Special Guest: Karen Rhoades

Karen B&WAutumn is a very special time of year for me. A different feeling and attitude comes over me and makes me want to reminisce and be thankful by counting my blessings. It’s a pleasant feeling, not at all melancholic. I love to gaze at the leaves as they lazily drift off the trees, in their burnished gold, orange, and green colors. The days are a buttery sunshine, and even though the air is cooler, there is something magical about it all. Even on the rainy, blustery days, it just seems right to light a candle and breathe in the fragrance of a freshly baked dessert, be it oatmeal cookies or banana bars. And after all the cool, refreshing summer iced teas and lemonades, it is wonderful to drink the warming, comforting beverages of fall—pumpkin spice hot tea, Earl Gray, warm apple cider, cappuccino, or hot chocolate. It’s as though the weather is giving me permission to sit curled up in a chair wrapped in a cozy blanket and read a good book, journal, plan menus, or work on a craft. It’s a lovely time of preparing my soul for winter, a time of harvesting the good things in life, so I can hold them close during the winter.

Autumn leads my soul cheerfully to Thanksgiving, a time spent with family. I enjoy this holiday because it requires nothing more than being where loved ones are—no need to bring gifts (although a hot dish or dessert wouldn’t be turned down). It teaches me to appreciate some of the small gifts God gives—the few last days of going outside without a coat, that singular aroma in the air of dying leaves that urges me to look upward for a last glimpse of them on the trees, the opportunity to finish last minute outdoor tasks.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for giving us this season to enjoy, to reap, to be introspective, to be grateful to you for supplying all our needs and even some of our wants. Thank you for your mercy and compassion that is new every morning. Truly, your faithfulness is GREAT! May all that you are urge our souls to be faithful to you. Let our lives bring joy and fruitfulness to you and shine forth your love to all we meet.

“Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon, and stars in their courses above
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy, and love.

Great is thy faithfulness! Great is thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning, new mercies I see;
All I have needed, Thy hand hath provided—
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me!”

Thomas O. Chisholm, 1866-1960

Karen Rhoades is a wife, homemaker, and copyeditor.

©Copyright 2014 Karen Rhoades

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Special Guest: Donna King

Donna King B&WDear Life, I think I’ll have Christmas instead…

Dear Life,

Only 17 Shopping Days until Christmas and I have only purchased one present so far… There’s so much to do!  First, I need to finish putting up the glorious and impressive trees throughout my house, then, I need to plan meals and map out everything I can do to help my family and me to feel as “Christmassy” as possible. Of course, I need to shop for all the perfect gifts, buying things I do need and things I don’t need (with money I don’t have).  And, in and around all of that, I need to be awesome enough to do the cookie exchanges, send out the greeting cards, and wrap the presents, well in advance, (so they can look all LOVELY and ANTICIPATORY under the tree).  Ok…deep breath…NOW, I need to create a masterful Christmas ambiance, with an extensive musical playlist, piping melodies throughout the house, along with Christmas candles burning, wafting evergreen fragrance into our senses. And, of course, I need to attend every possible Christmas event I can squeeze into the calendar. Oh…all of this is sounding So wonderful!, right?!

BUT WAIT…

Where is Jesus…?  Where is the sweet sense of the presence of CHRIST?  What is this celebration about?

When Jesus came, the INN was full…It was TOO full for him…Too full for a young woman who was about to give birth after what was likely a painful journey on a donkey… THE INN WAS TOO FULL..

Dear Life, after many Christmases and many wrapping paper extravaganzas, surrounded by over stimulated family and friends, rushing from one “pseudo celebration” moment to the other, I am asking myself WHERE IS JESUS?…and, IF I was the INNKEEPER, would I also miss the opportunity, amidst my overly FULL life, to welcome the SAVIOR into my world…

I fear the answer is yes… and I ask myself, what if my advent was celebrated differently this year… What if, each day, I walked my heart to the manger and stopped long enough to listen…To listen to the crickets in the fields surrounding the stable and whinny of the horses, awoken in the night, as Mary and Joseph quietly slipped in.  What if I could hear the whimper of Mary in labor, as Jesus entered the world.  What if I looked around and saw the messy stable…realizing there is no ambience in here, but there is LOVE…SO MUCH LOVE…What if I could just stand at the door of the stable, with gratitude, and breathe in the miracle that’s occurring before my eyes…Knowing that without this moment, I am hopeless and without a Savior… I am doomed…BUT realizing…I am not… HE CAME.  Yes, HE CAME and, now, I have HOPE.

