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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Yoke of Bondage or Freedom?

Stand fast therefore in the 
liberty by which Christ has
made us free, and do not be 
entangled again with a yoke
of bondage.
Galatians 5:1 NKJV

Bondage...just the word creates a lot of unsavory pictures in my mind.  

I for one hate to be confined to the point I will start to panic.  Even as a little girl, I hated to be the one who slept next to the wall.  I would rather sleep on the floor than next to the wall.  So, my older sister Christian slept next to the wall, baby sister Cheryl slept in the middle and I slept on the edge of the bed. Still, if I felt too confined, I would just take my pillow and sleep on the floor.  

So the very word, bondage, is a very uncomfortable word for me.  

Physically, I hate bondage but emotionally, spiritually, my inner self sometimes embraces it.  Why?  Because it is my familiar place inside.  It's the un-forgiveness, the hurts that have kept me warm, the strife, the bitterness, the sinful nature that I was born with, the old haunts that want to destroy me but I have turned the bad memories into warm, fuzzy, deceptive ones.  

Christ has set us free from these self imposed yokes.  We enjoy the freedom for a while and then something happens and we want to give up our Christ given freedom for the yoke of bondage.  Sounds crazy, doesn't it.  It's all too familiar to me.  

Last night, I saw a picture of someone who has hurt some of my family members.  My mind started racing with made up conversations and I was winning the fight.  In my imagination, this person felt as bad as I wanted her to feel.  But then, as I wanted to go to sleep, I was hurting in my heart.  I cried out, "God, please make it stop.  Shut my mind off so I can go to sleep.  No more bitterness and un-forgiveness."  

The bondage of un-forgiveness was trying it's best to bind me up and even steal my sleep.  But I cried unto the LORD and He heard me.  I fell right to sleep.  

It is vain for you to rise up early, 
to sit up late, 
to eat the bread of sorrows: 
for so he giveth his beloved sleep.
-Psalm 127:2 KJV

The scriptures I have shared today are for me and for anyone else out there who struggles with picking up old habits, yokes of bondage.  When we forgive, and allow God to take our yoke from us, the freedom is amazing.  

Today, I choose to walk in the freedom that Christ has given me.  How about you?  What yoke of bondage do you need to let go?  What keeps taking you back into the old life?  Like the song says, "He is here, He is here.  To break the yoke and lift the heavy burden..."  

Even in our attempts to do good, if things don't go our way, we lash out and act as one still bound by our old self.  When we see this, (like I did last night), just call out to God.  He hears us and He will step in...for that I am so thankful. 

I hope you have a freedom filled day.  Living this New Life with joy.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

A Glimpse At Kimi's Italian Journey

Looking out my hotel window in Rome by the Spanish Steps and I strain my eyes to tell if this man is walking a fat dog or could it be a pig...IT'S A PIG!!!  I tell Bo to come look and grab my camera.  We are about 5 stories high but I have cropped it so we can all see the pig better.  

Today I thought I would share some of my photos from Italy.  Not a lot but a couple of my favorites from Florence.

From the outside of a Cathedral, overlooking Florence.
This was an impromptu stop, recommended by our driver, Alex.

The Red Dome.  We could see this from our hotel room.
One of Bo's favorite places we went.
You can see it in the photo above as it stands majestically in the center
of the city.

On our way from Cortona to Florence.  Everywhere you look is just beautiful.

The courtyard of a castle we had lunch at.

Really cool photo of Italian trees.

I have hundreds more photos to edit and share but I don't want to overload you today.  

I will leave you with a scripture...

God's way is perfect.
All the LORD'S promises prove true.
He is a shield for all who
look to him for protection.
-Psalms 18:30 NLT

I hope you enjoy my glimpse into Italy.  I pray that they LORD brings you peace today and gives you rest...knowing that you are in the palm of His hand. Keep looking to HIM!!!  

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Vow, The Surrender, The Connection

This weekend was super busy.  But, it was also, amazingly good.  My two newest grandsons and great nephew were dedicated to the LORD on Sunday Morning.  Every time a child is dedicated to the LORD, I cry and it fills my heart with joy.

It just so happened that Sunday, all the babies were related.  All three are the great grandsons of the Bishop, my father, Ronald Estep and two were the grandsons of the Pastor, my husband, Bo VanDyke. 

I love that the families come together, along with the church family, vowing to make sure that these precious little boys know Jesus.  Until they can make the personal decision to follow Him,  we will teach them and raise them to know that Jesus loves them.  We will teach them the traditions of the church, telling them about Moses, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Ruth, The Apostles, Creation, The Day of Pentecost...etc.  

