Yes You Can

Yes-You-Can

You have it within you to be who God has called you to be.

You have it within you to rise above your circumstances.

You have it within you to forgive, heal, and move forward in freedom.

You have it within you to begin again.

You have it within you to do all of these things, and more, because the God of the Universe, who’s head over heals in love with you, dwells on the inside of you & has given you everything you need for life and Godliness!

Believe! Live. Dream. Love. Go.

You can do ALL things through Christ who gives you STRENGTH! (Phil 4:13)

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Book-Ended

This morning God gave me the most amazing reminder that wherever I go, wherever I look, He is there. It all happened as I drove my kids to their bus stop. As usual we were right on-time, with not a minute to spare, and as we made our way up the hill to the stop we gasped and paused for a second to take in one of the most beautiful views of the moon we’d ever seen. I kid you not, we literally gasped – it was that breathtaking. At that moment, in that spot, we had the perfect angle to see it suspended between two trees as it made its daily exit. It was fully round, with a misty morning glow all around it.

A few minutes later after the kids unloaded, I turned the car around to head back home, and as I did, I looked down the hill to see one of the most beautiful sun rises I’ve ever seen. Not a cloud was in the sky as the sun began its ascent. It looked like a reddish orange, vibrantly-bright fireball climbing into the sky! Again, it took my breath away. I managed to pull over to take a picture of, but I am not sure my little Iphone 3 did it justice. I don’t think the world’s greatest camera could. It was that beautiful.

As I pulled in to my driveway I couldn’t help but feel book-ended by God. It reminded me of Psalm 139, and how it paints a picture of how God hems us in. Verses 5-10 say,

5 You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.
7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.

There is truly no where we can go to be outside of the presence of God. We look ahead, and He is there. We look behind, and He is there. There is no place we have been or will be where God has not been there first. He is here, there and everywhere, as Dr. Seuss would say… what a wonderful, comforting thought to know God is always closely tuned in to our worlds. He loves us that much!

Happily Ever After

Recently, Kylie and I had a chance to watch a movie together, just the two of us. We don’t get these opportunities very often. Typically at least one of the guys are with us and of course, when they are, we aren’t often able to watch a full-out girly girl movie, at least without a battle. So on this rarest of days, we seized the moment and picked the movie “Enchanted”.

If you aren’t familiar with Enchanted, it’s a super cute movie about a princess from an animated fairy tale land, where there are no troubles or worries; that is, until her soon to be mother in law fears losing the throne after her son marries. To protect it, she banishes the princess to real live New York City, where she has to quickly find support in simply surviving. She stumbles across a man (surprise 🙂 ) who feels compassion for her and takes her in. Over time, they fall  in love and she realizes he is her one true love, and they marry and live – ‘Happily Ever After.’ Her prince charming from fairy tale land, who had followed her to New York City, also met the girl of his dreams, and she followed him back to animated world where they also marry and live ‘Happily Ever After’. So for all, it was a happy ending!

As it wrapped, I was reminded how much I still love happily ever after endings. I think it’s because, I’m a girly – girl and a hopeless romantic. As I pondered it, I couldn’t help but feel joy in thinking my story would end with a happily ever after ending, as would anyone else’s in Christ. We know we will go to Heaven one day and live for all eternity with our one true love!

As comforting as that is to me, and as much as I treasure that thought. I still can lose sight of it in the day-to-day realities of life. For example, David and I have been through a lot this past year. As I talked with my mother in law about it all recently, who is by the way, much nicer than the one in Enchanted, I told her how I feel sometimes we are living an amazing God story, and I just want to be able to turn the page and read what happens next. I know the end is good, but I just wish I could glance ahead a page, or even a chapter or two and see what God has in store in the time between now and then.

It’s that not knowing, that makes faith so important. We have to trust God with the unseen future and difficult trials. While we can’t know each season before it unfolds, and even what life holds for us on any given day; we do know the one who holds every day and every season of our life, and with Him we know that no matter what comes our way He promises to work all things out for good for those who love Him.. (Romans 8:28).

