Posts

Eclipsed By Glory

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Tomorrow morning the sun will be eclipsed by the shadow of the moon. Scores of people across the nation are converging in the path of totality, getting prepared to witness the celestial event.

The total solar eclipse reminds me of a few metaphorical truths:

Just as the light of the sun will be darkened by the moon, a spiritual darkness has been threatening to overtake the Son’s light on the earth. As I’ve written before, we as Christians must do all we can to keep our minds and hearts focused on Jesus, and He will give us the strength, wisdom and courage to continue shining the light of the Son into the darkness of hate, ignorance, pride and selfishness. Living for Christ, our lives are to be eclipsed by His glory and love; for all we do, are, and have is from Him, and so we joyfully share that with others. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven .” Matthew 5:16 (KJV)

When struggles try to dim our view, making it hard to see around the next corner, that means we’ve taken our eyes off of Jesus! “I am the Light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

Here is a poem about staying focused on Jesus the Son:

“Sonset”

The Son is the center of my life,
and just as the sun above glows,
With each passing hour of day
love for my Savior grows.
At the break of day, my soul rejoices
along with the sparrow’s song,
And at high noon, I still sing a tune
for His light in my heart shines strong.
Then at the day’s close, the ember yet glows
– my soul’s fire brightly aflame;
As the sun sets, the sky blood red,
I give praise to His holy name.
For in the Son, my sins set low,
nevermore to be seen;
At the dawn of day, my mistakes far away,
I begin again wholly clean.
Following the light of the Son,
I shine for all to see;
Forever to the Father and Son above
All honor and glory be.

10-10-93
©Ladeena Bell

The eclipse also reminds me that without the shadows – either of the moon or the dark of night – we wouldn’t appreciate the the light as much. That’s why when those who’ve had especially hard-knock lives come to the full knowledge of God’s love for them, their experiences make them even more credible and powerful witnesses of His mercy and grace to those who are still in the darkness.

Finally, though the moon will darken the sun for a period of time, it will not shade it forever. As followers of Christ, we have a confident hope that though the prince of this world works to fill it with sin and darkness, his days on earth are numbered. Ultimately, the Son will emerge victorious when He returns once again in the clouds! No one but the Father knows the day or hour (Matthew 24:36), but the conquering Light is coming!

No matter where you are, whether you’ll get to personally (safely) experience the eclipse or merely see it on a screen somewhere, I hope and pray you take these truths to heart and be encouraged!

Blessings to you, this day and always!
©Ladeena Bell
All Rights Reserved (blog content and photos)

A Life Overflowing

DSCN7529Drift Creek Falls – November 4, 2016

The love of God is amazing! It lasts forever, and it is deeper and stronger than any human can fully experience on this earth. Growing up in the faith, I learned that God’s love for all of us is so complete that He sent His Son Jesus here to live, teach and then die on the cross to take the punishment for our sins (Romans 5:8). Then He rose again so that we could have new life – a life overflowing with the love of God.

When I was 13 years old, I believed that for myself and began to follow Christ. However, with so much of my emotions muted or trapped behind an inner wall, my experience of God’s love was also limited. There were faint glimpses, often only during the safety of quiet times with Him. Thankfully, that has changed.

Here’s a poem I wrote about the love of God:

“God Is Love”

In all my failings
God is patient
In all my fears
God is faithful
In all my desires
God is complete
In all my calm memories
God is consistent
In everything I receive
God’s fingerprints are on it
In all my accomplishments
God gets the glory
In all my hasty actions
God still moves slow.
In my impatience
God reminds me
Life is short
Eternity is long.
In my selfishness
I forgot
God is love
and others don’t know
God loves them
just as much.

5-29-95
©Ladeena Bell

Bearing Fruit

I’ve been slowly reading through a devotional book entitled “Abiding In Christ”. The latest segment speaks about bearing fruit, and how the purpose of each Christian is to bear fruit in serving others, by God’s power and to His glory. The main driving force is always faith expressing itself through love (Galatians 5:6), living to joyfully serve Him in all we do.

I got to thinking: In my own life and walk, have I been more than a “clanging cymbal” (1 Corinthians 13:1), just doing what is right or what is expected, but not from a place of deep love? Being kind, colorblind and non-judgmental is great, but it is a shallow substitute for the selfless love that God calls us to share. Thankfully, by His grace God works with me, as He does with everyone who humbly looks to Him. The Lord uses us right where we are, if we let Him. In all my weaknesses, God is truly my strength (2 Corinthians 12:9), and He helps me grow and improve every day. As I’ve experienced God’s love more powerfully in my own life, His love overflows more freely to bless others.

