A Father’s Love

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My dad…

Father’s Day is a special day for many, yet it’s a difficult day for some. If you’ve experienced heartache in some way such as the loss of your father, you may be finding this day difficult to celebrate or observe.

My father passed away in 2002, and every year since then I’ve realized how much I took him for granted. I was blessed to have the dad I did. He wasn’t perfect, but he was the perfect dad for me.

One thing that I treasure about him was his presence. Our family went through some very difficult times, but he remained faithful and committed.

When I was in the 5th grade, I was going through a difficult time and didn’t want to go to school. There were several mornings when I waited inside for the bus  instead of standing with my friends down the way. I would peek through the living room curtains so that I could watch my dad back out of the driveway and I watched  his car go down the street until it was out of my sight.  Tears would often sting my eyes.

There was something about my dad’s presence that gave me comfort and it was hard for me to watch him leave.

If your heart is hurting today because circumstances prevent you from experiencing   your dad’s presence, I hope this truth will comfort you today.

You have a Heavenly Father who loves you more than you can imagine.  In the book of John it says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. “ He loves you that much.

I recently read something written by author Andrea Lucado and I found it fitting to share here. She said, “When  you begin to view God as your Father, you start to see Him as not only the creator of the universe, but the creator of you. He intimately knows you (Psalm 139). He did not create us and walk away. He created us, sent His son to die for us and left the Holy Spirit to guide us.”

Our Heavenly Father WANTS to have a relationship with you. He WANTS to be with you. He wants to encourage you when you need it.  He wants to give you that much needed wisdom, direction, and comfort. Your Heavenly Father will give you everything you need if you’ll just believe in Him — and trust Him.

Let’s remember to embrace our Heavenly Father’s love  today.

Happy Father’s Day.

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Home, Sweet Home

We are back in Indiana – the state we’ve lived in since we were born — with the exception of the last 3 years when we lived in Florida. I don’t even know where to begin….

I cannot believe how much life has changed for us. We’ve been “home” for 5 weeks, however, last night it dawned on me how God has answered so many of my prayers. I’ve been so happy since we’ve been back — busy putting things away and getting adjusted to being a pastor’s wife again and getting to know new people, and somehow I missed it! Totally missed the fact that God was providing our needs.

Life in Florida was like living on a deserted island for me, but I’m thankful how it brought me closer to God. There were days when I would be so down and I wondered if I would ever feel normal again.

One morning I came to the conclusion that I needed to get into a routine of thanking God for specific things to help bring me out of the valley. I know we should do that anyway because He deserves the praise, but this was important for me to do as a reminder to be thankful instead of pitiful or resentful.

So, every morning, before my feet touched the floor, I would look out our bedroom window and thank Him for another day. Simple as that. I would remind myself that there were people who were praying to live another day, so I should stop taking life for granted.

I felt so empty. I tried, but couldn’t find my purpose. Did you know that when you don’t feel like you have one, you feel worthless? It’s true. And, it’s a horrible place to be. If you’re in a similar place, please — don’t give up. When God provides a way out of that valley, you won’t forget it — you never forget. Pray believing, because He hears your prayers. At the right time — His timing, life will change. Maybe in baby steps, but it will improve.

A part of me wishes I understood why God allowed us to move in the first place, but then I am reminded that true faith requires trusting His plan, surrendering our plan, and following Him.


Still Climbing…

I’ve read where people have climbed a mountain alone. I can’t begin to imagine how scary that would be. If you need help, where do you turn? Is it really that big of a deal to tackle a mountain alone?

Just like life – we need people. We need God.

The mountain I’ve been climbing has become a little bit easier – not because of anything I’ve done, but because of the wisdom I recently received from a message at church.

God works that way, you know. Sometimes when you least expect it, you hear a message that makes you realize that God is listening. He knows the struggle, and He’s with us – every step we take. 

Psalm 46:1-3 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.

Psalm 9:9-10 The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.

I’m so thankful for that reminder. Perhaps you needed it, too.

How to Climb a Mountain

I started 2019 with a bang! No, I didn’t go mountain climbing. I had to get a filling and a new crown. I mean, it just doesn’t get more exciting than that.

