Graceless

Chancie Martin by Chancie Martin @
I have always enjoyed and excelled at writing, but being a mother of five, devout Christian, wife, and full-time part owner of a nursing home family-operated business leaves me little "spare" time! My sister-in-law suggested that I start a blog to share my experiences and life story with others so here goes! My purpose in creating this blog is to continue my growth as a Christian woman while dealing with the demands of everyday life. I hope to inspire other women in their walk with Christ and to help them see that life is not all about being perfect. We are all "Graceless" until we are granted God's Mercy! A day in our household consists of: getting 5 kids up, fed, dressed, and out the door to school and daycare. Then I am off to work where I work on the computer for most of the day billing and dealing with Medicare and private insurance companies. I am blessed to have a wonderful co-worker that has the same dedication to the job that I do. Together we deal with the struggles, headaches, and stress of collecting the money to keep our company running. Depending on the day, after I leave work I am headed to soccer, gymnastics, or church. Our family finishes up activities and heads home between 7 and 8 where we work together to get baths done, iron clothes for the next day, fix lunches, and feed pets. Once all the kids are in bed, my husband and I work on cleaning the house and washing clothes. It's a busy life, but they are only small for so long and we want them to have all the experiences they want before it is too late.
Chancie Martin by Chancie Martin @

April 30, 2013
 What’s In Your Trash Basket?
 Gwen Smith
 Today’s Truth
“Jesus straightened up and asked her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’” (John 8:10, NIV)
 Friend to Friend
 A four-year-old girl was overheard reciting the Lord’s Prayer, “and forgive us our trash baskets, as we forgive those who pass trash against us.” When I first heard that story, I smiled. Then I thought of a conversation I had had recently with a girlfriend.
 She is a Christian friend. But though she has “emptied her trash basket” of sin before the Lord in sincere repentance, she has not emptied the trash basket of self-condemnation. Not completely. She won’t allow it. She struggles deeply to let go of mistakes she made in her past. She holds the trash basket lid on tightly. To be free of that waste doesn’t seem fair in her mind.
 She is haunted by shame. Haunted by mistakes that are no longer remembered by a holy God. Haunted by sins that have been cast as far as the east is from the west.
 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him. (Psalm 103:11-13)
 These memories don’t live in her past. They live in her now. They haunt her regularly like a spine-chilling horror film monster. And as much as she would like to move forward in forgiveness, she just can’t find the courage to scare the monster away.
 In the New Testament book of John, chapter 8, we meet a woman caught in the act of adultery. The legalistic teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought her before Jesus. They publicly humiliated her in front of all the town’s people, saying to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” (John 8:4-5)
 Jesus bent down and wrote on the ground with his finger as they continued to question him. Finally, “He straightened up and said to them, ‘“If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.’” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground” (John 8:7-8).
 The crowd eventually thinned to nothing. The older, wiser men cleared first. Then the younger ones trickled away. When the adulterous woman and Jesus were the only ones remaining:
“Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
 “No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin” (John 8:10-12).
 My sister, do you see that our holy Lord delights to show us mercy? He does not condemn us as we deserve. Time and time again, Scripture reveals merciful pictures of forgiveness. The woman in this story was guilty when she was brought to face Jesus, but as she left His presence, her guilt was forgiven. Her trash basket was empty.
 When we turn to face Jesus with repentant hearts, our guilt is forgiven as well.
 TOSS YOUR TRASH
 This account of the adulterous woman teaches us about forgiveness and it also teaches us a valuable lesson about judging and condemning others. But what does this lesson teach us about judging ourselves? My friend that I spoke of earlier carried around a trash basket filled with junk she threw in herself. Sure, it was accompanied by trash from other people to, but the lingering condemnation came from memories of decisions she had made, things she had done, places she had been, and brokenness she has experienced because of her own choices. In her heart, she accepts the forgiveness of Jesus, but she can’t bear to forgive herself. So many women won’t forgive themselves.
 I’ve been that woman.
 I know that woman.
 I know that self-loathing. I’ve lived it. I’m not going to sit here and try to tell you that forgiving yourself is easy. It’s hard—and, in a lot of ways, it should be! But I can testify that it wasn’t until I prayerfully allowed the stubborn, strong, and unconditional love of Jesus to pry my fingers off the lid of my trash basket and empty the condemning contents, that I experienced true freedom and complete forgiveness.
 Is there something that you have not been able to forgive yourself for?
 My friend, we need to stop beating ourselves up for sins of our past. We need to stop allowing guilt and shame to chain us to unproductive living. Jesus humbled Himself by becoming human, endured an excruciating death, and then defied the grave in His resurrection so that we could be restored to a place of complete healing. Complete healing.
 Second Corinthians 5:21 states that “God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” If you are in Christ, the Bible says that your guilt was paid for on the cross of Calvary. Jesus carried the sins of the world on His shoulders so that you would not have to carry them on yours.
 If you are holding on to un-confessed sin, the time has come for you to release your grip. God’s Word promises that, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
 ACCEPT HIS FORGIVENESS.
 None of us are perfect, just perfectly forgiven in Christ. Take your hand off the lid and allow the Lord to empty your trash basket of every last condemning voice once and for all. Embrace the freedom that Jesus intends for you to live in.
 Let’s Pray
 Holy Father, Your mercy defies logic. I don’t deserve it, and I don’t understand how You could possibly forgive me for all that I have done. Please take my trash basket and empty it. Forgive me today and help me to forgive myself, and others, so I can live freely in Your amazing grace.
 In Jesus’s Name,
 Amen.
 Now It’s Your Turn
 Recite, write, and memorize these verse: “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 8:1-2)
 Prayerfully forward this email to a friend (or friends) who might need to read this message.
 Journal what God is teaching you. Praise Him for revealing truth to your heart and for His matchless grace.
Chancie Martin by Chancie Martin @

