May 29, 2015

About Tonya Ellison

Tonya Ellison — Blog Contributor
Tonya comes to us from Rio Rancho, New Mexico where she lives with her four favorite people, three kids ages 4, 6, and 9, and her husband of seven years, Jamel. Her hobbies include writing and reading, crocheting, and spending time with her family. She earned her BS in Human Services/Management and works as a Bereavement Counselor.

He Said

psalmshymnsspiritualsongskjv

So your life feels like it don’t make sense
And you think to yourself “I’m a good person”
But why do these things keep happening
Why you gotta deal with them
You may be knocked down now
But don’t forget what He said, He said

I won’t give you more, more then you can take
And I might let you bend, but I won’t let you break
And no-o-o-o-o, I’ll never ever let you go-o-o-o-o
Don’t you forget what He said

Who you are ain’t what you’re going through
So don’t let it get the best of you
‘Cause God knows everything you need
So you ain’t gotta worry
You may be knocked down now
But just believe what He said, He said

Don’t fear when you go through the fire
Hang on when it’s down to the wire
Stand tall and remember what He said

Group 1 Crew featuring Chris August
Written by Jose M Reyes, Blanca Reyes, David Arthur Garcia, Ben Glover

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I was talking to a client of mine the other day, and an interesting conversation came up.  The topic of the conversation was that we need constant reminders in life.  Whether it is having to remind our kids not to leave dirty clothes in the bathroom after a shower…or to put their backpacks away…or asking our husbands to please remember to fix the loose leg on the chair… we all need constant reminders.  We have planners, beeping phones, sticky notes—reminders in many forms.  This is not limited to parenting or marriage, or even work; it includes every area of life.

And when times get tough in life we also need reminders that all will be taken care of, that everything will be okay.  We know in our minds that God said He will meet our needs, but our hearts oftentimes still need to be reminded of this.  We need songs, scriptures, and people to remind us that He will ‘not give us more than we can take, that we may bend, but we will not break,’ and in our best moments, we are not alone.

We need to be reminded of the truths in this song.  Perhaps we need to add these truths to our sticky notes, our alerts and alarms.  Write them in your planner AND write them in your heart.  Thank God for these reminders of His love and His reassurance.

So, ladies, never forget what He said,
and never forget that He is always holding us up
despite the storms surrounding us.

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Let’s pray: Dear Heavenly Father, we forget.  We are a society so easily distracted that we forget at times the truths You have promised us.  Forgive us for this and thank You for your continued reminders.  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

Storyteller

psalmshymnsspiritualsongskjv

On a Sunday evening I’m looking back over all the years
And where I’ve been looking at a photograph
Remembering You were right there and You have been ever since
With very page that turns, I see Your faithfulness

The mountain where I climbed
The valley where I fell, You were there all along
You brought the pieces together, made me this storyteller
Now I know it is well, it is well, that’s the story I’ll tell

There were some nights I felt like they would last forever
But You kept me breathing, You were with me right then
And all that You have done for me, I could never hold it in
So, here’s to me telling this story over and over again

You hold the broken
You hear my every cry, every cry
My eyes are open, I know that it is well, it is well

 Morgan Harper Nichols
written along with Paul Mabury

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As a counselor, one fact I try to stress to all of my bereavement clients is that each of us have a story.  I encourage them to share it with me, with others…to write it down so it can be remembered. This does happen at times, but the usual response I receive is one of resistance.

As we are walking through life we don’t always see the significance of our own story.  Most times we feel we don’t even have one.  We minimize our lives and situations, with the word ‘just‘—I’m just a mom. I’m just a wife. I’m just one person. Whatever our “just” is, we cling to it; for whatever reason, we are unable to see the power behind our story.

God wrote a story for each one of us.  He penned every detail.  Every situation and every event was written by His hand.  Our story was not written for our benefit only, but to be used as a testimony for others.  Our stories are beautiful and inspirational.  They are our stories.  God made us the storyteller but (as the words of the song says), He was there when we climbed and when we fell, He knew what would be on our pages.  Yet He still made us the storyteller.

I hope this song inspires you to embrace your story and to tell it.  May it help you to understand that what we have experienced in life has a purpose, and to understand that He has a plan.

