Category Archives: New Beginning

Moving to New Website–Simply One.

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.” — Ecclesiastes 3:1

A Year of Simply.

Last year on Thanksgiving Day I posted my first entry on this website. Almost one year has passed, and I have been so blessed with the opportunity to share with you my thoughts and the lessons God is teaching me through His Word and my life.

It all started with the nudging of the Lord to write—to testify—about His love and work in my life. Blogging wasn’t even on my radar. I didn’t even know what a blog was, to be honest. But God orchestrated His plan one step at a time, and I followed, knowing nothing and feeling completely unqualified to be a writer.

But thanks be to God! He gives us everything we need to follow His plan for our lives. And He has been so gracious to me. I’ve made lots of mistakes along the way. I’ve shed a few tears of frustration and doubt in my abilities. I’ve stared at the blank page and wondered why the words wouldn’t come. I’ve had a bad attitude some days and wondered how anything I might write could make a difference.

But God has been with me every step of the way. He lifts me up when I’m down and helps me to carry on in spite of my emotions and weaknesses. God’s calling is never about our abilities or qualifications. It’s only and ever about HIM. Sometimes I forget that.

This past year of blogging on Simply. has been a wonderful experience. I’ve learned a lot—about writing and blogging…about myself…about the Lord. And I still have so much to learn and share.

Moving on…to Simply One.

Back in the spring when we learned David wouldn’t be returning to teach in the classroom because of his disability (read post here), we knew God had another plan for us. He doesn’t  keep us on this earth without a purpose. So we prayed. And we waited to see where He would lead us.

And through the course of the last few months, the Lord planted a desire in our hearts to minister to husbands and wives through a new marriage blog. And in September, we launched Simply One. (www.simplyoneinmarriage.com).

After a lot of prayer and seeking the Lord’s direction, I have seen the need to stop writing on Simply. and focus my blogging efforts on Simply One. This will also free up a little time to work on other writing projects that I’ve yet to begin. So (with some sadness) this will be my last post on this website.

I’ll be transferring all the posts from Simply. to the new website, and the dates of the posts will be intact, so they can be accessed through the Search feature or Archives list.

But I’m not through writing. I’ll continue to share what I’m learning about life’s journey with the Lord about once a week—just in a new location. And the joyful part of it is I get to share it with my sweet husband. One in marriage…one in blogging.

Want to take a look at our new blog?  Just click on the image below to go to our homepage. Take a look around. Read our About page. Check out the Free Resources. And read a post or two.


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And if you’ve enjoyed reading Simply., might I ask you to subscribe now to our new website? It’s as simple as clicking the button below and entering your name and email address.

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Thank you for allowing me to share my simple thoughts with you. I pray you’ve been encouraged by the time you’ve spent here. And I hope to connect with you over on Simply One.

Praying the Lord will fill you with peace and joy!

Blessings to you, friends!
Sabra

Scripture from the New International Version of the Bible, 1984.

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Filed under Change, Marriage, Moving, New Beginning

Making the Choice

“You were taught with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” — Ephesians 4:22-24

How many times have you heard the following words come out of your mouth?

“One of these days, I’m going to…”
“I really ought to…”
“Maybe when ____ is over I’ll get around to…”

I’m afraid they’re like a broken record playing over and over in my head and all too often they come right out my mouth. There’s just so much in my life that needs to change and yet is not getting done.

Unfinished Projects and Needed Change

I have so many projects in my home waiting to be completed. Some have been waiting a long time. Do you have any of those?

Needing to get organized a while back, I bought a beautiful new household binder and started filling it up with notes and planning forms and sheet protectors (because, of course, I wanted it to stay nice). That was…I can’t remember how long ago. I’m not even sure what happened or why I didn’t finish putting it together. And, frankly, I don’t know where that binder is right now. (Sigh.) Needless to say, I still need to get organized.

Then there’s those things that need changing. You know what I’m talking about. Those nagging little monsters like a few extra pounds and pudges around the middle. A closet that’s so chock full of stuff you’re afraid to open the door. The same old drab dinner menus. That crazy schedule!