God Sighting

Recently I stopped at a yard sale. It was nearing five o’clock, so as I browsed, the homeowners chatted with me, asking if I could use this or that for cheap. A few minutes later, as I began pawing through some clothing, they said I might as well just take whatever clothes I wanted because it was all headed to Goodwill. Without a second thought, I told them that I volunteer at Simonka House women and children’s shelter, and they could definitely use the clothes. Intrigued and excited, the family asked about the shelter, and then began asking what else the shelter could use. Before long, the family had eagerly helped me fill my entire car with clothes, luggage sets, bedding and children’s items. They said their kids would be especially happy knowing that their unwanted things would be a blessing to other kids! The ladies at Simonka House were very happy to receive such a generous donation, and it was also an incredible feeling for me!

If I hadn’t spoken up, those blessings would not have been passed along in such a meaningful way. As the Spirit works behind the scenes, it is becoming more natural for me to reach out of myself to care more deeply, to be more empathetic, and to be more engaged with others. As long as I remain pliable to the Lord’s direction, He faithfully leads me step by step, in preparation for whatever He’s got planned next. I have to say, it’s been awesome so far!

How about you?

If you know the love of Christ, pray for opportunities to share His love, and stay open to His leading.
If you used to know His love, it’s not too late! Turn back to God with an honest heart. He will forgive and transform you!

Faith Notes

One of my favorite songs is Your Love by Brandon Heath
(Note: Link opens up in a new window.)
God’s love meets us where we are and fills our deepest need! Once we’ve experienced His love, we can’t help but share it with others!

“… God is love. This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” 1 John 4:8b-11

Extra Credit

Colossians 1:3-14

Blessings to you, this day and always!
©Ladeena Bell
All Rights Reserved (blog content and photos)

The Pursuit of Peace

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Every day, in our own ways, we all pursue peace. Conflict, uncertainty, worry and fear can easily tear us down and immobilize us if we let it.

As someone with chronic digestive issues and anxiety, peace is essential to my physical, mental and emotional well-being. Yet the peace we all need goes much deeper than simply managing stress or thinking happy thoughts!

The peace I’m referring to is not the kind the world promises, but the peace of God. Jesus said, “My peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27) His peace is truly otherworldly! The best way I can describe it is: a deep sense of rightness, of inner calm despite outward circumstances. It is not merely lack of negative thoughts, but a clean sweep of emotions that leaves only a wholeness of spirit with a sparkling sense of absolute confidence in God.

So how do you get that peace? Philippians 4:4-7 shows us one way: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

As a Christ follower, I believe finding peace and discerning the will of God all comes down to these main habits that, when learned and practiced, keep us STABLE in an increasingly uncertain and hostile world:

Seek God – Accept and believe who He is, not merely what He can do for you.
Trust God – Surrender your all to His perfect love, holding nothing back.
Abide in Him – Spend time in praise, prayer, worship and reading His Word.
Be thankful – Count your blessings and thank God for what He is doing in your life.
Love others – Look for ways to encourage and serve others without judgment.
Every day – The more you look to Him in all things, the easier it becomes.

Prayer in particular brings me incredible peace. “On-the-go” prayers are okay, but God really shows up when I stop and find a quiet place (no rush), set aside my desires (no agenda), humbly ask for His will or what I should do (no pride), and trust in His love completely, regardless of the answer (faith).

No Holding Back
In the book of Psalms, David boldly shared all of his joys, sorrows and frustrations with the Lord in prayer. He didn’t hold back, because he knew God could take it. Yet no matter the situation, sooner or later he circled back to praise, ultimately reaffirming his faith and trust in God.

My prayers are much like David’s: because of my chronic digestive issues, I will sometimes whine about how I feel or what I can’t eat. Yet my discomfort never diminishes the deep sense of peace I have in knowing the Lord. In fact, quite often my prayers switch from complaining to praising God in the same breath, knowing that the Lord is SO very good to me!

Peace in Decisions
Peace for me is also an integral part of decision-making. Much like David did, I inquire of the Lord directly, asking specifically, “Lord, should I…?”, and pause to listen. Listing off each available option one at a time (even those courses of action I don’t really want to take), I keep asking until, with one option, the concern loosens its grip on my heart and the peace of God which passes all understanding gently carries my soul to that place of reassurance.

