Category Archives: Perseverance

Things aren’t what they seem

My eyes are shocked at what I see,
What’s happened to the world?
It’s changing fast before my eyes
And fear is gripping me.
But as I stand there frozen,
A small voice says to me,
Fear not my child, hang on tight,
For things aren’t what they seem.

My job is coming to an end,
Oh what am I to do?
I’m older now; not in demand
So failure’s what I see.
But as I fear the future,
My God, He comforts me,
“Fear not my child, know I am there,
For things aren’t what they seem.”

I’m tired of stress and trials
That plague my family.
I’ve prayed hard for change to come,
That God would set us free.
But as I wait so wearily,
My God says “Stand my child,
I’ll be your strength, your sword and shield,
For things aren’t what they seem.”

God’s at work in mighty ways
That our eyes cannot see.
He orchestrates behind the scenes,
To change and set us free.
We do not know His greater plan,
But He is in control.
So rest and turn your eyes to God,
With deeper faith; let go.

When trials come, when fears abound
Rest in His mighty hands.
Know that He is holding you,
And working out His plan.
He hears your prayers, He sees your heart,
He’s working to that end.
But know He knows what change will take,
And in faith, stand again.

Rhonda Shelford Jansen

God’s Great Symphony

God’s Great 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

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t Give Up

Never give up; fight the good fight
For God is by your side
It may seem like the darkest night
But dawn will surely rise
Even when God seems afar
Know He’s really near
And stand up tall and pass the test
And trust without a fear.

Seek God for His perfect plan
Let Him lead your way
For though it’s dark; He’s there with you
To comfort and to say
Fear not my child, I’m with you
I have a greater plan
And you will see as you seek me
I am the Great I AM!

Remember Joseph’s brothers
They sold him as a slave
He then was thrown in prison
For being good and brave
But in the trials he prevailed
In spite of circumstance
He kept on moving, full of hope
He waited on God’s plan
In good time God took the evil
That his brother’s planned
And used each awful circumstance to
Prepare him for God’s plan.

So in the darkest hour
You really aren’t alone
And though it seems God’s absent
Praise Him in this storm
Wait upon the Father
To use it all for good
And you’ll shine in the darkness
Of this lost and broken world
Our Savior, God eternal
The King over all men
Our Great Light in the darkness
Beginning and the End
The lover of our poor, lost souls
The One who gave us breath
O wait on Him, with trusting hearts
For He is in control.

Rhonda Shelford Jansen

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

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

 

 

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

Let Go! And He will Give You rest

Image result for pictures of peace

When I seek His presence, a peace comes over me
When resting in His shadow, I’m new and I am free
Oh to walk so closely with my Great and Mighty God
Protected in His mercy; engulfed within His love.

When I’m walking closely, with heart and soul laid bare
When I’m clay within His hands, I soar where eagles dare
When I lay down everything that my heart holds so dear
The presence of His spirit falls and makes my vision clear.

When I walk within His path; and hear His still, small voice
The peace of God floods over me and uproots every doubt
When I know that He knows best and rest within that truth
My pride-filled heart melts away; with mind and soul renewed.

When I lay down selfish gain and let God lead my way
Trusting Him with outcomes and all I lose or gain
His presence overwhelms me and I am not afraid
He makes my life a symphony; a poet’s best refrain.

So why does my heart wander, distracted by life’s cares
Holding on to burdens that cover me in fear
And why does pain and trouble, make me forget my God
Why do I strain against His Yoke and act like I am God?

Why do I let pride rise up strong and rule my wicked heart
Why do I think my needs come first, self-centered in my life
Why do I forget that You, always know what’s best
That when I let You lead my way… I overcome each test.

O God please give me eyes that see when my heart turns to stone
Give my mind understanding; a heart for You alone
Give me ears to hear Your truth and shut my ears to lies
That I might have discernment and from my ashes rise!

