Kerrington's Posts, {Beauty}, {Faith}, {Life}, {Love}, {Worth}

One Simple Act.

Written By: Pastor Kerrington Sweeney

Have you ever had a long, rough week? A week where it seems that everything is going wrong. Feels like everyone is working against you and then it starts thundering and raining outside. Yup, I have been there.

Depressing for sure. A week like that happens way too often.

I had a week just like this one awhile back. Dealing with drama, hearing rude comments being said straight to my face, and in all honesty, being completely blunt here…nasty things wanted to climb out of this Children’s Pastors mouth. It was one of THOSE weeks.

I still remember the moment that changed my week for good…with one simple act.

It was a youth night at the church, where my boyfriend serves in ministry. I was taking some moments to pray and worship in the sanctuary before the students arrival to the youth group. Pouring my heart out to God about how terrible my week was and how tired I was with dealing with people, with issues, and with drama. I was almost in tears with the amount of heaviness that was on this weary woman’s heart. My soul felt weakened.

Heard a little noise and quickly turned and seen out of the corner of my eye, one of my girl-students standing at the end of the pew I was sitting in. She had a bouquet of spring flowers hand-picked from her very own garden, a smile as wide as the Pacific Ocean and such a proud twinkle in her eye.

She gently handed me the bouquet of slightly, wilting home-garden, grown flowers and said these exact words:

“These are for you! Hope you’re having a great week.”

Sisters, this 12 year old girl changed the course of the rest of my entire week. I felt loved, appreciated and purpose-filled. NO…Not because she gave me flowers but, because I knew that me being even just there, was impacting her in a small way.

This my dear sisters, was one simple act. Which was infused with encouragement for my weary soul. Her facial expression will forever be engraved in my mind…she was so proud.

How many times have you thought to do “One Simple Act” and simply didn’t because you didn’t think it would make a difference? If you remember when think today, remember this: “Simple Acts lead by the Lord…make BIG differences.” 

Keeping the “simple acts” in mind, a story I heard a preacher once share, was close to something along these lines of what I can remember.

“A girl questioning her faith, feeling like she was a mistake and why she even existed on this earth, came to church one night to youth and she prayed these words to God…

“If you’re real you will show me in a tangible way tonight. Someone will give me a bouquet of all yellow flowers with only 1 purple flower in the middle of it..then I will know that you are God and I won’t kill myself when I go home later.” 

The night went on at youth group and still no flowers. It was just about to end at the program, when one of the church congregational members walked in and said in a very exuberant voice to the Youth Pastor, “I have to give something to a girl who is going to kill herself tonight…she needs to know that she is loved, forgiven and accepted by the Lord himself.”

The youth pastor in shock and utter amusement (Thinking “what is this lady doing??”) he hands her the microphone out of his hand. She announced loudly, her statement she heard from God and the room stays silent, no one says anything.

She begins feeling a little nervous and thinks “Am I sure that what I heard was from God?” Then she says in a little more timid, nervous voice “……Did someone ask God for a bouquet of yellow flowers, with one single purple flower in the middle?”

A loud sob, comes from the back left corner of the room and sure enough there she was. A girl who needed a tangible reminder from her Heavenly Father, to make sure she knew she was loved, cherished, accepted and treasured in His eyes.”

Now although, my personal experience wasn’t as drastic as this one was but, God truly works in mysterious ways even through people to send tangible simple acts, sent as reminders to God’s children of His daily faithfulness.

Sisters, are there other women in your life that you know could use some encouragement in a “One Simple Act” kind of way?

We all know someone who needs extra love and grace. Why not stop whatever you are doing right now and encourage someone. Make them feel loved and appreciated for everything they do in your life.

Sisters, remember this “Simple Acts lead by the Lord…make BIG differences.”

Until Next Time,

~Pastor Kerrington Sweeney

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{Faith}

{Saturday Mornings} There is a Point

Written By: Julie-Ann Sanderson

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. – Romans 8:28-29

How many times have you heard “What’s the use?” or “There’s no point in trying” and other similar phrases? The main reason people say things like this is that they have lost hope – their sense of purpose.  They are at their wits end because they have no idea of what to do next if anything at all.

People who feel this way only look at the here and now.  They only see what is happening in the present and what has happened in the past.  It is a plea for help when they finally express verbally how lost and uncertain they are.

