25 Years of Marriage

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March 23, 1991

25 years ago I married Doug Thomas. It was next to the best decision I ever made. He is a wonderful blessing from God and I’m truly thankful for him. The best decision I ever made was to follow Jesus and I think Doug would agree it was the best decision he made as well. Two people staying married for 25 years is a long time and if you are married, you know marriage is not always easy. I just can’t imagine what our marriage would like without Jesus.

When we married in 1991, I instantly became a stepmom. I had never even dated someone with children but I knew I would love these little girls with all my heart. They were and still are precious to me. Of course, they are grown now with families of their own but they will always be these precious little girls to me. I couldn’t resist but to show you a photo of them on our wedding day.

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Chelsea & Courtney

Courtney was 7 years old at the time and Chelsea was 3. As you can see, Chelsea had decided to cut her bangs the day before our wedding. Her mom (who is a hairdresser) tried to fix them but she cut them so short, it was impossible. It was really funny and I couldn’t help but adore her even more as she rocked back and forth during our vows. Courtney is the quieter one who loved and still loves to read. I love them both and so grateful to God for giving me these two beautiful daughters.

IMG_1898Sharing is important in a marriage. Doug and I have shared our hopes and dreams. We’ve also shared grief and disappointment. Marriage is full of peaks and valleys. If we are open to each other, we can learn in the valleys in order to have more peak moments. It takes listening and being present for each other. I’m not always good at listening because I’m usually the one doing the talking (bless his heart). However, I’m hoping over the years that I’ve made some progress in this area. I love his gentle soul and how sweet Doug is to listen and care for me.

IMG_4782Find something you like to do together. It may not be your favorite thing, but it may be your spouse’s favorite thing. If so, do your best to enjoy it. If you still struggle, ask God for help. I believe God wants us to love being with our spouse. So ask God to help you love what your spouse loves. For us, it’s going on a motorcycle ride. Now I’m a fair weather rider so it needs to be nice and sunny for me to hop on the motorcycle with my husband. When I go with him, I just love getting away and enjoying the open air together. It’s refreshing and renewing.

IMG_2484When the kids are grown and you find yourself an empty nester or almost empty nester, make sure and get to know each other again.


As much as you try not to focus on the kids or work, it’s almost impossible not to when it comes to the needs of your children or the demands of work. However, make time for dates and stay connected. One day the kids will leave (well hopefully) and it will be the two of you. Make intentional time together along the way and keep those date nights, they are critical to your marriage.

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We’ve changed a lot over the past 25 years. It’s so evident when you look at where we started. However, I can’t imagine changing with anyone else. I love this man of mine! I can’t control him, I can’t change him, I can only love him. By the way, I don’t want to control or change him. Well maybe early on in our marriage but we won’t go there (smiley face).

What makes a marriage last 25 years and counting? Love! Love never fails (1 Corinthians 13:8).

 

 

 

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Do You Love Me?

dreamstime_s_61056922It was 3:30 in the morning and I heard a voice. My alarm was set for 5:00am. I needed to get up early and get to work at the church. So it surprised me when three times He asked…

“Kim, do you love me?”

Yes I love you.

“Kim, do you love me?”

You know I love you.

“Kim, do you love me?”

God, you know I love you. Why are you asking me this? Then I heard Him say, “Feed my sheep”.

I knew immediately God was speaking of the church.

I also knew He told Peter this same thing in John 21:15-17.

Commentaries tell us when Jesus had this conversation with Peter, He asked him three times “do you love me”. It’s believed this dialogue was symbolic of the three times Peter denied Christ as a way of reconciling their relationship.

I believe God woke me and asked me this same question because people are starving for Jesus. So I asked myself…

Am I giving them sustenance?

Am I giving them the bread of life?

Am I giving them living water?

Am I giving them Jesus?

I’m currently taking a Disciplemaking course along with twelve other people. I’ve been praying about something I heard while taking the course. The presenter asked if we loved our mission more than we love Jesus.

Let’s think about this for a moment and reflect on the question.

Do we love our mission more than we love Jesus?

I have been putting several words in the place of “mission” such as family, ministry, myself (ouch). I have been reflecting on just how much I love others or other things. And do I love those things more than I love Jesus. Anything else that I put in the place of Jesus becomes an idol and a form of idol worship.

