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The Magazine for Inspiration and Life


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The Magazine for Inspiration and Life HeartSongs Magazine c/o HeartSongs Publications Unlimited P.O. Box 59763 Birmingham, AL 35259-9763 205-943-2518 This publication is copyrighted. All Rights Reserved. No part of this magazine may be reproduced or transmitted without the expressed written permission of the Editor. Please contact the authors directly for permission to reprint, distribute or republish their work. All material is re-printed with permission.

FREELANCE WRITERS WELCOME HeartsSongs Magazine is currently accepting submissions of original high quality content for future issues. If you are interested in having your work published with us please contact us at via email at heartsongsmag@gmai.com for submission guidelines and information.

SUBSCRIBE TO HEARTSONGS MAGAZINE To order contact: HeartSongs Publishing Unlimited, P.O. Box 59763/Birmingham, AL 35259-9763 Phone & Fax: 205-943-2518 Email: heartsongsmag@gmail.com $30.00 Annually/Quarterly $49.00 2-year Subscription Discounts available for bulk subscriptions

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The Magazine for Inspiration and Life

ON THE COVER 8

Caring 101

16

Ordered Steps

29

Relationships: Let Go and Live!

IN EVERY ISSUE 12

Wisdom Words/Quotes

13

What's Cookin’ in the Cafe

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A Message From the Editor

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A Free Gift for You

38

Love Notes from Heaven

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Spring Forward! Spring is here! The birds are singing, flowers are blooming and new life is bursting forth all around us. How great it is to know that in the seasons of our life, God is faithful! It’s time to put away the dry, dead things of winter and embrace the marvelous new things that are waiting for us. Several weeks ago, we were reminded to “spring forward” in preparation for Daylight Savings Time. I believe that it is also a great reminder to take the leap of faith toward the goals, dreams and plans that we are destined to achieve. If you have fallen back in some area of life, don’t be discouraged. Stand up and spring forward!

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Welcome to the first issue of HeartSongs Magazine! I can’t describe what a tremendous honor it is to produce this publication. It has been several years since The HeartSong CafÊ newsletter was published. I hope that our magazine will be just as informative, uplifting, and encouraging for all of our loyal readers and friends. For me, this venture represents a new and exciting chapter in my life waiting to be unfolded! Over time we will incorporate some of the features from the newsletter and add a few new things as well. Since this magazine is dedicated to everyday people we hope to stay true to you by providing inspirational and practical content that will help you

Stephanie Lyas, Founding Editor HeartSongs Magazine

wherever you are on your journey.. We welcome your comments, questions and input. We also invite you to send us your original poetry, articles, interviews, short stories or anything that will inspire others. Submission information is posted on page 37.

CONTACT US I pray that the remainder of 2012 is a year of health, wholeness and growth for each of you. If HeartSongs Magazine can be a small part of making that happen for you, our labor is not in vain. Faithfully yours,

Stephanie Lyas Founding Editor, HeartSongs Magazine

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HeartSongs Magazine c/o HeartSongs Publishing Unlimited Stephanie Lyas, Founder P.O. Box 59763 Birmingham, AL 35259-9763


Thorns in My Nest by Stephanie Lyas One of my favorite sounds is birds chirping outside my window first thing in the morning. Sometimes I wish I could understand “bird talk” because their conversations sound quite interesting. I recall having some visitors that once made themselves at home in my mailbox. A mother wren had meticulously stuffed it full of grass and twigs right where the mail was supposed to go. And there, in the middle of her creation lay three tiny eggs, ready to hatch at any moment. I’ll never forget the day I discovered that the babies had arrived. I was overjoyed to hear the sweetness of their frail, high-pitched tweets. It was beautiful music! One day, as I curiosity got the best of me, I peeked inside to get a look them. To my delight, I discovered three newly hatched chicks, whose feathers were still sleek and wet. They were so curious with mouths wide open eager for their mother to bring them food and warmth. I marveled at how trusting they were that she would provide and how confident she was that they would be safe while she was away. But something else very intriguing stood out. Amid the babies I noticed the prickly straw and twigs, and wondered how they could possibly be comfortable inside there. “Doesn’t the mother know that babies need something soft to lie on?” I thought, “after all they are so new.” Then, it hit me! The nest she built was not necessarily designed to make the birds comfortable, but to nurture them until they were ready to fly. I imagined what might have happened if the mother filled the nest with too much soft grass. Perhaps the babies would get too relaxed and be tempted to stay in the nest well past their point of maturity. Isn’t it wonderful to have a loving Father who cares so much about our growth that He is willing to risk our short-term comfort? I think about my own life and how God sometimes puts thorns in my nest to nudge me out of my comfort zone– for my own good. And like the mother wren He still provides for my every need– in the midst of sometimes uncomfortable situations. And all the while He is preparing me to fly. Take time to examine where you are and where you are headed. Are there enough thorns to boost you to the next level?