So as we wait for our happily ever after ending to come, we live this amazing God adventure with faith, surrendered hearts and hope, knowing that ultimately God has the final say in all things. He is faithful to complete everything He begins, to bring beauty for ashes, to never give up on us and to love us with out end. For me, knowing how faithful God is makes each day a joyous God adventure.

I hope the same is true for you. As you look ahead to new chapters, new seasons, and even to what this day holds, I hope you will trust God with each moment and allow Him to lead you step by step. When unexpected twists and turns pop up, when a chapter ends, when the plot changes, keep your eyes on Jesus and remember God will work all things out for your good! Now, go!

Copyright © 2012 by Amy O’Donnell. All Rights Reserved.

He Hears Us

We are so blessed to have the opportunity to go to Colorado each year, really just about any time we want to, and stay at my mother in laws cabin in the mountains. There are many wonderful things to do there, but one of our personal favorites, is to go to Mount Princeton Hot Springs and swim in the heated pools. On one particular visit during this past vacation, there were quite a few families swimming at the same time we were. I kept trying to relax and read, but then I would hear a child say, “Mom, Mom!” And I would look up with a start; scan the pool, my heart pounding, but the majority of times I realized the cries were from someone else’s children, their parents already responding, so back to my book I would go. Every so often though, I would look up to find one of the cries was from one of my kids, and those times, I jumped up to see what was needed. Those of you who are parents know, we always have a watchful eye and listening ear out for our kids. If they have a need, we are the first to jump in to save the day, to bring encouragement or comfort; to calm the storms and quiet the tears when needed.

God responds to us, His children, the same way – 1 John 3, verse 1 says,” How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” And Psalm 34:17 says, “The righteous (that’s you and I) cry out, and the LORD hears us; He delivers us from all of our troubles.”

Did you catch that? God hears us and delivers us – that’s you and I, his children. That means his ears are always in tune to each of our cries individually, and the needs that we have personally, and he is able to listen and respond to all of us at any given time.

You know I can not imagine that. When my four kids have needs at the same time, I have to say – “Wait, Wait, I can only hear and respond to one of you at a time.” And I have to quickly assess whose need is most important – it could be who’s bleeding, or maybe who’s bleeding more, or who is really just scraped but is here saying they are bleeding because they just want the attention and a band- aid, and who just wants to show me a butterfly that just flew by their nose… I have to assess the needs and determine what is most important because I am limited in my ability to respond.

I am thankful that God is not like that – He is not limited in his ability to respond to us, His children. He is always listening 24/7 and is able to respond to each of us personally, simultaneously. Whether we are in the midst of an emergency and are in need of a rescue or just want some attention and a little TLC, He is always available. So, I want to encourage you – If you have a need today, don’t try to handle it alone. Don’t assume God is too busy or uninterested. He loves you. He wants to help you, and He is tuned in to you… cry out to Him today.  

Copyright © 2011 by Amy O’Donnell. All Rights Reserved

But God

Can you imagine sailing through life thinking you were living right, maybe even passionately pursuing God the best way you know how… only to find you were off track? In the bible, we can read about a man named Saul who lived the early part of his life that way. We first see him in Acts 7, where he was observing Stephen’s stoning. Any questions we might have had about Saul’s reaction to Stephen’s stoning are laid to rest in Acts 8:1 where we read, “And Saul was there, giving approval to His death.” You see, Saul was a Pharisee, and he was passionate about his Jewish faith.

After Stephen’s death, a great persecution broke out against the church, and Saul was at the heart of it, as he went house to house dragging men and women out and putting them in prison. The Christians scattered, preaching everywhere they went, and the church grew. But Saul’s plans to stop them grew as well. He got permission to travel to Damascus to capture Christians that had fled there to bring them back to Jerusalem. He was willing to go the distance and do whatever it took to stop the church from spreading! Permission granted, he was on his way until something amazing happened – Jesus met him on the road to Damascus, literally bringing him face to face with the truth of the gospel. Paul surrendered to Jesus, and His life was never the same.

This is a powerful story of God’s grace in action! Saul became Paul, and went on to become one of the greatest leaders, preachers and writers of the New Testament. These words found in Ephesians 2:4,5 (one of the books Paul wrote) show us how much his life was transformed, “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.”

