Lost in His Love…What a Beautiful Place to Be!

Image courtesy of Sujin Jetkasettakorn at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Sujin Jetkasettakorn at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Wow!  What great friends I have!  I love each and every one.  Speaking of my friends, I have been impressed as I have been going through my treatments and recovery for breast cancer just how important we can be in one’s life.  Some of those cheering me on from the sidelines are people I’ve never even met in person.  They might be one of you reading this blog today.  One thing is for sure…God always sends people my way when I need them most.  If He sent you, I am grateful you obeyed the call!

I don’t know about you, but God speaks to me in various ways.  This week I have been singing “Blessed Assurance” in my mind over and over.  It is a very old song written by Frances J. Crosby in 1873.  I don’t find it a coincidence we sang it in church today either!  The lyrics go like this…

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.

Refrain:
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long;
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long.

Perfect submission, perfect delight,
Visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
Angels, descending, bring from above
Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.

Perfect submission, all is at rest,
I in my Savior am happy and blest,
Watching and waiting, looking above,
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.

One morning last week, I put the first couple of lines out on Facebook and asked who could help me finish the song.  I was blessed as my friends typed in a verse or a few lines.  It was a holy time for me as loved ones were “singing” and “praising” with me online.  I can’t explain it.  I just felt blessed.  For you see, those responding were people I hold as dear friends.  There is something about our friends in Christ that inspire us when we are together…even if it’s just online.  The simple act of focusing on God for a few minutes together brightened the rest of my day.

Do you have good friends who love the Lord like you do?  I have found through this trial in my life that I have some really great prayer warrior friends.  I have some who pray every day for me, I know for a fact.  I have others that send scriptures to me or check in on me when I need it the most. They have sent cards, some even handmade, with well-wishes.  There are others I know would be there for me in a second if I would simply ask. I am blessed with people who care.

God’s lesson this week for me again though is my need to stay focused on Him.   I can focus in many ways through reading His Word and spending time in prayer each morning.  It might even be as simple as what music I choose to listen to that week.  He is also showing me how important having good friends in the faith can be to one’s walk with Christ.  Just a simple, “How are you doing?” to a friend I know is going through a tough time can mean the world to them that day just as it has to me.  This week I embraced the words of this old song that say… Perfect submission, all is at rest, I in my Savior am happy and blest, Watching and waiting, looking above, Filled with His goodness, lost in His love. 

When I am fully trusting, watching and waiting for God to show up in my life, He sends me the Holy Spirit for strength and wisdom.  He speaks to others and prods them to call, text or write me when I need to know I am not alone.   And eventually, somehow, the troubles of this world seem to fade away and I am filled with blessings…I simply find myself lost in His love.  I can’t think of a better place to be in the storm than in the arms of my Loving Father…lost in His love.  Today I am thankful to a loving God that takes care of my every need while guiding me and directing me every step of the way.  So for today…this is my story…this is my song…I’m going to be praising my Savior all the day long!

Thanks for being a friend and a blessing.  If not to me, I am sure you have inspired someone in your life going through a tough time.  If you know someone who needs a lift this week, I encourage you to give them a call.  Maybe it’s even an online friend that you can encourage through a simple message that says you care.  Let me know how others have encouraged you or opportunities that God has recently given you to encourage others.  I would love to hear God’s blessings in your lives.  In the meantime…have a blessed week and don’t forget to get out there and be a blessing!

Hebrews 10:22-25  …let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.  Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.  And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds,  not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Lord, You Are The Sunshine In My Life!

Image courtesy of samarttiw at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of samarttiw at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Have you ever watched people while they’re driving?  I love to watch people no matter what they’re doing.  When people are in their cars, I don’t think they think anyone can see them most of the time.  I remember as a child sitting on the porch with my great uncle having a race to see who could count the most cars of a certain color.  Then one day, I graduated to eating lunch with my friend at a restaurant on a busy street and we began counting how many people were picking their nose as they drove by.  I would have to say, I am no mathematician, but the statistics were high for my hometown that at least 3 out of every 5 cars had a nose-picker!