Last year wasn’t a fun year for me. I had to go to the ER TWO times. I had to go to TWO specialists – a Cardiologist and a Hematologist. Found out my platelet count was double and my cholesterol was too high. Had to have blood drawn TWO many times. Although I don’t have anything life-threatening, it all put me on the struggle bus. Have you taken a ride on it? It’s not exactly a fun ride.

I wasn’t going to write about this, but I have felt a nudge after seeing what Toby Mac had to say about sharing our struggles…

So, here I am – telling you about my journey. Here’s where things start to change.

I was stopped in the turn lane the other day when I heard loud music coming from the car that was stopped next to me.

A young gal was singing every word to the song with a smile on her face. I couldn’t help but watch her. I wondered if she was happy because she was on her way to see a friend or maybe because it was Friday. Who knows. All I know is that I want to feel that happy again – at least for five minutes.

The weight of the world can certainly keep you from enjoying life, can’t it? Sometimes you don’t even realize that a weight needs to be lifted until you see a young girl singing a song….

Relationships

Once again, I heard a story about a family that doesn’t talk to one another any more. They don’t get together for birthdays, holidays, or any other day. Sisters, brothers, and parents live near one another, but apparently have chosen not to speak. 

Whether the door was closed on you, or you severed the ties with someone, you could add so much more insight to this story. Both sides would probably point their finger at the other person, but I’m pretty sure both sides would agree that it’s not supposed to be this way. 

When my husband and I were married, my mother didn’t come to the wedding. She shut me out of her life weeks before. I was still living at home before my wedding, and the morning that my dad and I were headed for the church – my mom stayed in her room with the door closed.

Silence speaks louder than words.

I wasn’t surprised, but it still hurt like crazy. I made the choice on my wedding day that I wasn’t going to let her absence ruin my day or my life. Thirty four years later, I can honestly say that it didn’t.

Ohhhhhh, there were times over the next few years when I felt the hurt. Like all those times I attended a wedding after mine and watched the mother of the bride hug her daughter and shed tears of happiness for her daughter, or when I went to someone’s baby shower and caught a glimpse of what a mother/daughter relationship should be like. Yes, I felt the sting.

Relationships are important. They’re never perfect, but the good and the bad helps us become a better person if we allow it.

There’s another type of relationship that I want to talk about and how you handle it is of eternal value. It’s with Jesus. 

You do know that He loves you, right? Have you talked to Him – ever? I don’t mean through some memorized prayer or that one time you yelled “Oh, God! Help!” I’m talking about sitting down wherever you are and spending time talking to Him like you would a best friend – spilling your guts. Reading His word and getting to know Him. And most importantly, listening.

He has shown you, O man, what is good.  And what does the Lord require of you?  To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”  Micah 6:8

You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to you. – Psalm 86:5

Or is He one of your loved ones that you’re shutting out? 

This Christmas

I recently read a friend’s post that explained why he celebrated Christmas. I love his heart.

I also love seeing and hearing about Christmas programs, family traditions, kids sitting on Santa’s lap for the first time, and how Elf on the Shelf is getting into trouble. So much fun.

I admit – I can’t wait to see my kids and my granddaughter open their gifts. The wonder of it all can make you feel like your world is overflowing with love.

The downside to this season has to be the disappointment I feel when I think about those loved ones that won’t be here. I don’t know about you, but I catch myself comparing my life, my family, my Christmas — with others.

When I read the quote below by Tony Nolan, it reminded me how much I tend to depend on the above things rather than what happened long ago to truly experience what Christmas is all about. What Jesus did fills my heart with such amazing love and joy – both that will last way beyond Christmas Day. This priceless gift was meant for you, too – if you’ll let it in.

No chance of me reaching heaven so divinity came into my hell. It was love that made Jesus do it and that’s the Christmas story I tell.” Tony Nolan

Praying your heart is filled with HIS love today. Forever. Merry Christmas. ❤️

Is it worth your time?

VBS.

