"My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness..." 2 Corinthians 12:9b

Monday, July 25, 2011

Who is in Control

“Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control.” Proverbs 25:28

Things that hurt my children make me angry. I know anger is one of my weaknesses. When something isn’t done correctly, I often lose self-control. When I do, God isn’t honored.
          During my daughter’s senior year a coach at school was not handling things fairly. I had thyroid cancer and the surgery and treatments left me without that vital hormone. I was in a weak position and my emotions were raw. That didn’t give me a license to do things my way instead of God’s.
          My words to the coach, my words in front of my daughter, even words in front of friends were angry and hateful. I was in a position of leadership at church. I knew what God’s word said, but I thought my way was better. When my first meeting didn’t accomplish what I thought should be done, I went higher.
          All of that happened many years ago. I still have regrets about the way I handled things. I’m not saying the coach handled things correctly, but I am saying I could have managed my part much better. I have bad feelings to this day. My daughter says it was a long time ago and I need to let go of it. It’s hard to let go when you know you failed to let God work things out His way.
          If we are Christians our actions should reflect our Lord and Savior. When we do things God’s way, not acting until we know we are in concert with Him, things always work out much better—there are no regrets when He is honored.
          We have a choice each and every time we speak, to honor God or do things our own way. I chose the wrong way. I let my emotions run ahead of God and failed to seek His best way of dealing with things. My daughter showed more maturity than I did. That gets your attention.
          What situation are you facing today where you have a choice in how to respond? Are you lacking self-control? How is your judgment skewed toward your desired outcome when perhaps God has something different in mind?
          Take the time to pray through the situation. Don’t act until you see clearly what God would have you do. Rather than losing self-control, honor God by letting Him take control.

Copyright by Norma Gail Thurston Holtman & 2MefromHim.blogspot.com. All Rights Reserved. Do not use without express written permission of the author.

Monday, July 18, 2011

A Cheerful Heart

“A cheerful heart is good medicine…”Proverbs 17:22

She needed cheering up. My neighbor was in the midst of debilitating cancer treatment. All she asked was that I come see her for just a few minutes. I had a million things to do, but I couldn’t ignore her plea.
I sat down and let her take the lead in the conversation, telling me how frustrated she was, how often she felt that she might not make it through. Her faith in the Lord was strong, but we all need some encouragement and reminders of God’s love now and then.
I write poetry, when the Lord gives it to me, so I took along a poem I had written in the midst of some medical problems and shared it with her. My bed wasn’t made, my housework wasn’t done, but I sat with her for an hour, sharing God’s word and just chatting.
My tasks were still waiting for me when I walked into my house. I was behind and might not get everything done, but I had a feeling of fulfillment. My friend’s husband walked me to the door and told me I had cheered her up and made her day. He was running out of things to say.
Sometimes we make excuses to avoid situations that are painful for us. None of us actually enjoy entering a sick room. I took the time out of my busy schedule, and I was the one who was blessed. Her husband’s words were an encouragement to me that I had made the correct decision about how to spend that hour of my day.
The writer of Proverbs tells us “a cheerful heart is good medicine.” I didn’t know what to say when I went to see her. By following her lead and letting the Holy Spirit guide my words I was enabled to lift her spirits. That is an honor we seldom get.
How many opportunities have I missed to be God’s messenger of hope and encouragement, simply because I didn’t know what to say, or had too much on my schedule?
Who do you know that needs their spirits lifted? Who needs a kind word of encouragement, or perhaps simply a listening ear?
Taking the time to serve someone else costs me so little, yet blesses us both so much.

Copyright by Norma Gail Thurston Holtman & 2MefromHim.blogspot.com. All Rights Reserved. Do not use without express written permission of the author.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Onward Christian Soldiers

“Pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. Fight the good fight for the true faith.” 1 Timothy 5:11b – 12a NLT

My father served in many areas of leadership in our church. He was a teacher and leader who helped make decisions to guide and direct the church. Wherever I went I was recognized as the daughter of a church leader and a well-respected business man, as well.
I was taught a responsibility to act in a way that would honor him and never bring disgrace to his name. He was a godly, loving and kind father who spent a lot of one-on-one time with his children. Therefore, it was a blessing and not a burden to act in a way that honored him and all that he stood for.
My dad was a former Marine, who maintained the same sense of honor and integrity in everything he did for the rest of his life.
After he died I wrote a biography for his grandchildren who would never know their grandfather. As I researched Marines, I came across a statement that described him perfectly. “Marines are forged in a furnace of shared hardship and tough training. This shared, intense experience creates bonds of comradeship and standards of conduct so strong that Marines will let nothing stand in their way…Marines are trained not only physically and mentally, but morally as well. Forming the bedrock of any Marine’s character are the Core Values—Honor, Courage, and Commitment…and the numerous others attached to them, such as integrity, discipline, teamwork, duty and esprit de Corps.”
As Christians, we are often grown in a furnace to strengthen us for our service to God. We are to share in each other’s hardships. We are to maintain high standards of conduct that reflect well on our Father. Our shared hardships should create bonds of comradeship that help us stick together in help, support and encouragement.
Unfortunately there is sometimes too much truth to the adage that “Christians are the only army that shoots their own wounded.”
What character qualities distinguish you as a child of your heavenly Father? What church leader or fellow Christian needs your support? Do you contribute to the “esprit de Corps” of your fellow believers?
Find a way to honor your heavenly Father and strengthen your comrades in Christ today. When you honor your Father, you will be blessed and the entire body will be stronger because of it.