If I truly love Jesus more than anything else, then my desires line up with God’s desires. Psalm 37:4 Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. His will is accomplished for my life and I’m living out the mission of being a Christ follower. Am I doing that?

Matthew Henry’s Commentary says this of John 21. Three times Christ committed the care of his flock to Peter: Feed my lambs; feed my sheep; feed my sheep. Those whom Christ committed to Peter’s care were his lambs and his sheep. The church of Christ is his flock, which he hath purchased with his own blood (Acts 20:28), and he is the chief shepherd of it. In this flock some are lambs, young and tender and weak, others are sheep, grown to some strength and maturity. The Shepherd here takes care of both, and of the lambs first, for upon all occasions he showed a particular tenderness for them. He gathers the lambs in his arms, and carries them in his bosom. Isa. 40:11. It is the duty of all Christ’s ministers to feed his lambs and sheep. Feed them, that is, teach them; for the doctrine of the gospel is spiritual food.

The doctrine of the gospel is spiritual food. Now that’s something to digest!

This Lenten season, I’m asking God to make me aware of opportunities to share the love of Jesus by feeding His sheep. I’m repenting of all those times I have not fed His sheep or loved them well.

Would you like to join me?

 

Accessorize Your Life

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Did you make a New Year’s resolution this year? Have you already given up on it? I would like to propose a different type of resolution. One that can be found in the scriptures.

Colossians 3:1-3, 10, 12-14 The Message

1-2 So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective. Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life—even though invisible to spectators—is with Christ in God. He is your life.

10Now you’re dressed in a new wardrobe. Every item of your new way of life is custom-made by the Creator, with his label on it. All the old fashions are now obsolete.

12-14 So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.

Did you receive new clothes for Christmas? Did you open a gift or two with new clothes? What about a new accessory? Did you receive a jacket, shoes, boots, hats, belts, gloves, jewelry, or scarf? If you received a new jacket, would you put your new jacket on top of or over your old jacket? What if you opened a gift and it was a belt. Would you put on your new belt on top of your old belt? No, that would be crazy. I love how these scriptures use clothing as a metaphor for how we are to live in Christ.

When it comes to a new life in Christ, let’s go back and see what Paul says we are to take off.

Colossians 3:5-11

5-8 And that means killing off everything connected with that way of death: sexual promiscuity, impurity, lust, doing whatever you feel like whenever you feel like it, and grabbing whatever attracts your fancy. That’s a life shaped by things and feelings instead of by God. It’s because of this kind of thing that God is about to explode in anger. It wasn’t long ago that you were doing all that stuff and not knowing any better. But you know better now, so make sure it’s all gone for good: bad temper, irritability, meanness, profanity, dirty talk. 9-11 Don’t lie to one another. You’re done with that old life. It’s like a filthy set of ill-fitting clothes you’ve stripped off and put in the fire. Now you’re dressed in a new wardrobe. Every item of your new way of life is custom-made by the Creator, with his label on it. All the old fashions are now obsolete.

Hebrews 12:1 tells us to throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. We have to intentionally rid ourselves of the old ways that causes us to sin.

Asbury Bible Commentary asked the following question, “Does this transformation occur in a moment or is it progressive?” The answer is, Yes! John Wesley said that “put to death” means to “slay with a continued stroke”.  In other words, while God’s transforming work is decisive, it is also perpetual. We are being renewed day by day, transformed from one degree of God’s glory to another. So we must die to self daily, and constantly put away evil. This is both our privilege and responsibility as those who bear the image of Christ.

Luke 9:23, Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.

I don’t recall anyone having to teach me to sin. I’m pretty sure I could disobey when I was a toddler and Jeremiah 17:9 tells us that the heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it.

Paul goes on to tell us that we need to remove those old ways that are connected with the old life meaning sin. Verse 9, You’re done with that old life. It’s like a filthy set of ill-fitting clothes. What do ill-fitting clothes look like? They don’t fit, they are either too big or too small. You have a new custom-made wardrobe by God with his label on it. Those old cloths are out of style…obsolete. You can try to put on those old cloths but they won’t fit and you won’t be happy because you have the Holy Spirit living inside you prompting you, speaking to you and nudging you toward Christ.

  • As a Christ follower, we are someone new and made to dress in the likeness of Jesus Christ. We are to clothe ourselves in Christ’s image.

