J.O.Y.

There is an acronym for Joy:  Jesus first, Others second, Yourself last.  Remember this and you will have true joy in the Lord.  Loving God equals loving others equals loving yourself.  My life has increased in making time for God, even among the crazy.  Yesterday, I gave you a nugget of my day-to-day life.  For the past two nights, I have taken about a half an hour to pamper…myself (shocking, I know).  I massaged my feet, gave my long, curly hair some TLC, showered, shaved, put on lotion, the whole nine.   

As I focus more on God, I find it easier to love Him more.  By loving Him more, I love my husband more.  Daily, he reminds me of the sweet, shy boy I fell in love with at sixteen.  I love my three boys and find myself praying earnestly for them.  I love my mother fiercely and I understand her a lot more.  I even love my job (though it is only seasonal).  I have prayed and worked so hard for this job and it is such a blessing to finally have the job my family and I sacrificed so much for.  And I love myself more.  For longer than I would care to admit, I hated myself.  

Like so many Christian’s, I backslid and for a long time, I was a “Sunday” Christian.  A “Sunday” Christian is someone who goes to church on Sundays and holidays.  The “good Sunday” Christian’s straddle two worlds and this was me for a long time. 

In one world, you are involved in the church, you are at every service, and you volunteer for every event and vacation Bible school.  In the second world, other things take the focus away from God.  Your spouse, kids, job, house, and so on.  This leads to fear, worry, stress, doubt, pain, the list goes on.  

Stay focused on God, and you will be led to faith, love, joy, peace, patience, the list is endless, just like God’s love is for ANY who believe.  From the lowest to the highest.  Any skin color, any gender, any orientation, God’s love is for all.  Find God’s love and you will find true and lasting joy. 

A Day in the Life of Me

I usually write a past memory, connect with something current, and voila, I have a post.  Today, I thought I would share with you a little bit of my everyday life.  My day typically starts anywhere between 7 and 8 A.M.  My alarm (which is set across the bedroom) gets to blaring and I grumble my way over to shut it off.  After a quick trip to the facilities, I wake up Tobs and get him sorted with another, never-ending, remote day of school.  While waking him up, I am grabbing my clothes for the day and brushing my hair.  Then I wake up Will, usually by 8:30, sometimes 9:00, depending on our schedules.  Then we say good-bye and trundle off to our local Cumby’s for coffee and orange juice before he drops me at my office and he heads off to work.  

Once in the office, I take a look at the schedule and the appointments for the day, update our communication board, and have a conversation with whichever tax pros are here with me.  Then, while they set about actually filing tax returns, I sit at my desk and handle checking in clients, getting them seated with their respective tax pro.  I then get settled at my desk and handle our calls and e-mails that need to be sent out (and of course still handling the day’s appointments).  Finally, after about 6-9 hours, we close up the office, Will picks me up and we head home for a late dinner and a quick tidying up of the house before saying our prayers and drifting off to dreamland. 

During my breaks, I call my sweet Eli (who stays with his Gram during the week, thank you Covid and remote learning), and check on him and talk with him.  If I have any down time, I spend it searching for a suitable place that will house all of us (plus a dog and a cat).   

Somehow, in the midst of all the insanity, I still find the time to throw on either KLOVE (my new favorite radio station) or my Pandora playlist (filled with worship music I heard on KLOVE).  Reading the Bible is done (not as often as it should, hey, didn’t say I was perfect).  I try to stay as focused on the Lord but it is hard in the busy.   

My final thought, if we wait for the time to worship, pray, read the Bible, share our faith, it will NEVER get done.  We must make the time because if we do, God turns the busy into a blessing. 

