Hope Remains

Upon dealing with the same physical and emotional issues for the last several years; I have, at times, become discouraged. Even though I have made considerable progress in some areas; it seems as though there are other areas where I have made slow-moving progress, only then to slip backward.

I feel one of the hardest physical aspects foMain health effects of sleep deprivation (See ...r me has been the continual lack of sleep. It makes it especially hard for someone who already deals with migraines. I am not talking about a few hours of sleep loss here and there. I only average 3-4 hours of sleep each night on a regular basis. This began about 6 months to a year prior to my multi-level cervical disc fusion in 2009. We thought it would improve after my surgery, feeling that it was pain-induced sleep deprivation. Only; in 2010 I was involved in a motor vehicle accident that seemed to increasingly make matters worse.

Last night was one of those nights where I awoke at 1 a.m. As I lay there, shifting, re-adjusting, trying to get comfortable, trying to go back to sleep; I just couldn’t. I tried praying, not just for my situation, but asking God to lay the needs of others on my heart that I could intercede for, to take my mind off of myself. Still awake at 3:30 a.m.

As I was finally dozing off this morning, feeling as though I might could really sleep, the alarm was going off at 5:15. It was time for my husband to get up. He usually gets up and drinks his coffee, then he will wake our daughter, Kara, around 6:00. I get up and fix her lunch sometime after 6:30. He takes her to school in the morning on his way to work. I pick her up in the afternoons.

As I lay there trying to go back to sleep, I could hear him in the kitchen and as he came back through our bedroom. Finally my body gave in to sleep; and the next thing I know he was asking me if I was going to fix Kara’s lunch. I fixed her lunch, told them goodbye, and went back to bed.

One day like this is one thing. You think; “Things are going to get better.” But when you continue to face them over and over you get a little discouraged. I know people go through a lot worse; but I feel like my days are passing by, like I am missing out on so much. You know?

When the doctor tries this and that. You try praying. You feel alone. Yeah; it can get discouraging. But when I woke the final time this morning, a lot later than I would have liked to; these words were in my head:

“When disappointment finds me and things don’t go my way. My joy will not be stolen. No one can take my faith. And I won’t stop pursuing. No I won’t be afraid. Though I’m not sure what’s coming, I know that Hope Remains.”

These words are from the new CD, Hope Remains, by Jamie Nunnally.

If you feel like you are facing a hopeless situation  Psalm 39:7 says “ Lord, what do I wait for?My hope is in You.”

Psalm 43:5 says “Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again—my Savior and my God.”

May I encourage you to visit Jamie’s site and listen to “Hope Remains” and allow it to minister to you. While you are there; listen to some of his other music and may you be extremely blessed by it. Afterwards, you may want to go over to Amazon and download your own copy of “Hope Remains”.

May you all be extremely blessed,

Sheri Haskins

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I’m Not Lisa

About a month ago I received a message on Facebook that read “Hey, Lisa, how are you? Hope you’re doing well. I would like to know about yourself and about your family. Tell me more about your life. What do you do? What’s your hobbies?  Looking cute, nice smile. I hope you always smile as now in your future life. Hope to hear from you soon. Take care.  Keep safe.”

Lisa Simpson

Upon first reading the message on my phone; I did not notice that it was addressed to Lisa. I just read it as if it were addressed to me, Sheri. As I read it the second time I realized that it was, in fact, addressed to Lisa.

So, was this message intended for Lisa and sent to me? Was this message actually intended for one of my daughters in the picture with me? Hmmm. But where did the name Lisa come from? I have no idea.

One thing I do know for sure is; I’m not Lisa.

This reminded me of a time when, Jamie, first asked me to sing on the worship team while Dana King was out. Anyone who knows Dana, knows; those are mighty big shoes to fill. As I sat with Jamie about to let him hear me sing for the first time; I said, “Well; I’m not Dana.” Jamie replied, “I don’t want you to be Dana; I want you to be Sheri.” Whew; that was a relief!

Several months ago it was brought to my attention that someone close to me had made some decisions that could adversely affect the rest of their life if they continued on in the manner in which they were going. Prior to this knowledge; God had laid it on my heart to encourage someone who I barely know. I felt that specific words of encouragement, at a specific time, were meant for this person. After learning, though, that such a thing could be happening with someone very dear to me without my knowledge; I doubted my ability to hear God’s voice correctly. How could I trust myself after neglecting someone I care so much about?

