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GRITSGod Reigns In The South
By Pam Morris Hanckel
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2011 Pam Morris Hanckel
All right reserved.
Chapter OneGRITS, GOD REIGNS IN THE SOUTH
This book started out a as a collection of e-mails I sent to my family and friends from time to time. They were all signed, "Love, Grits", the name given to me by my grandchildren, short for "Granny Grits." I felt it appropriate to keep them as true to the originals as I could. When I compiled the devotions into this book, and was thinking of a title, I realized that Grits spelled out God Reigns in the South and knew that had to be the title. I am sure that was a little divine intervention. I also had taken many photographs (a love of mine) that amazingly coincided with the themes of many of the stories, so I decided to include them also. I never imagined that the pictures and stories would come together to tell a story but God had a plan all along and therefore the creation of "Grits, God Reigns in the South."
This book of devotions developed because of the love and encouragement of my friends and family. I thank them all for the love and happiness they give to me each day and especially my husband for his patience, his support for this project, and his understanding as I spent many hours at the computer. I also cannot possibly thank my special friends Beth Renken and John (Deacon) Hope who proof read and corrected my many mistakes.
The original goal of this project was to try and strengthen the faith of my family and friends, but in the end, it was actually my own faith that was renewed and strengthened. I pray that as you read this book, your faith will be strengthened, you will find comfort in times of need, and that you will find joy in the world all around you.
Read and Enjoy. Love, Grits
What better gift could we give our children than the gift of knowing and loving God? As a child, I don't remember the exact time or exact place I learned my faith in God. All I know is that it had to come from my early days in Sunday School and church and from the people that surrounded me daily ... my parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends, teachers. Gradually, through those years, I developed strong roots in God. I had, and still have, the faith of a child, and I have never lost that faith. That faith delivers me from all trials and tribulations and helps me find peace and understanding in all that life brings.
There were times in my life that I just did not have much time for God. I loved Him, believed in Him, but just did not have much time for Him. Looking back, those were the times I made my worst decisions ... based on ME and what I wanted and not what God wanted for me. Thank goodness my roots were strong and I realized God makes way better decisions than I do. Thank goodness God is a forgiving God. His patience and love and grace brought me home, and He gives me the strength and hope to face every day.
The greatest gift I could ever try to give my children, my family, and my friends is the gift of faith.
There is a river in front of the house. Its flow is steady, reliable and unending. Just looking at it brings a feeling of peace. And such is the peace Jesus promises to all of us who trust Him. His hand is steady and reliable; His love for us is unending.
No matter what trials we face, Jesus never leaves us. He is with us every step of the way. We just have to ask for His help and surrender the situation to His care.
Dear God, Please take this burden from me. Please drop Your bucket down and let me put all my problems in it. Hoist it up and handle it. Give me back what You need me to handle and You do the rest. You are truly wise and make sense of all that concerns me. Help me to trust You with my whole heart. Amen
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not unto your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths." Proverbs 3:5
PS Don't be the person who says, "Ready, Fire, Aim."
PSS Never measure the size of the mountain ... talk to the One who can move it.
If you have ever lived on the waterway, you know the strength of the light on a barge traveling through the darkness. When it shines through your window, it will light up the whole house!
Imagine a barge coming down the waterway on a cold, misty, foggy night. There is no visibility and nowhere to stop, so it must keep going. But the light on that barge is so strong it cuts through the thick fog and darkness showing the way and bringing it once again to a safe harbor.
Our faith can be compared to that light. Even when things are closing in all around us, God's light is still piercing through the thick fog of despair. We may not know where we are going or where we will end up, but we must follow God's light. He will bring us safely to our own safe harbor.
Dear Lord, Please let Your light guide us. Please be the lamp unto our feet and the light unto our path. Amen
"God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble. We will not fear, though the earth gives way and the mountains fall into the sea ..." Psalm 46:1-3
PS We seldom have the time to do for others what we would like to do. But ... There is one gift we always have time for........a smile.
We are all creatures of doubt. It is our human nature that if we cannot see, hear, or feel something, we just cannot believe in it.
