The Magazine for Inspiration and Life
The Magazine for Inspiration and Life HeartSongs Magazine c/o HeartSongs Publications Unlimited P.O. Box 59763 Birmingham, AL 35259-9763 205-943-2518
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The Magazine for Inspiration and Life
ON THE COVER 6
What’s Your Game Plan?- Motivation as Your Key to Success
Why Give Thanks
Artist Spotlight: Maria Kalaff
Relationships: It’s Not Complicated
IN EVERY ISSUE 13
What's Cookin’ in the Cafe
A Message From the Editor
A Free Gift for You
Love Notes from Heaven
Count Your Blessings “Count your blessings.” It’s more than a cliché. It’s a reminder to focus more on what we already have and less on what we lack. Every day and night we have a new opportunity to find something for which to be thankful. Life may not be all pleasant. We may experience times of struggle and pain. We may not have everything that we think is essential to happiness, but in the grand scheme of things, we are all incredibly blessed! And not all blessings are tangible. Some can only be seen through the eyes of faith and felt within the heart and soul. Some are yet to be. The gifts of love, joy, peace, forgiveness, soundness of mind, health and wholeness are priceless treasures that God has given us in addition to the many material things that we enjoy. Now is the time to adopt an attitude of gratitude. In moments of hardship and discomfort it is easy to complain, worry, and be distracted by the cares of life. It’s natural to feel overwhelmed during those times, but a simple way to get through those moments of distress is to be thankful. Lift up a song of praise or a prayer of thanks to God. Give Him glory for being an amazing Father! It may be helpful to create a gratitude journal of all the wonderful things that God has provided. Then, as we pray in faith for things we want and need, we can boldly approach the throne of grace with thanksgiving, which is beneficial to us and pleasing to our Father.
It’s official. The fall season is finally here! It’s that time of the year for football, gathering with family and friends, hot apple cider, the changing of the leaves and nice cool temperatures. If you’re like me, you are glad that those sweltering summer days are over for awhile. Autumn has always been my favorite time of the year. For me, it is a time of deep reflection and gratitude for all of my many blessings. Though Thanksgiving is the time set aside to express our gratitude, I am inspired to do so on a daily basis for all blessings great and small. In the midst of it all I have many reasons to give thanks. As we approach this season, let us consider all that the Lord has done and continues to do. Let us remember that in all seasons that He is faithful. He gives us life and breath; He satisfies our hungry and thirsty souls. He fills us with good things. He is our constant Provider. Let us thank Him for the privilege of prayer. Let us thank Him for giving us what is best for us and withholding those things that are not. Let us thank Him for healing and deliverance. He is our Shield and Protector!
Stephanie Lyas, Founding Editor HeartSongs Magazine
Let us give thanks that He is our Savior. He is loving, kind, gracious and merciful, compassionate and forgiving. Thank Him for a heart to bestow on others the same goodness that we have so freely received from Him. Thank Him for His Holy Word and His precious promises. Thank Him that He is the same yesterday, today and forever. Thank Him for His awesome greatness. Most of all, thank Him for controlling every detail of our lives. As I pause to give thanks, I would personally like to extend my heartfelt appreciation to those of you who have expressed interest in this ministry in various ways. Your support means so much. It is my desire to continue to provide practical information, articles, stories, and poems for your enjoyment and inspiration. I welcome your comments and suggestions. Your encouragement keeps me motivated to continue this “labor of love.” I sincerely pray that it is a blessing to all who read it. To God be the glory! Faithfully yours,
Stephanie Founding Editor, HeartSongs Magazine
CONTACT US HeartSongs Magazine c/o HeartSongs Publishing Unlimited Stephanie Lyas, Founder P.O. Box 59763 Birmingham, AL 35259-9763
by Stephanie Lyas In football and in life we have to work hard in order to succeed. Nothing comes easy. Without a plan for success, and the motivation to achieve it, it is nearly impossible to reach our goals. We must go through a process of mental and physical conditioning to prepare for the next level. And at times we just don’t feel like putting forth the effort. Procrastination, which is linked to fear keeps us from finishing, and in some cases from even getting started. However, we who are in Christ are created to live in freedom from fear, bondage and oppression. We are free to plan ahead looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith. We can approach the task of reaching our goals with the utmost confidence in Him. Motivation Is the Key How many times have you said, “I just don’t feel motivated. I know I need to lose weight, clean the house, get out of debt, etc. but I just don’t have the drive to do it?” God knows our struggles. He has equipped us with everything we need to get going and keep going. It is up to us, however, to do the work. Motivation is key to success. And it must come from