Lasting Peace
There are many ways to find peace and contentment: meditation, exercise, creative arts, etc, but the best way I’ve found is through my relationship with Christ. Everything else is temporary, and simply scratches the surface.

Are you looking for lasting peace? A hope that endures? If you don’t have a relationship with God through Christ, peace may feel more like a short calm before the storm, shallow contentment or even numbness. If so, you are missing out! Look no further than the great peace and love Jesus offers. Nothing else comes close.

Blessings to you, this day and always!

©Ladeena Bell  All Rights Reserved (blog content and photos)

Positively Thankful!

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Today is a milestone: a year ago I followed God’s lead and created this blog. I set out on this electronic journey not knowing exactly what I would write, how many photos I’d take (hint: a LOT), or how long this trail would go. This endeavor has been both a challenge and a joy so far, writing and sharing what God’s been up to in my life.

This day I’m pausing to give special thanks to God for who He is and all He has done. I thank Him for my incredibly supportive friends and family, and I thank Him for all the blessings great and small that He has seen fit to grant me each and every day.

To those of you who follow my humble little blog, whether you’ve recently begun following, or you’ve been reading from the beginning, thank you so much. I have appreciated every “like”, comment and share, and look forward to hearing more.

I don’t know what the next year has in store, but I’m sure it will be good! It makes me smile to think that God is using me to inspire and uplift so many. Unlike some other websites, I’m not selling anything, but I am sold out for Christ! Liberally promoting positivity and kindness with every post, my hope is that my readers will pay it forward!

Looking through my poems, this one seemed to fit my thankful and reflective mood:

“Winding Trail”

Giddy expectation of heavenly reward.
Love follows love – and all from the Lord.
Grateful exultation of Christ my King,
Who alone understands me and gives me everything.
So very thankful, beyond what words express.
I’m loving more deeply, and happier with less.
Trusting God completely – no cause for doubt or fear.
For His promises are true; His mercy draws me near.
Grace propels me onward, great joy lights up my way.
Ever glowing in this valley, with faith as bright as day.
From blessing to blessing, each hour, wisdom grows.
As I walk in hope and peace, I conquer all my foes!
No matter what others say, my strength comes from inside:
For by His Spirit, I am free! Set apart, sanctified!
Traveling with Jesus along this winding trail,
I smile and sing His praises, knowing His love will prevail!

8-11-2015
©Ladeena Bell

“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His love endures forever.” Psalm 136:1

Extra Credit
Colossians 3:12-17

Blessings to you, this day and always!

©Ladeena Bell All Rights Reserved (blog content and photos)

Pressing Onward

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I’ve had a lot on my mind lately. I’ve been overwhelmed to the extent that my usual motivation to write was actually pulled under by my thoughts and emotions, or muted by my avoidance of them.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been in a relationship limbo for two years, doing my best to follow God’s lead during this waiting period, hoping for reconciliation. Recently a couple of conversations threw me for a loop and I seriously considered walking away entirely. Yet in prayer, the Lord impressed upon me to stay the course. Thankfully some progress has been made and things are looking up. Overall I’ve kept praying that my decisions are informed by the Spirit and not yanked around by my feelings, but it’s not easy.

God Sighting
On that note: At church this morning, the topic was about being emotionally driven versus living Spirit-led in our attitudes and decisions. Thinking back, my life used to be driven by emotions, but not my own (with the exception of fear)! My reaction to the drama around me was to try and make things better, and if that didn’t work, I’d shut down. It may have seemed to others that I kept a cool head even in stressful situations, when in reality I was avoiding and compartmentalizing. Yet this coping mechanism came with a price: I missed out on some joys along with the negative stuff from which I protected myself. I still put things “in boxes”, but now at least they’re much more colorful containers!

Walking With God
Of course, God created me and emotions. In my walk with Him He has been helping me be present and engaged with others, to thoughtfully respond instead of react, and generally experience life on a deeper level as I work through all these often unwieldy feelings. For me, it has become all the more important to “keep in step with the Spirit” (Galatians 5:25).

