A Song Of Praise

All mighty God, the Lord of Lords
How awesome are Your ways
I praise You in each trial
And Lift my hands and sing
Holy, Holy, Holy
Is my Savior, King, and Lord
Maker of the heavens and earth
My anchor in the storm
Blessing, honor, glory
To the King of Kings
For He alone is worthy
The Lamb for sinners slain!
O God You’re such a mystery
Your ways cannot be known
You know the reasons for our trials
You comfort in each storm
You see through my sinful pride
Into my broken heart
You woo Me to Your holy truth
And Make the darkness, light

You are my mighty fortress, Lord
You hide me in Your wings
You fill my heart with gladness
All praise to You I sing
Holy, Holy, Holy
Is my Savior, Lord, and God
My mighty shield and hiding place
Your name brings strength and awe
My anchor in the raging storm
My Sovereign God and King
My joy, my hope, my all in all
All praise to You I sing!

Rhonda Shelford Jansen

 

 

 

 

The Baggage Handler

A friend of mine recently shared about the baggage she had hauled around for years. She wished that she’d understood the truth earlier in life that we simply aren’t meant to carry the hurts and the pain from the past.  When we refuse to let them go, the sheer weight of it holds us back and keeps us down. Her story, inspired me to write this poem.

The baggage that I haul around
Is cumbersome and heavy
It’s bursting with pain I hide
That part of life that’s messy
I know that you can’t see my bags
So I try to pretend
That my life has been perfect
When it’s been kind of grim.

Sometimes when I am all alone
I open up the bags
I look inside and cry about
The wounded child within
The little one that needed love
When hurt and pain occurred
The child longing just to hear
One encouraging word
That teenager that struggled
From a terrible event
The young adult who made mistakes
And then felt guilt and shame
My troubles and my trials
That I work hard to manage
Each have their place; hidden away
Deep within my baggage.

If I let go of all these bags
My load would be so light
But I can’t leave that wounded child
How could that be right
It would be an injustice
To set the contents free
For I still want to make things right
For then I will have peace
So I just keep on struggling
Beneath the weight I carry
Feeling like I can’t go on
Though I keep on trying
I tell myself “Keep pushing on”
“Keep holding it together”
But all the weight is pressing in
I’m breaking from the pressure.

A friend told me, I wasn’t meant
To struggle with this load
That Jesus died to bear my yoke
Though it’s dark and heavy
He doesn’t care about my past
He only sees the future
So I looked up and gave my heart
To my Lord and Savior
Then in my deep exhaustion
I laid down all my bags
To let the contents come out
To expose those filthy rags
I took a breath, undid the latch
I let my Savior see…
And as He took my baggage…
I cried… for I was free

Matthew 11:28
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

Rhonda Shelford Jansen

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The Baggage Handler

I recently heard a friend talk about the baggage she had hauled around for years.  She wished that she understood the truth earlier in life that we simply aren’t  meant to carry the hurts and the pain from the past, because they hold us back and keep us down.  Her story, inspired me to write this poem.

The baggage that I haul around
Is cumbersome and heavy
It’s bursting with pain I hide
That part of life that’s messy
I know that you can’t see my bags
So I try to pretend
That my life has been perfect
When it’s been kind of grim.

Sometimes when I am all alone
I open up the bags
I look inside and cry about
The wounded child within
The little one that needed love
When hurt and pain occurred
The child longing just to hear
One encouraging word
That teenager that struggled
From a terrible event
The young adult who made mistakes
And then felt guilt and shame
My troubles and my trials
That I work hard to manage
Each have their place; hidden away
Deep within my baggage.

If I let go of all these bags
My load would be so light
But I can’t leave that wounded child
How could that be right
It would be an injustice
To set the contents free
For I still want to make things right
For then I will have peace
So I just keep on struggling
Beneath the weight I carry
Feeling like I can’t go on
Though I keep on trying
I tell myself “Keep pushing on”
“Keep holding it together”
But all the weight is pressing in
I’m breaking from the pressure.

A friend told me, I wasn’t meant
To struggle with this load
That Jesus died to bear my yoke
Though it’s dark and heavy
He doesn’t care about my past
He only sees the future
So I looked up and gave my heart
To my Lord and Savior
Then in my deep exhaustion
I laid down all my bags
To let the contents come out
To expose those filthy rags
I took a breath, undid the latch
I let my Savior see…
And as He took my baggage…
I cried… for I was free

Matthew 11:28
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

Rhonda Shelford Jansen

God’s Healing Hand On a Wounded Heart

Lord God, I kneel at your feet

Head resting in my hands

Tears of pain flowing without restraint

 

My soul, battered, is without hope

My dreams of love and acceptance gone

Success, I’m unable to define

 

You let me cry, uninterrupted

Knowing I must taste the bitterness of pain

And acknowledge its vise like grip on my heart

 

Slowly I sit,  lifting my head and hands up to you

an honest prayer is uttered, no more pretense,

pride and self-righteousness are gone.