The Ugly

I have been a believer for as long as I can remember and as such, I have heard countless, inspiring, uplifting testimonies of how great our God really is (and have experienced such in my life).  But, most testimonies, start with “my life was alright, it got worse, I found God, now life is roses”.  No one talks about the “ugly” that still remains behind.  The ugly that rears its head even though you feel so focused and on fire for Christ.  My biggest “ugly” is my temper and some days, just the slightest thing sets it off.  The other day I took Tobs up to McDonald’s for breakfast.  Upon getting in the car, I found our driver’s seat would not move.  I fixed (I thought) and off we went.  Reaching the golden arches, we happily bounced in, repeated our order about 4 times (still they got it wrong) and back out to the car we went where, surprise, the seat did NOT want to move.  I fussed and fumed and finally gave up, left the seat where it was, drove home, and promptly stormed into the house yelling and swearing (horrors, a Christian who swears).  It’s a nasty habit and one I will break with the power of Christ.  I buried myself in my bed and had a good old fashioned temper tantrum then trundled out, ate my breakfast, and was promptly rewarded with a toothache that gave way to a 3-day headache (thank the Lord for snow days). 

It was not even the chair not moving that I was angry with.  I have a dear friend who has gone through a LOT in her young life and she is dealing with more heartache.  I was angry because this girl has such a bright spirit and a warm heart (and a TON of patience) and a strength that comes from facing the darkest of demons.  I railed at God about how can He make her suffer even more than what she already has, doesn’t she deserve some peace and happiness? 

I still don’t have the answers as to why others must suffer, other than the way someone explained it me once.  God bring you through the storm so that when another is facing a similar storm, you have the tools you need to guide them through. 

I hate my “ugly” and I strive every day to break the bad “habits” that I currently have.  I try to step in faith every day so that my “ugly” stays tucked away where she belongs. 

The Ghosts

The ghosts, the ghosts
In my mind the host
So the story goes and unfolds
Take some steps and leave more behind
Looking back just makes me blind.
Time still passes though they say it’s not real,
If every bad choice is now, then don’t I always fail?
As I feel the scars like open wounds
Yearning to lay to rest in tomb
Yearning to give birth, newness from womb
Of ever fighting breath and thought and passion
Wanting to live rather than survive as reaction
Wanting to exist beyond the masking
These ghosts, these ghosts,
I will be my own host!
In mental room of electricity
Seeing importance of specificity to electivity
I am domineer of my being and of what I’m seeing
But to really SEE, from spiritual throne I must look down
So firstly, in this plane and dome, I must turn around
Now feet steady in forward facing direction
Not listening to past voices, no coherent detection
I learn to take step by step and only glimpse back for reflection
To make the new stronger and better than before
To cast it beautifully against the floor
So if I’m ever tempted to again look back
I see something more glorious than previous hack
I see the goals achieved and future perceived
I bask in this breath that is mine to breathe
The ghosts, the ghosts
Those immeasurable hosts
Now put to rest in grave and moss
I am no longer your slave of loss
No longer here to pay your cost
To make this gold and silver I cast away the dross
Upon my seeing eye I wear this crown
Every jewel earned while Spirit shines down
While Spirit pours out and at last, glows all around
-Kelz

**written by my life-long friend, Kellie ♥♥♥ thanks for adding ♥♥♥

We Are the Same

Your skin is brown, mine is white,

We both bleed red.

You are Atheist, I am Christian,

We both believe.

You are single, I am married,

We both are happy.

You are tall, I am short,

We both see things differently.

You frown, I smile,

We both have emotions.

You have joy, I have grief,

We both rejoice and suffer.

If, we are all so much alike inside,

Why treat the outside different?

You have a house, I have an apartment,

We both have shelter.

You are a C.E.O, I am a secretary,

We both have jobs.

You are gay, I am straight,

We both have love.

You have parents, I have one

We both are loved.

You go Temple, I go to Church,

We both worship.

You laugh, I cry,

We both feel joy and sadness.

If, we are all so much alike inside,

Why treat the outside different?

