Thursday, September 26, 2013

I Appreciate You

One of my favorite quotes is

"He that is capable of deep and reflective reasoning will have a grateful heart."

Ann Voskamp, Author of One Thousands Gifts, wrote in her book,

 "As long as thanks is possible, joy is always possible."

The blog post today is a revision of an article I shared with friends on my mailing list in July, 2011. I have praise overflowing from my heart and I just want to express it. I remembered this article and thought it would be a good way to kick off a weekend we have set apart to lavish praise on God for His goodness and faithfulness to us as a family.

I appreciate You

At this time of the year as we come to the end of the ninth month,  it is a good time to reflect and recount God’s many acts of wonder in our lives. Tommy Walker sang: “We will remember the works of Your hands. We will stop and give You praise. For great is Thy faithfulness.”  

I will sing of the mercies of the Lord.
David declared in Ps 89 that he will sing of the mercies of the Lord; “With my mouth will I make known thy faithfulness to all generations.” His heart overflowed with praise and with his mouth, he gave verbal expression of his appreciation of the goodness and faithfulness of God. Blessed are those who learn to acclaim (to praise enthusiastically and publicly, openly declare or proclaim) the goodness and greatness of God in praise and worship, those who honor Him, they walk in the light of His presence. It is an unspeakable mercy to walk in the light of God’s presence and to enjoy a sense of divine favor that makes us bold and joyous (vs: 15 – 18). When we continually lavish praise on God, we live daily in the light of His favor.

Anyone who has been married for any length of time will agree that communication is as vital to marriage as air is essential for life. Relationships require communication to deepen intimacy and intimacy is built when couples communicate with one another (from one heart to another). Both verbal and non-verbal communication is essential in this process.

Appreciating each other is an important component communication. We often take each other for granted and readily appreciate outsiders more than we appreciate our spouse. 

How often do we forget the common courtesy of saying “please” and “thank you”? 

Do outsiders appreciate and verbalize their appreciation of your spouse more than you do? 

When was the last time you looked at your spouse and truly thank him/her for being such a blessing to you? 

Pause for a moment, think back into the life you have shared together and bring to mind the many ways your spouse’s support and help have made a difference in defining who you are now. Acknowledging the good qualities in your spouse deepens your affection for one another. Many times we overlook this because there is something we would like to change in them but when we appreciate the good in them and we openly declare it, we give our spouses the needed booster to acknowledge and deal with those other issues. Honestly looking for what your spouse is doing right instead of the wrong things he/she did will also lead to a change in your attitude.

Elaine Creasman in her article, Let's Give Him Something To Talk About, shared tips on how to keep the communication line open and keep conversations going with our spouses but she nailed it with this: "People don't know how wonderful they are. Someone has to tell them.” In marriage, that means we need to tell our spouses about their “wonderfulness”. Just as David declared, we must learn to lavish praise on our spouses and openly appreciate them. It brings so much joy to both of us. If you can’t find something to praise God for in your spouse and something to praise or thank your spouse for, it is possible that there is unforgiveness lurking somewhere in your heart.

Now let’s talk a little bit about non-verbal communication.  When was the last time you looked at your spouse from across a room and give him/her a smile? When was the last time you looked into his/her eyes and smile for your heart? Many times we reserve the smile for the outsiders. Jim Gordon (The Intimate noted that of all the ways to nurture intimacy, communicating non-verbally is by far the most powerful: “A gentle touch or caress bridges the barriers between two lovers. Although surrounded by many people, even the meeting of eyes with a knowing smile can provide a “caress” from a distance!” Non-sexual touch makes most of us feel cherished and yet we so often neglect to do something that is so simple. Follow the link above and see if you can practice some of the ways listed there. The key, my dear friends, is consistency. That is, making the effort to do it again and again.

You make your spouse to feel wonderful and good about him/herself when you give genuine compliments, your spouse will blossom and your relationship will be the richer for it. Let’s cultivate the art of expressing our affection and love for our spouse both with our words and with our actions.