When you hear someone say “There is no point?”, how do you feel? As Christians, our automatic response should be that there is a point but because we are tainted by the world we live in, our response is usually something that will make the person feel better.  We feel empathy and try to understand the situation they are going through in order to help them.

Even as Christians, we are not immune to wondering if there is a point.  Certain circumstances can bind us making us feel frustrated and depressed.  We try to find out why things didn’t work out as planned and we too contemplate if there is any reason to keep going.

So, what should we do when we encounter a situation like this?  Our first port of call should be God.  He knows what we are going through and why we are going through because He knew it was going to happen before we did.

Our response to this revelation is usually, “If God knew, then why did He let it happen?”  Some of us would then get angry at God and forget about all the promises He made.  Everything and everyone He makes has a purpose and sometimes we can have blinded by what we are going through that we fail to remember it.

There is a saying that goes “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” and as Christians, we need to apply it to our lives as God has told us something similar – all things work together for good.  It may be hard going through bad times and you might think what is the point but in the long run, it helps us to become the person God predestined us to be.

The next time someone you know or even yourself goes through a period of trying to work out what your purpose in life is, remember that there is a point.  We are all children of God and He has a plan for each and every one of us, not matter what stage our faith is at.  The point is that we were put on this on earth for a reason and no matter what happens it will all work out in the end for His glory.

Jillian's Posts, {Faith}

{Faith} Joshua 10:25

Written By: Jillian Lancour

It was March of 2013 when my little 3 year old daughter was diagnosed with Hip Dysplasia. It was devastating news with a mix of relief. My daughter Kaydi had been seen by three different Pediatricians, who all told us different reasons why my little girl was slow to learn to walk and when she did learn, why she walked with an extreme limp. We heard things like: “This is just how she was born.” or “She’ll grow out of it.” But I knew this wasn’t normal and I knew there had to be a reason and a solution. I didn’t give up and after taking her to a specialist, it turns out, her little leg bone was not even attached to her hip. It was resting on tissue and this also meant that she would have to have a major surgery and wear a full spica cast for 10 weeks, followed by physical therapy and a second surgery.

During this time in our life, my husband was a truck driver and would be gone for weeks at a time. We also had a one year old. Because of his schedule, he wouldn’t be there for the surgery or the summer when she would need us both the most. We lived in Florida and Kaydi being in a full lower body cast, as a three year old for 10 weeks almost seemed too daunting. I didn’t know how I was going to handle it all. I missed my husband and I knew I would have to really step up and be both mom and dad. Thankfully, I wasn’t completely alone. My mother in law came to stay and help me and I also had my family as well for support.

To keep my spirits high, I spent a lot of time telling myself to be STRONG AND COURAGEOUS. I would pray for God’s strength to replace my own weakness and to help me get through every single day but what I found was that God really worked through my little girl to speak to my heart. I have never seen such strength in a little person. She took it all like a champ. Every obstacle, we tried making fun, and she went right along with it. A few times when I ended up breaking down in tears because I missed my husband, exhaustion, or even just “this isn’t fair for her”, my little Kaydi told me that it was going to be okay. My little girl, all stitched and bandaged, in pain and uncomfortable, and she was comforting me.

I attribute her amazing attitude to her faith. Kaydi, from a very little age, demonstrated a passionate love for God. She believes fully that He is her Lord and she trusts Him to take care of her. Her child-like faith is inspiring to me and still is. She didn’t question one time why this happened to her. She didn’t complain. There is so much I can learn from her.

Kaydi is now 7 years old and we’re still working through some issues with her leg but she is completely healed and extremely active. I am very grateful. What I took from Kaydi’s surgery and her recovery is to remember that God is always strong and when we feel helpless, He comes alongside us and lifts us up. Sometimes bad things do happen and we wont always know why but our attitude and faith can make all the difference in the journey. He is so good. I loved seeing God shine through my little one and it will always be an example to me of true faith.

