Thursday April 12, 2018 Endurance

Posted April 12, 2018 by bgovanus
Categories: Uncategorized

We give thanks to God always for all of you, remembering you in our prayers, unceasingly calling to mind your work of faith and labor of love and endurance in hope of our Lord Jesus Christ, before our God and Father, knowing, brothers (and sisters) loved by God, how you were chosen.  1 Thessalonians 1:2-4

Today, I have women on my heart who have modeled endurance in their love and faithful service of their aging parents.  One, my friend Laura, who joined us for Easter, another is Katie who celebrates her birthday today, Robin who began Libby’s Legacy honoring her mom who died of breast cancer, Jan who is using her mom’s stroke death as a motivation to achieve more, and Kimberly who I am meeting for tea this afternoon.  These dear ones devoted so much of themselves to caring for their aging parents and had recently had to go through their final goodbyes.  These verses from Paul called to mind their actions and dedication for me… work of faith, labor of love and endurance in hope…  a long-term commitment of FAITH, LOVE and HOPE, the eternal request God makes of all of us was truly lived out by them.

Life is a marathon, not a sprint and so many of my friends are now in the sandwich generation enduring parenting both their parents and children and in some cases grandchildren.  God helps us with endurance because it is so demanding to change rolls and become the voice of authority when all we want is to have that haven that being in our parent’s presence provided for us throughout our lives.  It is hard to find a place for that solace and peace again, when our HOME is no longer on earth.  Faith, Hope and Love of God must then supply our peace.  When I sat by my mom’s bedside while she was in a coma for two weeks before she died of a cancerous brain tumor, all I could do was pray for the strength to endure.  I never realized that twenty-five years later I would still have an empty hole in my heart that nothing can fill. Still enduring…

Lord, I know that You always remember those who are enduring in hope.  Today, send special love and grace to all who are creating time where there is none to give care and attention to parents.  Give them hope, inspire their faith and cover them in love. 

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Wednesday April 11, 2018 Live

Posted April 11, 2018 by bgovanus
Categories: Uncategorized

I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me; insofar as I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who has loved me and given Himself up for me. Galatians 2:20

Live by FAITH… it is truly what I am called to do.  To be able to attest like St Paul that I no longer am alive except to have my being in HIM is the goal and destination every Christian aspires to own.  It is an unreachable goal on earth.  As much as I want to live n Christ, my daily actions are a far cry from what I imagine Heaven will be.  So many saints and martyrs chose the better part.  They were willing to make the ultimate sacrifice rather than be far from their creator and deny Him.

It is the easy things that get me.  I have no problem not murdering someone, but I lose my patience with the drivers on I4.  I would never dream of stealing something but having too much to eat or buying stuff I don’t really need instead of donating to the poor happens all the time.  The simplest choices are often the deadliest.  Bad habits create poor health and separate me from God in most unusual ways.  They drive a wedge between who God is calling me to be and who I am.

Try is a word I hate.  Yoda and I don’t understand or accept it.  I either do what is right or I don’t.  There is no way to try and pick up litter.  You either pick it up r leave it to deface the landscape.  As I walk past and realize that ONLY I have the power at this moment to make a difference… I usually bend over and tuck that offending bit of trash in a pocket or bag.  They speak of miles and miles of plastic in our oceans, killing our fish and ruining our eco-system.  It started with one bottle and the person who threw it off their boat never thought that their contribution to the problem would hurt anyone.  God calls me to LIVE not for myself but for Him.  To choose each day like He did to make choices that matter.

Lord, Help me to make decisions that matter.  Allow me to live in love and hope as You did.  Always aware that each decision matters in this world and the next. 

Tuesday April 10, 2018 IF

Posted April 10, 2018 by bgovanus
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“’If you can’?” Said Jesus.  “Everything is possible for one who believes.”  Mark 9:23

The disciples could not handle this evil spirit who was throwing this young man into the fire, causing him to flail and foam at the mouth.  Jesus happened upon the scene and asked the father about his son’s illness.  The father replied, “IF you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”  Then Jesus said the verse which challenges each of us.  How often are we like this father… desperate for help BUT not trusting and faithful enough to believe God can fix the situation.  How often do we pray and pray but do not see a result?  I know that I plead with God but then do not trust Him to fix it.

My pastor many years ago shared a story from when he was growing up in the dustbowl of Texas.  For years there had been a drought and the people of the community decided to bring a preacher who was renowned for making rain to their community.  They erected a huge tent and people from all the towns in the region came.  The preacher greeted everyone as they streamed into the tent.  At the appointed time, he came to the podium and said that he was leaving.  The town elders were up in arms and stormed the preacher as he headed to the exit.  The preacher simply said, I can’t preach here, not one of you people brought an umbrella.

Expectant faith is crucial to success in any endeavor.  Why would anyone begin if they were not confidant or at least hopeful of a positive result?  Anything that the mind can see can be achieved.  Going to the moon, a thousand songs in your pocket, flying, running a 4-minute mile, only because someone believed were these things ever achieved.  God plants a vision and we must move past IF to when before it can ever come to fruition.

Lord help my unbelief.  Give me the vision and the trust in You to believe. 

Monday April 9, 2018 Handmaid

Posted April 9, 2018 by bgovanus
Categories: Uncategorized

Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.  May it be done to me according to your word.”  Then the angel departed from her.  Luke 1:38

Today the Solemnity of the Annunciation is celebrated because the traditional day of March 25th fell during Holy Week and it would not be appropriate to celebrate this day during the remembrance of the Lord’s passion and death.  Obviously, you would not be able to have Holy Week without Mary’s willingness to bear God’s Son and become His servant in the most intimate of ways.

