Pennies from Heaven

I don’t know about you, but I often find dropped and discarded pennies on the ground. PenniesSome have clearly been out in the elements for quite some time. They’re dirty, worn, and even bent. Yet, no matter how long they’ve been overlooked or even how badly treated, they still hold the exact same worth as a shiny, new penny.

Child of God, don’t ever be misled by the world’s twisted truths or by lies from the enemy. Your value isn’t found in the number of friends you have or the number of followers. It doesn’t come from worldly honors or accolades. Nor is it determined by the way others see or treat you. No matter how much or how little you’re appreciated in human eyes,

being wanted will never alter your worth.

The source of a coin’s value comes from the image stamped upon it. So it is with you. You are stamped with the image of the Living God, the Creator of heaven and earth. Your worth is both assured and secured.

– Ann Wilds

“So God created man in His own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female He created them.” (Gen. 1:27)

The Assurance of the Manger

My house is all a bustle as we prepare to host family Christmas next weekend. Last night as I was hanging ornaments, my thoughts drifted back to my childhood Christmas home. If what comes to your mind is a beautifully trimmed and decorated tree with elegant ribbon and wrapping underneath, you’d be mistaken.

We couldn’t afford to buy a Christmas tree. Each year we would cut our own, not from a Christmas tree farm filled with perfectly shaped trees, but from an ordinary field with random pine trees. We lived in the country and would traipse through acres, and often mud, to find a tree that was remotely the size and shape of a traditional Christmas tree. We’d carry back our find like a prized trophy, then proceed to cut the branches to somewhat resemble the right shape. On occasion we’d even cut off a branch and graft it in with string or wire to cover a gaping hole. Then we’d hang large bulb lights, add old and often handmade ornaments, and then cover it with as much tinsel as possible. A handful of tinsel can cover an awful lot of imperfections. The messy, imperfect tree was fitting for our highly dysfunctional family.

Next came my favorite. We’d set up the manger scene. Ours was a small, simple manger with an angel with a broken wing, a few animals, Mary and Joseph, and baby Jesus. I loved the baby Jesus. If there were other pieces, I don’t remember them. Many years later, when my mom moved in with us, the manger made it to our house but not the character pieces. Somehow in the move we’d lost the baby Jesus.

manger

If you are in a place where you don’t feel the presence of Jesus, know this. While it is possible to lose a baby Jesus, you can’t ever lose Jesus. Take comfort in that assurance. When our eyes are fixed on ourselves or on the troubles of the day, we don’t see Him. When our ears are filled with the siren song of the world or the lies of the enemy, we don’t hear Him. But, nevertheless, He is there, longing for intimacy with us, ready to carry our every burden, to break our chains and free us from our fears.

He is the Alpha and Omega, the Lamb of God and the Lion of Judah. Through Him, all that is, or ever will be, came into being. He is the lover of your soul, your prince of peace, your good shepherd, your great treasure, and your savior redeemer. Turn your eyes and see.

©Ann Wilds

Don’t Believe a Lie

A friend was hurt recently over words someone said about her. It was apparent she was in deep pain though the words, spoken in context, weren’t intended to offend. What was minor for one, was major for another.

Often, when we react intensely to an offense it is because it has triggered a previous wound, a rawness that has never fully healed. Though the pain is felt in the moment it is not actually about that moment. In my friend’s case, the wound comes from a lie she has unwittingly embraced as truth.

A lie that says she doesn’t measure up.

Are you, like my friend, troubled by nagging thoughts that you’re not enough? At one time or another, we all experience feelings of inadequacy. And the feeling can be justified: a first-time parent with a newborn, a novice chess player, or a student taking an exam not studied for. But if the feelings of inadequacy center on who you are as a person, know with absolute certainty that they are lies.

We each carry a unique perspective, influenced by our life experiences, our family, the world, the enemy, and our internal sound track. But there is something you need to understand. The messages, expectations, and beliefs that come from them have absolutely no meaning unless you accept them as truth. And what you believe to be true, manifests in your life as if it was true.