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This issue is in response to the editor having a desire to renew her commitment to God and herself. I was blessed to be invited to submit articles to HeartSongs Magazine. I love to write and I have found it very therapeutic for me. As I began to think of my new blog post, my next entry was patience and then commitment. I thought commitment would be a more fitting beginning. I first thought of this topic after attending a traveling Heart Gallery for my employer. It was part of a recruitment tool for adoption. Seeing those faces and knowing they eagerly wanted a forever family was awesome, wonderful and sad at the same time. To do this or not is the age old argument I believe with resource developers of adoption families. Should we, in a sense, parade the children around for all to see– possibly to their classmates that would find out more than the children were willing to share? The answer has never been easy but for the most part it has been the most effective. These children put it all on the line. They have a goal and, if they are of age to understand, their caseworker discusses with them the pros and cons of having their pictures up for the entire world to see. The children show their best features. They smile brightly and their hair is perfectly

by Chelsea Howard combed. They want to be adopted and they do whatever is needed to be a part of a new family. It is not so different than our relationship to God. Christ said, “..we are the sons of God” and Ephesians 1:5 says we are adopted in him according to his purpose. To be adopted we have to have commitment. The child commits to the desire of wanting to belong and the parents have to be willing to be their parents. God committed to us without a beautiful picture or an impressive life history. The Bible states in Psalm 139:13 “..Thou has covered me in my mother’s womb.” That means God knew us before we knew ourselves. He had a desire for us to be in His family. God wanted us from the beginning but He asks that we commit to Him. He wants us to inherit the kingdom and the Bible is full of examples of people who were committed to Him. The Bible gives an instance when Satan, in my mind, was either bored or looking for a challenge. In Job 2:3, God invited Satan to test Job. As we read further in Scripture, Satan was sure by the time he was through with Job that Job would curse God (Job 2:5). God believed and knew something that Satan didn’t understand. Job’s commitment to God was not because of his health and the things that he had, (Continued on page 9)

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For five years of my life I worked with people in the throes of loss and major life transitions.

As one can imagine, it was tough at times, day in and day out, listening to the anguish of people whose entire worlds were shattered by various traumatic life events. Many days I felt like the words, “I’m sorry” were simply not enough to lift the people from their despair. And most of the time I was right. I soon learned that sometimes, a simple act of kindness-a pleasant smile , a warm hug or even a cup of coffee was of great comfort to them. Over time, I searched my heart for ways that I could help lift the burdens of so many whose paths crossed mine for the sake of hope and healing. God answered me. And in the midst of my searching, He taught me a lot about caring.

I really began to listen. With my heart. I realized that when people are going through a tough time, it’s easy for them to feel like no one understands. Like no one really cares. Well-meaning people may surround them with the words and attention they think a distressed person needs. Actually they are just trying to “fix it.” Ours is a society that tends to avoid pain, and often those who are experiencing those feelings are avoided as well– by people who have good intentions but are inadequate to care for hurting people. A wise man, who had spent nearly five decades of his life working in pastoral counseling and ministry, taught me the importance of having a ministry of presence. That is, simply being sensitive to the needs of others and making myself available to them—even if it means just being. That was a very simple but powerful concept to me! Throughout the course of my journey as a “people helper,” and also as a friend to people going through difficult times, I learned that it is okay to ask the question, “What do you need from me right now?” At times I have been surprised by responses like, “I just need to vent” or “A nice walk in the sunshine would do me a world of good.” I will admit, it all seemed too simplistic for me, but as a person committed to care giving, I was compelled to accommodate. And in many ways it was truly more blessed to give than receive! So, if you are hurting I offer hope. True, caring people may be few and far between, but they exist. The best advice that we, on the other side of your pain can give is simple. When you are surrounded by people who can and want to help, allow them to help. Communicate your feelings and needs to them . It is not selfish to do so. If you need silence and space, tell them. If you need to talk it out, tell them. If you have needs that you simply can’t meet on your own, tell them. There is always someone who can and will be there. Help them help you.

Want to hear the heart of those who care? Turn to page 25.

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but because of his love for God. Job became “weary of life” but he only complained about the pain- never blaming God. Even when others told him to “curse God and die” he never heeded to those thoughts of foolishness. Because of Job’s commitment to God, he was blessed more than before with more wealth, more children and he lived to be a very old man. There are others whose commitment for God is found in the Old and New Testaments. The disciples that God chose to follow Him showed a magnitude of love and belief in Jesus. Jesus simply asked them to stop what they were doing and trust and follow Him. The disciples, I know, had doubt but there was something about Jesus that allowed them to trust Him. The book of Acts introduces us to Stephen, who became a helper to the disciples. He was a priest and the Bible states in Acts 6:8 that Stephen was full of faith and power. The people of the synagogue were very upset about his commitment to God because he spoke of how Jesus would change the law as they knew it. Most importantly the laws of Moses were being challenged. False witnesses were set to destroy Stephen, but he had courage to stand and asked that the sin not be charged against them. Oh what love and commitment did Stephen show unto the Lord! Psalm 37:5 reads “Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass. There have been times when men have been asked for what they stand. Joshua 24:15 states “choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the floor, or the gods of Amorites….; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” What type of love or commitment can make you turn from worshiping the way of your family in search of worshiping God correctly in spirit and in truth?

If you enjoyed this, please visit my blog at www.Godsaiditibelieveit.blogspot.com.

