Real Love

I had a real moment recently. The day didn’t start badly, but as time went on, it became more challenging. Dad agreed to have oyster lunch with our friend who is paralyzed and lives in a nursing home. I was excited because I always feel pulled in many directions. This day I was able to be with BOTH my father and friend and we were all going to enjoy the best oysters in Ormond Beach, Florida.

The first thing was that dad was a little slow in getting going. I called the nursing home to let them know I needed a wheelchair for him so one would be in the lobby when we arrived. That went well. Then, I tried to call to talk to my friend so he would know we were coming, but would be a little late. He is unable to answer his phone – for obvious reasons – so I tried to connect with the staff to connect with him. This is where the day stopped being wonderful.

I was unable to connect with my friend, so dad and I showed up with $40 worth of oysters and our friend had already eaten his lunch. He thought we were not coming since we were late. Well, from there, anger drove the bus. I was upset with the staff for refusing to take a phone to him so I could tell him. I was upset with him for not asking the staff to call me on the phone I provide him so he could check if we were still coming. I am too ashamed to say what else happened.

The next evening, my friend called to chat. He said, ‘You were awful upset yesterday.’ Great observation. I began to recount all that happened – every detail of what happened and how I felt he was inconsiderate for not calling and on and on I went. He was speechless. Then, I asked that he tell me ‘how I should respond to all this???’

In a humble voice, he said, ‘Could you still love me anyway?’ Then I was speechless. Yes, I do still love him and he reminded me that I want to make all the mistakes I make, ignore my time with God and others, speed read through my devotions, be impatient when I justify it because I am tired, drive discourteously at times, and more and still look up to heaven and ask God, “Could You still love me anyway?”  His answer is “Yes.” He tells me He loves me with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31.3) even when I deserve to hear how inconsiderate I have been and how I inconvenienced others at times, and more.

God’s Word instructs on how I need to be with others – Romans 12.10 – ‘Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another’ and Ephesians 4.32 – ‘And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.’

Yes, my friend reminded me that I want to be loved even though I am a sinful woman and live in a sinful world and I pray, ‘…the Lord make (me) to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men…’ (1 Thessalonians 3.12) because ‘Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.’ (1 John 4.11) Amen.

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Trust – means to rely on the integrity, strength, ability, and surety of a person or things; confidence. I don’t think any being has these qualities more than the Living God.

Trust is something God asks us to do. Trust Him. But trust has always been a difficult thing for me. I feel I should be in control and able to do things in my own strength. Truth is, I think control is an illusion. Who is ever truly in control? Storms hit, earthquakes happen, wars shatter our lives at times, accidents and illness occur at any moment of any day and more. I have control over some things, but for the most part, I think I have no control over the many things that can and do happen every day.

For many years, I had personal struggle with Proverbs 3.5-6. It was just me because I can see the words are lovely, but for some reason, I interpreted them as words that required something I was unable to do. The bottom line is I just had difficulty trusting God and I knew it, just did not want to admit it.

Then, one day, a Pastor made these words gold to me. He said, “Proverbs 3.5-6 tells us to ‘Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths.'”

I had heard the words for many years, but what he said about them is what made it possible for me to do what they exhort me to. He said, “What God is saying is that we do not have to understand how He is going to do what He promises to do, we just give everything to Him. He knows we do not have the strength or ability to figure everything out, but He does and will.”

These words melted my cold, unbelieving, untrusting heart and allowed me to see that God is not asking me to understand, but to know He does and that He is able to make the impossible happen, get me through every difficult moment, make a way where there looks like there is no way, heal me, care for me, guide me, and love me with an everlasting love. He is even able to give me the ability to trust Him.

One devotional encouraged me as it said, “You can trust the Man Who died for you.” I still struggle with trust at times and will be the first to admit I allow myself to become frightened of circumstances, but am making every effort to trust in God for everything every day.

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My brother and I loved visiting rivers like this one. He would ask, “When’s your next day off?” He made plans for us to have a great day. Sometimes it seemed like we did the same thing each day, but one of the many things I loved about my brother is how each time we did the same thing, he loved it and seemed to be so excited – like it was the very first time we were doing that thing.

He would tell me about the river the entire ride to the location. He would put the boats in and be excited to push me off into the river. As we traveled down the river, he always remarked how serene and beautiful it was. He really loved the time spent with nature on a river or doing whatever else we had decided to do that day.