Copyright by Norma Gail Thurston Holtman & 2MefromHim.blogspot.com. All Rights Reserved. Do not use without express written permission of the author.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

True Freedom's Symbol

Tall and proud against the sky,
Our country’s beacon stands.
Each star and stripe the symbol
Of sacrifice by willing hands.

Each thread within its fabric,
A reminder of the tears;
Of sweat and toil and suffering
By men and women through the years.

Our flag, a sign to all the world,
Of freedom, hope, and peace,
Of triumph over hardship,
And victory’s sweet release.

We all saw Lady Liberty
 Framed against the smoke…
 Of attacks by men in ignorance
Of the promise which she spoke.

Her words cry out to men like them,
The “tired”, and “poor” who suffer,
To the “huddled masses,” “tempest-tost,”
A hope of plenty, she offers.

But there stands a Symbol greater,
Which will endure beyond the years.
Born by our Savior in sacrifice
To wipe away all tears.

The Cross of Christ is the reason
Our Founding Fathers came,
And the only hope for our nation
Is to return to Him again.

The only hope for this country
Is to seek the Creator’s plan,
His Cross the same from age to age,
Dwarfs the symbols of this land.
By Norma Gail Thurston Holtman, 10/8/2001
Ó Copyright, 2001, Norma Gail Thurston Holtman
(Quotations come from “The New Colossus”, by Emma Lazarus, 1883,
engraved on the base of the Statue of Liberty.)

Throughout my entire life I have been taught to be proud to be an American.   My father was a former Marine who taught me to sing the Marine Corps Hymn as soon as I could talk. 
I have, as many of you do, ancestors who emigrated from other lands.  Mine came from England, Ireland, and Scotland to find a better life.  My husband’s family emigrated from Holland when he was nine years old.  This country has offered hope to people from all over the world since its beginning.
My ancestors have fought to defend the freedoms for which this country was founded; some were among the early Dutch settlers who came to New York and faced a hard life for a chance at freedom; at least three fought in the Revolution, two serving at Valley Forge with George Washington and at least one in the War of 1812.  Some fought in the Civil War (on both sides), one supposedly on the Monitor, and one, who couldn’t stand the fighting but wanted to serve his country, tended mules for the Union Army. 
Many of my ancestors were homesteaders and pioneers to the west who faced hard work paid off in poverty, or were killed or kidnapped by Indians, or feuding neighbors. My grandfather was a World War I veteran and I had three uncles who fought in World War II, and some in Korea. My father, though stateside, was in the Marine Corps during Korea. I remember the pride as well as the anguish of my aunt who had three sons in Viet Nam at the same time.  The only wars in which none of my family served was the Gulf War, and now Iraq and Afghanistan.
My in-laws suffered through the German occupation of Holland in World War II, and I have listened to them tell of what it meant when the American Army liberated Holland.
When our country was attacked by terrorists on September 11, 2001, I was struck most by a picture of the burning towers of the World Trade Center taken from New York Harbor, in the forefront of the picture stood the Statue of Liberty. 
The pride I feel in being an American has grown over the past few years as I have home schooled my son and taught high school level US History and Civics from Christian curriculum.  I have learned about a side of our Founding Fathers that you never hear growing up in the public schools. 
This country was founded by Christian men and women who came to a new land to spread the gospel and to worship in freedom.  Many of them gave their lives for the sake of their faith and their belief in what God wanted this country to be, not just a national pride based on who they were, but a commitment to establishing “one nation under God”. 
I firmly believe Psalms 33:12, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord….” 
This poem is an expression of that belief and God enabled me to put on paper some of what I feel about what we face as a nation in this new war against terrorism.   This is really a war against those who stand against God and freedom and all that this nation represents.  May God truly bless America by sending revival to our land to enable us to face this enemy.

Norma Holtman, October 14, 2001
Copyright by Norma Gail Thurston Holtman & 2MefromHim.blogspot.com. All Rights Reserved. Do not use without express written permission of the author.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Trust His Plan

 “Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow.” James 4:13-14a

I was on the waiting list. Tears sprang to my eyes.  My grades were good, my interviews had gone well, but I had not made it into the nursing college at the university in our city. With one letter my entire plan for my life and education had changed. I had no where to go to college.
          Though it would be a definite financial hardship with three children younger than me, my parents’ allowed me to apply out of state and prepared to make the sacrifices it would require. I picked a couple of schools where we had relatives nearby and sent in my applications. I was accepted at the one I wanted the most. Still, I would have preferred to stay at home where my friends and family were.
          A few months later, as my friends were preparing to begin school, I was preparing to move three states away in a few weeks. The phone call came as a complete surprise. The day before classes began I was being offered a place in the same school where I had given up hope.
          I hung up the phone and went running for my mother in excitement. It was the answer we had prayed for. My sisters were happy, except for the one who wanted my room. I was able to stay with my friends, to continue in the Christian group I had become a part of and eventually the guy who was a good friend would become much more.
          Far more of my future was determined by that phone call than I could ever have imagined at the age of eighteen. I learned a lot about the power of prayer. In future years I was able to see many things that God had done through that situation, one of which a greater understanding of the way He works out His plan for our best.
          Do you have plans that have been put on hold by circumstances you could not foresee? What path have you been pursuing that seems blocked? What change do you face today?
          We can’t know what will happen tomorrow, or even in the next minute. Choose to trust that the God Who is great enough to provide for your salvation is also able to direct your path. Make your plans prayerfully, but when change comes, trust Him.

Copyright by Norma Gail Thurston Holtman & 2MefromHim.blogspot.com. All Rights Reserved. Do not use without express written permission of the author.