You see, Sunday Morning wasn't just lip service and a pretty ceremony to us.  We take it very seriously.  It is a time to welcome these boys into the Church.  Saying that they are a part of us and we are a part of them.  We are connected to something greater than humanity, we are connected to the Creator of it all...Jesus. 

In my own life, raising my own three children, knowing that I had given the LORD reign in their lives, knowing that they are God's, gave me great comfort.  When everything around said, "you've failed, look around you", I knew that God had them in the palm of His hand.  They are not perfect, but neither is their mother.  Now I look at them and see how God moved.  I still rely on God to keep them and it still brings me comfort to know that they belong to Him.  

Pop saying a special prayer over Luke.  Luke is watching his Pop.
One of my favorites from Sunday.

Pop praying over Baby Bo.  He's watching him so closely.
My heart is full.  Another one of my favorites.

Tony & Emily Miller...Bo's Godparents
Kelcie VanDyke...Luke's Godmother & Auntie

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

I'm HOME!!!!

Well, I am finally back!!  I spent 10 days in Italy with my amazing husband, celebrating our 25th Wedding Anniversary and then left 2 days later for North Carolina with some friends for a Women's Conference.  It has been a busy month.  
Baby Bo and his Daddy

In that time, my computer would not work.  I have not been able to upload my pictures from Italy except the ones I took on my phone.  I will be getting that done in the next week or so.  

I have noticed that leaving my home is hard.  I have always been under the impression that I could move away, no problem.  I haven't ever moved away but I just thought that it would be easy...a new adventure.  WRONG!!!!  It's funny that at 43, I am still learning things about myself.  Kimi likes to be in her familiar surroundings, around her family, church and friends.  She is not good at leaving the country. She gets homesick by day two!!  However, sometimes, we must step outside of our comfort zone.  Guess what, it's uncomfortable. It opens us up to new and exciting things and it gets the blood flowing because it is a little scary and uncertain.  

My husband was full of patience with me and understood my homesickness.  It didn't engulf me and keep me from enjoying my time in Italy.  But, I can see how it can paralyze some.  I am thankful for God's presence in my life.  That no matter where on this beautiful earth, I am, He is with me.  

You’re all I want in heaven!
    You’re all I want on earth!
When my skin sags 
and my bones get brittle,
    God is rock-firm and faithful.
Those who left you are falling apart!
they’ll never be heard from again.
But I’m in the very presence of God
    oh, how refreshing it is!
I’ve made Lord God my home.
I’m telling the world what you do!
-Psalm 73 25-28 MSG

Today, I hope you know that no matter what is happening in your life, GOD is there.  No, He doesn't always rescue us from life, but He is always our strength and help.  He is always there.  Life has many seasons.  Some are easy and others are hard, but the one constant thing we can depend on is the presence of God.  You can have refreshing and renewal and rest even in the midst of the battle.  That is His gift to us.  Some may not understand, that's okay.  Some may ridicule and make fun, that's okay.  It will make some angry and they will lash out, that's okay.  When we are aware of the very presence of God- we are refreshed, home, rested and uplifted.  

Be blessed.  

Baby Bo...Grammy's heart

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Mary's Song

Easy for us, a challenge for him.  But he wanted to help.

When God asks me to do the impossible, unthinkable, scariest thing...let this be my response.

And Mary Said, 
I'm bursting with God-news;
I'm dancing the song of my Savior God.
God took one good look at me, and look what happened-
I'm the most fortunate woman on earth!
What God has done for me will never be forgotten,
the God whose very name is holy, set apart from all others.
His mercy flows in wave after wave
on those who are in awe before him.
He bared his arm and showed his strength,
scattered the bluffing braggarts.
He knocked tyrants off their high horses,
pulled victims out of the mud.
The starving poor sat down to a banquet,
the callous rich were left out in the cold.
He embraced his chosen child, Israel;
he remembered and piled on the mercies,
piled them high.
It's exactly what he promised,
beginning with Abraham and right up to now.
-Luke 1:46-55 MSG

My prayer today is that God will give me a heart like Mary.  Willing to do anything He asks and then do it with such joy.  In this scripture you can really see Mary's love for God.  I have read it over and over again, I am still in awe.  The battle she is going to have to go through, the pain, the rejection, the talk, the brokenness...she counts it all an honor to be selected by God.  Oh give me a heart like that.  

I wonder what my response would have been. Would I break out in a joyous song or a song of woe?  What would your song have been?  What is our song today?