12-14 So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you (clothe yourselves): compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength (meekness), discipline (patience). Be even-tempered (bear with one another, make allowance for each others faults, accept one another), content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment (it binds everything together in perfect harmony, perfect bond of unity). Never be without it.

  • We are chosen for this new life of love so dress like it. Dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline.

When we lay down those things our human nature wants to do, we are renewing our minds on what is above and not what is on the earth.

13Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you.

What does it mean to be quick to forgive? What does it mean to forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you? Well let me ask you how much forgiveness have you needed from God? I don’t know about you but I’ve needed a lot of forgiveness from God and others. I mess up all the time and if it weren’t for grace, I don’t know what I would do. As I meditated on this, I was asking God if I am quick to forgive an offense? Do I offer forgiveness to others like I want in return from God? This is thought provoking and reminds me of a story.

Recently I had a bad day. My husband had been sick with a cold and was coughing…A LOT. After two sleepless nights, I moved to the guest bed. A storm moved through during the night and woke me up. It was too early to get up so I went back to bed after the storm passed. Well I overslept and this threw me into overdrive to get ready and get out the door to a meeting that I was leading. As it turns out, I was ten minutes late. It wouldn’t have been so bad except we had a guest coming to our meeting and I forgot to let her know that we had changed meeting time to 15 minutes later that morning. So she arrives 25 minutes before I do. You can imagine how bad I felt and apologized profusely as she and some of the other persons were leaving the meeting room as I arrived.

She was so gracious and forgiving to me which is something I didn’t deserve but really appreciated. She had a choice and she chose grace. Oh I forgot to mention that this is not my first offense with her. I’ve needed her grace before. There’s an incident in our past where she exhibited forgiveness and grace to me. She didn’t have to forgive me and offer grace to me either time but she did. I see someone who displays love, forgiveness, and grace over and over. I see God in her because isn’t He the one who offers love, forgiveness, and grace over and over? Isn’t He the one who equips us to offer love, forgiveness, and grace over and over?

One other thing I need to share about this story of forgiveness is that I thought because of our past that our relationship was fragile but actually it’s quite the opposite. Our relationship is very strong. Two people who offer grace and forgiveness over and over are stronger because the more we forgive, the more we love.

Have you ever prayed the Lord’s Prayer? Have you ever considered the part, Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. We are asking for as much forgiveness from God as we have given to others. It’s something to think about.

  • So accessorize your life with grace and forgiveness. That’s exactly what the Father does for us all the time.

14And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.

The Japanese ceremonial dress consists of layers of expensively decorated cloths which are draped over a person, each beautiful in its own right. But the costume is incomplete until the belt is placed around the waist, holding the costume together. In a similar way, love functions as the primary virtue with which a Christian is to be clothed.

  • No matter how much you are offended or how much you disagree, wear love. It’s your all purpose garment never be without it. Love binds us together.

So let me ask you. What’s in your closet? What’s in your heart? Have you given up your old self and old ways? Have you come to a place where it’s just not working any more. Could it be you need to tell God you are sorry for the ways you have failed him, for your sin? Do you need to clean out the old and ask God for the new way of life in Christ? Why not start off the year with a new wardrobe? It’s not too late.

Maybe you have a relationship with Jesus and need to put on some new accessories. Put away those old accessories and start wearing the new accessories God had custom-made just for you. Just ask God, He is waiting.

Don’t wear those old clothes any longer or don’t wear those old accessories. God has brand new custom wardrobe just waiting for you.

Go now and resolve to wear love, it’s your all purpose garment never be without it.

Happy New You!

Suffering

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This time of year can be joyous and painful. I find it to be a mix of both. As I reflect on my past, I remember a loved one. As I consider my present, I’m blessed with family and friends.

There is much conflict in the world around us and it seems to be encroaching into our own part of the world. We are unsure, we are uncertain, we are afraid, and we are sad. We want life to be the way it used to be but then we see beauty in today when someone is kind, thoughtful, and loving.

We don’t know who to blame for chaos in the world or in our own heart. We don’t know when it will end. We hold on to the very Word of God and Jesus who is our hope and our future. We hold to the Healer who mends our hearts and heals our wounds.

Suffering

In the suffering and in the pause,
We search for meaning and the cause.

