Thankful, Blessed – Still a Mess

By: Kristi Mitchell

What does life have to be like for you to feel blessed and thankful?  Is it only when your finances are overflowing?  Do you only count yourself blessed when you are near family and friends?  What does blessing mean to you – that new baby, new home, new car, or new job?

Certainly those things and people can be blessings in our lives.  Blessings should always evoke our thankful spirit.  But what about those who never hold that baby, move into that dream home, or always struggle with money?  Are they any less blessed?

I’m reminded of Job.  He lost so much so quickly.  I don’t know that anyone would call him blessed when it happened.  He lost his wealth, health, and family – far from looking blessed to the outsider!  

Yet, what did he do?  He “fell down upon the ground and worshipped.”  No matter where your life is today, can you find an expression of gratitude?  We know that those are the times when the Lord does things that others notice.  

Let’s shout like Job today…  “the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord.”   Don’t wait until all seems perfect.  Blessed knows no boundaries.

Always in our Hearts

By: Stacy Mowry

In 2002, I was introduced to a woman named Kathy. My husband had recently taken a Youth Minister position where her husband was already on staff as the Music Minister. Kathy, along with a couple of other women, poured their love, advice and knowledge into this young woman who was new to this role in a church…me! 

I remember one evening we all met and I was eagerly soaking in all the wisdom they so willingly shared with me on being a wife of a minister; a role that I didn’t take lightly. Unfortunately, I look back and see many areas that I failed in.  Realizing areas I could’ve done better, was mainly because of what these women taught me. I guess that’s the beauty of God intertwining our lives with people.

Fast forward, 18 years later. Now, I’m the older one, with knowledge and experience. I don’t think I’m quite ready to give the advice as those women did, but I’ve grown so much. I’ve learned that ministry is not confined to a church building. It’s in your home, workplace, and community. Ministry can be anywhere you decide to take it and people just need to know that someone cares! Someone IS there and the hope we have as Christians is true.

Kathy, is one of those people to me. Even though we went our separate ways on church staff years ago, she remained a constant in my life. One that we would pick up right where we left off, whether it was in person, text, Facebook or back in the same church building. I’ve watched her, listened to her, and realize that she continues to challenge me to be a person who loves Jesus first, who supports her husband’s calling, and who loves and cares for others. 

This morning, my sweet friend’s faith became her sight when she met Jesus face to face. She won her battle with breast and pancreatic cancer. 

I’ve been looking through our text messages since she found out about her diagnosis in January. As I read them, I felt peace in her words.  She was ready for this fight, she was ready to show people how faithful God is. Her verse she claimed is Psalm 34:8..”O taste and see that the Lord is good…”

Good?..even through this difficult journey and demanding cancer treatments? YES! Kathy completely trusted in God’s plans, and wanted God to get all the glory through her journey. 

I personally want to thank God for putting Kathy Stokes in my life.  Not only as a role model of a Christian woman, but also for her willingness to pour into myself and my family without ceasing.

And I will take it as a challenge and to challenge you, to know Jesus as your personal Savior, to know how GOOD He is, to always take the time to give God praise, and to truly care for others. 

What can you give God all the glory for?

Who can you invest in? 

Goodbye for now, Kathy. Always in our hearts…

“O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.”

Psalm 34:8 KJV

Perfectly Imperfect

By: Kristi Mitchell

The ocean water lapped at my feet as I stood at the edge watching my family enjoy
the beautiful day. Suddenly, I felt something wash up at my feet. I looked down
to see a beautiful conch shell waiting for me to pick it up. In all my years at the
beach, I’ve only found the regular shells that are common to beachgoers. This
was a unique beauty! The perfect shell for my collection!

I picked it up to put my find in my beach bag. To my disappointment, I found that
my beautiful treasure was missing a piece out of the middle. So sad. I really
believed that I had found the perfect souvenir to bring back from my vacation.