Christianity takes us into a completely different realm of believing. God is asking us to believe in Him without being able to see, hear or feel Him. Many walk away because they just can't do that.
I have trouble understanding how anyone can turn away from Him. I look out over the land and see all its beauty: the trees, the rivers, the mountains, the rolling hills, the stars and the heavens, the sunrises and the sunsets.....and I see God. I see winter turn to spring, summer turn to fall, and I see God. When I hear the birds sing, waves along the shore, a newborn cry, happy laughing children, the mighty thunder, I hear God. When I read the Bible, I hear God. When I fell in love and my children were born, I felt God. When I feel the love of family and friends, the compassion to want to help others in need, or the comfort when others help me in times of need ... I feel God.
So when someone tells me they doubt because they really can't see, hear, or feel, I just say look around. Open your eyes, your ears, and your hearts. If people can't find God in the world around us, the people in our lives, and the love in our hearts.... they should move on. But personally, when I put it all together, I just find it impossible not to believe.
"Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." Hebrews 11:1
Love you all, Grits
PS "Success is not for the chosen few ... It is for the few who choose." Could also read:
"Eternal Life is not for the chosen few ... It is for the few who choose."
When I awoke and looked out of my window this morning, the river was gone. Completely gone. There was such a think layer of fog that I could see nothing. But I was certain the river was still there. Still flowing, rising and falling, producing food and nourishment for all that depend on it.
God is like that in our lives. We can't see Him but He is always there taking care of our every need. He is working behind the scenes making everything work out for the best. So don't worry that you cannot see Him. Just trust that He will take care of us and is with us every second of every day.
"Trust in the Lord, all you that worship Him. He helps you and protects you. The Lord remembers us. He will bless everyone who loves Him, the great and the small alike." Psalm 115:11-13
Dear Lord, Please help me never to doubt who You are and what You can do. I thank You for my faith that I may trust You with everything in my life. Amen
PS Accept the fact that regardless of how many times you are right, you will sometimes be wrong.
"Life's struggle can be puzzling now and then. Somehow at the most difficult times we find wings to fly."
"The Lord is my strength and my shield: My heart trusts in Him and I am helped." Psalm 28:7
Lord please be my wings in difficult times and let me rise above all difficult situations. Let me land as a better person and let me always be a witness for You in all that I do. Amen
Through the years, and still today, professors, scholars, and analysts have tried to dissect every little word in the Bible. Some have tried to disprove its teachings and failed. Others have just made it so confusing that we sometimes wonder if we should even try to understand it. But the Bible still remains the number one selling book in the world and still remains our source for every answer we ever need.
I have read the Bible and yes, it can be very confusing. But the message that it brings is very simple. Love one another, give to those in need, feed the poor, comfort the sick and lonely, the orphaned and widowed. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Do not judge, pray for your enemies, ask for forgiveness of sins. In everything you do, pray to Him for help and guidance, and then trust Him to answer your prayers.
It's actually pretty simple.... We should all take the time to learn what it teaches us.
"Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind.... and like unto it love thy neighbor as yourself." Mark 12:30-31
Dear Lord, Please let me be a blessing to someone today. In Jesus name we pray. Amen
PS Always do what is right, even when no one is looking.
PSS When you read, start with the New Testament. It is much easier and gives you life's instructions. Psalms and Proverbs are great too.
My mom's favorite hymn was "In the Garden." It is a pretty song about a walk with God in the garden in the early morning, when the dew is still on the roses. "He walks with me and He talks with me and He tells me I am His own ..." (written by Charles Austin Miles, 1912) This hymn is now a favorite of mine. I love it because I can still hear my mom singing it. She could play it beautifully on the piano with no sheet music. It is the only song I ever heard her play. But she would play and sing it, and it was the most beautiful voice I had ever heard. I so wanted a voice like hers but singing was definitely not my gift.
I often take myself to this garden. I walk with God and I talk with God. I tell Him all my problems and I ask for His guidance. I thank Him for all the blessings He has given me. He holds my hand and talks to me and I feel refreshed. I walk forward with Him confident that the way He is leading is the best.
