Tuesday, October 26, 2010

New Adventures Await

I'm leaving in a few minutes for a wonderful new adventure, that being, meeting my brother and wife for the first time in our lives!!!  In a few hours from now, we will look into each others eyes for the first time!  It will also be the first time Woody, Lin, Gene and families and I will be together, all at the same time, in the same room!  How exciting is that!!  It's a mystery why now and not many years ago, why, after the death of a loved one brings us from near and far to be together, but God's timing is always perfect!
Please don't take one single thing for granted.  Life is so precious, yours and others.  Enjoy life to the fullest measure!  Don't let anything or anyone steal your joy.  Yes, we are going to be together to celebrate the life of my brother's wife who passed away last week, and at the same time, we're all overjoyed at being able to meet at long last. Sorrow and joy intermingled........
Take care and know you are in my thoughts and prayers.  I can't possibly name you one by one, but you know you are included in my prayers.  Love, Nan

Monday, October 25, 2010

The fear of the Lord

Proverbs 1:7
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.

Much wisdom is available to you in the book of Proverbs. Sometimes, a proverb is called a maxim, which is an obvious truth condensed into a few words. A proverb has relevance to numerous situations in life and is stated in such a way as to be easily remembered.
Fear, in this case, refers to reverence. When we properly acknowledge who God is and humbly honor him and offer him the worship of which he is so deserving, we begin to gain wisdom.
The wisest king to rule Israel, Soloman, wrote much of this practical advice. Though he was, in part, speaking to the young people of his day just beginning their journey, we also can learn much about those principles that characterize and distinguish wise choices from those foolish choices which, no doubt, will result in consequences.
I encourage you to take some time to ponder the instructions found in Proverbs and to understand how godly wisdom merges with real life, as you pay close attention to the differing results of those who do follow the wisdom from God and the results of those who don't follow God's wisdom.
Take care and grow in spiritual wisdom as you apply these godly principles to your own lives. Love, Nan

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Book of Nan

As you read my love notes shown here, you are reading pages from The Book of Nan.  It's my life you are reading.  When you go into the Archives on this blog and read entries from other months, you are taking a trip back in time to where I was spiritually the day the message was written.  I guess you could say you are reading an e-book as it is being written.  I know there must be grammar mistakes here and there; editing is done before I hit "publish post" so I  try not to miss correcting a mistake.  Above all, these messages taken from the depths of my heart are being sent out from God for the people of God through me.

To make a long story short, I am going to Wilmington, NC on Tuesday and will return on Thursday to visit family.  My sister-in-law passed away last Tuesday and I'm going with my brother, Woody, his wife and daughter to visit my brother, Lin and attend the memorial service for his wife, Jeannie.  She was diagnosed with MS years ago. 
Some of you know that I  met two of my brothers (Woody and Lin) two years ago for the first time in our lives.  We have the same father, different mothers.  All the parents died years ago.  The boys never knew they had a sister until early 2008.  A third brother (Gene) and his wife will come from New York and I will get to meet them for the first time.  Can you even imagine the mixed emotions of sorrow and joy flooding my heart and soul right now.  My brother's wife has died;  I'm going to be there for him and attend her memorial service; I will finally meet my brother and for the first time in our lives look into his eyes and hug him and enjoy a long awaited visit.  It is a reunion I have dreamed of all my life (I'm 51 years old) to be with my three brothers.  We will finally all be in the same room together!  Thanks be to our awesome God!  I always knew I had brothers somewhere on this beautiful planet, but they never even knew of my existence until early 2008 when Divine Intervention took over and brought everything to light. You can imagine how that could have gone to share with someone that you are a sister he didn't even know walked the face of the earth! They know I loved them before I ever met them and they have embraced me with true brotherly love!
There aren't words to describe how I feel right now.  In the midst of sorrow there is joy beyond words to describe.  My brothers are awesome men.  They and their wives have accepted me as family.  As you read this message, you are part of one of life's greatest love stories.  Only God knows the depth of love in my heart which is too great for words!
I hope you've stayed with me to the end of this message today.  If you are reading this ending paragraph, I thank you and appreciate your interest.  For those who clicked into the message, saw its length and moved on without reading it, you know what they missed, right.  You know the rest of the story!
Please keep us in prayer as we celebrate Jeannie's life and celebrate the coming together of brother and sister for the first time in our lives.
Take care.  Love, Nan

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Refined By The Master's Hand