within us. The best of intentions, hopes, desires of others is never enough to help us push us forward. Motivation is Your Motor Motivation comes from the Latin word movere, which means, “to move”. Motivation is the inward drive to move us from one place to another. A famous athlete once said, “sometimes trials and tribulations are the transportation to get you where you want to go.” While it’s true that outward circumstances influence you, they do not, by themselves motivate a person to change. Motivation is a matter of the heart an mind- your inward working parts. Think of it as your “motor.” Just like an automobile needs an engine to run, we need motivation to take us where we want to go. Motivation is a Matter of the Heart For me, motivation is the catalyst to see my desires fulfilled. For example, after years of struggling to lose weight, I made the decision that my desire to be healthier and to look and feel better was worth more than my desire to not work out. That motivation was like my silent accountability partner. It forced me to choose to remain the way I was or choose to change. Ether way, I had to make a choice, After all, our actions are driven by the choices we make. Motivation, in this case was not just a mindset. It was also a matter of the heart. Motivation Involves Vision You must see where you want to go. If you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know when you get there? That’s why it’s important to have a “game plan” for success. If you fail to plan, you might just be planning to fail. Get a clear vision of what success looks like for you. Don’t compare it with anyone else’s. Write it down and stick to it. You can win with the right plan of action!
Autumn Autumn, sweet Autumn I adore you Your cool, sun-kissed days give us foliage to crunch underfoot your gold and auburn treasures adorn the horizon like a tapestry then float quietly to the earth Your brilliant mornings and solemn, indigo nights are respite to my soul I love your sacred music when brittle branches snap to the rhythm of the wind Your air dense with the aroma of cinnamon and orange clover is the sweetest Iâ€™ve ever tasted Reminds me of Home
Copyright ÂŠ 2010. Dwelling Places. All Rights Reserved.
Why Give Thanks For shelter from the wind and rain For healing hands in times of pain For friends who show they really care For family scattered here and there For all needs met in full supply And fluttering wings of butterflies For talents, gifts, and useful skill For knowing I am in Godâ€™s will For being in His loving care For unseen angels everywhere Above all else, thanksgiving is due To my Friend, Jesus, Faithful and True My thanks to You, my God is due For these my blessings come from You by Stephanie Lyas
Artist, Entrepreneur and Fashion Designer
Birthday: 11/30/61 Birthplace: New York City
They make great gifts because each one comes beautifully wrapped and ready to give to that special doll-lover. It’s the perfect accessory! I How did you get started in the arts? also design custom one-of-a kind stationary items My mother was a seamstress. She was constantly like bookmarks, cards, gift bags, which are also sewing and working on projects. My father was a big sellers. musician. When he and my mom separated, he would often come to the house so my mother What advice would you give someone who could listen to his new songs. My brother is also wants to pursue their dreams? an artist. As a child he was always dragging me to Don’t give up on your dreams. You might even museums to see exhibits in Manhattan. I was fall and tumble and want to give up, but rise up, always surrounded by some form of art and it brush yourself off and stay focused. was always an adventure! What is one of your biggest accomplishments as Who have been the most influential people in an artist? your career? One day about 5 years ago, I felt inspired to do I lost my mother when I was 27 years old. I was some fashion “cold calls.” One of those calls was always so impressed by her elegance and style for to The Naked Art Gallery in Birmingham, AL. I fashion. My brother who lives in Rockport, MA met with the owner and expressed an interest in has always been so inspiring to me. Also, my best being a part of her gallery. Once she saw my friend Ramona has been a very encouraging portfolio, she was very impressed with my handfriend, and my friend Gina has also been a divine made cards that featured old comic book deguidance in my life. signs. She gave me the wonderful opportunity to get exposure in Birmingham. How would you describe your artistic style? I have so many different styles that it’s hard to What is the best thing about being an artist? describe. Some might say It is a blend of vintage, As an artist, you are constantly creating and contemporary and elegant. learning of God’s gifts that you didn’t even know you were capable of. What makes your art so unique? My designs are unique because I do not use a computer or any pattern. I create my own templates and take it from there. I also incorporate jewelry into some of my designs, which is something I haven’t seen any other designer do. You have a vast selection of individual pieces. Tell us about some of your creations. I design beautiful doll beds from 11 1/2 inches to 18 inches for larger dolls. Each bed includes 2 pillows, one blanket and a mattress. They are one-of-a-kind, and are made with various fabrics.
