?
I didn't think so...share this so others know they can shop via Amazon as they have in the past but have 0.5% donated to charity.
A Prayer for Protection
God, save me from my enemies.
Protect me from those who come against me.
Save me from those who do evil and from murderers.
Look, they are waiting to ambush me.
Cruel people attack me,
but I have not sinned or done wrong, Lord.
I have done nothing wrong,
but they are ready to attack me.
Wake up to help me, and look.
You are the Lord God All-Powerful,
the God of Israel.
Arise and punish those people.
Do not give those traitors any mercy. Selah
They come back at night.
Like dogs they growl from their mouths.
Insults come from their lips,
because they say, “Who’s listening?”
But, Lord, you laugh at them;
you make fun of all of them.
God, my strength, I am looking to you, because God is my defender.
My God loves me, and he goes in front of me.
He will help me defeat my enemies.
Lord, our protector, do not kill them, or my people will forget.
With your power scatter them and defeat them.
They sin by what they say: they sin with their words.
They curse and tell lies, so let their pride trap them.
Destroy them in your anger; destroy them completely!
Then they will know that God rules over Israel
and to the ends of the earth. Selah
They come back at night.
Like dogs they growl and roam around the city.
They wander about looking for food,
and they howl if they do not find enough.
But I will sing about your strength.
In the morning I will sing about your love.
You are my defender, my place of safety in times of trouble.
God, my strength, I will sing praises to you.
God, my defender, you are the God who loves me.
What do you need protection from today?
Give it to God and trust Him to protect you.
Jesus on the 4th of July
We gather 'round to celebrate
On Independence Day
Pay homage to our country
As the children run and play.
With barbecues and picnics
And fireworks in the air
The flag we own is proudly flown
To show how much we care.
The stars and stripes spell freedom
She waves upon the breeze
While bursts of colors can be seen
Above the towering trees.
This is all quite wonderful
We revel in delight
But God above in divine love
Has brought this day to light.
With just a stroke of liberty
A touch of His great hand
He gave democracy to us
And helped this country stand.
The stripes upon our stately flag
Were touched by His sweet grace
Each star of white that shines so bright
Reflects His loving face.
So as you turn to face the flag
For battles that were fought
Be filled with pride for those who died
And freedoms that were bought.
But don't forget to thank the One
That gives the bright display
The reason why we paint the sky
On Independence Day
Copyright © Marilyn Ferguson 2003
Visit Marilyn's website to read more
of her beautiful poetry:
There are also direct links by clicking on any photograph on today's blog.
Thank you Marilyn for your permission to share this Fourth of July poem with my readers.
What is a Fourth of July tradition in your family?
Note: This blog was drafted last summer, revised over the past months, and the final addition this past weekend.
It was the end of July 2014 when the first reporter showed up at my parents house to detail her agencies speculation and theory of how my sister, Heidi M Allen, was kidnapped, murdered, mutilated, and then how her body was disposed of. Nearly a year later, the raw pain of the words spoken by this reporter still invade our thoughts, sometimes triggering nightmares.
I don't think reporters are trained or good candidates to detail such information to a parent. First and foremost, it's a story and theory to them versus truth delivered by trained persons like law enforcement.
On the flip side, I know some families learn of actual, verifiable, news from the media and then contact their law enforcement agency for verification. I'm thankful for the open communication we have with the Oswego County Sheriff's and the Oswego District Attorney's office. They aren't perfect, but then neither am I or any other human walking this planet so rather than focus on the negative or mistakes, we strive to move forward with one goal in mind...to find Heidi.
Photo taken by a friend prior to my interview with Dateline NBC
for an upcoming story about my sister, Heidi M Allen's, kidnapping.
April 3, 1994 seems like so long ago yet at the same time, I can blink my eyes and I'm in that moment all over again. Breaking news is one trigger for the instant transport in time to the worst moment of my life, the day I learned Heidi was kidnapped. I never expected to still not know decades later but this is the life we live.
