America the Beautiful, limping, torn and bleeding.

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This morning I woke up dreaming. In my dream I saw in the clear blue skies over me clouds, many clouds, and they were beautiful! Remember when you were a kid and you would lay in the sweet green summer grass while the sunshine warmed your face making every muscle in your body relax? The skies were a brilliant blue with white puffy clouds overhead. In my dream there were many many white puffy clouds overhead, but they were not in the usual shapes of clouds, you know, the kind that look like animals or objects when you look at them with your imagination. These clouds were distinct and I knew exactly what they depicting.

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The clouds in my dream were in the shape of tanks, planes, jets and ships. Military equipment that was strong, large and impressive! Positioned in the sky, row after row of them. All lined up in perfect military formation. However, as I was remembering how they looked in the dream, I had a sadness come over me along with a great sense of patriotic emotion. These wonderful majestic pieces of military equipment represented the past. Having long ago surpassed the glory of their missions. Now, tethered in the sky, they were a beautiful shadow of what once was. Sadly, I realized, that what I was seeing was the glory of the United States of America standing tall and proud in the fast fading form of clouds that come and go with the flow of weather.

These remnants of a brilliant, strong and hardy America were reminders that the heyday of this country with its military strength is just about gone. This country that boasted the brightest and the best was now losing its strength and posture in the eyes of the world. Fading into the memories of countless veterans and their families and those who faithfully watched as the USA went forth helping, enabling and supporting other countries when they needed it most.

Just as the picture below shows one of our wounded warriors, dependant on a chair for his mobility, we too have been injured and wounded as a country. We are not the people we once were. This is not the America that once was. Just as the generations after Moses lost sight of the wonderful miracles that God had done for them in Egypt and in the desert, it is with a heavy heart that I ponder what will happen to the generations following mine as they no longer hear the stories of the people and their battles that kept us a free nation.1779073_10152083545299270_741731931_n

I am part of the baby boomer generation, now welcoming grandchildren into our families and linage. Will these children currently being born have even a hint of the patriotic spark that we were raised with? Will they sing the great songs we learned by heart? God Bless America, You’re A Grand Ole Flag, or even America the Beautiful. I wonder how long we will be opening sporting events with our National Anthem. Will the generations following us even know who Francis Scott Key was and why he penned such unusual lyrics? I once had an elderly teacher make sure we knew the lyrics of the last verse:

 O, thus be it ever when freemen shall stand,
Between their lov’d homes and the war’s desolation;
Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the heav’n-rescued land
Praise the Pow’r that hath made and preserv’d us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause is just,
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave! 

Those fading remnants of our military strength that I saw in my dream not only reminded me that there is a crisis here politically, but also, and much more importantly, this country is in a spiritual crisis like none we’ve ever seen before. Our faithful nation has become one that is tarnished and torn. While there is still a remnant, yes, strong and bold who declare daily the faith of God through both prayer and behavior, there is a sinister and malevolent spirit that has overshadowed such a large portion of our “united” states. Lawlessness and murder are rampant, what was once evil is now called good. The bible tells us that this will be happening in the last days. Anyone with eyes and ears can realize that it is now true. We are there now!

The God that helped bring this nation to its feet is still the God he always was. As we chopped away at the goodness that brought us our strength with decisions such as removing prayer from school and allowing sins like abortion and immoral sexual behaviors to override our souls we have stayed the protective hand of God that once held us so securely.

As individuals, we have the power to take back what we have lost. It will only be through repentance that we can regain some sense of unity in this nation. As those figments I saw in my dream of our past strength fade away, my prayer is that we will be drawn to our knees and repent for the sins of the nation and once again invite the God of the universe back to us with contrite  hearts.

Will we ever recover that which has been lost? I doubt it. However, with faith I speak the powerful lovingkindness of God over my family, friends and loved ones and yes even those who persecute me. Will we be reduced to a people who has to deal with lawlessness and disaster? Perhaps, but as Joshua said: As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Joshua 24:15

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What?!?! But I have GRACE! Have we forgotten that God also told us to Repent!

In the book of James, we read this: Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep; let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up. James 4:7-10

Wow, does this sound like the sweet words of the gentle savior? Sometimes Jesus comforts us with words of loving kindness and sometimes like a good parent he speaks to us a bit more sternly with words of correction. However, these words although they may sound harsh, will ultimately take us to a place of personal freedom! We don’t always like to be corrected or instructed to do something. We don’t always see things the way God sees them. He is a God of omniscience, he knows everything all at once. He knows the past, present and future. He knows what we need for today and also the days to come. Matthew 3:2 tells us that Jesus wants us to repent because the Kingdom of God is coming. Well, what does that mean? He wants us to know that there will be an end to this world. How will he find us when he returns with that angelic shout at the last trumpet? Will he find us going about his business or our own business? This is a stern word for us all, but we do not want to be tricked into believing that we will go be with him simply because we have been “good.” That is not what he said, he said to repent. Confess your sins.