Now, do you know that God inhabits the praises of His people? A Yoruba chorus says that God feeds on praise. It is good for us to recognize the many wonderful works of God in our lives each day and to give Him praise and thanks for them. Let's show our appreciation to God by lavishing praise on Him.

Dear Friends, I encourage you to seek every opportunity to appreciate your spouse, and above all, the Lord God Almighty Who is such a good and faithful Father to us.

I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever
I will sing. I will sing
With my mouth will I make known His faithfulness to all generation.

Friday, September 20, 2013

I Am Blessed

I am truly blessed
And I am so grateful.

"Furnished In Abundance" was the message I had planned to share on today's blog post. But that would have to wait. I have many reasons this week to give thanks to God for blessing my life with my husband, my sons and many great friends/brethren.

I felt anew the deep and sincere love of brothers and sisters in Christ whom God raised up to be a help and a blessing to me when I desperately needed help.

It has been a rather busy and exhausting week. For reasons unknown to me, I had three check-up appointments at the hospital (different departments) scheduled for this week in addition to the twice a week appointments at the physiotherapist's cabinet. And my husband is on duty travel this week.

For each of these appointments, I needed someone to take me there and another person to bring me back home. The trip to the hospital is about 45 minutes with an n-minute waiting period and another n-minute consultation time, where n can be up to 60 minutes especially the waiting period. It was difficult to ask anyone person to leave their workplace or other tasks for this length of time.

So when we asked our friends to help out, we gave them the option of either to drop me off or pick me up from the hospital. For the physiotherapy session which is a 5-minute drive from home and lasts for 45 minutes, the same person had to do both the drop off and pick up. It was a sacrifice of time and effort. Yet they willingly offered help until I had more than enough people to cover the 6-day schedule!

It is amazing and overwhelming to be a recipient of such brotherly (sisterly) love. I am truly blessed and so grateful to God for the six friends who undertook this assignment and the 2 sweet ladies taking care of me who went with me to these appointments.

It was during one of the trips to the hospital that I finally had the opportunity to go and say "thank you" to the team of nurses and aide-soignants who took care of me while I was in the ICU and on the ward.

Getting to the ICU was like walking through a maze, we kept turning left and right, up and down, I never knew it was such a long distance visitors have to cover since there is a different route for patients. As I went on what seemed like an endless journey through the maze, I kept saying to my companion; "Is this the distance my husband, my sons and many friends had to walk each time they came to see me in the ICU?" Sometimes they had to do this several times in one day, sometimes they only get to see me briefly and sometimes they were not even allowed to see me at all depending on the situation at that time.

I was overwhelmed at the sacrifice they willingly made, it could only have been motivated by deep and sincere love from a pure heart. And even more so when I thought about those who made the 60km trip to Lausanne to see while I was in the ICU there and many never got to see me. But they stayed in the waiting room praying.

When I finally got to the waiting room where these men and women spent many hours on end, the receptionist did not recognize (she never met me throughout my stay there) but when I mentioned my name, her face lit up and she asked after my husband and my sons. She remembered them so well and rejoiced that I am now fit and strong enough to come back.

I left the place with a renewed sense of appreciation for my husband and sons, and the great friends God surrounded us with during that trying period of our lives.

I have been shown sincere love and as we are charged in 1Peter 1:22, these brethren have displayed deep love from their heart. We are encouraged to be kind and compassionate to one another and to love as brothers and sisters (1Pet. 3:8, Eph. 4:32). I am a recipient of compassion and of brotherly love from many friends, and for this I am truly blessed and grateful.

The charge to us is to "…become useful, helpful and kind, tender-hearted (compassionate, understanding, loving-hearted…" to one another.

By this, shall all men know that we are Jesus disciples if we love one another (John 13:35).

