Friday, June 19, 2015

Alex Boye - I Will Rise (Emi Yo Leke) ft. LDC

Alex Boye - I Will Rise (Emi Yo Leke)

God bless our brothers and sisters in Charleston, South Carolina. This post is dedicated to them, to their families, to their church family, and to the community they so diligently served. 

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The Miracle of Motherhood

by Cindy Hester

The sound of the garbage truck's air brakes mingled with the noise of the driver yelling out directions woke me from a restless sleep. The previous night's events came flooding back as I clumsily rolled out of bed. The nausea and cramping had grown increasingly worse, and I knew I had to call my doctor. Little was I to know that within four short hours I would begin a life-altering journey that would include a roller coaster of ups and downs, twists, and turns providing the most exhilarating ride of my life.

On July 22, 1980 at the ripe old age of nineteen I became a mother for the first time. I remember holding my breath until I heard my baby's cry. Nurses called out measurements and weight as I lay there anxiously waiting. Then came the moment I will never forget. My nurse walked over with this tiny bundle of humanity. Her kind eyes smiled as she said, "Meet your daughter." She laid her on my chest, placing her soft, sweet face next to mine. Immediately her crying hushed as she gently pressed her tiny mouth against my cheek. It was in that moment that an overwhelming tsunami of love flooded my heart.

God blessed me with this incredible adventure twice more with the birth of my sons. Amazingly, that intense, loving bond forged when holding each one was unique, as if experiencing it again for the first time. In fact, having children of my own gave me an understanding of just how deeply my mother and father loved me. On an even grander scale, I gained an appreciation for the unfathomable love our Heavenly Father holds for each of us as His children. 

As time progressed, life took a completely different turn from the fairy tale I had imagined as a young bride. After seventeen years of marriage I suddenly found myself as a single mom to my teenage daughter and two pre-teen sons. I stumbled and fumbled my way through making numerous mistakes along the way. I had no choice but to get back up, shake the dust off, and try again. It was during this period of motherhood that God began working in my heart teaching me that I must depend on Him. On days when even my best efforts were futile, He reminded me that He did not create me to exist depending on my strength and wisdom, but on His.

Three years later I married the man who has stood by my side through thick and thin. (I mean literally, thick and thin...or maybe I should say thin, then thick?!) On October 23, 1999 at the ripe old age of thirty-eight I became a step-mom. My husband and I moved into a three bedroom apartment with three teenage boys in one room. The youngest daughter had a room to herself, with the exception of the weekends her step-sister came home from college.
I could not have asked for two children to welcome me any better than my step-son and step-daughter, and thankfully, my children ultimately loved and respected my husband. Even still, we were not the Cleaver family, nor were we the Brady Bunch. There were deep struggles. There were days I wondered if that incredible, natural bond of love making us a “family” would ever develop.

I can’t name a specific date it happened. I think it was the result of witnessing those milestone moments that happen over time. Moments such as hearing their names called at graduation, or walking away to leave one at college with tears streaming down her face. Possibly it was watching another leave for boot camp, or watching each of the boys stand tall and handsome anxiously awaiting his bride’s appearance. It could have been seeing one step off of the hospital elevator proudly rolling a bassinette carrying his first-born son, or seeing pictures of another holding his daughter for the first time with tears in his eyes. It could have been the result of watching another struggle to find her identity in this big old cruel world asking God to protect her and to show her the way. It was in these moments that overwhelming, inexplicable tsunami of love flooded my heart washing away any trace of distinction between “yours” and “mine” leaving only “ours.” That, my friends, is what I call God’s miracle of motherhood.

How can I ever thank You, Lord, for allowing me the opportunity to love and to be loved as a Mom. Lord, I know I have failed You and them in so many ways. I am so grateful that where my failures could have been fatal, You stepped in with Your love and grace. I thank You for my sweet Momma and for all she has been to me. Thank You for her strength and devotion in never giving up on me. Help me to show that same love to my children and grandchildren. Bless each mother on this Mother’s Day. Bless each child who may not have had the privilege of a loving mother in his or her life, and be with each person whose mother is no longer here on this earth. Thank You for the promise that You will never leave us or forsake us. I love You Lord. In Christ’s name I pray, Amen. 