And changes are not just needed in our physical lives, but our souls also need some transformation work. Maybe we need to spend more time alone with God, praying and studying His Word. Maybe He has revealed something we need to do differently and we’ve yet to take those steps. Maybe we just need to take time to be still and rest in Him.

Ready for Change

God’s Calling Us

Life in Christ is a journey of change. We are called to become more like Him by the power of the Holy Spirit working in us. But we have to be willing to make the effort and work with Him. Ephesians 4:22-24 says: “You were taught with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”

God’s will is to transform us to be like Him—righteous and holy. Are we working with Him on this or pushing Him away?

Now, not every change has eternal consequences. Household binders and organized closets won’t be found in God’s Word. But they can be used as tools to help us live a life that reflects the character of God and become more like Him. So while they may seem inconsequential, they can be very beneficial.

Make the Choice to Change

I’m guessing, just like me, you have a list rolling around in your head of things you need to change. So, my friends, what’s stopping us?

There are as many reasons as there are projects, I suppose. But the bottom line is: When it’s not thrust upon us, change is a choice.

We don’t change because we choose to leave things as they are.

Life is busy and things get in the way. We’re distracted by…well, everything. But if you’re like me, there’s at least one needed change nagging at you constantly, hanging like a weight around your neck. You’ve not forgotten about it. It’s always right in front of you. But making it happen will take effort. It may make you uncomfortable. It might even be painful. And so, you try to put it out of your mind and do something else.

The result? Life stays the same. Same problem. Same consequences. Same awful nagging.

You know what? I’m tired of the same.

I’m choosing TODAY to make ONE CHANGE.

There are plenty I could make, to be sure. But I can’t take them all on at once. And as I’ve often heard: The way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time.

So, I’m taking one little bite today. I’m going on a hunt for that household binder and finally finish it. And tomorrow I can start living a little more organized.

Found it! Now to put it all together...

Found it! Now to put it all together…

One nagging monster down. A little less weight hanging around my neck.

Will you join me?

What ONE CHANGE will you choose to make TODAY?

Let’s change our words to say…

 “Today is not going to be the same. Today I am going to…”

Grace and peace,
Sabra

Holy Father, we know there are so many things in our lives that need changing. Give us wisdom, Lord, to know what to change today and to take the steps to make that happen. Thank You for promising us strength and grace to succeed and for your transforming work in our lives. May we become ever more like You in righteousness and holiness. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
 
This post is linked up with these wonderful blogs…
Coffee for Your Heart at www.HolleyGerth.com.
Woman2Woman at www.MeredithBernard.com
Click on the link to read more encouragement from other bloggers.
 
Scripture is from New International Version of the Bible, 1984.
Images by Sabra Penley.

18 Comments

Filed under Change, Deny Self, God's Works, New Beginning, Transforming, Work

Ready for Spring?

See! The winter is past, the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth, the season of singing has come…

Has springtime blossomed in your neck of the woods yet?

I’m happy to report that deep in the heart of Texas spring is in full swing. The daffodils put on their showy display a few weeks back, always the first to burst into bloom and give us hope that warmer days are just around the corner.

Well, warmer weather is here. We’ve already broken out the shorts and flip-flops, and spring cleaning is on the schedule. The buzzing sounds of lawnmowers and weed-wackers greet the early weekend morning and the smell of fresh-cut grass permeates the air. The earth is a sea of green everywhere we look, in every hue imaginable.

And then there’s the wildflowers. God’s great celebration of the new beginning, like crowning jewels on the landscape. And Texas has a beautiful array.

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I love the verse above from Song of Songs 2:11-12: “The winter is past…flowers appear…the season of singing has come….”

Indeed, it is time to celebrate. And all of God’s creation seems to be singing His praise!

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Back in January, in the dead of winter, my sweet husband and I wrote out a bucket list of sorts–things we wanted to do for fun this year. Money is tight, so we chose things that cost little or nothing. And one of the first things my husband mentioned was driving around to see the wildflowers when spring rolled around.

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Yesterday we had the pleasure of hopping in the car, driving out west of town, and hunting for these little beauties. And what a colorful bounty of blooms we found!

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Many flowers come and go so fast we can miss their beauty. Like a celebration of God’s goodness, we must plan and schedule and make time to enjoy them.