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Let’s Pray:

Lord, thank You for the beauty behind our story.  Please help us to see this beauty and to embrace it as our testimony.  You wrote our story and You made us the storyteller.  Please allow our story to bless others…allow it to bless ourselves. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

He Wants It All

psalmshymnsspiritualsongskjv

There’s a Voice that cries out in the silence
Searching for a heart that will love Him
Longing for a child that will give Him their all
Give it all, He wants it all
 
And there’s a God that walks over the earth
He’s searching for a heart that is desperate
And longing for a child that will give Him their all
Give it all, He wants it all
And He says love Me, love Me with your whole heart
He wants it all today
Serve Me, serve Me with your life now
He wants it all today
Bow down, let go of your idols
He wants it all today
He wants it allAll of you, more of you
He wants it all today
All of you more of you
He wants it all today

Forever Jones
written by Dominique Jones
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Jesus replied:
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart
and with all your soul and with all your mind.”
Matthew 22:37

I am one of those people who needs to be reminded of the little things…it is easy to become caught up in life, the daily activity, and the ins and outs of trying to balance our responsibilities.  One of these little things is to remember to give my all.  I get tempted to handle situations on my own and to forget to pray about the little things.  Then I hear songs like this.  When I hear this, I wonder what have I got to offer Him?  What is the ‘all’ that He wants?  What can I possibly offer that God needs?

Well, He wants all of my heart, all of my love, yes.  But He also wants all of my worries, all of my troubles, all of my concerns, all of my day-to-day happenings.  The truth is I don’t have anything God needs.  But we all have something God wants—our whole heart.  This song reminds me that I need to step back and see what parts of me I am not giving to God.  The verse from Matthew 22 says it perfectly; we are to love Him

‘with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind

Even when we feel as if our “all” is not enough, to Him it is more than enough.  Remind yourself today to give Him your all.

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Let’s Pray: Dear Heavenly Father, my all is not a lot…some days it doesn’t seem like my all will make a difference, but to You it will.  You want all of our heart, mind and soul.  Thank You for seeing my all as acceptable.  I ask that You to continue to gently remind us to give our all—all our heart, all our mind, all of our worries and all our concerns. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

What Are You Afraid Of?

psalmshymnsspiritualsongskjv

Being compared to the girl who has everything
Not living up when the whole world’s watching
Being the last to get there and the last to know

You scream at the top of your lungs
When no one’s listening
Being a basket case over anything
Giving your whole world for love
And the boy says no

So what are you afraid of
Show ‘em what you’re made of
The shadows that you’re scared of
Are usually your own
They’re not the great unknown
You don’t have to wonder
You’re not going under
Grace has got you covered
God is in control
Go on and let it go
What are you afraid of

Right on the brink of a breakthrough but you’re frozen
Hurting somebody you love in that moment
No, it’s not living if you’re always thinking of
The worst that could happen

Whenever it’s the darkest
Whenever it’s the hardest
Don’t you stop before you started
If you’re gonna dream
Dream it all the way

Kerrie Roberts
Written along with Paula Winger and Stephanie Lewis

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For the past few weeks God has been placing a name on my heart on an almost daily basis—Gideon.  I heard his name on a TV program and wanted to learn more.  Then the owner of the company I work for came to me asking me to lead a Bible study on Gideon (deer in the headlights response).  And then our pastor taught about him last week at church.  I’ve heard of him before, heard his story, but I didn’t know the details, I didn’t know the lesson behind the name.

There have been several changes taking place in my life and decisions that need to be made.  ‘Afraid’ is a word I would use to describe my initial reaction to these changes.  In the past, I have been the “what if?” person—‘what if I fail’, ‘what if I’m not enough’, ‘what if…’ ‘what if…’.  Gideon had his doubts also.  He was scared, and he questioned what he was called to do.

But the LORD said to him, “Peace! Do not be afraid. You are not going to die.”
Judges 6:23

No, in almost all cases, the thing(s) we are afraid of will not lead to death.  But there is a mile-long list of what could go wrong, a list we are skilled at creating.  But…what if we looked at another list?  What if we looked at the list of what could go right?  Consider our outlook on our circumstances and situations in this case.  What if we truly asked ourselves ‘What are you afraid of?’

Listen to the words of this song…. Is it our own self we are afraid of? Is it failure? Is it success? Is it the opinions of others maybe? There may be times we truly don’t know what it is, but the fear is still there. Whatever the source of fear, we can overcome it. God’s grace trumps our fear every time. Next time fear threatens to take over read Judges 6-8 and listen to the words of this song.

Kerrie Roberts says it best,

God’s got this.

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Dear Heavenly Father,
Fear is a crippling reaction to life’s events that only Your love and reassurance can overcome.  You are in control, and Your grace covers our lives.  You told Gideon, “Peace. Do not be afraid…”.  And this can be applied to our own life and our daily walk.  Thank You for this peace.  In Jesus’ name, I pray, amen.