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Behind Closed Doors

By Stephanie Lyas

Have you ever faced disappointment over something that did- the outcome of that situation?” Nevertheless, I knew that I had to muster n’t go quite the way you planned? Have you ever wanted up enough courage to look for work something so badly but were unable to obtain it? More than elsewhere. Eventually, I accepted likely the answer is “Yes.” Life, along with its great joys, is another job that was far less desirable sometimes filled with moments of disappointment. It is our response to setbacks that determines our ability to overcome than the one I really wanted, but gave them and move forward. Someone once me an opportunity to help others, which was very important to me. said that life is 10% of what happens to us, and 90% of how we respond to it. It After a while, I is much easier grew to love my to move past “When one door of happiness closes, anwork. Although difficult at times, it benegative expeother opens; but often we look so long at came extremely rewarding. About six riences with an the closed door that we do not see the one months into my new career, I got the optimistic attiwhich has been opened for us.” news that the company to which I origitude. Helen Keller nally applied went broke, and was forced to shut down. All of its employIn my lifetime, ees were suddenly left without jobs. It occurred to me, that, I’ve been known to obsess over certain things that I thought were vital to my hap- had I been hired at that company, I would be in the same prepiness--things like the having latest gadg- dicament. I realized that that closed door was actually a huge et or some trendy, designer outfit that I really could not afford. blessing! Even certain relationships, that eventually went sour, provided If you look closely enough, you can likely find some instances a false sense of security on which I based my well-being. Looking back, I realize that, had certain doors not been shut, I in which a missed opportunity worked to your advantage. would have missed even greater opportunities down the road. Perhaps it was the loss of a job that gave you the freedom to pursue a lifelong dream or a more satisfying career. Maybe it was getting “bumped” from an overbooked flight only to be I can recall a potentially devastating experience in my early upgraded to a first-class seat on the next. Or maybe it was 20’s that turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Right after graduating from college, I applied for a job, which seemed to ending a bad relationship that provided the chance to meet someone more compatible. Some setbacks are really set-ups perfectly match my interests and skills. I left the interview feeling confident that I would be hired, and had started men- for even greater things ahead! tally preparing myself to begin working for the company. I When disappointment comes it is natural to feel discouraged. envisioned myself gradually moving up the corporate ladder But spending too much time lamenting over what could have and becoming very successful. However, my enthusiasm been robs you of time and effort needed to pursue things that quickly waned when I learned that someone else had been will bring you greater satisfaction. Make a decision to look for hired for the position. Naturally, I felt very discouraged . I spent a lot of time asking God, “Why didn’t that work out like the blessings behind closed doors. Sometimes they are not visible right away, but know that God is working on your behalf I hoped?” or “What could I have done differently to change behind the scenes. 10


Health & Wellness

Rest: The Key to a Strong Mind, Body & Spirit By Stephanie Lyas

Are you too busy? Does it seem like there just aren't enough hours in the day to complete everything on your to-do list? You are not alone. Chronic “busy-ness” is a part of many of our lives, and in some cases, just seems unavoidable. We spend much of our awake time working, taking care of home and family, and the list goes on and on. Our days are filled with so much activity that rest and relaxation have become a luxury. Rest, however , is an essential part of the strong mind, body and spirit connection. Research has shown that a people who deprive themselves of proper rest are more susceptible to major health problems such as high blood pressure and heart disease. That is why rest Is not just a good idea. It is optimal for mental, physical and emotional well -being. Here are few tips to consider: 1. Like everything else, you must plan to rest. Work when you’re supposed to, but take periodic breaks to reduce your stress level. Mark it on your calendar if you must. 2. Remember that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. Resting is a great way to connect with God. Prayer and meditation is a great way to allow your spirit to be refreshed. 3. Exercise. A good workout can increase your physical and mental well-being. Studies have shown that even a 10-15 minute walk can improve your mental clarity, memory and focus; and help you get a better night’s sleep.

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Hold On Hold on to what is good, even if it's a handful of earth. Hold on to what you believe, even if it's a tree that stands by itself. Hold on to what you must do, even if it's a long way from here. Hold on to your faith, even if it's easier to let go. Hold on to God's hand. -Author Unknown

Do you have Words of Wisdom to share? Maybe it’s your favorite short verse, quote or saying? We want to hear from you! Send your Wisdom Words to heartsongsmag@gmail.com

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Cooking & Entertainment

Carrot SoufflÊ What You Need 2 pounds carrots, chopped 1/2 cup melted butter 1 cup white sugar 1 teaspoon baking powder 1 teaspoon confectioner’s sugar

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon baking powder 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 3 eggs, beaten for dusting

How to Fix Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add carrots and cook until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and mash. To the carrots add melted butter, white sugar, flour, baking powder, vanilla extract and eggs. Mix well and transfer to a 2 quart casserole dish. Sprinkle with confectioners' sugar. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes.

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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!

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I always notice butterflies. They are, by far, my favorite creatures on earth. Once, during my morning walk, I spotted an unusual one with rich brown markings and shades of brilliant blue. I stopped to watch its incessant hovering over a flower that had fallen to the ground. As I moved closer toward it, I noticed that part of its wing was torn. Perhaps somewhere in its travels it got entangled in a bush or maybe even a net. I wondered if the butterfly felt any pain or even noticed its imperfection. Still, to me, it was as beautiful as any other. Simply because it was a butterfly. In fact, I didn't even notice the flaw until it stopped flying. I learned some very powerful lessons that day. We all have struggles in life. Many of us display our battle scars on the outside, while others carry internal scars of struggle and pain. But just like the butterfly, though marred by life’s circumstances, we can still savor the sweetness that life has to offer. We are no less beautiful because of our scars. In fact, they are reminders that we triumph in spite of our challenges. It is our courage and determination to keep flying that make us beautiful.

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good and allow Him to get the most glory out of our lives. I pondered several ideas relang to the believer’s spiritual journey that paralleled with my airplane flight to California. I would like to share 5 observaons that I feel are important to consider while we are traveling God’s path for our lives:

By Kelvin Bonner kelvinbonner@hotmail.com Recently I traveled to California for the first me in my life. Having grown up on the Alabama Gulf Coast, this was truly a different adventure for me. In my preparaon for the trip, I must admit that I felt a mixture of emoons including excitement, fear, and ancipaon of what this area, that was foreign to me, would be like. Would the climate be sunny and warm? Would I experience any earthquakes? Would I come into contact with any celebries? Would I be able to keep up with the traffic on the freeway in my rental car? Would the state live up to the expectaons I developed over the years from other people and the media? I was reminded from this excursion that God o)en allows us to walk through situaons that we have never encountered before in order to help us to grow and to learn to put our faith totally in Him. Otherwise, we might se+le for being stagnant and content, and not fully maximize our life’s potenal. We may face starng a new job or being laid off from a job, going back to school or finally compleng school, ge/ng married or encountering a painful divorce, celebrang the birth of a child or having to face the reality of burying a loved one. Regardless of the situaons that come our way; we all face life transions and must embrace how God uses those circumstances for our

