Monday, August 29, 2011


This afternoon in my backyard a common shoot of blooms suddenly caught fire with the blazing of the sun radiating through it, I couldn't help but think of the parallel between it and us when we let the light of the Son, Jesus, shine through us and common things suddenly radiate a very uncommon light.


Have you ever done something “common” in an uncommon way? 

Think about Sister Teresa. Everyday of her life she was doing the common things of life in a way that made her go down in history as one of the most compassionate and loving souls ever to have walked this planet. 

Have I let myself become discouraged that I have not accomplished notable deeds such as she? Have I become bogged down in the rut of disillusionment because of life-long dreams unrealized? Am I tired of the hum-drum of my hum-drum life? 

If you identify with these thoughts, I assure you that you are not alone. 

Oswald Chambers states, “If we do the duty that lies nearest, we shall see Him.  One of the most amazing revelations of God comes when we learn that is in the commonplace things that the deity of Jesus Christ is revealed.” 

Isn’t that what we want and yearn for? To see God revealed supernaturally in our very natural every day lives? 

We only need turn to the right or to the left with this thought in mind, to see many commonplace, everyday things that need to be done and done with great love. As Mother Teresa said, "In this world we cannot do great things, only small things with great love."

And suddenly in the doing of them, we will see Christ in the most brilliant of lights. The supernatural will appear in the soft glow of the early dawn when we arise to a new day to share God’s love with others. 

The radiance of the noonday sun will suddenly be dimmed in comparison to the smile of someone we have truly served for a moment, even if is just a cup of cold water given in His Name. 

An evening sunset will colorwash our memory with the divinity of One who is the Light of All Lights. And then, as the twinkling light of dusk arises from the horizon, we can look out over our day and know that with God we were a success. With God, today we accomplished common things in a very uncommon way and the natural became the supernatural. 

"We can do no great things, only small things with great love. "--Mother Teresa

I don't want to be fireproof, do you?  I want to be labeled "combustible," "flammable," "inflammable," ready to catch fire at the slightest spark!

edited post from past pages

Friday, August 26, 2011

Weekend Worship at First United Methodist, Hamburg, Arkansas

Last weekend my husband and I went to Hamburg, Arkansas, a little town of about 3000 people. I was thrilled to find the beautiful First Methodist Church.

Hear, O LORD, and answer me, for I am poor and needy. Guard my life, for I am devoted to you. 

You are my God; save your servant who trusts in you. 

Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I call to you all day long. 

Bring joy to your servant, for to you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.

You are forgiving and good, O Lord, abounding in love to all who call to you.
 Hear my prayer, O LORD; listen to my cry for mercy.

In the day of my trouble I will call to you, for you will answer me.

Among the gods there is none like you, O Lord; no deeds can compare with yours.

All the nations you have made will come and worship before you, 

O Lord; they will bring glory to your name.

For you are great and do marvelous deeds; you alone are God.

Teach me your way, O LORD, and I will walk in your truth; 

give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.

I will praise you, O Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever.

For great is your love toward me; you have delivered me from the depths of the grave.
From Psalm 86

For your great love and abounding mercy and grace, we give you praise O Lord.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Rare and Beautiful Treasures

What action will I take today that ensures my home is filled with rare and beautiful treasures?

By wisdom a house is built, 
 and through understanding it is established; 
through knowledge its rooms 
are filled with rare and beautiful treasures.  Psalm 24:3,4

A photo my granddaughter took this summer after we had been out taking pictures of sunflowers reminded me of a beautiful painting.

She did take action to position the elements in the photograph in the right way making sure her composition and lighting were good.

Lord, teach me about Your wisdom, teach me Your understanding and Your knowledge so that our home may be filled with treasures that no one can take away, no thief can remove, no rust can destroy.