It was the last few weeks of school. I was driving to pick up my daughter, Kara. I was angry and disappointed with myself. How could I even think that God could use me to encourage someone with whom I had such little contact with, when someone exceptionally close to me was sinking so deeply right in front of me; and I couldn’t even see it? Why would God not show me this if I could really hear His voice? Maybe if I had been paying closer attention this would not have happened.

I’m literally explaining aloud to God as to why there is no way He could possibly use me, seeing as to how I have failed those closest to me. “I should have seen the signs, God!” “How could I not have noticed?” “Did you try to tell me and I wasn’t paying attention? Did they try to tell me and I wasn’t paying attention?” I am so distraught over this. I know if anyone were to see me rationalizing to what looked like thin air; they would think I am absolutely nuts!

I have cried so hard for so long that my eyes have begun to swell. By now I am to the point of sniffling quietly. There is no other sound in the car. I feel that I hear the word “CD”. At first I ignore it; because I have no faith in anything that I hear at all anymore. I am so discouraged. I feel that I hear “CD” again. I finally give in. I push the “on” button on my stereo and these words to the song “You Are So Good” by Jamie Nunnally begin to play “You’re not looking for perfection. Your desire is connection. So, now I’m changing my direction. You’re calling me. You’re drawing me closer. God Almighty, Lord of Glory. You are so good to me, so good to me.” (Just so you know; this is not at the beginning of the song. This just happened to be where the song started playing.) I begin to sob, not cry, sob.

“Ok, God”, I say, in between my sobbing , “so I don’t have to be perfect; and you just want a relationship with me. Is that what You are saying?” ”I’m trying to hear Your voice, but how can I trust myself if I am letting those down who are closest to me? I’m trying to let You use me, in whatever way You will. I just can’t seem to get things right. I’m sorry”, sobbing even harder now. “I’m really trying.” I’m so sorry.” Jamie’s song is still playing, I begin to try to sing “You are so good to me, so good to me.” “Your thoughts are higher. Your ways are better.” My voice is cracking and my nose is completely stuffed up. I am so glad I am alone in the car. I continue to try to sing, “Your love is deeper. I’m bound no longer.”

Joyce Meyer says in her book, “The Love Revolution”

Cover of "The Love Revolution"When I fail, I ask God to forgive me and start fresh; and I believe that is the best policy. We spend far too much time feeling bad about ourselves because of the mistakes that we make-and that is a waste of time. Only God can forgive us and He is quite willing to do so if we will simply ask Him. If we aggressively think about what we can do for others there will be no room in our minds for wrong thoughts.

I wish that I could tell you that after that moment in the car; I had no more doubts whatsoever; but in all honesty; I can’t do that. I still struggled. I would feel confident one moment of what God was asking me to do; then in the next; I was struggling again with doubt.

The following week, as I continued to seek God, in some quiet time alone with Him; I felt drawn to a specific page in Joyce Meyer’s book “Battlefield of the Mind” which read,

Cover of "Battlefield of the Mind: Winnin...

Cover via Amazon

“Here is another good thought to think: I believe God. I believe He is working in me no matter what I may feel or how the situation may look. The Lord has begun a good work in me, and He will bring it to full completion.” (Philippians 1:6  Philippians 2:13) It is in this manner that you can effectively use your weapon of the Word to tear down strongholds. I recommend that you not only purposely think right thoughts, but that you go the extra mile and speak them aloud as your confession.

Remember, God is delivering you, little by little, so don’t be discouraged and don’t feel condemned if you make a mistake.

Be patient with yourself!”

Just as Jamie didn’t expect me to be Dana; and I am definitely not Lisa; God doesn’t want or expect us to be anyone but the person He created us to be. Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”

When we fail or make mistakes, and we will; He doesn’t want us to waste time feeling condemned. Romans 8:1 We should just ask for and accept forgiveness and allow God to bring healing.

Quite honestly, I believe my fear and lack of confidence to pursue what God was asking me to do stemmed from my quest to attempt to do things on my own, in my own strength rather than rely totally on God. No, I’m not perfect; and if I wait until I reach perfection to do anything for God, then it will be too late. Jamie’s song “Now Is The Time”, written with Jim Courtney, that is on his new CD Hope Remains, just released today, inspired me to “Make today the day! To step aside and leave my independence and pride! And make it all about Jesus!”

John 15:5  For apart from me you can do nothing.