I while back I had done a devotional by Beth Moore and she had recited a poem I wanted to share:
 Poem out of the devotional "To Live Is Christ" by Beth Moore

 I took my seat one Sunday on my favorite pew,
 I got comfy on a cushion with a perfect view.
 I could see the Robinson's................ their on the rocks, it's true.
 The Jones were there.............. their boy drinks.
 The Smith's..............they just got sued.
 And there was Old Man Worthyton........more money than the bank,
 But I've watched very carefully........he's never filled the plate.
 The organist filled up her pipes as we stood up to sing a hymn.
 I nudge a friend beside me and said, "Look at what the cat dragged in."
 How dare he darken sacred doors..........some nerve to walk in here.
 My nose rose up to greet him.
 I made sure he saw me sneer.
 The perfect conversation piece.........he was at lunch that day,
 We only stop long enough to bless the food and pray.
 That night, I crawled into bed.........
 I toss and turned until late......
 I reached for my antacids.........it must have been something I ate.
 I fell into a restless sleep............had a dream so real.
 I stood before a mansion in a crimson field..........
 I reach my hand to knock on a door shaped like a cross......
 My eyes fell on a message there on the boost......

 'This is a house that Grace built.
 You are welcome here.
 You'll find no condemnation,
 Enter without fear.'
 The door open before me................I found myself inside,
 It felt so unfamiliar..........I found no place to hide,
 Suddenly, before me were faces I knew!
 The Robinson's, the Smith's, the Jones........just to name a few,
 And there was Old Man Worthyton passing around a plate filled with appetizers many took and ate.
 A gentle hand slipped into mine..........he gave me quite a fright.
 It was that man the cat had dragged in..........but no cat was found inside,
 'So glad you grace our sacred doors,' he said. 'Feel quite at home.'
 Then all rose up to greet me.............
 If only I had known........though he looked a little different........no doubt it was that man.
 But, when he put his arm around me...........I saw nail scars in his hand..........
 When we persecute those that our his, we persecute him. We have received the gift of Grace and that is sufficient enough.
Chancie Martin by Chancie Martin @
Poem out of the devotional "To Live Is Christ" by Beth Moore

I took my seat one Sunday on my favorite pew,
I got comfy on a cushion with a perfect view.
I could see the Robinson's................ their on the rocks, it's true.
The Jones were there.............. their boy drinks.
The Smith's.............. they just got sued.
And there was Old Man Worthyton........more money than the bank,
But I've watched very carefully........he's never filled the plate.
The organist filled up her pipes as we stood up to sing a hymm.
I nudge a friend beside me and said, "Look at what the cat dragged in."
How dare he darken sacred doors..........some nerve to walk in here.
My nose rose up to greet him.
I made sure he saw me sneer.
The perfect conversation piece.........he was at lunch that day,
We only stop long enough to bless the food and pray.
That night, I crawled into bed.........
I toss and turned until late......
I reached for my antacids.........it must have been something I ate.
I fell into a restless sleep............had a dream so real.
I stood before a mansion in a crimson field..........
I reach my hand to knock on a door shaped like a cross......
My eyes fell on a message there on the boost......