    “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, 
where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.
But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, 
where moth and rust do not destroy,
 and where thieves do not break in and steal.
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." 
Matthew 6:19-21

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Master Gardener

Remember on Monday when we were discussing the invasive vines? I thought of an old post I had written a couple of years ago that dealt with pruning. Maybe this would be a good day to revisit it.
"I am the true vine and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, (For whom the Lord loves he chastens or corrects) While every branch that does bear fruit, he prunes so that it will be more fruitful. (Just as a Father the son in whom he delights) You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.
(For whom the Lord loves He chastens)
One way He speaks today is through HIS WORD THE BIBLE--It helps to keep us clean so that we don't have to be pruned so drastically. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. Remain in me, and I will remain in you." (Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.)
My husband just signed up for a Master Gardener course. I can't wait to see the fruit of his labor. It is quite an intensive program and includes lots of volunteer hours
to spruce up the community. The true Master Gardener sure has his work cut out for Himself on this little branch. Every time I turn around I find little shoots of growth taking off here and there that gobble up the nutrition meant for the important stuff--the fruit. Recently, as I watched my husband pruning a little branchlet on our dogwood tree, I couldn't help but notice that he had to pull it closer to him to get to the ancillary twigs he wanted to lop off. I had really never thought of it like that--God pulls us closer to Himself to prune us. Isn't that just like God?

 My son, do not reject the discipline of the LORD Or loathe His reproof, For whom the LORD loves He reproves, Even as a father corrects the son in whom He delights. Proverbs 3:11-12
"My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son." Hebrews 12:5-6"
I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me." John `5:1-4

Monday, August 22, 2011

Invasive Vines

any years ago I walked out my front door on my way to run some of the many errands that my life demanded at the time while raising three sons.

On my way down the porch steps I noticed an invasive weedy vine that had wrapped itself around one of my good plants. I told myself to rip that weed out before it did any more damage.

But somehow life got in the way and I did not take care of it. Almost overnight it seemed that the vine had gotten a strangle hold of my plant and was about to choke all life from it.

 At the time I tried to apply a spiritual truth and keep that in the back of my mind as a reminder to take care of all the "little foxes" that eat up the vineyard--

Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom.  Song of Solomon 2:15

Yesterday my husband and I made a 3 hour trip to Hamburg, Arkansas. We had business down there for Renewal Ranch. My husband's father is from that area of Arkansas so we decided to stop by a couple of cemeteries and visit his grandparents' grave sites. He had only been there one other time in his life.

 While there I noticed this vine that had gotten totally out of hand and was reminded of the long ago lesson.

The vine was snake like and spoke volumes to me about what started out as small festers of bitterness, unforgiveness, or what some might refer to as "little white lies," but when they aren't dealt with and removed from our lives how they can take over.

And as my mind took the analogy further, I noticed the tombstones in the background and was reminded of the death that follows--death of relationships, reputations, loyalties.

If we let things go unattended too long, our thinking can become twisted and we will not operate in the true love of the Spirit as Jesus did.

My prayer today is that I and any of you who need to will attend to any weed that has invaded our spiritual gardens, that we will let the master gardener perform His special surgery on us--heal our broken places and get us back on the path of full growth and service for His kingdom.

Not far from this twisted vine I spotted this gorgeous example of beautiful growth under pressure--our Arkansas summer has been unbearable but this Crape Myrtle has not let it hinder its glory.

Oh that we might bring Him great glory!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Weekend Worship at St. Peter's Episcopal, Conway, AR

I found this video shortly after posting and I MUST share it with you. This little girl is not associated with St. Peter's.  I think she goes to a church called Corinth Baptist.  I just couldn't save it.  Just had to post it tonight.  You just have to see it to really believe it--and the end is so worth watching ever moment of it. I hope you enjoy.
Photobucket For the beauty of the earth, for the glory of the skies, for the love which from our birth over and around us lies;  Lord of all, to thee we raise this our hymn of grateful praise.
For the beauty of each hour of the day and of the night,  hill and vale, and tree and flower, sun and moon, and stars of light;  Lord of all, to thee we raise this our hymn of grateful praise.
  For the joy of ear and eye, 
for the heart and mind's delight, 
for the mystic harmony, linking sense to sound and sight; 
Lord of all, to thee we raise this our hymn of grateful praise.
For the joy of human love, brother, sister, parent, child, 
friends on earth and friends above, 
for all gentle thoughts and mild; 
Lord of all, to thee we raise this our hymn of grateful praise.
For thy church, that evermore lifteth holy hands above, 
offering up on every shore her pure sacrifice of love; 
Lord of all, to thee we raise this our hymn of grateful praise.
For thyself, best Gift Divine, to the world so freely given, 
for that great, great love of thine, peace on earth, and joy in heaven:
 Lord of all, to thee we raise this our hymn of grateful praise
Hymn lyrics from "For the Beauty of the Earth"
Folliot S. Pierpoint
Music: Conrad Kocher
I am linking to Spiritual Sundays, an inspirational place to visit.