Let’s take to heart what the bible says, what the Lord of heaven AND earth is saying to us, to those who he says, have ears to hear. When we take the words in James and really apply them, we will see that it is the Holy Spirit who convicts us of those things in our lives that do not line up to the word of God. When we get serious and really mourn the behaviours and attitudes that need to be rooted out of our lives, it is then that we will receive the freedom we need. By leaving these things in humble repentance at the foot of the cross we enable God’s hand that was stayed, to once again release blessings unto us.

He really is a loving God who wants His best to flow into us. He tells us how that can happen. Obedience is paramount. Obedience to his word brings that freedom and that truth, along with so many other wonderful truths will bring us what we need. He longs for us to come to him and release these things that hinder us. Pride and false confidence brought by the enemy will keep us from repentance. But, really it is so simple. The rest of James chapter 4 will show us what to do. It is our decision if we will do it or not. God won’t force us to repent, but it delights him when we choose to be obedient, and oh how he smiles when we are finally released from bondage by doing so. In order to live that abundant life he tells us about in John 10:10, this must be done, for by repenting we keep the “thief” from stealing from us.

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Don’t run back!!! It’s still yucky there!

When I read the account of the crossing of the red sea I stand amazed at the awesome God we serve. I marvel at what happens afterward in the now free from slavery crowd of people who gaze upon their current situation with  dissatisfaction. Even after experiencing first hand what the mighty power of God had done, the Israelites still found time to gripe and complain when their conditions got a bit more challenging. After walking across on dry land as the water of the great Red Sea stood at attention on either side of them during their God-made exodus and escaping the terrifying army that Pharaoh had pounding down upon them with horses, soldiers and chariots, the memory of what they thought were “better days” came back to taunt them. In Exodus 16:3 we read, “If only the LORD had killed us back in Egypt,” they moaned. “There we sat around pots filled with meat and ate all the bread we wanted. But now you have brought us into this wilderness to starve us all to death.”

So why in the world would death or life as a slave be so enticing? The answer, the enemy and his lies. When we come out of a victory or a triumph we stand in that for a while marveling at the Lord and how much he loves us and how he provided a way out for us. Eventually, life gets in the way and normal and mundane days become less exciting and we lose that emotional high we had just after winning that last battle. We slip into a place where we forget how important it is to seek and rely upon God for the things we need. We get “ordinary” again and life gets boring. We notice how big our needs become and we forget how big our God is. We get to a place of complacency and that is the very space the devil is looking for. That space where we forget to pray or thank God for what we need daily. We forget, ‘give us this day, our daily bread.’  We forget that we can do nothing without Him. And then our mind becomes sluggish and we go down the slope of whining about what we don’t have instead of remembering what the Lord has done for us. Then, in they slither. Those thoughts, the ones that take us back, back to where we used to be. How life was when WE were in charge, before we placed ourselves under God’s authority and protection. Like little snakes they come. Worming their way into our minds and once again we find ourselves in that place of want and need. That place that we previously escaped.

Oh how we wish we would have taken those thoughts captive, as it says in 2 Corinthians:5 and not have traveled down this road. But take heart! This is not the end. We serve a forgiving God and when we arrive at this place of woe, He is still there to forgive us and lead us back to victory! And rest assured, as we practice this “taking thoughts captive” and continue to rest and rely on Him and His word, we will surely walk in that victorious life that we crave so much and the life that God has provided for us through the cross. We just need to remember that Jesus already did the work   http://wp.me/p37EgM-a  and that all we need do is step into obedience to his word and allow Him to lead us.

Running back to the yuck is part of the journey. As we progress through and press toward the mark as Paul says, we will become less likely to go back there. We will be able to stop and regroup our thoughts and keep our mind on Him and His word in order to continue on the path that He has laid out before us. Phil. 3:14.

Thank you Lord that you have made a way for us. We come to you with great anticipation and excitement as you lead us toward that goal of  living life victoriously! Amen

http://www.angelcounseling.info

What’s new? New Year musings and discoveries!

Well, here we are starting a new year! 2014, is it really?  Oh wow, how time does fly!

I remember hearing the “older folks” speak like this. Time flies, why yesterday we… and other similar sayings. Now, I am the one using these familiar sentences. This past year has been one filled with wonderful happenings and hard struggles. A new grandson came to our family, our son got married to the love of his life, we discovered another wonderful grandbaby is on the way later in this year, changes and transitions at our church. Many things humming along with the same smiles and frowns as usual.