Give Me Faith

psalmshymnsspiritualsongskjv

I wanna feel the strength David felt
With a rag and a rock, knowing that he couldn’t fail
And I wanna trust that would lead me up a hill
To give my only son, if I knew it was Your will
I want a faith like that, God give me faith like that

To speak Your word and mountains move
To reach beyond all I can do
‘Cause You’re doing things I cannot see,
So I’m gonna trust You and believe
You are all I need, give me faith

When my heart’s about to break
Don’t know how much I can take
And my soul is like a ship, overtaken by the waves
I need the courage to walk on the water and be strong
Like Peter in the storm until I fall into Your arms
I want a faith like that, God give me faith like that

I believe You’re strong enough to save
I believe every promise You’ve made
And when I just don’t understand,
You hold my world inside Your hands

I’ll speak Your word and mountains move
I’ll reach beyond all I can do
‘Cause You’re doing things I cannot see,
So I’m gonna trust You and believe
You are all I need, give me faith

Royal Tailor
written by: Tauren Wells, Blake Hubbard, David Cox, Jarrod Ingram

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I play music in my car almost constantly. And while most of my selections create a sense of peace and calm in the mornings with an uplifting beat as we began our journey, there are times when some songs do more than this.

Over the past few months faith has been at the center of my thoughts and prayers.  I have cried to God asking Him to give me strength, asking that He open my eyes to situations that will require me to walk in faith.  I read stories of heroes and heroines of the Bible walking in their faith…and great things happening!  But here I was—I felt faithless, helpless.  I didn’t know how to be like David, or like Peter.  I felt as if I did not have even an ounce of faith to stand on.  It was a scary place filled with what feels like very little hope.

I was talking to my husband and he reminded me that all God asks for is faith the size of a mustard seed.  I went and googled what a mustard seed looked like; and realized that a mustard seed was truly all I had.  I realized that I could be like David and tackle the Goliaths of my own life, and I could walk up the mountains in my life, move them, making the sacrifices necessary, all because I did have faith like that little mustard seed.  And slowly (and not without days of questioning) I realized that God was all I needed.  Some days my faith was shown by simply saying the name of Jesus when I did not know what to do.

All this week I have been seeking direction in finding a song to share in this blog. I wanted something different—something that spoke not only to my own heart but one that would speak to the heart of the women who read these words.  While driving I heard this song but kept missing the title.  Finally I caught it and pulled up the lyrics.  These words mirrored what I have been feeling, what I have been praying about.  They shared my fears, concerns, and shortcomings, but they also gave me hope.  The last nine lines of the song express what I want to and can tell myself daily.  These are truths I am making an intentional choice to stand on.

I believe You’re strong enough to save
I believe every promise You’ve made
And when I just don’t understand,
You hold my world inside Your hands

I’ll speak Your word and mountains move
I’ll reach beyond all I can do
‘Cause You’re doing things I cannot see,
So I’m gonna trust You and believe
You are all I need, give me faith

These words are my mustard seed.

He replied, “Because you have so little faith.
Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed,
you can say to this mountain,
‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move.
Nothing will be impossible for you.”
Matthew 17:20

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Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank You that mustard seed!  You can do great things with something so small…this fact amazes me daily.  Forgive myself and others who have allowed our fears, our shortcomings, our life in general to hide the truths in the words of this song.  You are enough, and because You are enough, we are enough.  Because You stand by Your promises, we can move mountains, whatever they may be.  You are all we need Lord!  You and our mustard seeds.  In Jesus Christ’s name we pray.  Amen.

Answers, Guidance, and Direction

Many of you have gone on Spring Break or are anticipating taking a vacation this summer.  It is a time to refresh spirit, soul, and body.  Over the next couple of weeks, our faithful bloggers will be taking a ‘spring break’ from writing so that they can come back to us refreshed and freshly anointed.
However, Girlfriends’ Coffee Hour website won’t ‘go black’!  We will be revisiting some of our favorite blogs and daily devotions which have blessed us in the past.  We pray that each of you, our faithful friends and readers, will continue to start your day meditating on the devotionals and songblogs, and be encouraged and blessed.

Let’s give each of our bloggers a big round of applause,
a hug,
 and the rest they so deserve.  God bless you, ladies!

SeekingHimLogo

The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the [whole] person;
the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.

The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is pure and bright, enlightening the eyes.

The [reverent] fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever;
the ordinances of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.

