Jesus, Take My Weight


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Weight. Who wants extra? Like most of my friends,  the only time in my life when  I wanted the extra weight was during my pregnancies  as  most of us become quite proud of our “baby bump”.   I don’t know about you, but what has echoed through my mind over and over again is  ” I need to lose weight”.

In the past six months, I’ve been on a weight loss journey, in order to battle Type 2  diabetes.  And although I’m somewhat pleased with the results, there are  many more pounds to release. I can honestly say I no longer crave sugar, bread, or pasta.  But I haven’t been able to completely control my cravings for solid chocolate, found in the bottom drawer of our copy machine at work,   corn chips,  or my son’s  trail mix, laced with M and M’s,  that resides in my  pantry.   I’ve learned two important things on this new path. First,  I needed to grasp the truth about my diabetes, and  it’s potential to wreak havoc on my body, when not controlled.  Second, is that my thoughts affect my behavior,  which in turn affects my weight, and ultimately my health.

 

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In the past several months,  the Lord has  gently invited me to follow Him on   a new  path of spiritual weight loss.  In this new journey, my weight is not determined by the bathroom scales, but by His Word.   Bible reading and meditation has shown me the truth:  my extra weight was wreaking havoc on my walk with Him and affecting my closest relationships.   In His Word, I found that I needed  start craving fruit, the Fruit of His Spirit, ” Love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control, against such there is no law”. ( Galatians 5: 22-23)   Gentleness was the fruit I had the greatest deficiency in,  and it was causing me to have the extra weight of being irritable and impatient.  That will make you feel bloated…. puffed up with pride!    After confessing this to God, I asked my family for help.  I had an unannounced meeting after dinner one night. ” I need to share something”, I said,  and my youngest son looked seriously at me and said ” Mom, do you have cancer?”.  I laughed, but now looking back, being so low on gentleness, causing me to be irritable,  contributed to a “spiritual” cancer that ate away at the bond of my relationships. By the end of my confession to my family for  avoiding this fruit, we had an action plan: whenever my irritability popped back up,  the code word for me they would say  was “fruit”, so that I could focus on being gentle.  Although there are still times that I pick that weight back up, God has helped me to keep the weight off,  with His help.

 

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Recently, He has shown me another  “fruit” that I was consuming too much of, or was it consuming me?  It was definitely a weight, my Apple, as in  Apple I Phone.    I don’t know about you, but if your son or daughter were to tell you ” mom you spend way too much time on your phone”, like mine told me, it should make you put it down.  But I realized that I had to actually deactivate my Face Book account in order to drop this extra weight.  Go cold turkey, like I did with sugar, pasta, and bread.   The first two days, I missed it, but the 10 days following,  I’ve not missed it and finally  relieved that I’ve dropped it.    The verses that the Lord has used in this new journey of spiritual weight loss is one I’ve had to memorize in order to stay focused.  As in physical weight loss, my thoughts affect my behavior, which also affects my spiritual health.

” Wherefore, seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily besets us, and  let us run with patience the race that is set before us. Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith;   who, for the joy that was set before Him  endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”  Hebrews 12: 1-2

 Lay aside- the Greek word apotithimi, means to lay something down and push it far away from oneself, beyond reach.  Lay it down… and push it far!  I’m so glad God’s Word didn’t leave us there, aren’t you?  He gave us such a vivid image of Jesus, “looking unto Jesus”, to focus on Him, to have the desire to lay it down, push it far, and leave it there, never to pick it back up again. What freedom!

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There are many more weights or sins that can weigh us down and prevent us from running in freedom,  in our “race”.  Fear, anxiety, people pleasing,  pride, anger, bitterness, not forgiving others or ourselves, idolatry, lust, addictions, not fully surrendering our lives to Jesus, not trusting Him, living in our past.   I want to challenge you to think about starting your own  spiritual weight loss journey.  Start by asking Jesus, what weights would He have you  to surrender to Him.  When you focus on Jesus, and His Word, you can say with me, “Jesus take my weight, because I want to run with endurance, in the freedom and joy  of knowing you. “

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“Called Out from the Crowd, to Run to the One”


Philip turned his head to take one last glimpse of Samaria.  He had left suddenly because of the clear voice of God’s Angel, saying ” Philip, get up and go South to the road that goes from Jerusalem to Gaza.”  Why was God calling him  to leave  the crowds in Samaria, and inviting him to travel alone into the desert?  He had fled Jerusalem after his friend, Stephen, had been martyred to share the Good News to the Samaritans.  With the Holy Spirit’s help, he had cast out demons, and performed many miracles.  But most importantly, Joy came to Samaria, because the Samaritans had received the Good News and many believed!