Here’s a poem I wrote about walking with the Lord through my struggles:

“Press Onward”

Even now, I know You’ll lead me,
where You call me, I will go.
At peace, though the future’s hazy,
it’s an opportunity to grow.
Struggling against myself
yet fully resting in Your love;
Scripture hidden in my heart
keeps my thoughts above.
Thank You for provision
beyond anything I’d dream,
and strength that exceeds the limits
of my earthly self-esteem.
Digging deeper, more intentional
about my faith and walk;
Rewriting in permanent ink
what used to be marked in chalk.
Leaving the old me behind
as daily I seek Your face,
I press onward with great hope
ever growing in Your grace.

1-2-16
©Ladeena Bell

So what does keeping in step with the Spirit look like? For an overview, please see my older post about TRANSFORMATION! In a nutshell: Trust God, learn more about Him by spending time with Him in prayer and reading His Word, and share the hope you find with others! Do that, and you’ll go from coping to thriving!

Overall, I mainly strive to sustain a sense of peace in my life by abiding in Christ. In part, the peace of God (which goes beyond mere emotion or understanding) reassures me that I’m on track with Him. Also, keeping in step for me means making everything I do a form of worship (Romans 12:1), and filling every moment with praise for all the good He has blessed me with in my life!

Stay tuned for more about the peace of God, especially in relation to decision-making!

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing, and perfect will.” Romans 12:2

Blessings to you, this day and always!
©Ladeena Bell  All Rights Reserved (blog content and photos)

Declaration of Dependence

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Nature’s fireworks! May 17, 2017

I have mixed feelings about Independence Day. Two years ago, on a sweltering July day, it became obvious that I needed to make a change by stepping away from an increasingly emotionally and mentally abusive relationship. It was one of the most difficult decisions of my life. Thankfully, the Lord had been preparing me for it, helping me steadily rebuild my faith and reclaim my identity in Him, so when the moment came I was strong enough to take action.

This poem is a declaration of dependence, of sorts. Written only weeks before that pivotal day, it is a prayer of joyful trust and commitment to follow the Lord wherever He led.

“Uncharted Faith, Grateful Hope”

As far as I can go,
I come, my all to bare;
Hands open, ready to receive
any guidance that You share.
Beyond my understanding,
to uncharted faith so wild.
Boldly trusting You’ll lead me
when I ask, for I’m Your child.
Beloved because of mercy,
going forth only by grace;
Filled anew with grateful hope
each day as I seek Your face.
For indeed, when I come humbly
to offer this meager frame,
My heart is light and free –
You love me and know me by name!
I could not flee from Your presence,
though I’ve fallen short of Your will.
Forgiveness covers shortcomings
– Jesus fully paid my bill.
So I reach out in trust and awe,
setting aside my every fear;
Strengthened, knowing through it all,
when I come, You meet me here.
Thank You, Lord, for loving me
– I pray my life honors You.
So that others can’t help but see
Your goodness in all I do.

6-14-15
©Ladeena Bell

There is still no clear resolution in my situation, but the Lord has brought me this far, so I continue to follow His direction each step of the way. Meanwhile, He helps me keep growing, serving and sharing His love any way I can.

My faith is strong because God has an impeccable track record. Since deciding to trust the Lord and give Him my life at the age of 13, He has never let me down. I may suffer consequences from bad decisions, but through Christ my sins are forgiven, and His strength and peace have carried me through more tough times than I can count. I’ve learned that I can always depend on Him, and good things come to those who fully trust Him and obey His Word.

So, today I pray that you claim the true life and liberty that is found in trusting Christ! (John 17:3; John 8:36)

Daily declare your dependence on God; then He can fill up your heart so it bursts with shining hope and joy, like fireworks in the darkness of this world!

“Be strong, and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.” Psalm 31:24

If you or someone you love is in an abusive relationship, don’t be ashamed to seek wise, godly counsel and support to either attempt to improve the situation or get out of it. Each circumstance is different. For confidential advice and resources, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).



Blessings to you, this day and always!
©Ladeena Bell
All Rights Reserved (blog content and photos)

Peace in the Midst of Change

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Double Delight rose – May 23, 2017

Besides death and taxes, to many it seems the only other sure thing in life is change. It is inevitable. Seasons change. Hairstyles and clothing styles change. We change jobs, begin and end relationships, let go of or lose possessions. Our bodies and habits change as we get older…the list goes on.

However, as a follower of Christ, I find deep reassurance in knowing that Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8), and that the God of the universe is the infinite, perfect and unchanging source of love, hope, peace and joy.