It never ceases to amaze me that this young girl agreed to be God’s handmaid by becoming a mother in the strangest of circumstances.  Not understanding how but saying yes anyway requires an enormous amount of trust.  To each of us, there comes a time that we simply have to let go and let God but for Mary, it was letting go of all control.  Saying yes to becoming pregnant, a fate that could have caused her death by stoning for infidelity.  That is a mighty YES!

Mary became the Mother whose heart would be pierced as she watched her Son die on the cross.  So many times, she must have wondered what God really planned to do.  The servant does not know what the Master is about.  She accepted God’s will in all things even though her heart was breaking.

Accepting things that are beyond our control is never easy.  Each moment requires a shift in position and a willingness to be in the role of handmaid, standing on the sidelines and viewing the situation with no power to change it.  So hard for me to do that it is almost inconceivable.  I pray asking Mary to teach me her way.

O Lord, give me a servant’s heart and help me to accept my role in life.  Help me to be patience and true to Your will for me and to say as Mary did, May it be done according to YOUR word.   

Sunday April 8, 2018 Unbelieving

Posted April 8, 2018 by bgovanus
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Jesus said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.” John 20:27

All through modern history Thomas is remembered for this incident.  Called “Doubting Thomas” and ridiculed for lacking the faith to believe that Christ was indeed risen from the dead.  But I am pretty sure that God allowed his doubts so that each of us would know that it is okay to have questions.  Jesus did not love Thomas less, He simply invited him to explore the wounds if he needed to do so and then told him that those who could believe without seeing were blessed.  Don’t we know that is true!?!  Faith is indeed one of the greatest blessings of all the wonderful graces that God has given to man.

Stumbling along searching for answers has certainly caused me angst.  I want to know WHY things happen instead of just accepting the reality and continuing with what is the current state of my world.  This has caused me to doubt God’s love, but this passage reminds me that even in my unbelief, God still loves me.  I can hold onto my story and refuse to see beyond my grief which is what Thomas did or I can embrace a new reality and accept God’s gift of Faith… when I can do that I am made new.

Millions upon millions of people have believed without seeing.  God has given this gift of FAITH and for those who have accepted it, life daily takes on new dimensions of grace.

Lord, Today I am grateful that Thomas opened the door so that I could realize that my doubts have not condemned me to a life without YOU.  I can come to believe and say, “My Lord and My God!” even after swearing my unbelief.  Thank You for forgiving me and loving me always. 

Friday April 6, 2018 Cornerstone

Posted April 6, 2018 by bgovanus
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Jesus is “‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.’  Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:11-12

Peter and John stood before the same Caiaphas who plotted to have Jesus killed and proclaimed these words.  I used to use this passage when I taught my Confirmation Classes to demonstrate what the Holy Spirit does for us.  Emboldens and gives us the strength to stand up for what we believe.  Peter uses Psalm 118 to illustrate who Jesus was to the men who had Him crucified.  The cornerstone that the builders rejected is the Son of God.

As all of us rejoice on Easter morning, the disciples received the strength and the joy of knowing that Jesus was truly the SON of God.  There was no denying it in their minds and hearts.  To stand and face the powers that be with such fearlessness is a witness to us today that they knew they were RIGHT to trust in this man.  He was to be counted upon and they were willing to stand up against the devil himself.  My challenge to my teens in Confirmation class and Bible Study and the one I still ask myself daily is “Do I really believe that Jesus is the cornerstone of my life?  What proof would there be if I were brought to trial… would there be enough to convict me of being a Christian?”

Lord, Help me to live a life that reflects that You are the rock that provides my strength and allows me to live day by day victorious against the powers of darkness and my own weakness.   

Thursday April 5, 2018 Confidently

Posted April 5, 2018 by bgovanus
Categories: Uncategorized

So let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help.  Hebrews 4:16

Last night, our book club met to discuss the book, The Yellow Envelope by Kim Dinan.  It is the true and transparent story of a young couple who sells everything and travels the world for three years.  A very different concept for us women who all have daughters about the author’s age or older to embrace but we loved the book and the story.  Kim was gracious enough to join us via ZOOM for our evening and she offered even more insights than the book offered.  We were each touched by her willingness to share with us.

Part of the discussion after Kim left the call was about the Confidence it took to step out in faith.  It took she and her husband Brian three years to save the nest egg ($55,000) that they felt would allow them to start out on this journey.  So they scrimped and saved to accumulate this money.  I am sure there were many times of doubt and while they squirreled away this money and Kim shared how even after they sold everything and boarded the plane to South America, that cold feet would creep in.  But they moved forward, never back.  The Yellow Envelope was a gift from friends, Michelle and Glenn, that contained $1000 that they were told to share along the way to make the world a better place in any way they saw fit.  Only Three Rules:  #1 Don’t overthink it.  #2 Share your experience.  #3 Don’t feel pressured to give it all away.

I believe that too often people second guess themselves and miss the opportunities that would make their lives amazing.  The reptilian brain steps up and protects us from ever experiencing all that God has waiting for us.  God is so good, why would He invite us with creative thoughts to experience all He has to offer only to dash our hopes and crush our dreams?  He would NOT!  I love the movie, I Can Only Imagine! And have encouraged everyone I know to see it.  It too shows the true story of a man who wanted more from his life and when he trusted God and allowed HIM to take the lead, success and happiness could then be found.

God asks His children to step boldly and confidently toward Him.  He does not put into our hearts anything that will hurt us or keep us from Him.  Instead He keeps calling, inviting and begging us to be and experience all that we could ever imagine.  Only heaven will be better than our experiences here but why do we wait…  God invites us to approach confidently and receive mercy and grace each and every day and then share these gifts with others.

Dear Lord, Thank You for planting in me confidence to seek You.  Please keep me ever willing to trust You and follow the path no matter where it leads.  I know You are always pouring out mercy and grace to help me arrive safely.