I'm thankful for breaking news at the same time of dreading it. I try to find the positive in the situations in life. While breaking news might be stressful, create challenges you are unaware of, and share false information with the public...there are still positive aspects.
"Breaking News Will Not Break Me" July 2012
"BREAKing News Truly Breaks" July 2012
"Identified...Not Heidi" February 2012
TOP's Tuesday: News Coverage 20 Years Later, April 2014
Helicopters, Hope, and Heidi: Part I, October 2014
Helicopters, Hope, and Heidi: Part II, October 2014
Helicopters, Hope, and Heidi: Part III "Times Have Changed", October 2014
*21 years, 3 months, and 8 days later...the media and others still remember and care about New Haven's missing girl, Heidi Allen, and care enough to find air time and print space to share her kidnapping and the details that related to her disappearance
*The public is given up-to-date information about current events with at least a nugget of truth
*Some media agencies pride themselves on reporting truth with integrity and grace
*Media avenues and personalities are always changing, learning, and growing in their important role
*With today's social media and Internet, breaking news travels quickly
*Most media reporting agencies keep the family's feelings in mind as they prepare and present their story to the public, remembering in a blink of an eye - they could be the relative, neighbor, or friend with a microphone thrust in their face to answer difficult questions in their most traumatic time
What is ONE positive you thought of right away in regards to the
media's role in "breaking news" and it's release to the public...
“God uses broken things. It takes broken soil to produce a crop,
broken clouds to give rain, broken grain to give bread,
broken bread to give strength.
It is the broken alabaster box that gives forth perfume.
It is Peter, weeping bitterly, who returns to greater power than ever.”
― Vance Havner
It was in this moment that I realized she felt broken and unworthy, she didn't think she is worthy of God's love. She believed she made too many mistakes, done too much wrong, and wasn't good enough. My heart broke and with tears rolling down both our cheeks I told her, "We are all broken, imperfect, and don't deserve God's love yet He extends it to us anyway. It's called grace. I remember holding her hand with a comfortable silence between us.
I hugged her before I left and said, "I love you and will see you again." She smiled, one more hug, a little longer this time, and in a whisper..."Love you too, I hope to see you there." We are all broken and in need of a Savior. I look forward to seeing my friend in heaven and I'm thankful for this memory. Each time I see chocolate covered strawberries, I say a little prayer for her.
The LORD is near to the brokenhearted And saves those who are crushed in spirit. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith -- and this is not from yourselves., it is the gift of God."
Psalm 34:8; Ephesians 2:8 NIV
In your brokenness, with God in your life,
you are made whole.
Do you have a memory to share?
I prayed and hoped God would answer my prayer to deliver a message to touch the hearts of those in attendance. In hindsight, I chuckle a little since God orchestrated my being there, and He is faithful.
It was a beautiful service with my message tucked into a delicious sandwich of hope, patriotism, and prayer. Have you ever accepted an invitation orchestrated by God, spent time stressing, and then after all was said and done looked back and thought..."Why was I worried?"
Life presents us with opportunities, have you missed an opportunity in the past because you said "No" out of fear rather than stepping forward in faith? Will you share?
Around fifty riders left the New Hartford Recreation Center on the Saturday morning after the RMC, so 100 miles on Friday then mounted their bikes for another 600 miles over the next week. A bicycle ride/mission to Alexandria, VA, to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children's headquarters. Their mission...to raise awareness and present plaques to the center on behalf of the center in the Mohawk Valley. Look at this team of beautiful, inside and out, selfless individuals.
I understand the idea about everyone viewing through a small hand-held screen and the fewer the characters the better BUT if we become a "Fast Blog" society, our minds and hearts could be come obese with half truths, partial stories, and false impressions. You aren't alone in your micro reading and viewing or only slowing long enough to read a snip-it. This doesn't mean it's right or a healthy habit to practice. We are a busy society, pulled in multiple directions all the time, and it seems we slow down less and less.