 

“take my battered heart, oh Lord

It feels constricted and small

Like a piece of paper, crumpled into a ball.

 

It’s beat is irregular,

emphasizing the deep wounds

and my desperate state of mind.”

 

Your strong hands encompass mine

Comforting and warm

Applying pressure without pain

 

My wounded heart beats a little faster

A  rhythm I’m unfamiliar with

Steady, strong, sure, secure

 

You, oh Lord, massage the healing balm

Of forgiveness and acceptance into my heart

A spark of hope glows deep within.

 

The Holy Spirit breathes the breath of life

Into my heart, mind and body

Smoothing out the crumpled edges of my life

 

Lord God Almighty, you are the great healer

Of wounded hearts

Restoring hope and purpose to those who love you

 

To God be all glory and praise.

 

Debora Shelford Hobbs

Below are the lines from a chore in Jeremy Camp’s Healing Hand of God and a link to his video. Enjoy this beautiful song.

I have seen, The healing hand of God, Reaching out and mending broken hearts. Taste and see the fullness of His peace, And hold on to what’s being held out. The healing hand of God.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-aE7zQTeEg

 

 

Hope in our Frailty

God frequently uses people for His glory that we as humans would never choose. That fact gives me hope that no matter how insignificant, untalented, or floundering we or those we love might be, there is always hope. The bible is full of unlikely individuals that have made a vast difference in the world in spite of the odds. The very people you and I might pass over are often the ones that God chooses because he sees into the heart and chooses the ones that have a heart for Him. He doesn’t care about who we are, where we’re from, or how much money we have. With that in mind, who knows what God has in store for you and those you love!

A simple man with no big plans
No lofty goals consume him.
He didn’t come from wealth or gain
Nor high class education.
Most think he won’t amount to much
His future’s etched in stone,
But thank the Lord, God values man
By his heart alone.
A waitress working hard each day
Just trying to pay the bills.
She wasn’t born to silver spoon
Nor were her wants fulfilled.
Just working class and most would think
For her there’ll be no change;
But we don’t know, what God has planned
Nor what He has arranged.
God sees beyond her circumstance
Fulfilling hidden dreams.
Think about a fisherman,
Who worked in Galilee.
A simple man from lower class
He was no Pharisee.
He worked each day, just catching fish;
Obscure from most mankind.
Until the Son of God called out,
“Come fish for souls of man.”
From that moment forward
Peter was transformed,
When God perplexed the ways of man,
And shattered social norms.
David was the youngest son;
A simple shepherd boy.
He had no right to leadership;
Nor kingly path in store.
But God saw David differently
He cared not for mans rules;
For He knew David’s heart was right;
Humble, pure, and true.
God chose the one least obvious
To demonstrate His might;
And David’s place in history
Became Christ’s holy line.

 

God is not confined by man
We cannot know His mind.
He chooses those we least expect
To show that He is God.
He doesn’t look at privileged lives,
Nor beauty, fame, or brains.
He looks into the heart of man
And chooses in that way.
So if your life seems simple;
No wealth or fame in sight.
It really doesn’t matter,
For God only sees your heart.
Do you have a heart for Him?
A longing in your soul?
To serve and grow, to always change;
To give His love to all?
If you do, then rest assured
That God will bless you too.
And you will see what God has planned,
For someone just like you.

 

Rhonda Shelford Jansen

Forgiving, Again

I’m sitting at my desk with the computer on, iPod playing with an inviting, warm mug of coffee sitting next to me.  They are waiting patiently for me to start work, but I don’t.  My feet are resting on the edge of my desk while I hold our big, fat cat in my lap.  She contentedly purrs and occasionally nuzzled me on the chin.  Absently, I notice how her soft, heavy, weight in my lap feels comforting.  I continue to stare out the window lost in thought.

My chest feels heavy like an invisible brick is pushing down hard between my breasts, my head aches, but it’s the heavy sensation on my chest that’s troubling me.  The weight isn’t the beginning of a heart attack; it’s the result of years of hurt.  This brick has been carefully constructed by the fibrous tissue of judgment, verbal abuse, bitterness, unjust behavior, self-protection, and un-forgiveness.  And it’s heavy, pressing down on my sternum making it hard to breathe.

The unusual thing about this brick is that it’s frequently weightless, as if gone from my life.  During this time my heart is hopeful and I want to spend time considering and praying about my relationships.  With a hopeful spirit I choose to forgive; I choose to lay my hurts down before God. I desire to draw closer to Him and see others through His eyes.

Then something happens to set off old patterns of abuse and hurtful words are hurled through the air and I feel the impact of them.   I feel them working their way into the brick, finding a comfortable resting place next to the other festering pain.  The brick is back, heavier than before, pressing mercilessly down on my sternum and I wonder how all those negative, hurtful emotions from the past can come back with such force after I have chosen to forgive and let them go. 