Have a wonderful weekend filled with God's love, Dianne
2011-The Year of Beyond

What Language Do I Speak?

The heavens declare the glory of God, 

 The skies proclaim the work of His hands, 

 Day after day they pour forth speech, 

 Night after night they display knowledge. 

 There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard, 

 Their voice goes out into all the earth, 

 Their words to the ends of the world. from Psalm 19

photo:  taken in Santa Fe, N.M., 2010

Thursday, August 18, 2011

what do we really believe about worry and God's provision?

Do we really believe God when He states "My burden is easy and my yoke is light? (Matt. 11:30)  What about "Cast all your cares upon him for he cares for you?" (1 Peter 5:7) Are these tenents for others to believe but not for us? Are others able to incorporate them in to their daily Christian living but we have no hope that we will ever be able to successfully do this?

If my grandfather were living, he would be about 130 years old.  He did a little bit of everything for a living from itinerant preaching to sawmilling to cotton and peanut farming.  He hand-made almost every tool that he had even hand-carving the yoke that his team of oxen wore around their necks binding them together so that their strength could be harnessed and used to accomplish great things.

Does it make any sense that he would carve the yoke out of a dense, heavy wood?  No, he chose the lightest but strongest wood that he had access to.  I honestly don't know what kind of wood he used but found out from doing a little research that basswood is a good choice in the northeastern United States and some forms of poplar or elm elsewhere.

At any rate, the master of the oxen has a purpose for them and in helping them achieve that purpose wants the safest, strongest and lightest yoke he can provide.  And that is what God wants for us.

What is our part?  What steps do we take to insure that we have the ability to walk in this freedom?  Jesus emphasized a daily reliance upon the Father who cares for His children on a daily basis.

A perfect picture of this is given to us in the Old Testament when the children of Israel were given manna from heaven daily.  If they gathered more than what God allotted to them for the day, it would rot--except on the day before the sabbath when they could gather enough for that day and the sabbath day.

Our communion with Him today, our study of His Word and dependence upon Him is our assurance that we will be able to totally rely on Him tomorrow and cast our cares upon Him knowing that He knows what all of our tomorrows hold.

"It was impossible to stockpile God's provision, because God wanted them to trust in Him, not in their pantry.  God's grace was sufficient for each day.  Our faith in Him today cannot substitute for our trust in Him tomorrow.  If we walk with Him closely today, we will be in the center of His will tomorrow."--from Experiencing God Day-By-Day (in the margin beside this Matt wrote, "Exactly what I needed to hear this morning-August 18, 2007"

Three weeks ago, if someone would have told us the sorrow that would have engulfed our family since then, we would not have been able to bare it--but God in his wisdom, love and mercy gives us the grace to bear the burdens of the day one at a time.  He is so faithful.

Your faithful prayers are lifting our family.  I wish you could have heard the prayer my sister prayed while I was on the phone with her last night.  Your heart would have soared to heaven--a prayer of thankfulness, love and gratitude--prayers for our families who remain and prayers of thanksgiving for the wonderful 32 years she had with Matt here on this earth.  It was truly a miracle.

My prayer is that your communion with Him today will be sweet, life-giving and refreshing.  May we be yoked together with God's precious Holy Spirit to accomplish all that He wishes for us today.

If we ask Him for His daily bread, He is sure to give it to us.

"Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone?  Matt. 7:9

Photo:  While walking in my back yard one day I noticed this rock that resembled a loaf of bread.  It reminded me of the scripture above.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Everything I Need

Matt's journal
How do I start? I don't want to be a broken record or bring you down first thing on Monday morning and yet I have a blog entitled "Everything Else Thrown In." And that is because I knew when I started keeping this journal that I would want to write about most everything that is happening in our lives. Then when I read the last sentence of Mere Christianity I knew that would tie together all of my random thoughts and my dependence upon God and belief that He does supply everything that we need.

 Those of you who know me or have read my blog for a while know that I have done numerous posts and series of posts on praying for my descendants, the men of Renewal Ranch, my extended family and their children and grandchildren and my friends' seed. I haven't been as faithful as I wanted to be in posting my prayers for them but you can read some of my heart and prayers for them on the page to the right entitled "Pray With Me."