For each one of you who stood in the gap for me and entreated the Lord on my behalf, and for each one of you who sacrificially positioned yourselves as helpers to us at our time of need and are still doing so, I ask the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ to richly bless you beyond measures. Our God Who owes no man shall surely reward your labour of love beyond your wildest imagination.

Friends, let brotherly love continue. Great things happen when brothers and sisters dwell together in unity and in love. Let us be shining examples of Christian love as the opportunity is presented to us.

Have you been a recipient of such brotherly love as described here? If yes, share your story and let us continue to encourage and prompt one another to brotherly love.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Speak To My Heart

In the last 2-3 weeks, I have been following a discussion on a Sista's blog (Uniquely Woman) in response to the question she posed, "What is the difference between your will and God's will? How do you know God's plan for your life."

There has been a lot of very interesting and illuminating responses to these questions. I have also spent time ruminating on the question. It reminded me of a statement I heard in a movie I watched several years ago.

Last Flight Out was presented by Billy Graham and World Wide Pictures. It was truly inspiring and a delight to watch. I highly recommend it. Dr. Mateo Barrero, a dentist missionary, said as he was dying: "There is no better place to be than in the center of God's will, except in His presence." It is a profound statement worthy of consideration, and it has stayed with me since then.

I am endeared to medical missionary work and would certainly love to be a part of one. This movie portrayed the dedication and commitment of those who are called to serve in this vein in remote villages, and the joy and hope they bring to many even in the face of life-threatening challenges. I will come back to this later on in this post.

In my post last week (I Am Chosen), I stated that "You are carrying a calling of God upon your life whether you realize it or not." Every Christian has a calling of God upon his/her life. We are given a set of gifts and talents, and taken through diverse experiences to prepare us stand in the place wherein we are called to fulfill a God-ordained assignment.

The question therefore, is how do we know the will of God for our lives and how do we know what we have been called to do?

God nudges us from within in the direction of His will and we are able to pick the nudging by the Spirit of God dwelling in us if we are sensitive to Him. This nudging can be so strong that you can not ignore it. The Bible says in Philippians 2:13; "for it is God Who works in us both to will and to do of good pleasure." It is so wonderful to know that the Spirit of God working powerfully in us causes to will, (to desire to do) the will and the pleasure of God. He also empowers us to do it, when we submit to His plans, will and calling for us.

God has equipped each of us with special gifts and skills we need to occupy the position He has appointed for us in His plan and for us to fulfill His calling upon our lives. He also goes to a great length to prepare us for our calling. We will experience the greatest blessings of our lives if we take steps to walk in our calling.

Therefore, it is of great necessity that each of us must earnestly desire to be in the center of God's will for our lives. I have heard many ask, how do I know His will and calling for me?

The short answer is, it is by dwelling in the Presence of God and seeking His face to know His plans for your life. And by listening to His voice speaking into your heart (Is. 30:21).

That is my earnest heart desire and the crux of today's message:

Speak into my heart, Lord God,
Let me hear Your voice calling out to me:
This is the way, walk in it.

Are we taking time to listen to His voice speak into our hearts? It takes conscious and deliberate effort to be quiet and to listen to God speaking. The only way we can walk in the fullness of His will and purpose for our lives is by taking directions from Him and that can only happen if we take time to listen to His voice.

Ps. 62:11 says "Once has God spoken, twice have I heard this, that power belongs to God." This is attentive listening. God is always speaking but are we listening, are we paying attention to His Voice?

"My son, pay attentions to my words, incline your ears to my saying" (Prov. 4:20). He speaks into our heart through the voice of His Holy Spirit, through His Word and through the counsel of God-fearing and matured Christians. We are assured of the truth of His Word. It makes assurance doubly sure when His word is confirmed in our hearts.

We can trust God to guide us into His will when we are in doubt and to strengthen us to do every good work He has called us to do. There is a song I learnt many years ago back in the University. I have not been able to retrieve the full lyrics but I do remember these lines.