So, here I sit at my desk with every necessary tool for a productive day.  But instead of working, I watch the tree branches move to the rhythm of the wind while pondering the uncomfortable pressure of the emotional brick on my chest.  I want to know how to truly lay down the hurt from yesterday.  I want to forgive so deeply that past pain will not have the power to mix with and amplify the hurts of today.  But, I’m human and for some unknown reason God made us emotionally complex beings that feel passionately, struggle mightily, and desperately need His guidance.

With this knowledge I ask God for his forgiveness and help.  I acknowledge my pain is real, but so is theirs.  I admit my part in the situation, because I’m not innocent.  Then I thank God for the good within my loved one and within myself; we are both God’s children.  And the brick gets lighter; for now.  Each time I practice seeking God’s truth in the midst of emotional pain they strengthen me and give me courage to forgive, again.

I’m grateful that God’s forgiveness is not like that of humans, Psalm 103:12 says, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions (sins) from us.”  This verse is comforting and humbling; how can God forgive so completely?  I long to be able to forgive like God, but as of today, I don’t fully understand how to forgive the transgressions of others.  Maybe that’s the point. Maybe our seriously limited ability to forgive keeps us humble before God.

Debora Shelford Hobbs

 

 

The Hidden Path

 

I cannot see the future Lord… but clearly I see You.
Right now all outcomes seem unsure; I don’t know what to do.
What if things go terribly wrong and my hopes fall apart;
You’ve never failed me yet O God, so I won’t be alarmed.

My God who reaches down to save when in the waves I sink;
The One who loves me all the time, even when I’m weak.
My hope when fear is all I feel; My eyes when I can’t see.
This God of mercy, truth, and grace, is faithful unlike me.

I want to know what lies ahead; but God wants me to rest,
His spirit washes over me and brings peace in this test,
Even though the path is steep and hidden in the storm;
My Redeemer will not fail; these mountains I will charge!

O Sovereign God so full of grace; Please take my hand today,
Lead me, guide me safely home; walk me though this maze.
I lean on You my Savior King; the one who knows my name,
The one who knows my hidden dreams; Your praise I will proclaim!

Rhonda Shelford Jansen

The Bitterness Weed

The Bitterness Weed

Bitterness:    Strong and sharp in taste: having a sharp strong unpleasant taste.  Angry and resentful Difficult to accept: mentally painful, or very hard to accept Synonyms: sour, acid, acidic, tart, astringent, vinegary, pungent, harsh, acrid

I’ve been thinking about the act of being bitter and how bitterness, if not dealt with, can affect every aspect of our lives.  Bitterness can blind a person to the love that is around them.  Bitterness has the power to turn a person inward, making them selfish and self-consumed.  A bitter heart becomes brittle and intolerant.  A bitter person will find the bad in every situation, unable to see the good.  Bitterness can strangle our creative energy.  And a bitter heart is unable to open up to God’s love, it is unable to trust in God’s love because it is always in a state of self-protection.

Bitterness is like a weed, it is a living organism that need sustenance to survive and when it’s thriving it has the power to weaken our emotional, physical, and spiritual health.  The Bitterness Weed is nourished by our judgmental, negative, self-righteous, and unforgiving thoughts.  Because bitterness is living, it will either grow or wither depending on our ability to starve it with forgiveness or feed it with judgment.  Starving bitterness is not for the weak of spirit.  It requires surrendering our right to justifiable anger and judgment.  It demands that we not seek retribution ourselves for our pain, but allow God’s justice, which is a mystery to most of us, to have control.

All of us at one time or another have thought, “They don’t deserve forgiveness” or “It’s not fair, they feel no pain and are suffering no consequence for their destructive behavior” and we’re right, it’s not fair from a human point of view.  So, in an effort to bring justice to the situation, we self-righteously judge the individual deeming them unworthy of forgiveness.  And then we move on, right?  Nope.

The problem is we’re not capable of judging others harshly and moving on.  We continue to judge them in our thoughts and before we know it, we’re feeding the weed of bitterness.  Each time we ruminate over their bad actions and reassure ourselves of our righteous judgment, the bitterness weed grows stronger. Before long our outlook on life becomes more negative and our prayer time less frequent, and the Bible sits unopened for longer stretches of time on our night stand.

Before long we become bitter, leaving a sharp and unpleasant taste in the mouths of our friends and family.  Unbeknown to ourselves we’ve become acrid in our attitudes and relationships.  We have officially become bitter because of our self-righteous right to judge and not forgive.  We now have a healthy, bitter-weed garden within our spirit that only God can eradicate.

It’s true that starving bitterness is not for the weak of spirit.  It takes unmeasurable amounts of faith, humility, and forgiveness to starve bitterness from our spirit.  But if we choose to do so, God will help us, He will give us strength when we have none, and the courage to continue to forgive even when it seems like justice is not being served.  God’s ways can be a mystery to us, but when we follow them they always replace bitterness with beauty.

 

Debora Shelford Hobbs

 

Colossians 3:12-14 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

Ephesians 4:31-32 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

 

 

 

Hope Infused

Thankful, thankful is my heart, for life has so much good
Joyful, joyful my soul sings, for with me God has stood
Hope infuses heart and soul, for my King’s on the throne
He is God victorious, my shelter in each storm!