He walked further and further down the desert road, waiting and listening to hear again from God.  Up ahead in the road, his eyes met a chariot, and he immediately heard the Holy Spirit speak to him, ” Go over and join this chariot”.  He pulled up his robe, and he ran, until he had reached the chariot.  Sitting on the chariot was a man reading words that Philip recognized from the Book of Isaiah.  He asked the man if he understood what he was reading.  The man replied, ” how can I, unless someone guides me?”  The man had explained that he was a eunuch from Ethiopia.  He had traveled all the way to Jerusalem to worship God, but was not allowed into the temple. He decided to purchase the Holy Book and try to learn  what Isaiah the prophet had written.  The eunuch said to Philip, “will you please come and sit by me for awhile so I will know the meaning of these beautiful words?” And the eunuch reached out his hand, and as Philip extended his hand to grasp it, he pulled him up into his chariot. (Two strangers  sitting side by side on a chariot, in the desert, who were joined by God.  What a beautiful sight! ) As soon as Philip sat down, next to the foreigner,   he felt a deep  sense of peace from the Holy Spirit, that he had safely arrived at his destination point.  “Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter, and like a lamb before the shearer is silent, so he opens not his mouth. In his humiliation justice  was denied him. Who can describe his generation? For his life is taken from the earth”.

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The eunuch asked Philip who the man was in the passage. Perhaps he had seen his own self in these words as his mind raced back to the day he had laid on the floor, writhing in pain,  helpless as a lamb, while  the men had taken away what God had created him to be, and afterwards told him, ” A new eunuch for the Queen”.  He had been forever changed, and justice had been denied him.  As Philip began to explain who the man was, Jesus Christ, and he shared the Gospel, the Ethiopian believed the Good News as he listened intently to Philip’s words.  Soon their was water near the desert road, and the eunuch asked Philip to baptize him.  The chariot stopped and they both got out and went down into the water. Philip baptized the eunuch, and as soon as they came up, the eunuch turned to thank Philip, but he was not there, he had disappeared! The Ethiopian got back into his chariot rejoicing.  But, the same Holy Spirit whose words had caused Philip to run to the foreigner in the chariot, had now miraculously carried away Philip  to the town of Azotus.

When I read this true story in Acts 8:26-40, I see clearly  how God’s Holy Spirit continues to call  us today, out from the Crowd, to run to the One.  His love is for the One, and he invites us to join Him on His mission to go and reach the One.  It may be alone, like Philip, that he calls us to go,  but with His Spirit never leaving us. He may call us first,  to go to the desert places, and out of our comfort zones.  It’s in the desert, we have  no distractions from the crowd,  and  and there’s plenty of quiet time to sit, listening at the feet of  Jesus as we travel a new road with Him.  For it’s only in the quiet places, as we wait His instructions,   that we hear His voice.  It’s only in the quiet places that we can answer the call, by faith, and say,  “Yes, Lord”

This Christmas, as we celebrate the birth of Jesus, when He left the splendor of Heaven, and His One and only Father, to give himself to the crowd, the  World,  let’s be willing to leave our comfort zone, and  run to the One, as His Spirit leads us.   Which of these may He be calling us to run to, and  share  His love?   Is it the lonely orphan, foster child, or widow?  Is it the one without a home?  Is it the single parent? Is it the woman who is pregnant, but the father is no where to be found?  Is it the student down at the school who needs a mentor to listen and talk to them during  lunch?   Is it the elderly one down at the nursing home? Is it the refugee who needs shoes, clothes, or food?   Is it the foreigner who needs help with English? We don’t have to look far to find them in our community.  As  I  listen to the Holy Spirit show me clearly, “run to this One,” and I follow His lead,  each time, I am “carried away” afterwards!  Not in the supernatural sense as Philip was, but in the sense of a “spiritual high” and the peace of knowing and following Him.  There is nothing in this world to compare to following Jesus and sharing His love to others.

