Cheerful Satisfaction

pattyschell.com

I meet with a group of wonderful women to study the Bible. We are currently looking into the book of James and his advice on how to live a successful life following Jesus.

James wastes no time getting right to the point—

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds.” James 1:2NIV

I have to admit, this verse makes me cringe a little every time I read it. Perhaps it does the same to you. It’s a good thing it is followed by verse 2 and 3 which tell us—

For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. (NLT)

Here is a short devotion I wrote a while back on finding joy in our trials. I hope you enjoy it.


 Cheerful Satisfaction

Groans could be heard throughout the airplane as it bounced and dipped. Turbulence. It was going to be a long flight. Each jerk of the aircraft caused a new round of complaining from its passengers with one exception. From seat 27D could be heard squeals of delight. A small, blue-eyed, blond-headed mite of a girl cheered with joyous abandon. To her, this flight was more than she could hope for. Her ‘sit in your seat and just be quiet’ ride had turned into an exhilarating experience. I couldn’t help but smile at her happiness. In the midst of a less than satisfactory situation, this little one had found great pleasure.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

 Galatians 5:22-23


Joy

Greek: chara khar-ah

Meaning: Cheerfulness, Calm delight


Joy’s very definition can make us smile. The idea of being full of cheer lightens our mood. But there is one more definition we should consider.  Delight means an extreme level of satisfaction, and satisfaction means a source or means of enjoyment: Contentment

Ahhh. . .Who knew that joy bubbles up right from satisfaction and is quickly followed by contentment. Out of the list of attributes of the Spirit found in Galatians 5, joy is the one that shouts out “This is pretty great!” If this were fruit we were eating, joy would be the part that would make us want to take another bite, savoring every bit of its lip-smacking goodness.

Joy is the optimist, bringing with it the knowing that hope is still alive. Joy is the spark of a smile mingled with tears as we remember God is near and He has a plan. Joy is the light that brings new perspective.

So when you feel joy slipping away, just think of little Miss 27D and her infectious giggles. No matter what you are facing, God is in it with you and that is cause for celebration.

“A cheerful heart brings good healing. . .”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭17:22‬ ‭NET


I hope joy finds you today wherever you are today.
Do share.
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So Long 2017, You Have Blessed Me

Blessed: an inner quality unaffected by outward circumstances


With the new year underway,

just like everyone else, I am compelled to think about things need to change. Dissatisfaction is usually the driving force when it comes to resolutions. Life didn’t measure up somehow. The ‘if onlys’ try to take center stage, but truth be known, the ‘what is’ in life that should be my focus. What did happen this year has brought growth and change that has not disappointed.

So, instead of listing changes to be made, I am going to recount the blessings of the past year and give credit to God for each of them.

Here are some of the highlights of this year’s happenings—

• I worked with some other authors to complete a beautiful devotional journal based on Second Timothy called Legacy. The process was eye opening to say the least. Preparing everything to finally submit it for publishing was a challenge. So much goes into delivering a product you hope will catch someone’s attention. So far, the right person has not seen it, but it did win an award at last year’s Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. Only time will tell if a publishing house will pick it up, but we’re hopeful.

• I continued to write a food column for Broken but Priceless Magazine. I love food, so this is right up my ally. It has been fun to come up with a theme for each issue, research recipes, prepare the food, and take photos. This has actually built up my own food blog, The Party’s in the Kitchen, and has brought another opportunity writing food articles for Southern California Christian Voice and its affiliates.

• I had a great opportunity to write devotions for the 40 Days of Compassion sermon series at my home church. It was an honor to be asked to participate in leading our small group members in discovering what compassion put into action looks like.

• I was invited be a guest writer by Katy Kauffman on her Lighthouse Bible Study Blog a couple of times last year. It was an honor to write for her. She has been a great encouragement in my life, and I have gleaned much from her wise words.

• In addition to the opportunities on the Lighthouse Bible study site, I contributed to their online magazine, Refresh. Two of the articles received special recognition. One was chosen as the lead article and the other was the feature article. I have also written a couple of devotions for a Bible study on renovating your heart that will come out in the spring.