Holy most holy, is our God; the beginning and the end
Who orders planets in their place; the sun is in His hands
Who breathes one breath and life erupts; He knew us in the womb
There’s not one tear, pain, or fear, His hope cannot consume.

He knows our real and pressing needs; He knows us inside out
He knows what we were made for and where we’ll thrive the most
He sees our hurts and sorrows; He sooths and comforts pain
His eyes are on you, child; your hurt won’t be in vain.

Holy most Holy is our God Almighty; arise and give Him praise
For though we offer broken sin, He sees us through His grace
Our Refuge and our Fortress; our God in whom we trust
He saves us from the fowler’s snare; His shield is true and just.

O dwell within His shelter; find rest within His wings
Love Him with your heart and soul; He is the King of Kings
Fix your eyes upon Him, though storms may rage around
Our Hope; our joy; our shelter – our peace inside the storm.

Thankful, thankful is my heart, for my God steadies me
Joyful, joyful my heart sings, O worship Christ the King
Hope infuses mind and soul, as heavy burdens lift
For God Eternal loves us and we are in His midst.
Rhonda Shelford Jansen

The Meaning of Christmas

Merry Christmas friends. May God’s blessings be on you and your family; may God’s peace fill your soul.

O Holy Night is one of my favorite Christmas carols because of the deep truths within its lyrics. Every time I hear them my spirit is reminded of the magnificence of God’s love for humanity. The lyrics are poetic yet clearly convey the message of Jesus’s birth; “when He appeared the soul felt its worth.” I stand in awe at the beauty of this truth; only God’s love reveals to us our souls worth, this is amazing.

Hope. We all need hope. To me it feels like the world is in chaos, seldom does the nightly news leave me feeling hopeful for the future. In fact, it feels like the world is plunging into darkness. Even though the world appears to be heading in the wrong direction, there is hope in the fulfillment of God’s promise at the birth of Jesus. Rejoice in this truth and find hope in the fact that God does keep His promises. A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices.”

A good friend; we all need a good friend. Jesus will never leave you nor forsake you. He was born in a manger and lived as a man; he understands first hand our earthly struggles. “The King of Kings lay thus in lowly manger; In all our trials born to be our friend.” Jesus will stay by our side and walk with us through difficult times, offering hope and purpose through His Word.

We all desire to be accepted faults and all and to have our deepest needs understood by another. God knows our needs and our weaknesses, yet loves us; accepting us completely. “He knows our need, to our weakness is no stranger” Isn’t it wonderful to be accepted and valued by God!

Christianity is a religion of love and forgiveness because of Jesus’s birth. His birth gave humanity a new and radicle code of conduct that said put other’s needs above your own; all of humanity are children of God; forgive as you have been forgiven, and love God with your whole heart. “Truly He taught us to love one another; His law is love and His gospel is peace. Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother; And in His name all oppression shall cease. Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we, Let all within us praise His holy name.”

The beauty of these lyrics lies in how accurately they reflect God’s love through the birth of Jesus. We are blessed beyond measure to have such a loving God and savior. A savior who loves us even though we constantly mess up in our Christian walk. We are blessed to have a God who knows the value of our souls, even when we don’t. This Christmas, let’s stand in awe at the magnificence of God’s love.

A blessing for you this Christmas season and the new year.

May your soul know its worth through Jesus Christ. May you know hope. May you have a faithful friend that will never leave you nor forsake you. One who loves you even though they know your weaknesses. May you know peace, the peace that passes all understanding.

Debora Shelford Hobbs

O Holy Night The stars are brightly shining It is the night of our dear Savior’s birth Long lay the world in sin and e’er pining ‘Til He appeared and the soul felt its worth A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

Fall on your knees O hear the angels voices. O night divine O night when Christ was born O night divine, O night, O night divine.

Led by the light of Faith serenely beaming, With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand. So led by light of a star sweetly gleaming, Here came the wise men from Orient land. The King of Kings lay thus in lowly manger; In all our trials born to be our friend.

He knows our need, to our weakness is no stranger, Behold your King! Before Him lowly bend! Behold your King! Before Him lowly bend!

Truly He taught us to love one another; His law is love and His gospel is peace. Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother; And in His name all oppression shall cease. Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we, Let all within us praise His holy name.

Christ is the Lord! O praise His Name forever, His power and glory evermore proclaim. O night divine, O night, O night divine.

Adolphe Charles Adam

 

 

 

 

 

A Soft and Teachable Heart

potter

God has you here…
Right where you are
For a well planned reason.
It’s not bad luck or circumstance
And you are not a victim.
But He looks down and reads the heart
He knows just how to change us,
And as we rest in His great love
Stress and fear shall flee us.

Its written that God loves the one
That knows His discipline;
He sees a great potential
So allows the storms and wind.
He uses the hot fire, to purify like gold,
As pressure forms a diamond,
He takes you through the forge.