If you’ve ever been involved in vacation bible school in some way, then you know it’s not an easy week for anyone. If you’ve ever wondered if it’s worth it, please read about my experience. I had something happen last night that brought light to the single most important reason why we include the little ones.

I’m teaching the toddlers. We’re talking ages 2 – 4. This age is very inquisitive. Whether you know it or not, they are absorbing every single thing that you say. The challenges come when they don’t want to sit still, don’t like being separated from their parents, and sometimes don’t want to do what we are doing!

But…

Last night, one little guy made it clear why we need to have it and why we need to include this age.

Last night was our 3rd night and we had 3-4 meltdowns as soon as they sat down during the opening. One child hit his head. One wanted to stand by the stage rather than sit with our class. One child noticed her dad was trying to escape. One hit her funny bone, which wasn’t funny at all. Last, but not least – a child started crying because the other one was crying. You get the picture.

When the opening was coming to a close, the leader asked everyone to pray with her before we went back to class, and her prayer almost made me laugh out loud. “Lord, puleeeeeeeeeeez be with the leaders tonight and let the children and leaders feel your strength and love.” Or something like that. There was no doubt that her prayer was for my class.

Next, class time. As soon as we closed the door and all the kids were sitting on a carpet square, their behavior changed. it was like I was looking at a different group of kids! They were FABULOUS! I looked at the other teacher with a look of “what just happened?”

This week we’ve talked about the scripture that says we are all sinners. We have talked about what sin is. Last night we focused on how God made us unique and that we should love others even though they don’t have the same color of skin. I ended the lesson by emphasizing that God loves everyone — pointing to each student in the room.

This is when my heart was pierced. One 3 year-old looked down and said, “He doesn’t love ME.” MY HEART. I immediately told him that of course God loves him. This little guy tends to get into trouble. A lot. I don’t know if he assumed God couldn’t possibly love him because of his behavior, but he needed to hear that truth. Don’t we all need that reminder?

VBS. It’s worth it.

It Just Takes One

Integrity. What does that mean to you?

On the internet it says this: “Integrity means following your moral or ethical convictions and doing the right thing in all circumstances, even if no one is watching you. Having integrity means you are true to yourself and would do nothing that demeans or dishonors you.”

I believe most people know that definition; however, because we all seem to have a different opinion when it comes to what’s right in this world, most people choose to do what feels right. Let me tell you now, your feelings will fail you. I seriously don’t understand how people live life without any guidelines. You must have them so that you know what your morals even are!

Mine come from God’s Word. Although I’ve fallen short, His Word has never failed me.

Listen, I’ve made a lot of mistakes over the years. I’m not pretending to be a holier-than-thou believer in Christ. I’m simply trying my best to live what I believe. Because of that, it’s been on my heart to share with others.

Here’s the thing, I’ve watched people die because they chose to try something new. I’ve watched families divide over one thing. One. Churches have divided over one issue. It only takes one. People have been fired — not because they weren’t qualified, but because of bad life choices.

The good news is, there’s One Savior who can heal what’s been destroyed. He heals hearts that have been broken. He restores relationships – if people are willing. He will save your soul and help you change if you’re willing to surrender it all. One Savior. Jesus. Let Him restore your heart today.

“Better the poor whose walk is blameless than the rich whose ways are perverse.” Proverbs 28:6

“The righteous who walks in his integrity–blessed are his children after him!” Proverbs 20:7

“The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.” Proverbs 11:3

“The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in people who are trustworthy.” Proverbs 12:22

“To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.” Proverbs 21:3

35 Years and Counting

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Thirty-five years ago, it was an extremely hot day. How can I possibly remember that when I can’t remember the temps from last week? Because it was my wedding day. Like most people do, I remember every detail of my wedding day.

If the air-conditioning was working in the church, I didn’t feel it. And at the perfect moment when we were standing up in front of approximately 400 people, a drop of sweat dripped off the tip of my nose.

My soon-to-be husband noticed and knew I was mortified. He whispered “you crack me up” as I tried to remain calm. His words were exactly what I needed to make me smile and relax.

So much has happened since that day. So many blessings. The sting I felt because my mom didn’t show up is now gone.