We praise You in the darkness, we praise You in the light
We trust You Holy Savior, with hearts and souls contrite
Blessing, honor, glory, and power to Your name
The King of Kings, the Lord of Lords; Its You alone we praise!

Rhonda Shelford Jansen

God’s With Us In The Storm

Image result for God walking with us in the storm

Do you feel like you’re alone,
Adrift without a rudder?
Where is God, the heart cries out,
What happened to His favor?
Why do I feel abandoned,
Sinking in the waves?
Where is the light at tunnels end,
Where is Your hand that saves?

Though the storm is at its height,
Though all you see is darkness.
Know that God is there with you,
You need not be frightened.
Fear not my child, comes His great voice,
Know that My ways are perfect.
You’re not alone, I’m by your side
Even when I’m silent.

There is nothing on this Earth,
That severs us from God.
Not height nor depth nor powers great,
Can take away His love.
If God be for us, then who can say,
That anything’s against us?
For even in the darkest trial,
We’re sheltered in His love.

Trust and wait, submit your heart,
This pain will work for good.
Rest in His arms, know He knows best,
His peace will blanket you.
We can’t control outcomes of life,
We scarcely control ourselves,
So stand and walk; give God your best,
And you shall pass this test.

God loves you; God loves you,
Know that it’s true, He hasn’t left your side.
He puts us in the fire
To change us through and through
The fire burns away our chaff,
It will make us strong.
Refined and pure, washed in His blood,
To shine forever more.

 

Rhonda Shelford Jansen

THE FAVOR OF GOD

mary

Have you ever pondered the life that Mary, mother of Jesus must have experienced? This topic has been on my mind lately while considering how true it is, that God’s ways are not our ways.  The bible says that Mary was favored by God since she was chosen to give birth to the Messiah. Yet, if Mary had been born in modern times, in our age of quick fixes and instant gratification; I doubt many of us would see her as favored.

Consider some of the difficulties in Mary’s life and keep in mind that she was mother to the promised Messiah…The King. Mary an ordinary girl, found herself pregnant before marriage due to no action of her own; a socially devastating situation back then. She had to travel approximately 80 miles on a donkey during the last month of her pregnancy which was an undeniable hardship.  Mary gave birth in a sheep’s  stall rather than in a warm and comfortable room; not exactly what you’d expect for the son of God. When Jesus was a toddler, they fled to Egypt with little notice to hide from King Herod; doesn’t it seem strange that the Son of God would have to run from anyone? Mary and her family didn’t live a life of privilege but rather she was of ordinary income and was married to a simple carpenter. That too seems backward; after all shouldn’t the Son of God live a life of luxury? Think of a mother’s heart as Mary watched her son rise to amazing prominence and then with no notice, her boy became scorn and shame. This poor mom watched as her son was tortured, ridiculed, and killed as a common thief even though he was innocent and even though he was the Messiah.
Her life sounds much harder than most of us will ever know.
This life is the one that God called “favored.”

God could have easily shown her our type of favor every step of the way and made her life easy but He didn’t, he let her live life with all its imperfections and hardships. The reality is, looking BACK on her life as a whole… she WAS greatly blessed and favored.

If an angel stood before me today and said “Greetings woman, you are greatly favored by God.” I would probably think that from the moment the statement was uttered, all would be well in my life and everything I put my hand to would be quickly blessed. That even riches would be bestowed upon me and my family, and that my children would prosper and be blessed. BUT…that is an incredibly short sighted view and a byproduct of our culture of self-gratification.
Our God isn’t a product of any one generation and instead always sees the whole, complete picture and simply doesn’t measure blessings or success by day to day events.

Mary was blessed even though a lot of her life was hard. After all, she has a fantastic place in history that no other woman can ever share and her son still lives and is still performing miracles in people’s lives.
That my friend is being favored by God!