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Build a Bridge of Love to China and Help Bring Ileigh Home to her Forever Family


Please imagine with me for a few moments,  because I want to share a story that happened over 17 years ago in Northern China.  You are a train driver in China. You’ve just made a stop, and all of the passengers have unloaded.  As you’re about to exit the train for a break, you hear a baby softly crying.   You turn around, but no one is in sight,  and the cries are growing louder.  You slowly move down the aisle, as your eyes quickly scan left and right, left and right,  looking for the baby.  There, on the last row, is a baby, bundled up and all alone!   You check to see if there is a note tucked inside the “bundle”, but find none. Your heart sinks, as you see the baby boy is so young because his umbilical cord has not fully healed.  You immediately pick him up and hurry out the door, calling out frantically “baby boy found, baby boy found!”  But the crowd just glances back and continues to move in the direction they were going, because after all, this happens every single day in China.  A child is born in China, whether wanted or unwanted, and the parents choose whether or not to keep the child or abandon them.

“Baby boy, umbilical cord attached, found on hard seat train…taken to police in Dalian….. brought to orphanage… parents not found.”.    That was part of the file we received when we first met our son,  Guo Tai, four months before we went to China to adopt him.   I only put the pieces of this story  together in my mind, as I tried to imagine such a short description of an abandonment.  How could “China” describe in just a few sentences, what a baby experienced with such a great loss?!     As all of you who know our family and our son, Tim, the story didn’t end on that train seat!  Praise God!  Because God, in his Sovereignty started to work, first in my heart  and then Duane’s heart…..5 years later.  And 17 years later, after the “stranger” picked up that beautiful baby boy off that cold hard train seat, crying in a moment of utter despair, feeling the  abandonment of the only  mother he knew,  God is allowing that boy to tell others his story.  This summer, in Poland, Tim was able to share how God brought him into His Forever Family, as you see in the photo below. He also shared his story in New Orleans on a mission trip.

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Now I want to share another story, because another child is waiting to come home to her Forever Family.   Over two years ago, when I was in Jason’s Deli in Gainesville, my friend, Tammie, who I had known most of my life,  happened to be there with her children. I hadn’t seen her in a while, so I sat down and had lunch with her and her 3 girls.  Over lunch, she shared with me amazing stories of how  God had been nudging her, rather strongly, that she would one day have an Asian daughter.  She said to me,   “it sounds crazy, but God has clearly spoken things to me about Ella’s adoption (she had adopted her through foster care), and now this adoption.” And I replied “No, it doesn’t. He talks to you because you are listening.”  I could only say that, because God spoke things to me with Tim’s adoption, and in other areas of my life. That day we became sort of kindred spirits, because we both could understand what it means when God tells you His plan is for you to add a child through adoption.   Now, please meet Tammie’s new daughter, Ileigh.  Isn’t she beautiful?!

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Ileigh has been waiting 6 years for her Forever Family to come and get her and bring her home!  Everything has been approved, and all that is needed to bring her home is the financial resources, $20,000.00     That’s why I share her story with you.  Tim has shared with Tammie what it’s like to live without a family for 7 years in China, waiting on us to come get him.   And now that Tim knows about the financial need, he did something about it, he donated his own money to bring Ileigh home.  He wanted me to share this with you….because he knows first hand, what it is like to wait on a family, 7 years, and he wants to do what he can to bring her home to the Wright Family.  So, I ask you to pray for Ileigh to come home soon, and I also ask you to consider what you can give to make that happen.  In Tim’s story I shared how that I imagined the train driver yelling “baby boy found, baby boy found”!, and the crowd glancing back to see a helpless baby, alone, and then moving forward to go about their routine.   Ileigh’s forever family has been found!  But, they need all of us to help bring her home.   Please do more than glance here at beautiful Ileigh, and move on.   Please pray and please give, if God asks you to give.  I am praying that her family can travel on November 17, in time for her to be home for Christmas. That will not happen without the funds needed.  I want to share with Tim that God is bringing her home for Christmas!  Here is the link of her Adoption Page, and the information to give, is there.  Thank you for praying and considering.