Paul knew he was undeserving that day he put His faith in Jesus, after He met him on the Damascus road. Only love could explain the way God stepped in and turned his life around. You could say he had a ‘but God’ moment… ‘But’ because of His great love for him, ‘God’ stepped in and made him alive in Christ, and God does the same thing today for us as well. He reaches out to us where we are, he sees where we can be, and by His grace he gets us there.

Copyright © 2011 by Amy O’Donnell. All Rights Reserved

Nothing is Impossible

I imagine, if I were to ask you if you have ever faced a situation that for all appearances seemed impossible, you would say yes. I think we can all relate; we have probably all had times when our faith has wavered, our dreams have seemed a million miles away, and it appears as if God has forgotten us.

 In moments like those, I love having the Bible to look back on to see how others walked through similar faith-challenged moments. We can look at stories like that of Abraham and Sarah, who waited 25 years from the time God promised them a son, to his actual birth. Abraham had been promised that He would be the Father of many nations, and he hadn’t even had the rightful heir it was all supposed to come through. When the time was approaching for Isaac to be born by God’s time table it seemed impossible from Abraham and Sarah’s perspective, because they were past childbearing years. God’s response to their faith wavering moment was this question, “Is there anything too hard for the Lord?”

In the New Testament, in Luke Chapter 1, we see a similar response given to Mary when the angel visited her to foretell of Jesus’ birth. She didn’t see how it could be possible for her to have a child when she had never even been with a man, to which the angel replied in verse 37, “For nothing is impossible with God.”

 We can also read of people being healed of diseases, raised from the dead, protected in a fiery furnace, and of one man who was rescued from a lion’s den without a scratch on him. We can read of prison doors opening miraculously, of words being given to speak when needed, of provision being met. And with all of these true life stories we are again reminded that with God all things truly are possible.

I don’t know what you are facing today, but I do know that it hasn’t knocked God off the throne! He is the same yesterday, today and forever. He is still the God that moves mountains. Our God is still in the miracle working business. Nothing is too big or too hard for Him – For Nothing is impossible with God!

 Copyright © 2011 by Amy O’Donnell. All Rights Reserved.

Heart’s Cry

Last week marked my 37th birthday. Those who know me well know that my birthday can be a difficult day for me, because I have not always felt celebrated on my special day. Knowing this, David has always made a point to really communicate love to me in unique and special ways on my birthday, and this year was no exception. He really went all out. He arranged for dinner at the Cheesecake Factory, invited some of our friends and family, and he even ordered and picked up gluten free carrot cake cupcakes for all. Really, if that were all he did I would have been blown away, but there was more. Not long after I arrived and settled in to my chair, a woman approached us from behind carrying balloons, a dozen roses and the ability to carry a tune. As she placed the roses in my arms she explained that she had been asked to sing a Birthday Gram to me… And then, in front of all who could see and hear, she began to belt out, ‘Because You Loved Me’, By Celine Dion; which is our wedding song. The restaurant came to a stand still as all eyes and ears were on her and as she wrapped up – spontaneous applause broke out from everywhere, and I felt like the most loved woman in the entire world.

I didn’t want to lose it in the restaurant, so I choked back the tears, but the truth is I was powerfully moved by David’s lavish display of love. Those in the restaurant were clearly moved as well. I believe it’s because love strikes a chord in the hearts of everyone. We all desire to be loved and valued; it is one of our deepest needs. And there is one who can answer that heart’s cry in all of us, and almost 2000 years ago he gave extravagantly – a precious, priceless gift for each and every one of us.

 John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son for us; that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” Tying in with that, Romans 8:32 says, “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?”

 Isn’t it wonderful to know God loves each of us so deeply that he put his love on display in such a powerful way? And just as it says in Romans 8:32, he wants to graciously give us all things. He wants to meet not just some, not just a few, but all of our needs. So, if you have a need today, I would love to encourage you to bring it to the one who loves you lavishly and wants to meet you in your place(s) of need. He is able!!

Copyright © 2011 by Amy O’Donnell. All Rights Reserved.