Our pastor is teaching us some of the basics for the new year, prayer, getting alone with God and reading through the bible. I believe the Lord is taking me to higher AND deeper places with Him and will use these new revelations as I sit with clients in the counseling room. I’ll be sorting and separating these new thoughts and truths with much study and prayer.

In what ways are you moving forward into the new year with the Lord? How is he taking you to new horizons? Please share and encourage us! Thanks! Let’s keep moving along this journey with Him. Remember, if you need to pull off the tracks and rest in the “station” for a while with us, our invitation stands for you to connect with our counseling ministry. Blessings! Linda

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All Aboard for some Important Information

Angel Counseling Life Station

http://www.angelcounseling.info

http://www.facebook.com/AngelCounseling

Angel Counseling Life Station is a place where individuals may come for pastoral counseling.  We provide individual pastoral counseling sessions, also, couples counseling, generational deliverance counseling and any other specific biblical based counseling that may be needed or desired.

Owner/Business Partner Linda Stanhope – 717-638-8703, linda.angelcounseling@gmail.com

Business Partner-Julie Lawson –   julie.angelarmor@gmail.com

Linda and Julie are both certified pastoral counselors through Emerge Counseling Services/Ministries in Akron Ohio. Linda has served as a pastoral counselor at Freedom Christian Counseling Services housed at Freedom Valley Church, Gettysburg Pennsylvania for the past 6 years and has an Associate’s Degree in Human Services, Harrisburg Area Community College 2007.

From Linda’s personal Facebook page: I meet with clients who are searching for ways they can bridge the gap between living in this world and everything it brings, and understanding who they are in Christ. I encourage others to search the Lord and learn of His ways. We, together walk through their hurts and disappointments toward a place that brings not only peace, but understanding and fulfillment in their calling. As my clients have ventured out and placed themselves on the road that leads to life and that abundant life for which Jesus paid the price, I respectfully and prayerfully help lead them toward that goal. It is only with His guidance that this is accomplished. I remain in His service.

Angel Counseling is a part of the Angel Armor Business Network. Angel Armor is an Inspirational Jewelry company founded by Julie Lawson in 2011. Julie and Linda work together at the jewelry company creating original and uniquely beautiful pieces.  The story of the beginnings of the company can be found online at http://www.angelarmor.com   the website offers an online store where the jewelry may be purchased. There is also a blog page. Each blog entry is an offering to our friends and customers to get to know us a little better and also be encouraged. Take a look and please share your thoughts in the comments area.

Our ultimate goal is to find a facility to house our Life Station; a place where folks may come and enjoy a cup of coffee and some “me” time, to relax or just to sit and chat with friends who will also be stopping by. We will be offering a homey friendly environment in which to take a break for a few minutes just to reflect, read or listen to music. Whatever is needed for you to refuel and continue on your day.  We will also regularly offer workshops and “how to” classes.  Currently, we are holding counseling sessions at Linda’s church just north of Gettysburg. For information please call! We will be happy to talk with you!

Thank you so much!  Linda (white shirt) and Julie(blue dress)    l (70)

 

Renewal, rebirth, redeemed, re-positioned, rebuild, reconciled, etc. etc. etc.

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Today is the first day of Spring!!! Yippee! We are coming into my favorite time of year! Signs of renewal and rebirth are soon going to be seen everywhere! As I drive through the apple orchards here in south  central Pennsylvania with my 4 year  old grandson, we rehearse the stages the apple trees go through during each season. All winter long we have seen the bare branches of the numerous trees that line row after row over the rolling hills. We talk about the next step, buds, that will be coming soon, and the next step which will bring the beautiful blossoms and then the leaves and so forth until those trees are full of ripe red apples that will be picked when the air is again cool and the ground begins to get frosty.

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Like the trees and plants that are getting ready for rebirth, we too have the great opportunity to make some new plans for our own lives. Rebirth and renewal and all the other words that begin with the prefix re come with our re-lationship with God. Jesus is the redeemer, the one who brings us to a place of realigning ourselves, spirit first, then soul (mind will emotions) and then body.

What a great opportunity to be re-positioned to the One who created us! In his letter to the Romans chapter 12, Paul says: Therefore, I urge you, brothers in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-this is your spiritual act of worship. 2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is-his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Sometimes, we need to re-do the patterns in our lives that we ourselves have set. Changing habits, or ways of thinking is not always easy, but none the less, when we do, we then line up with what God says and find the road, be it rocky or smooth, a road that leads us forward.

How about you? Are you considering some re’s in your life? At Angel Counseling, we understand what this means. If you would like to talk about some of the things that you are facing and changing, we are here to help you. Feel free to send us an email or comment.  We would love to hear from you.