 I say all that to tell you a marvelous miracle that God brought to our family during the time of Matt's death and funeral services. Our long time pastor friend from Tulsa, OK, Gary "Doc" Blevins, officiated. Ever since I have known him (I first met him when he was our oldest son's 8th grade Sunday School teacher), Doc has been passionate, fervent and faithful in leading young people to Christ.

 During those years he was my son's Sunday School teacher, he would come over to our home to visit. We would sit around and dream about having a church where he was the pastor and I sang--smile--well, that did eventually come true.

 Because my sister and her family made many trips to Tulsa and spent all of their vacations there, Doc naturally came to know Matthew Daniel Duke --as he always referred to him, when years later, every time I would see him, he would always ask me how Matthew Daniel Duke was doing.  It just seemed appropriate that he conduct Matt's services.

 One of the things Doc has a gift for is leading people to Christ--helping them to understand God's plan for salvation and why we need a Savior--he explained this at Matt's services and then............. He asked everyone who wanted to and felt led to to repeat after him the prayer of asking Jesus Christ in to their heart and life, accepting His forgiveness for their sins and becoming a new creation in Christ.

 He also asked those of us who were sure we had done this already to join in the prayer in recommitment and support for those who were doing it for the first time. So there we were --a full chapel and all of my family praying together to receive Christ. It was a beautiful moment. The best I can count about 50 members of my own family and probably 200 more were praying together.

 Of course, I don't know how many received Christ and his free gift of salvation that day but if it was one, I thank and praise God from the bottom of my heart.

 My oldest son did call me to tell me that a teacher from his school told him about this the next day after a faculty meeting: The teacher's sister-in-law called to tell her that a co-worker had been to a funeral the day before where they talked a lot of God (she was not a believer)--she had made arrangements to go out with the teacher's sister-in-law to find out more about "this God" that she had heard about--yes, at Matt's funeral.

 God is faithful--I humbly, once again, ask for your prayers for my family and would you either email me or tell me in the comments section how I can pray for you and your family? I know we are not the only ones going through hard times. And I would consider it an honor to pray for you and yours.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

My Fair Lady

Today's theme over at Kim Klassen's website is movies.  In the first picture above I am featuring a picture of my granddaughter, Noelle. She is a big ham and loves to have her photo taken.  She reminded me of Eliza Doolittle in this hat so I chose My Fair Lady as my first movie.

I only used one texture of Kim's on this and I am so sorry I lost my post and had to replace it and now I can't remember what texture I used.  It was one of her more simple textures and I am pretty sure it was "Not Too Shabby."  Sorry for my memory but I tried a lot of different ones to see which one worked the best.

The sun right over this steeple when we had just walked out of worship service at noon reminded me of the title High Noon.

On this one I used "golden" on vivid light at 80% and paper stained music on multiply at 100%.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Weekend Worship at Anthony Chapel


 Lord, you have been our dwelling place
       throughout all generations.


 Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world,from everlasting to everlasting you are God.


Guard my life, for I am devoted to you. 
You are my God; save your servant who trusts in you.


 The heavens are yours, and yours also the earth;
       you founded the world and all that is in it.


I will sing of the LORD's great love forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations.


 I will declare that your love stands firm forever, 
       that you established your faithfulness in heaven itself--



 May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us;
       establish the work of our hands for us—
yes, establish the work of our hands.

repost from past pages

Doing Much Better!

Yesterday afternoon the crushing blow of losing Matt lifted and I am walking lighter. I had never carried that kind of grief before and those of you familiar to loss know the suffocating and relentless pain. We will miss him beyond what words can describe, but we must go on now, pick up the pieces of our lives, let God's Holy Spirit put them back together again and do the work left here to do. I love you all and thank you so much for all your words of love and encouragement. Thank you for hanging in there with me. I am so proud of my baby sis--I went to her school and took her out to lunch yesterday. That she is working getting a classroom ready for students on Monday is an incredible miracle. Thank you for the part you have played in helping get her up on her feet and working two days after burying her son. To me that is an incredible testimony to the POWER of God. I love you all.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Would You Consider This?

Would you consider starting to keep a daily journal in honor of Matt? There are no words to describe the comfort that Matt's journal has given the family. His particular journal is the "Experiencing God" one by the Blackaby's. I have read several of the devotionals and they look very good. I have almost always used Oswald Chambers but I am going to purchase this one and start keeping it in Matt's memory.

