Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas 2015

To all of our members, our moms, our sisters, and a few brave men, please know that you are in my heart and prayers every day. I only know a few of you personally but I know the spirit within you, the Spirit of the Most High God, our Lord Jesus Christ. He is who bonds us together in love. We exalt Him and thank Him for all the answered prayers we have had this year. Together we are strong. You are loved! By me.

Merry Christmas 2015

Kinsman Redeemer

For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”

Zephaniah 3:17 (NLT)

For the first time in my life I looked at the calendar and knew my father's birthday. I am 64-years-old. What took so long? To whom do I owe gratitude for this gift?

The last time I remember seeing my dad I was eight-years-old. As far as I know we never lived together as a family in the little valley just west of Chattanooga, Tennessee where I was born. He was in the military; my mom was a child bride. We lived with my grandmother who taught piano lessons, played at Flintstone Baptist Church, raised chickens and made the best apple jelly I ever tasted.

Kinsman Redeemer is a beautiful title and that is what I think whenever thoughts of Uncle Henry Collins come to mind; an uncle I never really met until this summer, although he said he came to see me when I was a baby. Those of us who don't have roots or don't have complete roots on one side of their family might relate to the happiness of finding my 88-year-old Uncle Henry.

To find the meaning of the term I Googled, of course:
"What is a kinsman redeemer?"

Answer: The kinsman-redeemer is a male relative who, according to various laws of the Pentateuch, had the privilege or responsibility to act on behalf of a relative who was in trouble, danger, or need...

This definition resonated with me as many times I’ve been in trouble, danger, or in need. Through the years I tried to find out about my dad but my mom really didn’t want to talk about her short-lived marriage. Not having good relationships with stepfathers, I came to the conclusion, “Who needs a dad?” I lived that way for a long time. Maybe that is what pushed me to look for a Savior, a Father who wouldn’t disappoint me.

Yet many times as Father’s Day approached, I’d look online, in phone books and more, trying to find paternal roots. I thought Uncle Larry was a friend of my dad’s family and tried to talk him into giving me information and phone numbers. I found Uncle Henry’s name in the phone listings, and asked him about a Henry Collins but he said no, he didn’t think we were related. After Uncle Larry’s death I realized he’d had early onset Alzheimer’s and just couldn’t remember the connection. I grieve the lost years of joy I could’ve experienced if I’d known my Uncle Henry sooner. I'd already found out by accident that my dad, Donald, had died exactly one week after my Mama died seventeen years ago. So I knew to quit looking for him but it was only last year that I had that information.

But, lo and behold, I found my uncle by way of Facebook! Baxter Little, an old friend of my mom’s, saw a post where I was looking for relatives or kin as they still say in Chattanooga Valley. So, I'm dedicating my Christmas note to my new kinsman redeemer, Uncle Henry, not in the biblical sense, but as the redeemer of memories, dates, people, and happy thoughts. When I talk to him, I think it's nearly like talking to my own dad and I’m grateful for that. He gathered the family and gave me pictures and even made a tape for me to listen to about family roots when I went to visit. Move over, Alex Haley, I might write the next Roots book, yet! I’m blessed with his sense of humor when we talk on the phone and one day he even sang me a song. Thinking about that makes me cry, it was so sweet. I love to hear his voice and it brings joy to me whenever he calls.

Uncle Henry never had a child and I never had a real dad relationship; I give credit to my last stepfather, John, who tried to be a dad to me. But as I said before my heart was so cold towards fathers that only the Lord could melt it. I wondered for years why my own dad didn’t try to find me, but I’m letting it rest as best I can. I’m happy to have met my other family that I never knew and what I’m learning is, just enjoy each one of my family members at whatever times we can get together. Yes, I’ll probably never let go of that dream planted deep in my heart to one day have the whole family, all children and grandchildren in the house together, loving each other and having compassion for each one’s journey in life. But some of our dreams don’t always come true this side of heaven. That helps us look forward to the day that the circle will be unbroken and Jesus will make all things new for us.

Donna Collins Tinsley

Y’all know me enough to know at Christmas
I have to honor my true Kinsman Redeemer,
Jesus Christ, my Lord.

Kinsman Redeemer

Kinsman Redeemer,
Be that to me
Kinsman Redeemer,
Oh let me see
A family redeemed
By the blood of the Lamb
A family in love
With the great I Am.

Mismatched, but sorted out
Pain and bitterness aside,
Let us show love
Let the bygones slide,
This Christmas season.

Kinsman Redeemer
What a beautiful thought
That You, O Lord
My God, have brought

Kinsman Redeemer,
Lover of my soul
You, alone
Can make us whole.

Take the broken chains of our hearts
Seal them with love,
Please, give us all a new start.

Let the oil of healing
And truth be our own,
Kinsman Redeemer,
Stand up by Your throne

Declare and decree,
What I cannot do,
Bringing about
A family healed by You.

Merry Christmas from Donna Collins Tinsley 2015

Although it's Christmas Eve it's also Thursday, a great day for recovery in the state of FL.

Lord, help families to heal this day and to walk before You in peace and healing we pray.

Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings

How It Works:

When ready, we say something like this: "My Creator, I am now willing that you should have all of me, good and bad. I pray that you now remove from me every single defect of character which stands in the way of my usefulness to you and my fellows. Grant me strength, as I go out from here, to do your bidding. Amen." We have then completed Step Seven.

-A.A. Big Book p.76

Reposting this video because it is holy.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

The Southern Saga continues with Every Girl Gets Confused

Every Girl Gets Confused is the second book in Janice Thompson’s Brides with Style series.