More to be desired are they than gold, even than much fine gold; they are sweeter also than honey and drippings from the honeycomb.
Psalms 19:7-10

My kids started a new math curriculum a couple of years ago. This curriculum was confusing and, in my opinion, it made the process much harder than necessary. It would give a problem and no explanation on how to solve it. It would leave us flipping the paper over to see if we missed something or having to resort to a web search to assist in finding the solution. We were left wanting and needing more, left alone without direction or answers.

Now, this may seem extreme for a math situation, but you should understand that math is not my forte…I need as much clarity as possible. I need to know what to do and how to do it, without clarity I’m lost.

To me this is much like life—without clarity I’m lost. Reading the words in this passage gave just that…in a world where there are so many problems without clear solutions we are left to search for answers. But as always our Heavenly Father has those answers written for us, His clarity is at our fingertips in His word, it is on our lips with each prayer. He makes a statement and follows with a clarifying statement—His words rejoice our heart, they enlighten our eyes, they endure forever, they are righteous and true, they are richer than gold and sweeter than honey. They are clear and concise.

When I found the solution to the math problem, I found a sense of peace—peace that lasted until I read the next problem. But with God’s direction and answers the peace is lasting. Unlike math, where the answers may be questionable, God’s Word is always dependable, always correct.

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Let’s pray:  Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your answers to life, for Your guidance, and for Your direction.  Life can be like math at times, confusing and uncertain.  But Your words are true, clear, and they enlighten us.  They are dependable and constant.  Your words guide our lives, our hearts and our minds, thank You.  In Jesus’ name, I pray, amen.

Answers, Guidance, and Direction

SeekingHimLogo

The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the [whole] person; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.
The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure and bright, enlightening the eyes.
The [reverent] fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the ordinances of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold, even than much fine gold; they are sweeter also than honey and drippings from the honeycomb.
Psalms 19:7-10

My kids started a new math curriculum a couple of years ago. This curriculum was confusing and, in my opinion, it made the process much harder than necessary. It would give a problem and no explanation on how to solve it. It would leave us flipping the paper over to see if we missed something or having to resort to a web search to assist in finding the solution. We were left wanting and needing more, left alone without direction or answers.

Now, this may seem extreme for a math situation, but you should understand that math is not my forte…I need as much clarity as possible. I need to know what to do and how to do it, without clarity I’m lost.

To me this is much like life—without clarity I’m lost. Reading the words in this passage gave just that…in a world where there are so many problems without clear solutions we are left to search for answers. But as always our Heavenly Father has those answers written for us, His clarity is at our fingertips in His word, it is on our lips with each prayer. He makes a statement and follows with a clarifying statement—His words rejoice our heart, they enlighten our eyes, they endure forever, they are righteous and true, they are richer than gold and sweeter than honey. They are clear and concise.

When I found the solution to the math problem, I found a sense of peace—peace that lasted until I read the next problem. But with God’s direction and answers the peace is lasting. Unlike math, where the answers may be questionable, God’s Word is always dependable, always correct.

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Let’s pray:  Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your answers to life, for Your guidance, and for Your direction. Life can be like math at times, confusing and uncertain. But Your words are true, clear, and they enlighten us. They are dependable and constant. Your words guide our lives, our hearts and our minds, thank You. In Jesus’ name, I pray, amen.

Young and Old

SeekingHimLogo

I will come with the mighty deeds of the Lord God;
I will make mention of Your righteousness, Yours alone.
O God, You have taught me from my youth,
And I still declare Your wondrous deeds.
And even when I am old and gray, O God, do not forsake me,
Until I declare Your strength to this generation,
Your power to all who are to come.
For Your righteousness, O God, reaches to the heavens,
You who have done great things;
O God, who is like You?
You who have shown me many troubles and distresses
Will revive me again,
And will bring me up again from the depths of the earth.
May You increase my greatness
And turn to comfort me.
Psalms 71:16-21

I just turned 30 this past week.  I know I’m far from old and gray, but I’m also not considered “young” anymore.  (Just ask my kids).  It was an important milestone for me and, apparently, 30 makes you a real adult.  When I read the words, “You have taught me from my youth,” I thought back on the past 30 years.  I was amazed by how much He has taught me over these years; some lessons I needed to learn more than once….  But it is much more than just what He has taught me over the years.

It is the time He has invested in me and the love shown to me.  It is His strength, His wonderous deeds, His greatness.  It is His desire to revive and comfort me again…and again…and again.  At 30 I find myself married with 3 busy kids, working full time, going to school full time—and needing a lot of reviving and comfort.  He does this daily, and sometimes all I can say is “O God, who is like You?”