FAST FACTS Favorite movie: “Best in Show” Favorite vacation spot: Heidelberg, Germany Favorite food: Chinese food at P.F. Chang’s For more information or to purchase one of her designs, contact Maria at http://www.facebook.com/maria.kalaff
Oh Godâ€Ś Oh God, when I have food Help me to remember the hungry When I have work, help me To remember the jobless; When I have a warm home, Help me to remember the homeless; When I am without pain Help me to remember those who suffer; And remembering, help me To destroy my complacency And bestir my compassion. Make me concerned enough To help, by word and deed, Those who cry out For what I take for granted. Author Unknown
Health & Wellness
by Anonymous Contributor We all have them. Days when it seems like nothing is going our way. Days when we don’t want to get out of bed. Days when we feel so down, that it is impossible to function. When those feelings come every now and then they might be referred to as the “blues.” If they linger awhile and disrupt your normal routine, it might just be depression. I have been there. Over the years my symptoms ranged from mild to severe. I suffered in silence and shame-not wanting anyone to know what I was going through. When I finally got better, I vowed to help others by sharing some ways that I learned to cope with my own deep feelings of sadness and hopelessness. If you are going through a tough time, please seek help. You don’t have to suffer alone. The advice below is simply to encourage you from my perspective. It is not meant to take the place of any kind of medical or mental health treatment. It is what has worked for me. I hope it helps you or the person you love to walk in wellness and victory over depression. 1.
Avoid being alone for extended periods of time. Find places to go where others are-a park, the mall, church, etc. Just being around other people helps you overcome loneliness.
Help somebody else. Lending a hand to others in need often proves to be a rewarding experience and boosts your self-confidence and general outlook on life. Encourage someone else by calling, sending an email, text message or even a handwritten note or card.
Avoid people who add stress to your life- People who are selfish, demanding, and rude add unnecessary stress to your life which can trigger episodes of depression.
Seek help from others. Sometimes people really do mean it when they ask, “How can I help?” Take them up on it. If you need to, consult your local Yellow Pages or Community Resources Directory for a listing of counselors. Some community-based agencies offer free or income-based counseling services.
Accept yourself the way you are. Be realistic. Know your limitations, your strengths and your weaknesses. The Serenity Prayer states it best, “Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.”
Listen to uplifting music- whether it be your favorite artist or simply the sounds of nature.
Praise and give thanks. Gratitude has a way of drawing blessings to your life. Lean on the power of God’s Word by reading, studying and meditating on a passage that encourages you.
Exercise regularly-just a 15-minute walk will do wonders for the mind, body and soul. Physical activity is a proven way to reduce stress and improve mental functioning.
Engage in laughter-A merry heart does good like medicine. Rent your favorite comedy on DVD . Dig out some of those funny home movies. Call up a friend who brings joy and laughter in your life.
10. Seek out a support network. Support groups are a great way to develop meaningful relationships with others who are experiencing similar thoughts and feelings. They offer a great outlet for sharing, bonding and support.
Editor’s Note: Please keep in mind that depression is a serious condition. Each person copes differently. The advice given is should in no way be a substitute for mental health treatment, diagnosis or cure. Recognize the warning signs of depression and seek help immediately if any of them apply to you. There is hope and healing for you. ~SL
Home & Family
by Stephanie Lyas So you’re juggling lots of stuff and you hope nothing gets dropped. No, you’re not a circus performer, but a busy career woman, wife, mother, single adult, college student, etc. People depend on you for this and that, and like many women, you take care of everyone’s needs- often putting your own on the shelf. While caring for everyone around you seems admirable, not taking care of your needs is harmful as well. Neglecting yourself is not only detrimental to your physical health, but it can also be spiritually unhealthy. Proverbs 11:1 states, “A false balance is an abomination to the Lord, but a just weight is His delight.” In other words, God is not pleased when we are off balance. But when things are on an even keel, He is happy. And so are we. Work is a necessary part of life. But so is home. Whether you’re in an office setting or at home, work is what you do to acquire the resources to live. You work to live, not live to work. Home is where you actually do the living, although at times it can be just as hectic as the workplace . The key to success in either area is balance. Below are a few ways you can balance your work and home life and also be a happier, healthier and more fulfilled person. Chop, Chop! Divide your working hours into “bite-size” pieces. If you work from home, it is sometimes difficult to feel like you’re at work. Designate a specific time for tasks like checking e-mail, answering phone calls, writing messages and others that can be time consuming. Create a schedule and stick to it. During the workday, only allow yourself 15 minutes to check and respond to personal emails and calls. This is especially helpful with avoiding distractions if you work from home some days, like I do. Set a Timer to divide your tasks into manageable chunks. That way, you’ll have a means of keeping track of time. I find that