Nowhere to find the cause nor blame,
Often leads to sob and shame.

In times of difficulty, trial, and disparity,
We pray to the Lord and look for charity.

Asking God to take this cup from me,
We yearn for healing from this we grieve.

Our hearts are anxious and all a flutter;
Then mouths are filled with words we stutter.

In the face of mistrust and uncertain danger,
We look for hope amidst the manger.

Where Christ offers peace like no other,
Sharing good news and how His love covers.

Lives are at stake for all who are lost;
It is Jesus Christ who paid the cost.

So suffering will come, and suffering will leave;
The Word is our hope and our future to cleave.

Fix your eyes on the Healer who delivers us all,
Knowing Jesus has answered from the very first call.

Yet He Himself bore our sicknesses, and He carried our pains; but we in turn regarded Him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted. But He was pierced because of our transgressions, crushed because of our iniquities; punishment for our peace was on Him, and we are healed by His wounds. Isaiah 53:4-5

Kim Thomas
November, 2015

WWJS…What Would Jesus Say?

If Jesus wrote a letter to your church, what would He say?dreamstime_s_8627999

This question was presented in a lecture recently and I have not stopped thinking about it since.

WWJS…What Would Jesus Say?

Would Jesus tell your church to return to it’s first love, persevere in suffering, refuse to compromise, hold on to sound doctrine, wake up, keep you from the hour of trial to come, or admit you are lukewarm?

In the book of Revelation, John writes to the seven churches. In these inspired writings, Jesus speaks to the churches and offers commendations and corrections to put them back on the path to righteousness and life with Him.

The seventh church, the church in Laocidea, is the most troubling and comforting to me. Like most of the letters to the churches, there is bad news and there is good news.

The Bad News

I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit (the word “vomit” used in HCSB version) you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.  I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. Revelation 3:15-18

It feels like Jesus is speaking into this time and place. We are so consumed with self and wealth that nothing else seems to matter. The church in Laocidea is the “selfie” church. Wow and how true of our times! I wonder if people were really honest with themselves, how many people believe they don’t need God. Things are going pretty good and when things are going pretty good, we are good. We don’t need religion or a relationship with God because “we got this”. We seem to make enough money to live in nice homes and drive nice cars, fund our children’s wants and needs, and fund our own wants and needs. We may give a little to the church or charity but not too much because we need to make sure our bills and needs are met. This “selfie” attitude and lifestyle is really nothing new just seems more prominent and accepted these days.

I speak on this from a place I know well…like 25 years well. I knew I need a Savior when I was a teen. I prayed for Him to free me from sin and give me a place with Him (Jesus) in eternity. Then I went about my business for a number of years. For a long time, I would attend church on Christmas and Easter because that’s what you do, but I didn’t really commit to a regular relationship with God. Then I started attending more regularly but it was still a casual relationship. If I needed God, I would call out; otherwise I was doing pretty well. The funny thing about this is I was not only spiritually poor, but I struggled financially even though it looked like I had everything.

When 9/11 happened, I realized that this casual relationship with God was not going to cut it any longer. In some ways, people thought of me as spiritual because I would regularly attend church but really the truth is, I was just attending church and really only when it was convenient. Something changed for me on 9/11/2001 and I wanted to know God in a meaningful way and my spirit was restless and hungry for more. That’s when I really started attending church and reading the bible. I committed to a bible study and fellowship with other believers. I needed community and had a desire to serve. You see it all comes together when you really commit to God. When you submit to God, He changes everything starting with your heart.

The Good News

Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. Revelation 3:19-22

We don’t like to think about discipline but it is just what a parent does with a child. If you are a child of God, He will discipline you. So accept this love and discipline, be honest with yourself and repent. Jesus is waiting and if you will open the door of your heart and let Him in, He has a seat waiting for you.

Father, I pray whoever has ears, let them hear.

Amen!

A Closer Walk

Cissy April 2015

Cissy – 2 months old

In the spring we got a puppy! My sister and nephew went with me to the breeders to pick out a puppy and to everyone’s surprise, we both picked out puppies. We have sister puppies and they are adorable (most of the time).

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Cissy and Dixie – 2 1/2 months old

They are really sweet dogs but puppies nonetheless and if you know anything about a Labrador puppy, you know they do everything puppy on a much larger scale.