How can the artist’s paintbrush
Tell her what to paint?
How can a builders hammer
Say it wants to be a rake?
How can the clay in potter’s hand
Command the potter’s work?
So how can we not trust our God
The one who gave us birth?

O help us Lord to stand in faith
When everything is rocking.
Make our hearts so teachable,
So we might know Your calling.
O help us find a peace and joy
That baffles human minds.
That we might live to overcome
And be Your shining light!

Rhonda Shelford Jansen

God’s Healing Hand On a Wounded Heart

healing-hand-of-god

I kneel at your feet

Head resting in my hands

Tears of pain flowing without restraint

 

My soul, battered, is without hope

My dreams of love and acceptance gone

Success, I’m unable to define

 

You let me cry, uninterrupted

Knowing I must taste the bitterness of pain

And acknowledge its vise like grip on my heart

 

Slowly I sit and lift my hands up to you

“Take my battered heart, oh Lord

It feels constricted and small from the wounds

 

Like a piece of paper, crumpled into a ball

No longer resembling its original purpose

Rendered of little value or use.”

 

Your strong hands encompass mine

Comforting and warm

Applying pressure without pain

 

My wounded heart beats a little faster

With a rhythm I’m unfamiliar with

Steady, strong, sure, secure

 

A healing balm of forgiveness and acceptance

Is  massaged into my heart

A spark of hope glows deep within

 

The Holy Spirit breathes the breath of life

Into my heart, mind and body

Smoothing out the crumpled edges of my life

 

Lord God Almighty, you are the great healer

Of wounded hearts and messed up lives

Restoring hope and purpose to those who love you

 

To God be all glory and praise.

 

Debora Shelford Hobbs

 

Below are the lines from a chorus in Jeremy Camp’s Healing Hand of God and a link to his video. Enjoy this beautiful song.

I have seen, The healing hand of God, Reaching out and mending broken hearts. Taste and see the fullness of His peace, And hold on to what’s being held out. The healing hand of God.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-aE7zQTeEg

A Darkened Path

Image result for pictures of footsteps in sand being covered up

Shifting sands, shifting sands hide a once known path
What once seemed all so certain is lost in grains of sand
Changing times, changing ways, announce a path unknown
Fear and darkness blind the eyes where God’s light once was shown.

Trying hard to fight the change; can’t things just stay the same
O to stop the madness, the shifting, and the maze
I want to know that everything is going to be okay
Why can’t you tell me God; why can’t I stop this change?

Why do You ask so much from me, to walk out this deep darkness
For I am merely human and need to know the outcomes
I can’t tell my own feelings from Your dear, still, small voice
O help me hear You clearly, so my heart may rejoice!

O how I hate the trials, O how I loathe to change
I wish that I could learn without the fire and the flame
But I have learned, its in Your love, that You allow the fire
To change me Lord, to make me new, to be what You require.

O look on me with mercy, though I’m a broken vessel
I need Your grace to fill me up so my soul can be settled
Help me to get out of Your way so Your plan can unfold
For You have never failed me yet, so I give You control!

 

Rhonda Shelford Jansen

 

 

God Controls the Course of World Events

is-god-in-control-truth-or-tradition-520x245

Fellow believers, whether you’re Democrat, Republican, Libertarian or undecided may I offer you hope through God’s word.  Daniel 2:21 says, “He controls the course of world events; he removes kings and sets up other kings. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the scholars.”  The outcome of this election is in God’s hands, not ours.  Pray for our country, vote, then lay your anxieties down at the feet of God believing He is in control. 

This election has been particularly hostile; passions and beliefs are running hot on both sides of the aisle.  I’ve heard believers say “how can you believe in God and hold that political point of view?”  Comments like this are earnestly spoken by believers in both major parties; their convictions are strong.  May I ask, should we be treating each other that way? Questioning one’s belief in God because of their political views is harsh. 

In 1 Corinthians 1, Paul addresses the Corinthian church because of a schism between Christians who passionately believe one teacher is superior to the other.  Paul cuts through all the dogma by asking a few thoughtful questions.  “One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas[b]”; still another, “I follow Christ.  Is Christ divided?  Was Paul crucified for you?  Were you baptized in the name of Paul?”  Paul’s point was clearly made; we’re followers of Jesus, not man.  Our faith is in Christ Jesus not our leaders.

I believe the current presidential election has divided some believers.  I believe the outcome could bring about hostilities between Democratic and Republican believers. Whether Hillary or Donald wins, God is in control and he is neither Democrat or Republican.  There is room enough in The House of God for differing political beliefs.  We are members of the family of God and shouldn’t allow human leaders and our political views divide us.  We must seek God first, give grace to fellow believers and pray for our leaders.

Christian, remember the world is watching us and will judge us harshly if we turn against each other.  Extend grace to those whose political beliefs differ from yours; after all, we’re all voting according to our consciences desiring the best for our country.  When the presidential race is over, accept the outcome with God’s grace and continue praying for our leaders and our country.  Then, if you’re still upset get involved instead of bad mouthing the new leaders.  Be a voice of reason and positive action.  Reflect God’s principles.