May you make today the day that you stop putting things off and make it all about Jesus! May you not allow any situation, circumstance or person cause you to doubt who God created you to be or the purpose in which He has called you to. And may you be extremely blessed,

Sheri Haskins : )

Take A Walk on the Mild Side of Athens

Athens, Georgia – Where, if you dare to go anywhere near Sanford Stadium, on any given Saturday between the months of September and December during a home game, you will find it to be extremely crowded and loud with Georgia Bulldog fans. It can be exciting, if you like that sort of thing. Never thought that I would, but I certainly got caught up in it after attending my first game back in September 2010, and am now forever a DAWG fan. GO DAWGS!

   Me and my daughter, Kara, at our first Georgia Bulldog game September 2010. My daughter, Amber, was in the student section.

After that day, you could find me standing in front of my tv shouting “Go! Go! Go!” as Brandon Boykin ran a 100 yard kick return against Kentucky, and never, if at all possible, to miss another game again. 

My daughter, Amber, first began her education experience at the University of Georgia in the Fall of 2009 and will be graduating this coming Friday, May 11, 2012. I can’t believe it has gone by so fast.

Athens, Georgia – a place where just a quick run for a few groceries might bring you an encounter with one of these.

But Athens certainly has much more to offer if you take the time to look around; as I hope to show you from my recent visit there.

My youngest daughter, Kara, was on spring break the first week in April.  She and I decided to take that week to visit Amber. With only a few classes to attend and a minimal work schedule for the week; Amber was available to spend some quality time with Kara and I, and take us to see a few places that she has discovered while living in Athens these past three years.

I am not much for driving on the interstate, but to make it to Athens, well; that’s just part of it. So began our adventure to Athens with our GPS and our lovely lady with the British/English accent. Kara loves changing the language on that thing.  Now, if you are the person that drives 85 on the interstate; I am probably the one you fuss about. Oh; I drive the speed limit; because I don’t want to get run over; but goodness; I think 70 mph is fast enough.

I was so glad when we got off of I-75 at Macon! Give me two lane back roads where I can let my windows down and smell the sweet aroma of honeysuckle any day, versus the interstate where everybody thinks that when the speed limit changes to 60 it really means 75, and when it says 70 it means 80.

We had great traveling weather. It was absolutely beautiful from Macon to Athens on those two lane roads with our windows down, taking in the fresh air, where at one point Kara said, “Do you smell that? Is that honeysuckle?” “Yes, I believe it is”, I said.

Couldn’t be more perfect, until . . .  we got maybe 15 miles from Amber’s place and it started raining; and it was beginning to get dark. I don’t see well in the dark. Raining and dark, not a great combination for me. Being as Kara and I have not had the chance to visit Amber at her new place, we were just relying on our GPS to get us to the road Amber lived on; then we had instructions to call her.  Seeing as I am driving, Kara calls Amber and gets further instructions; not a good idea. After missing the turn several times, I pull in somewhere, don’t know where exactly, put Amber on speaker phone, and get step by step directions, which eventually leads to her saying, “Just keep driving straight. I see you, Mom. Don’t you see me? I’m waving at you.” “No, Amber, I don’t see you.” Kara says, “I see her, Mom. She is standing there on the right waving her arm in the air.” Finally she comes into my very strained eyesight. What should have taken only a 5 minute drive, took about 20 minutes for us to locate Amber, but at least we arrived safely.

Now, first night of visit + young girls = up all night talking.  Who am I kidding? Girls together in the same room = late night talking. Good thing Amber didn’t have an early morning class the following day. Good thing I didn’t have to get up early : ) The very first thing Kara wanted to do after Amber got out of class, was to visit a place that Amber frequents often, Menchie’s frozen Yogurt ,where you can mix whatever flavors you want and add your favorite toppings. This is self-serve. I got chocolate and Irish Mint with dark chocolate chips. Oh my, it was scrumptious!

We followed that up by visiting a locally owned video store and renting “The Muppet Movie”, for watching MUCH later that night. Oh, but we had to get ready for an evening at Wesley first. How amazing that was! Amber is on leadership there. All the leaders meet, worship and pray before the service begins. I was so amazed at the dedication of these young people. That was only the beginning, though. As I entered the sanctuary; I was blown away by the mass of college kids present in this place. It was packed on a Wednesday night. Every single seat was filled. They, then began sitting on the floor in the center aisle, in the back, and on the sides against the walls. “So this is what my daughter is a part of” I thought to myself.  My heart was filled with such joy as I joined in with hundreds of UGA college students who, so unashamedly worshiped God.  I was astounded that as Amber, Kara and I were leaving at 10 pm; so many were still standing with their arms outstretched to honor, glorify and worship our Lord Jesus Christ. For any of you parents that may have kids that are considering continuing their education at The University of Georgia and they would like a place to get connected with other believers; Wesley is a great place. Amber and her best friend, Anna, got plugged in immediately their freshman year at UGA.

