My eBook and New Site

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Posted by dancingdreamer on May 06, 2013 17:26

It's time for me to leave this blog behind and begin a fresh journey at my new online home... liveabundantlynow.com

I'm excited to announce that I wrote a book of over twenty-five prayers for parents to pray over their children during these perilous times for our world. It will be published in an eBook format and available on Amazon. The release date is planned for summer of 2013.

I hope you'll join me at my new site as I write stories of faith that I feel certain will encourage and uplift your soul.

See you soon!
Amy

New Beginnings

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Posted by dancingdreamer on April 03, 2013 10:20

Amy's Pictures 346

Jesus amazes me continually with His love and goodness. He is leading me to new places and new things.

I completed my first book recently and am planning to publish it as an eBook this summer. I'm in the process of setting up a new website which will hopefully be ready in the near future. I have enjoyed posting my stories here at ChristianBlogsites.com, but I am following Christ to where He is leading me to go.

As soon as my new site is ready, I'll post the web address here. I hope those of you who have been reading my stories will join me at my new online home.

I pray God's richest blessings on you!

Love in Christ,

Amy

Jesus Our Shepherd

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Posted by dancingdreamer on April 03, 2013 10:11

 
 
I’ve been sensing in my spirit that there may be a few people reading my blog who are on the fence about believing there is truly a God. Because of the ones who have claimed to know Christ and acted wrongly, you are skeptical.

I understand the deep hurt that comes from unloving people who say and do unkind things in the name of God. I’ve been hurt in my past by people who thought they were leading me to God. But I know now that they never even knew God. 

A person who knows Christ intimately will be loving, kind, gentle, and caring. They will lift you up, not tear you down.

I would like to ask forgiveness for the poor job that the Body of Christ has done in showing unconditional love to people. I am sorry for the pain that someone symbolizing Jesus may have inflicted upon you.

I pray that my words will bring healing to your soul. I pray that you will feel the love of Christ through my writing and know how deeply you are cherished by Him.

I pray that you will discover that Jesus is an amazing shepherd. He is always waiting for us to commune with Him.

About five years ago, I began craving more of Jesus. I wanted to hear His voice better. I wanted to know His heart better. I began to spend more time in silence, just sitting still and waiting for Him to speak.

I’ll never forget this one particular time in the summer of 2009 when I was sitting outside on my front porch in the sunshine. I was resting and listening for God’s voice when a flood of words came into my spirit.

I wrote the words in my journal.

“Slow down and taste the good things I have for you. Abide in Me and I will abide in you. Don’t let the things of this world distract you so much. Be still and listen for my voice as often as you can. My voice is your anchor. As you listen to My guiding words, you will know you are on the path I have laid out for you. You will never doubt Me if you stay connected to My Spirit. But you will remain in constant peace as you are connected deeply to Me and My strength. I am Your Good Shepherd.”

That was a defining moment in my spiritual journey. I experienced Jesus as the shepherd of my soul like I never had before.

No matter where any of us are in our spiritual journey, we can rest in knowing that we have a good shepherd. He is waiting for us to turn our faces toward Him, to receive all that He has for us, and to grow in His amazing love.

We are His sheep and He loves us perfectly.

John 10:11-16

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. The wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.

I am the good shepherd. I know my sheep and my sheep know me—just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. 

 

Live Abundantly!
Amy  

I wrote this post a month ago for my other blog, and I feel the Lord leading me to post it here as well.

The shepherd and flock picture was downloaded at stockfreeimages.com

   

A Saintly Example

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Posted by dancingdreamer on February 15, 2013 13:57

Today is my mother's birthday. I am grateful for the inspiration she is and will always be to me. From her,  I learned to be a good mother to my children. I learned to be a good wife and helpmate by watching the way she loved her husband.

I learned to forgive quickly because of her example. I learned to look to Christ for my purpose and worth because of her love and devotion to Him. I learned that God always creates beauty out of broken lives by watching how she lives her life so eloquently and intentionally. 

I learned to dance and laugh and sing in all circumstances by watching her. I learned about God's amazing grace by being around her.
 
By her example, I learned that being a follower of Jesus means helping the poor by actually getting close to them and getting to know them. I learned how to be accepting of everyone, how to love unconditionally, and how to give sacrificially because of the way she lives daily.

I learned from her how to live the Gospel of Jesus Christ and not just talk about it. I learned how to show grace and kindness to all people no matter how they treat me. And I'm still learning to be generous and gracious in everything I say and do by watching her.

Happy birthday to the best mother and saintly example a person could have.

I love you, Mama, with all my heart!