•Girl on Adventure has been busy as well, averaging about a post a week. It also won an award at the Blue Ridge Conference in 2017. The blog, along with leading a women’s Bible study, meeting regularly with a group of local writers, and helping churches build loft houses for families in Mexico (Hands of Mercy), has kept my hands and heart full. I have traveled, spent time with friends, made so great food, knitted a sweater, read some books, lost a little weight, and had lots of fun in the process.

The year of 2017 brought a great deal of activity and accomplishment.  And best of all, I have been blessed with great opportunity to shine a light on God, His words, and His ways. I have grown in so many ways through it. My life is full to overflowing, and I can’t wait to see what the days to come have in store.

There are some new things I would like to try this coming year.

We’ll see what happens, but 2017 was far from disappointing and it only encourages me to continue following the course that God has laid out for me. I hope when you look forward to the next year, you look back and see the great things God has already done. His blessings will be my motivator for the days to come. I’m looking forward to the ‘what will be’ in 2018.

Reflect upon your present blessings—of which every man has many—not on your misfortunes, of which all men have some.

Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol and Other Writings

SoLong2017

Silent Night?!

 

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Now that Christmas Eve is almost here,

I have been thinking about the first event that would mark the day Jesus was born. I have often wondered about the true environment of the Bethlehem that night. It must have been like one big family reunion with all the hometown boys returning to register their families with the government. As a mother whose children have moved out of state, I can almost feel the excitement as the relatives poured into town. We know from the scriptures the place was packed and space to stay was an issue. No room at the inn, remember? And apparently, no room anywhere else either.

This reminds me of family gatherings when my girls were small.

Beds were a premium and delegated according to age. The floor became a sleeping surface with kids and adults alike wrapped in blankets and lined up like log wood. Chatting, rather than sleep, would go on late into the night due to the excitement of everyone being together again. I imagine it was a similar scene in the homes around Bethlehem that night. Families crowded together, sharing food, laughing and reminiscing, just enjoying being reconnected. And, right in the midst of it all, the Savior of the world makes His entrance.

How fitting.

That was exactly why Jesus came in the first place. It was a reunion—a reconnecting. What delight must have been felt in heaven in anticipation of sons and daughters returning to the joy of the sweet fellowship with their Father again.
I am so glad that the first Christmas wasn’t so silent with the hubbub homecomings generally bring. It wasn’t silent then, nor has it been silent since. The birth of Jesus continues to get people’s attention, and I am glad of that. There is nothing better than being in the relationship with God that Jesus’s coming provided. And, I’m not about to keep quiet about that.

“Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men! For this is the way God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”
Luke 2:14, John 3:16

Merry Christmas!

Christmas Cross

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As we pulled into a small village on the Baja peninsula in Mexico, there was a car coming in the opposite direction with a lop-sided cross mounted to its roof. I thought it a bit odd, but I have seen stranger things tied to cars south of the border. As we pulled past I could see that the cross was actually the wooden base nailed to the bottom of the Christmas tree.

I was struck with the juxtaposition of these two items—the tree and the cross. Both were symbols of peace and goodwill. One represented the season when God made His way to earth to dwell among men. The other, God making a way for man to reach heaven to dwell with Him.

I love when God uses seemly obscure moments of life to bring His story of hope to mind. It was but a brief sighting of something so ordinary, but the message behind it will last an eternity. I pray as we enter into the festivities of the Christmas season, we will keep the entire of the story in mind.

For this is the way God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son,
so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16 NET

Can I Get a Witness?

https://pattyschell.com/2017/11/08/can-i-get-a-witness/
“I can’t do that.”

This statement is one often heard when people are called upon to share their testimony with others, followed by, “Evangelism is not my gifting. Someone else would be much better at it. I wouldn’t know what to say. Just let me serve behind the scenes.”

They talk themselves out of it with thoughts of what could I say that could possibly attract my friend who needs Jesus? And what if I mess it up? Fear of failure creeps in, clamping their mouth shut, waiting for a better moment. And all-the-while, they secretly pray for someone else ‘more qualified’ to step in.