After leaving Wesley; we headed to back Amber’s to watch “The Muppet Movie”. Yet another late night; but it was a great night. The girls couldn’t believe that I actually stayed awake through the whole movie. Neither could I.

The next day we met Amber’s discipler, Nico, pictured below with Amber & Kara at Marti’s at Midday, a local family owned restaurant, where I had a half “Matthew’s Favorite”, which is a smoked turkey sandwich on homemade honey wheat bread, with homemade pita chips and fruit. YUM! I was stuffed! Amber & Kara shared “The Mary Frances”, which is their homemade chicken salad sandwich, with pita chips and fruit. Amber said that she can never eat a whole one by herself. We sat out on their deck at an umbrella table, enjoying the lovely weather, wonderful fellowship and great food. It was truly an amazing day.

We made an afternoon trip to America’s Thrift Store where I picked up a new outfit for a total of $2.41.  Can’t be that. I found out that they are a Christian organization and have several different locations in Georgia and Alabama.

While in Athens, Kara, who had just finished reading the first two books of  “The Hunger Games”, wanted to see the movie. I was told that I had to read the book before we could go. My spare time was spent reading, so as not to disappoint her. Amber had previously seen it, but was more than willing to see it a second time. I finished the book. We went to see the movie. That will definitely be a talk for another time.

We were told by Amber that a “must see” place was The Botanical Gardens. The featured picture at the top of the blog of the girls, was taken there. We took a blanket, our books, and of course, the camera.

 Now, this is my kind of place – peaceful and quiet, and so beautiful.                 As we walked through the herb garden, pictured below, the girls would say “Hey, Mom, smell this.”  Me, oh brilliant one, would stick my face right down in it and take a big whiff! I woke Sunday morning with a sore throat. By Monday I could hardly breathe; but it was fun at the time.

The gardens even come with artwork. To the left of this sculpture are some steps that the girls and I followed that led down to an open area where we were able to spread out our blanket and relax and read for a while. I had the opportunity to follow-up with Catching Fire, the second in the series of “The Hunger Games”, while Kara was already well on her way into Mockingjay, the third of the series; and Amber was reading Searching for God Knows What, by Donald Miller. For more pictures of our trip to the Botanical Gardens click here. On Easter Sunday, the girls and I went to church, had lunch at Cracker Barrel, and took a peaceful walk along the Oconee River which runs right behind Amber’s place.  Kara and I followed Amber down the steps away from houses and concrete and people, to a path that runs alongside the river; until we reached a place of utmost tranquility. A perfect way to end our stay in Athens. To see more pictures from our walk along the Oconee River click here.        

Empty Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Egg Carton & Peter Pan Peanut Butter Jar – Ugh!!

I have to say that the way holidays are so commercialized, makes me a little sad. We hardly see one go by before there are displays for the next one. Of course it is up to us, individually; to celebrate the true meaning of each one; don’t you think? But I have to admit that I do enjoy some of the sweet treats that come with the holidays.

This Easter, my youngest daughter, Kara, and I were in Athens visiting my daughter, Amber, who will be graduating from UGA in May. Kara and I returned home that evening to find some treats that my husband had bought for us, chocolate bunnies, chocolate covered marshmallow eggs (one of my favorites), peeps, & M&M’s. Yeah; I thought it was sweet of him.

I, of course opened my chocolate covered marshmallow eggs first. Like I said; this is one of my favorites. Well; I had no lack of help eating my eggs, which is fine; I don’t mind sharing. So, Friday, I am at home all by myself, all of my eggs have been gone; and I see Kara’s carton on the coffee table. I’m thinking all day, “I’ll just have one of hers.” I mean; she and Roy helped eat mine.

So, I go to get one, after thinking about it all day and; it’s empty! “Seriously? Are you kidding me? Why is it on the coffee table and not in the trash can where it should be? Why would you, whoever ate the last one, leave it here to tease me, to make me think about wanting my favorite Easter treat all day long? Really? What was the purpose in leaving this empty carton on the table?”