Ileigh’s Story and Support Page is at Adopt Together, Wright Family.  Click on the link below to help make a way to bring Ileigh home!

https://adopttogether.org/families/?fundraiser=4babygirls

 

 

 

 

 

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Tim’s Upcoming Mission Trip to Poland


Hello Friends and Family,  Tim is excited about his upcoming Mission Trip to Poland in July.  Please read his letter to you, which is below. Thank you! Darlene

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Dear Friends and Family,

In about 6 weeks, I will be packing my bags, and head out to board a plane to fly to my first international mission trip! I am so excited to be joining other members of my church, Trinity Baptist, Keystone Heights, as we serve along side of The Franks, who are missionaries in Ilwa, Poland.

In the summer of 2015, a team from my church traveled to Poland, and returned to share about all the things that God had done that week in the family camp. That night sitting in the pew, during the presentation, I felt the Lord tugging at my heart that maybe I should go to Poland, but I wasn’t certain if I should really follow through with it. The next summer, another team from Trinity returned to Poland and came back again with more stories and excitement from their week with the families who attended the camp. Again, I felt an even stronger presence of God that He wanted me to go. Later, I shared with some friends that I would like to go the following year with the team.

So, now as 2017 rolled in, I felt I was definitely going to make the commitment to go! I told my parents I wanted to go, and after seeking God in prayer, He still affirmed to me to go, and my parents gave me their permission and blessing on the trip.

Our Trinity team of four, is partnering with other churches here in the US, and meeting in Poland to serve with the Franks, who were former members of my church, before God called them to Poland to serve Him there. The Family Camp is from July 7-16. This camp is reaching out to families who do not have a church home or seldom attend a church. Most likely I will be helping with recreation for each family member, from youngest to oldest.

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Please pray for me and our team as we travel to Poland and serve the families during this special time that they can share together. Please also pray that God will open my eyes to His plan for me in Poland while I am there. The photos I’m sharing with you are from last summer’s Trinity Poland Mission Trip. Soon, I will be there too!

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The total cost of this trip is $3.000.00 All the donations that are given to my account at Trinity Baptist Church will help me with travel and room and board while I am there as well as the Polish families’ cost to attend the camp. If you wish to partner with me as well as helping the families with their cost of the camp, I would greatly appreciate it. But please pray about it first, and do not feel pressured to give. I am also available to “work” for my trip cost. If you need yard work or household cleaning, I can help you when I am not working at Lake Swan Camp. Contact my mom on Face Book or desccc@yahoo.com  May God bless each one of you, and thank you for taking the time to read about my mission trip!

To make a donation you can visit Trinity Baptist Church web page http://www.trinitybc.org  or here is the direct link:

https://www.acionlinegiving.com/547

Select this fund:   Poland 2017

 Under: Special Intentions: (enter) Tim Searle Poland

If you send a check, please put Poland Trip on Memo line, and my name on a separate sheet of paper in the envelope.  

 In Christian Love,

Tim Searle

Jeremiah 29:11

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Prayer, It Changes Me


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 Recently, our daughter traveled to Punjab, India for a week-long mission trip. While there, she stayed with the host family in a village home. Her days were filled with traveling from village to village and from house- to- house, mostly praying for the people who welcomed her with warm hearts and open arms. She will never forget the love and hospitality she received from these beautiful people. One lady washed her feet. In addition to praying, she also shared Bible stories because many of the people in the house churches there, could not read, and depended on  story telling.   Her evenings were filled with visiting families who “slaved” at the brick kilns.  There, her team hosted Compassion Kit Parties with gifts of hygiene items and small necessities for the workers.  More Bible stories and testimonies were shared as well as some singing and music. At the end of the week, her 5 member team, had reached almost 1,000 people!

Because she stayed in a village home,  I did not hear from her for four long days. Finally, I received  a Face Time call from her as she returned to the motel.  I will never forget the emotions I had when I saw her on my phone. It was all I could do not to cry!  I asked her to describe to me her experiences by choosing one word. Her answer was “prayer“.