Wouldn't it be great if we didn't have troubles? I'm sure many of us have thought this at some point. Because we live in a world full of sin, we can be sure troubles will come our way.
We can overcome difficulties and troubling times. It is during these hardships we are strengthened. We don't suffer in vain when we "see" God more clearly as a result of having faith, and when we discover how we are refined by suffering.
I've included a poem I wrote in '05, which is a figurative form explaining how we are refined by our sufferings. Take care. Love, Nan

Refined by the Master’s Hand
By: Nan Forehand

Refined by the Master’s hand
Before Him humbly I stand
Ready and willing, cleansed by His blood
O’r my soul His spirit doth flood.
Held have I been midst hot fire
Flames at me licked higher and higher.
Never His eyes did He take off me.
Burned away all impurity.
Coin of silver shiny and bright
Now God sees Himself in the light.
Not a moment too long in the flames
With His loved ones He plays no games.
If in the heat today you must burn
Upon you His eyes will turn.
One more soul to purify.
It’s found in the book of Malachi.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

....at the heart of it all.

Personal change can only be successful if God is at the heart of it all.

Right this moment, I am fully in the here and now. I am focused on God and how He wants this message presented to you. Personal change involves being in the here and now, not focused on what happened in our past or the "what if's".  Here and now, it is my absolute priority to be here for you through the medium of Nan's Calendar. Some of you who are relatively new to receiving Nan's Calendar don't know about my past and how I have changed and grown as an individual, as one who broke the cycle of being a victim, as one who has made a commitment, a vow, to God to live according to His purpose for my life.

Personal change and or personal growth comes when we realize that where we are isn't where we want to be, that who we are isn't who we want to be. How do we get to where we want to be and why aren't we happy where we are? What is missing in the here and now that causes this stirring in our soul?

I accepted Christ as my Savior when I was 11 years old. Two very special preachers touched my life in a way I'll never forget. I was like a sponge when I could get to church. I soaked in every word they said from the pulpit. My foundation was being built that would stand up under abuse, literally, abuse. To the world, I seemed fine, but it was 17 years before I could say out loud I had been abused. God was at the heart of it all. I believed in God since I was a child. I can't remember not believing in God. At some point, I changed from being a victim to being a survivor. I am still changing, growing, stretching my wings and will continue to do so until the last breath leaves my body. When we embrace change, instead of cringing at the thought of it, and focus on God and nurturing our relationship with Him, we begin to experience life with a new and fresh perspective.

We change when we turn negative thoughts into positive thoughts. We change when we take up new, positive habits and lose those old, negative habits. Change involves self-awareness and understanding our place in the universe. We were created by God and for God and when we understand this, things will begin to make more sense.

I never blamed God for the abuse or asked myself where was God when the abuse was happening. I didn't suffer in vain, because I have lost all fear of speaking about it. I can tell you now that I was abused and not feel shame. God took away my shame and replaced it with peace. I have looked death in the face and lived to tell about it. I am alive today, because God needs me to be a witness to you....to tell you that you must never give up hope. Had I given up hope, I may have died 27 years ago. It's a mystery. Maybe I wouldn't have died, but I can tell you with certainty that it would an alternate reality to the wonderful life I live today. Only God knows the answer to that mystery. The abuse lasted a long time, but I can say that it was temporary. I am no longer a victim. I am healed spiritually, mentally, relationally. I am whole and have a wonderful, healthy relationship with God. I forgave unspeakable sin. Change is possible and successful when God is at the heart of it all. I say these things to you today, because I care....because you are special....because God brought you to Nan's Calendar for a reason....remember, I didn't seek you, God brought you to me....I am here to encourage you....

Take care. Love, Nan

Friday, October 15, 2010

Lessons of Life

One must learn the necessary lessons of life. It is our choice to learn the easy way or the hard way.

We choose to obey or we choose to rebel. It's as simple as that. I remember my Mama telling me this as I was growing up. Mama died 26 years ago.  She would be proud of how far I have come in my faith and the lasting impact she had on my early, formative years. Now that I have been a mother for almost 23 years, I would love to be able to sit with Mama and have a conversation with her - Mama to Mama. She died four years before our first child was born. She knew God had plans for my life even when I didn't believe it myself. How could He have plans for someone such as I. Back then, my opinion of myself was less than glowing. There were so many things I couldn't do, so many lessons I learned the hard way. What did I have to offer God? How could He possibly use me? Obedience isn't a lesson one usually learns the easy way. At some point, after years of God's nurturing presence in my life, I finally understood. God prepared me when I didn't know I was being prepared. I had committed my life to Him and in doing so, I began to learn some of life's lessons the easy way. What a relief! He supplies everything I could possibly need to accomplish His will. If there are any consequences along the way, He guides me through them, as well, loving me all the while.
Submitting to His will in all circumstances is a deliberate decision every day. I have had failures and I have had successes. I have learned how to live my life fully committed to Him and to trust and obey Him. One of my favorite hymns is called Trust and Obey. Because I am a work in progress, I still have more lessons to learn. In fact, as long as I live and breathe, there will be lessons of life for me to learn. There is peace in my world.....I pray for peace in your world. Love, Nan

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The greatness comes.....