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Hood Family New Braunfels Trip 2015

My daughter-in-law, Chelsey, made this priceless video of our annual family trip to New Braunfels. I will treasure it forever because those who are included in this video make up my past and future heritage. I missed those who could not be there. These songs could not be more perfect to share with those who stayed behind due to important events at home. We love you, and we are there for you.


Saturday, January 17, 2015

The Sun of Righteousness

By Cindy Hester

"But for you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings; and you will go forth and skip about like calves from the stall." Malachai 4:2

What a blessing it is to enjoy this gorgeous sunshine, especially after the days of rain and clouds hung on for what seemed an eternity. I enjoy an occassional rainy day, but extended periods of time without sunshine often leaves me feeling despondent. As the clouds moved out on Thursday and the sun shone through, my spirits immediately lifted. Every load seemed a little lighter, and I found myself singing as I worked.

Whenever we face extended periods of darkeness in our lives, the mighty God of creation promises the sun of righteousness for our souls. Much like the sun in our universe, the sun of righteousness brings healing and joy. Submitting our hearts and lives to Him lifts the heaviness of sin, and trusting Him brings the light into the darkness of despair.

Thank You, Lord, for the sunshine and the sense of refreshing it brings. Thank You that trusting in Your Son brings us a hope that lightens the soul. How amazing it is that even as adults filled with responsibilities and struggles, Your joy is present. 

Saturday, January 10, 2015

"Don't Say that Paw Paw!

A smile for your weekend. My four year old little grandaughter and her Paw Paw were kidding around with one another. She had just informed him that his Barney Song, "I Love You" was annoying her because he kept singing it over and over. She decided to sing her own song but became quite passionate when he said her song was annoying! 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Assurance in the Midst of Uncertainty

by Cindy Hester

"The Lord makes firm the steps
    of the one who delights in him;
though he may stumble, he will not fall,
    for the Lord upholds him with his hand."

Looking back over my life I often wonder how I ever made it to where I am now. For years I fumbled my way through, relying on my own wisdom to make decisions. To be honest, in my youthful ignorance I often rebelled against God because I felt His commands brought only restriction and control. It was only after much stumbling and picking myself up only to stumble again that I realized my so-called "freedom" had become my prison. I have come to understand that God in His infinite wisdom gave us guidelines in order that we could be set free. 

Today, as I read through the Bible I see the things He warns us against are the very things that have brought me the greatest pain, destruction, and chaos, while obeying His commands has brought the greatest joy, creativity, and peace. In turn, obedience has cultivated a closer relationship with God. It is through this closer relationship I have learned to delight in Him. 

I can now recognize how God has ordered my steps. Despite my failures and lack of knowledge, He has opened doors for me I could have never opened on my own. He not only opened those doors, He provided the means to gain the necessary skills and knowledge to succeed. Although I still stumble, His hand upholds me. I am forever assured of His loving presence no matter the circumstances. 

Today I hope you will find encouragement in the fact that "the Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in Him." No matter what you are facing, the Lord stands close and desires to uphold you and steady you with His almighty hand. 

Dear Lord, help us to trust You to make our steps firm. So often it seems as though all we have worked so hard for is falling apart, but You know the plans you have for us, plans to prosper us and not to harm us. Help us not to be deceived into thinking You are simply witholding good things from us, but that You came to bring us a life of abundance. Remind us what true abundance is. I pray for those who are struggling today. Uphold them with Your mighty righteous hand. I pray this in the name of your Son, Jesus, Amen.

A Poem for Bear By Maw Maw Cindy My dear little Bear who sleeps soundly and tight So peaceful and trusting, your cares free...