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These glorious treasures remind me that the same is true of the people in our lives. Often opportunities to spend time and celebrate life with them come and go so quickly we can miss them. How often are we so busy and distracted and our schedules so loaded that we miss the precious moments God is providing? Moments that may never come our way again. Moments like spending a Saturday afternoon with my wonderful husband rejoicing in God’s blessings.

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I look at my grown children and wonder how their childhood was over so quickly. I feel my dad’s absence and miss the days of his smiles and silly jokes. I visit my mom, who is having more difficulty these days, and realize the days are growing shorter that I will get to share laughs and hugs with her. And my own sweet husband–my miracle man. I remember just how close to death he came and how each day is a precious gift with him. I don’t want to miss any of it.

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Like flowers that burst into bloom and quickly fade, so are opportunities to celebrate life with those we love.

We don’t know if the opportunity before us will ever come again. But the Lord has given it to us now. Let us take hold of it and not let go!

The season for singing has come! Let’s celebrate!

Dearest Father, thank You for the beauty of spring! Thank You that new life springs forth from the earth and Your glory is seen across the landscape. Let us not miss any of it, Lord. Help us to celebrate this life You have given us with those you have placed in our lives. Let us lift up songs of praise to You and rejoice in Your glory!…In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

All Scripture from New International Version of the Bible, 1984.
Photos by Sabra Penley.

This post has been added to a link-up with Inspire Me Monday at http://www.angieryg.com. To read other inspirational messages, just click on the link below…

Angie Ryg

 

 

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Filed under Celebrate, Glory, Joy, Love, New Beginning, Thankfulness

When God Says “No”

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

What do you do when God says “no”?

What do you do when those prayers you’ve been lifting up finally receive an answer, and it isn’t what you had hoped? When the “no” comes at the end of heart-felt prayer about the very thing that makes your heart sing? Your work? Your health? Your relationships? Your passion? Your dream? What do you do when you hear “no”?

 

Three days ago, we received a “no” from God. In that moment, a prayer that has been ongoing for fourteen months came to an end. And I can’t help feeling a dream has died.

You see, my husband is a minister. For ten years he served as a pastor and has been a seminary professor for the last sixteen. Last year, a severe illness left him with a disability of several things needed for this calling. We long ago realized preaching was probably not going to be in David’s future. But the dream of teaching once again in a seminary classroom stayed strong in our hearts. We thought, “Just maybe….” While we knew it was possible that might never happen, we held out hope and lifted up prayers.

Receiving this sad news has, for a moment, taken the wind out of our sails. But just for a moment. For in the quiet stillness of a life slowed, we cry out to God all the more. Through our tears…through our fears.

What does a preacher/professor do with impaired speech, troublesome motor skills, and weakened memory? We don’t know. But of one thing we are sure–God knows. He knows it all. And as the quote above from Jeremiah 29:11 states, this is all a part of His plan. He isn’t surprised by any of it. And it is all in His control. What great peace this knowledge brings!

no wind, no sails

 

My husband’s new weaknesses have halted this part of our journey–that of actively teaching at the seminary, but these same weaknesses are preparing him for another part–one not yet known to us. God is transforming my husband–indeed, both of us–for our next assignment. And in His time, God will breathe new wind into our sails to move us in a new direction. He will place in our hearts a new dream. The dream that is necessary to compel us onward toward God’s new work…a work in keeping with this season in our life.

We may seem to be drifting at this point, but we are in fact still serving, still moving forward with God’s ultimate purpose–for us to bring Him glory in all we do.

sailing forth

 

Our inability to see where this is leading is okay, because God is always with us as our constant companion and guide. As long as we keep our focus on Him and follow where He leads us each day, we will be moving in the right direction.

And one morning, when the time Is right, God will open our eyes to see where He is leading us. We’ll see a new dream on the horizon.

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For now, our mission is the same as that of every believer–to love the Lord our God with all our hearts, all our souls, and all our minds…and to love our neighbors with the love the Lord has shown to us. That is true no matter the calling, no matter the gifting, no matter the location or health or life situation. This is the Lord’s will for us–to bring Him glory in everything.

So when God says “no” in answer to a specific prayer request, I will give Him praise. For He has heard my prayer and answered. And He is leading us on to something else–another part of this great adventure.