It may be the word testify that causes people to tremble. It feels so very formal, but in reality, it’s just speaking from your personal knowledge. It is your story to tell, your life experience to share. If you have encountered Jesus and He has changed your life, that is Good News, something worth telling everybody.

But still, how do you organize your thoughts. I’m going to suggest that it can be as easy as ABC.

At the church I attend, the weekend service always includes an invitation to say the ABCs. Admit you are a sinner, believe that Jesus paid the penalty for your sins, and choose to following Jesus. It’s a great outline that can also be used to break down your testimony . . . er . . . I mean, your story of how God changed your life.

Let me show you.

Admit

What brought you to the point of admitting you needed Jesus?

For me, it was a constant parade of people marching through my life making it easy for me to hear the good news and respond to it. I was a little girl who by the good graces of others went to church. My parents didn’t attend, but my siblings and I were often invited to join friends or relatives at their weekend services. It was on one of those times I met my husband, Paul. He was an all-around good guy and his influence in my life made me want to know Jesus.

Eventually, I decided to ask Jesus into my heart. Acknowledging that I had rejected God was an important part. I had always thought I was rejected because of my sin when that wasn’t the case at all. Jesus was waiting for me to realize He had a plan all worked out, one that brought forgiveness and restoration and the assurance that I was accepted. My part was to place my life into His hands.

Believe

How did you give your life to Jesus?

Belief for me was easy in thought but much harder in action. I had to grow into it. I switched alliances from myself to God and back again over and over. I wanted control. I would fail on my own and turn to God. He would put me on the right track. Each time, my rebellion was shorter. It seemed I was catching on to the idea that God’s plan was best when it came to how to live life. Over time, I got to know how faithful God is. No scolding or shame ever came from Him, only love, as He gently taught and corrected me in His ways. It was a process, but I now know Jesus has always had the very best in mind for me.

Choose

What has changed since you have chosen to follow Jesus?

‘Choose to follow’ is the ongoing story of Jesus in my life. It is one that will play on into eternity. Significant change had to happen on my end including: getting acquainted with God through His word, learning to listen to the Holy Spirit, and accepting the call to follow Jesus wherever He leads. What does that look like in my everyday activities?

A better me.

Everything I do is focused on loving God and striving to live life according to His standards. Not only do I benefit when I choose this way of life, so do those around me. Walking with Jesus changes how I see things, how I respond to tough situations, how I speak, and how I love. I want to do things His way. My hope is that the world around me will be changed for the good as I follow Him.

So, here’s the thing. The good news about God’s faithfulness to everyone cannot get out there unless we speak up through our words and actions. How else will they know if we don’t tell them? Whose life will your story of God’s faithfulness change? What person will meet Jesus because you invited them to come along to church? You won’t know until you try. It’s worth the risk. I’m living proof. My life was changed through many people being faithful to their calling.

Put your story of faith to work.

The ABCs—admit, believe, choose—is a good place to start.

Write it down.

And . . .

be ready to change the world.

 

How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in?

And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard?

And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?

And how can anyone preach unless they are sent?

As it is written:

“How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

Romans 10:14-15

Gazing with Wonder

https://pattyschell.com/2017/10/19/gazing-with-wonder/

“Beautiful!”

Over and over, my husband and I both used this word as we traveled around the countryside this past summer. We saw mountains to deserts, farmland to forests, and everything in between. But the most impressive sights perhaps were rocky cliffs where colorful bands of stone had been revealed through fractures deep under the surface of the earth.

One such place we visited was Capital Reef, a national park in Utah. This was one of those lucky discoveries. We had not planned to stop in the area but with all campgrounds full of the more popular destinations for the holiday weekend, we took what we could find. We were very happy with the outcome.

Capital Reef has what they refer to as a wrinkle in the earth’s crust. Ha! Wrinkle, indeed. This uplifted landmass soars 7000 feet into the air. An ancient fault beneath the earth’s surface that caused the ground to be thrust upward is the most likely explanation for its creation. Whatever the reason, when we gazed at the outcome, we remarked on its beauty.