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She explained to me that the Christ followers in India have a great need for prayer. They don’t have access to medicine or doctors, as we do here. Many of the women asked her to pray for them to have a child or for their alcoholic husbands. One mother asked for prayer for her son with a dairy allergy.  Because of the large number of people her team visited, she shared, “mom I have never prayed as much as I prayed this week in India“.

While she was away in India, thousands of miles away from the safety of her family and home, I could also say, “I have never prayed as much as I have this week“.  Sarah was sitting on our bed the night before she left for India. Her dad and I were about to pray with her for her trip. I asked her in a concerned mama voice, “Is there any fears you would like to share that we can pray with you about”?  She looked at me, let out a small chuckle, and said “No, I worry about you both worrying about me”!  So I told her I would try not to worry.  It worked for about the first two days she was gone. She had traveled to four different countries in the past four years, and that wasn’t so much my worry, but when she finally arrived in the village host home,  my anxiety levels started to rise. Thoughts kept racing through my mind. I feared her being abducted while out and about. I feared the small village home wasn’t secure enough. I feared the 105 F plus tempeartures with no AC.  I feared her getting sick and what does India know about medicine?  I feared she wouldn’t be able to find a bathroom, aka “squatty potty”, when she had the urge to go.  At one point, out of nowhere, I had an image flash in my mind of her being beaten. The mind can play tricks on us, but I decided not to dwell in that mind game.

The past nine months, after Sarah flew the coop to Liberty University, ten hours away, I had been proud of myself for ” releasing her “to God’s care. There were a few times, when I saw the photos on Face Book, of her sitting dangerously close to the edge of a huge rock she was perched upon,  smiling ear-to-ear,  hundreds of feet in the air, I wanted to let out a scream. Other than those times, I had peace.  But this India trip tested my fears and my faith in God for her protection. This is when I finally decided to pray like I have never prayed before, so that my daughter would return safely. I couldn’t protect my  daughter.  I couldn’t run to her if she needed me. I had to rely on God, my Father, to watch over her. She was out of my reach, but not His.   When I prayed,  peace came to me, because I was able to release her to His care. Since then, I have had a daily fresh awareness of God’s presence and His peace in my life. I would have never thought that Sarah’s trip to India, not only changed her, but could change her fearful mama.  Prayer, it changes things and it changes me.

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Sharing My Bread at the Dollar General


Yesterday I wrote here about sharing our ” bread”, our resources, with those who are poor or experiencing a crisis. The idea was based on King Solomon’s advice in Ecclesiastes 11:1-2. I encouraged the reader to share with those they meet during their daily activities here in their communities,  or even far from home.

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This morning before I left for work, I paused and prayed for a few minutes. It was a short, sincere prayer. I prayed that God would use me today for whatever His plans were for me. I would like to tell you that is a regular prayer of mine, but it isn’t.  Before my hand hit the doorknob to leave, I felt a strong sense come over me that I was going to cross paths with a homeless person and God may use me in that capacity. To be clear, I did not hear a voice, just a very strong thought.  I had not shared any “bread” with such a person in almost a year. It was this time last year, when I shared some citrus fruit  at the local grocery store on Main Street. The one that stopped giving out free coffee to its’ customers because the homeless people decided to get in on the deal too, and well, you know, that just doesn’t look good for their business. It may lose the reputation of “where shopping is a  pleasure”, because someone may ask them for spare change as they enter or exit.

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So, on my forty minute drive in to work,  I pondered about where I might see a homeless person. I decided to go to the same store down on Main Street, because I had to get my lunch, and I might  see one there, because there were a few who sat outside the store, on the sidewalk. But as I entered and exited, I did not see such person, so I went on to work.  I’d like to tell you that I went searching for the homeless during lunch,  but not once did such  person enter my mind for the rest of the day.

As I left work, the thought came to go visit the local Dollar General to purchase Operation Christmas Child Shoe Box items.  After making the purchase, I went out the door and saw a man with a back pack standing near the building by his bicycle. He said to me “do you have any spare change?” I replied back, “sorry I do not have any”. So he said to me, “ok, God bless you”.  I walked about 20 feet to my car and it hit me like a ton of bricks, the thought came so clearly:  “turn around, there is the homeless person, that you thought about earlier this morning after you prayed to me”.  I headed back into the store and found a store gift card. I went back out and said to the guy, “I have something better than change, I’m giving you a gift card. But first, I have to tell you a story.”