For me, there is great comfort in knowing that I don’t serve a fickle God who says one thing one moment, then amends it the next. If God changed, that would imply that He could somehow improve or be worse. In that case, He would hardly be worthy of following. No, He is complete and perfect in all His ways, and always will be. He, His Word and His promises stand forever. Incredible peace is found when a soul accepts deep down that God is Who He says He is, and they can trust Him to follow through on what He says He will do. If the Lord seems to change at times, it is merely one of the side-effects of living in a fallen world and the limited human perspective from which we view our circumstances.

Here’s a poem I wrote about the changing of the seasons, and how having the Lord as a constant companion through each transition inspires me to stay devoted to Him, in turn, through whatever changes come in life:

“God Of All Seasons”

Through all seasons, He’s the reason
we can more than cope;
So rejoice and sing, for our King
has given us ultimate hope!
In ice and snow, the love we know
will never lose its power;
God sustains through sun and rain
to strengthen us each hour.
Warmth in winter, a cooling spring
to allay the summer heat;
He’s everything for those who trust Him
to make their joy complete.
From first to last, the future and past
are under His control;
His love and grace fill every place
to mend each troubled soul.
Fall leaves change, we think it strange
to see night drop so soon;
Yet God’s the same in love and name
in December as well as June.
God of all the seasons,
forever, Lord, help me be
ever faithful through all weather
as You shine Your love through me.

10-16-99
©Ladeena Bell

Son Shine
As summer begins, I’m much more apt to head outside, either on foot or on my bicycle. There are more opportunities to interact with people who don’t know the faithful God I serve. My prayer is that as we all get out and enjoy the sun, we always remember to shine the love of the Son to all we meet. The world is in an ever-increasing state of flux, seemingly spinning more and more out of control every day. All the more reason to share Who keeps our lives centered and even joyful in the midst of the chaos.

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17

Extra Credit
Numbers 23:19; Malachi 3:6a

Blessings to you, this day and always!

©Ladeena Bell  All Rights Reserved (blog content and photos)

You Can Be Healed!

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We all need healing at many points in our lives. For some it is physical, for others it is emotional, mental or spiritual. When we cry out to God to alleviate the hurt, pain and struggles, we must come with faith and expectant hope that He is listening and will answer us (James 1:6). We also need to confess any sins and forgive others (and ourselves!) before we can ask for healing (Mark 11:24-25).

Sometimes we are miraculously healed the moment we place our request at the Lord’s feet, but because He knows us fully and responds to the deepest cries of our hearts, restoration may not be in the manner we expect. Other times we must participate daily in the healing process. A prayer of surrender may merely be the first step toward a long journey of slow but steady healing as He walks us through the necessary changes, often bringing caring people into our lives to help keep us accountable.

Prayer and Poem
Last night at Simonka House, we held a special healing service for the homeless women. Knowing that I’d likely be called upon to pray with them (I’m uncomfortable praying out loud with others, but working on it), I had prayed beforehand that He would “get me out of the way” and use this imperfect vessel as He saw fit. The Lord answered my prayer, in part, by giving me a new poem, which I shared. Here’s what I wrote:

“Current Of Grace”

God’s calling from the other side,
across the river of belief,
where healing waters flow swift and wide,
washing away the hurt and grief.
Not to worry if you can’t swim
– just let your fears go under;
Safest place is to be with Him,
immersed in hope and wonder.
Surrender to the current of grace;
Only His love can make you whole.
Arms open – lift up your face
and let the flood restore your soul.
Until finally you float ashore
and joyfully meet His gaze.
Complete in Christ, you’ll want no more
than to overflow with praise!
So take the first step to healing
God will meet you where you are;
The joy the enemy’s been stealing
will come to you, near or far.
Take the plunge, no hesitation!
Be renewed by the deep river
that flows without reservation
from the Great Physician and Life Giver.

6-9-17
©Ladeena Bell

God Showed Up
Joining the team in the front of the chapel room was not easy for me, but while anointing and praying one-on-one with the women, the Spirit moved powerfully! It was especially meaningful when a couple of the women asked for deliverance from depression and anxiety. Having experience with that myself, I related on a deeper level and prayed with more passion and authority in public than I ever had before! One more way God uses the negatives in our lives for good! (Romans 8:28)

My Journey
Looking back over these past two years, I’ve experienced almost overnight spiritual healing, and others have noticed the amazing personal transformation in my life. Emotional healing takes longer, but the Lord has been faithful and will continue walking with me every day as I lean fully into Him.