Joshua 1:9 “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” – Jillian

Jillian is a bubbly wife and a mother to two precious little girls. She full-time blogs at ScriptureAndHeelsBlog.com and is getting ready to tackle Homeschooling. She loves thrift store fashion, pancakes, and dating her hubby. Her background is in Theatre and Christian Life Coaching. Psalm 138:3 

Hilary's Posts, {Faith}

{Sunday Mornings} Finding Victory in Christ

Written By:  Hilary Cobb

Monday morning of this week. My kids started bickering the moment they woke up, my son announced he was completely out of pants (and it’s 40 degrees in the morning here), and I couldn’t find the dress pants I needed for work. I felt edgy, irritable and resentful. I was driving my kids to school, and I realized I was already completely and utterly overwhelmed. And it was only 7:50am.

I dropped off my children and drove to work. As I pulled up to my job, I could barely muster up the motivation to get out of my warm car and venture into the cold. I felt defeated before I even opened the door.

Just as I was getting out of the car, a song came on the radio. “My Victory” by Crowder. As I listened to the lyrics, the last line of the chorus just about knocked me over:

A cross meant to kill is my victory

I was immediately convicted. Was I acting victorious? Was I living each day remembering that Jesus gave his life so that we would have victory over everything? Or was I acting beaten down by my daily struggles?

Sure, it’s easy to know intellectually that God has given us victory over death and sin, but in the day-to-day moments, when I struggle with anger, fear and bitterness, it is so easy to forget that God has given us victory. I am not a weak, pathetic person, controlled by my own negative thoughts and circumstances. I am a victor!

There are so many wonderful verses about victory in Him. Deuteronomy 20:4 says, “For the LORD your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory.”

1 Corinthians 15:57-58 reminds us: “But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”

These verses remind me that I am not meant to stay overwhelmed and defeated by my children, my life, or my finances. God has given us the ultimate weapon in the form of victory over everything, even death.

For those of you who are feeling overwhelmed, defeated, or crushed by the day-to-day stresses – a bounced check, sick children, the check engine light pops on yet again – remember that you are a victor over all of it. A champion because of God’s incredible power and love for us. Jesus said “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

You don’t need fancy weapons, perfect children or the nicest house to feel victorious. John tells us, “for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God” (1 John 5:4-5).

All we need is Him to defeat those dangerous enemies of fear, anger and insecurity. That powerful realization sustained me as I opened my car door and stepped out to face my day. Not as an anxious, frazzled mess, but as a victorious daughter of the King.

~ Hilary

photositeHilary Cobb is a born-and-raised California-girl who now lives in beautiful Boise, Idaho. She lives with her amazing husband of 12 years and their two beautiful (but crazy-makin’) children. Hilary received her master’s degree in social work in 2008 and works as a therapist part-time, doing counseling with children, adults and couples. She is also the Family Ministries Director for her church, speaks at events and schools, and writes for her blog: www.blessedbyhislove.com. When she has some downtime, she loves coffee, running and crochet! Her life verse is Galatians 6:9: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up,” and she is grateful that God has allowed her to serve Him throughout her life.

A blog about God, life and love from a social worker mom!
Kerrington's Posts, {Faith}

{Faith} 10 Days later.

Written By: Kerrington Sweeney

10 days later…
It was May 1st, 2016, the beginning of a brand new month. A chilly spring afternoon. Didn’t know it then but can tell you now, I didn’t really have a clue that later on in to the evening, I would be entering into a brand new season for the rest of my life. A season I had waited for, desired for, and prayed for, for many months. Something I wished now that I had more time to prepare for.

That evening Joshua asked for my father’s blessing in a dating relationship. I was beyond flattered. I would be dating the young man of my dreams. He was truly my hearts greatest desire.

That evening Joshua and I went for a stroll, even in the chiller weather, we didn’t care. It was exactly 8 side walk blocks away from my bonogolo-styled home into our walk, that the moment I had waited for, for so long had came true. Joshua asked if he could have the honour of being my boyfriend and of course, I couldn’t say no to that sweet guy! Nor did I ever want to 😉

The first step we took hand in hand as a dating couple…even if it was just around the block, we had no clue, we had just entered into a place of war in our lives.

An unknown place. A place of finding a new balance. Filled with fears, emotional highs and lows. A place of finding pure love in the culture we live in.

It was…
10 Days of just two.
10 Days of joy.
10 days of sweet contentment.
10 Days without worry.
10 Days without fear.
10 Days without anyone “looking up” to us.
10 Days of just Joshua & I getting to know each other on new levels of vulnerability.

It was on the 10th day of our happily ever after relationship, I received a phone call on our first date night out at a local coffee shop. This call would make or break our relationship. This call would mold us into the people we are today. This call would change our lives drastically forever.