Would you please say a special prayer for my sister today?  She is a school teacher and is going to work today two days after burying her baby boy.  That is a miracle.  I am so proud of her but she desperately needs your prayers.

My sister is assigned to a new school this year.  My husband, sister-in-law, and I took her there yesterday afternoon and I think God hand-picked the school where she needed to be this year.  I think they are going to be towers of strength for her.

My precious friend, if you are needing a tower of strength today, I pray that you will turn to our precious Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

I love you.  Be blessed today.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Bidding Farewell

Because Matt was a bachelor, L.D. was his life. I thought my heart would break when I saw him for the first time last Friday, the day after Matt passed. But when he walked in the funeral home today all dressed up in his Razorback gear ready to bid his master farewell, what was left of my shattered heart broke in to a million more pieces.

 I will smile again, dear friends. I will write something that will hopefully lift all of us up in the near future. But this has been the hardest loss of my life, harder than losing my parents. I guess because his mom is my baby sister and I always cared for her like she was my child, watching her suffer has almost been unbearable. And I was very close to Matt and he was just a downright lovable guy.

 We still do not know the cause of death which is very hard. We suspect it was heat related. He was in good health and had been out weed-eating for several hours (doing a friend a favor--no charge--please pray for this friend--his name is Josh and I assured him that the family in no way held him responsible). And Josh knows that but it is still hard knowing that Matt had been working in his yard just shortly before he died. Please pray for my sister, Mary Jane. She has some big decisions ahead of her and needs Godly wisdom.

I understand more than ever the scripture that refers to "rejoicing with those who rejoice and mourning with those who mourn."

Sandy, even though my heart has been so heavy for our family, I have been rejoicing with your family over Seth and Stacy's wedding.  I have not forgotten you dear friend.

I love all of you so much.  Love long and hard this week.

Monday, August 8, 2011

we still need your prayers

I would be so honored if you would give a moment of your time to read Matt's obituary and say another prayer for us.

We are still trying to bring the last minute details together for the service.  Would you please join me in prayer that God's perfect will is done?  There will be many young people there who need Christ.  It is our desire that no one leaves without knowing how to make Him the Lord and Savior of their lives.  We want to do this in a way that would honor Matt's life and love for Christ and ONLY bring glory to the Son.  This is our humble prayer.

 I love you all.

Friday, August 5, 2011

We Feel Your Prayers

Oh precious friends who left comments and who are praying for my family, how I thank you!

I spent the day with my sister making funeral arrangements for her son--we know no details as of yet as to cause of death or whenever we will be able to have his services.

Matt's brother, Phillip was just home on furlough from Afghanistan for two weeks and had just gone back. He is hung up in Kandahar and we don't know when he will be able to get home. He has begged us to wait. He missed the last family funeral while serving his country some years back and wants to be here so badly.

Cherish those you love today--make phone calls, go to visit, hug them long and hard, tell them you love them over and over and over again.

Oh how I love each of you. You will never know this side of heaven what your friendship means to me. Some don't understand this crazy blogging world and I don't know how God establishes so strong a bond between those of us who have never laid eyes on each other and probably never will, but I am grateful--grateful for the tie that binds--His precious Spirit who reaches across city lines, county lines, states lines, nation lines, continent lines to embrace us in one big holy hug.

We here in Arkansas are crazy about our Razorbacks. Thought you might want to know that we are burying our Mattie in a Razorback shirt and everyone is encouraged to wear "hog" shirts to the services. Matt would have loved that. I thought that might bring you a smile.

I thought my sister did great today considering our circumstances. Thank you once again, sweet and dear friends.


Thursday, August 4, 2011

Please pray!

Dear dear friends,
I desperately need your love and prayers. I lost my precious 32 year old nephew, Matthew Daniel Duke, today. Please pray for all of us, especially my sister and her family. Thank you for your prayers.
I love you,

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Ablaze! Literally, well almost literally!

tIt is after 10:00 p.m. and the temperature is 94--here in Little Rock--102 in Texarkana--

My husband and I went out to dinner tonight about 5--it was 93 then--a cloud cover with a slight chance of rain that didn't materialize was the reason for the "cool down"--it was 21 degrees cooler than it had been 2 hours earlier. Yep, when I got out earlier in the afternoon to go to the doctor, it was 114 degrees--it has NEVER been that hot in Little Rock before. We set an all time record.