“Ok, Sheri, it’s not that big of a deal.” But, I have had a taste for that all day, just thinking about it. You know that feeling? You have your mouth set for something, then, there’s the letdown. Oh, well no need dwelling on it. What good will that do?

So, I pick up the empty carton and take it to the trash. I then see an empty Peter Pan Peanut Butter jar on the kitchen counter. “Really? Why is that not in the trash as well? Can no one remember where the trash can is?” I think to myself, “What purpose was that serving on the counter; taking up space?” But then again, “What purpose does an empty water pitcher serve in the refrigerator?” I have better question, “What purpose does a boat motor serve in the kitchen by my freezer?” Can anyone answer that one?

As I am pondering the answers to my questions; I feel a gentle tug at my heart, as if God is saying, “Just let it go.”

Although I haven’t spoken any words aloud; God sees my heart. I haven’t grumbled and complained out loud for anyone else to hear, even though there is no one else around, it doesn’t matter; Proverbs 23:7 says “As a man, or a woman, (in my case) thinks in her heart, so is she.” 1 Samuel 16:7 tells us that “although man sees what is on the outside, God looks at the heart.” Whether the actual complaint comes out of my mouth or not, does not change what God sees.

Luke 6:45 tells us that “Out of the abundance of the heart our mouth speaks.” So, if I had continued to feed my heart with how I “felt” about the empty carton, the empty peanut butter jar, the empty water pitcher, and anything else that I could think of from two months ago, because we all that’s how it works (or am I the only that is guilty of that); the grumbling and complaining would have eventually came out of my mouth.

We have to be careful what we are allowing in our hearts. Proverbs 4:23 says “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.”

So, I had to get over those silly little things, just as my family has issues with me that they have to overlook as well.

Colossians 3:13&14 says “Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.”

We have to remember to do as Philippians 2:14&15 says “all things without complaining and disputing, so that we may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom we shine as lights in the world.”

Who knew that it would take an empty chocolate covered marshmallow egg carton and a Peter Pan Peanut Butter jar to remind me of that.

May you all be extremely blessed,
Sheri Haskins : )

Prayer, Hot Broth and Citrus

I don’t know if it is my allergies or a cold; but this week I have felt BLAH. I woke Sunday morning, in Athens, at my daughter’s, with just a sore throat. Upon waking up at my own house on Monday morning; my head hurt and was stuffed up, my nose was stuffy and running at the same time. My throat was still sore; and I had cough; and I was sneezing like crazing. I felt yucky!

I looked in the cabinet and found Dayquil. “Yes, that should help!” “I mean that covers everything, right?” Still; all I wanted to do was sleep; but I had things to do, laundry and other housework that needed tending to. I didn’t have time to rest. “Are you kidding me?” I had been gone the week before to visit my daughter in Athens.

Well, I would do a little, then rest; do a little, then rest. Needless to say; I did not get much done. I thought, “Ok, just don’t push yourself. Get the rest you need now then you will be able to get what you need done later. “It will all be here waiting on you.” “Yeah, that’s what I’m worried about. It will pile up. Yikes!”

So, I tried to do only what “had” to be done each day and let the major things wait until I got my strength back. I didn’t like taking the Dayquil, so I went to WalMart to pick up something that would only “attack” the runny nose, sneezing, & congestion.

I thought “Ok; rest, something to dry up this junk, and in a few days; I should be good.”

A friend of mine just went on a “weekend retreat” with her husband; so in the midst of my returning back home and settling back in; I had sent a text to see how her trip was. In exchanging our details; I told her of my physical condition. Her reply was “Prayer, hot broth and citrus.”

Now, why didn’t I think of that? I mean; why was prayer not even my first thought? Seriously? I’m not trying to over-spiritualize this. I have absolutely nothing against medicine and doctors. For the last two years I have had some wonderful doctors that have helped me tremendously!

Just this morning I was praying with my mom before she was to go to the doctor to have some skin cancers removed; but I didn’t think to simply pray concerning this cold, or allergies, or whatever it is. Why? Was it because I thought it was too small of an issue to present to God? It does say it 1 Peter 5:7 “cast all your care upon Him for He cares for you.”. It doesn’t say only cast certain cares to God, because others just aren’t significant enough to warrant His time. Was it because I just didn’t consider praying about it all? Oh, I’ll just take some medicine because it’s quick and easy. I don’t have to think about that.