Yield to the screening process Since the unfortunate circumstances of September 11, 2001, most are well aware of the intense security procedures that have been put in place to ensure safety for all during airline travel. From taking off your shoes to going through full body scanners, these measures that appear to be nagging inconveniences are meant for the good of helping travelers arrive to their desnaon safely. Just as one cannot skip this step before ge/ng on a plane, it is important for us as believers to understand how vital it is to go through God’s screening process so that our spiritual journey will be safe and successful. It must be noted that leaving God out of the equaon and choosing our own path instead will lead to dissasfacon and an unproducve life. We must allow God to search our total being and reveal those hidden things that need to be removed.

making it to my desired travel desnaon by challenging the airport official’s authority. It’s important to recognize that it can be a painful thing to the flesh when God brings to our a+enon those areas that need to be addressed in our lives, but the rewards are far greater in the long run when we make the proper adjustments.

Check all baggage The airlines have become extremely strict in recent years by liming the amount of luggage one can carry, even to the point of charging passengers extra fees to travel with any baggage at all. One thing that can be learned from this is that carrying extra baggage in our lives can be costly. Hebrews 12:1 is clear in reminding us to lay aside those sins and weights that can so easily become a+ached to us. Please note that we can have baggage holding us down that is not necessarily sinful, but the connued presence of I innocently packed a full water bo+le, those things in our lives can become toxic which I brought from home, in my laptop to our overall spiritual health. This bagbag. I honestly did not know that bringing gage may include past hurts and disapliquids in carry-on bags, with the exceppointments, unhealthy relaonships/ on of approved toiletries, was prohibited. The scanning system accurately iden- associaons, fears, and seeking the approval of others, to name a few. Though it fied my water bo+le and the worker informed me that he had to confiscate and is o)en a hard pill to swallow, we must all throw the bo+le away regardless of the learn how through the help of the Holy fact that it had never been opened. He Spirit to let go of things and people that further explained that I was welcome to will hinder rather than help us as we jourbuy another bo+led water anywhere in the airport a)er going through the securi- ney on with God. We should only allow those things that are essenal for our spirty checkpoint. I could have argued with him, but it would have been useless and it itual growth to join us in this season. likely would have prevented me from 16


that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and My flight was delayed nearly an hour due to inclement weather shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and wellat the airport where I was scheduled to change planes. There was no use in me complaining and whining about this inconven- developed, not deficient in any way.” This passage assures us that when we experience turbulent situaons in our life that is ience. I made the best use of my me by grabbing a meal and not the me for a pity party, but instead it is a prime opportunilistening to some inspiraonal music on my headphones unl the delay was over. We have to understand that everything does ty to discern God’s will in the ma1er and allow Him to sustain us as we fellowship with Him through prayer, praise and worship. not occur in our lives exactly the way we think it should be scheduled. God is ulmately in control. Habakkuk 2:3 reminds us that there is an appointed me for the vision to be revealed, Trust God to be the Navigator so therefore we should just wait paently for it. One of my sem- At one point during my flight, I was overcome with the thought inary professors would o)en say, “God is always on me, but He that I was ulmately at the mercy of the pilot. I had to trust that is seldom early.” There is so much truth to this statement. Our he was fully equipped and competent to navigate the plane from takeoff to landing. I later concluded that if human nature wants God to respond an airplane pilot is only a mere human beprecisely according to our metable, ing, how much more so should we trust God but God knows best. He recognizes our creator to lead us where we need to go what we need at the appropriate in life exactly when we need to get there. moment, and o)en the delays that Deuteronomy 31:8 reminds us that God God allows in our lives are a blessing goes before us. That is so excing to know because He knows that if He did not that He has already been where He is leaddelay the thing it would likely cause ing us. The key is for us to remember to more harm than good. I am so glad allow God to take the lead in every area of that God always keeps our best inour life, rather than us trying to jump in terests at heart rather than respondfront of Him. ing to our selfish wants and desires.

Recognize that there may be some delays

Prayer

Be prepared to experience turbulence As my plane flew closer to California, we encountered some high turbulence and the pilot communicated to us over the public address system that the area was experiencing some unusually strong winds, and he admonished us to make sure our seat belts remained fastened. Even the fight a1endants that were serving us snacks and beverages disconnued their dues and immediately secured themselves as well. I must admit that it was a li1le unnerving as the plane was shaking. I decided to close my window cover during this me rather than look out the window. The shaking seemed to connue for what seemed to be an eternity, but it eventually stopped, and the plane resumed flying at the smooth pace we had enjoyed before. That episode helped to remind me that when we encounter turbulence or storms in our lives; the tendency is to want to run away. However, it is important to remember to allow God’s purpose to work in our lives even in the midst of adversity. I think that James 1:2 in the Message Bible expresses it best, “Consider it a sheer gi), friends, when test and challenges come at you from all sides. You know

Thank you God for having a great plan for my life, a plan to prosper me and not to harm me. I yield to your screening process to reveal any hidden things within me and to give me the courage to make the necessary adjustments in correcng them. Forgive me for any sins I have commi1ed against you and help me to release any weights that I am carrying in my life. I accept your perfect ming, and I refuse to get weary in well doing recognizing that my due season will come if I faint not. I refuse to run away in mes of adversity, but I will let you perform your perfect work in me. I allow you to be the leader in my life. Even when I can’t see or understand all the details, I will follow a)er you. I thank you Father for never leaving or forsaking me. Help me to be a blessing to those that you bring into my path. May you receive the ulmate glory out my life. In Jesus Name, Amen.