Victory!
Another area of steady healing for me has been financial. In fact this week, after languishing under a dismal cloud of debt for most of my adult life, I can now say that I am debt free! I praise the Lord every day for the wisdom, faith and resourceful strength to endure those hard times and emerge victorious!

In Closing
God loves you so much, and longs to be gracious to you (Isaiah 30:18). Whatever you may need healing for, take the plunge into His Living Water! Don’t simply stick a toe in the current of grace, or you won’t experience all that God has for you! Surrender fully to His love today and your fears and hurt will be swept away! (Ha! That rhymes!)

Faith Notes
This song by one of my favorite artists fits well with today’s theme:
Jordan Feliz – “The River” (Note: Link will open in new window.)

“Now this I know: The Lord gives victory to His anointed. He answers him from His heavenly sanctuary with the victorious power of His right hand. Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.” Psalm 20:6-7

Blessings to you, this day and always!
©Ladeena Bell
All Rights Reserved (blog content and photos)

Captain Of My Soul

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On this Memorial Day weekend, I am especially thankful for the freedom to share my faith because of the brave military men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

Regretfully, I am lacking in material regarding our various armed forces and the incredible sacrifices they have made and continue to make around the world. Most of my writings are about spiritual battlefields and the unseen warfare for our souls and minds. I’m much more familiar with that kind of battle!

My late father served several tours as a Navy Seal in Vietnam. In honor of him and of the many others who perished while serving in the military or after returning home, here is a poem about Jesus, Who gave His life so we could be free! By following His lead we find peace and safe passage through the treacherous waters of life!

“Captain of My Soul”

In Him are streams of water
without Him, a desert land;
With His love a bounty,
without it, selfish hands.
Within me, Christ dwells
as the Captain of my soul.
Floods of grace abounding
as He the wheel controls.
His compass ever guides me
along shores of light and peace;
Blown ever onward, I will sail
’til my earthly ropes release.
Oh, Captain, my Captain,
my soul finds rest in You
Setting sail without fear upon
this journey grand and new.
Each day I wake and greet the sky
the Son lights it so bright!
And even the stars still guide my way
as I navigate at night!
Thank You, O Lord, for salvation’s gold
I love You forever, Captain of my soul.

8-2-98
©Ladeena Bell

Out of curiosity, I looked up the ranking order of the United States Navy. I realize now that the highest rank on the seas is really an Admiral (Fleet Admiral, to be exact), so Jesus is really my Admiral, not simply Captain. Also, though I had “O Captain! My Captain!” by Walt Whitman in mind when I wrote this poem, Jesus is very much alive – only “fallen cold and dead” a short time before rising victoriously from the grave on the third day!

As you remember loved ones and strangers who have lived and passed on after vowing to serve our country, give thanks for the freedoms they helped secure and maintain. But also give thanks for Christ’s sacrifice on the cross so we could be free from the punishment for our sins. Through His death and resurrection we have salvation, victory over the enemy, hope, and peace even in the midst of war.

“If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there Your hand will guide me, Your right hand will hold me fast.” Psalm 139:9-10

Extra Credit

Ephesians 6:10-18

Blessings to you, this day and always!

©Ladeena Bell
All Rights Reserved (blog content and photos)

Go With God!

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Magnolia – April 10, 2017

 

In my last post, I spoke of how the Lord paved the way for me to follow Him, and how grateful I am for His providential care in my life. Of course, as with everyone, the choice was mine to make, but I am living proof of what the power of God can do when we decide to follow Christ. I haven’t regretted it.

For long-time believers such as myself, it’s easy to forget what it was like before we accepted the gift of salvation, but I was quickly reminded by participating in a group exercise several weeks ago that got me thinking about the “big picture” of my faith. On each side of 3×5 cards, we were asked to write down what life looks like with God, and without God, and how things could have been much worse had He not been pursuing us.

This is what I wrote:

Without God

GOOD isn’t enough – Lame
BAD gets worse – Hopeless
UGLY leads to – Death

With God

GOOD feels great! – Joy!
BAD prepares for ugly – Strength!
UGLY can be overcome – Victory!

Here’s what I mean…

Without God

GOOD things in my life, though enjoyable, were ultimately empty. Dissatisfaction leads to a never ending quest for more. Joy is shallow and fleeting, if this life is all there is.
Likewise, the good things I did for others apart from God, while nice, have only a temporary effect with no eternal worth. I can do nothing truly “good” (in the highest sense of the word) on my own.