You'll find the old favorite characters with the addition of a romantic interest  for Aunt Alva of all people. I had thought Katie and Brady were a done deal as far as romance went so I was a little confused myself at first. Then the cute turn of events when the story focused on her grandmother getting married and the showers, dress and of course, the Cosmopolitan Bridal Store. All this love with seniors is kinda a new twist in romance novels and the ooh-la-la shower for a bride in her eighties was a sight to behold. All the changes in the family, the ongoing small town happenings at the Dairy Queen and the churches kept me turning pages. There was another beautiful story interwoven also of another couple planning their wedding amidst a family feud, too.

There were some serious issues touched on, such as the many and varied seasons of our lives. One of my favorite quotes from the book is where Katie says, "I'm not constant, Jane. I'm not. But God is. And if I've learned anything, it's that I can trust him in the seasons. When things are hard, I always tell myself, 'It's winter but springtime is coming.' Because if you think about it, spring always comes. Even when dreams are dying or relationships are ending, springtime is coming. So we can't give up."
I also loved the beginning quotes either by or about Doris Day. Many in this new generation may not even know who she is, so that was very cool.

Janice is fast becoming one of my favorite authors  and her tagline, "Love, Laughter, and Happily Ever Afters!" promises a pleasant journey, especially if you're like me, and love a little fiction vacation out of this world when times get tough.

Looking forward to the next book!

I was given a copy of this novel through Revell as I am on their book review team. In return I was delighted to give an honest review of the book.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Who's Keeping Your Vineyard?

"…They made me the keeper of the vineyards; but my own vineyard have I not kept." Solomon 1:6

How often this verse has come to me as the busyness of life abounds. Going, doing, going, doing and not even really accomplishing anything of my own at times it seems. Oh, for the beauty of time spent in quiet and contemplation. Oh, for the words of our Lord to come and how does it come except in still, quiet moments?

"They made me the keeper of the vineyards; but my own vineyard have I not kept."

Who are “they” anyway, the ones who made me the keeper of what perhaps they should be keeping? Why would I feel it’s good to leave my unkempt vineyard, or home or family to help them out? Why do I let the world define what is important or what I should attend to in my life?

On the other hand, I find that they might be me, as in ““WE HAVE MET THE ENEMY AND HE IS US.” (Pogo) type of thing. Without thinking about Bible study starting back in the Fall, I signed up for an outreach group, signed up to have one at our home and also was trying to keep up with some online prayer group commitments, and a few groups that I was already in. It’s so hard to turn down being in groups and events that just make me happy when they’re doing things like making desserts for our firemen, giving lunch to a local police unit and visiting nursing homes. Those are truly things that make me so happy; Salt and Light really enhanced my life, that and of course Word Weavers Volusia Group.

I found myself in a much busier season than I really needed to be in, as I’m not including anything as far as home, husband, kids, grandkids and extended family in this mix. That’s why that verse so gripped me, I think when I read it.
"They made me the keeper of the vineyards; but my own vineyard have I not kept."

When my sweet mother-in-law, Edie, says, “Donna, I don’t know how you do it!” I’m like, “Really! We both know my house is a disaster zone.” It’s nice of her to try and not notice it, but the reality is, I’m not superwoman like some women I know who work, clean, serve in many areas and are still standing at the end of the day. I admire those women and would love to be those women but it makes me tired just thinking about all that they do. And funny thing is some of them are also watching soap operas, too, and I’m good if I hear a few minutes of news here and there.

I’ve lived long enough to know that there is no good thing I can do on my own. I’ve, in my lifetime, been one of the most messed up women alive, worse than any hot mess around, but yet I found a Savior who brought me out, cleaned me up, pressed on with me and gave me love.

I will live my life proclaiming His name, JESUS, and by His grace put the past behind me. I have to stomp on the enemy sometimes constantly to be able to press on, dear friends. I have to declare and decree to live each day and many, many days my cry is, “show me how to live.” Show me how to live with the pain that is sometimes daily that our family isn’t healed and acting in a way that shows the beauty of the Lord. Show me how to live with broken chains of relationships. SHOW. ME. HOW. TO. LIVE. And then the Bible verse comes to me once more…I shall live and not die and declare the works of the Lord or as the Amplified Bible says,

“I will not die, but live, and declare the works and recount the illustrious acts of the Lord.” (Psalm 118:17 AMP) And this is how we roll, this is how we do it, we study the Word, we taste the Word, we devour it as our life-source of healing always remembering this, “He won't brush aside the bruised and the hurt and he won't disregard the small and insignificant, but he'll steadily and firmly set things right.” (Isaiah 42:3 The Message) We decide to tend to our own gardens knowing that only the Lord God almighty can “fix” the garden of our hearts and then we look to Him to do just that.

I need the Lord’s breath upon me to live a full life. It is a desire I have for Spirit-winds to breathe fire upon me as this verse shows, "For I," says the Lord, "will be to her a wall of fire round about, and I will be the glory in the midst of her," Zechariah 2:5 and that His glory will be in the midst of me.
“Then may Your awakening breath blow upon my life until I am FULLY Yours

Breathe upon me with Your Spirit-winds. Stir up the sweet spice of Your life within me. Spare nothing as You make me Your fruit-filled garden. Hold nothing back until I release Your fragrance. Come walk with me as You walked." - Song of Songs 4:16 (The Passion Version, Dr. Brian Simmons)
Let me be fully Yours Lord and learn to tend my own garden in a fragrant way that will bring glory to You.
Donna Collins Tinsley 12/2/15