Today I find myself thanking Him for His greatness and provision in my life.  I find myself repeating the words of David, “Lord don’t forsake me in my old age….” I want to spread His goodness.  I want to show this next generation that, without Him, I could not do what I do.

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Let’s pray: Dear Heavenly Father, the things You do for me it’s more than amazing!  Thank You for teaching us in our youth, and for not forsaking us in our adult years. Thank You for Your provision, for Your greatness, and for sustaining us as we share with the world what you do daily in our lives.  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

No One Can Fathom

SeekingHimLogo

Every day I will praise You
and extol Your name for ever and ever.
Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise;
His greatness no one can fathom.
Psalms 145:2 and 3

“No one can fathom….”  In life we try to find a reason for everything.  We don’t want any unknowns, we need answers.  Some things will be understood by all (like the greatness of ice cream), some things will be understood by few (like math), and some will be understood by none—like the greatness of God.

There are so many times, even on a daily basis, that I don’t understand why God does what He does for me.  And for others, even those I don’t feel deserve it, and even when I don’t feel as if I deserve it.  So when the words of this psalm say to ‘…extol (or praise) His name for ever and ever’, I don’t find that a difficult task to accomplish.

I accept that God’s greatness is one of those things in life that will not be understood until it is time—until we see Him in all of His glory.  Until this time we are asked to follow simple steps: exalt Him…praise Him…extol His name.  Why? Because.  Because His greatness keeps us going even when we don’t deserve it.  His greatness just is!  We don’t deserve it, we didn’t earn it, but His love for us allows it to flow freely.

No, I cannot say why He does what He does, but I don’t need to.  I know that I need to praise and pray, I need to worship, I need to give thanks…for ever and ever….

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Let’s pray:  Dear Lord, I pray contentment in not knowing why You do what You do. Your greatness is a blessing, Your greatness is inspiring.  Daily You shine upon us, and daily we will say ‘Thank You!’  In Jesus name we pray, Amen.

Cracks

SeekingHimLogo

Open my lips, Lord, and my mouth will declare Your praise.
You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
You do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
A broken and contrite heart, You, God, will not despise.
Psalms 51:15-17

The words of this Amy Grant song began to play in my head as I read these verses…
We pour out our miseries
God just hears a melody
Beautiful, the mess we are
The honest cries of breaking hearts
Are better than a Hallelujah…

I think so often we want to impress God with our performance—with what we do, say, and with our actions—that we forget that our brokenness speaks in volumes.  I don’t fault us for wanting to do this, we want to seem ‘put together’ to those around us, to ourselves, and to God.  We want to seem as if we are in control, following God’s word from “Genesis to the maps”, (as my pastor says).  But life happens. We are humans who fall and we break.  Yes, God does love us when we are doing well, when we are walking in righteousness.  But there is more to daily life than that…when we hurt, when we cry out in pain, when we are broken.

I always think of the story of the shattered pot.  Yes, the pot was a beautiful piece of art when it was whole but somewhere along the way it was knocked over, breaking into small pieces.  From the looks of it, there was no fixing it.  But God takes those pieces and mends them together; He fits each piece back where it belongs.  The difference is not that the light shines through the cracks but God’s light shines through us.  It was something to say that the potter created…a beautiful piece to begin with.  But it is another thing to say that God took something that was thought to be trash and made it beautiful again.  The care He took in repairing it is like the care He takes in repairing us.  Our broken and contrite hearts.  Our broken pieces that others may look at and want to throw away.  When we are broken, we may not want to turn to God.  Perhaps out of shame or pain; there may be many reasons.  But it is during these times when we need to turn to Him the most, when we need to allow Him to touch our broken lives, healing us in ways that will allow His light to shine through our cracks.  This gives Him glory and shows our faith in Him.  Yes, He delights in us doing good because that’s what were supposed to do, but as His Word says in Psalm 51, sometimes, a lot of times, our sacrifice is our brokenness.

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Let’s pray: ‘Better than a Hallelujah’, Lord!  Only You can make our broken into beautiful.  Only you can mend the hurt and pain.  We live in a performance-based society…we’re told that doing good all the time will get us where we need to go.  But You, Lord, open Your arms to our brokenness.  Thank You!  Please touch our hearts and remind us daily to turn to You when we are broken and battered.  Your light will shine through the cracks and display beauty.  Broken and contrite, Lord…this is our sacrifice to You.  In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

Better Than A Hallelujah
Amy Grant