I think God wants us to come with the joy that is ours about knowing Him and coming to Him in prayer and spending time in His Word – like it is all brand-new to us. Sometimes that is not as easy as I wish. I get tired sometimes and when I read His Word, I sometimes say, “yes, I have read that section a million times it seems,’ and I sometimes gloss over the parts I am familiar with. Not happy that I do that. I have been in prayer for a spirit that cherishes every word in the Word of God no matter how many times I have read about John the Baptist baptizing Jesus. I pray for the awe I felt the first time I ever read the words that touched my heart deeply and every word.

The Word of God challenges me to always remember to not treat the holy things of God as if they are not holy, but common or mundane. Leviticus 22.32-33 tells me, “You must not treat Me as common and ordinary. Revere Me and hallow Me, for I, the Lord, made you holy to Myself and rescued you from Egypt to be My own people! I am Jehovah!”

“…beware that you do not treat the holy gifts … as though they were common…” Numbers 18.32.

I pray daily to reverence God and the things of God each and every day and remember God is Holy and has called me to revere Him. I want to treat Communion, His Word, Prayer, Worship, Church, sharing my faith and all the things of God with excitement and joy. I want to tell the Lord He is ‘new every morning’ like His love and mercy for me. (Lamentations 3.22-23)

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I have always wondered what my particular talents are. I do not play a sport well or a musical instrument well enough to play for others. I love art and dance, but can see natural talent in others that I wish I myself had.

Matthew 25 tells the parable of Jesus giving talents – to one person He gave 1 talent, to another 2 talents, another 5 and one He gave 10 talents. This has always led me to believe that Christians have been given different talents and some have more responsibility because the Bible also tells me that to whom much is given, much is required. (Luke 12.48)

This takes me back to ‘What are my talents?’ I am still not so sure, but I was talking with a friend and I told her how I sort of laughed when I thought ‘could it be possible for someone to have been given ‘no’ talents?’ I told her I could not think of my own particular talent/s but I have some loved ones that I think others may consider without any particular talent in life. What about them?

My friend’s husband has a relative that struggled with schizophrenia all his life. He was not functional in society, but seemed better when he was given medication. He recently passed away and my friend wondered what purpose a life like his is to this world? The bottom line is ‘what was/is he worth?’

I realize this world puts emphasis on success and talents and, while I do not diminish the importance of success and talents being utilized, I think there are some people with little or possibly no apparent  talents. Perhaps I just do not recognize some peoples’ talents.

Does that make the ones with fewer or apparently no talents less valuable? NO! I am convinced that the Living God loves them more than I can imagine. Their small lives that may amount to nothing in my eyes or the world’s eyes do matter and are highly valued by the Father.

One of my brothers died forty years ago when he was twenty years old. I was unprepared to experience this. I prayed and asked God where my brother was for eternity because I never heard him make a ‘profession of faith.’ I remember God’s answer to this day.

He said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of God.’ (Matthew 5.3) and He also said, “The least on this earth will be the greatest in the Kingdom of God.” (Mark 10.31 Living Bible) My brother was seen and known by the God I love. God did not miss my brother’s life and value and he has been with the King for many years and is the greatest in the Kingdom of God even though he was unnoticed here on earth and had no great accomplishments in his life.

Throughout the Bible, the God of the Universe reminds me how important each and every one of us are. He even counts the hairs on our heads. (Matthew 10.30) And the truth that “God so loved the world, He gave His Only Son, so that whoever believes on Him, shall never perish, but have everlasting life’ (John 3.16) will always be true for all of us. 

I hope everyone finds their talents and realizes how they are valuable to God just because they are His

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Pierce My Ear

I must admit, surrender is not an easy thing for me. In fact, when I read verses like Isaiah 64.8 ‘Yet, O Lord, You are our Father; we are the clay, and You our Potter, and we all are the work of Your hand’ and Jeremiah 18.6 ‘O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter does? says the Lord. Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand,’ I would cringe deep inside.

My mental images tended toward torture and crushing me to smithereens. Smithereens is a funny word – ‘broken into small bits or pieces.’ It all had to do with my concept of God. I did not see Him working on my heart to my benefit and I never saw Him as liking who I was and ‘changing’ me meant I was defective – the way I was afraid I was. All this twisted thinking did a real number on my ability to surrender to the Living God and truly trust Him and love Him. I would think ‘do anything but hurt me please.’