'This is a house that Grace built.
You are welcome here.
You'll find no condemnation,
Enter without fear.'
The door open before me................I found myself inside,
It felt so unfamiliar..........I found no place to hide,
Suddenly, before me were faces I knew!
The Robinson's, the Smith's, the Jones........just to name a few,
And there was Old Man Worthyton passing around a plate filled with appetizers many took and ate.
A gentle hand slipped into mine..........he gave me quite a fright.
It was that man the cat had dragged in..........but no cat was found inside,
'So glad you grace our sacred doors,' he said. 'Feel quite at home.'
Then all rose up to greet me.............
If only I had known........though he looked a little different........no doubt it was that man.
But, when he put his arm around me...........I saw nail scars in his hand..........
When we persecute those that our his, we persecute him. We have received the gift of Grace and that is sufficient enough.
Chancie Martin by Chancie Martin @
Something neat I found out / learned with my devotional today.
 Temptation vs Hardships
 1 Corinthians 10:13 "No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful: he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.
 2 Corinthians 1:8-9 "We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even life. 9- Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead."
 Up until today, I guess I didn't really think of the two as separate. However, after reading and listening to my CD today, I have a gained insight on the two. It is true that God will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we can handle. In other words, every temptation we have, God gives us the ability to with stand it.
 With hardships: We all suffer hardships. Some are fresh out of a hardship, going through a hardship or just got delivered from it. What ever our personal situation with hardships, God is the only one who can rescue us from it. We can be pushed beyond what we can handle in a hardship. At this point, you can either remain in your hardship rolling around in dark days or fall to your knees and ask God to get you through it. It is at that point, God is your only answer. He is your only rescuer. Once you are delivered from your hardship, you can forget who delivered you out of your dark days or you will have developed a closer relationship with your deliverer. Think about a hardship you went through and think about the person that helped you. While you were healing and going through it, did you develop a closer relationship with that special person? I'm sure you probably did. How? Was it through talking and being with that person? Did it make your relationship stronger? Do you now know more about that person and feel a tighter bond? If you can answer 'yes.' Then I ask you, isn't that what God is doing with us through our hardships? I have faith in God that he puts people in my life that I really need to help me get through this life. I pray that I will have my eyes open to seeing that and my heart to being receptive to the special person God chooses for me through that hardship.
 Everyone who truly knows me, I'm a planner with my family. I have 5 VERY active kids. From church, school, soccer and more soccer, we have to have a plan or it'll be a HUGE mess everyday. I had yesterday planned since this past Monday and would recite it to myself daily just to make sure I had it all down with timing and everything. It was going to be a very tight squeeze but I had it figured out. 2 B-day parties and getting Prom activities done. On Friday, I found out that the Saturday afternoon party was actually that night. That took one party from the schedule and I could never get around to confirming that the twins would be at the other party. So, it was just soccer from 8:00 am through 1:00 pm. I was thrilled. As I was going through my day, Saturday I noticed that it wasn't the day I had planned and worried about, It was the day God planned for me so that I could enjoy my Saturday and everyone that was placed in my path that day and night.
 Matthew 6: 34- Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."
 AMEN!!
Chancie Martin by Chancie Martin @
A neat fact I learned this morning in my devotional that I wanted to share and make you think about a new level of dedication some people have to spread the word of Christ to different nations.
 Acts 18: 1- 3
 1-After this, Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. 2-There he met a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had ordered all the Jews to leave Rome. Paul went to see them, 3-and because he was a tent maker as they were, he stayed and worked with them.

 Tentmakers refer to people who worked in leather, possibly related to working in the goat hair cloth that was made in Cilicia.
 ***From Beth Moore devotional, "To Live is Christ"
 'According to Operation World, "There are about 60 nations in the world where 'tentmaking' is the major means for gaining entry into a country and in 33 of these it is the only way."

 They are surrounded by an entirely different belief system, no means of public worship, they are isolated, lonely and long for Christian encouragement. They have to think of creative ways to share their faith and carefully slip a few pages of Scripture to those who are interested. They could face death if caught. They do this because of their dedication to spreading God's word. We, as Christians are called to spread his word in safe places for some and dangerous places for others. My husband, Jon and a few others just recently got back from Russia. On their passport it says the reason for going is 'Humanitarian aid' because if they say they are passing out Bibles or spreading the word, they can't get into the country. They did have a close encounter with the police while visiting a village but by the Grace of God, an old widow had taken them in her house as her guest. All I ask for those that read this is to please pray for those that are called out of the country to spread God's word and to also go within yourself and serve. I've heard many times people saying, 'Oh, I did that for many years now its someone else's turn.' And, then they never help in another spot that needs help. They feel as though there done. Or you'll hear, 'Oh, I can't do that. That's not for me.' What? That's not for who? Someone else's turn? I sure hope that when we, and I'm guilty of it too, say those statements God convicts my heart to realize what I've just said and changes my view. He's not asking me to learn the trade of 'tentmaking' or going to countries where the Bible & God's word is outlawed. He's asking me to serve in my own church and bless others. It's so worth it to share the word with others or just read a Bible story to little ones, help youth that are going through so much or encouraging another member at church to stay dedicated to serving. We are all called to serve. Retirement is for Heaven. Enjoy the gift that God gives us, Grace and the promise of everlasting life with him.
chancie by chancie @
November 8th, 2008 @ 11:00 pm;  June 22nd 2012 @ 5:15 pm & January 25th 2013 8:10 am
As I was finishing up my devotional the other day, Beth Moore had included the definition of “Understanding.”   I thought it was very appropriate to included because if you think about it, that’s what this whole testimony, I’m sharing, is about.