The very next day early in the morning,
I was hired as a Children’s Pastor at a church, 2 towns away from mine at the age of 18.

I left the church that day after being officially hired, with excitement and mounds of fear. Anxious thoughts, unsettled emotions and complete unrest, swirled around me as I attempted to ‘hold it together.’

Joshua & I were no longer, just Joshua & I.

We had just stepped into something so fresh. I had no words to describe the emotions I was experiencing through that time. All I could do was chain myself to the words of hope the Lord had given me:
You were created to be fearless, by the fearless one.

The Giants would come, the many never ending expectations would come, the oppressing constant pressures would come, the corrupted voices of the enemy would come, and the twisted words and labels on us would come. But we knew, they were NOT our portion. We knew we didn’t have to be enslaved.

We knew what we were getting into saying “Yes” to God. We knew the possibilities, we knew the stats, we knew that this could potentially ruin and fracture the foundational moments in the beginning stages of our relationship. Yet, we said yes. The calling of ministry God had placed upon us, we then turned around and placed it at His feet.

Giving Him our all.

10-days-blog-post

Unsure of really what else I was to do, I sought refuge in one of my close mentors and asked him to cover me in prayer. I knew, I could share with him in this journey. I knew, that I could trust him, with this special portion of my heart. I just knew that I knew, he was placed in my life to truly lighten my load. Especially, when my load unexpectedly became a little heavier than usual.

Continued Next Week with “10 Days Part 2.”

Until Next Time,

~Kerrington

Guest-Writers, {Faith}

{Faith} What, Not Why

Written By: Tricia Underwood

Mom, why do I have to go through this?”, my daughter asked me, while her face was covered in tears, but I had heard this question just as many times from my son as well over the last two years.

I had run out of “textbook” answers.

To be honest, I had asked God the same thing myself.

Why did either of them have to suffer the things they’ve had to over the last couple of years? Why have I had to go through the pain that has left me a completely different person than I used to be just a short two years ago? Why did my husband have a form of cancer and now even though thankfully (oh, so thankfully) he is cancer-free, he still fights another chronic sickness in and of itself, that I would argue is equally as debilitating, called anxiety caused by stress and worry?

Why does this issue of sickness seem to affect every single one of the members of our household, including our fur-babies (our pets!)? As crazy as it sounds, even our pets have had some major health issues over the last two years, including our cat having to go on daily medication in order to live and our dog who is currently battling cancer at a young age.

It seems that our unwellness seems to cycle from being being badly sick, to being baseline unwell (our new “normal”)… always waiting for the next BIG thing to come along and take one of us down again. It’s like there is a stronghold over our family right now, despite a LOT of prayer and fasting.

So when my own children (twins, who are 12 years old) ask me WHY~ WHY are they in pain, WHY does our functional practitioner prescribe a certain diet that has taken away their previously favorite foods, WHY do they have to take so many supplements or drink herbal teas, WHY is it that despite all this they STILL have health problems~ WHY is it that I can’t give them an answer that I feel at peace with? It’s easy for me to want to find an answer by blaming things the research tells me may have caused all of our health issues, sure. Yet, somehow I feel their question deserves a much deeper answer. As if just knowing the scientific answers aren’t (and would never be) enough.

We may never be satisfied with the hard “why” questions in life, even if we are given the logical answers, without knowing the full reason of WHY God let us go through this season in our life to begin with.

A local pastor that I admire and respect, Pastor Steven Furtick, said this:

What would happen if you stopped asking, ‘God, WHY am I going through this?’ and started asking, ‘God, WHAT are you preparing me for?’”

Wow~ do you see the difference in the two questions?! The first focuses on ME. Woe is me… I am suffering… WHY am I the one going through all this?!

The second question focuses on God and asks Him to provide the answer, as only He can, to WHAT is His PURPOSE behind what He is doing through this trial or hardship… what is He preparing you for?

Talk about game-changer!!

I am all about perspective changes in my life, and this was certainly one of them!! This was like a Peter walking on water towards Jesus moment for me.

When Peter took his eyes off Jesus and onto the storm, he began to sink~ like my family and I are feeling every.single.day. Each time a new “wave” of sickness or physical injury “attacks” us, to be honest, we haven’t been focusing on Jesus really. Sure, we pray and ask for His healing, but IN THE STORM, while the waves are crashing in on us, we are giving too much focus to the storm itself! We need to focus on Him and Him alone.