What’s funny is; in spending so much time with God, talking to Him about so much other stuff; it never even dawned on me to say, “Father, You know what, while we are here talking; I am so thankful for everything that You have given me, and Your Word says in Deuteronomy 7:15 “You will remove all sickness from Your people”, so I claim that for myself right now, and I thank You for removing this sickness from me. Your Word also says in Psalm 91:9&10 that since “I have made You my refuge, You, Father, are my dwelling place, that no evil shall befall me, nor any sickness come near me.” So, I thank You, Father, for divine health right now, in Jesus name, amen.”

I think God gives us wisdom to know what to do; but He truly should be our first, not our last resort for all of our cares, concerns and issues; don’t you think? Thanks to my dear friend for reminding me to go to God first; trust Him to bring my healing, and give me wisdom in what other things I can do, and maybe should not do that will help bring restoration to my body.

I used to have earaches really bad growing up. My grandmother would get up with me and sit by the fireplace, with the ear that was hurting towards the fire. She would stay up with me as long as it took for it to ease off. When it finally began to ease off some; she would have her hot water bottle as hot as possible, so that I could lay on it. I remember her using Vicks Vapor rub when we were sick. That stuff would help you breathe.

So, I’m curious how you handle the colds, the allergies, the flu, the toothaches, etc. Do you cover them in prayer, and then have your own method to help with the restoration process? I would love to hear what you have to say.

May you be extremely blessed,
Sheri Haskins : )

How Jamie Nunnally’s CD Helped Save My Marriage

“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.” Philippians 4:8

It was Saturday, February 25, 2012; my husband, Roy, and I were headed to Norman Park, Ga. to see our youngest daughter, Kara, perform at her District Honor Band Concert that began at 4 p.m. I stated my desire to leave around 2:45 p.m. The drive, from our house, takes around 45 minutes, with no unexpected stops or detours along the way. This is something I wanted to arrive early at, not only because there would be a lot of people attending, but because I wanted to see Kara, who had arrived on Friday, to wish her luck and take pictures of her with her friends in their uniforms before she performed.

I begin trying to wake Roy from a nap about an hour before we have to leave, but he isn’t responding. I continue to try to wake him over and over. He finally makes it to the shower; but at the last minute decides to pick out a shirt that needs to be pressed over. “Ok”, I think to myself, “I am not going to let this get to me.” The shirt is pressed. We are ready to leave, right? I have everything together and go to the car. I get in and crank it up. I am sitting there waiting and waiting on him. “What is he doing?” I feel my blood pressure beginning to rise ever so slightly. Then my phone rings. It’s my mom, who happens to live in Illinois. So, I’m talking to her while I’m waiting on Roy (trying not to think about what time it is). He finally comes out the door. Then he stops and smokes a cigarette. Really?

He gets in the car at 3:10 p.m. We are on our way. Finally! Then he asks me if Hwy 188 is still out going to Coolidge, which by the way; I never drive this road. I say “I don’t know.” I think to myself, while still on the phone with my mom, “Really; how am I supposed to know? You know I never go this way. Seriously?” The detour signs are still up, but the road block signs are down. But; instead of being safe and travelling an alternate road; he takes a chance and goes down a road that could possibly still be out. Yeah. So; we are driving down Hwy 188 all the way until there is, guess what, no more road. Yep. Now we have to turn around and take that alternate road anyway. Oh my gosh! I feel my blood pressure rising even more now. I am still on the phone with my mom at this point, which is probably a good thing. I am trying my very best to concentrate on what my mom is saying; but it really is hard. I have these thoughts “I will never forgive him if we don’t make it in time to see Kara perform.”

Now; I know that I have to forgive him. This is just what pops in my head. I am being open and honest with you. You may think this a little extreme; but I do have issues in this area. My mom must sense that I am not fully engaged in the conversation. She tells me that she will let me go, and to tell Kara that she is proud of her. After hanging up with my mom, my first thoughts were to say, (among other things) “You see, this is exactly why we should have left early.” But, instead; I hit the CD button on the stereo in the car and Jamie Nunnally started singing “Save me from all the things that keep me far from my King. Make me who you want me to be. I give You everything!”

Yep! I definitely needed saving right then, from my own thoughts, and from saying things that would have started an argument. The best thing that I could do was to ask God to forgive me for the impure thoughts that I was having towards Roy; and then redirect my thoughts. We arrived at Norman Park at 3:56 p.m. They were just announcing the middle school band when we were walking in. Before Kara’s performance with the high school band; I had the opportunity to sneak down to the stage, while they were setting up, to let her know we were there and to wish her luck. Luckily, our oldest daughter and her husband arrived early; and she was able to take some pictures of Kara in her uniform for me.