setting a timer helps me focus better and stay on task. Taking short breaks periodically-especially if you spend a lot of time on the computer, reduces back and leg pain, eyestrain and fatigue. Get a Life! A social life, that is. All work and no play makes you a ticking time bomb, and more than likely, you will implode instead of exploding . Do things you enjoy to balance the stress load in your day. Go catch a movie. Have lunch with a friend. Spend time reading a good book. Walk in the park. Take a short trip. Literally include recreation on your calendar’s ‘to do” list and treat it like an appointment that you can’t afford to miss. Just Say No to nonessential things that rob you of valuable time, joy and peace. You were not born to solve everyone’s problems, including those of your family and friends. Be helpful, but to the extent that they are capable of doing things for themselves, let them. Set clear boundaries and stay within them. Leave Work at Work. As hard as it may be, you have to learn when to shut things off. Even if you’re on a tight deadline, remember the famous expression, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” You were not designed to work constantly. Rest and leisure is not only appropriate but essential to finding a healthy balance between work and home.
Cooking & Entertainment
Easy Pumpkin Muffins What You Need 1 (18 1/4 ounce) box cake mix (yellow or spice cake) 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree 1/4 cup water 1 egg 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 1 dash nutmeg (optional) How to Fix Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine cake mix, pumpkin, water, egg, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a large bowl. Mix well. Spoon into muffin cups. Bake for 25 minutes or until the tops spring back when lightly touched. Cool on a wire rack. Enjoy! For extra flavor mix in some dark chocolate chips, raisins or chopped nuts.
Okay, so it’s not a coupon for a free skinny mocha latte! It’s way better! God gave us Jesus Christ, the only One good enough to pay the sin debt for all mankind– past, present and future. It’s not about being religious or following a bunch of man-made rules, but it is about being reconciled to God our Father eternally through Christ. His gift is free to us, but cost Him everything. That’s pretty awesome!
So here’s the deal…. Maybe you’re wondering, “This sounds too good to be true. How do I take advantage of this free gift? ” It is fairly simple, but you must receive it by faith -trusting in God. ACKNOWLEDGE that sin has separated you from God. “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” ( Romans 3:23) Admit that you’ve broken God’s rules but you really want to change. He’s more than willing to forgive you and help you if you are willing and sincere. BELIEVE that God sent His Son Jesus as the only acceptable sacrifice to pay the debt for our sins. Because God is as Holy as He is loving, He could not tolerate the rebellious, wicked state of mankind. So, instead of punishing us , which would have been fair, He showed us mercy and sent His only Son to take our place. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) CONFESS or say what you believe. “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9) Again, this must be done by faith. “For with the heart man believes and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation (Romans 10:10).” Be courageous enough to share with others what God has done for you. And finally.. make a DECISION to live your life to glorify Him.. You may think that it’s too hard, but if you ask Him, He will empower you to do just that. Your lifestyle should represent what your new relationship with Christ is all about. CONGRATULATIONS! You’ve made the most important decision of your life and you are now a member of God’s family! Develop your relationship by spending time reading and studying the Bible. It may be helpful to connect with others through a local church or small group fellowship to get you started. Communicate openly with God through prayer and meditation in His Word and finally, surround yourself with others who will help you grow you in your new walk with Christ. Your life will never be the same. You are a new creature in Christ. Old things have passed away and all things are new! (2 Corinthians 5:17) And that beats a latte any day!
by Stephanie Lyas
“As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God.” –Psalm 42:1
Runners have always fascinated me. Anyone who can run more than a quarter of a mile without giving out of breath has my total respect. I watch them at the gym, at the track, and throughout my neighborhood. At any given time of day, I’m bound to spot them along the sidewalk behind a jogging stroller or a leash. One day, inspired by their grit and dedication, I got the bright idea, “That looks easy enough for me to do. I think I’ll give it a shot.” So the next day I started out to the greenway, on about a 5-mile course, for what I thought would be an invigorating workout. I was going to run a mile and quit. Never mind that I was totally unprepared, had no technique, and was not physically conditioned to run. But I was determined. “I can do it. No problem,” I said to myself. Needless to say my “run” only lasted about 5 minutes, and that’s if you count the 3 minutes it took me to catch my breath, as I nearly collapsed on a bench alongside the trail. My heart was racing and I felt a like I was going to pass out. More than that, I was extremely thirsty. I remembered my water bottle that I inconveniently left in the car, as I sat there parched and fatigued. As I headed back to get it, I noticed a stream that ran alongside the trail. Every now and then a bird would flutter by for a dip. I marveled at God’s providence even for the creatures in nature and how they depend on Him for water to quench their thirst just as we do.