The greatness comes not when things go always good for you. But the greatness comes when you're really tested, when you take some knocks, some disappointments, when sadness comes. But only if you've been in the deepest valley can you ever know how magnificent it is to be on the highest mountain. Richard Nixon

This quote reminds me of the valley of the shadow of death and the spiritual mountaintop. I have been in the deepest valley (the valley of the shadow of death 27 years ago). I never forgot how it felt in that valley. It wasn't a lush, fertile valley. Rather, I truly looked death in the face and lived to tell about it.

If you have never reached the summit, don't stop now! It is one of the most incredible experiences you will ever know! This spiritual high can only be reached, as Mr. Nixon says, if you've been in the deepest valley. I know this spiritual mountaintop truly exists.....it does....I've been there! There truly aren't words to describe this experience. Really, I couldn't have felt closer to God than if I had been sitting on His lap. One thing is for certain, it was a very long way from that deepest valley to the summit. It took years to get there and I never even heard of such a thing as a mountaintop experience until it happened to me.

This is why I write these devotions each day. I've been through that valley and desire with all my heart to accompany others through it. You don't have to take that journey alone. Even if I'm not there with you, always know God is there with you every step of the way. Maybe through my words of encouragement and hope, your stay in that valley won't last as long as mine did. Yes, sometimes, we will have to go through that deep, dark valley, but that won't be the end of us. There is a beautiful life beyond the valley. Trudge, if you must, cry when you need to, wipe your tears, take a deep breath and trudge. The longer you travel, keeping your focus on God, the straighter you will begin to walk, the lighter your steps will become and your faith will be strengthened. You don't have to walk alone!

Take care. Love, Nan

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Rule for Life

Do all the good you can, by all the means you can,
in all the ways you can, in all the places you can,
at all the times you can, to all the people you can,
as long as ever you can.
------John Wesley, founder of Methodism

Make practicing random acts of kindness an integral part of your day.   There is healing power in doing good, both for the receiver of the good and for the giver of the good.  Both people walk away with a lighter spring in their step and with an uplifted spirit.  When the spirit is lifted, it is much easier to do good to/for another, and so it goes.
Have you ever heard anyone tell you at the end of a visit "have a bad day!"?  I didn't think so. However, sometimes when we tell someone "have a good day", the words simply roll off our tongue without a second thought. 
Have a GOOD day!!!   I really mean it!  Have a GOOD day! (said with a smile and a twinkle in my eye)

Idle Hands

And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone.  Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else.  Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.  1 Thessalonians 5:14-18

I am painfully aware I have not written since Sept. 22nd.  I have and still am, working feverishly on a project for our church fundraiser to be held next month and surely, my hands have not been idle!  I would go into detail, but members of my church read, as do you, these messages, and I want them to enjoy the full benefit of God's cup of blessing upon the completion of the project. 
As I read the verses above, I am reminded that the most difficult aspect for me is the part "make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong" (to include myself).  Sometimes my own thoughts cause pain when received by someone in a spirit other than the spirit in which I intend the message to be delivered. There are times my thoughts get jumbled inside my head and what I am thinking certainly doesn't come out of my mouth correctly.  For sure, I'm still a work in progress.
I hope you didn't give up on me when you discovered my tardiness in writing.  God's purpose for Nan's Calendar has become such an important part of my life that I nearly go into withdrawal when I haven't had a healthy dose of purposeful contemplation and meditation on His Word in order to encourage all who will take the time to read these Christ inspired love notes.  We all continually need to ask God to fill us with His Holy Spirit.  When I am drained, I need to be filled.  I'm useless when my cup is empty.  God works through me in spite of my imperfections, simply because He sees some good inside of me and believes in the person I am becoming.
Take care and I extend a very special thank you to the faithful ones who continue to visit the blog regularly.  Spread the word about these messages, not for my gain or credit; rather that God be glorified.  All I have, all that I am and all that I ever hope to be is all because of the grace of God.  It's not for me to boast, but I will boast for my God and Creator who deserves all the glory and honor and praise now and forever more.  Love, Nan  P.S. I love you