I want to be in Your will, Lord
Doing only the things You want me to do
I got to set myself aside
And let Jesus guide.

Our will always will conflict with God's will except we submit it to God. Since His thoughts for us are always thoughts for good, to prosper us and to give us a hope and a future, we will do very well for ourselves to stay in the center of His will.

I am in that phase now, where I am waiting on God to unfold His plans for the next stage of my life. I am waiting on Him to speak into my heart and guide me in the way to go. I am waiting on Him to teach me what to do. I am waiting on Him to open the doors to me to walk in the fullness of His calling upon my life.

My prayer for you is that you will know the center of His will for your life and you will walk in it. being fully assured that He Who has called you is able to complete and perfect all that concerns you.

Back to the subject of medical missions and missionaries. There are many missionaries out there in remote places who are not only taking the gospel of truth to the people but they are also providing access to basic health services and to basic education. Perhaps, God is also calling you to go or may be to support those who working out there.

Operation Blessings International, the 8th Mile Project in Nigeria are just some of those  doing fantastic jobs out there. If you can't go, you can support them through prayers and in tangible terms. Ask the Lord to speak to your heart about this and to show you how to go about it if this is His will for you.

I do pray that God will make a way for me to participate in such a mission someday; taking the Word of God to the people as well as assisting to provide services that will add value to their lives. It will be a dream come true.

You will make a difference to the lives of many people if you walk in the center of God's will and there also you will experience the greatest blessings of your life. Dear Friend, don't miss it. Stay in the presence of God and pay attention to His voice speaking into your heart. It is the best place to be.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

I Am Chosen

I am chosen
God's Hand is upon my life
I have a unique role appointed for me in God's plan
I am graced for my specific assignment
No one else can fill my role or take my place.

On my way from my hospital appointment last Tuesday, my husband was playing a CD of Bishop T. D. Jakes' sermon - You are chosen by God. The bit I heard of this sermon touched my heart and resounded in my spirit, and it confirmed the message I was preparing to share in today's post.

God Has A Plan For You:
For as long as you are here and not over there, God has a plan for your life and a purpose for you to fulfill. In His grand master-plan, which He foreordained before the foundation of earth was laid, God has a specific slot for you to occupy.

"…even as he chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ according to the purpose of His will…" - Eph. 1:4-5 (NIV).

"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations." Jer. 1:5 (NIV)

"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future" - Jer. 29:11 (NIV).

Without any fear of doubt or contradiction, I can say with boldness that you are not just here on earth aimless and without a purpose. God has a definite part for you to in His plan. He has a plan for my life and for your life.

Chosen And Prepared:

Having defined His grand plan, God identified the slot and place He wanted me to occupy, and He designed, created, and formed me to fill that position. He chose me specifically for a definite and unique assignment.
Unique. Each pearl bears the signature of the mother oyster.

I am God's handiwork (His workmanship), created in Christ Jesus that I may do the good works, which God has predestined (planned beforehand) for me (taking paths which He has prepared ahead of time) - Eph. 2:10.  I am chosen to do exploits for God. I am chosen to possess the land He has given to me for a possession.

I am chosen to be the wife that I am to my husband, and the mother I am to my sons. I was brought into his life for a specific purpose; to be a help meet for him, to be his one-woman-cheerleader. No one can take my place in his life or in the lives of my children. It is an only-me-can fulfill assignment, which I am honored to do.

My husband was specially prepared and chosen by God for me. God gave him the grace, resilience and inner strength to support, care for, cherish and bear me. No other person could have been to me what God has made him in my life. It is a calling.

While I was preparing for this post today, I stumbled on a post written by Audrey Joe-Ezigbo: "A Unique Piece Of God's Puzzle" and therein I found this quote from Bishop T. D. Jakes' book: "Life Overflowing" -

"We are chosen by God to be His precious children. We are wanted and valued by the Almighty King of the entire universe. God also chose you to be His child and to be part of the body of Christ on the earth at precisely this time and in precisely the location where you find yourself… With great determination, deliberation and design God has said, 'I want you. I’m going to use you for this particular job. I want your specific personality and your unique set of talents in this precise position at this significant time.'