“Being in the presence of God is like standing beneath an abundant
fountain with an empty cup.”
I thought about the popular worship song, As the Deer, and took a moment to thank God for how He satisfies our dry and thirsty souls with His refreshing Spirit. His presence satisfies us when we need to be revived. In my heart I began to reflect on the lyrics to that song: As the deer panteth for the water So my soul longeth after Thee You alone are my heart’s desire And I long to worship Thee You alone are my strength, my shield To You alone may my spirit yield You alone are my heart’s desire And I long to worship Thee How many times have you felt dry and empty? Out of touch with God? My answer is too many times to count. But it is during those times, we can worship, pray and give thanks for what He has done. We can thank Him for refreshing us with His presence that brings His comfort , hope and peace. Being in the presence of God is like standing beneath an abundant fountain with an empty cup. He simply says, “Come and drink, for if you drink of the water I give, you will never be thirsty again.” John 4:14 (NIV)
“As The Deer” written by Martin Nystrom
.All Rights Reserved
by Stephanie Lyas Since I was a child The Wizard of Oz has been one of my favorite movies. The story of a girl from humble beginnings trying to “find her way” is much like my own. Like Dorothy, I was desperately searching for things outside myself that I thought would make my life complete- only to discover that I possessed those things all along. All I needed to be happy and successful were already inside of me. Once I discovered that truth, my life began to flourish in amazing ways! My first major accomplishment was self-publishing my book, Dwelling Places: A Poetic Journey Through the Heart. Seeing my own book in print was a dream come true! I compare my journey toward completing the book to Dorothy’s quest to reach The Emerald City. Though she faced great obstacles along the way, she got there. Perhaps the most important part was she didn’t do it alone. She had help from her loyal friends, The Scarecrow, The Tin Man and The Lion. Although encumbered by their own personal struggles, their common focus was to help Dorothy reach her goal. And in the end, they discovered incredible things about themselves, too. That, in essence, is what having the right people in my corner has done for me. There are few words that can describe the “ripple effect” of blessings that have come from my stepping out on faith. My greatest joy, however, is sharing my testimony with others with the hope of encouraging them to overcome obstacles and do extraordinary things. There were moments along the way when I got discouraged and felt like I would never reach my goal. I cannot count the number of nights I sat in front of my computer tired, frustrated and ready to give up. But just like Dorothy I kept my sights set on where I was going and stayed on the path set before me. Even during the moments when I was tempted to quit I remained determined to finish. And I did. Looking back on my journey, I realize that it took the attributes of all three of Dorothy’s companions to follow my dreams- wisdom, courage and heart. Wisdom to know what to do, courage to act on it, and the heart to do it with great love. To see those qualities in others is and inspiration but to see them in my own life is a blessing for which I will always be thankful. Whether or not Dorothy would have made it to Oz by herself remains to be seen. But one thing is certainthe trip would have been much harder, and not nearly as exciting! Wisdom invaluable. Faith and determination are essential; and the love and support of those who really care are priceless. I am blessed that God has given me that and more. And I plan to keep dreaming. Like Dorothy, I have discovered on this amazing journey that “the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true.”
We can learn a lot from nature. Take the four seasons, for instance. No matter which one you like best, before you know it another will soon take its place. As change occurs, we adjust accordingly to ensure our comfort and well-being. Such is life. Change is inevitable. How we respond to it, however, determines how well we adapt to it. Our attitude toward change also reveals a lot about us. Scripture teaches us that, “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven“ (Ecclesiastes 3:1) As Believers, we know that our Heavenly Father orchestrates every aspect of our lives. Nothing takes Him by surprise. As His children, we rest confidently in Him, knowing that He has made provision for our every need-even in seasons of change. It is said that natural occurrences often have spiritual parallels. Assuming that is true, then change is a certain fact of life. Sometimes change is good, and sometimes change can be seemingly impossible to endure. Nevertheless, faith in our unfailing God affords us grace to persevere regardless of our circumstances. Second Corinthians 9:8 says that “God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, having all sufficiency in all things may abound to every good work.”