The Blessing of Valentine Treasures

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Posted by dancingdreamer on February 14, 2013 19:53


Valentine’s Day is always a fun time for my family.
 

When my daughter was about three years old my husband Michael created a special treasure hunt for us to enjoy on Valentine's Day. He hid small candies throughout our home for the family to search for. This treasure hunt is a tradition and a highlight of every year.
 

The hidden candies are fairly easy to find at first, but it gets harder and harder to find them after the most visible ones are found. Michael hides some of the candies in such concealed places, that we never find all of them on Valentine's Day. A great part of the joy in the hunt is that we always continue to find the candies unexpectedly during the days and months ahead.
 

Our anticipated Valentine treasure hunt is very much like life. When things are going smoothly, it's easy to see and enjoy the treasures. But during the difficult seasons, it can be a tedious thing to find and focus on the treasures. They have to be tirelessly sought after because they are hidden. But it is the hidden treasures that are truly the most valuable.
 

Without the storms, I don't believe I would have ever discovered the priceless treasures of life.
 

In January of 2006, Michael was self-employed, running a graphic design business with another design artist. The small company was suffering and eventually had to be shut down, leaving us with a very small income. This gave our family the opportunity to look for treasures in the midst of adversity.
 
On Valentine's Day that year, we had very little money and we knew we couldn't buy gifts or cards like we had done in previous years. We decided to make hand-made cards for each other instead of giving presents and store bought cards. Since then, we’ve looked forward to designing our homemade cards every year.
 
One year, the card my husband made for me had a huge heart on it, symbolic of the love that has grown in our marriage. My daughter made me a card with pictures and words that remind me of all that God has done in my heart. On the front of the card that my son made for me when he was ten years old was a colored picture of a rainbow, a storm, and a heart in the middle with a sword stuck in it. He had written words in that hand-made card that later proved to be prophetic. “Remember a rainbow comes after a storm. This is how you reach your heart’s goal.” Those were such words of wisdom from a young boy.

Each year the cards are more meaningful to me. They are irreplaceable—something that money can't buy. And even though my husband now has a good career, we realize that the best things in life are free (monetarily). I don’t want to ever forget those times of being in need. Our family learned the most important lessons we will ever learn.
 
Every year as I embrace the words and the love expressed through each of these handcrafted cards, I thank God for the storms of life and the blessing of my Valentine treasures.

"The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field..." Matthew 13:44 NIV

 
Live Abundantly!
Amy 
 
This post has been updated and revised from a piece originally written in 2008.
 

Dancing with Jesus

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Posted by dancingdreamer on February 06, 2013 13:22

There is nothing like the love of Christ. His love permeates us and washes away all of our pain and brokenness.  

For believers, Jesus truly is our ever present friend. He is with us twenty four hours a day.

In the quiet moments of the day, I love to steal away with Him and dance. It makes me think of Heaven. 

I can only imagine the glorious dancing and the eternal worship of Jesus. Can you imagine the beauty in Heaven? I can.
 
We don't have to wait until we enter into our eternal home to experience the glorious riches of Christ. We can get a taste of Heaven on Earth. Through prayer and worship, we are able to bask in the magnificent presence of our Lord. 

All we have to do is fall on our knees and ask Him to cleanse our hearts of any unrepentant sin that could be hindering His presence. And in His glorious way, He comes to commune with us any time of the day. Isn't that amazing? 

We have Jesus always and forever.

A Prayer

Beloved Jesus,
 
We love and adore You. You are incredible and mighty. You make all things new. Come Jesus and fill up this earth with Your presence. Prepare us, Your beloved Bride, for Your return. Cleanse our hearts and make us pure and beautiful like You. Give us a heart of worship that continually longs to be with You and only You. Let us dance with You and celebrate Your perfect love. I pray in Your name, Christ. Amen.

Whispers from God

Come dance with Me. Come experience My love today and every day. I am waiting for you always to commune with Me. Taste and see that I am good and My love endures forever.

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His love endures forever. ~ Psalm 136:1 NIV
 
Let them praise His name with dancing and make music to Him with the tambourine and harp. ~ Psalm 149:3 NIV

Praise Him with tambourine and dancing, praise Him with the strings and flute. ~ Psalm 150:4 NIV 

Live Abundantly!
Amy

The above picture was taken when my husband and I were dancing together after renewing our wedding vows.

A Legacy of Love

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Posted by dancingdreamer on January 30, 2013 13:51

Today is my beloved paternal grandfather's birthday. He passed away last February at the age of 96.  I wrote a tribute to my grandfather and read it at his funeral. I'm sharing it again today to celebrate his wonderful life.