There isn’t a Christmas tree in the world that can save me.  There isn’t a twinkling light, a glimmering mantle, or a delicious holiday cake (although I won’t deny that my mother-in-law’s Christmas fudge doesn’t come awfully close) that can rescue me from my deep need for a Savior… ONLY Jesus, ONLY the SAVIOR, who came to bring PEACE and GOODWILL to men…and, specifically, to each and every one of us, individually.

You see, the world may have little room for HIM this Christmas, but HE has ALL the room in the world for us… That’s why HE came, because of HIS great love, mercy, and grace…All of which cannot be found under a tree, but only at HIS feet.

I have a new Christmas album this year… I am SO grateful to have had the blessing of recording it.  It’s been a dream of mine for years.  I chose songs that mean something to me, some classics and some brand new…And, I wrote songs that I pray will mean something to those who hear them…

Here are the lyrics to a FUN tune on the recording, that, although it’s meant to be somewhat silly and tongue in cheek, has a deeper message and one that I pray I can live up to over the next 17 days…

By the way, if you might like to add the new album, entitled SONG OF NOEL [by Donna King], to your Christmas song collection this year, you can do so on iTunes or on my website www.donnakingmusic.com.

Now… Dear Life, I think I’ll have Christmas instead…

Christmas Instead

Donna King & Rachel Morgan Perry / ©2013 Journey Press Music/BMI/Cut Out Hearts Music/Blonde Hair Blue Eyes Music/SESAC.  All Right Reserved. Used by permission.

Hustle and bustle, it’s that time of year

Deckin’ the halls, the season is here

Spending more dollars than quality time

Waitin’ for hours in shopping lines

 

Maybe we’ve gone a little crazy in the head

And we should have Christmas instead

 

Mistletoe and Holly’s kissing someone tonight

It just never seems like it’s Mr. Right

Here comes Aunt Millie with her favorite cake

It’s time to pretend that we think it’s great

 

All this puttin’ on is packing pounds we’re gonna dread

Oh, we should have Christmas instead

 

Lately I’ve been wondering what it’s gonna mean

To wake up to everything that’s underneath the tree

Are these the kind of gifts they were offering

To a baby, born to be the KING

 

A star shined brightly in the eastern sky

Angels sang Glory to GOD on high

Just a simple stable and a bed of hay

And a SAVIOR who came to give HIS life away

 

I don’t want another year spent SO FAR from Bethlehem

I think I’ll have Christmas instead

 

Visit Donna’s websites at www.donnakingmusic.com and www.zaneanddonnaking.com

Follow Donna on Twitter at @mrsdonnaking

And on FACEBOOK at www.facebook.com/zaneanddonnaking

Follow her blog at www.donnakingmusic.wordpress.com

 

See/Hear a preview of Donna’s new album, SONG OF NOEL, HERE

Special Guest: Melissa Johnson

Melissa Flores B&WThe wicked seize every opportunity, while believers shrink back in fear. When a door opens we draw back and wonder, “God, is that you?” This sounds noble and even somewhat humble. However, the Lord reminded me in prayer that when I ask for a door to open, I should not be perplexed when it does. This is nothing short of unbelief on my part.

“You doubt me.” The Lord spoke recently, awakening the awareness of a faulty mindset. “You pray and ask me for open doors… and I open them. I’ve opened a number of them. But, you miss the opportunity by giving into insecurity or doubt. Don’t you know all good things come from above? I am the source of all good opportunities. Satan cannot and will not produce a potential blessing.”