Well, it has been many years of patience on the part of the Living God to help me to surrender and help me to trust. In fact, one author helped me see that God really does like the ‘me’ He created and wants me to be that ‘me.’ Surrender means that more I abandon the clamor of self-will, the more I become that ‘me’ He created as I surrender to Him.

One of my favorite parts o the Bible is Deuteronomy 15.12- 17. While I do not understand all the customs of other cultures or long ago, sometimes it seemed safer and wiser to be under someone’s umbrella of protection, but it meant being a ‘servant.’ Deuteronomy talks about what to do with those who have been in this position.

 ‘If any of your people … sell themselves to you and serve you six years, in the seventh year you must let them go free. And when you release them, do not send them away empty-handed. Supply them liberally from your flock, your threshing floor and your winepress. Give to them as the Lord your God has blessed you. Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and the Lord your God redeemed you. That is why I give you this command today.’ It touches my heart how God commands for generosity and supply to those less fortunate. 

But, the next part is especially touching – ‘But if your servant says to you, “I do not want to leave you,” because he loves you and your family and is well off with you, then take an awl and push it through his earlobe into the door, and he will become your servant for life.’ 

I have come to the place in life, by the grace of God, that I do not want to leave Him, I love Him and I want Him to

Pierce my ear, O Lord my God
Lead me to Your door this day
I will serve no other gods
Lord, I’m here to stay
For You have paid the price for me
With Your blood, You ransomed me
I will serve you eternally
A free man I’ll never be.

I will be a willing bond servant to Jesus forever.

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I was an ambulance driver in Cleveland, Ohio for three years when I was a young woman. I learned that one really needs to keep a serious outlook on many things, but a sense of humor really helps as well.

On occasion, the dispatching team shared stories about the incoming phone calls they received from the public. I realize their job can be very stressful at times, but I am certain all the 911 call receivers agree that not taking everything too seriously helps them do their jobs well.

Recently, my sister and I  were talking. She works with the elderly in a nursing home and told me one of the resident’s family called 911 because they could not find their parent’s dentures. I was a little disgusted and said, “You can’t call 911 for lost items.” My sister proceeded to give me an education in Georgia 911 calls. She said, “We have residents call 911 all the time. They call and say they need a bedpan…” That’s when I began to laugh hysterically. I immediately heard the 911 operator say, “911- what’s your emergency?’ to receive “I need the bedpan” at the other end. Even though it is pretty sad when the elderly may not be able to get staff to respond to them and they resort to calling for help – any help – even 911, wouldn’t you just love to be the 911 operator for that call?  We must have laughed for 20 minutes thinking of this. She said she felt all the cell phones should be taken from the residents. We laughed more.

My sister said the 911 dispatchers call the home to inform them of the call and ask if the staff will handle the call. Problem solved, no charges filed. No harm done.

I remember how I chuckled when I first read Psalm 44.23-36. The children of Israel were in distress and it seems like the 911 verse of the Bible – ‘Awake! Why do You sleep, O Lord? Arouse Yourself, cast us not off forever! Why do You hide Your face and forget our affliction and our oppression? For our lives are bowed down to the dust; our bodies cleave to the ground. Rise up! Come to our help, and deliver us for Your mercy’s sake and because of Your steadfast love!’

They sound pretty desperate. I know I have and have made 911 calls to God on more than one occasion. He is a very present help in time of need. He will respond. (Psalm 46.1) Even though I think He has forgotten, decided not to, out helping someone else, very slow, and more, He is on the job and will help.

Psalm 121 encourages me. “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from where comes my help. My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth. He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: He that keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he that keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is thy keeper: the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand. The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul. The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.’

We have His Word on it. He will help. He does not sleep or slumber. He is always working and always talking.

We can call on Him anytime and in any emergency!

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All Things – New Year 2020

I don’t know about everyone else, but I have had a very challenging 2019. There were mixed feelings last night about being relieved the year was over and being happy for all that happened. Between work and family and new business ventures and more! it has been one busy year.

2019 had some great moments, but also moments of loss. I am sure all my FB friends have experienced similar things. I lost a very dear friend this year. I know she is with the Savior and looks down on me and smiles, but I sure do miss her. Also made some great new memories, new friends, and new opportunities have come my way.