God Bless America,

 

Debora Shelford Hobbs

 

Are You There God?

i-ask-god-the-question-why

Psalm 46:1 “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”

 

Are you there God, listening to my prayer?

Can you see my breaking heart?

Do you care God, that my strength is gone?

My body and mind are numb.

 

Are you there God, listening to my prayer?

Can you see my parents, ravaged with dementia?

Drooling and muttering, not knowing my name.

I no longer exist to them.

 

Are you there God, listening to my prayer?

Can you see my friend lost in mental illness?

Homeless, clueless, mad at the world

Unable to make decisions for his own best interest.

 

Are you there God, listening to my prayer?

Diligently I work, giving my all

While others refuse to contribute

Then take credit for the results as their own.

 

Are you there God, listening to my prayer?

My loved one is addicted and lives in denial

It’s always someone else’s fault

They’ve mastered the art of victimhood.

 

Are you there God, Listening to my prayer?

The world is crazy, out of control.

Good is called evil and evil good.

Those who speak truth are shunned.

Those who speak lies are called leaders.

 

I cry out to God, my heart is breaking.

God, do you hear my prayer?

Are you aware of my loved ones pain?

Please show me that you are there.

 

God answers in His word

Yes, I am here

I am near the brokenhearted and save the crushed in spirit.

I will wipe away every tear from your eye.

 

I am your fortress and high tower

I will wrap my wings for protection around you

My power is made perfect in weakness

I will never leave you nor forsake you

 

I will renew your strength.

You will soar on wings like eagles;

You will run and not grow weary,

You will walk and not be faint.

 

God is our refuge and strength,

An ever-present help in trouble.

Even in darkness my light shines.

Yes, I am with you.

 

Debora Shelford Hobbs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

God Made You…You

gods-plan

Know you have a purpose, that God designed you for
Each trait and quirky detail that makes you who you are
He molded you with intent, designed you through and through
So never doubt the Potter’s work; see yourself through His view.

Our holy God decided, to make you like you are
There’s no mistake, you’re wonderful; a glorious shining star
Care not for the world’s values, the world knows not the truth
Embrace what God created; for you are not a fluke.

God gave us gifts and talents, entrusted for good use
To grow and nurture every day, so God’s plan can be loosed
No matter if they’re great or small, use them for His glory
Don’t discount what God’s given you, for He wrote your life story.

The devil wants to ravage, what God designed in us
He works to twist God’s perfect plan with lies that mar and crush
He takes life’s hurt and trials, to warp us through and through
He takes a hurtful word, and convinces us it’s true.

He even says we’re worthless; why would we even try
And then says selfishness is good; all means are justified
But we are vessels formed with love; designed before our birth
It’s satan lies that misalign, what God himself brought forth.

So recognize the devil’s goal is to make you crumble
And when he throws his poison darts; stand, don’t fall or stumble
Don’t believe the devil’s lies that steal and foster shame
For God made you with great intent, so break all satan’s chains.

Know you have authority to bruise the devil’s head
To walk upon his every lie, to become all God’s planned
God loves you and he made you, just the way you are
Fall on your knees and seek His face, he’ll melt away your scars.

God has a plan for each of us, even though we’ve failed
And as we humbly yield to Him, with new wings we shall sail
What satan used for evil, our God will use for gain
O Praise the Lord, we are set free, exalt the His holy name.

Rhonda Shelford Jansen

Psalms 139:   13,14 For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.

Fear Not; He is With You!

Image result for God walking with us in a storm

The going was good, as they crossed Galilee
But as Jesus slept a squall come on the lee
The boat heaved and shook and was taking on water
The men cried in fear and thought they would falter
They wondered why Jesus didn’t care if they drowned
How could He just sleep while a storm raged around?

They finally woke Jesus and said “don’t you care
We’re going to drown in this storm: death is near”
He rose from His bed and said “Where is your faith”
And spoke to the storm and rebuked all the waves
The storm calmed that instant, His men stood amazed
They wondered and pondered His power that day.

That old fishing boat, would never have perished
And though things looked dark, the Lord God was present
But human anxiety, fear, and despair
Blinded their eyes to their Lord who was there
He calmed their storm, to grow them in faith
And to help them fear not, in storms and in waves.

When trouble rages all around and darkness hides your way
It may seem like the Lords asleep, but know that He’s awake
He knew your storm would happen, He knew the wind would rage
He knows just how He’ll bring you through, so rest, believe, and pray
Show Him that you trust Him, you are his chosen child
And praise His name, the King of Kings, He’s our Emmanuel.

Emmanuel: God with us
Matthew 8:24-32

Rhonda Shelford Jansen

Fear, Don’t Let It Stop You

skiing-2

We stood on top of Hog’s Back, an intermediate ski run at Stevens Pass, looking down at the mogul strewn and rather steep hill.  The night air was cold and crisp against my cheeks, thick with the spicy fragrance of pine and fir trees and fresh snow.  I sucked in the rich night air, holding it deep within my lungs for a moment or two, enjoying the sensation, then released it back to the mountain.  The ski slope was painted with lights and shadows cast from the powerful lights sitting high atop thick sturdy metal poles.  Skiers and boarders were swishing back and forth across the mountain, rhythmically moving to the sounds of nature.