“The comprehending activity of the mind entails the assembling of individual facts into an organized whole, as collecting the pieces of a puzzle and putting them together. The mind grasps concepts and sees the proper relationship between them.”
 
“November 8th, 2008 around 11:00 pm Saturday night, June 22nd 2012 around 5:15pm Friday afternoon, January 25th 2013 around 8:30 am Friday morning.”

When I was first asked by Matthew to speak to youth while he was away on his Russian Mission trip, I was excited and honored.  Then as I started to think about what was asked of me panic set in.   I might like to talk alot and there are times when my family and friends would like me to hush but the thought of getting in front of a group of people is not me.  As days past and I saw on the calendar that Cherlyn had one week and Don had the next I was a little disappointed but felt the pressure off.   Then I get an updated calendar appointment: February 27th -- all-day Chancie speaking.  I laughed at the wording - all-day Chancie speaking.  Then my precious husband made a comment in the calendar--U got the "all day" part right!!!! JM.

As I was getting prepared to speak to you, I was in my "Jesus the One and Only" devotional by Beth Moore.   I wasn't as heavy in it as I should have been but never the less, I was working on it. I think that was about the time the devil wanted to work on my mind as well. I found myself, one Wednesday night after dropping the kids off at the church, sitting in my car crying and calling out to God to please just take me and tell me what you want me to do because I just can't figure it out! After a minute or two, I gathered myself together, got out of the car and went inside to my bedroom.  I picked up my "Jesus, the One and Only."
The section that I had left off with a few weeks back was titled "His True Brothers and Sisters." Luke 8:1-15 "The Parable of the Sower."  
 What made this stand out to me was part of Vs 8 which reads:  "When he said this, he called out, 'He who has ears to hear, let him hear.'  
 A few months back, I started adding in my prayers, "God, give me the ears to hear you, the eyes to see you and the heart to feel you."   My blood was pumping at this moment. I read on.
 Vs. 9 : 'His disciples asked him what this parable meant.  10: He said," The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to others I speak in parables, so that, " ' though seeing, they may not see; though hearing, they may not understand.'

All I could think was, I understand!  So, I kept on reading thru to Luke 8: 11-15. But first, let me back up to the beginning of Luke 8 so you can get a better picture and understanding of Luke 8: 11-15.  Please turn with me to Luke 8. Let’s read Luke 8:1-15 together.
(Read out of the Bible)
Now, what I would like for  you to think about is this: "Which seed are you ? And, which seed do you want to be?"
If you are anything like me, I shrunk down in my chair after verse 14.  I was currently that seed that fell among the thorns. I want so much to be the seed that stands in good soil.  I hear the words, I understand and retain it but I wasn't really letting my light shine from within.

I want to share a side note out of my Bible. It goes like this:  
Attending to God's voice requires effort. We're so unaccustomed to listening that we often let God's message go unnoticed.   Or we hear God speaking to us, but we don't let the words take root in our inner being.  

Next, I want to take you to another chapter in Luke.  It's Luke 15: 11-31.    "The Parable of the Lost Son."
Would you please turn to Luke 15:11 and let us read it together.   As we are reading this, I'd like for you to create an "inner video" in your minds’ of a father, two sons:  one that asks for half his inheritance, leaves home, waste his money and eventually comes back home moneyless   and another one that stays with his father and helps take care of his father's wealth and gets a bit jealous of his father's reaction to his younger brother homecoming.
 Give them time to get there.
(Read Luke 15: 11-31)
How many of us can relate to the older son?  If we are being honest with ourselves, we more than likely can.  I know I can. And, when I first started thinking about what I wanted to share with ya'll,  I thought that I could not relate to the "Lost son" until the past month, January 25th of this year. My puzzle pieces started to fit together.  I thought about having each one of you do a downward spiral on each point you could relate to in your own life with the "lost son" life.  Whether it be drug, alcohol, sex, lying or bad situations you got into that only got worse.  I never did drugs, alcohol or went to a high school or even a college party.  I never really hung out with other teenagers my age and I thought maybe if I got some insight from things Hunter and Heidi were going through as teenagers,  I could make it interesting and easy for each of you to relate to.  But I just wasn't feeling the right kind of connection I needed.    It had to hit a personal spot inside of me to make it real.  And, I didn't realize how much until this past January.  This is my downward spiral and you will notice that it didn't involve anything I mentioned above and it took a few years for me to rise back to the top with the Lord right by my side as he had always been.

