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Welcome to the blog ministry of Touching Hearts! Each week we will release a new blog written by one of our team of authors. We pray each blog will encourage you to go deeper into a relationship with Jesus. 

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Posted by Erin Roberson, June 26, 2024


I really connected with Kathi Lipp, the guest on episode 129 of “A Burst of Hope” podcast. She has written several books, including her latest work, The Accidental Homesteader.  During the podcast, she said that God will give you dreams that are so much bigger than the dreams you could have on your own.


We all have dreams. I’ve even heard that you should create a “dream board” to help visualize your dreams.  That’s not a bad idea!


How do we respond when God takes us on a path that does not line up with the dreams we have for ourselves?  Do we resist?  Do we pout? Or do we trust that God has a better plan for us?


It’s important to keep in mind that God’s dreams for us are always better than the dreams we have for ourselves, even when we can’t see it in the moment.

I recently experienced this.  I am a planner! So, of course, I had my retirement plans all laid out. I would retire from being a public school educator at the age of 60, enjoy spending time with friends and former coworkers, volunteer at schools and local charities, and possibly find a part-time job I would enjoy. We were living smack in the middle of the downtown area of our little Georgia city, and I was looking forward to long walks and visits to downtown restaurants and activities. Most importantly, I wanted to be available to get more involved in Touching Hearts, our amazing women’s ministry organization.


God had a different plan! Several months ago, I started feeling God (through the Holy Spirit) telling me He wanted my husband and me to move back to Kentucky, the state where we both grew up and where our parents and siblings still live. I thought God was giving me a heads-up that He would ask us to move back to Kentucky when I retired in a couple of years. I have to admit that I was a little disappointed that I might not get to do all the things I had planned to do in Georgia after my retirement, and I would be leaving my Georgia friends and coworkers.  But I thought, “Okay, God.  If you want me to move back to Kentucky, I will do that. It will be nice to live closer to our families.” (At least God wasn’t asking me to leave my country and go to the “land I will show you,” right?)


When God asks us to change our plans, it can be a little scary (or even a lot scary)!  His plans don’t always fit into the plans we’ve made for ourselves.


When we are confused by what God wants us to do, how should we respond?


Isn’t it comforting to know that we can trust God, even when we don’t yet understand His purposes?

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.  Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take” Proverbs 3:5-6 (NLT).


It can take courage to change our plans in obedience to God’s leading. We can be assured that when we allow God complete control over our lives, He will give us clarity at just the right time, strength, and even joy!


Now, back to my story!  A few months after the “move to Kentucky” message from God, He prompted us again.  This time, God told my husband and me to purchase a home in Kentucky.  Our youngest son and his wife had moved to Louisville, Kentucky not too long ago.  We thought maybe God wanted us to purchase a home and let them rent from us until my retirement.  We were wrong!  We found a house in Louisville that was a perfect fit for us, but God also provided a house for our son and daughter-in-law at the same time!   Now what?


We started praying that God would give clear direction about what we should do. We had to make a decision quickly, because several potential buyers wanted the Kentucky house we had found!  The very next day, a flyer arrived in our mailbox that read, “We want to buy your house.”  Guess what - The offer for our house was the exact amount we needed to pay off the Georgia house and purchase the Kentucky house!  (Why are we so surprised when God gives us the answers we are seeking?) We still didn’t understand what God was doing, but we decided to move forward one step at a time. We continued to pray that God would open and close doors to keep us on His path. We checked out the company that had sent the flyer to us and found that it was legit.  In addition, they would provide the cash from the sale of our Georgia house within the window needed to purchase the Kentucky house.


“Hey, God - What about my job? I am not retiring for two years (or so I thought).”  I didn’t think we had the financial resources to retire any earlier than age 60, but when I looked into it, I found that we had exactly what we needed for me to retire! I didn’t want to leave the school system in a bind to find my replacement, so I informed our superintendent of my retirement and said I would continue to work for 6 months. The superintendent said, “I can usually sense these things, but I did not see this coming.”  I replied, “I didn’t see it coming either!”


Next, we needed to find a place to live until my retirement date.  Thankfully, we have friends who own property that includes a small cabin. One of their sons had been living in the cabin, but he had recently married and moved out. They were willing to allow us to rent from them until our permanent move to Kentucky. It’s been fun living in the “bachelor pad!”