I could have chosen to follow through with my thoughts and said what was on my mind. Things would have definitely turned out a lot differently. But, for some reason, I took a deep breath, looked down and hit that button instead. At first I just listened to Jamie. It wasn’t long before I was singing along with him. After that; I began praying, asking God’s forgiveness and thanking Him that I had access to that CD to redirect my thoughts on something pure, something lovely and praiseworthy.

Galatians 5:16 & 20 says “Walk in the Spirit and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” such as”contentions, outbursts of wrath”

With each new day that we are given, come choices that we have to make. Perhaps you are presented with a situation where you are treated badly; or you may have someone that is very difficult to get along with in your family, at work or at school. Maybe you feel angry. If it is a continuing situation; you quite possibly could feel discouraged. You cannot change the way that person may choose to act; but you certainly can change the way you choose to think or act. If a thought comes into your mind it doesn’t mean that you have to act on it; and it doesn’t mean that you have to dwell on it either.

Romans 12:1&2 says that “we should present our bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is our reasonable service; and not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of our minds, that we may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

For me, at that particular place and time; renewing my mind came by listening to Jamie’s CD, which is full of things that are “pure, lovely and praiseworthy”. If you find yourself in a situation where you are in need of redirecting your thoughts and renewing your mind, and worship music is not an option for you; the Word of God is the greatest weapon you can use. The book of Psalms has great praises to God. Replace those wrong thoughts by meditating on a verse from there instead. If you can be thinking bad thoughts about someone while you are working, or whatever it is that you are doing; then surely you can replace those bad thoughts with a scripture that is praising God, right? These are just a few my favorites:

Psalm 71:14 “But I will hope continually, And will praise You yet more and more.”

Psalm 86:12 “I will praise You, O Lord my God, with all my heart, And I will glorify Your name forevermore.”

Psalm 96:4 “For the LORD is great and greatly to be praised”

Psalm 145:3 “Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; And His greatness is unsearchable.”

Psalm 150:2 “Praise Him for His mighty acts; Praise Him according to His excellent greatness!”

As I select scripture; I find ones that express how I feel personally, from my heart, toward God. I find that it is easier to remember scripture if they are of personal significance to me.

Now, as far as my marriage is concerned; am I saying that it would have ended that day if I would have voiced my thoughts? Not necessarily. What I am saying, is that it could have brought on the beginning of an argument that could have escalated into something very nasty, therefore; who knows where that would have led?

God will allow Satan to use circumstances in our lives to tempt and test us. Just take a look at Matthew 4 where Jesus was tempted by Satan. Jesus used the Word of God against Satan. Jesus should be our example.

If you are married; then I can almost guarantee that you have areas where you and your spouse disagree. I am not saying that you argue. I am saying that you probably disagree. There is a difference.

I can assure you, that our enemy, Satan, would love nothing more than to cause conflict in our
homes, in our workplaces, in our churches, in all of our relationships. To not believe this is naïve.

1 Peter 5:8 clearly says “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”

2 Corinthians 10:3 tells us “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh.”

We should recognize spiritual attacks for what they are and stand our ground because; Luke 10:19 tells us “Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.”

Just know that you have authority over the thoughts you think. You can choose to redirect them and not act on them. No matter what else is going on, no matter what anyone else is saying or doing; you are in control of what you think and do.

1 Corinthians 10:13 tells us that “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”

I was tempted to say things that I knew would cause conflict in my marriage and strife in my home; but God provided a way of escape through Jamie’s music. As I listened to Jamie sing; my mind was being renewed by the words I was hearing. As I began to sing and worship God; my heart and my spirit were being refreshed. God is so good!

May you be extremely blessed,
Sheri Haskins

If you would like to know more about Jamie Nunnally and his music; you can do so by visiting
http://www.facebook.com/jamienunnally
http://www.myspace.com/jamienunnally
http://www.jamienunnally.wordpress.com/

Help! There’s a Stranger in My Home, but She Looks Just Like Me

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

As I had the opportunity recently to sit quietly and reflect back over this past year of 2011; I was reminded of many things of which I am thankful for. Our newest granddaughter, Zoey, was born. Our grandson, Mason, started school. Our youngest daughter, Kara, started high school and made District Honor Band, once again. Our daughter, Amber, turned 20, started her senior year at UGA; and God used her to do many great things in Peru. I am also very thankful for those of you who prayerfully and financially supported her through this outreach.