Assuming that you decide to relocate in order to keep your job, you now have your work cut out for you. You have the daunting tasks of finding a place to live in an unfamiliar city, meeting new people, and learning your way around. Imagine the anxiety that goes with that. After all, you have been thrust completely out of your comfort zone. How do you cope? Below are a few practical suggestions to help you embrace the change gracefully: Remember that, no matter what- you are not alone. God promises, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” You can rest assured that, as His child you are always under His watchful eye. No matter how unfamiliar the territory, He is there. No matter how isolated you may feel, He is there. His presence is ever near you. Draw near to Him and He will draw near to you (James 4:8). You have what it takes to not only survive, but to come out victoriously. “And God is able to give you all sufficiency in all things...(II Corinthians 9:8). You may, at times feel helpless and ill-equipped, but you have all the tools you need to succeed: The Word of God, prayer and faith. He always causes us to win! (II Corinthians 2:14)
What a privilege to know that we have at our disposal, an unlimited supply of grace to help us in times of need! (Hebrews 4:16) Therefore, we can embrace changes that occur in our lives with an attitude of faith and confidence, knowing that Almighty God has our best interest in mind. His grace is available to us in abundance
Your attitude determines your outcome. While attitude isn’t everything, It helps to keep a positive attitude during seasons of transition. A good outlook makes any situation even better. What’s more, we have the ability to choose how to think (Philippians 4:8). “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
. With that said, let’s take a look at how grace can help us to embrace seasons of change. For example, suppose you have worked for Company So, in the next “season” of life, when you are tempted to resist change, XYZ for a number of years. You suddenly learn that your position has been downsized and the only way to keep your job is to transfer to another remember, you are well equipped to persevere, and you can embrace it by the grace of God. state where you have no family, friends, or associates. In fact, you don’t know anything about the area to where you must move in order to maintain the lifestyle that you have worked hard to achieve. Needless to say, you have some big decisions to make. No matter what you decide, your life is about to drastically change.
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â€œThe grass withers and the flowers fade, but the word of our God stands forever." Isaiah 40:8
How Words Impact Your Life by Stephanie Lyas
“Watch your mouth!” The words that most of us
have heard at some point and time as a child, often as a stern reprimand for sassing, saying bad words, or just talking too much. No matter where we were raised, or which side of the tracks we grew up on they always meant the same thing. At some point or another, those words probably kept us in line. Sometimes they were even coupled with the threat to “wash our mouths out with soap” if we were caught uttering something we weren’t supposed to say.
keep blowing air into it and see what happens. Eventually, the balloon will burst because its maximum air capacity has been reached. Our hearts are very much the same way. Scripture tells us that “of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” (Matthew 12:34) In essence, if it is in you, it will, at some point come out-whether good or evil. So fill your heart with what you want to come out when under pressure.
Our words have power to create or destroy. We can build or tear down with our words. You may be familiar with the saying, “Sticks and stones may Unfortunately, when we grow up, at times we feel break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” entitled to say whatever is on our minds, however Nothing is farther from the truth. Words can cause careless, hurtful, or foolish. Society seems to eninvisible scars and words can also encourage and courage the notion of “speaking your mind”. Freeheal. Even what we say about ourselves is important dom of speech is something to cherish, but far too in building our confidence and self-worth. Daily afoften, people do so without considering the impact of their words. As Believers, we are held to a differ- firmations of who we are as children of God will ent standard. We are taught that “death and life are build us up so that we develop the right self-image. in the power of the tongue.” (Proverbs 18:21) Then Maybe we have made a mistake in some area. As Believers we have His Word as our sure foundation. why is it that we are so quick to speak negatively Instead of saying, “that was so stupid of me”, deabout ourselves and others instead of saying what clare, “I have the mind of Christ.” (I Corinthians God says? Why are we inclined to spread gossip, slander and foolish talk but hold back on words that 2:16) or, the Lord lays up wisdom for the righteous.” (Proverbs 2:7). uplift and encourage? Of course, there are times when we say things that unintentionally cause others (or ourselves) pain, but we have a responsibility We are accountable to God for the words that we as Christians to choose and use our words carefully. say. The Bible plainly teaches us that our words will either justify or condemn us on the day of JudgWhat we say does affect our lives: ment. In the 12th chapter of Matthew verses 33-37 Our words tell what’s really in our hearts. Have you Jesus talks about the dangers of misusing our ever people say, “it just slipped out”? Well, there is words. That is why it is good to avoid any form of slander, quarrels, foolish or unwholesome talk. We a degree of truth to that saying. But, often when all, at some point in our lives have done so, but it is we say things that we didn’t intend to say, it’s just important to quickly repent and make a conscious result of the repression of what we really think and effort to use words in a positive and constructive feel. Consider a balloon, for example. It is only designed to hold a certain amount of air. Just try to way. God, through the Holy Spirit, will enable us to watch our words so that we can uplift others and ultimately glorify Him.