I use to be the person who would pray about others and tell God to help other people because they needed him more than I did.  My life was going good.  I had a great job, a husband, my precious children and family all around me. I couldn't ask for more.  Then on November 8th 2008 around 11:00pm that Saturday night, Ella was diagnosis with meningitis.  She was 5 months old. I use to think this was my testimony how God's loving hands healed my sick little baby girl but it's only part of my testimony.
 
I can still hear the jingling of the keys in the doctor's pockets and him asking the nurses' station: "Where are the parents?" They had just taken Ella back to do a spinal tap to see if they could figure out what was going on in her tiny little body.  Jon and I were in the hospital room waiting to get our precious sick baby girl back. I looked over at Jon and said "I think he's talking about us." Sure enough he came running into the hospital room and the nurse was shortly behind him with our baby girl.  I held my sick baby as tight as I could, foolishly thinking that nothing could take my baby from me. Nothing! Not illness, not death. As long as I held tight to my baby girl, she was safe.  After all, I'm her momma.  I'm her protector. I’m ashamed to say now, God was nowhere in my mind at this time.  Thank goodness he was at her side.   The doctor went on explaining what we had in store for us: from us losing her in the next 12 hours to the best case, Ella would be deaf. I remember speaking up," I'm not worried about her being deaf."  Like I got to choose which path my baby would go down.  Jon and I stayed by her side for the next 12 hours waiting for the storm to start.  It never started. Ella was a sick baby. So sick!   She got stuck with needle after needle trying to get fluids in her earlier that day without a tear.   She was gray, cold to the touch. She was lifeless. And, I didn't realize at that time, so was I.  I was lifeless without Christ in my life. Ella is my miracle baby.  She has no last effects from the illness that we could see. I, too had no lasting effects from enduring her illness, or so I thought until I started running into different people who had a baby who died from it, to other children that had it, survived but are still battling problems from it. Then I heard news about a set of twins, 6 months of age, a boy and a girl. Ella & Emma age when Ella went through it. Both were deathly ill and it wasn't until after the baby girl died that the doctor figured out they had meningitis. They were able to save the boy but his sister had to die in order for them to figure out what it was.  Sounds similar to our own Savior.  Jon and I both cried because we finally realized what we had faced with our own baby girl's illness and how our future could have been so different.  Looking back at it, God was right by Ella's side but he was carrying both Jon and I.  As days turned into weeks, I started to slip into a state of confusion.  You see, I use to be so certain of the future because remember, I didn't need God to waste his time with me, others needed him more than I did. I could take care of myself.   In fact, I'd help God by not asking for anything and let others get his help. I was independent.   As a another year had past, I had my normal yearly doctor appointment.  I was 35 and my doctor ordered a mammogram because that's what she did to all her patients at 35.  I didn't think anything of it. I was slowly starting to feel better. I still prayed my same prayer. "God please help those in need because I'm little miss independent and I can handle it all by myself!"  And, handle it I did! It was the week of Thanksgiving when I got the report back on my mammogram.   The results read, "Abnormal tissue found. Please, call to schedule a follow up."  My heart started beating out of control, I could barely breathe, and my life as I knew it was over.  I would not be around to see my children grow up. I was on death's door.  I quickly called and told the lady that I did not mind if I had to come in as soon as they open and stayed until they closed, I had to know if I was dying of cancer before Thanksgiving. I got in the next day.  I had my Bible and Beth Moore devotional in hand "A Woman's Heart" God's Dwelling Place. It was about Moses, him leading the people out of Egypt and the building of the temple.  I knew but I didn't know that God was the answer, if you can understand that.  I think it's called that little light inside us that is suppose to shine bright but mine was flickering. Kind of like a lighting bug that would blink but not stay lit. I had another mammogram done and I would not leave until the radiologist read the result to me. I had to hear it from him. I was better.  I got a little knowledge and good feelings from the doctor and the same from the bible study and God.  A couple of weeks later, I get a letter about my second set of results. Although it does state that results are normal, it says that I have to come back in 6 months for follow up. My insecurity set in and within 3 to 4 months, I woke up in darkness.  After Ella's illness, Jon and I pulled them out of everything that they could have a chance to get sick. We stopped going to church as much. If something had to be done outside the house, either Jon or I would do it or get it. We hired a nanny to watch after them. If Ella got sick, I panicked. You see, I blamed myself for Ella's illness.  I feared that the next time, she'd surely die because I was not competent as her mother to catch it the next time. I didn't know my own baby was that sick. If it weren't for me asking my parents to stop by before they went out of town to see if my mom could tell me what she thought of Ella's fever,  Ella would not be here today. You see I didn't know my own baby. I thought I did, but I didn't.  I was just like that seed that was planted in the thorn bushes. I let everything from worries, riches and pleasures distract me from knowing my own baby.  I almost lost her. And, it was my own fault!  I didn't know my Savior either. I was now in darkness.