I looked down at Sam, my eight year old, standing next to me, also deep in thought about our surroundings.  We watch as Jackson, his younger brother, and Dad headed fearlessly down the hill swishing back and forth.  I looked at the shiny helmet on top of Sam’s eight year brain and I know what he’s thinking. “What if I’ve forgotten how to ski down big hills?  What if I break my arm or leg?  What if I fall?  What if I fall and cry?  What if I fall, break a leg and arm, and die?  Is this really a safe and smart thing for me to do?”  Yep, that’s what was going on in that head, I knew it, but needed to ask anyway.  “Sam, are you ready to head down the hill?” I ask with a big confident smile on my face. “NO, I want to go back to Daisy chair … I’m not comfortable with this hill, it’s too steep … I want to go down another way” was his answer in a voice that started calm but grew in agitation as he spoke.

This was our first ski run of the season and we were ready to conquer the hill.  Well, almost ready.  We had skied the beginner’s chair several times to regain our rhythm and balance after the long break between ski seasons.  Sam was eager but cautious about reintroducing his body to the sensation of gliding over the snow on two highly waxed boards.  He’d been skiing since he was five and was quite a competent skier.  However, at the beginning of each season it took him a while to once again believe in the skill that he already possessed.  So, I reminded him about how he had skied this very slope many times last year and did well, he’d even raced Jackson down it once.  I reminded him that he already possessed the ability and skill; he just needed to trust his knowledge and body.

There he stood, a pint sized Michelin Tire Man in his grey down coat and thick ski pants determined to be immovable.  I knew he wanted to be like his older brother Ryan who talked about ski jumps and racing down the slopes with friends; or to be like Jackson who pointed his board downhill seemingly  never contemplating  the “what ifs” and when he fell, just laughed and got up.  But Sam’s mind didn’t work that way, it dwelled in the “what ifs” constantly asking question that were too deep and probing for a child.

So, we stood at the top of Hog’s Back, surrounded by the beauty of nature and fast moving skiers, discussing the importance of not letting fear stop you from doing what you know you can.  Sam knew he had the skill to ski down the hill; it was fear stopping him, not ability.  We talked about how fear can hinder someone from growing in character and skill, if they let it.  Finally Sam took off down the hill, slowly, cautiously, but he was moving.   Frequently he would stop, give me a squinty eyed look of disapproval and say something like “this is going to kill me” or “why are you making me do this”?  But, with slow progress we made it down the slope where he promptly asked for a cup of hot chocolate.  After a little rest we went back to Hog’s Back and Sam skied the same slope with more confidence, believing in the skill that he already possessed.

Many times over the years Sam and I have talked about how fear and insecurity can immobilize us from doing what we should or want to do.  We have talked about fear in relation to learning math and writing; in regard to school, friends, football, skiing and faith in God.  Fear is an issue that has resurfaced over and over again and each time Sam and I try to talk and pray through it.

Like Sam, I’ve had a life long struggle with fear and insecurity, so I’m able to understand how real and immobilizing fear can be.  Recently, the table was turned and Sam was the one giving me the “don’t let fear stop you, pep talk.”   A little while ago my husband and I decided it was time for me to reenter the workforce after many years of staying at home.  I spent a few months perusing Craigslist and other job boards, filling out application and writing cover letters.  Finally, I landed a job and felt so relieved at having the whole job hunting process over.  However, as I started the new job I realized how rusty my skills were and that I had a lot of catching up to do to be competitive.

I came home from work one afternoon a few weeks after I started my new job exhausted and rather than going into the house I sat on the front porch and let the warm afternoon sun sooth my up-tight muscles.  Adjusting to working full time was challenging, but it was the feeling of inadequacy about my skills and ability to perform my job that really had me down.  While I sat there Sam came out of the house and asked how I was doing.  My answer was surprisingly honest, I said “I just don’t know, I’m a little overwhelmed right now, maybe it’s not the right job, maybe I should quite.”  Well, someone could have cued the music because Sam gave me my speech about not allowing fear to keep us from our goals; how fear can make us doubt the talents we have and even prevent us from using them.  I smiled at my son and said “thanks, I needed that.”

Fear and its partner insecurity can immobilize us.  They can keep us from using and refining our talents.  They can hold us back from success.  They can prevent us from spiritual and emotional growth.  They can keep us from healthy relationships and keep us in unhealthy ones.  Fear and insecurity can keep us from stepping out in faith.  But with God’s help we can stand strong and face our fears and insecurities. Below are two of my favorite verses that help me move forward when fear and insecurity threaten to stop my progress in any area.

Isaiah 41:13 For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, do not fear; I will help you.

Psalm 27: 1 The Lord is my light and my salvation whom shall I fear?  The Lord is the stronghold of my life of whom shall I be afraid?

