Sweet Savor of Praise Offerings!

Dear Blogger Friends,

I wanted to share a few things with you in a letter form, if you don’t mind?  My heart is overwhelmed with so much today!  How good God is for one and how He fills in the gaps for us single moms is incredible. I went to the Basic Military Training Graduation for my son this last weekend.  It was sooooo awesome!  What was so strange about it was I went through BMT, 27 years ago and since you walk everywhere you go when you are there in training, it took me a while to get my bearings.  I thought things were farther than they were…I guess it just seems that way when you are marching! LOL!  Anyway my daughter-in-law and I put together the montage below.  It is precious!  And this is one proud mama!

As I said at the beginning I am filled with gratefulness this Thanksgiving season for the beauty God has brought from the ashes of the years our family struggled.  I have prayed about how to share a portion of my testimony without being disrespectful to my family or telling sensitive information.  I have made some wonderful friends here on MSN and really have tried to be transparent to all for the sake of witnessing for Jesus. Christianity is about a relationship not religion…it is about walking in intimacy with the Savior, becoming more Christ-like as we spend time sharing with Him and letting Him lead and guide our lives. It encompasses praise, thanksgiving, forgiveness and loving…all the things I know pleases my Lord!!!

So in telling you a little bit about where Jesus brought us from, my hope is that you will see His hand, not my strength to get through it.  Because I am nothing without Him….In 2004 my husband of 12 years went to prison.  He was military at the time and getting ready to retire so you can imagine the devastation to our family at the time.  Loss of income, loss of our home and loss of a marriage and our family in every sense.  There was emotional struggles with my four children.  Each one having their own issues.  It was like standing in the middle of a burnt down building with nothing left but burnt, black ashes. The shock, grief and loneliness of it all was sometimes excruciating but God ministered to me and my family through many who surrounded us during these last three years.   I was a stay at home mom for 12 years so I was faced with providing for my family.  But God provided over and abundantly!!!

During the last 3 years God has restored our income to almost what my husband brought home and provided us a wonderful home.  He is restoring our family one day at a time.  I could not possibly share with you all that He has done but I can tell you that with out a doubt I am standing today because of a God who promised He would never leave me nor forsake me.   He has taken away the grief and brought joy.  He has replaced fear with faith. And above all He preserved my hopes and dreams…even though I had forgotten them for a season. 

These pictures I share with you in my photo albums and this montage is proof of a loving, patient God who gives more grace than I can possibly receive.  And I can not even give back to Him what He has given to me…thank you does not seem adequate.  But I know that when I lift up His name publicly to others, that is my Praise Offering, lifted up with hands that were formed in my mothers womb by Him!!!! And He smiles! 

Happy, Happy Thanksgiving from the bottom of my heart, dear friends!!!
Grace to you,
Shell

To the end that my glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent.
O LORD my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever. 

Psalm 30:12

Now You See Me, Now You Don’t, But God Does!

 

I was thinking last week and even through the weekend, how invisible I felt these days.  Last week was soooo hard on many levels.  Struggling with issues lingering from a devastating event over 3 years ago. The effects of it still seen within my family.  If I had to choose a number on a scale of 1-10, it would have to be an 8.  A friend sent this to me and I could not resist posting it. I hope it will be ok with the author.  It is a wonderful thought and one I am thankful for.  I have visited some great cathedrals, when I was stationed in Europe, many years ago and I can tell you these pictures do not do them justice.  Massive does not even come close. To think that our efforts in our children’s lives are sometimes of no effect is a huge mistake.  Good and the bad we build into their lives.  I am so blessed today to be reminded of this through these words.  I hope it blesses you as much as it did me.

Grace to you all!

Shell

Why should I feel discouraged, why should the shadows come,
Why should my heart be lonely, and long for heaven and home,
When Jesus is my portion? My constant friend is He:
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

I sing because I’m happy, I sing because I’m free, For His eye is on the sparrow, And I know He watches me.

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Perspective: The Invisible Woman
By Nicole Johnson

    It started to happen gradually.  One day I was walking
my son Jake to school. I was holding his hand
and we were about to cross the street
when the crossing guard said to him,
"Who is that with you, young fella?" 
    "Nobody," he shrugged.

