Thursday, October 30, 2014

Staying in Step with the Spirit Via A Spiritual Heritage

by Cathy Baker

{ Day 30 }

One Saturday morning, several years ago, I headed to my hometown of Spartanburg to visit family, as well as Jayne, a woman who had advertised free liriope in Craig's List. 

As we put shovel to dirt, I learned that Jayne had attended the same church as my paternal grandparents for many years. She was also the church secretary for ten of those years. Her face lit up when I mentioned my grandmother's name. That happened a lot.

While taking a break on Jayne's front porch she excused herself and returned a few minutes later with a wide grin. In her hands were some things kept from her time at Fairforest Baptist Church. At one point, she carefully pulled out a manilla folder. She told me the folder held one of her greatest treasures. When the folder opened, I immediately recognized the handwriting. It was Ma-Ma's. 

Ma-Ma had written Jayne a small note, encouraging her teaching efforts when Jayne taught her class for several months. Attached to Ma-Ma's note was a piece of notebook paper filled with handwritten names and phone numbers.

Shuping and Alberta Scott
With tears welling up in her eyes, Jayne shared how she had mentioned in class one Sunday that the ladies needed to pray for one another on a regular basis. On the following Sunday, Ma-Ma handed her what is now tucked away in Jayne's treasured file.

Ma-Ma was a prayer warrior up until she drew her last breath.

Jayne also shared how my grandfather, Pa-Pa, would come to the church office and give anonymously to different missions and needs. He never wanted to be recognized or applauded for his giving.

It is a priceless gift to inherit such a spiritual heritage. May our grandchildren and great-grandchildren be able to say the same in the years to come. 

I hope you enjoyed the above post, originally shared in 2009. Since then, Ma-Ma went home to be with the Lord. Thankfully, my spiritual heritage stemmed from both sides of my family. All four grandparents were godly, beautiful examples of Christ. 

“Your story is the greatest legacy that you will leave to your friends. 
It's the longest-lasting legacy you will leave to your heirs.”
Steve Saint

Staying in Step with the Spirit: The choices we make today will impact the steps of future generations to come.

Heavenly Father, help us to realize the ripple effect of our words, actions, and thought-life as we seek You for a covering of wisdom. (James 1:5) 


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Staying in the Step with the Spirit Via Pure Motivations

by Cathy Baker

{ Day 29 }

It didn't take long for me to realize that we writers can quickly become fascinated with numbers. The number of books sold, or hits on a particular blog, article, or Facebook post. Let's face it. All of these things, in some way, validate the fact our work is being read, and hopefully finding its way to the hearts of those God intended. But, if we're not careful, over-focusing on numbers can not only choke out our joy but it can take our motivation captive. 

That's a lot of liking!
For some reason, I thought I'd escaped the clinching chains of counting numbers until this summer when I found myself face to face with discouragement. To make my point, I must be painfully honest. Sigh. You see, discouragement slithered its way in the back door when I began noticing a drop-off in blog comments, leading me to question if the time required to create my posts was a wise use of God's time.

Around that same time, a handful of people, some I've never met, began emailing me after reading particular posts. Their emails often resulted (and still do) in a deep abiding gratefulness no words can describe. (You know who you are! Thank you!) 

Here's the thing. Their comments showed up in a private inbox, for no one else to see. In other words, the comment count on my blog didn't change but God used these private messages to not only encourage me but to also teach me a game-changing lesson I'll take with me to eternity.

In the midst of my deepest discouragement, I sensed God asking, If your motivation is to glorify Me alone, does it matter if comments show up on your blog or in your inbox?  
Truth snapped my soul like a taut rubber band awakening me from my spiritual slumber. Ah, now I remember why I often begin my time in prayer with Psalm 139:23, 24: Rarely, if ever, can I trust my own motives. God must be the motive searcher of all things for He alone knows me—really knows me. He alone sees past my good intentions and zeroes in on specks of pride searching for places to take root in my heart. 

Yes, comments and emails still delight and encourage this old soul but now they're simply a gift, not a measuring stick for validating my time.

Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.
Psalm 139:23, 24

Staying in Step with the Spirit: God alone is our Validator. When He is invited to search our hearts and to test our anxious thoughts, we are humbling ourselves before Him... and a humble heart is one close to its Maker. 

Heavenly Father, search our hearts and test us. You alone know our true thoughts and deepest motivation concerning all things. Purify us and lead us in the way everlasting as we humble ourselves before you.