Over the years, I’ve also heard messages that I wasn’t enough, that I was faulty or lacked value. Some were spoken out loud, though most were piercing whispers in my heart. But I learned a secret. Those messages don’t define me. They may be someone’s truth, but they aren’t my truth.

The real truth of who you are comes from your Creator. But until you fully embrace His truth as your truth, you’ll spend life weakened and under attack. My friend longs to be accepted for who she is, but finds herself thwarted time and again, because deep down she still believes a lie. As a result, she can respond to others in a distorted way. When they pull back it reinforces the lie. My friend’s pain is very, very real. But it is needless.

Lesson for the Journey:

If someone said you were a purple gorilla, you’d walk away unconcerned because you know it’s untrue. A person’s opinion of you will only cause you distress when you’ve forgotten the truth of who you really are. The moment you accepted Christ as your Savior you became a new creation, one that He calls cherished, victorious, chosen, and fully whole. So before you react, remember who you are. Anyone else’s opinion simply Meme- Don't believe the liesdoesn’t matter.

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” (Psalm 139:14)

-Ann Wilds

Book Release

 

Hello, Friends!

 

Would you like a FREE pdf copy of my new book, Hope from the Pit: Devotions from the life of Joseph?

 

I’m looking for influencers for my book release influencer team. The requirements? Read the book and then between April 12th and May 12th choose at least two of the following action steps:

 

Write a book review on Amazon.

 

SharHope from the Pit--ebook cover 2-28e quotes from the book or thoughts about the book on social media.

 

Tell your friends, your Bible study leader, or minister about the book.

 

Blog about the book on your well-trafficked blog.

 

Start a book study group or a Facebook study group.

 

If you are interested in partnering with me and willing to spread the news about Hope from the Pit, please email me at: abwilds@yahoo.com and write “influencer” in the subject line. Then in the email please share which two action steps you will take. I will be in touch. If you are chosen, more details will be provided.

 

From the bottom of my heart, thank you!

 

Ann

 

How Do You Define Success?

People were shocked.

“You’re doing what?!”, was a common response when I first announced that I was stepping out of management. It didn’t make sense to them that I would give up a promising career in the corporate world.

But that world was only part of who I was. I was also a wife, a mom, and a care-giver. And as those roles shifted in need, God began to call me to shift my focus. But it wasn’t a simple yielding on my part. For a year, I’d felt His nudge to reduce my hours, but was hesitant to act. I couldn’t maintain my position and work part-time, and I enjoyed what I did and the sense of value it gave me.  So I prayed about it, and had my sister pray about it, and through a series of surprising – some even painful- events, He made it easier for me to jump when a opportunity arose.

And through that yes came a new season. One that, through the eyes of the world, may look unsuccessful. But it is the same one that allowed unhurried time and care for my declining mother, provided opportunity to be fully engaged in my daughter’s life and activities, created deeper dependence and connections with my husband, and one that opened doors for my writing and teaching.

Whatever place you are in right now, resist the temptation to see your value only through the world’s definition of success. To it you may be just a mom, just a student, just a worker, or just another blogger. But it’s wrong. Know right now, you’re never “just” anything. You are always a much treasured child of God.

Message for the Journey:

What if, instead of a best-seller, the most important thing you write is a note of encouragement? What if, instead of a stadium of fans, the most important audience you sing for is a crying baby? What if, instead of a case before the grand jury, the most important issue you argue is to win a lost soul to the kingdom? What if, instead of a multi-million dollar contract, the most important deal you close is your wedding vows?

God calls each of us to different work but all that are called are of equal value. The world defines success by status and power. God defines success by humble obedience. Ask God to align the dreams and desires of your heart with His plans for your life. It is not about our glory; it’s all about His.

– Ann Wilds

“Our purpose is to please God, not people. He alone examines the motives of our hearts.”- 1 Thessalonians 2:4b

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Love Meets Them Where They Are

Mom’s mind isn’t what it used to be. Her sharp, former librarian and newspaper-editor mind, once a steel trap of information, is befuddled from dementia. She lived with us for twelve years in Texas but is now in an assisted living facility in our hometown in Louisiana, where most of our family resides.