In this process of recalling events of the past year, it was also brought to my remembrance the likes of things which I would rather not have experienced as well; physical and emotional pain, were the first to come to mind. But, the scripture does not say to “rejoice only when you feel like it, and give thanks when things are good.”

We as Christians were not promised a life without problems; matter of fact, Jesus said in John 16:33 that we would “have trials and sorrows”, but to “be cheerful because He has overcome the world.” He also says that we can “have peace in Him”, if we choose to do so.

Through my physical issues and our financial difficulties, certain characteristics seemed to surface from within me that I did not like. I was unable to do things as I used to. That frustrated me. In time I became angry with myself. I am the kind of person that when something needs to be done, I usually do it right away, and everything has to be just right (if you know what I mean). Now; I had to take my time or rely on someone else to do it. This did not come easy at all for me.

Then I felt as though everyone else thought I was not fulfilling my duties as I should. They were lashing out at me. I was hurt; but I kept it inside. As time passed, I noticed I became critical and judgmental; and the anger was beginning to show as well. I would be angry at everything, the stupid remote, the dog, the person driving right on my bumper when I was already going 5 mph over the speed limit; you name it. I did not like this person that I was becoming. I asked God, “What is going with me?” “I don’t like who I am.” He led me to this book, The Bait of Satan by John Bevere, which I had read about four years ago.

Jesus said in Luke 22:31-32 “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you; that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.” Notice that Satan requested that he be allowed to sift, (shake) or test Peter. Jesus did not pray for Peter to be spared from that, only that his faith would not fail. Jesus knew that Peter was going to deny Him; so He prayed that when he returned, Peter would be a source of strength for the others.

John Bevere writes in The Bait of Satan,

God showed my wife Lisa five purposes for shaking an object:
1. To bring it closer to its foundation
2. To remove what is dead
3. To harvest what is ripe
4. To awaken
5. To unify or mix together so it can no longer be separated

Through this sifting or shaking process that I have been experiencing; I was awakened to my true heart condition. It seemed as though there were wounds that had not been dealt with from long ago; then more recent wounds were piled on top of those. I had allowed that to build into anger, resentment, bitterness and offense. Growing up, there was so much tension and strife in our family. Our parents divorced and our mom worked, leaving me, the oldest, to care for my two younger sisters most of the time, which I do not begrudge at all. I love my sisters dearly! Being the oldest sibling, I felt the need to be strong for them, so if ever I was hurt, I didn’t feel that I could acknowledge that. I would deny the pain, thinking that would make it go away. So learning at a very young age to deny my pain, caused for a lifetime of wounds in my heart that needed to be healed.

John Bevere writes that denying the hurt is a form of pride. He, himself, experienced this; and God revealed it to him. He said,

“I knew it was wrong to be offended so I denied and repressed it. I convinced myself I was not, but in reality I was. Pride masked the true condition of my heart. Pride keeps you from dealing with the truth. It distorts your vision.”
He continues, “There was a time in my life when I went through intense trials such as I never faced before. I became rude and harsh with those closest to me. I cried out to the Lord, “Where is all this anger coming from? It wasn’t there before.” The Lord responded, “Son, it is when they liquefy gold in fire that the impurities show up.” He then asked me a question that changed my life. “Can you see the impurities in the gold before it is put in the fire?” “No,” I answered. “But that doesn’t mean they were not there,” He said. “When the fire of trials hit you, these impurities surfaced. Though hidden to you, they were always visible to me. So now you have a choice that will determine your future. You can remain angry, blaming your wife, friends, pastor, and the people that you work with, or you can see this dross of sin for what it is and repent, receive forgiveness, and I will take my ladle and remove these impurities from your life.”

I am not thrilled to have gone through these trials this past year, but for what God has brought to my attention and the healing that has taken place, I truly am thankful. Do I still have a long way to go? Yes, indeed. I have to say that through all of this; I have, and am still learning a lot about myself. I have definitely grown a lot closer to God; and for that; I am ever so thankful for, as well! To say that you forgive someone is one thing, but to acknowledge that you have been truly hurt and allow God access into your heart to bring healing to that wounded area, is a totally different thing. I do hope that you will take the opportunity to ask God if you have any wounds that you may have denied or tried to forget about, and then quietly wait on Him. If He reveals anything to you; then allow Him to bring healing into that area.

May you be extremely blessed,
Sheri Haskins