When life is hard and circumstances fall short of expections; when we feel rejected or struggle with a trial; if money is tight and needs aren’t being met, it doesn’t mean that God’s favor isn’t with us.
If our heart is right before God, we can be assured that we are exactly where our great God wants us and our outcomes (the end of the story) will be beautiful too.  Remember God’s ways are not our ways: they are far higher than anything we can comprehend.

This Christmas, when need and want are paramount and short term blessings weigh heavily upon our hearts; let’s ask the Lord for eyes to see life through His eyes and to not be discouraged by day to day hardship. Let’s walk on the lie of instant gratification and follow Mary’s example, of hiding the truth in her heart and waiting patiently on God to demonstrate His favor in her life.

May the true favor and blessings of Almighty God be upon you and yours this Christmas season.

By Rhonda Shelford Jansen

In Stormy Gale, Our God Is There!

jesus wheel

The vessel shook as each wave hit, its bulwarks bowed and strained
The hull cried out in strong protest; the sounds were that of pain
The ship’s alarms rang out the news that they were in distress
The sky was lost to storm and waves and lighting flashed and hit
Ice clung in shapes that looked like creatures crawling from the deep
The deck was washed in white sea-foam; the wind hurled snow and sleet
The rigging cried in its abuse, the tie downs all were breaking
And chaos reigned, the darkness pressed, the crew felt small; like nothing
Some men stayed frightened in their bunks, while others worked and prayed
The Captain stood strong at the wheel, his focus true and brave
The storm kept beating at the ship and each blow took its toll
As it grew heavy from the ice, it struggled with each roll.

The vessel took on water, the pumps strained with the load
The walls of water hit so hard destruction was foretold
The crew prayed hard and stronger, as hopes light flickered dim
The Captain prayed from deep within and sang loud an old hymn
When peace, like a river, attendeth my way
When sorrows like sea billows roll
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say
It is well, it is well, with my soul
But, Lord, ‘tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait
The sky, not the grave, is our goal”
As he sang out louder, his heart grew full of faith
And hope lit up his fearful heart and joy took sorrows place.

He gripped the wheel and faced the storm, with a brand new strength
And prayed; O God please bring this boat, to a place that’s safe
Hold these men in Your great hands; part these thunderous waves
For if You save us from this storm, we’ll live to share Your praise
You are a God of miracles; The sea hears Your command
But ne’rtheless I trust You; we rest in Your great hands
I will not fear a hungry sea, for by Your hand I’m saved
And whether life or death prevails, my soul in You remains
For You alone are sovereign, You know what is in store
I humbly bow before Thee and trust, though this storm roars
A sweet rest filled his spirit; a peace from heaven fell
He let the Lord take all control; his soul before God knelt.

Jesus took the Captain’s hands and guided him that night
And as the crippled boat neared land a beam came into sight
The Captain wept and stared in awe; he knew that lighthouse well
The broken boat would make it home, though they had been through hell
The crew fell down onto their knees and worshiped God almighty
And vowed to tell all who had ears, about their wondrous story
They knew there was a reason, that God still gave them breath
The veil had fallen from their eyes because of this hard test
Almighty God’s our lighthouse, a beacon in the dark
For He alone commands our storms, and brings us safe to port.

Rhonda Shelford Jansen

It is Well With My Soul by Horatio Spafford

Are You There God?

 

???????

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.  I am Here.

 

Debora Shelford Hobbs

A Renewing

man grateful 

A Renewing

When waves of adversity crash down upon you.

When your heart is heavy with concern.

When the future is uncertain and your path unclear.

When relationships once full of joy are heavy with despair.

When your belief has waned and your mind is numb.

When your soul is overwhelmed.

 

Call out to God.

He will hear you.

 

Lay your head upon His shoulder.

He will wrap His arms around you.

Tell Him your courage is gone.

He will renew your strength.

 

Open your wounded heart to Him

He will heal it.

Give Him your despair.

He will give you peace.

Give Him praise.

He will give you joy.

Debora Shelford Hobbs

Isaiah 40:31

But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.