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By Adam Bennett

In the fear of the LORD one has strong confidence, and his children will have a refuge. (Proverbs 14:26) All parents want their children to grow up secure. This proverb provides a simple prescription that, in the Message's paraphrase, makes the "world safe for your children."

“Start your child’s day with love and encouragement and end it the same way.” -Zig Ziglar

The key is not in parenting skills, books or programs. The secret is for parents to fear the LORD. To fear the LORD, is to have a proper awe and respect for God. As we increasingly understand who God is and what He does, fear is a good description for how we experience the knowledge of how separate and different from God we are. In CS Lewis' The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, Mr. Beaver says to the children, who are wondering about Aslan, "Safe? Who said anything about safe? Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the King, I tell you." As our faith is established, and we cease to be people who are a "wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind," (James 1:6) our children get to experience the certainty and truth that they are beloved of God and protected by the One who is sovereign over all things. Though they do not understand it they, like us, progressively learn that God says of us, "I have cared for you since you were born. Yes, I carried you before you were born. I will be your God throughout your lifetime until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you." (Isaiah 40:3-4 NLT) Copyright Adam Bennett 2009. More articles are available at http://godward-thoughts.blogspot.com

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5 Steps to Finding Your New “Fire”

By Stephanie Lyas

In a perfect world Life would be free of pain, loss, hurt feelings, and disappointment. Unfortunately, OUR world in which we live isn’t perfect. Sometimes life throws us “curve balls” that are difficult to handle. Situations arise that can potentially break our spirits and crush our resolve. But we have a choice: we can wallow in defeat or take action and move in a positive direction. Moving forward is not always easy, but it is certainly do-able. A few years ago, I was working on a goal that meant a lot to me. I was so excited about its completion, and began making plans for the future. I had put in lots of time into making things happen when all of a sudden, I received a letter stating that that the project that I poured my heart and soul into would be delayed indefinitely. I was angry and hurt at the same time. In fact, I experienced the gamut of negative emotions as I tried to work through my disappointment. “How could this happen? And why after all the hard work that I put into it?” I questioned. After my 15-minute crying spell, I knew I was at a crossroads– I could either succumb to the frustration and abandon my goal entirely or I could find a way to overcome the disappointment and stick with it. It was emotionally exhausting but I made the decision to continue moving forward in the face of this setback. Something inside of me would not allow my passion to wane, so I had to get creative and use that negative energy as fuel for my new “fire”.

1. Allow yourself to feel the pain of disappointment, disappointment but don’t linger there. Acknowledging your feelings opens the door to healing. If you need to cry—then cry. If you need to vent do that. Once you release those feelings of hurt, anger, sadness, betrayal, etc. you open the door to resolving them in a positive, constructive way. 2. Look at the bright side. I know it seems easier said than done. Especially at first. But finding and focusing on the positive aspects of the situation puts you in position to think and move forward. Negative thoughts lead to negative actions. Positive thoughts lead to positive actions that will get you that much quicker to success. 3.Immediately Immediately resort to Plan B, B assuming that you’ve devised one. Open up your mind to new possibilities. Figure out a way to build upon the progress that you’ve already made. You don’t always need to “reinvent the wheel.” You’ve come this far. Keep going! 4. Realize that disappointment is a part of life and that you have what it takes to move forward. Even when it seems like your world has crumbled beneath your feet, know that you are not alone. It happens to everyone at some point. See yourself as being empowered by your choice to overcome the circumstances.

Facing disappointment is never easy. But there are ways that you can move forward in spite of it. Here are a few ideas that will help you re-ignite your passion and zeal and will ultimately help you achieve your goals.

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5. Don’t put off your happy life. A bad period of time in your life does not necessarily mean that you have a bad life. Time here on earth is too short to be discouraged by the past and fretful of the future. Give yourself permission to be happy right now!


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Winter’s Passing Winter’s passing in my life Spring is almost here Time to reevaluate The things that I hold dear Time to put away the cloak Of heartache and distress Time to say it loud and strong “It’s my time to be blessed !” Though long and dark the nights have been And days were bleak and cold The times I longed for something To quiet my restless soul But now the snow has melted And blossoms do appear My arbor is now a haven Of contentment, peace and cheer For sunshine lights the shadows And rainbows chase the rain The garden of serenity Dwells in my heart again I bid you farewell, Dear Winter Your passing is not in vain For though your flight is pending You’re sure to come again Copyright 2009. Stephanie Lyas. All Rights Reserved

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By Stephanie Lyas “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” John 15:15 (NIV)

We live in a very “top down” society. Who you know sometimes seems more important than what you know-especially in the business world. Your associations with “important” people can often mean the difference between success and failure. The more you schmooze the less you lose. It’s great to know that life isn’t like that with the Father. Whoever wants to come to Him can do just that. He has given those who accept Him as Lord an open invitation to fellowship with Him in prayer and worship. One of our greatest blessing is to know God intimately and be known by Him. To share our most private thoughts without fear of rejection is amazing! To have access to the Creator of the Universe is beyond belief! And to know that He wants to be in relationship with us is what makes living worthwhile. It is a privilege to serve Him, but it is an honor to be called His Friend.

For information on how you can have a more personal relationship with God through Christ, please turn to Page 14.