The one positive in being in darkness is there is only one way out, looking up towards the light.

The following days, I found many times where I was scared to breathe, scared to be alone, scared to make a decision, scared to live. I found the only place that I felt safe was at church. I felt God there. It was his "Dwelling place." I found that I craved to hear his words. His words became a medicine to my soul. It felt so good to hear stories out of the Bible and just to share what new thing I learned from the Bible was an instant high! Then, I remembered what my mother in love (Jon's mom) told me a long time ago,  "The devil will come after you as soon as you start doing good for God's Kingdom." It made sense to me now. And, still does. I still suffered from a sense of bondage from my past, especially the guilt of almost losing Ella.

On June 22nd 2012, Hunter fell ill. All that week had been youth camp. He was fine up until Thursday night and he wanted to leave camp early that night because he just wasn't feeling right.  We dropped him off at home to take a shower while we took a close friend's son home. He called me three or four times complaining of the pain. It had only taken us twenty to twenty-five minutes round trip. When we got home, I gave him some water and felt his head. I would have taken him that night but he started to feel a little better.  The next day was when the youth were going to the water park. I couldn't get Hunter up. He just didn't think he could do it. So, we took Braydon and went on to work.  Since, he still wasn't any better and we were leaving for Disney the next day, I made an appointment with the "in Quicker."  Within minutes, I got a call from the nurse and was told to take him straight to the medical center emergency room. They would be waiting for him. After a few hours and the lead surgeon telling me that I was exposing my son to unnecessary radiation because he was fine, he was diagnosed with appendicitis. He had emergency surgery that night. Needless to say, we now blame Hunter for not getting to go to Disney!!

Travis spoke to the youth on January 23rd. He explained how he used to feel that his past held him back from experiencing true freedom with God.   I could relate to that as most of us can.  The next day, I had my yearly Doctors appointment that ever since that scare,  I feel anxiety just going to the doctor.  The next day, I was listening to K-Love after dropping the kids off at school.  The radio host was talking about a skiing trip her, her husband and another couple went on.  The host, her husband and the other man were excellent skiers however the man's wife wasn't.  Once she got to the top of the mountain, she looked down the huge hill and started panicking to the point she was fearful for her life.  The radio host took her by the arm and told her that both she and the lady's husband were going to be on each side of her all the way down. They were not going straight down the mountain. They were going from side to side until they reached the bottom. Once they reached the bottom of the mountain, the lady looked up the mountain and was amazed at what she just accomplished. She thank the host for teaching her how to ski. The host replied, " I didn't teach you how to ski. I taught you how to think when coming down the mountain."

All of a sudden I felt this huge surge of relief. From what Travis said, to the stress of going to the doctor to the hidden bondage that I had been under from Ella's illness, my fears of dying, Hunter's illness to me realizing what was actually going on as I was spiraling down to darkness. It's like "The Wizard of Oz" when Dorothy's house was coming down from the tornado and all of a sudden she hit rock bottom and silence. Then, you hear her say, "Oh!"
At that moment, I was at the bottom of that snowy mountain looking up at what I had just accomplished and God right was next to me. Through all the pain and suffering, God was teaching me to think and lean on him.

As revelations hit me the past few weeks, I feel like I've grown personally and in my walk with Jesus.  Parenting is one of the hardest things I've ever had to do in my life.  Ask any parent and I trust they'd agree with me on this one.  You take the best parts of me and my husband, and that's what I see when I look at my own children. They are absolutely without a doubt the best creations that both Jon and I had a hand in creating. Satan knew that! When I could not save my own baby from near death, Satan took a jab at me.  At my heart. He reminded me of that weakness by placing fear, doubt and guilt in my mind.

As I was doing my devotional one day, I came across this that Beth Moore had stated: "How gracious is our God to create us with a spirit that somehow knows life must be more. That the "knowing" was meant to compel a search for God who promises to make Himself "findable."