Arise and Shine!

lighthouse

Arise, shine for your light has come
The glory of the Lord has risen upon
The weary soul, the broken hearted
The overwhelmed and those in darkness.

The Lord your God is here with you
True Love and joy He offers you
A mighty warrior; our shield and sword
Lift His name high in one accord.

Almighty God; He is our strength
Our source of courage in times of pain
He gives us feet to scale the heights
He lights our path and gives us sight.

The Lord will hide you in His wings
An awesome fortress; our Mighty King
He is our shield; a towering wall
A loving God who hears our call.

The great Redeemer; He will come
To those who humbly trust His Son
He’ll level mountains in our way
He will bring justice on that day.

God will accomplish all He’s planned
No evil stands before His hand
Just stop and think that He’s YOUR God
To Him you’re precious though we are flawed.

Oh fear not in the darkest hour
Our mighty Savior will give you power
To walk on trouble, trials, and fear
For in His name Victory is here!

Rhonda Shelford Jansen

Don’t Wish Away Your Life

It’s easy to find ourselves at any age, in a state of discontent.  Most often, the grass really isn’t greener on the other side and the other side will bring its own set of problems.  The best way to prosper in this imperfect life is to be thankful for what we have and for each stage of life because it goes by far too quickly.  My own Dad, said to me many times, “Don’t wish away your life.” Those are true words of wisdom.

Her 18th birthday was getting close but not quite close enough
For she could hardly wait to be free of childish stuff
She couldn’t wait for college, to head down her own path
To live a brand new future and be free of Mom and Dad
No parents breathing down her neck, no teachers keeping tabs
A truly independent girl, giving life a stab
Her Daddy always told her, “Don’t wish your life away
But savor every moment for time quickly slips away.”

She thought those words were silly for tomorrow’s always better
And on she marched at a fast pace, thinking she was clever
But then she realized the stress of keeping up her grades
Of barely having money and dealing with roommates
She focused on the stresses; blind to all the good
Getting out of school… was all she understood
Her Daddy always told her, “Don’t wish your life away
Know that life is fleeting so treasure every day.”

She dreamt of something different; she was tired of her life
She thought if she found something new, true happiness she’d find
Forgetting her Dad’s warning, she wished away her days
And all the steps that life serves up; to her, were just delays
And she forgot to stop and see the joy in every phase
She thought “I’ll find an awesome job, and I’ll have lots of money
And then I’ll find the perfect guy and my days will be sunny”
Her Daddy always told her, “Don’t wish away your life
But enjoy every moment, discontentment will bring strife.”

Her new job was a hassle her boss was less than nice
And marriage wasn’t all she dreamed; sometimes she felt like ice
She knew her hopes were failing; she didn’t know just why
But as she sat and pondered, a little voice replied
“Be thankful for each moment; don’t wish away your life
For life is never perfect; discontentment will bring strife
Be thankful for each blessing and focus on what’s right
For bad things always live beside what’s good and what is bright
So rest when things aren’t what you thought, enjoy each stage of life
And you will bloom right where you are; and joy will shine like light.”

Rhonda Shelford Jansen

 

 

The Comfort of God

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I know God is real. I know God is ever present. I know God loves and cares about me and yet, when I see his hand undeniably present in my life I’m humbled beyond measure. Last weekend my husband and I had the privilege of seeing God directly comfort us in a time of trouble and I want to share our story with you so you can be blessed by it too and be reminded that God’s ever present hand of comfort is always on His children.

Like many families, we have a relative who struggles with mental illness. In our family it’s my husband’s oldest brother. He has struggled with the demons of that terrible disease most of his adult life. The difficult job of helping him navigate the world was filled by his parents and different government services. That is until their bodies gave way to old age and their minds crumbled under the curse of dementia.

