Mag's Thoughts

My Testimony


When I was about 9, our pastor and his wife, Dr. and Mrs Carlton, took me to San Jacinto Monument for a Sunday afternoon picnic. Dr. Carlton taught at the seminary, and he was an interim pastor at my church.  They were older (my age now), and were like another set of grandparents.

That day was life-changing for me. I loved ice cream, so they bought me a double scoop from the vendors, after going up in the Monument ( I loved history even then).  We sat under the low oak trees at a picnic table. Mrs. Carlton began to talk to me about what having and knowing  Jesus meant. She spoke softly as she told me that just going to church with Mama was not enough. She and Dr. Carlton quoted John 3:16 and prayed with me.  I asked Jesus into my heart right then under the moss-covered oak trees. I understood as a 9 year old, but  I knew my life would be different.  You see my Mom and my Grannie had read their Bibles to me and prayed for me.  My redheaded Mom had asked the Carltons to talk to me.

At age 14, I went to church youth camp at Glorietta and felt very strongly the call to serve my Lord in ministry.  Life happened and I took many detours as I married and gave birth to two precious daughters. As a military wife, those first years were filled with moves, diapers, devestating illnesses with our precious babies, and military life with new friends in far places. As the girls matured into beautiful young ladies, I began to serve as a Sunday School teacher, Vacation Bible School director, church secretary, missions director, extended coordinator, and Christ Kids University (bus ministry) director, but God kept reminding me of my promise and my dream.

Life again took a dramatic turn as our girls married and started their careers. In 2001, our precious Sarah died. I lived in a deeply dark place for months, as we all did. God, however, had a plan, and I made a promise...had a dream. My Lord showed me how all things work for His glory in this finite life on earth (Romans 8:28). My sweet man and my two precious daughters, Sarah and Larah, always encouraged and cheered me on as I sought to accomplish my dreams. I ran races, raced bicycles, and raced motorcycles, but there was a dream and a promise still unfinished, a race incomplete.

We moved to Hilltop Lakes, and God kept reminding me in so many ways about that promise. I taught school at Normangee High School and saw many of my students continue their education, dream big dreams, and fulfil their calling in life. I was a proud teacher; I loved my kids! There was joy as a teacher, but a personal dream and a promise still remained in my heart.

In 2014,  I received a master's degree from seminary and began what I do now, serving as an assistant pastor. What joy I feel every day. I am seeing a promise become reality and am blessed by my Heavenly Father beyond measure. There was a dream I had, however, not realized quite yet.  I completed a doctorate only with God's strength, a very patient and sweet husband. and much mentoring by my pastor. A dream fulfilled, but God was not through with me. When our Sarah died, God gave me a deeper understanding of how He walks with us through grief (Psalm 23:4). He also gave me an awareness of the struggles that families face in caregiving. God does use our life lessons, struggles, despair, mountaintops and dreams for His glory. That is exactly why we are on this earth as His children. We are to reflect His glory, realize the plans He has for us, live boldly for Christ, tell the Good News, and preach the Gospel of our Lord and Savior!

Our Lord is never done with us as we have a mission here on earth and an infinite life with Him to come. How sweet that will be. We may grow older and our bodies may age, but we always have a place in God's Kingdon to serve, to pray, to glorify Jesus.

I am fixing to be 75; my goodness that was quick!  There is no joy like the joy of embracing Jesus Christ as your king and serving our Lord and Savior. I thank my mighty God that I have a living hope, realized and guaranteed in heaven by Jesus!
1 Peter 1:3-9

Soldiers

 

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God."
Hebrews 12:1-2

When readying yourself at the start of a marathon, you see so many different runners; slender youth, determined professionals, wrinkled and experienced runners, and a thousand others so different, yet alike in their readiness to take off on their race of a lifetime. Each press on toward that finish line in their own style and with their own training, yet all seeking that coveted finish line. Those runners have a commonality in that they have learned from or been trained, by those who already ran the 26.2 grueling miles.

I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:14

I have three friends who finished the race in the last few years.  One was 86, one 70, and one 73 and each very different in their life experience.
Yet, they all crossed over into eternal life with Jesus Christ.

S had an humble servant's heart. She sang and played the bells and cared for the least of God's children, the little ones. She was ever faithful to serve God. J had a smile that made you want to smile too. He was a deacon and sang his heart out in choir. Mostly he was a loving, godly husband and a decent, honorable, and godly father to his children. He let his light shine brightly. Lastly, P was so very wise as she taught others to serve in God's Kingdom, and cared so well for all from pastors to members in her church. She was dignified and beautiful and strong and faithful to her Lord, but mostly wise! I am blessed because each crossed my life and I saw Christ in each of them

My  journey with Christ began with my mother and my grandmother. They taught me through words as well as deeds. My Grannie read her old Bible, kept by her bed, when I stayed with her. She would read whole chapters to me until I fell asleep. My precious mom, showed me through her deeds of kindness, always caring for those in need or those who needed kindness in their lives. She was a brilliant Bible teacher, and gave me my first glimpse into the deep meaning of Revelation.

All of these soldiers for Christ, so different, yet each reached the finish line and are with God. They are the saints we all know who went before us and impacted our lives.  Like the runner or the soldier carrying their heavy packs, they endured and  finished the race.  They taught us. We too must be the soldiers who mentor future soldiers.

Discouraged?

Isaiah 41:10

 Fear not, for I am with you;
 be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

I turn to this verse often as it reminds me that God indeed
provides what the heart needs when discouraged.  I think of the woman who had suffered for many years and then touched the cloak of Jesus Christ. I think of  Paul in chains and how he trusted God. Lastly, I think of us and how God prepares us for days like this through His Word.  We know those lessons about trusting God. We just need to embrace those words.

Twenty one years ago, my great niece was diagnosed with brain cancer. After she had moved to hospice care, I had opportunity to sit with this precious child of God. She asked me to read this verse to her and I did.  She said, " Aunt Margaret I can visually see in my mind God lifting me out of this pain, so I just know I will be ok."  She was as she left this earth out of her pain  and went to be with God.  This is a dramatic example, but so many times I think of Sally and what she said.  If we trust as we are taught and rely on God as we have been told, God will give us the strength referred to in Isaiah.

Another verse I cling to during these uncertain times is John 16:33:

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

 Christ came to give us a hope that transcends the troubled world we live in. We have eternal hope secure because Christ died for our sins. Through the work Jesus did on the cross, He  overcame the world. When you are weary from the bad news of the day, look up my friend. Therein is our peace.

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