So find your own garden and take a walk with God. It could be sitting in a garden, watching a beautiful sunset on the way home from fishing, walking on the beach, sitting on a dock watching the sun glisten on the water, or simply enjoying the quiet of your own room. But find your own garden and talk to Him. Feel His presence. If you listen close enough you may hear His voice in the awesome silence.
Dear Lord, Thank you for walking and talking with us and leading us where You want us to go. Help us to know how to listen and to forever follow Your paths.
PS Cherish all moments with loved ones. Store special memories of them in your hearts so when they are gone, you can remember the special times you loved and shared, and they will be with you forever. My mother, Momee's tombstone reads: " To live in the hearts of those you love is never to die."
We may not be in the midst of a real war battlefield, but we are in the middle of the battlefield of everyday life. There are conflicts and struggles to face everyday. There are enemy forces all around us waiting for us to slip up. There are strategic situations and difficult people we must handle with strength, integrity, wisdom, and patience.
Just as our armed forces need a commander to lead them to success on the battlefield, we also need God as our commander to lead us safely through our daily lives.
Start your day with God. Commit all your troubles and battles to Him. He will always lead you safely to victory.
Dear God, Be my Commander and guide me in this storm of life. Thank You for equipping me with everything I need to face whatever situations that come my way. Amen
"Put on the full armor of God so you can stand against the devil's schemes.... stand firm with the belt of truth buckled around your waist and the breastplate of righteousness in place.... take up the shield of faith which can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil ones.... take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the spirit which is the word of God.... and pray in all occasions with all kinds of prayer and requests...." Ephesians 6:10-18
PS The best gifts don't come wrapped in pretty paper.
For years there were no automatic GPS devices or Lorans to bring us safely home from fishing offshore. We used radio signals to set a course. When the signal was strongest, we set the course in that direction. As the sun went down and we approached land, we anxiously watched and waited to see the light from the lighthouse. Some days, especially rough and stormy days, the lighthouse could not get into sight quickly enough! But once we saw the light, it was a huge relief for all because we knew we had taken the right course. The light would then lead us safely into the harbor.
We need to make God our lighthouse. We need to constantly look for His light and guidance and follow His direction. It's so easy to get off course. We need to stay focused on the light. If we stay focused, God will lead us in our everyday lives and set the course He wants us to follow for our lives. And as He guides us, we should also be the little lights that guide others to God.
"Let your light so shine before men that they will see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven." Matthew 5:16
Dear Lord, Thank You for always being our light. When we wander off, please bring us home again. Help us to stay on course doing Your will for our lives. Help us to be a light so others may see Your good works and believe in You. Amen
PS "It's not how much you do but how much love you put into what you do that counts."
PSS Never drive when holding a cup of hot coffee between your knees.
Faith is a way of living our lives. It means living without being in control of everything. It's about making faithful choices even if we may not be sure things will work out the way we would like them to. The very act of praying gives us hope, peace, contentment, and strength to go on.
"Morning by morning oh Lord, You hear my voice, Morning by morning I lay my requests before You and wait in expectation" Psalm 5:3
Life is a wonderful gift from God. We are so blessed to have such a wonderful life. Full of love, happiness, joy and fun. In good times we often forget to thank God and praise Him for these wonderful things. But life can also be difficult. There are many pitfalls. Pain and sadness, unexpected illnesses, friends and family that disappoint us, financial security that becomes uncertain......
It is in these times that we must humble ourselves and ask for His help. As Christians, we experience peace and trust through prayer. God will give us endurance, character, love, and hope if we will only let Him. Open your heart and let Him take over.
"Suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us." Romans 5:2-5
Dear Lord, Thank you for all the wonderful blessings you have given us. Please come into our hearts and help us endure the difficult times while building endurance, strength, and hope. Guide us in everything we do. Amen.
PS Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a stroke of good luck.
Excerpted from GRITS by Pam Morris Hanckel Copyright © 2011 by Pam Morris Hanckel. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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