    "Nobody?" The crossing guard and I laughed.

My son is only 5, but as we crossed the
street I thought, "Oh my goodness, nobody?"

    I would walk into a room and no one would notice.

I would say something to my family – like
"Turn the TV down, please" – and nothing would happen.

    Nobody would get up, or even make a move for

the remote. I would stand there for a minute,
and then I would say again, a little louder,
"Would someone turn the TV down?" Nothing.

    Just the other night my husband and I were out at a party.

We’d been there for about three hours and I was ready to leave.
I noticed he was talking to a friend from work. So I walked over,
and when there was a break in the conversation,
I whispered, "I’m ready to go when you are."

    He just kept right on talking.

    That’s when I started to put all the pieces together.

I don’t think he can see me. I don’t think anyone can see me. 
I’m invisible.
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    It all began to make sense, the blank stares,

the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk
into the room while I’m on the phone
and ask to be taken to the store.
Inside I’m thinking, "Can’t you see I’m on the phone?"

    Obviously not! No one can see if I’m on the phone,

or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing
on my head in the corner, because
no one can see me at all.
   
    I’m invisible.
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    Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more:

Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this?
Some days I’m not a pair of hands; I’m not even a human being.
I’m a clock to ask, "What time is it?"
I’m a satellite guide to answer,
"What number is the Disney Channel?
"I’m a car to order, "Right around 5:30, please."

    I was certain that these were the hands

that once held books and the eyes that studied history
and the mind that graduated summa cum laude
-but now they had disappeared into the
peanut butter, never to be seen again.

    She’s going she’s going she’s gone!

    One night, a group of us were having dinner,

celebrating the return of a friend from England.
Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous
trip, and she was going on and on about
the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there,
looking around at the others all put together so well.
It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself
as I looked down at my out-of-style dress;
it was the only thing I could find that was clean.
My unwashed hair was pulled up in a banana clip
and I was afraid I could actually smell peanut butter in it.
I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me
with a beautifully wrapped package, and said,
"I brought you this."
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    It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe.

I wasn’t exactly sure why she’d given it to me
until I read her inscription:
 
"To Charlotte, with admiration for the greatness of
what you are building when no one sees."

    In the days ahead I would read – no, devour – the book.

And I would discover what would become for me,
four life-changing truths, after
which I could pattern my work:

*    No one can say who built the great cathedrals –

we have no record of their names.

*    These builders gave their whole lives for a

work they would never see finished.

*    They made great sacrifices and expected no credit.

*    The passion of their building was fueled by

their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.
 
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    A legendary story in the book told of a rich man

who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built,
and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam.
He was puzzled and asked the man, "Why are you
spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that
will be covered by the roof? No one will ever see it." 

    And the workman replied, "Because God sees."

    I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place.

It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me,
"I see you, Charlotte. I see the sacrifices you make every day,
even when no one around you does.  No act of kindness
you’ve done, no sequin you’ve sewn on, no cupcake you’ve
baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over.
You are building a great cathedral, but you
can’t see right now what it will become."
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    At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction.
But it is not a disease that is erasing my life.
It is the cure for the disease of my own self-centeredness.
It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn pride.

    I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a

great builder.  As one of the people who show up at a job
that they will never see finished, to work on
something that their name will never be on. The
writer of the book went so far as to say that no
cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because
there are so few people willing to
sacrifice to that degree.

    When I really think about it, I don’t want my son

to tell the friend he’s bringing home from college
for Thanksgiving, "My mom gets up at 4 in the morning and
bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a
turkey for three hours and presses all the linens for
the table." That would mean I’d built a shrine or a
monument to myself.  I just want him to want to come home.
And then, if there is anything more to say to his
friend, to add, "You’re gonna love it there."

    As mothers, we are building great cathedrals.

We cannot be seen if we’re doing it right.
And one day, it is very possible that the world
will marvel, not only at what we have built,
but at the beauty that has been added to the
world by the sacrifices of invisible women.

 

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