For the last four years my husband and I have stepped in and taken over for his parents attempting to keep his brother safe, housed, and following the rules of different social services. As many of you know, some mentally ill people aren’t big on following rules and in fact can view them as an enemy. So when my husband would encourage his brother to clean his apartment so he wouldn’t be kicked out he was met with verbal abuse. Caring for an adult mentally ill sibling is not of easy. Caring for elderly parents with dementia is heart wrenching and stressful. Caring for both at the same time requires help from God!

Eventually he was kicked out of his apartment and spent a few months living in the local Gospel Mission until finally an agency found him a small apartment in a seedy part of town. We moved him in, warned him to follow the rules or he would lose this apartment, too. Within a year he was kicked out and once again living in the Gospel Mission.

The thing about staying at the mission is there is a limit to the length of time one is allowed to stay and my brother in-law’s time was up yesterday. I’ve spent hours calling different agencies seeking shelter for him; but the truth is he’s burned every bridge within these organizations. One lady who has dealt with him for years said the most loving thing we can do is let him fall; let him live on streets. It’s the best way to help him understand that he needs help from others and he must comply with the rules.

As you can imagine, my husband was consumed with guilt and grief about his brother, we talked frequently about what we should/could do? We wondered what our responsibility before God was. My husband was weighed down by the responsibility of both his brother and his parents.

Seeking a little relief from the stress we went to the ocean for the weekend. Sunday morning while walking down a trail high above the beach we happened upon a group of women singing “How Great Is Our God” our hearts were touched and we continued walking, quietly singing the song to ourselves. A sense of worshipfulness filled us both. Once we descended the stairs to the beach, we headed to the hard packed sand, and there written in large letters was ‘Psalm 46:1’. Curious, my husband looked up the verse on his phone and read out loud, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” We both cried. God was wrapping us in a big God hug through His word.

But wait, there’s more. Monday morning before work my husband was reading the Bible and randomly decided to read from a book he’s never read before. Looking at the list of minor profits he decided to read from Nahum, possibly the most obscure book of the Old Testament. Turning to Nahum his eyes landed on Nahum 1:7 “The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him.” Tears welled up in his eyes, yes, God was hugging him.

What a personal God we have! God knew my husband and I needed extra comfort and strength; that we were at the end of our own and in love God wrapped His strong arms around us through His word. God is good even when life is tough. As Christians we aren’t promised a trouble free life; we suffer like all other humans. What we are promised is God’s comfort and wisdom while going through our very human existence. My brother in-law is out on the streets and my in-laws won’t find healing until they’re in heaven. Even though this is true, a greater truth is God is with us, comforting us, hugging us.

Debora Shelford-Hobbs

 

Victory is Our Call!

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God has not abandoned you though you may feel He has
He sees a bigger picture that we can’t comprehend
So rest inside your trials, take a cleansing breath
Know that God is there with you, when life’s a swirling mess.

Sometimes the trials come in waves; they slap us to and fro
We pray with all our heart for change and cry out from our soul
We want the pain to stop right now and wonder why it’s there
It seems like prayers aren’t answered and feels like Gods not there.

But God is up to something, far greater than we know
He sees things through eternity; we see our weary souls
He uses the hot fire to cleanse and change our hearts
To make us more like Jesus so strongholds will depart.

We say we can’t take anymore; our strength is at its end
But that’s when God’s great power, will fill you from within
Let His strength wash over you; Let His courage fill your heart
And deeper faith will shine so bright into a world that’s dark.

Instead of closing off your heart and fainting with despair
Open wide your heart to God and tell him every fear
Ask for grace to face each day with fearless hearts that trust
Ask God to use the trials, for something pure and good.

So fear not in the trials; know God has a plan
Allow His strength to bear your yoke; unclench your weary hands
He loves you without waver and wants to see you whole
So trust Him in the fire and yield your heart and soul.

Good shall come if you will wait and walk in childlike faith
Surrendering your will and wants to God’s eternal ways
So face the storms with courage; stand up straight and tall
You are a child of the King and victory is your call!