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TRAVELER God sent me to a broken man Whose heart I was to mend My task, a rather simple one To care and be his friend Though I myself was wounded My heart at times felt fear Yet still a quiet knowing That God Himself was near Whose arms held both our comfort Whose hands poured out our grace In whose abode to each revealed A quiet resting place “Dear God,” I asked, “how could it be That two not one are healed?” He answered ever so lovingly “You’ve felt as he now feels And as his fellow traveler Your own peace is attained For what is freely given Is easiest to gain.” by Stephanie Lyas in honor of the 2004-2008 WPRA Support Groups

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Wait for the Wind By Stephanie Lyas

There was once a little boy who got a new kite for his birthday. Every day he would go outside and drag the kite along the ground hoping it would fly. One day, a neighbor spotted him tirelessly running around the yard with his new kite in tow. Noticing the boy’s frustration, the man went over to him and said , “Son, I know you want that kite to fly, but you’ve got to have some help from the Lord. You’ve got to wait for the wind. “ “But, I want it to fly right now. Besides, I’ve been waiting all this time for a kite and now that I’ve finally got one, I think I can make it fly ,” the boy replied. “Well that’s not the way kites are meant to work. It’s the wind that takes them higher. If you keep dragging it along the ground, you’re just wasting your time.” How many times do we effortlessly drag our “kites” on the ground? Maybe God has entrusted us with special gifts, but in our futile efforts, we try to make them work without Him? It is the wind of the Holy Spirit that breathes life into or dreams, plans and actions. Without Him, we end up tired, frustrated and empty, and we never really go as high as we are meant to. The wind of God is sweet and refreshing. It is literally the life of everything meaningful that exists. When you commit your ways to God, allowing His Spirit to guide, your plans will succeed (Proverbs 16:3) So, whenever you’re tempted to “fly” on your own, simply wait on the wind of God’s presence. He will take you to heights you never dreamed of!

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By Stephanie Lyas

Who is your enemy? You might say, “I really don’t have any. I get along well with everyone I know.” But, the truth is, every single one of us has them. You can be the most popular, most lovable person on earth and still have enemies. Sometimes they are in your face. Other times they are behind your back. Sometimes they are within. But believe me, they exist. I think of an enemy as any person or thing that directly opposes my success or well-being through their words, thoughts and actions. But the concept of enemies goes far beyond simply having “haters”. The number one goal of your enemy is the hindrance and destruction of any progress you have made. In a society that is pleasure-oriented, it may be unpleasant to think about, but in order to win the battles we face in life, we must know our opposition. Even in the natural, any great military plan of success includes keen knowledge of the tactics, motives and strategies of enemy forces. The same is true spiritually. We learn from Scripture that our main enemy, also referred to as “The Thief”, comes to steal, kill and destroy. The good news is that Jesus Christ came to give those who trust in Him an abundant life. And that includes peace and security in spite of any opposition that comes our way. We have no fear of our enemies as long as we are in right relationship with Him. We have hope through God’s Word that, when our ways please the Him, He will make even our enemies be at peace with us (Proverbs 16:7). Does that mean that enemies automaMcally disappear when you start serving the Lord? Absolutely not! In fact, many days it will seem as though you have more enemies than friends. Living a life pleasing to God is not without its pitfalls. Yes, there are wonderful benefits but there are also many challenges and struggles that we face as His children. Peace comes when you remain focused on God’s will and rest confidently in Him. Peace with our enemies comes when we know that we have Someone much stronger and wiser fighting on our behalf..

What does your enemy look like? A person, a memory? Fear, doubt, low self-worth? Today, make a decision that your enemies have no power over you. Be determined to walk in the victory that overcomes the world-- your faith in God.

The psalmist David had a good grasp of how God deals with the enemies of those He loves. “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies (Psalm 23:6).” It is encouraging to know that, although we have enemies, we also have a table! What’s better is that God is able to allow us to feast on His goodness right there in their midst. It’s all a matter of focus. Whenever you are tempted to retreat or surrender when confronted by your enemies, know that peace is not only possible, but it is a promise. Your enemies have no power over you when you are secure in the Lord. No word, thought or action can separate you from the love that God has for you (Romans 8:38-39). And that, is the kind of peace worth having.

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Relationships tiness of past failed relationships. I mustered up the courage to say that the relationships may have failed but I didn’t. Most importantly, God didn’t. Were there things that I wish I had done differently? Could I have made better choices for myself? Of course. But even the mistakes turned out to be opportunities for learning and growth.

Let Go and Live! Living after Losing By Stephanie Lyas

I know people who, after seemingly devastating break-ups, divorces, and even the death of a mate, stop living. They “let themselves go” in many ways– thinking that loss means the end of living. They forget, at least for a moalso talked about barriers—those Recently, I was out to dinner with a things that really hold us back from ment, that life still has much to offer group of my women friends, I like to leading fulfilling lives as vibrant, beau- and that the key to happiness is in their call the “Cut-Up Club.” That’s betiful and worthy women. By the time own pocket. I’m not making light of cause every time we get together, it was my turn to share, I found myself losses of any kind, because pain is real. which isn’t often enough, we end up And it is personal. But I also believe just being silly together- laughing to the making excuses why my life isn’t as that after a time of point of tears like a bunch of “mourning,” if you do what school girls. We bring a Have comments about this article? Let’s is right for you, you come much needed sense of baltalk about it! Send us an email to out of it stronger, wiser, betance to one another’s lives, heartsongsmag@gmail.com ter, and empowered to get so it’s always great when we your life back. hang out together. I will We may post your comments in a future admit that we make an interissue! Mae Jemison, the first female esting mix, though— some African-American U.S. astrodivorced, some single parnaut made a powerful statement. She ents, some happily married, and others great as it should be. Talking it out never married. We share the common made me realize that a lot of it has to said: "Don't let anyone rob you of your imagination, your creativity, or your bond of being a woman, who at some do with my mindset toward being a single woman over 30. A lot of it, I curiosity. It's your life. Go on and do point and time, suffered the pain of all you can with it, and make it the life realize is the social pressure, especially loss and broken relationships. Even you want to live." in the Christian community to be a the ones who were happily married could testify about what it’s like to love good wife and mother. I began to buy What an eye-opener! I don’t have to and lose what may have started out as into other people’s notion that womrelinquish my right to be happy to anyanhood meant being a wife and/or a a good thing. one– past, present and future. I mother, and anything other than that choose to let go and live! meant failure. I realized that I, like That night over dinner, our conversation quickly turned from joking about many other women in my shoes, drank our wild and complicated lives to shar- the Kool-Aid! ing our most intimate struggles and feelings. After all, losing what you On the long drive home I had the opportunity to do some soul-searching. I love is no laughing matter. As we bereleased myself from shame and empgan to share “crazy-ex” stories, we