In doing that, I love how Pastor Furtick guides us to ask the Lord what He is preparing us for through these waves of hardship. I have never once asked the Lord to show me this, and I wonder what have I missed in the past two years because I have failed to do so.

One of the ways I’ve often answered my daughter as to the “why” she has had to endure what she has, is that perhaps God will use her to be a comfort to someone else who goes through a similar situation, perhaps even a child one day, since now she knows what it’s like to face this at such a young age.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (NLT)
All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.

But again, I’ve focused more on the future than in asking God to show us what He would like for us to do NOW~ how He wants to use us NOW.

My husband and I have oftentimes thought of ourselves, and this season in our lives of sickness in our family, as the Job Season (Job as in the person in the Bible, as we are praying and trusting this is just a season). I’ve been clinging to this passage for hope~

Job 42:1-5 (ESV) 
Then Job answered the Lord and said: “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. ‘Hear, and I will speak; I will question you, and you make it known to me.’ I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you

I’m so hopeful that in changing my perspective to, “Lord, please show each of us, make known to us, what you are preparing us for through these painful and hard times,” rather than a “WHY, God, why” prayer, that the Lord will begin to show Himself, His ways, and His plans for each of our lives to each one of us.

2 Corinthians 4:17 (AMP)
For our momentary, light distress [this passing trouble] is producing for us an eternal weight of glory [a fullness] beyond all measure [surpassing all comparisons, a transcendent splendour and an endless blessedness]!

Romans 8:18 (AMP)
For I consider [from the standpoint of faith] that the sufferings of the present life are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is about to be revealed to us and in us!

Until Next Time,
Tricia

 

Guest-Writers, {Faith}

Faith

Written By: Patti Pierce

Today I am choosing to write about Romans 5:1. This verse is another one that I have heard my husband speak about at different times.  Being justified by our faith, we have peace through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  Having faith brings peace through the knowledge and certainty of our salvation.  Sometimes faith comes easy and other times faith takes a tremendous amount of work.  There are times keeping the faith becomes more difficult. So often people tell others, “God won’t give you more than you can handle.”  But those words can be hard to hear and often fall flat rather than providing comfort.  When things are going well, it is much easier to believe in a loving God.  But in times of hurt or times of difficulty it can be more challenging.

Faith takes effort.  Believing that Jesus loves us and died for our sins can be a little easier.  But when difficulty, challenges or frightening times arise, knowing and believing become two different things.  In those times, we must draw closer to God and draw strength from His Word and from fellow believers.  But these believers need to truly demonstrate the love of and faith in Christ rather than just throwing around empty platitudes or saying words with no genuine actions.

When my husband wound up in the hospital with what we were told was a gall bladder attack, peace escaped me at times.  Finding comfort when sitting alone in a hospital room with a spouse who is hurting and unable to be truly helped makes peace fleeting.  At other times, when a fellow believer simply walks into the room because he or she heard you were there gives a tremendous amount of comfort and peace.  A hug and a prayer or other demonstration of love bathes the room in peace.  Hearing a doctor inform a patient and his spouse to “google” a condition does not provide peace.  Reading on “Google” can completely destroy an individual’s peace.  Driving home from the hospital alone without your spouse and not being sure of when he or she is coming home makes for a stressful time.  Bringing your spouse home does wonders to bring peace and tranquility to a person’s soul.  Knowing fellow believers are praying about your situation overwhelms a person with peace and faith.  Having the support of an adult son who can life the burdens at home provides peace.  Knowing that you have a Heavenly Father who loves you more than you ever could imagine provides peace.

Faith helps provide tolerance for the difficult things that life hands out.  Also, faith allows a person to know everything is only for a season and provides hope for the future.  It provides for our heart’s desires.  We can reach out to God and know He will provide for us in ways we cannot begin to imagine.  When we were in the process of moving from Pennsylvania to Texas, I had faith God would provide us with exactly the right home for our family.  And in time, He did exactly that.

A quiet word, even a word read on a computer screen, from a family member, friend or fellow believer provides so much comfort, peace and faith.  It ensures someone believes in the God that created the universe.  May faith bring you comfort today.

~Patti