My Lighthouse

Jude 22
And of some have compassion, making a difference:

Merriam-Webster defines a lighthouse as a structure (such as a tower) with a powerful light that gives a continuous or intermittent signal to navigators. My lighthouse is so much more than that. My lighthouse is Jesus and as I grow more in my faith His light shines brighter every day. I was very blessed to grow up within a ministry called The Lighhouse Mission. This mission was started many years ago when I was just a small girl. It got started by Dennis and Laura Holland, who have turned out to be pivotal people in my life. I can scarce remember a time without them. They started this mission out of the back of Dennis’ pick-up truck serving sandwiches and coffee in downtown Worcester. Having a “helping heart” I wanted to volunteer but since I was seven, I got to stay home instead. So, I went around our neighborhood with a coffee can and collected pennies for them instead. Mom volunteered and dutifully walked the streets sharing her love of Christ. Eventually we grew to a big blue bus which was used for years until the church it was started out of fell apart and we all went our separate ways.

I was around fourteen when we found Dennis and Laura and of course, the Lighthouse, in the basement of Pleasant Street Baptist. Only this time, I too could volunteer. I spent many a Tuesday and Thursday ((and then we switched to Saturdays)) pouring coffee, plating desserts, handing out food, and watching as God continued to grow this ministry and we became a family. As I got older, I spent less time there but I still always found myself there at least a few times a year witnessing and worshipping. We grew into a full grown-up ministry right around the same time as I reached early adulthood. And seeing the work we were doing ((giving bikes away, having block parties, providing Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, even giving clothes to those in need)) I saw God.
I saw God in the eyes of a little child whose name was called for a bike. I saw Him in the souls of those who volunteered from other churches. But never, have I seen God more than when works through Dennis and Laura. Dennis is kind of gruff and comes off a tad grumpy at times but I have seen this man bow his head and pray earnestly for the lost around. And Laura is just so sweet, even when she’s mad at you, she makes it hurt just a little less. But she has such a warmth and a beautiful smiles that lights the darkest day that you do everything you can just to keep her smiling.

Sadly, the Lighthouse Mission has closed its doors and Dennis and Laura no longer live nearby. But, I can just pick up the phone if I need some of Laura’s love and warmth and since I do love Dennis’ preaching I frequently watch him preach online from the pulpit in the First Baptist Church of Port Huron.
In short, I am blessed to have not one lighthouse to guide me, I have three. One is my Heavenly Father and I’ve got Dennis and Laura Holland here on earth who continue to guide others as they have always guided me towards the Lighthouse of Jesus.

Blessings,

My name is Amanda-Lyn (Aly), and I am the founder of Faith Like Mary Ministry.  I currently reside in Worcester, MA.  My husband and I have 3 boys, and both work full-time jobs.  We are blessed to be surrounded by loved ones.  My prayer is to take Faith Like Mary Ministry from my computer to around the world.  Our verse is Luke 1:46 “and Mary said, my soul doth magnify the Lord”.  I started this ministry as a Facebook page.  Originally, I thought the Facebook page would be it.  Then God laid it on my heart to get my stories of faith out into the world and share His grace and mercy with others.  And so, the Faith Like Mary Blog was born.  This ministry will be geared toward women ((sorry fellas)).  It will be used to empower women in their faith and in their personal walk with Christ.

I would like to tell you a little of how Faith Like Mary got its inspiration.  I was listening to a song sung by Francesca Batistelli called Be Born in Me.  The song is about Mary accepting to be the mother of God without question, in absolute faith.  And she was just a teenager.  At 14, I was just starting figure out this thing called life.  After my father’s passing, I thought about him and how much he loved to witness from his computer, and I got to thinking about all the souls my Dad reached for the Lord.  I pray to use this ministry to honor both my Heavenly Father and my Earthly Father.

Please encourage the men and women of your church to visit

https://faithlikemary.wordpress.com/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/263624658269329

https://www.bonfire.com/store/faith-like-mary-ministry/?fbclid=IwAR07wfIETuKtiDm1v0idPGrGnWMkNGoPNvS_862A_3-K6RBwEkjuxO8fkcA

Thank you and God Bless,

Amanda-Lyn Gasco
FLMM

Connecting to God

Exodus 15:20-21

Then Miriam the prophet, Aaron’s sister, took a timbrel in her hand, and all the women followed her, with timbrels and dancing. 21 Miriam sang to them: “Sing to the LORD, for he is highly exalted. Both horse and driver he has hurled into the sea.”