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'Go in peace; and the God of Israel grant thee thy petition that thou has asked of him' - 1 Samuel 1:17 Reading 1 Samuel this morning, I came across the above verse. I have read it perhaps a hundred times or more but the three words 'Go in peace' seemed familiar to me- as though someone else had said them before. I was instantly reminded that these were the very words that Jesus said to the woman caught in adultery.

“Heaviness in the heart of man maketh it stoop; but a good word maketh it glad.” (Proverbs 12:25) “Hope deferred maketh the heart sick but when the desire cometh it is a tree of life.” (Proverbs 13:12)

When Paul wrote his letters to the early Christians, I notice, at the beginning he would always offer the Gods grace and peace to them. We have troubles every day, difficult situations and circumstances that seem beyond our human control yet we have the power within us to utter these words of These two women couldn't seem be farther apart in their peace to those around us. We hold within us words of life situations yet, if you look closer they have more in common the very tree of life that can bring healing and comfort. than first meets the eye. Since we were all sinners and have partaken of God's grace, we know what it is like to be freed from sin. Now we speak Hannah, a righteous woman, was married but unable to con- wisely and judge no man; for as with both Hannah and the ceive. Eli, a Priest of the Lord, already had condemned Han- woman caught in adultery, we are chosen to receive grace nah in his heart at first by thinking she was drunk! He was in a time of great need. flawed himself, but nonetheless chosen by God and sat on a seat by the pillar at the Temple of the Lord. It was here that We know that Hannah went on to give birth to Samuel- a Eli, realizing that Hannah was in distress, was moved with great prophet and had more children of her own. The womcompassion toward her and spoke God’s word “Go in an in adultery was forgiven and given the gift of peace. peace; and the God of Israel grant thee the petition that thou What a gift both received! For Hannah, it was children, for has asked of him.” the woman caught in adultery is was life and not being judged. The same scene set generations later with Jesus, Son of Man speaking these same words to the woman caught in adultery, These stories of grace and freedom, I know, will bless “Go in peace and sin no more.” The woman caught in adul- many men and women alike. But to be free from sin is the tery stood by as those around her wanted to cast judgment greatest freedom of all. It brings life, health and peace in upon her. They were ready to stone her! What is interesting abundance which is what Jesus was talking about. Be confiis that the words “Go in peace” were uttered first before an- dent that God will bring the right people across your path ything else. This is really important. and be guided by your heart of compassion to speak the words “Go in peace” to someone. What these women had in common was that they were both very troubled. They were burdened down by life and provoked into situations that seemed beyond any man's control. These women needed to be heard and understood. They Contact Virginia at : jacquijjulyan@aol.com needed compassion, not someone to judge them wrongly. Uttered from the heart of God himself the words 'Go in Peace' enabled them to physically get up and move away from their situation. It no longer weighed them down. In the book of Proverbs these words caught my attention:

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by Stephanie Lyas

“

As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.� James 2:26 (NIV) I once heard a story about a small southern farming town. One particular season the region experienced the worst drought in decades. Many crops failed and the entire town suffered major financial hardship as a result. Greatly concerned about the lack of rainfall, and its impact on the local economy, several of the locals got together to figure out what must be done to help their struggling town survive the crisis. They needed a miracle-and fast! That summer, one of the churches in town held its annual revival. Each night, crowds would gather to pray, sing and hear the preaching. One night, a traveling minister was passing through and decided to stop by. Whispers could be heard as the tall stranger entered the little wooden church and made his way down to the front row. As the service came to a close, he raised his hand and asked if he could have remarks. Reluctantly, the pastor obliged and handed him a microphone.

ple began to look around. Not a single hand went up. "Just as I thought," he said. "How can you pray for rain and not bring your umbrella? Don’t you believe that your prayers will be answered? Faith without works is dead. Tomorrow night, I want everyone who believes that God will send the rain to bring your umbrella and see what happens." The next night, the church was filled to capacity with people-all with umbrellas in hand. As usual, they prayed, sang, and listened intently to the preaching. After the service, the noise of the church folk laughing and greeting one another became suddenly silent. "Is that what I think it is?" one woman asked in amazement. Indeed it was exactly what they had prayed for. Rain! And not just a few drops here and there, but a downpour! In fact, it rained steadily for two straight weeks-enough to save the majority of the crops, revive the economy, and more importantly, renew the people's faith in God. How often do we pray for some miracle or blessing , but fail to adequately prepare for it? Faith without corresponding actions is useless. For "without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a Rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. (Hebrews 11:6)" The next time you pray that God will shower you with blessings, ask yourself, "Where's my umbrella?"