 

A TRIBUTE TO POPPY

If I had to choose one word to describe my grandfather (Poppy) it would be, “LOVE.” He loved God, he loved people, and he loved life.

Some of my favorite memories of him are the times he laughed hysterically while watching cartoons. I remember watching Tom and Jerry with him and he laughed so hard that he nearly fell out of his chair. That was amazing to see an old man laugh harder than I did as a little girl. He loved to laugh and he laughed hard and often. He truly lived life to the fullest.

Growing up, I spent a great deal of time with him and my grandmother because I lived right next door to them for several years. One of my favorite things to do as a little girl was to sit with Poppy and swing with him while one of his many cats that he liked to call, "Sweetie Pie" sat in his lap.

I will always remember the camping trips I took with my grandparents. Poppy loved his camper, he loved to fish, and he loved the outdoors. Some of my greatest memories are all the times we spent outside in his garden and on his property.

I learned what true joy is by hanging out with Poppy. He was always content while living a laid-back life in Epworth, Georgia. He was a country boy at heart.

Poppy knew the art of enjoying the simple things in life. I can hear him now making a soft whistling sound just like he did as he tinkered on his tractor and worked in his garden. He just had this amazing aura of happiness about him.
 
Poppy had a major sweet tooth. Some of his favorite treats were Circus Candy Peanuts and Moon Pies. He loved to eat a slice of cake or pie after every meal and sometimes he even ate his dessert before the main course.

And oh how he loved his family. He was truly the best father and grandfather a person could have. He raised three wonderful children. And I know Jeff, Sabrina, and Christina agree that he brought tremendous joy into our childhoods.

I will always remember the laughter, and the fun times with Poppy. But what is most important to me is how Poppy’s life permanently impacted my heart. I learned from him that life is a gift—a beautiful gift from our Heavenly Father. I watched my grandfather live the life that God intends for every person to live.

There is a scripture verse that comes to my mind when I think of Poppy. Deuteronomy 5:33 says, “Walk in all the way that the Lord has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess.”

Poppy could have had a tragic life. His earthly father passed away on his 11th birthday and left him fatherless. But he chose the high road and he let His Father in Heaven fill the void in his heart after losing a parent at such a young age.

Poppy surely prospered in his life on this earth. He had a rich marriage with my grandmother for 72 years. He stayed committed to her and loved her through the good times and through the hard times.

He was a man of courage and a man of honor. He loved and enjoyed his family and friends so very much. 

He lived a long, fulfilling life because he attained an intimate love relationship with Christ. He lived out the greatest commandments in the Bible very well.

Poppy’s life is the perfect example of a life fully surrendered to Christ. He lived a blessed life throughout his journey on Earth because he loved God with his whole heart, mind, and soul. And he certainly loved his neighbor as himself in countless ways. He was an amazing man because he tapped into the true Source of Life.

His life was beautiful and filled with joy because of that. An intimate relationship with Christ is what God longs for every person to enter into. 

He wants us to be so head over heels in love with Jesus that no circumstance or loss can rob us of our joy.
 
My prayer for each one of us is that we will let the life that my grandfather lived be a standard we will reach for and that we will let Jesus fill the void in our heart in the same way Poppy turned to God when he lost his daddy as a child.

I will close with some words that my grandfather wrote to me in a letter. His words hold the key to a happy life.

Poppy wrote these words that will stay with me forever, “I pray that you will always love Jesus with all your heart. This is what life is all about.”

Letting Go

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Posted by dancingdreamer on January 14, 2013 17:55

It was March 2, 2012, the day of my grandfather's funeral. Poppy, who was ninety-six had passed away peacefully a few days earlier. We had just left the cemetery after the graveside service. I was in the car with my husband when we pulled into the driveway of my grandparents' house that they had lived in my entire life. I’d lived right next door to them during my 3rd through 5th grade years of school. In fact, my family lived with them in this house for a short time while we were waiting for our new house to be built. 

Minutes before, I had learned that the house and most of the property had been sold. Our family had about thirty days to move everything out of it before the new family would be moving in. 

Emotions came crashing in my heart as I saw Poppy's tractor sitting there just like it had been for my whole life. It was probably a newer tractor. But he had always had a tractor for as long as I could remember. 

I walked around that day trying to take in the reality of what was happening. As I looked out over my grandparents' property my aunt's words resonated in my heart. 

"It's a chapter coming to an end."

She was having a hard time with all the sudden change. Seeing my brother and me walking around soaking in the memories that were created on that land was more than she could take. With teary eyes, she walked away and went inside the house. 