BAD circumstances are a part of life, whether you are a follower of Christ or not. However, without God, they can easily devolve into even worse predicaments. We can grit our teeth and bravely move forward (like Clint Eastwood in the spaghetti western), but without God we all eventually become run down, discouraged and even despondent. We make fear-based decisions or use the limited wisdom of the world. Either way, sooner or later the wheels fall off, leaving us in worse shape than before.
God often uses bad circumstances to get our attention, but some of us take quite a few hard knocks before we turn to Him. Yet He never stops pursuing us.

UGLY events, such as accidents, unexpected death or other tragedies bring us face to face with our own mortality. Recently an extended family member suddenly passed away, so lately I’ve been thinking a great deal about eternity.
Without God, even the ugly parts of life that don’t “do us in” will break our spirit at the very least, and can indeed prove to be fatal, for relationships, for our mental health and for our physical bodies. Without God and faith in Jesus, I would still be lost in my sin, and my eternal future would look very bleak.

Now for a poetic intermission…

“Without Him”

Without the Lord, I’m nothing
– a face without a smile;
A drone with little emotion,
yet quite easily riled.
Without the Lord in control,
I’m just an empty shell.
No thoughts of the future,
It’s too far off to tell.
But Jesus is the same today
as He was yesterday;
The future’s already known to Him,
and He faithfully shows the way.
My joy restored, I sing out loud
Praising the Lord Most High;
For without Jesus, I go empty,
but with Him, I never run dry.
With Him is perfect love
which casts away my fear;
He comes close to me
when I humbly draw near.
For with Him is life
without Him is sin;
But with Him there’s forgiveness,
and I can begin again!

3-7-94
©Ladeena Bell

Okay, now for the best part…

With God
GOOD feels great! I gratefully acknowledge that all I have is from God; life and priorities are focused on things of eternal worth. Each day as I look to God, spending time with Him in prayer and reading His Word, He transforms me. Spirit renewed, I’m more keenly aware of both the beauty and pain in the world. In response to the needs I see around me, deep satisfaction is found in serving others, as He leads. Relationships bring a thousand times more meaning and fulfillment into my life, because I’m part of a larger family, sharing the same hope, faith and struggles with others.
As I learn and grow ever closer in relationship with God, there is an indescribable peace, deep joy and strong love not found anywhere else but in full surrender to a loving Savior. I know because I’ve experienced it in my own life and witnessed it in the lives of many believers around me.

BAD situations force me to rely on and draw courage from God. Though life isn’t perfect and not every problem is solved instantly, there is an incredible comfort and strength simply knowing that God loves me, He walks with me, and He knows me inside and out. I am known by the God of the universe!
Like most people, I do still occasionally whine about what’s going wrong in my life, but once I shift my focus off of myself and my circumstances and back onto Him, a powerful sense of hope and peace floods in. He reminds me of His promises, and I claim them boldly in prayer, often personalizing them to my situation. Just the other day I prayed, “Lord, I will not be anxious about anything, but I pray with thankfulness as I present my needs to You, knowing Your peace – a peace that passes all human understanding – will calm my heart and mind in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)

UGLY trials and disasters are possible to overcome because I’ve learned to trust God through lesser calamities. When under pressure, as I lean fully on the Lord, He gives me wisdom to make good decisions. With every step taken in faith, confidence, contentment and joy builds, carrying me onward. “Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.” (Psalms 43:5)
My faith gives me hope, but also an eternal perspective on my troubles. Specifically, I don’t fear death! For to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8). When my earthly life is through, I’ll transition to an eternal life filled with indescribable love and peace, because of what Jesus did for us through His death and resurrection. In trusting and following Him, victory and joy can be ours here on earth and forever in heaven!

I shudder to think how my life would be without God. Exhausted, hopeless and empty, to say the least. But thanks be to God for His infinite grace and love, for by it I have been redeemed and continually transformed from the inside out!

Go With God!

My prayer is that you are also “with God”, and trusting Him no matter what life throws at you, whether good, bad or ugly. Jesus didn’t promise that life with Him would be easy, in fact He said in this world we will have problems, but He has overcome the world, and so shall we!

When life is good, bad or ugly, we can have joy, strength and victory with God, through Jesus!

Note: This post is much longer than I’d intended, but it’s what I felt led to share. I never know what God will lead me to write, but it’s always a fun and rewarding adventure! Thanks for coming along with me on it!

Blessings to you, this day and always!

©Ladeena Bell
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