Debora Shelford Hobbs

 

 

God’s Great Symphony

Image result for pictures of a symphony
The flow of God’s timing released in our lives
Requires our trust and to stop taking charge
It puts faith front and center and God on His throne
And trusting God’s timing for He alone knows.

You’ve been praying and praying for that unsaved soul
You’ve been asking the Lord to set free all your goals
Rest and wait; He’s at work, in ways we can’t see
Its God’s perfect rhythm and timing we need.

If what we think is best, is not moving forward
If our hopes and our dreams are lost deep in the forest
Don’t give up, don’t despair, and don’t take control
Let the unforced rhythm, of God’s script, soothe your soul.

As long as we’re breathing, there’s a chance to touch lives
With each human contact we’re God’s hands and His light
Even if our lives seem insignificant and small
We’re notes in God’s rhythm and play a great part.

Each life in this world is wanted by God
The great and the small are equally flawed
He has ordained what each man’s roll will be
It’s the unforced rhythm, of God’s great symphony.

Rest where you are, move forward in faith
Submitting all outcomes; He knows the right pace
He hears all our prayers; holds our tears in His hand
As we wait on His timing He’ll help us to stand.

God’s timing is music, it’s a heavenly chorus
As we wait on our Lord, it is beauty before Him
We praise You O God, the true Great I AM
For only You know the beginning from end.

Rhonda Shelford Jansen

Remembering God’s Greatness

God is real

Over the last year or so, an uncomfortable and difficult question had been circling in Toby’s mind “Was God who they say He is?” This question inevitably led to another question; “did Toby still believe in God?” With life pressing in from all corners and disappointment in fellow Christians growing, Toby needed time to think so he drove to the beach and parked his car in the deserted parking lot. Lost in thought he stared out the rain streaked windshield.

As a child in Sunday school he’d learned about God’s greatness, His creative power; omnipresence. God was the one and only, all-powerful and loving creator. As an adult he had faithfully attended church with his wife and children, but over the years his belief in God had been chipped away by disappointment in humans, in the church, and with the evil they created.

“Who was God really”, he asked himself. If God was real, why did He love mankind? Why would he let imperfect man represent him? Why would he let imperfect man use His name as a surname, Christian, when every one of them was sinful? Toby thought that if he was God, he’d leave humans to destroy themselves with their greed, jealousy, prejudice, abuse and start over with an improved race. More difficult questions came to Toby.  “If God was real why didn’t he strike dead the rapist, pedophile, vicious dictator, and murderer? If He was real why didn’t he punish the religiously abusive minister, teacher, parent?”  Toby’s life was filled with Christians who claimed to be God honoring but lived in contradiction to that claim.

Toby’s mind was so muddled with confusion that it hurt. “God, who are you?” he said in frustration. “Are you really present in this world, seeing all the evil that happens daily?” Toby watched the white caps in silence; his mind seemingly blank for a moment or two.

In the quiet of his mind a Bible verse he learned in Sunday school come back to him. Galatians 6:7-8 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Toby thought about this verse for a few moments; maybe those claiming to honor God but deliberately abusing others do suffer judgment. Judgment accompanied by the natural consequences of their decisions. Toby found comfort in this knowledge. He remembered another verse, Proverbs 16:2, All a man’s ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the Lord. Toby thought about all the times he’d justified his own bad behavior then considered the many times the motivation of his heart had been unjustly judged by others. God knew the truth in all these situations, this fact was oddly comforting to Toby.

“God, why not stop the abuser before they have the chance to hurt someone?” Toby asked. But he knew the answer; Free Will. What a mystery Free Will was because it allows for sin, but hopes for obedience. Free Will, each person not only has the right to choose to believe in God or not, but actually must decide which way they believe at some point in their lives. Because of Free Will, each day a person decides how to think and behave. God wants our love but gives every person the freedom to choose to not love and believe in him; amazing. Toby’s spirit still felt heavy, he was so disappointed in mankind. Then another Bible verse came to him. 1 Samuel 16:7, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” God looks at the heart and Toby looked mostly at the actions. Can a heart with good intentions hurt others? Toby knew the answer; Yes.

Toby started thinking about the nature of God. While thinking about God he realized that over the last few years he’d spent too much emotional energy and time thinking about how other humans had disappointed him, hurt him, and hurt others. He had focused on sinful man and not on the Holiness of God; this thinking had depressed him and caused him to lose hope. Numbers 23:19 said, God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill? What a comfort it was for Toby to meditate on the holiness of God and not the sinfulness of man. “I Choose to believe in you God, please help me understand these things that trouble my soul.”

One more verse came to Toby, Zephaniah 3:17 The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with his love, He will rejoice over you with singing,” “God please quiet my troubled mind with your love; please be with me Lord.” Toby prayed, “Please help me stay focused on you and not on mankind for you are The Holy God and we are imperfect humans in need of your love.”

Debora Shelford Hobbs

Stories from life, Words of encouragement, and Poetry to lift your soul.

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