This summer I'm challenging myself to slow down. I want to read more. I want to write more. I want to work on my next book. I want a lot, right? But is it a want or a need.
Abide in Me, and I will abide in you.
A branch cannot bear fruit if it is disconnected from the vine,
and neither will you if you are not connected to Me.
I am the vine, and you are the branches.
If you abide in Me and I in you,
you will bear great fruit.
Without Me, you will accomplish nothing."
John 15:4-5 Voice
If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God.
If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides,
so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.
To Him be the glory and the power for ever and ever."
1 Peter 4:11 NIV
As authors and bloggers we use blogs to encourage, inspire, uplift, and connect with our readers yet on a much deeper and personal level, to blog is a way we can reach more readers to share who we are and the things, people, and God we love. I have contemplated taking a break, possibly blogging less days each week but not waving the flag. I enjoy blogging and sharing with all of you. So why am I thinking and praying about lessening the blogs you might ask. It's a matter of time.
To write well requires time. During the school year, my time to write is limited so rather than having blogging, speaking, and book writing and preparation time...I have a set amount of time for the three so it becomes a "what is above the line" type of philosophy. I find myself blogging some mornings because I think I need to, not because I feel called to. Don't get me wrong, I always enjoy the blog but some days I really would like to spend more time in prayer, reading my Bible, or working on the next book. So is my blog an obligation or act of obedience?
Some people are reading this and thinking, "Lisa has finally lost it" while others are thinking, "Thank you, I'm not alone in feeling this way." Where do fit? Then again there are some reading this thinking, "Wish you would have kept this to 140 characters, this is three minutes I'll never get back." Regardless of where you are in this spectrum of response, thank you for taking time to read.
Here are a few discussion questions:
If the blog you follow changes to a few times a week, would you still follow it?
Why or why not? If you can personalize it to my blog, that would be cool.
For fellow bloggers:
Have you contemplated raising the white flag?
Lessened the number of days you blog?
What keeps you inspired and motivated to continue blogging?
Today is a day of celebration. A day to remember the men and women of past and present who dedicate their lives to America, Land of the Free. Many gather with friends and family for a BBQ or party, in the past, we have done the same. This year, with my husband and daughter both at work, I decided to spend the day with my parents.
Dad and I worked in the garden, trimmed trees and brush, cleaned his wood working shop, fixed a cabinet door at my house, installed a bracket so we can display our American flag, buggied about to admire the different flowers and trees on my parents property, went for a drive, picked up chicken, and puttered on other things. It was s fun, memory-making filled day.
Once Ed and Mags were both home, we ventured to the store for a few items then back to my parents for a late dinner. Mags chose a new movie so rather than battle the skeeters, we extended our visit. Memory making at its best this holiday.
Hope you have a great 4th of July weekend! What is your favorite memory so far this weekend?
I'll be honest, I didn't think it could be more special or beautiful but I was wrong. I'm proud to call Ken and Sue Allen my parents. Their strength has and always will encourage and inspire me. Their creativity amazes me. Their love for Heidi and all their family is a testament for all who have the pleasure to know or meet them.
Mom wanted to personalize the garden so our community can look at photos of the Heidi they watched grow up. The energetic, bubbly, and full-of-life Heidi we all love and miss so much. Photos to tell a story to those seeing the garden and reading the sign for the first time. If this was a baseball game, I;'d say "Mom and Dad hit it out of the park." Great job. If you are driving on State Route 104 and meet the intersection of State Route 104B, I hope you'll pause to visit the garden. I'm sharing a few photos but none do justice to my parents hard work and love.
We will ALWAYS HOPE FOR HEIDI...one day we will find her and bring her home.
HOPE is of the heart, photographs are one way to share this hope with you.
May our Heidi, be your Heidi...more than a poster, she's our missing loved one.
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