God Sighting

Most people, including myself, tend to want their lives to resemble gentle-rolling, grass-covered hills rather than exposed rocky outcrops. We prefer to keep anything negative hidden deep under the surface. Nobody wants their faults on display, but often times, it is God’s work through those faults that bring the most beauty to our lives.

“For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness, made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.”

2 Corinthians 4:6

This verse found in Second Corinthians is a reference to the beginning of time when God created the world. In Genesis 1:3, a world that was formless, dark, and void began a process of change when God brought light to the situation. The focus wasn’t the dark, formless, empty earth, it is what God created out of it that gets our attention.

Even though there were places where the actual fault could be seen, it was not what drew your eye. It was the beauty of the layers of exposed rock that displayed their history in vibrant bands of color. The same can be found in our lives. Rather than our weaknesses, it will be God’s extraordinary work in us that is seen.

For instance, check out what Second Corinthians 4:7-12 has to say about it.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.

Not crushed even when hard pressed, not in despair even when perplexed, not abandoned even when persecuted, and not destroyed even when struck down—These show the layers of God’s faithful work in our lives. Where we saw weakness and failure, God’s light reveals something completely the opposite that draws people’s attention. It’s our transformation into the likeness of His Son, Jesus, that is revealed. His strength and majesty on display in our lives will bring hope and life to others. And to this, we must gaze in wonder and remark— “Beautiful!”

All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.

2 Corinthians 4:15

 

 

Generously Sow

https://pattyschell.com/2017/09/30/generously-sow-2/
I fed a homeless guy last night. His name was Edward.

It isn’t unusual for me to feed someone I see that might be hungry. Maybe it’s because my mamma taught me it was impolite to eat in front of others, though I don’t really know if that applied in this situation, since Edward was sitting alone on the dirty curb, and I would eat my meal at a nice clean table surrounded by a large group of people who were laughing and chatting with each other. It doesn’t really matter, but I think the reason I fed him was because God placed him in my path to feed and so I did.

A passage found at the end of Deuteronomy 24 talks about making provision for the foreigner, fatherless, and the widow from the excess we find in our own “fields”. It is just one passage out of nearly 100 found in the Bible that address our responsibility toward caring for the poor. One thing I would also like to point out, it doesn’t say those who are rich be generous. It makes a statement to us all no matter where we find ourselves economically. If you have a “field” big or small God’s talking to you.

I have found that the most generous people are actually the ones who can afford it least. I’ve seen those who had very little of their own divide and share what they had with someone else in need. A few years ago, I worked with a small church in one of the poorest areas near my home. We ran a midweek children’s service with singing, games, and stories. At the end of the evening, we fed the children supper along with some home baked cookies. Every single time they would ask if there was enough to take home. Some refused to eat what we offered so they could carry it to a mom or dad, grandparent or sibling who was not in attendance. I can just see them running into their houses making their little offering to whoever was there, becoming givers themselves.

Giving is a simple matter really,

but it’s no small thing. Even though each of us may only have the capacity to make a momentary difference in the life of one, man, woman or child—it is still worth the effort. It adds up. Most of us have more to offer than we think. A hamburger, a smile, a dollar or two, a moment of your time to give recognition. God has placed what others need in our “field” so we get to be generous and practice love. It grows us up a little more into the image of His Son who gave everything.

The feeling you get when you follow through with God’s will in your life is exhilarating and makes you want to do more, give more, love more. I can’t describe it. You just have to experience it for yourself. And in case you didn’t realize, caring for the poor is God’s will for everyone–you, me, everyone. Remember he says it nearly 100 times.

After my encounter with Edward, I thought about him all the way home and prayed for his life. Would he always be homeless? Would he someday have a wife? Children? He was a very young man. Where was his family? His parents? His siblings? Would he make it through the cold night? Would he know Jesus just a little more because someone fed him a hamburger and asked him his name? Only God knew the answers. What I do know for sure, that night, Edward’s name was in God’s ears and on His mind.

. . . whoever sows generously will also reap generously.
2 Corinthians 9:6