There were many times I thought I was in way over my head and did not handle every situation well. I shared struggles with close friends and we prayed. One night, while sharing some concerns, the Lord spoke to my heart and the words, ‘I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me’ (Philippians 4.13) poured from my lips.

It was amazing the impact these words had on my heart and my circumstances. I have read that verse for over forty years and now, in my time of need, it is here to comfort and encourage me. I have quoted it every time I thought things were getting too difficult to handle. They broke any spirits of defeat or discouragement inside and truly God gave me strength to mange every situation.

The Bible is filled with encouragement for all our needs and challenges. Romans 8.37 tells us ‘Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.’ MORE than a conqueror. 1 Corinthians 15.57 also assures us ‘..thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.’ Victory over loss, heartache, oppression, lack, anything.

We now have another New Year to celebrate and I know I need to look to the Lord for His strength each day. Whatever I face, I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me.

I love the words to Steven Curtis Chapman’s song “His Strength Is Perfect”

I can do all things
Through Christ who gives me strength
But sometimes I wonder what He can do through me
No great success to show
No glory on my own
Yet in my weakness He is there to let me know
His strength is perfect when our strength is gone
He’ll carry us when we can’t carry on
Raised in His power, the weak become strong
His strength is perfect, His strength is perfectWe can only know
The power that He holds
When we truly see how deep our weakness goes
His strength in us begins
Where ours comes to an end
He hears our humble cry and proves again

His strength is perfect when our strength is gone
He’ll carry us when we can’t carry on
Raised in His power, the weak become strong
His strength is perfect, His strength is perfect

Happy New Year everyone!

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The Ultimate Gift

I always have at least one person on my list that I never know what present to buy them for Christmas. This person seems to have everything they need and I joke about just getting them ‘more of everything they already have.’ But, the challenge continues each year.

I am blessed and have been given much by God. I do not give Him Christmas gifts, but if I did, I feel stumped. I ask myself, ‘What can I give God?’ Many wonder why I would ask that because usually He is the Giver of all good things. (James 1.17). And, the Word tells us that ‘the Earth is the Lord’s and everything that’s in it’ (Psalm 24.1) and that ‘He owns all the cattle on a thousand hills.’ (Psalm 50.10)

So, God really is the One Being that has everything. He does not need anything. To be honest, I never think I have anything that could be good enough to give to God. I have flaws and failures and broken dreams and futile attempts at walking the line most days. What could I possibly give to the God of the Universe that would matter?

But, that being said, there is something He really wants us to give Him. When I was a young girl being pursued by the Living God, I heard Him speak to my heart one night. He said, “Give me your heart.” I was frightened because I did not know Who He was or What He was and did not realize I could trust Him and I did not realize how much He loved me and wanted great things for me.

It took me about one year of being pursued by God to want to give Him my heart as He asks us to do in Proverbs 23.26. I feel this it the ultimate gift that gives the Father pleasure – to have us be His children – to have His sheep know His voice, follow Him, and trust Him with their hearts and lives and everything every day. He treasures the gift of our hearts. It’s not what He needs, it’s what He wants. 

I recently learned that the composer (Hugh Martin) of ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas’ also had these words to that tune —

Have yourself a blessed little Christmas
Christ the King is born
Let your voices ring upon this happy morn

Have yourself a blessed little Christmas
Serenade the Earth
Tell the world we celebrate the Savior’s birth

Let us all proclaim the joyous tidings
Voices raised on high
Send this carol soaring up into the sky,
This very merry blessed Christmas lullaby.

Let us gather to sing to Him
And to bring to Him our praise
Son of God and a Friend of all
To the end of all our days

Sings hosannas, hymns, and hallelujahs
As to Him we bow
Make the music mighty as the heav’ns allow
And have yourself a blessed little Christmas now.

He is a great God! Have yourselves a Blessed and Merry Little Christmas everyone!

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Sharing – Just Like a Child

Dad I like to watch world news with David Muir each evening. I have never been a news buff because all the news seems like ‘bad’ news and never ‘good’ news, but David Muir always has something sweet at the end of his news.