The Lord has crafted you and formed you and shaped you. He has molded you and made you. He knows your strengths, your weaknesses, and your character, and He has caused you to be a perfect fit and a perfect tool for a very precise and important role in His plan. You have been chosen just as the cedars of Lebanon were selected one by one, for the building of Solomon’s temple."

"And he walks with me and he talks with me
And he tells me I am his own
And the joy we share as we tarry there
None other has ever known."
He Walks With Me (In The Garden) by C. Austin Miles.

I have to be me. Pruned and shaped by God with diverse experiences to fit into the slot He appointed for me so that His grand plan may be complete. If I resist His refining and pruning, I will not fit into the role He has assigned for me. If I try to be someone else, I will become a copy of another piece of the puzzle and I will not fit into my assigned position. God needs me to be uniquely me. He knows my strengths and weakness, and He is using them for His unique plan and purpose for my life. I gotta be me!!!

So it is not with pride that I say I am uniquely me, chosen by God for a purpose but it is with every sense of responsibility, humility and in awesome wonder of my Heavenly Father, Who loves me so much as to appoint and prepare me for His use and for service.

He is Alpha and Omega. Within Him all things exists. He created the eternal jigsaw puzzle. He knows where every single piece fits. He created, formed and shaped you, so He knows exactly where you fit in His eternal plan.

God Will Go Before Us:

It is encouraging and exciting to know that not only does God have a plan for our lives, not only has He chosen us for a specific purpose but He promised that He will go ahead of us into that purpose and destiny He appointed for us.

Twice within three days, I heard these words ministered to me from different sources: "God will go before thee" (Dayspring Devotional and

"It is the Lord Himself Who goes before you,
He will march/walk with you;
He will not fail you or abandon you or forsake you" - Deut. 31:8

I shared these words with my two sons who were starting new academic year in College and High School respectively. I asked them to keep the word in view and keep themselves reminded of it as they go through the school year. With this assurance, I am persuaded that they can defeat fear and discouragement whenever they rear their ugly heads.

What a blessed assurance to know that we are not left alone to walk the path He has appointed for us but we can be confident of His constant presence with us. He promised to walk with us through the fire and through raging waters (Is. 43:2).

Because we are chosen, we have to walk a specific path to prepare us for the assignment He has designed for us.

"He walks with me and talks with me along life's narrow way…
…I see His hand of mercy, I hear His voice of cheer,
And just the time I need Him, He's always near.
I know that He is leading thro' all the stormy blast…"

The bottom line is that while we are still here on earth, God has a definite plan for our lives, it is for His grand purpose be fulfilled, for His glory to be put on display, for the gospel to be preached and for souls to be saved for His kingdom. It is not about us but it is about Him that we have been called to fulfill destiny.

You are carrying a calling of God upon your life whether you realize it or not. You are chosen to be the wife to that particular man because no one else can live with him and help him fulfill his calling but you. You have been chosen to be the husband to that special woman because no one else can nurture and cherish her the way God has ordained but you. God has available for you the grace to overcome in every situation and season that visits your marriage.

You have been specifically called to be the parents to that particular child, it may be difficult for now, but God is counting on you to be the best parents you can be to him/her. He has graced you with the strength and patience to reach that child if you tap into it. He is that situation with you.

In every situation God has placed us, He has a specific task and assignment for us to fulfill there. We must be very careful not to miss out on it, no matter how challenging and difficult the path we must walk to accomplish it.

You are uniquely you
No one else can take your place
God did not create two of you
You are not a duplicate
You can not do another person's assignment
Or fill another's role
Or walk someone else path.
You are created and chosen for a definite purpose
Walk in it and therein awaits you a glorious reward.

Pleased to share with you "He Walks With Me" sung by Anne Murray.