Rhonda Shelford Jansen

THE GARDEN

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A broken heart is like a garden
Blossom gone and soil, hardened
Summer, overcome by winter
Cold and windy; wet and empty
Gloom hides all that once was beauty.

In perfect time God breathes new life
In winters’ dark; in broken heart
Dark and blight scattered by light
Coming from the hand of Might
A seed of life, in love immersed
From broken soul a new sprout bursts
Beauty growing; hope now flowing
Giving life and a new story.
From the withered, new sprout grows
Crushing lies of loss that’s known
Restoring faith that summers’ come
And new life grows as death succumbs.

When winter tests the broken soul
When death and blight are all you know
Wait and hope in God alone
For you will see His mercy flow
From chaff and ashes springs new life
Birthing hope from pain and blight.

Rhonda Shelford Jansen

Bloom Where You’re Planted

Here in America, as in other western countries, we  expect life to be relatively easy and when things don’t go our way it feels like something’s wrong or like we’re not blessed.     That feeling can cast us into defeat and fear; it can disable our gifts and talents, and can keep us from fulfilling our purpose in life.  Instead of growing in the midst of trouble, we dry up and wither.

A long time ago, I heard a missionary talk about his prison experience in China.  His daily job for years, was to stand deep in human waste and shovel it out of a pit.  You would think the missionary would have died from infection or some horrible disease but guess again…he thrived in the stinking, putrid, filth and lived to tell the story.  At first he wondered why God would allow such a terrible situation; after all, wasn’t it sacrifice enough that he was in prison for his faith?  The answer to that question came  when it occurred to him that God was  blessing him in that putrid job and that comprehension  birthed a huge attitude change.  In that prison no one was allowed to worship or spend time in prayer and if a guard caught you praying or singing, a beating was certain. In the missionary’s cesspool job,  guards stayed far away because of the terrible smell.  The missionary was free to sing and pray all he wanted and the time he spent with God restored his soul.  He referred to his unimaginable job as working in his “garden” and said that he looked forward to it each day.  The song he sang most often while shoveling in the pit was the old hymn, “The Garden.”  He stood at the podium and sang from the depths of his soul… “I come to the garden alone, while the dew is still on the roses, and the voice I hear falling on my ear, His voice to me discloses. And He walks with me and He talks with me and He tells me I am His own and the joy we share while we tarry there, none other has ever known.”

When trials seem like a prison, when our plans and hopes are dashed, when we feel like we’re standing in a cesspool, is it possible for us to see it as a garden?   Can we bloom and grow rather than wither and die when life turns upside down?  Can we open our hearts and minds enough to see our garbage  as a hiding place where we worship the Lord from the depths of our soul; a place where we cry out to Him and pray without ceasing; a place where we trust God completely.
With total confidence I can say that when we reach that place of rest and faith and when we truly die to ourselves, God ALWAYS shows up in a miraculous way and the very things that should have crushed us will actually cause us to grow and make us better than ever before.


God’s ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are not our thoughts so I am reminding myself today that life doesn’t need to be my way, that life doesn’t have to be perfect, and that God’s path is rarely the shortest distance between two points.  It usually meanders and hits all sorts of pitfalls and even cesspools but, if we allow Him, He will use every step of the way for great good and for His glory and we will bloom wherever we are planted.

Blessings to you!

Rhonda Shelford Jansen

THE GARDEN BY CHARLES A MILES

I come to the garden alone
While the dew is still on the roses
And the voice I hear
Falling on my ear
The Son of God discloses

And He walks with me
And He talks with me
And He tells me I am His own
And the joy we share while we tarry there
None other has ever known.

He speaks and the sound of his voice
Is so sweet the birds hush their singing
And the melody that he gave to me
Within my heart is ringing

I’d stay in the garden with Him
Tho the night around me be falling
But He bids me go thru the voice of woe
His voice to me is calling

And He walks with me
And He talks with me
And He tells me I am His own
And the joy we share while we tarry there
None other has ever known.