As hard as it was to face the reality of a chapter of my life being over, I knew I needed to face it head on. 

This reminds me of a memory I have of my father pulling a splinter out of my foot. I was terrified of the pain. I would’ve done anything to avoid it. But my daddy—in his wisdom—knew that the splinter needed to be dealt with or it would become infected. So I would wail as he made me sit still until he gently removed the culprit that was causing the pain. The pain was intense for a short time. But as soon as he removed it I felt better. 

Just like the splinter needed to be removed, our hurts and sorrows need to be removed by our Father in heaven. 

How many times do we choose to run from pain? When in reality, it is facing our pain that makes it go away. Sure, the grief might be intense for a short time as we are facing it. But in the long run, after the pain has been dealt with we are free to live fully and freely without the pain of the past weighing us down. 

Pain festers in our hearts and infects us with bad symptoms in the same way a splinter would fester in our foot and cause many bad symptoms. 

Knowing that I needed to let go of a chapter of my life, I embraced the pain. Week after week I returned to my grandparents' house to help go through their things before the new family moved in. As I combed through each closet and drawer it was therapy for my soul. I would find treasures from my past and gleefully share my excitement, "Look what I found!" 

The very last day I went to their house was the hardest. The week that I knew would be my very last visit I prayed for God's help. I knew it wouldn't be easy to let go of something that had been a happy part of my life since I was born. 

As I pondered the memories of my grandparents' home, I heard the Lord’s still small voice within me.  "I will use the house and property to bless another family in the same way it has blessed yours."  As the Lord was speaking to my heart, I realized that in order to experience the new beginnings He had for my life I had to be willing to let go of the past.

Why is it as humans that we hold on so tightly to our pain and to our past? 

The day that I went to pick up the last piece of furniture, the new family was moving in. I introduced myself and began to share my heart with them. Through a few tears and with my voice breaking, I said, “I want this house to bless your family the way it has blessed mine.”   

The gentleman replied to me, "It already is a blessing us." I want to stay here for the rest of my life." While I shared the difficulty I was having in letting go, he responded, “I've got to go inside now, your words are about to cause me to start sobbing."

I'm the kind of person who truly wears my emotions on my sleeves. The vulnerability I was showing about the difficulty of letting go was really touching his heart. It was a powerful God moment for all of us there that day. In my letting go, the new family was able to embrace the gift of this beautiful, sacred home-place. 


 

 

 

 

My husband and I stood on the edge of the property that overlooks one of the most beautiful views I’ve ever seen. As I embraced my pain, my husband prayed the sweetest prayer for me. 

 

 

In those last moments standing on that beautiful piece of property that had been a sanctuary for me throughout my life, I realized that the sacredness I felt on Poppy's land could be felt every day of my life wherever I am. I rode away from Poppy’s home on this earth and thought about the legacy that he had left behind for me and for my family. As our car pulled away, I let the tears flow. It was an hour and a half drive home. I prayed, “Lord, heal my heart.” By the time I returned home I felt better.

That was last spring on Good Friday of 2012, three days before Easter. How beautiful of the Lord to allow me to celebrate His resurrection with a healed heart, free of pain.

The legacy of Poppy’s love for Christ lives on in my heart. I am free to carry on and live free from the sadness. When we look heavenward, life is sweet and beautiful. When we focus on what we've lost, our lives become defined by brokenness and pain.

That’s what letting go does. It releases the pain and opens the door in our hearts for new beginnings and new beauty. 

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. ~ Philippians 4:7 ESV

Live Abundantly!

Amy

God Wants Us to Be Well

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Posted by dancingdreamer on January 07, 2013 12:43

 

Gratitude was overflowing out of my soul as I realized my ability to run pain-free had been restored. It was surreal for me. I hadn’t felt the immense joy of a really long run (over nine miles) since 2001.

The weather was perfect for a run. In December 2012, my twenty-two year old daughter (Christa) and I headed to the park in the late afternoon for a 9.5 mile run as a part of our half-marathon  training schedule.

Training for a half-marathon is a renewed hobby for me. I completed my first 13.1 race in 1997 and completed a full marathon (26.2 miles) in 1999. I used to be an avid long distance runner. It was my sanity in many ways. I suffered a serious case of postpartum depression in 1997. And because my doctor wouldn’t prescribe anti-depressants to a nursing mother, I chose running as my prescription.