As I was about to throw it back to continue its journey in the ocean, something
stopped me. When I hesitated, I felt a small voice reassure me to keep that shell.
Why? It wasn’t the perfect souvenir that I wanted to put with my collection.

Suddenly I envisioned this shell being tossed to and fro in the ocean current. The
obstacles it faced to land at my feet became clear to me. Though it wasn’t
perfect, it was meant to be mine – as perfectly imperfect that it was.

My mind is brought to a verse in 2 Corinthians that provides an answer to a prayer
that Paul prayed multiple times. God’s answer was “my grace is sufficient for thee:
for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” Paul realizes that he should “glory in
my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

In Him, we are perfectly imperfect. Though we deal with sin, trials, tribulations,
failures, and depression, He sees us through His love.
His love makes us perfect. Perfectly imperfect.

Unfinished Business

By: Kristi Mitchell

I walked out of my classroom on Thursday, March 12th after writing the agenda for our “Spring Fling” activities the next day.  There was never a thought that the next school day would be cancelled.  My classroom would sit empty the rest of the school year.  

Unfinished- the only way to describe how it felt.  Lessons left untaught.  Books left unread.  Conversations of encouragement left unsaid.  My mission to impact my students for this year was left as unfinished business.  

If we are here on earth, in whatever state, we are here because of unfinished business.  No matter how healthy or unhealthy, wealthy or poor -you have a mission to complete while walking through this life.  I think of my sweet Mamaw Pratt who spent her last three years in a nursing home.  It would have been easy for her to forget her mission.  She didn’t.  She used that time to be kind, influence, and encourage those workers who were taking care of her.  Her example had such an impact that these same workers openly talked about how much they missed her and her encouragement when she passed.  Even in that nursing home at the age of 87, she had unfinished business to complete.  

Who can you impact?  Who can you encourage?  Who is looking to you today to find out how to handle life’s challenges?  If we are here, we have unfinished business.  Let’s get busy about it!

When Life Knocks You Down

By: Kristi Mitchell

How do you get back up when life knocks you down?

I bought a flower today.  It wasn’t the kind that is full of blooms and green leaves.  It doesn’t look like a picture in a magazine of beautiful farmhouse decor.  In fact, it is pretty much on its last leg.  

Why did I buy it then?  Among the other plants on the clearance shelf, it stood out to me.  It had a glimmer of hope to be renewed; less than excellent, but enough hope to persuade me.  I envisioned that poor flower had just gone through some rough times.  Maybe a lack of water or rough handling by a customer checking it out.  Maybe it sat in the scorching sun for too many days to count.  In the words of Emily Dickenson, “I dwell in possibility.”  So in my buggy the plant found itself with a new pot, dirt, plant food, and a vision for renewal.

Sometimes we are this frail plant sitting on the clearance shelf feeling forsaken, forgotten, and alone.  Life just isn’t always kind to us.  We face financial difficulties, emotional distress, and gut-wrenching health situations that take our breath and steal our joy.  Our petals of happiness fall off and our leaves of joy droop.  We have needs that we can’t fix ourselves.  We can’t seem to pick ourselves back up and continue on with day to day living.  Just as the plant can’t help itself, some things we face can’t be faced alone.  As my flower needs certain things to renew itself, our lives need nourishment that can come from others.  If this is you, chin up!

First, allow your friends and family to help and encourage you. Sometimes we don’t want to be a bother or seem weak.  The nourishment we get from friends and family can soothe the pains of life if we let it.  Don’t allow stubborn attitudes to rob you of this help.

Secondly, God wants to be our refuge and strength.  He wants to give you comfort that can only be found in Him.  Trouble sometimes makes us want to withdraw from God or question his plan. Just like my plant can’t live without water, no matter how many other things I give it, our lives can’t survive trials without the everlasting water from God.  

When life knocks you down and puts you on the clearance rack, look up!  Find your hope and help around and above you!  Look forward to those petals and leaves being full again, soon.