Since making the decision to follow God’s leading, our lives have been a whirlwind of sorting, packing, house closings, and moving. You know what? God knew what He was doing all along.  Our son and daughter-in-law had to leave their condo rental before their house was ready. They were able to live in our Kentucky house while they finished their new home. God is good!


I noticed that throughout this journey, God had been revealing things to me in bite-sized pieces.  I wonder if it’s because He gives me only what I can handle and lets me get used to the idea before revealing more!  


We still don’t know exactly how this chapter of our lives will unfold, but we are keeping our focus on Him. It’s not always easy!  Worries and doubts creep in at times. What will my husband do for work when we move to Kentucky?  Will God want me to find a job or focus my energies on volunteer ministry opportunities? How is God planning to use us in our new city? When anxious thoughts threaten to take over our minds, we quickly turn our focus back to God. We know He will reveal each step in His perfect timing. We don’t need to worry!


Sometimes God gives you a dream that doesn’t make sense in the moment. Remember, He is already in your future, and He knows everything that is coming. Perhaps He is giving you a dream that will be needed down the road, or maybe He is protecting you from a decision that seems right but is not for your best.  


If you think God might be sending you on a new path, take a pause and listen to the Holy Spirit.  Ask God to close and open doors to keep you on the path He has laid out for you.  You don’t need to see the entire path, you just need one step at a time. 


“I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.” Revelation 3:8.



Erin Roberson is a wife and mother of two wonderful grown boys. She is a lifelong educator who loves learning and teaching others. She believes our primary focus should be on our relationship with God, learning who God is, who God says we are, and how God wants us to live.

  • Writer's pictureAnnette Burrell


 

Posted by Annette Burrell, June 18, 2024


“I hope this letter finds you well.” These are the words I read as I looked back through letters from ancestors dating back to the mid-1800s. One letter was so descriptive that I found myself visualizing the scenes in my head as they played out on paper. 


This is a paraphrased letter from Joshua Taylor, Jr. to his brother, George, dated October 18, 1849.

“I now take my pen in hand to write a few lines to you hoping they may find you all in good health . . . I want you to try to get William and his family to come along with you. You must bring some garden and grass seeds of different kinds. Bring me a pair of sheep-shears. Bring enough provisions for 6 weeks and put them in lockable boxes. Take your fare from Liverpool to New York. When you get to New York, people will want you to take your passage and pay for it all the way to Milwaukee. But, you must not do it. Always make a new bargain at each place you stop. Always reckon by the cents, and you will not be cheated.”


As I pondered the family history book, I was reminded of the hope the Apostle Paul wrote of in the Bible. Out of his 13 letters, he spoke of hope in each one, and not just once, but multiple times.

“But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.” Romans 8:25 (New International Version, aka NIV)


Two Hebrew words for hope in the Bible are Yakhal, which means to wait for; and Qavah, which also means to wait.


Over 40 times in the book of Psalms, we find the word “wait.” In most instances, we see people waiting for God. So, in Biblical Hebrew, hope is about waiting or expectation. Many of the Old Testament prophets point the Israelites to the promised Messiah. They were waiting for Him, the Savior of the world.


“We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield.” Psalm 33:20 (NIV)


I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word, I put my hope.” Psalm 130:5 (NIV)


Having hope means I am willing to wait for what I am hoping for.

I hope my children will raise their next generation to be godly. I hope to inspire someone to take a leap of faith in whatever they are striving for. I hope my pastor will come to see his goal of reaching 10% of the people in our county for Christ. 


God is our hope. After living from paycheck to paycheck in my young adolescent years, when there was only enough money to put gas in my car, God would send someone to me that would provide food or money for food. After praying for promotion after promotion and being disappointed multiple times, God opened a door for me that catapulted my career into a place I never would have imagined or dreamed. After 20 years of praying for salvation for a family member, God answered. Reports of answered prayers were spoken last night at choir. One praise was, after 131 days in the hospital, the granddaughter, a newborn twin, was sent home and united with her twin sister, mom and dad, and grandparents.


Like me, you may be waiting for God to answer a prayer or prayers you have asked for years. You may be hoping for a promotion at work. You may be hoping for provision to put food on the table for your family. You may be hoping for a loved one to come to know Christ.