Communicating with her in person can be a challenge in and of itself but the phone adds another layer of complexity. Occasionally, she’ll hang up or put the phone on her bad ear, but most of the time we manage to have a semblance of a conversation. Though she often forgets I called the moment we hang up, I still strive to do it regularly.

During a recent call, I was at a complete lost of what she was telling me. But instead of allowing myself to grow frustrated at not being able to comprehend her thinking, I intentionally chose to focus on simply enjoying the sound of her voice.

Sometimes she is in the present, sometimes she is in the past, and sometimes I truly have no idea where she is. But what I’ve come to understand over the years is that where she is isn’t really that important. Simply being with her in the moment is.

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You know, the world is full of people that you and I may never understand. People whose beliefs, values, and choices differ greatly from our own. We may find them in our families, across the street, or on the other side of the world. And though we may not understand their reality, or even remotely agree with it, we can still honor them for who they are–a precious child of God.

Jesus spent much of his earthly time with people whose lifestyles were different than His values. He didn’t agree with or approve of their choices, but He showed them love and compassion never-the-less. We don’t ever have to agree on something to be kind.

Message for the Journey:

Loving someone sometimes requires correction. Other times it requires providing direction. But most often it simply means one thing–loving them wherever they are.

-Ann Wilds

Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
Col. 3:13

How to Fuel the Victory

A record breaking, long-distance swimmer, she slipped into the water from the shore of the Catalina Islands intent on setting another mark. Her target was to be the first to swim all the way to the coast of California.

She was strong, trained, and confident making steady progress for fifteen grueling hours. And then a thick fog set in. The inability to see what lay ahead, combined with her exhaustion, caused doubt to creep in. Yet, with encouragement from her mother, riding in one of the nearby boats, she pressed on for another full hour until finally she asked to be pulled from the water.

Without her vision she gave up, believing she had too far to go to achieve the goal. What she discovered as she sat in the boat, was that she was just one mile short of her intended destination.

Like Florence Chadwick in 1956, you too will experience unforeseen difficulties and setbacks along the way. When you lose your vision, it’s easy to fall prey to inner doubts. Perseverance- the resolve to press on toward the goal- is the power that fuels victory. So how can you access it when challenges arise?

  • Prepare in Advance.
    Florence didn’t just decide one day she could swim long distances. She developed her stamina, nourished her health and practiced daily. You need to do the same. Nourish the body with healthy living but more importantly nourish the soul with daily time in the Word and personal communion with God. A heart invested with scripture, in strong relationship with the Creator, is able to push through adversity.
  • Surround yourself with a support group.
    When she took to the ocean, Florence was flanked by safety boats and loved ones to watch over her and encourage her. God didn’t intend for you to walk through life alone. While it’s easy to withdraw from people when challenges strike, it isn’t wise to do so. Florence was able to swim a full hour longer than she thought because of the encouragement she received from her mother. The encouragement of Christian friends and family can help you press on past where you would go alone.
  • Trust the path you are on.
    What Florence lacked at the end was vision. In life, there will be times when you cannot see with your own eyes. In the water, Florence had only herself to rely upon. But you’re not alone- no matter how it feels.

Message for the Journey:

When the fog of humanity clouds your vision and you are unable to see the shore, don’t despair. God still sees all things. Whatever difficulty you’re facing, persevere—press on in faith. He will see you to the other side.

Ann Wilds

Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised. Hebrews 10:36

What’s Growing in Your Garden?

Seeds and plants need nutrients in order to grow. No matter the kind, they each require water, sun, and food to develop. What differs between them is just how much is needed to thrive.

The yard at our prior home consisted of a rich, healthy soil. Anything we put in the ground grew well. But even then, my hybrid tea roses still needed additives to reach perfection.

The soil at our current home is heavy with sand and clay. We joke that only the strong survive. To grow a garden we had to add a special soil mixture to the bed to help nurture the developing seeds.

Weeds, however, can grow just about anywhere. In my yard, in yours. Though unwanted they find a way to establish themselves in even the most inhospitable conditions. Unlike other plants, the weed needs little help to get by.