There’s a lot of mistakes that I’ve made over the years and I wish I could erase them or delete them all with a click of a delete button; however, without those difficult times I would’ve missed out on the power of forgiveness.

Those tough times also pulled me near to the One who loves me most, and for that I am thankful. ❤️

Life

Do you have that one go-to place that you know will bring you some type of fulfillment or will  provide that peace that you long for?  Maybe it’s church. Perhaps it’s sitting on your back porch swing with a friend. Wherever that place is, you can’t wait to be there – even if it’s for a few minutes.

One of my favorite times to experience that is when I look up and see a sunset. That place can be anywhere. Although they only last a few minutes,  they sure do provide a peace that I can’t explain. I guess I find them to be a  reminder that there is something greater than this life – even at it’s best. How exciting and comforting is that thought?

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It’s weird, though, how you learn to depend on certain places, things, or people to give you that feeling that life is good. No wonder life can seem like a rollercoaster ride when those things we depend on are gone or simply don’t pan out.

 I think we all chase after something…. for the challenge or for happiness.   What are you chasing after? Are you putting all of your time, thoughts, and energy into something that is for temporary satisfaction, or are you seeking something of eternal value?

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame,and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” ~ Hebrews 12:13

“What we see will last only a short time, but what we cannot see will last forever.” ~ 2 Cor. 4:18

Don’t forget me

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Photo by Ithalu Dominguez on Pexels.com

 

Have you ever listened to someone explain why they started a ministry or became involved in a particular cause? Often times tragedy triggers people  into action, but what about love? Since there’s so much tragedy in our world — how many times do you hear someone say that Christ’s love touched their heart in such a way that they knew they had to do something to help someone else? Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying that it doesn’t happen, but I wonder how often people miss the opportunity or don’t even recognize it.

Years ago, I started writing because I held so much hurt inside from my childhood that it began to spill out in ways I didn’t like; I knew I had to do something. Blogging was a good way for me to deal with it all and to hopefully help others through similar struggles. But honestly, that was for me. It was to help my heart heal.

However, I recently experienced something very unique.  I’m never one to start something or take charge, but recently something grabbed ahold of my heart. There’s no better way to explain it. Christ’s love compelled me to do something for those who are in the nursing home (and to help out their loved ones).  If you’ve ever had a relative live there, then you know some of the struggles they experience —  for example, hating living in a different place, experiencing loneliness, and the fear of being forgotten being at the top.

Years ago, I moved my grandmother into a nursing home near us. I was her only family member left (in the same state), so I was her only visitor. Because I worked and had children involved in sports and school, I couldn’t get there as often as I would’ve liked. The guilt was almost too much. I will never forget when a couple friends from church told me that they wanted to visit my grandma. They didn’t know her, but they did it anyway. I can’t tell you how much that meant to me — and to her.

Over the years, I’ve carried that memory in my mind and wondered what God wanted me to do with it. Now I know.

My husband and I have decided to make it a point to visit people once a month who live in assisted living facilities or nursing homes. We aren’t quite sure how this is all going to unfold at the moment, but we knew we had to start somewhere. Yesterday, we decided to make a day of it. We started out by visiting a nursing home that’s about 20 minutes away. I had overheard someone say at our Bible study that her mother had recently moved in there. I knew when I heard it that it was something God wanted me to hear; He was just waiting to see what I was going to do with it.

You never know how someone is going to react when a stranger walks in their room, but she seemed glad to have company. Her name is Dimple, and the name fits her perfectly. She was very sweet. After talking about her family, it was obvious how much she loved them. She’s one of the lucky ones who often receives visits from them. We discovered that one of her children had the same name as mine. Funny how those little connections can make a difference.

We joined hands and said a prayer. What a blessing.

As we walked down the hall, my husband stopped — then backed up a few steps. Just down the hall from Dimple was a woman who was our neighbor about 35 years ago! We hadn’t seen her in probably 20 years.It was a quick visit because she was getting ready for a nap, but we will be sure to go back.