I decided to start walking with a friend for exercise and to help Cissy burn off energy. It was good to have a dog to walk. During the summer months, while it is so hot, my friend carried a collapsible water bowl and water bottle while I would try to control the dog on the leash, carry my phone, and the gate remote. The leash is a retractable leash and because she has so much energy, it seemed appropriate to give her some room to run in front of us and sniff EVERY living (or dead) thing on the ground.

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Cissy – 5 months old

As it turns out, too much leash is not a good thing. She gets distracted easily and moves off course by walking to the other side of the road, walking right in front of us to the point of almost tripping us or trying to pull way off on the grassy side of the road. Neither were good. Even though I want to give her leeway, it’s best if I don’t. If I pull her leash in closer to me, she stays with me and she stays focused on the walk.

You know our walk with God is really no different. When I am in God’s Word and I’m staying close to Him, I am focused and content. When I go too far ahead of God, I tend to get off course and stray. And when I stray, I sin and I bet you do too. We need God and we need to stay close to Him or we sin! Now I’m not saying that I am without sin, but I will say, I sin less because my eyes are on God and my heart is on God and my daily life is focused on what God wants for  me.

You see this is one thing you can not fake. You can fake almost anything else in this world but a relationship with God you can not. You may get away with it for a time and think you have a long leash but ultimately you will hang yourself with it because too much leash leaves you too far from the One who made you.

Stay close to God my friend and let’s pray for each other while on our walk with God.

Would you join me in asking God daily; Lord, what do you want to do through me?

For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10

 

 

God Can Use You

There was a man in Caesarea named Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment. He was a devout man and feared God along with his whole household. He did many charitable deeds for the Jewish people and always prayed to God. Acts 10:1-2

Cornelius was a good guy, yet he was a Centurion. Centurion’s were a vital part of the Roman army and their job was to lead men (soldiers). The reputation of the Roman army was not good. However, Cornelius was a man who did charitable deeds for the Jewish people and always prayed to God. Because of that, an angel appeared to him and said, “Your prayers and acts of charity have come up as a memorial offering before God.” Acts 10:4b

Did you know God can use you whether you know it or not. You may or may not be seeking God. You may or may not believe in Jesus.

Yet God can use you.

So you may be a good person who does charitable things for others and you may know there is a God and even pray, but don’t fully understand the whole Jesus thing. Good News! Neither did Cornelius.

While God was working in Cornelius’ heart, Peter had a vision. Through that vision, God showed him the foods Peter thought to be unclean and how they could be made clean by God (Acts 10:9-16). Peter didn’t understand what God was trying to say and was deeply perplexed according to the scripture. While Peter was thinking about the scripture, the Holy Spirit directed him to three men who were looking for him. The men were sent for Peter by Cornelius who also had a vision. Cornelius’ vision was to send for Peter yet he did not fully understand why. Now here’s where I think this gets really interesting.

God used Cornelius, a Gentile, as an example of someone who was not Jewish. Someone who could be made “clean” and adopted into the family of God and be a follower in Jesus Christ. God was preparing Peter’s heart before the visit when he gave him the vision of clean versus unclean food. He was showing him that He loves all people both Jew and Gentile and salvation is available for all.

So can God use anyone…at any time…in any situation…to bring understanding of who He is and His great love! Are you praying for opportunities to be used by God. I promise if you pray it, He will use you.

I saw the movie War Room over the weekend and left the movie feeling inspired. The message I saw throughout the movie was about prayer and God’s faithfulness. In the end, the message was clear about another point.

Mentoring.

If I am a follower of Jesus, I should be mentoring someone else who desires to be in a close relationship with God. There are plenty of folks out there who attend church who could be mentoring someone. There seems to be a plethora of people who desire a close walk with God but don’t know what that looks like. I get that and I was in that place for a number of years in my life. These people are the perfect candidates for mentoring.

On Sunday morning, I prayed for a person I could mentor. A few hours later, a young woman is in our sanctuary by herself. When I approached her to introduce myself, she tells me that it is her first visit to our church and that she is nervous. It was an opportunity for me to encourage her for coming and for me to sit with her during the service. We have scheduled lunch this week and I am smiling ear to ear as I wonder how God is going to work in this situation. Maybe this is the person I am to mentor.

What about you?

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