The man stood before the congregation and introduced himself. He mentioned that he had read about the drought in the local newspaper. "I know that many of you here have been praying for rain for weeks, but let me ask you a question- How many of you brought an umbrella with you tonight?" The peo 31


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Lord of the Valley “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me. Psalm 23:4 (NIV) I once heard of a young man named Jim who was a hard-working factory worker in a Midwestern manufacturing town. He was happily married, was the proud father of 3 young sons, and was expecting their 4th child any day. One day, shortly after arriving to work, he and dozens of his co-workers received notices that the plant was about to shut down leaving Jim and hundreds of other employees without jobs. Once the factory closed, Jim spent the next several months searching for steady work, picking up odd-jobs here and there to support his family. Times were hard and they were forced to move in with relatives who lived close by. Through it all, Jim and his wife remained confident that God would help them through their hardship. They remained active in church-participating in various prayer and Bible study groups. In fact, Jim became the Worship Leader of his church, and often traveled around town singing at various events.. Although he was experiencing adversity in his own life, he relied upon his faith in God’s Word to help him minister to others who were hurting as well. Jim focused on the verse of Scripture in Psalm 23:4 in which the psalmist David wrote, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for You are with me.” Daily he meditated on that passage of Scripture. After months of praying, and trusting God, the miraculous happened! An executive from a well-known recording agency heard Jim minister at a worship conference and offered him a generous contract with a Christian record label. Within a short time, the family had earned enough money to build a brand new home, travel around the county ministering to others, and pay off all their debts. When asked in an interview by a local news station what he attributed to his success, he tearfully replied, “I always knew that God was faithful when I was on the mountaintop, but I soon came to realize that He is also the Lord of the Valley.” Prayer Focus Father, please help us to remember that You are a present Help in good times as well as in times of difficulty, and that You are always faithful. Let us rest confidently in You to comfort and guide us through our “valley” experiences. Point to Consider: When was the last time you experienced some dilemma or difficulty, and you experienced the grace and presence of God? In what ways did that experience affect your faith? Copyright © 2006. Stephanie Lyas. Reprinted from Reflections Magazine.

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by Stephanie Lyas

Blessed are the LONELY For God knows your name Blessed are the ENCOURAGERS For your light will always give you warmth Blessed are they that DREAM For God shall surely bring it to pass Blessed are the OUTCAST For you have a special place in God’s heart Blessed are the BROKEN-HEARTED For God is near you Blessed are they who serve without ACCOLADES For your faithfulness will be greatly rewarded Blessed are they that ENDURE For others draw strength from you Blessed are they who LAUGH For you sing the soul's most beautiful music! Blessed are the GRATEFUL For you draw greater blessings to your life

Copyright 2009. Stephanie Lyas. All Rights Reserved.

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But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. 窶的saiah 40:31

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By Stephanie Lyas

Life is a lot like the childhood game Tag. We’re always chasing after something-and for many of us, the things we chase appear way ahead of us. A bigger house, a nicer car, the perfect soul mate, social status, wealth, power and the list goes on and on. As much as we have, it’s not enough. And while we chase after those things we tend to miss out on the most important things. Several years ago one of the major banks created an entire multimillion dollar advertising campaign around three simple, but powerful words—Chase what matters. I remember watching television during the Christmas holidays and that particular commercial came on. I took a moment to ponder the message. And what irony! The ad aired during the time of the year when most people tend to spend too much in order to buy what they think will make others happy. I wondered if the company knew what the impact of its slogan-not just on us as consumers, but on us as human beings. Nevertheless, it got me to thinking about my own priorities. I began to question if I am really pursuing the things in life that will honor God and bring me satisfaction or am I wasting time chasing things that don’t have any long-term significance? It made me think a whole lot about reorganizing my life and putting the most important things first. So, I made the decision to start chasing after the things that truly matter—things like good health, strong relationships, spiritual and personal growth; and service to others. I still have a long way to go, but I’m thankful to have begun the process. Life is too valuable to waste time on trivial pursuits. From this day forward, be determined to set the right priorities for your life. Only you can decide what is most important for you. But really think about it. And then act. Because you matter.

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Love Notes From Heaven

By Stephanie Lyas

When I was a little girl, I loved to play in my Granny’s back yard. It was the perfect place for an adventure or two— huge with lots of trees to climb and a wide open spaces to run and play. It was also the place where one of her most prized possessions was on display– her flower garden. She took exceptional pride in her four-o’clocks, roses and hydrangeas, or “snow balls” as she called them. One day, I decided to pick one of her lovely blossoms - defying my strict orders to keep out of the garden. To my surprise a persistent bumblebee had dibs on the same flower I wanted. And the bee was not giving up. The second I saw it, I flailed and panicked and tried to shoo it away. Little did I know I was only making matters worse. The bee landed on my arm and the next thing I knew, I was stung and it was gone. Crying, I went inside to get my red, swollen welt attended to. Granny had seen the whole thing from the kitchen window and gave me the scolding I had coming to me that ended in, “Didn’t I tell you to stay out of my flowers?” That, and a lesson in bumblebees. She told me to never fight a bumblebee because they sting when people fight them. It’s their way of protecting themselves. “The best thing you can do when one flies near you is to just be still,” she said. Many times when something threatens our peace and security we are tempted to fight back. When we fear, fighting seems like a natural reaction, but oftentimes we still end up getting hurt. There is a time to fight and a time to be still and trust that everything is going to be alright. Everything that flies in our face is not going to harm us—especially if we are still and confident in our Heavenly Father’s protection. There are many battles we face in life. A wise person knows when to fight and when to simply be still.

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HeartSongs Magazine-Spring 2012 Issue