Meaningful Living in the Hashtag Age

1st Morning Thoughts

I saton the edge of my seatduringthelastchurch service oftheyearstaringat theoversized crossabove thebaptismpool. Painstakingly at peace,I’dturned off the hundreds of undone tasks that ranthrough my mindbefore entering the sanctuaryandhitpauseon the demands the world had thrown at my feet.I was present and without distractions. Surrounded by myloving husband and twelve-year-old son,I was readyto be engulfed in the word of Godandunusually giddybecauseno matterthe difficult times thatcame my wayduring the past year,the cross– the very one Christ carried formy salvationthrough the streets ofJerusalemhad beenmyrefuge,and I was thankful.


As thepackedchoir bellowed the second verse ofthe song…

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I sat on the edge of my seat during the last church service of the year staring at the oversized cross above the baptism pool. Painstakingly at peace, I’d turned off the hundreds of undone tasks that ran through my mind before entering the sanctuary and hit pause on the demands the world had thrown at my feet. I was present and without distractions. Surrounded by my loving husband and twelve-year-old son, I was ready to be engulfed in the word of God and unusually giddy because no matter the difficult times that came my way during the past year, the cross – the very one Christ carried for my salvation through the streets of Jerusalem  had been my refuge, and I was thankful.

As the packed choir bellowed the second verse of the song, ‘I Got A Testimony’, my son tugged at my blouse sleeve. He asked, “Momma, what is a testimony?” A bit caught off-guard, I sat with his words for a moment before being reminded of all the wonderful things – including my son – God had given me. See, it wasn’t what he asked that made me reminisce; it was what he called me. He called me “Momma,” a title I’d prayed many days to hear, and looking into his beautiful face; I knew it was time to share with the world how God had transformed our lives.

My testimony started when the first of seven doctors told me that I would never give birth to a child; the countless nights I cried when I thought of all the bedtime stories, pillow fights, and Christmas mornings I would never share with my own son or daughter, and when I was forced to accept that I may have to give up on my desire to have a family. I felt rejected, excluded, and pushed aside. Despite my desires and prayers, God had other plans for me, and it wasn’t motherhood.

For a while, this reality severed my faith. I was different and not because I wanted to be, but because God believed I had the strength, patience, and fearlessness to overcome the challenges of infertility. However, I didn’t agree at first. I wasn’t fearless or strong; I was hurt and confused.

Being a mother was important. My mother was wonderful, but God took her too soon, and I was surrounded by caring women who were blessed to raise a generation of children. I wanted to be like them and to experience motherhood. I wanted to give back to this world and I thought becoming a mother was the best way to do it. But when infertility struck, my husband and I had to re-think how we would create our family. And in our darkest moment, someone special in our lives reminded us that it is not the blood that builds a family, it’s the love. 

What I learned during this challenging period was the importance of trusting God and not leaning on my own desires. I also learned that God gives us what we need and creating a family through biological means isn’t the only way to do it. 

God has each of us on a path  the destination is the cross, and the journey to get there is as unique as a fingerprint. Throughout our lives, we often find ourselves at a fork in the road that forces us to decide whether to walk with Christ and let him lead us in the right direction or turn away and go down an opposing path.

For years, I thought I was making all the right moves. I got married to a wonderful man and had a great career. My health was good, and my spiritual walk seemed solid. The next step was to have a child. That was the path the world wanted me to be on, but God had other plans. God selected my family to be an example to other families struggling with infertility, and to remind the world that each of our journeys are stepping stones towards his greater mission to save mankind. His plan for how we created a family was never only about me or my husband. Infertility wasn’t a burden we were cursed to live with nor was childlessness; instead, it was our journey to find and help a beautiful little boy who needed a home. A little boy like thousands of children around the country who are looking for parents to love and care for them. Our son was brought into our lives to give us the meaningful purpose that God wanted us to have.

FINDING PEACE IN THE WAITING ROOM

For eleven years I waited for God to show up in my situation unknowing that he had been there from the start. When I look back, I realize that for eleven years I’d paced the floor of the hospital waiting room anticipating good news from the doctor. While I was waiting for man to give me a positive report, God had already given me the victory. Although I wore down the sole of countless shoes and troubled myself with fear and anxiety over my infertility, it wasn’t until I stopped worrying and started trusting God that things changed.

When I stopped wanting what other people had and started asking God to give me what he desired for my life my journey took a positive turn. I walked out of the waiting room, fell to my knees, and opened my heart to Christ. And what did he do? He delivered, restored and healed.

I didn’t get the time back that I lost. I didn’t give birth to a child. I didn’t get all the answers I wanted but what I got was a son. He calls me “momma” and he loves me, although I didn’t birth him, or rock him to sleep when he was a toddler. I never saw his first steps or heard his first words. Nevertheless, I’ve now had years to hug, hold and love him. We’ve shared a million good times and expressed our happiness for finding and creating a beautiful family.

So, when he asked, “Momma, what is a testimony?” I hugged him tightly then explained that a testimony was our proof of God’s presence in our life; proof of his unwavering love and sacrifice. It’s our story of victory – we have a story of victory.

Michelle D. Jackson is the author of the inspirational novel, The Heart of a Man. Follow her on Facebook @AuthorMichelleDJackson.

My husband and I would like to thank the Three Rivers Adoption Council for helping us experience parenthood and giving us a beautiful testimony.

To download the Winter 2019 issue of The Mount Magazine, go to https://mt-ararat.org/buy-the-mount..