Several years ago, I met a man who I won’t soon forget. Mike was a patient at the clinic where I worked. Each week I looked forward to chatting with him as he waited to be seen by the doctor. To me, Mike was quirky with a “rough-around-the edges” way about him; nevertheless he always had a pleasant smile, a warm compliment and a corny joke for me. Seeing him was often the highlight of my day. I became quite fond of Mike but soon learned that his life was far from perfect, and that his offbeat disposition was really masking the immense pain in his heart. After spending some time with him, I learned that Mike lived a pretty modest and isolated existence. Over time, he shared with me the harsh realities that plagued his life. Hearing how he overcame homelessness, addiction and family problems was tremendously humbling for me. Within a short time, a series of traumatic events had caused Mike to become discouraged and at times, deeply depressed. I wanted to reach out to him, but didn’t know how. After pondering awhile, I recalled a previous conversation in which Mike had once mentioned his love of roasted pumpkin seeds. He reminisced about his childhood, and his mother who would roast pumpkin seeds in the oven as a special treat for him. He went on to say that he could not presently afford such a “luxury” item on his meager income. I could sense the joy that memory brought to him. “That’s it!” I thought, “Maybe a package of pumpkin seeds will cheer him up.” I struggled with the idea of giving him the seeds, thinking that such a seemingly trivial gift would insult him. Still, I wanted to do something special. Little did I know at that time how that gesture would impact both of our lives forever.
The next week, when Mike arrived, I handed him a little box, perfectly wrapped with a pretty bow on it. When he opened it, the look on his face was priceless. What happened next was very profound to me. Overcome with emotion, he leaned over and whispered in my ear, “Yesterday, I was really down and lonely and I prayed for just one small sign that someone cares about me. These seeds just spoke volumes! They are literally an answer to a prayer.” All I could do was smile. As Mike left the office that day, I’ll never forget his reaction, nor how I felt upon witnessing it. He was beaming as if he had been touched by an angel. In a way, I believe he had been. Later that evening I reflected on the events of the day. I was amazed at how God used something as trivial as a package of pumpkin seeds to express His love and to give a man new hope. It was a good feeling to know that I was a small part of enriching his life by a what I thought was an insignificant act of kindness. The whole experience taught me to never underestimate the power of real, unconditional love. And that no act of kindness is ever wasted. That day, I got a new confidence in my own ability to make a difference in the world. I was grateful to have witnessed firsthand the awesome love at God at work. I chuckled to myself, “I’ve heard of having faith the size of a mustard seed, but who knew that pumpkin seeds could also do the trick? If mustard seed faith can move mountains, just think of what pumpkin seeds can do?”
by Stephanie Lyas There used to be a time when a person’s love relationship status simply consisted of 4 options: single, married, divorced or widowed. Nowadays, they’ve added all sorts of new choices like: separated, in a relationship and “it’s complicated.” I was okay with the addition of separated one, and grew to tolerate the “in a relationship” one but “it’s complicated?” I don’t know. So many friends and acquaintances have gone from being in happy, committed relationships to being single. Even I have had my share of relationship issues. But when I notice that someone’s status has gone from one of the first four options to “it’s complicated,” all sorts of “red flags” go up in my mind-especially if the person has potential of being a suitable mate or companion. I want to probe a little deeper to find out exactly what is going on to make his relationship status so complicated. As a single person who has been on the dating scene for awhile, I think I’ve figured it out. Whenever a person’s status is “It’s Complicated” what it may also mean is that the person is probably already involved in what is supposed to be a committed relationship but is experiencing trouble in paradise. They may be having problems communicating and connecting with their current mate, but are not quite ready to throw in the towel. Speaking from experience, it is always best for the one who is uncommitted to proceed with caution. It is unwise to get your heart entwined in another person’s who is obviously confused about what their status is. If a person is not totally available physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually or otherwise they are not available at all. Period. Not only is their relationship complicated, they are too. And you deserve better than to complicate your life with their drama. How they deal with their current situation is a good indication of how they will deal with you in the future. I’m not saying that relationships are always going to be smooth sailing with no issues. The truth is, things change. People change. And throughout all the changes, the relationship itself changes, too. But true love is the one thing that remains steady through the ebbs and flows of life. Like a popular song once stated, love is “Solid… solid as a rock.” And that’s how God intends for it to be.