During Halloween, he had a story about a little boy trick-or-treating. The young boy came to a home with a pumpkin basket on the porch; but there was no more candy in the pumpkin. The little boy informed his mom of the situation. It seemed he had a problem. At first, I wondered what he would do. Then, to my surprise – to fix it, he proceeded to take candy from his bag and put it into the empty pumpkin basket on the porch. Problem solved – the pumpkin basket was no longer empty. The sweetest thing is that he did not know anyone was watching, but this was all captured on the home security camera and that is how all of us in news land were able to see the kindness, sweetness, and innocence of this young man. I was touched once again that good things do happen every day.

I am called to be like a child. Even though Halloween is passed, the Advent is here. The time of year that the year is ending and I am celebrating the birth of the Savior. It is a time when I can turn my heart to how I can fill up someone’s basket that is empty. God promises that it is impossible to out-give Him.

I am first reminded in James 1.17 that, “every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights..” Our Heavenly Father gives great gifts.

My motive, however, should be pure – just for the sake of sharing with others less fortunate, however, God’s Word promises – “Give, and [gifts] will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, will they pour into [the pouch formed by] the bosom [of your robe and used as a bag]. For with the measure you deal out [with the measure you use when you confer benefits on others], it will be measured back to you.” (Luke 6.38) I believe His promise of ‘pressed down, shaken together, and running over’ is to me and the ones I love and bless.

Genesis 9.3 lets me know that “(God) give(s) … everything.” And Proverbs 28.27 tells me, “He who gives to the poor will not want.” God’s Word is clear – He is a giver and I, as His child am be be a giver too – with the spirit that shows how grateful I am that God has given to me.

Luke 12.32 warms my heart with the words, “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” The Kingdom is Him and His salvation, goodness, faithfulness, provision, answers to prayer, and everything I have here and in my heart.

God Bless you this Season. I hope you find someone to bless.

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I am always amazed at how one small seed, planted in the ground, can cause a plant to grow and produce so much. From apples on an apple tree to corn on the stalk, it all begins with little seeds.

Genesis 1.29 tells us how God gave us seeds as a gift  – “and God said, See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the land and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food.” Our Provider is incredible beyond words.

The cycle of life is wonderful to me. The fruit and vegetables we enjoy are not only grown in abundance, they carry with them more seeds for planting and harvesting even more fruit and vegetables. God’s supply is generous and ‘superabundantly above all that we could ask or think.’ (Ephesians 3.20)

God tells us about seeds:

“…Isaac sowed seed in that land and received in the same year a hundred times as much as he had planted, and the Lord favored him with blessings. (Genesis 26.12) God multiples our fruits and vegetables and He multiples His spiritual blessings to us as well.

God tells us not to judge a seed by its size:

“Of all the seeds (the mustard seed) is the smallest, but when it has grown it is the largest of the garden herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and find shelter in its branches, but look what it brings!” (Matthew 13.32)

And He also mentions the mustard seed in comparison to how much faith it takes for us to pray and believe and receive, “He said to them, … if you have faith … like a grain of mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, Move from here to yonder place, and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.” (Matthew 17.20) Doesn’t seem like it takes faith much to make great things happen.

Jesus spoke of the Word being like seeds in our hearts:

“But as for that [seed] in the good soil, these are [the people] who, hearing the Word, hold it fast in a just (noble, virtuous) and worthy heart, and steadily bring forth fruit with patience.” (Luke 8.15) God wants His Word to take root and grow and flourish in our hearts.

God wants us to use seed to win others for the Kingdom:

“…he who goes forth bearing seed and weeping … shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.” (Psalms 126.6) This is a very old-time way of speaking of winning souls for Christ.

Everyone plays a part:

” I (Paul) planted, Apollos watered, but God [all the while] was making it grow and [He] gave the increase.” (1 Corinthians 3.6). Our efforts are never ‘fruitless’ because God is the Force behind all our efforts and He never loses and nothing is ever wasted.

It is true, seeds are small. Sometimes we see our gifts as small, but God takes those gifts and causes them to grow. What we need to do is sow our seeds. Our seeds of kindness, a smile, a word of encouragement, a meal, a token of appreciation, supporting a good cause, listening to ones who need us to listen, sitting by the beds of our friends and family when life is changing from earth to heaven, and more. Every day, we have seeds to sow and give to others. We may not always see the reward here or visibly see how we touched someone’s life, but we have God’s word on the matter, that what we do, He will make matter. Some of us plant, some of us water, but it is God that gives the blessing and increase! We can sow a lot of seeds this Advent Season.

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