I say all that to say this--a substation caught on fire in Benton, AR (5000 without power) and I know there are many suffering throughout the nation and our world but would you voice a prayer for the elderly and the sickly who cannot care for themselves--also their animals--I know at least one of my readers has a sister in Benton so I am thinking about her and her family tonight. Hope they have power.

There are several churches that have opened their doors as "cooling shelters." I pray that God will bless the people manning these shelters and those preparing food, etc.

Aren't we so blessed in America? We take air conditioning and being comfortable so for granted, at least I do. When we were without hot water for two weeks several months back, I thought I would NEVER again forget to praise God when I stood under a steaming, hot shower.

Wherever you are dear friend, reader, sister or brother in Christ, I pray that you are comfortable, loved, and walking free in the liberty of our Lord.

I love you all. Those of you in countries where you are not free to worship the living God, please know that I love you and am praying for you. I check my stats regularly to see if I have visits from those countries and am so thrilled when I see your country's name pop up. You are not forgotten! Hold on. Heaven will be worth it all.

photo-courtesy of my good friend, Marianne--and I am going to make this print really, really tiny where hopefully no one will read it but the picture was NOT taken in Arkansas. It was taken in Louisiana.  I know.  I know.  Sorry.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A Closer Glimpse

I wanted to share this video with you. It will give you an idea of what life at the Ranch is like, especially our worship service every Saturday morning coupled with a potluck afterwards and visiting without television, radio, headsets, cell phones etc. until three or so in the afternoon. It reminds me so much of life in the 1950's. Hope you enjoy.  Consider pausing the regular blog music at the bottom of the page.

Blue Lady

Day before yesterday was my anniversary. My husband gave me a dozen red roses with one white orchid. So the picture above is one of the roses I received from him over the weekend. There is a cute little story that goes with this picture. You might want to read it here--very embarrassing!!

Here is the original photo:

I placed 1 layer of Granny's cupboard, soft light at 100%

1 layer of the dream sample layer at multiply, 75%

added the text layers

Made a levels adjustment layer
brightness adjusted to +32
contrast to +13

I also made a levels adjustment enhancing the whites in the picture--

flattened layers

I am joining Kim Klassen over at her blogsite today.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Celebration Time!

Saturday morning, July 30, 2011, was a a wonderful time in the life of Renewal Ranch. We celebrated our first graduating class. From our first nine residents, four of them completed the intensive six-month long journey. The graduates are Atlas Stavely, Charles Washington, Michael Taylor and Shepherd Palmer.

As so often in the past, the Dooley's led us in praise and worship to Jesus, our King, for this incredible display of His love, faithfulness, healing and redemptive power. All praise and glory go to Him.

Hearts were touched as we watched residents lift their hands in adoration and thanksgiving. This is Atlas displaying his open surrender and praise to our God.

Our hearts were overwhelmed as we watched our Michael displaying a heart full of joy and celebration.

Dr. Larry Pillow reads words of affirmation written about and to Atlas, Charles, Shepherd and Michael. After these words, each graduate spoke and then had the opportunity to have one family member or friend speak.

Atlas' friend, Kenneth Priest spoke about Atlas, Charles' fiance, Shannon Young offered words of love and encouragement to him, Shepherd's father, Dale Palmer, gave us glimpses of the love and concern he has experienced for Shepherd through the years and Bill Taylor, Michael's father, spoke words of affirmation over him. Many tears were shed by all present during this emotional and uplifting time.

You have learned that through trusting Christ, you may have ultimate peace.
You are a man of quiet strength that exudes the peace of God everywhere you go.
I appreciate how you’ve surrendered your present and focused your future on the Lord.  
God has a place for you as a leader.
You have discovered how to peacefully rest in the sovereignty of God.
I’m excited to see the transforming power of God in your life.  
I’m even more excited to see His plan to use you from this point forward.
A quiet leader who leads by example, a truly godly man.
My beloved brother Atlas, may you continue to do right, to love mercy and to walk humbly with our God. (Micah 6:8)
Atlas is a man shown supporting the world upon his shoulders.  Atlas, you have demonstrated the capacity and the dedication to fully uphold what God places in your sphere of responsibility.
The devil tried to kill you but God delivered you!
Romans 9:8 - And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things, 
at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.
A man of courage and conviction.
“My son, preserve sound judgment and discernment, do not let them out of your sight; 
they will be life for you and an ornament to grace your neck.”      Proverbs 3:21-22
You came with an openness to learn and found the hope that only our Lord Jesus Christ can provide.  What great things God is and will be doing through your willingness to serve Him wherever He leads.