I love the verse in the Bible that basically gives a clear definition of love. It simply states, “ Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always persveres. Love never fails.” (I Corinthians 13:4-7) What’s so complicated about that? The way I see it, life is full of twists and turns. Ups and downs. Life is complicated. Love is not. The key to a successful relationship is finding someone who is willing to love you in spite of the issues that may arise. And vice versa. Then you can more easily pinpoint what you mean to one another. You find a way to deal with your issues instead of seeking love elsewhere or hiding behind an “it’s complicated” status. If you desire to be in a healthy stable relationship, know that true love is possible. To love and be loved a wonderful thing. You nor the person you love, though, may not always behave wonderfully. You must still strive to accept and love each other with everything you’ve got. Be willing to keep on loving despite the challenges that arise. Play for keeps. Fight for the relationship. And open your heart to love. If you’re single, learn the value of loving God and loving yourself. Don’t settle for anything less than His absolute best for you. Then, you will be ready to receive the right person in His perfect timing. And there is nothing complicated about that.
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Love Notes From Heaven
by Stephanie Lyas
“For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 (TLB)
How would you react to the statement “God is a Dreamer?” Some people might argue that the mere idea is sacrilegious. “Why would God spend time dreaming when He could simply speak and create whatever He wants? Besides, doesn’t Scripture teach us that God never sleeps?” Of course His Word tells us that He never sleeps (Psalm 121:3), but consider this important point–one doesn’t necessarily have to be asleep to dream. Think about the concept of daydreaming. At some point or another, it is likely that you have been caught daydreaming. While it is unlikely that God spends time daydreaming as we do , it is very possible that God has thought processes like ours. In fact, Scripture teaches that we were made in His image; so we probably share some of the same cognitive attributes. Undoubtedly, His thoughts and ways are far beyond our understanding. That’s why He’s God! Think about His plan to design and create this vast universe. Was the idea to create such a phenomenon a whim? Probably not. Was God’s intricate design of creation a fluke? Unlikely. There is substantial evidence in the Word that proves that our Father is interested in every detail of our existence. In Genesis Chapter 1 verse 26, God says “Let us make man in Our image, after Our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.” (KJV) Here, we find that God had high ambitions for mankind. Let’s look at another verse of Scripture that supports this claim. In Jeremiah chapter 29 verses 4-14 we find more evidence that God has great plans for His people. During the time when the Israelites were being held captive and were exiled to Babylon, God spoke through the prophet Jeremiah to encourage them that He had not forsaken them. He reminded them that He had plans to deliver them out of captivity. God’s desire to bless His children is the same today as it was
then. He is same. He still delivers and blesses His people. He still fulfills His plans and vision for our lives! So why is it so difficult for some of us to catch on to this concept? Why do we operate in doubt and fear when the Word of God is so very clear? We often hold out on moving forward with a dream or an idea because of insecurity or lack of clear direction. Now is the time to dare to dream for great things to happen for the glory of God! He has invested greatness in us, and He will develop it in His timing if we simply align our will with His. If you desire to fulfill God’s wonderful vision for your life, pray and ask God to reveal to you His plan and then dedicate it back to Him. It doesn’t matter how old or how young you are. It doesn’t matter your social or financial status. The most important thing is to have faith in Him for “without faith it is impossible to please Him, for He that comes to Him must first believe that He is and is a Rewarder of them that diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6).” So go ahead, dive into His wonderful plan and watch God transform your bleak, gray existence into a spectacular array of grace and beauty. ~Writing Challenge~ Make a list of dreams and goals that you have or have had in the past. Then, dedicate some time in prayer each day concerning them. Listen and expect God to offer clear direction concerning your list. It may be very helpful to write in a journal or notebook. Be sure to leave room to write God’s response to prayer beside each goal. Check the list periodically and note your progress. Then give God thanks for working in your life.
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Publishing Unlimited â„˘ Providing a Variety of Inspirational Electronic and Print Media Products HeartSongs Publishing Unlimited P.O. Box 59763 Birmingham, AL 35259-9763