 The day my oldest fell ill, I knew it! The surgeon might have had the book knowledge but I had this internal knowledge.   The knowledge of a momma that knew her son. The knowledge that God gave me when I laid eyes on each and every one of my precious children.  Am I going to slip up and fall? Yes, I am.   But, that light, that shines so bright from within, the light God implants in each one of us will show us the way.  And, if we are too hard headed to see it, He'll send an angel to lead us the right way.  God sent me my mom the day Ella fell ill. God lead me to a place of comfort when I was in a dark place, this church.   God sent me those two nurses that talked me out of taking Hunter home that night. God sent me Travis to tell me what I needed to hear to start the process of letting go of my past that had a huge hold on my freedom from bondage.  God sent this hard headed female, the realization that he was sending these people to help me because I thought I didn't need him, when in fact the only person that I really needed was him!  
2 Corinthians 8:9 tells us: "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich."
Why?
Simply put: He loves us.  We are all a part of God, a part of our Savior.
Thank-you so much for letting me share a bit of what God has done for me.  
chancie by chancie @
Job 19: 23-27
23-" Oh, that my words were recorded, that they were written on a scroll, 24- that they were inscribed with an iron tool on lead, or engraved in rock forever! 25- I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. 26-And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; 27-I myself will see him with my own eyes------I, and not another, How my heart yearns within me!"

 In the darkness of suffering, Job affirms that he will see God-----if not in this life, then in eternity. He refuses to give up on God, remaining in relationship even when no comfort comes and his questions are unanswered.

Past few weeks, it seems that I've read or heard of people close to me either going through unexpected illness or loss people to death. And Yesterday with the Boston Bombs, the only security we have that is never changing and will give us comfort is knowing that OUR REDEEMER LIVES. His words will comfort us in our darkness. Rest assure that he is preparing a place for us forever.

 Revelation 21:1-4 "Then I saw a new Heaven and a new earth, for the first Heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2-I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of Heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3- And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4- He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."

 "He will wipe every tear from their eyes."
We can all remember crying as a child and having our tears wiped away by a caring person, whether your parent, an aunt, an uncle, special friend.....even as a teenager or Adult.......the feeling of someone caring enough to wipe away your tears.....your pain......remember the feeling you felt of love coming from that person......
 Think about a time that you, yourself has wipe away your child's tear or a love one after they have been hurt......That love you felt for that person.....God has that love for us......just so much stronger and greater than we could ever feel or know inside our own heart.
How many of us have ever said to our children or someone we love so deeply, "If you only know how much I love you........"
I wonder how many times God says that about us in a 24 hour period?
Chancie Martin by Chancie Martin @
I am currently learning about Saul/Paul's childhood and his transformation. I came across the following verses that I liked and at first it confused me like alot of the verses tend to do at first. He was answering a question he was asked by the Corinthians about food offered to idols. Which I think was neat because just yesterday, a very close friend/sister and I were getting our toes done. When we were finished getting our toes painted, the lady took us over to the drying station for the polish to dry. Now, I've been to this place many times but I have never seen a Shrine to Buddha. I wouldn't have thought to much about it but it actually had 2 real oranges and a few pieces of Chocolate in front of Buddha along with decorations. When we got in the car to leave, I told my close friend/sister about what I saw. We both were wondering what the two symbolized, why they did that and what would they do if someone actually went up to it and took the fruit or Chocolate. After all, we were in a nail salon packed with females and Chocolate is a females best friend! It actually had more to it than just eating food offered to idols as I keep reading. And, great advice to Believers.  
1 Corinthians 8: 1- About food offered to idols: We know that "we all have knowledge." Knowledge inflates with pride, but love builds up. 2- If anyone thinks he knows anything, he does not yet know it as he ought to know it. 3- But if anyone loves God, he is known by Him.
4- About eating food offered to idols, then, we know that "an idol is nothing in the world," and that "there is no God but one." 5- For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth---as there are many "gods" and many "lords"----
6- yet for us there is one God, the Father. All things are from Him, and we exist for Him. And there is one Lord, Jesus Christ. All things are through Him, and we exist through Him.
7- However, not everyone has this knowledge. In fact, some have been so used to idolatry up until now that when they eat food offered to an idol, their conscience, being weak, is defiled. 8- Food will not make us acceptable to God. We are not inferior if we don't eat, and we are not better if we do eat. 9- But be careful that this right of yours in no way becomes a stumbling block to the weak. 10- For if someone sees you, the one who has this knowledge, dining in an idol's temple, won't his weak conscience be encouraged to eat food offered to idols? 11- Then the weak person, the brother for whom Christ died, is ruined by your knowledge. 12- Now when you sin like this against the brothers and wound their weak conscience, you are sinning against Christ. 13- Therefore, if food causes my brother to fall, I will never again eat meat, so that I won't cause my brother to fall.
By custom, Corinthians commonly dined in pagan temples (centers for civic activity) or else partook of meat portions that had been offered there. And, they (Corinthian Christians) wanted to know if it was basically ok to eat food offered to idols as they reclined "at banquet" in a pagan temple (vs 10) or feasted in a household that had received such things. Paul offers two guiding principles: First, "knowledge" by itself makes a person arrogant but "loves builds up" believers. second, it is not by "knowledge" that we are approved of God, but by our love for God we are "known by him." That is the knowledge that counts most. Thus no believer should allow his relatively unimportant knowledge to become a cause of arrogance. Paul's answer that believers technically have the right to eat the food offered to idols. The logic behind his answer is: idols are a "non-reality" and there is no God but one. (from a side not in my study Bible). And, he keeps going with his advice: Believers at Corinth needed to be mindful that some in their fellowship, being so used to idolatry and having as yet a "weak conscience," could be harmed by seeing Christians partake of food associated with idols. For those who knew that idols were nothing, Paul stated the obvious: Eating food (even food sacrificed to idols) does not make believers unacceptable to God. However, if a "weak" believer saw a knowledgeable believer dining in an idol's temple, he might attach religious significance to it and become confused about allegiance to Christ. The strong are not to be a "stumbling block" to the "weak." The strong can destroy a weaker person's allegiance to Christ.
Side note of my Bible: "Sowing the Seeds of Truth"
Many of the same issues that threatened to divide the Christian community in Corinth still plague us today. For example, the problem of an inflated ego (knowledge that puffs us up) is not easily overcome in a culture in which people make choices based on their own preferences and perceptions. The main challenge that Paul proposes is that Christians are to be motivated first and foremost by love.
It goes on to ask a very powerful question: How are your actions --- no matter how justifiable or innocent they may seem in your eyes----likely to affect the faith of those who are not confident or strong in their faith?
I can remember a time, a while back when I saw a person that was so drunk that they passed out. I can remember so clearly that I could tell you what he/she wore. I did not know that person personally at the time. One day, I saw that same person at a church I was going to at that time. I heard nice things about the person and even spoke to that person who was raised in church. But, because of what I remembered seeing that one night, it made me wonder about the church. I was a "weak" believer at the time and although I'm not as strong a believer as I hope to become, I still remember that night and that person who grew up in church and was a Christian. The stronger I become and the more my love and knowledge grow for Christ, I see the person differently. You see, God really does know we aren't perfect. He knows we stumble and he's there to pick us up and sometimes carry us. That person stumbled as many of us do. However, that same person was used to change another person's life and lead him/her straight to our Savior. In turn, he/ she is returning the good deed and leading others to Christ. As I read this to my oldest Son, he kept asking who the person was. My reply was: It's not important who the person is. What was  most important was God's great work using the less likely in our eyes to be the perfect person in his plan!    
chancie by chancie @
just wanted to share something very special that happen to Jon on his trip that has GOD written all over it! Jon, Matthew & Travis are 12 hours ahead of us. I wrote the post that is posted below last night around 12 hours ago. So in order to fully understand what could only be explain by God using ordinary people to spread a simple message to others that meant everything to one person please read this fully. I'm sorry this is so lengthy but it truly is a blessing and I don't think Jon will mind me sharing with my sisters in Christ:

I have just finished my last CD and lesson on "Jesus the One and Only" by Beth Moore. Reflecting back at the past two to three weeks, it's been a struggle to read, hear and feel with my heart what Jesus went through for me and for everyone else. The beatings he suffered.....Why so brutal ? Not too much to share uplifting about what Jesus paid for our lives. As I struggled to pick up my book and read through another days devotional and more horrible actions against our Savior, it leaves us with the promise of God's Spirit in our soul if we are willing to ask for it. When Jesus appeared to the Disciples after his resurrection he tells them: Luke 24: 44: He said to them, "This is what I told you while I was still with you. Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms." 45: Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.
 2 Corinthians 4-7-9: 7: But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8: We are hard-pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9: persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.
 The knowledge and the power in our lives comes from the one an only, God! Just remember when you start to doubt your worth to God on simple task such as praying out loud in Sunday School, leading Children church one Sunday morning or doing something bigger as stepping up to give your testimony to the youth or church, God hides his treasures in ordinary vessels to show that the powers are his, not ours. Believe in him and trust in him!
 This is the message I just got from Jon:
 Jon Martin
 I gave my testimony today in a village church in North Siberia. The Russians we are with said it is as far north as you can drive here. We had a great sermon from Tommy and then we went walking around the village talking to the people that didn't attend the service. After that we went back to the church and had a communion service with Rick preaching on the Last Supper to them. We just got back about an hour ago and ate dinner. While we were sitting there eating, the Russians that were with us told us about 10 people that were in that village gave their lives to Christ today just because we showed up there. Not because of anything we said or did while we were there, just for showing that we cared enough to show up. Then after we ate I came up to our room and read your post for Graceless.......I started crying so hard that I could hardly read it to Matthew and Travis. I told them there is no way that anyone can argue with me that there is no God when the same day that I give my testimony in Russia that you post on your blog about how God hides His treasures in ordinary vessels.... I LOVE U so much that I cannot even tell u!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
wrote @ 12:23 am
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