It all became clear as these scriptures flooded my mind:

  • James 1:5-8 “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.
  • James 1:17, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”
  • Luke 16:8, “Worldly people are more clever than enlightened people in dealing with their own.

The unrighteous lay hold of any opportunity that halfway looks like a winner. Meanwhile, we righteous pray, fast, wait, and waste away while door after door opens and closes in our faces. No wonder we don’t prosper! If we knew the will of God for our lives, or at least some semblance of His plan, we’d jump on every available chance to advance it. There’s no shortage of light on the path of the upright. We do not walk in darkness as children of the light. It’s time to live by that light – to stop calling fear faith. I choose to act the moment the door cracks!

Melissa Johnson is the General Manager of the He’s Alive Radio Network, Grantsville, Maryland. She is also the morning drive radio host of the AM Cafe’ on www.hesalive.net. Melissa is a minister, author and avid connoisseur of all things cocoa and coffee bean. Co-founder of the Flores household with hubby, Jonathan in 1994, she is the proud mother of one intolerably bright 16-year-old daughter, Madeline. For more information on Melissa, visit her website at www.definingwords.com

Special Guest: Hannah Webb

Hannah Webb 072213 B&WNot too long ago an inquisitive individual asked me a series of questions, “Do you feel like you have missed a lot of your childhood by growing up on the road? How in the world did you prepare for Miss North Carolina?” and my favorite, “Do you ever get tired of being on the road?”

Growing up on the road with the two greatest parents in the world, it has been the ultimate joy and honor. Starting my high school years as a “new” homeschooler and taking a full time position with the Rick Webb Family Music Ministry, I feel as though I gained an education that a majority of my peers will never have the opportunity to experience. That education that the Lord has so graciously given me is something that I do not take for granted and each day I am humbled by the fact that He has awarded me this opportunity.

As a child, growing into a young woman, I developed an introverted, shy personality and gained an excessive amount of weight. Answering the call to music ministry at age 16 was a major “feat” for me, as it was a personal battle just to step on a stage. Just a little over a year ago, I took on a brand new journey of my life after I competed at and won the title of Miss Gaston County, a local preliminary competition to Miss America. Loosing over 90 pounds and “stepping out of my comfort zone”, the Lord has released me of many insecurities that I had developed over the years. I have taken on a completely new healthy and active lifestyle and my goal is to inspire and encourage others to take care of the bodies that God has given us as 1 Corinthians 3:17 states. So how did I prepare for Miss North Carolina while on the road? I educated myself on proper health and fitness and I made the extra effort to take care of myself, despite the unhealthy choices on the road.

When I was 17 years old, I experienced poverty for the first time when Compassion International took me to the Dominican Republic. I came home and started personally sponsoring a little girl from Indonesia named Irma. I truly believe that the letters from my little “Indonesian sister” has played an enormous part in my growth. In January 2013, I was able to experience poverty, again, at its lowest in Haiti. Witnessing the light that Compassion is in such a dark country made me fall even more in love with the work and ministry of this incredible organization. I also fell in love with a little girl named Kelida and started sponsoring her, as well! Being a sponsor of two children while being apart of a faith-based ministry gives me an opportunity to trust that the Lord will provide the money to send … and boy, does He! What a blessing Compassion International is!

When I sit back and think about the Lord’s timing, I am blown away at how incredibly perfect it is. I imagine the Father chuckling to Himself as we fret over situations that are out of our control and then at our astonishment when He shows up. As a “Doubting Thomas”, I have finally learned to wait for Him to reveal His awesome wonder. Do I get physically tired while on the road? Yes. Am I constantly on my toes, like a game, waiting for a new blessing to arrive? Absolutely and I am re-energized each time I think of what an amazingly, precious God I have the privilege of serving.

I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.

Acts 20:24 

Hannah Webb is a Christian Music Artist with the Rick Webb Family

and Miss Gaston County (NC) 2012.

www.RickWebbFamily.com

www.Compassion.com/HannahWebb

www.HannahKathrynWebb.blog.com

www.Twitter.com/HannahKWebb

www.Facebook.com/HannahKWebb