When God says “no,” it can feel like the death of a dream. But in reality, it is simply the birth of something new.

I love these words from Isaiah 43:18-19: 

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.

And so we work in the waiting. Waiting in expectation for this something new.

Trusting God…rejoicing always…praying continually…and being ever thankful.

For when God says “no,” He isn’t leaving you without. He is simply saying “I’ve got something else for you.”

In Christ’s love,
Sabra
 
 
All Scripture from NI84.

Images:
"Ships that pass by..." by Gopal Vijayaraghavan via flickr (CC BY 2.0)
"Tucker Thompson sailing ship" by Jakob Steinschaden via flickr
     (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
"View from the bowsprit" by savagecat via flickr (CC BY 2.0)
Morning Horizon by Sabra Penley

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Filed under Change, Expectation, Faith, God's Purpose, God's Timing, God's Works, Hope, Joy, New Beginning, Peace, Prayer, Thankfulness, Transforming, Trust, Waiting

A New Beginning

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland” (Isaiah 43:18-19, NIV84). 

On January 24, 2013, my husband’s heart stopped beating…and shortly thereafter, God brought my heart back to life.

Before that day, I thought my life was just fine. In fact, I couldn’t have felt more blessed. I had a wonderful family and so much more than I could ever need. I was fulfilled by the comfort of my circumstances and quite happy with my own little world.

But then…in one quick moment my sweet David stopped responding to me. His eyes were distant and still. Someone said, “He’s going to crash.” And with that, I was ushered out of his hospital room.

Walking in a daze so very slowly to the cold, deserted waiting room I suddenly felt that everything was going to crash. Did I just see my precious love for the last time? Was this wonderful life I held so dear falling apart? My head was spinning, and I felt all alone.

Then, in the midst of my shock and disbelief and fear, I sensed Him. There in the quiet, still waiting room with its empty chairs, I felt HIS warm, embracing presence. I was not alone. The Lord was there with me…holding me…comforting me. Speaking to me in the stillness: Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10, NIV84).

Oh, how I desperately needed Him. And He was there!

In those long, agonizing minutes that seemed hours, God was speaking to me lovingly, filling me with His precious peace and amazing grace. And in the way that only He can, He gently revealed my wayward heart. Through the years, without even noticing it, I had lost my first love. My devotion for the Lord Jesus had taken a back seat to my devotion for a comfortable life.

In light of the possibility of losing it all, I saw how my life and, indeed, my husband, had become more important to me than my precious God. And it broke me.

In that moment, I knew my life would never be the same, no matter what words I heard when the nurse returned. My precious heavenly Father had used those paddles of life to jump start my crashing soul and my heart was revived.

Now, ten months later, I look upon my sweet husband, sitting across from me at the dinner table, with awe—not of him, but of our magnificent God. He not only brought David back from the edge of lifelessness, He brought my heart back from the edge of spiritual lifelessness. And I am so very grateful!

I read with great joy the words of our Lord in Isaiah 43:18-19: “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.”

No matter what we’ve done in the past…no matter how many times and how many ways we have failed the Lord our God, He forgives us through the blood of Jesus Christ. Isaiah 43:25 says “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions, for My own sake, and remembers your sins no more.”

We must move forward from regret of past failures toward this new beginning. The Lord is doing a new thing! Do you not perceive it?

In the desert and wasteland of my heart, God is making this new thing! A new way! And I am excited to see where He will lead!

Psalm 9,1

This Thanksgiving Day is a day of new beginnings…

 …new devotion to the Lord.

 …new focus.

 …new excitement.

 …new hope.

How does one sufficiently give thanks for new life? Simply by living that life to the fullest for the purpose it was intended, with pure devotion to the One who has given it.

Dearest Lord, help me not to waste any more of my life on myself. Let me not dwell on my past failures. But with my eyes focused on You, let me embrace this new thing that You are doing and live my life in undivided devotion to You. May I glorify You in everything. Thank You for this new life…for new beginnings. Thank You, Lord. THANK YOU!  In Jesus’ name, Amen!

Photo by Sabra Penley, 2012

 

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Filed under New Beginning, Thankfulness