Lately I’ve been traveling a lot up and down the highway and have observed several different behaviors.  Of course, there are still the nose-pickers, but I’ve also seen others engaging in conversations on their cell phones, (it’s legal here in Ohio), others who are texting (it’s not legal in Ohio), and some who are singing to what appears to be at the top of their lungs (that would be me when I am alone in a car).  Others hold their steering wheels tightly all hunched over it with their eyes glaring at the road and at anyone who gets in their way.  I pray for them…what a miserable way to be.

The other day after driving for 45 minutes with a worshipful CD playing and me singing my heart out to God all the way, I arrived at my destination.  I walked in on top of the world and announced very loudly, “Isn’t it a GREAT day?  The sunshine is out and I just LOVE it!”

I saw expressions that quickly said to me… “Perhaps you’re a little extra excited today, Lori?  Maybe you should take it down a few notches so you don’t scare everyone with your enthusiasm?”

Later that day, one person came to me to see how I was doing.  He said, “The sun went down and I thought I should check on you to make sure you were doing OK!”  Funny as it might be, he didn’t understand where my joy was coming from that I was experiencing.  It wasn’t really about the sun at all.

Isn’t this how our walk with the Lord is from day-to-day?  Sometimes we can be seen (even when we think no one is watching), pretty indifferent, just picking our noses so to speak.  Then other days we’re all talk and no action…blah, blah, blah…what a waste of time.  Other times we’re pushing the edge of the envelope to see how far we can push the rules before someone notices our behavior and calls us on it.  Other days we are just downright angry with God for our misfortunes as though it was His fault.  Really?

But the important lesson I’ve learned in all of this, is this.  I’ve been having a struggle of my life for the last month getting through all of my radiation treatments and all that goes along with it.  There were days I just wanted to lay around and pick my nose and not care besides being angry as all get out at times.  If I had a horn to blow at anyone getting in my way, it would’ve been going off there for a while! However, as a Christian for many years, I intellectually knew I had to put God first and praise Him even through the rough times.  The scriptures tell us we should, but it is easier said than done.  A few weeks ago, I included a song at the end of my blog by Chris McClarney, “My Defender”.   God knows praise through the storms isn’t always easy.  However, I felt He gave me that song to encourage me, so I purchased the CD and it is what has been playing every day when I commute.  The whole CD has prayerful and praiseful messages that touch my core as I belt out the words to God.

Image courtesy of nuttakit at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of nuttakit at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

At the moment I found myself over-the-top enthusiastic about a day that I had nothing visible to be enthusiastic about, God spoke to my heart.  I realized then that the attitude I choose to embrace each day ends with a result of my choices.  Should I choose to be indifferent, speak without actions, or push the envelope because I have problems and maybe God will forgive me, or simply remain angry; I get what I get.  However, on the days I put God first even when I don’t feel like it or don’t really think anything will take me above my anger such as the uptight drivers I’ve witnessed, God takes me to the mountain-top.  He makes me high on life no matter what my circumstances might be.

Even when the world doesn’t understand my enthusiasm, God does.  I know this for sure…He blesses us with Sunshine in our hearts when we obey…even when we don’t feel like it.  Thank you, Lord, for meeting us where we are on our days of darkness.  You are the Sunshine of our lives!  May you continue to Shine brightly and bring joy when we choose to follow Your way!  Have a great Sunshiny week and don’t forget…go out and be a blessing!

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV)  Rejoice always,  pray continually,  give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

From Today On, Your Life Will Never Be the Same

Image courtesy of mrpuen at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of mrpuen at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Those are the words that my oncologist shared with me this week as he explained next steps.  You see, when you are diagnosed with a disease that can potentially take your life from you, you change.  You look at relationships differently, you don’t get upset so much over stupid things, you never take a day for granted and you put a big smile on your face every day that you wake up, are alive and feeling good. Well, at least that is the way I look at things.  I know there are others who will choose to retreat into their own little world, become angry with God, begin feeling like they are owed something for their sufferings and are basically bitter and miserable every day of their lives.