I started to tell him about what I had prayed before I left home this morning, and about going to the store on Main Street, and not finding anyone in need. By the time I finished I had chill bumps on my arms and I was crying!  Those who know me, would agree that I am not Emotional Emma as I rarely cry in public. He gave me a hug and told me that when he was in the military he made a decision to be a God follower. He had been in Desert Storm during the war. When he came back to get settled in, he couldn’t find a church he felt comfortable in because they were either like a “social club”, or they had “classes of people he didn’t fit into”.  He then told me he prayed but wasn’t reading his Bible regularly but that he knew he was supposed to love God and love others.  I suggested a local church for him to visit, and he said others had also recommended him go to this church.   I shared with him that I had never experienced anything like this before where I asked God to use me, he directed my thoughts to folks like him, and then I met him the same day. He seemed very touched by the experience as well. Again, I’d like to tell you that I asked if I could pray for him before I left, but I didn’t.

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I’m sharing this here because I prayed a simple, sincere prayer today, and I had my plans of finding the person on Main Street. When I didn’t, I no longer thought God had a plan to place that person in my path, I had completely forgotten about the prayer!  And when He did plant the person  in my path, I almost missed a blessing and would have jumped in my Honda and left, had I not had the thought to turn around and go back.

I’m now waiting eagerly for the next opportunity, which may be a totally different way to serve up bread.  This God-sized  experience has stirred me today. We have a Sovereign God who has the time to break into my life and allow me to be His hands today to minister to a military veteran, who put his life on the line for our country. I promise you I will not miss my bread.  The man simply asked for spare change, and I’m the one who walked  away changed.  Feel free to leave a comment of how you have shared your bread. 14CBpray-with-homeless-sox-man-sm

I’m Sharing My Bread This Christmas


As the Christmas Season is fast approaching,  I’m adding a new item on my Gift List: Bread. The idea came to me as I was reading the words of the richest and wisest man of his time, King Solomon.  “Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days. Give a portion to seven, or even to eight, for you know not what disaster may happen on the earth.” Ecclesiastes 11:1-2

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After I read the verse, a childhood memory came flashing back . It’s one of my favorite places, my grandmother’s house on Skinner’s Lake. My grandmother had loaves of day old bread she purchased at the bread store for “her fish”.  She would say to me, “go feed the fish’.  I went to her refrigerator, reached my hand in the bread bag and pulled out a couple of slices. I headed out the door, and down her long dock.  Next, I started breaking the slices into smaller pieces, and tossed them into the water. Within seconds, the bread would start to move, then disappear as the hungry fish devoured the bread!  This small act of feeding the fish brought  joy and excitement to me.

Looking back to Solomon’s advice, his intention was not for us to ” go feed the fish.”  This verse can be interpreted several ways, with one being sharing our possessions with the poor.  Solomon also wrote in Proverbs 19:17, “Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will repay him for his deed.    We all like to give and receive at Christmas.  When we share our “bread” or possessions with  the poor, we are giving it to the Lord, and He gives the best gifts back in return!  We will “find our bread after many days”, as Ecclesiastes 11:1 states. We will have kindness shown back to us through other ways.

The “Bread of Life”,  who came to earth the first Christmas, instructs His followers with the following command:

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This Christmas, as I celebrate the birth of My Savior,  I want to be more intentional with giving my bread to the poor. Really, it’s not my bread. It is God’s bread.  Every blessing I have comes from His hand alone. Today, there are many people, near and far, who are drowning in the troubled waters on life’s sea. We see their faces in our neighborhoods, marketplaces, schools, work, church, and even across the ocean.  We have the “bread”  in our hand to toss out to them. The question is, are we going to hold on tightly to the bread God has blessed us with,  and ignore Christ’s instruction to us, or are we going to have an open, gracious handful of bread to share?   I encourage you to add Bread to your Christmas List this year, and share with someone who cannot give you anything in return. And while you are doing it, introduce them to the Bread of Life.whocanilove