What is true for the plant world is true for human emotions and, in turn, our thoughts and behaviors. Those that are nourished grow. However, like weeds, the undesirable ones grow readily. The desirable ones require attention and care to flourish.

Negative emotions—like anger, impatience, fear, and doubt—begin with hardy seeds that grow quickly any time and anywhere they find a chance. Healthy emotions—like forgiveness, patience, kindness, and confidence—require more diligence from the gardener to become established and thrive.

The best way to tend either garden is a good dose of a combination weed and feed. Any gardening center will have what you need for your yard but they won’t be much use for your emotions.

Thankfully, God has already provided exactly what we need. Scripture is filled with the power to kill the weeds of unhealthy thoughts and to feed desirable ones. When we apply it regularly, reading and meditating on it often, we gain a bountiful harvest from our garden. But when we fail to use it, we often end up with nothing more than a bed of weeds.

Message for the Journey:

The seed that is nourished is the one that grows. Be it a seed of doubt or a seed of faith, a seed of fear or a seed of courage, a seed of aggression or a seed of peace, whichever one is fed is the one that reproduces in our lives.

©Ann Wilds

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things.”
Phil. 4:8

Never Run From Grasshoppers

I’m a country girl at heart having spent most of my childhood outdoors. When you do, especially in Southwest Louisiana, you can’t help but become acquainted with bugs and insects. I’d lie in the lush grass and watch as mosquito hawks danced, ants marched, grasshoppers bounced and, my personal favorite, rolly pollys meandered. They were each tiny creatures existing within a larger, more powerful world.

Sometimes we feel equally small in light of seemingly giant obstacles in our lives. Perhaps you’ve felt that way as you faced a loved one’s progressive disease, or the loss of a job, or a rebellious child, or a depleted bank account. If so, you aren’t alone.

The Israelites felt powerless when they surveyed the inhabitants of the Promised Land. Ten men were sent out to explore, eight came back overwhelmed by the obstacles seen, reporting that they felt as helpless as grasshoppers. As a result, the people were afraid to enter God’s blessing. Instead, they wandered in the wilderness for forty years until only their children gained entrance.

That is, all but two. Joshua and Caleb were part of the ten, yet they refused to be defeated by grasshoppers. It didn’t matter what their eyes saw; what mattered to them was how big God was. They knew what He’d already done for them and trusted that He would provide a way. They walked in obedience and entered the Promise Land.

Message for the Journey:

When you seem insignificant compared to the situation around you, look to the size of your God. You’ll miss out on His blessings if you allow grasshopper feelings to overrule the truth you know. Nothing can overpower Him. Trust and, in obedience, press on.

©Ann Wilds

He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in.(Isaiah 40:22)

Breaking Free from Opinion

Fame is fleeting, glory is short, and opinions are quick to change.

Most of us will have an up-close and personal experience with this truth at some time in our lives: the popular child who moves to a new school only to find himself rejected, the writer who wakes to find the rating on their latest book plummeted due to harsh on-line reviews, the reality television star who is suspended from his show for comments made in an interview, or the everyday woman whose friend turns against her.

Should your time come, remember that even Jesus experienced the pain of fickle opinions. He entered Jerusalem to lips singing his praises only to have them call for his public execution almost overnight. His heart must have ached to have been rejected, but still He knew the truth. His worth was not defined by any man’s opinion. So it is with you.

While it is natural to enjoy praise, never allow it to elevate your self-view. And be doubly cautious about embracing criticism. What people think of you does not define you, only God can do that.

And in God, you are:

Wonderfully created-
I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Psalm 139:11

Treasured and chosen-
The Lord has chosen you to be His treasured possession. Deuteronomy 14:2

Delightfully celebrated
He will take great delight in you…He will rejoice over you with singing. Zephaniah 3:17

Cherished and adored-
I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness. Jeremiah 31:3

Message for the Journey:

As a child of the King, it is not really your business what other people think of you. But it is always your business what God thinks of you. Look to Him to see the truth of who you are.

Ann Wilds

“Do not pay attention to every word people say, or you may hear your servant curse you.” Ecclesiastes 7:21