 

In 2000, after a 16 mile run I began having troubles with my IT band (a layer of connective tissue that extends from the knee to the thigh) which kept me from doing any serious running for several years. Not long after I fully recovered from the ITB issues, I injured a muscle in my calf that was so serious that I couldn’t run for several years. And every time I would start running again, the pain would come back. I really started doubting that I would ever be able to run again. At the time I didn’t realize that I was running too often and wasn’t training properly.

Sometimes my calf would hurt just because I had hurried to my car in a grocery store parking lot. How would I ever be able to run long distances again? I thought about it often until I finally realized that there are many things worse in life than not being able to run. I let it go—completely.

I really didn’t think about running hardly ever. I found some alternative exercises that I enjoyed and I was completely contented. But deep down in my heart there was still a desire to run. I’ve always loved it. I loved the adrenaline rush I used to feel when I blew through the finish line. Every runner knows the euphoria that comes with running especially on a cool, dry day.

As my daughter and I drove up to the park entrance that day, the gate was shut with a sign saying the park was closed. With such a long run ahead of us, we knew we needed at least an hour and a half of day light. Because of my previous injuries, I had surrendered the situation to Christ and His Spirit had guided me to not run on hard surfaces. Since I had begun running again consistently, I was running on soft trails and grass. We didn’t have enough time to drive to another park because it was getting too close to sundown.

At first, I felt discouraged about the park being closed. I knew that I would be taking a big risk to run on the road. Quickly, my discouragement was replaced with a perfect peace about running on the roadside. It was scary for me, because my calf was finally pain-free and I didn't want to jeopardize that.

 

But I sensed the Holy Spirit saying, "Everything is going to be okay." I told Christa that it was going to be a true test to see if my calf muscle was truly healed. We began running in a beautiful neighborhood and after about a mile my daughter asked me, "How's your calf?"

"It feels fine," I told her with a smile on my face.

I continued running and completed my entire training run without even a hint of pain or discomfort. I ran the entire time on the side of the road and on asphalt much of the time. At the eight mile point of our nine and a half mile run, I was blissfully singing lyrics from Chris Tomlin’s song, The Lord Magnifies my Soul. The song’s lyrics captured how I was feeling.

Joy was oozing out of my being as I was realizing that Jesus had helped me to heal with His wisdom and guidance.

I know that not everyone runs nor do they have the desire to run. That isn’t the point of this story. The point is that Jesus is our healer and He is our restorer.

In Joel 2:25 the Lord says, “And I will restore to you the years the locust has eaten.” He has restored to me so much that was lost due to the messes I made out of my own lack of discernment in my past. With Jesus as the shepherd of our soul, we have the power to live a victorious life.

I have complete faith in the Lord to do the same for others…"For God does not show favoritism." Romans 2:11

We can rest and know that as we seek Christ wholeheartedly, He will continue guiding us and showing us the way to always live a life of good health and complete wellness.


Live Abundantly!
Amy

God is Love

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Posted by dancingdreamer on January 04, 2013 17:24

 
My heart is deeply saddened for those in Newtown, Connecticut—especially for the parents who lost their children in such a tragic way. I don't think there is anything more painful than losing a child.

As I was praying this morning, I thought about how many people tend to blame God for things like this. It breaks my heart to think that people could actually believe that God is capable of such horror.
 
There is a fierce battle raging between evil and good. Our generation is living in an unprecedented time of evil. Many have chosen to turn away from God because they don't know His true nature.
 

God is love (1 John 4:8). 

No one understands why such tragedy can exist. There are things we will never be able to understand in this life until we pass into our heavenly home.  

But there is one thing I am certain of more than anything else.

Jesus loves us very deeply.

Our minds cannot comprehend how deep His love is. It is perfect. It is indescribable.

His love heals.

His love comforts.

His love is enough.

I believe that as we turn toward God wholeheartedly, share His perfect love with one another, and truly live in the love of Christ we will see change in our world.
 
“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner most being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you being rooted and established in LOVE, may have power together with all the saints to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the LOVE of Christ, and to know this LOVE that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3: 16-19 (NIV)

“The Lord is compassionate and gracious; slow to anger, abounding in love.” Psalm103:8 (NIV)

“He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.” Psalm 103:10 (NIV)

“As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion...” Psalm 103:13 (NIV)

“Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits—who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.” Psalm 103:2 (NIV)


A Prayer

Father, I lift up every person who was involved in the tragedy in Newtown. I know You are filled with compassion for those families. I ask You to comfort them in their sorrows. Fill them with the hope and knowledge of Your eternal love. Keep them in the palm of your hand and fill the hole in their hearts with Your love and peace. Bring to their lives beauty to replace the pain. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
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