Path to Peace

#1stMorningthoughts

Have you gotten out of the boat?

1st Morning Thoughts

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I’ve always wanted to be an accomplished writer. From the moment I read Alice Walker’s book Meridian at the age of 13, I wanted to be an author. I love the way words exemplify the human condition so concretely. The way a good story can transport a reader from a mundane existence to another world. I love that when expended into the pages of a good book I could be anyone I chose to be and that writing allows me to dream out-loud and share that dream with readers from every walk of life.

Books are magical. Inspiring. Influential. From the heartfelt stories of a Christian novel to the powerful pages of the Holy Bible, books change lives and good writers are invaluable. At a young age, God showed me that writing was my true calling but to step into the life He pre-destined for me I had to activate…

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DISCONNECT

ARTICLE GRAPHIC 8

Click LIKE to show your approval of me.

SCROLL DOWN to learn about my passions, joys and pains.

Become my FOLLOWER, INFLUENCER, SUBSCRIBER OR FRIEND.

Peek into my SCRIPTED LIFE.

Illustrate your acceptance with FUNNY EMOJIS and EDITED GIFS.

Let’s fellowship through WORDS and PICTURES and VALIDATE each other with half-moons that turn into smiling faces.

Let’s solidify our bond with the perfect selfie and SHARE with the world the beauty of our online FRIENDSHIP.

This is what relationship building looks like in the 21st century – this is the online community we live in.

In full disclosure, I am not a critic of social media. I use social platforms daily to connect with friends and family. I click LIKE often. I watch the silly videos and search, like many people do, for the right emoji to illustrate the joy I feel at connecting with people I care about. But as a social media user and a Christian, I often wonder about the spiritual and moral realities of living in a world that expects me to build strong relationships with people by simply clicking LIKE. I also wonder if the desire to be liked on social media is indicative of our fear that God will not accept nor validate what we choose to reveal about ourselves in cyberspace that we try to hide from him during our quiet time?

Social media has changed how we build relationships and, in many ways, how we see ourselves. It is an effective tool with the capability to bring us together in a positive way, although many people misuse its power. God blessed us with the technology to share our lives with the global community, but when we do so, we should check our like-seeking motives at the door and avoid opening ourselves to pride’s destructive influence.

Satan has waged a vicious war against believers. This war is propelled by our need to be accepted and celebrated by man. Satan has tapped into our propensity to be prideful. Social media plays a role in that, but it is not the culprit. As Christians, our desire for approval should be satisfied by our belief in a living God. God expresses his love for us daily. We do not need the approval of man because man will never save us.

To be liked on social media is not the same as being liked, loved or revered by God. It is a symbol of our admiration for one another that carries no power over who we are or what truly makes us great. It is a small pebble tossed in a giant pond.

The need to be accepted is Satan’s way of forcing Christians to move further from the cross. We see it every day, on the news, in our schools and even in our homes. Children are following the misguided directions of their peers and Youtubers, who are eating Tide pods and drinking boiling hot water. Adults are turning away from the church and biblical teachings and turning towards the latest trends. Politicians are using social platforms to garner support for policies that will hurt the poor while the church struggles to maintain its influence over parishioners and to spread the Gospel without fault or distraction. Garnering the strength to move away from temptation has become harder. We are exposed, more now than at any period in my lifetime, to belief systems that contradict what the bible teaches us. We struggle to do and to say what is right, even when the word of God has not changed or ceased to exist in any way.

God teaches us in 1 John 2:16 (ESV) that the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions is not from the Father but is from the world. He also reminds us in Romans 12:2 (ESV): Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

As mature Christians, it is important to be careful about what we are exposed to. We have a responsibility to the younger generation. We should work to protect them from Satan’s tricks and to help them navigate the world of social media, so they can reap the benefits of these tools without falling prey to Satan’s will.

In this new age of constant connectivity, it is important that we disconnect from the world and reconnect with God.

When I disconnect, I am at my best. Consumed with the love of my family and surrounded by my most powerful ally – Christ Jesus. Being liked and popular has its place, but who we are in the quiet moments that we spend with God is essential to the discovery of his true purpose for our lives.

Michelle D. Jackson is the author of the inspirational novel, The Heart of a Man. Follow her on Facebook @AuthorMichelleDJackson.

This article was featured in the March 2018 publication of The Mount Magazine. To order a copy visit, https://www.mt-ararat.org/buy-the-mount.

Awesome God, Make Me Whole!

“I am His work of art. Tattered, bruised and weak, I am made strong through the love of an omnipotent God.”

1st Morning Thoughts

7674.nine_2D00_patch_2D00_rearranged_2D00_patchwork_2D00_quilt

There is a spiritual lesson in the making of a patchwork quilt. An early American pastime, the art of quilting used the imaginative designs crafted by women gathered in a quilting bee. Patchwork blocks made from fabric scraps and salvaged material accumulated from memorable events and treasured possessions are stitched and sewn into individual designs then aggregated into useful pieces. Colorful and oddly shaped fabric is cut, assembled and attached to create a complete work of art with three layers – the patchwork, the insulation and the backing – which is mended into a quilting masterpiece that is often passed down from generation to generation.

When I think of God’s masterful work to make me whole I see my life as a patchwork quilt. Scraps and salvaged parts of a life well-lived but often hard-fought cut, paired, and mended together by the hands of a loving God.  Each patch exemplifies…

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