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Title: "Tea Friends #3" Copyright 2002 Karen Bates

Wow, I can't believe it has been so long since I have posted something to my blog. Good thing I'm not required to do it by an employer or I'd be fired.

As some of you know, I have begun the wonderful adventure of homeschooling my son this year. It has been filled with many emotions by both myself and my son over the past month but it has been an amazing blessing overall! God is so faithful! I will likely write a whole article on it in the not so distant future.

I just want to say that I am so blessed because God has provided me with the most wonderful group of women friends, many of which also homeschool. Fellowship is an idea that seems to be always evolving in my mind. It is bigger and better than most of us understand and there is a reason that God tells us to stay in regular fellowship with other believers.

I am talking to myself here....

When you are encouraged by a fellow believer, you receive the encouragement from the person who is ministering to you. And then you get a BONUS because you feel blessed by God because you know He arranged the opportunity for someone to be His hands and feet and speak to you! God cares about the details of our lives and I am learning that he often shows that through my friends.

And it works the same way when I am the encourager, I help a friend and feel used by God. It is so nice to feel God and to see bits of His character in others. It is one way that we can see the 'bigger picture' of how we are here to serve our God and by doing so we serve others and are served in return. When we are obedient to do this, we see how we are all threads in a larger tapestry.

Thank You to my many friends and loved ones who pour into me on a regular basis! I am blessed and I pray that God will help me to be a blessing in return.

His servant,


Set me free

This post is a little out of the ordinary for me, but I first watched this video about 10 months ago and it was very powerful. It is a dramatization to the song 'Set Me Free' by Casting Crowns. I think these kids did an excellent job and this brings me to tears almost every time I see it.

Many times we think of people who are in bondage as drug addicts and other more socially unacceptable struggles, but do we stop to think that our bondage could be to overspending/shopping, perfectionism, pleasing the people around us, or one of hundreds of issues that are either more accepted by society or simply unknown to those around us.

I've shared this video several times since I first saw it and I must say that it communicates a message in 4 min's that would take me much longer to explain with mere words.

I hope this video blesses you just as it has blessed me.

(You will want to pause the music that is playing to the right before playing this video)

Please Lord, hear my cry!

Psalm 22

1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from the words of my groaning?

2 O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I have no rest.

Sometimes we understand these words written by David more than we'd like to. There are times in life where we wonder just how much more we can take. If it is true that God will not give us more than we can handle then why is it that there are times in life when we feel stretched beyond what our mind can even comprehend? How is it that we can hurt so deep, to the breaking point and feel as though we have nothing left to give and nothing left for God to take? It can seem as though God does not hear our cries.

Recently I have had more than enough opportunity to wonder how much God will allow in my life before bringing deliverance. My life has had so many struggles lately that family, friends, and even those I work with have wondered aloud why God is allowing so many trials in my life and the lives of my loved ones. I must admit that I have wondered why as well. But you see, I don't allow myself to linger on that question too long as I have walked down this road before and I remember God's answer to me. For me, God often speaks to my heart and tells me that the 'why' is not for me to know or understand, but my FAITH in Him is the goal.

Websters dictionary says that Faith is the firm belief in something for which there is no proof. I don't have proof that God is working the trials in my life for my good, but I do have faith that He is....even though there are times that I cannot even fathom how a good thing can come of my circumstances.

You see, I don't often see when God is strengthening my character and shaping me to be more like Him, or when the faith within me is growing. Sadly, what I have learned is that for me I sometimes have to be brought to the end of myself before I let go of my own will and allow God to shape me and lead me. Oh how I wish it was not so, but my perceived strength is my weakness ....and when I am so weak that I can barely utter my petitions to God in the whisper of my cries....this is when my Savior comes in and makes me strong by His power. By His strength I am able to live through another day of tribulation....even when I don't like it.

It seems that the more I protest that I don't 'like' my circumstances, the more God teaches me that His perfect Will for me does not change depending on my ever changing emotions and what makes me happy. Truth is truth, and if I am a believer as I profess I am, then I have to lay down my ideas on life at the foot of the cross and tell my Heavenly Father that I will be an empty vessel and allow Him to fill me with whatever best serves His Kingdom.

It is the breaking of my own will that hurts so severely. My desire for the good health of my friends & family, the wisdom to raise my son to be a Godly man, a job that provides well, a husband to share my life with, my own healing from Lupus, and my desire for a more peaceful life and spirit.....none of these desires are bad, but the problem comes with my expectation for them to all happen in the timing and fashion that I have pre-planned. God's plan is rarely similar to my own.

As I type these words I find that my emotions don't equal my conviction. I know that what I profess is true, but there are days when circumstances just stink and we struggle.....I struggle. But even though God hasn't promised to deliver me from adversity, He has promised to walk with me and carry me when needed. He counts my tears, and in this I find comfort.

I began this blog entry with Psalm 22:1-2 and I would like to end it with verses 3-5

Psalm 22

3 Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One;
you are the praise of Israel.

4 In you our fathers put their trust;
they trusted and you delivered them.

5 They cried to you and were saved;
in you they trusted and were not disappointed.

God will deliver us, and may we each have the faith and patience to wait upon his perfect timing!

Peace In The Breeze (A short story)

Today I sat on my favorite patch of grass, green in color and beautiful to watch the blades softly bend with the wind. I prefer to lie down on my back and close my eyes and breathe in the aroma of fresh cut grass. It's funny how the earth and dirt even take on a wonderful smell on a warm day. Laying still I like to listen to the calming sound of the branches tickling each other as they play in the breeze.

As I lay there on a warm summer day, I let my mind take flight, longing for a sense of peace and a break from the turmoil of this world. I’m going to fly to heaven, even if my body can’t join me on my quest. I know this is my freedom.

My spirit flies to the heavenlies, so vast, no walls, nothing to confine me. I know I won’t fall because I’m touched by the wind and the breath of the Father. His love lifts me, swirling around me as a mother wrapping her arms around her child. This is where I’m safe to share my soul. I let the flood gates burst open. My thankfulness, my fears, my joys, my confessions…all of the things I want to say rush out like a rocket - fast and speeding into my Fathers hands. My mind can’t even follow my thoughts as they travel, but I know that He sees inside my heart even before my mind can form the words to express my cares. So I float in His love, asking for His forgiveness to sanctify my sinful body, I feel refreshed after a long day in the desert.

My Father, Holy Redeemer, Wonderful Counselor, Prince of Peace, He answers me without a word. He reassures me without a sound. He gives me peace in the whistling breeze. He hugs me with the warm encompassing rays of the sun. My God is with me always, and today He knows I long to be with Him.

My spirit floats like mist back to my body. I can smell the grass again, hear the birds, and watch the trees sway with the warm afternoon breeze. Looking around, my heart feels full and my eyes tear as I hear my God reminding me that He made beautiful things for me to enjoy. I am also reminded that He listens to my every word and thought, he knows my hearts desire. He walks with me, every step - every day.

How Sweet it is to be loved by my Heavenly Father!