Your turn! Have you ever looked to anything but God for validation along the way? 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Staying In Step with the Spirit Via A Well Placed Pooch

by Cathy Baker

{ Day 28 }

She stayed a few steps ahead of me, pushing her baby stroller with baby Rapunzel in tow. 

It wasn't long before Rupert, our 11 year old Lhasa Apso decided to join in the stroll. Unfortunately, aging Lhasas aren't always the best companion for little ones, especially when their wee feet are in motion. Rupert has never hurt Piper but he's growled and nipped enough towards her toes to make her understandably nervous at times. (Let's just say he's seeing his crate increasingly more when the grands come for a visit.)

Rupert, our ornery well loved Lhasa.
I stayed between her and Rupert as we strolled throughout the rooms but with every few steps, she'd glance back to make sure Rupert wasn't following too closely. Each time, I'd reassure her:

"Don't worry, Pipes."
"I'm standing between you and Rupert. He can't touch you."
"It's okay." 
"You just keeping looking straight ahead. I'm watching out for you." 

My reassurances to Piper came naturally, like grandparent to child. I smiled and continued patting her petite shoulders when the Lord whispered, This is a picture of you and Me. I reassure you with My promises during your times of fear but like Piper, you often spend more time glancing over your shoulder rather than enjoying our stroll together. 

Sweet Pipes and her pigtails.
The tone of His voice wasn't condemning or else I'd know it wasn't my heavenly Father (Romans 8:8). Instead, it was the voice of a Father desiring more for His daughter, much like I wanted Piper to enjoy her stroll and simply trust me to protect her from an ornery but well-loved pooch.

Staying in Step with the Spirit: Sometimes staying in step with God's Spirit is simply recognizing how closely His steps are to ours. 

Heavenly Father, help us to trust Your promises at all times, especially when we can't "see" you at work in our lives. Thank You for being a loving, firm, always-wanting-what's-best-for-His-children kind of Father, and not a condemning One. Because You have our back, we no longer need glance over our shoulders in fear.

Your turn! Do you have a favorite promise of God you'd like to share?

{ Day 15 } Staying in Step with the Spirit Via A Paper Bookmark
{ Day 16 } Staying in Step with the Spirit Via A Fresh Start
{ Day 17 } Staying in Step with the Spirit Via Spontaneous Service
{ Day 18 } Staying in Step with the Spirit Via God's Creation, Wk. 3 { Sunday } 
{ Day 20 } Staying in Step with the Spirit Via A Mini-Getaway
{ Day 21 } Staying in Step with the Spirit Via Piped Icing
{ Day 22 } Staying in Step with the Spirit Via A Knock at the Door{ Day 23 } Staying in Step with the Spirit Via The Book
{ Day 24 } Staying in Step with the Spirit Via A Breath of Prayer
{ Day 25 } Staying in Step with the Spirit Via God's Creation, Wk. 4
{ Sunday } 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Staying in Step with the Spirit Via Honing Your Gifts

by Cathy Baker

{ Day 27 }

"Give back to the Lord the desires and gifts He has given you and then trust Him to use them when and how He chooses." 
- Priscilla Shirer

In Judges 6:19-20 four vital steps in giving our gifts to God is discovered, as shared in Priscilla's study Gideon: Your weakness. God's STRENGTH:

1. Prepare it.
2. Present it.
3. Put it down.
4. Pour it out. 

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Staying in Step with the Spirit Via God's Creation, Week 4

Chimney Rock, NC

by Cathy Baker
{ Day 25 } 

during our 31 Day Challenge.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Staying in Step with the Spirit Via A Breath of Prayer

by Cathy Baker

{ Day 24 } 

"I drove away from my mind everything capable of spoiling the sense of the presence of God. I just make it my business to persevere in His holy presence. My soul has had an habitual, silent, secret conversation with God." -Brother Lawrence

The habitual, silent, secret conversation is a stealth weapon residing in the soul of a believer, wielding power with but one breath. 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Staying in Step with the Spirit Via The Book

 { Day 23 }

My name is Cathy Baker and I am a Book O' Holic. 

Slender binding
Threadbare spines
Fresh printed ink
Crisp white pages, and
Well worn ones too. 

They're all there - residing on my bookshelves, side by side, rubbing spine on spine.

Some have yet to be read
Some are on a perpetual rotation
Some left an indelible impression 
Some simply left a mental ✔ by their title