God demonstrates time and again that He is our hope, and He hears our prayers. Jesus’ resurrection opened a living hope that people can be reborn into new and different creatures. Christian hope looks back to the risen Jesus so we can look forward. We no longer need to fear our past. We put our hope and trust in the only one who hears our hearts.


Where are you placing your hope? Have you thought about seeking God? If you are at a place where you feel there is no hope, why not give Jesus a try? He is the only hope we have.



Annette Burrell is an author, speaker, and singer/songwriter. Through Annette’s years of being a public servant, and her devotion to studying the Bible, God has equipped her to lead women into His presence, and share with them how they can grow in Christ. Her passion is learning, sharing about the Heavenly realms, and God’s plan of protection for us as believers.



 

Posted by Stephanie Griffin, June 12, 2024


With the ladies of Touching Hearts, I recently read an amazing book called, The Attributes of God by A.W. Tozer. It reset my all-too-small views of my Heavenly Father, and helped me realize I will never humanly comprehend the magnificence of Him in this life. However, it helped me find the pathway to rediscover the heart of my Father.  


To search deeper, I took a week away in the mountains to continue the study of God’s attributes. As the world around me grew quiet, I leaned in. For some reason, I was apprehensive. I was pretty sure it was the enemy’s lies telling me I wasn’t good enough, pure enough, anything “enough”. As I cast these words off with scripture, God met me in my frailty, and my confidence in Him grew.  


If I believed He was the Perfect Father, why didn’t I always follow in this trust walk with Him? 

Well, I think it’s because I get distracted. I put other “little” gods in front of Him, or I allow myself to get overly busy, and this is when I become self-dependent again. However, as I rediscovered Him and His perfectness, I began to experience God’s love as it engulfed me. I began to trust Him more. Ephesians 3:18-21 tells us when we trust Him more, we will yearn for Him more. Yes, God is contagious! 


It reminded me of my grandson, Cade. Recently, he began to walk. But, as Cade started this new journey, he would wobbly teeter toward his father and look questionably for some sign that he would succeed. Each time Cade walked, he grew in confidence with himself and his father. He grew in that trust and adoration because his father caught him every time he almost fell. 


God tells us in Psalm 100:5, "The LORD is good; His love is eternal, and His faithfulness lasts forever." So, what is my heavenly Father’s track record? It’s perfect. In Colossians 2:6, “Just as you trusted God to save you, trust Him for each day’s problems.” In other words, live in vital union with God.


The more we trust, the more we learn to love God and His Sovereignty. In that trust walk, my self-reliance diminished. I am willing to pray, “Lord, I would rather not see it work at all than to have it work because of what I did.”  


There is a song by Tenth Avenue North, called “Control”. The lyrics are:


God, you don’t need me but somehow you want me,

Oh, how you love me and somehow that frees me, 

to open my hands up and give you control

To take my hands off of my life in the way it should go.


But, sometimes my faith feels thin

Like the night will never end.

Oh, will you catch every tear,

Or will you just leave me here?

I have this hope in the depth of my soul.

In the flood or the fire You are with me and you won’t let go.

Oh you want me, somehow you want me.

The King of Heaven wants me,

So this world has lost its grip on me.

I’ll be by your side wherever you fall

In the dead of the night whenever you call

And please don’t fight these hands that are holding you.


God’s hands are holding you

Here in my side whenever you fall

In the dead of night whenever you call

Please don’t fight these hands that are holding you

My hands are holding you 

God, You don’t need me but somehow you want me

Oh how you love me somehow it frees me 

To open my hands and give you control

I give you control!


What assurance WILL WE have if we walk toward our Father? 

You might have had a nearly wonderful earthly father, or maybe he was far from that. Either way, you do have a perfect Heavenly Father. We can all accept His adoption! We can know our Heavenly Father loves us because He sent His only Son for you and me. (John 3:16) He is a perfect, loving Father who calls us His masterpiece. Ephesians 2:10  says, “My life continues to change when I stop looking at salvation as a hoop to jump through and instead realize it is an adoption to accept. God says to us, “Oh, my daughter, what a sweet gift I’ve given you. Give yourself grace to take what I have freely given.”


Happy Father’s Day, Lord! You truly deserve all the Glory!



Welcome Stephanie Griffin, our Deeper Still Guest Writer this week. Stephanie is one of the editors of our blog and is an active part of Touching Hearts. She has a servant’s heart and shares her many gifts with others. What a blessing to hear from her heart this week.

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