I am always singing and dancing.  Blame my parents.  I was blessed to be raised in a “musical” household.  There was always some new cantata to learn or I was playing on my flute.  The radio or cd player pretty much played non-stop.  I went to a church where dancing was not considered “appropriate”.  Imagine my surprise when I went to First Assembly and I saw dancing…in church? ok then.  At first, I felt awkward and weird.  But the more I danced, the more I realized it was my way to worship God.  We all have our own ways of connecting through God.  I use dance and singing.  When I am at my lowest and I cannot rise, I turn to my playlist of favorite worship songs.  Truth Be Told, Way maker, Chain breaker, Famous For, all of these and more help me connect and go deeply into God’s presence.

So now here it is.  Your challenge.  Spend this next week finding what brings you deeply into God’s presence ((praying, preaching, singing, meditating…whatever)) and practice, practice, practice.

Our Next Step in Faith

I have been sitting on this and praying on this for a long time.  Ironically, as I write this, Be Born in Me ((the song that inspired us)) is playing over my headphones.  I officially ((and with every ounce of faith I have)) announce the beginning of Faith Like Mary Ministry.  I pray the Lord will use this ministry to empower women ((young and old)) to follow Christ without question, without fear.  Let us women lead the way for the young ladies coming up to take our place ((for one day, we too shall finally rest at last)).  Let us encourage the wiser ladies ((hate using the word “older”)) to keep teaching us with firmness and compassion so that we may pass on that love.

Let us band together in these days ahead and walk by FAITH not by sight.  Let us rise as the warriors for Christ that our mothers raised us to be.  And let us go forth into 2021 with Prayer, Faith, and just a little music to keep up singing.

God Bless,
Amanda-Lyn ((Aly))

Grief: An Old Friend

Sorrow, heartache, pain, anguish, are all symbolic of the word grief.  But I have come to know grief like a dear old friend, who while not entirely welcome, always finds a way in anyway.  I am the youngest of 5 children and the baby of the 3 girls, so I was the princess, the eternal child.  My 3 eldest siblings were pretty much grown and moved out and it was just me and Alex.  He was born August 25, 1980 and I, September 25, 1983.  We were very close and near inseparable.  He also had cancer and lost his battle at 11 years old.  Suddenly, this fairy princess, the eternal child, was shoved fiercely into “maturity” in a way never imagined.  I have spent a great deal of my life wondering why him? Why not me? It has been 29 years since his passing and yet, that ache is continually there. 

Recently, we lost my beloved Father and my adopted “Ma” ((within less than 6 months)).  Grief has now grown up and has children to boot.  It’s been just barely 6 months since Dad’s passing and barely 2 weeks since “Ma’s”.  And once again, grief has moved into my head and is there smiling that impish glee like the wicked friend that always gets you into trouble.  I’m keeping her well contained but I do have my moments where I am an ugly, sobbing, horrific mess on the floor.  I also have moments of complete and utter peace where for just a moment that ache stills and I feel no pain and that is because I know they are no longer in pain, they are free, and they are dancing with angels.

People probably think I’m odd to call grief an “old friend”.  Grief has had a backseat most of my life, always in the background, poking me now and then so I don’t forget she’s there.  Because I have learned the best way to heal, is to hurt.   Say what? Yes, you must hurt to heal.  No, you will never recover after losing someone, but it does become easier to live with if you acknowledge that grief is there and will not go away no matter what you try.  Faith in the Lord and faith that you will see your loved one again someday, is how you keep moving forward in this life.  So, embrace grief, welcome grief, offer her dinner and a room, because she is never leaving your side and oddly enough can be comforting at times ((when you acknowledge her)).