You have found the key to joyfully living in Christ.
You are a man of courageous persistence that hungers for more of the Father.
I admire your humility and determination.  God is going to use you in wonderful ways.
You are truly a man after God's own heart.  You do everything as for the Lord rather than man.
Look back at the obstacles you have already crossed.  One day you will look back at those ahead of you.
A picture of dedication and perseverance, a man who truly loves the Lord.
My beloved brother Charles, May you continue to walk courageously and boldly 
knowing that you can do all things through Christ who helps you. (Phil 4:13)
Charles, a name from the Germanic word "Churi" which means "free man."  
Charles, you are proof that Jesus sets men free!
You are renewed in mind, body, and spirit.
I Peter 5:2 - Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care, serving as overseer, 
not because you must, but because you are willing as God wants you to be.
A man of humility and heart.
“Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding, for she [wisdom and understanding] 
is more profitable than silver and 
yields better returns than gold.” Proverbs 3:13-14
God's transforming power is very evident in your life because of your honesty and transparency.  You glorify Him every day through your love which shines so brightly and your diligence to do His work.


You recognize that God is all-powerful and you should wait on Him even when the reason is not fully understood.
You are a man determined to offer up the whole of your life as a praise offering to Jesus.
I admire your integrity and consistency.  God has great plans for you in ministry for Him.
You have discovered how to use your God-given talents to glorify Him and point others to the cross.
King David used his talents to provide worship from his generation until 
Jesus comes again.  I pray you give your gift to God to be used for His glory.
A man who has been truly gifted by God with an awesome talent who is using it to the fullest to glorify the Father.
My beloved brother Shepherd, May you continue to trust in the Lord with all your heart and not rely on your own understanding, and may you acknowledge Christ in all your ways so that He will guide your paths. (Prov 3:5-6)
Jesus tells of a shepherd searching diligently till he finds his lost sheep.   Shepherd, 
the heart God put into you shines forth in the way your work, inspiring others. 
The Lord is your rock, your refuge.
Psalm 95:1-2 - Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.  
Let us come before Him with thanksgiving and extol Him with music and song.
A man of peace and passion.
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all 
your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”    Prov
erbs 3:5-6
You brought many talents and a strong work ethic to Renewal Ranch, but seeing them being 
redirected to glorify God has been a miracle.  You are a leader among men and I expect God will 
continue to do a mighty work in you because of your willingness to serve Him.


You faithfully put on the full armor of God by walking with Him daily in His Word.
You are a man who truly follows the greatest commandments well, loving God and loving people.
I admire your maturity and wisdom.  I believe God is going to use you to impact many lives.
You have discovered something that eludes many people - the gift of enjoying God.
God has certainly gifted you with a servant heart to be used to glorify your Master as you share Christ with others.
A godly man with a spirit of service to others.
My beloved brother Michael, May God continue to satisfy you each morning with 
his unfailing love so that you may sing for joy and be glad all your days. (Psalm 90:14)
Michael, your name is from a Hebrew question-word meaning "who is like God?"  
You have set an example for us all in your thirst for what God is like.
You are soaring on the wings of eagles!
Proverbs 9:10 - Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge of the Holy Spirit is understanding.
A man of faith and fortitude.
“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” Proverbs 4:23
The biggest transformation I have seen in your life is outward joy. It is contagious and glorifies God.  
You are the Barnabas of our first class, a caring encourager.

James Loy, the executive director of Renewal Ranch, gives the charge to the graduates.

The people lay hands on and pray over our precious graduates. Oh God, it is our prayer that You would watch over each of these men, fulfill their hopes, dreams and desires as they place their lives totally in Your keeping.

We pray that Your Holy Spirit would have complete control of their lives and of ours, dear Father. Thank you for the miraculous work You are doing at Renewal Ranch and lead us to follow after Your footsteps and Yours alone.

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Praying for the Generations

E very Monday here on the blog we pray for our descendants, those who have come and will come after us. What a privilege, what a respo...