Each one of us is required to make choices when change comes into our lives.  When I go speak, I talk about the fact that people either run towards God or away from God when they face trials.  Personally, I choose to run towards God.  I have learned in my 29 years of following God that He is always faithful.  He may not answer our pleas for help in the timing that we think He should.  Nor does He always answer our prayers with the answer we asked for.  But one thing I’ve learned…even when we don’t see Him, you can rest assured He is there.

I went to two oncology offices last week…one was hematology for meds and/or chemo.  The other was for radiation treatments.  My first appointment of the week was very upsetting.  It’s a long story but let’s just leave it at that. On Thursday, I went to the second oncologist and I was petrified as I sat outside of their office preparing to go in for my appointment.  I certainly need to trust these doctors who hold my life and well-being in their hands.  If I were going to have an experience like I did on Monday, I was thinking about just ignoring the fact I have cancer and just going on as usual.  I know that’s not a reasonable thought, but if I couldn’t trust those in charge of my care, I had no hope.

I read the Bible every morning…or at least try to do so. I typically follow one of the reading plans with the You Version online Bible.  That way I can check off what I have read and track my progress.  My reading the last couple of days had been in Ecclesiastes and then the Song of Solomon.  Although each book has its benefits, I didn’t think they would provide me with the encouragement I needed for that particular day.  I kept thinking, “I should read the book of James today.”  However, life got in the way.  Robin Roberts had returned to Good Morning America and I needed to check in to see how she was holding up on her second day back.  Then I had to check Facebook and answer some emails.  All of a sudden I looked up and I only had about 20 minutes to get a shower and be ready to leave for my appointment!

I was feeling bad that I didn’t get my reading in so I took my iPad with me so I could read a little while waiting to go into my appointment.  I also chose to keep the radio off during the drive there and prayed instead.  When I arrived I sat in the parking lot thinking to myself, “Maybe I should just forget all of this stuff.  They are going to poison my body and give me other bad things to heal this already bad thing I have.  At least most of the bad things they’re going to give me won’t actually kill me like cancer.  They will only make me miserable as time goes on.  But then I was reminded about how I want to be here for my grandchildren.  I want them to know who I was as I don’t remember mine other than one grandpa.  I want them to understand my faith in God and I want to tell them about Him when they are old enough to understand.  I need to fight.”  So I bravely got out of the car and went inside.

I tried to put a big smile on my face as I was greeted by the receptionist but it just came out about halfway.  As I sat down to wait, I pulled out my iPad and opened it to James 1.  As I sat in the waiting room, I had tears streaming down my face as God literally met me there with His Word.  James 1:2-4 (NKJV) says: My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials,  knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.  But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

It has been confirmed.  I know now that life as I knew it is going to change.  God is taking me to a new dimension of knowing Him.  He is using my circumstances to stretch me, mold me and teach me His ways.  I need to have praise on my lips and patience in my heart as He once again shows me more of Him.  How can I not get excited knowing that He loves me enough to be there for me in my time of weakness and sorrow so that some day I might be perfected… complete…lacking NOTHING!

So yes, I will have days in my humanness that I am sad and ask, “Why me?”  However, I hope that there will be many more days of praising Him for what He is doing and has done in my life through this current trial.  Again, I will ask but with different meaning, “Why me?  Why not choose to use someone who is a much better person than me?  And then I will smile because I know that with my suffering, God will give me joy and meet me right where I am.  He will fill me with more knowledge of Him and from today on, my life will never be the same.  With that, I choose to praise Him all the rest of the days of my life! I have found my hope!

What trial have you been through that changed your life?  Have you praised and thanked God for that experience or did you become bitter, missing the opportunity for growth?  I realize that yes, it is important to trust my doctors.  However, it is even more important to trust my Lord and Savior.  He is the one that holds the answers and will see me through.  I hope that you will be inspired to give God that struggle you have in your life today.  No longer will you put your trust in man; rather, you will trust the God who is right there with you seeing you through.   I promise you.  If you make the choice to trust God today, your life as you know it will never be the same!  Be blessed this week and don’t forget…go out and be a blessing!

A couple of more inspirational thoughts sent to me from friends…

Isaiah 41:10 Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.

“God, who foresaw your tribulation, has specially armed you to go through it, not without pain but without stain.” — C.S. Lewis

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