Last, as I stood outside of our former neighbor’s room, I met eyes with a lady across the hall. We knew her, as well. I couldn’t believe it! What were the chances that she would be in that facility — right across the hall? After we caught up on life, we had prayer and began to walk out. Before I made it out of the room, she yelled out, “Don’t forget me.

Those words will ring in my thoughts for the rest of my life.

The next stop was beautiful, also. Although we weren’t able to talk to her, we had a lovely visit with her family. As I’ve experienced, family members need to know they are not alone in their journey, too. That’s what this ministry is all about.

Our last visit was with a lovely lady who is living in an independent living facility. It was our first time to meet her.  Our conversation began with where we all have lived, how many children she has, her moving experience, and ended with how many years she and her husband were married. We discovered that the best man in her wedding (some 60 years ago) was the senior pastor at a church we were involved in about 30 years ago. We were all a little stunned about that connection. I almost chuckle as I think back to our expressions!

I’m sure future visits won’t always be as good as this day was, but I have to thank God for whispering in my hear, “What are you going to do with what you’ve just heard?” that day when I overheard someone talk about her mom moving into a nearby nursing home. Is He whispering something in your ear today?

“For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced  that One died for all, and therefore all died. And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again.” 2 Corinthians 5:14-15

Once Upon a Time…

Do you ever look back at your high school days? I don’t often, but earlier today something made me think back to my freshman year. It was my favorite year in school because everything was new. I was anxious the summer before, but I looked forward to going to a new school — mostly, I looked forward to starting over.

I will never forget when a friend told me that an upperclassman liked me. I had noticed him in the hall a few times because of how handsome I thought he was. I knew he was on the football team, but that was about it. I remember asking my friend, “Are you sure he’s interested in ME?”

I wondered why he would even consider taking me out on a date when he didn’t know anything about me. We never spoke before this, so I found it hard to understand. I have to say there’s something special about being chosen, though. I was on cloud nine. Do you remember that feeling? You never forget it!

My freshman year in college, a friend explained to me that someone else was pursuing me. This was very different from my experience in high school, yet it was the same. It was unbelievable because THIS ONE knew everything about me — yet He still wanted a relationship with me. Very humbling, yet the best feeling — ever.

If you’ve ever wondered what it means to have a relationship with Jesus, let me tell you what I know. There’s nothing like it. If you haven’t noticed, He’s pursuing you — maybe through a friend, a trial, or a miracle. There’s no better feeling than knowing God loves you.

“Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.” Colossians 3:1-4

Never Give Up

I just read a story that I HAVE to share. It’s about a man named Tony Bullimore. Maybe you’ve heard what happened to him. If not, his experience is worth your time. You may not be able to relate to the beginning of the story, but if you’re like me – you will truly relate and appreciate the ending.

Tony was one of Britain’s most experienced transatlantic yachtsmen. Unfortunately, his yacht capsized during a race. He compares his experience to being in the Niagara Falls – only upside down. He was trapped underneath for four days in near freezing temps. As you can imagine, his air supply was diminishing. On top of that, he knew he was more than a thousand miles from land. Although it seemed pretty hopeless, he still prayed that he would be rescued.

The Royal Australian Navy did find him because of a modern satellite and surveillance that tracked every yacht that was in the round-the-world competition. Can you imagine what went through his mind when they found him?

This is the part I love – SO much… A journalist said at the time of his rescue, ‘A rescue that succeeds against all odds and every expectation is the best of all stories. It is pure and spontaneous joy.’

Just think, WE can experience that joy today because of Jesus. It wasn’t until I turned 21 that I got it through this thick skull of mine that He was trying to save me. I’m so thankful for all those people who constantly reached out to me – invited me to church, Bible study, and offered to pray with me.

If you are living your life feeling trapped in darkness, there IS a way out! Please trust me, He will save you, too… Galations 1:4 ~ “Jesus gave his life for our sins, just as God our Father planned, in order to rescue us from this evil world in which we live.”

Waiting

We are getting ready to celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary this summer.

T h i r t y – f i v e years.

It seems like yesterday when we first met. How has time slipped by so quickly?

Maybe it has something to do with life. You know – those things that fill our days. Ours were full because of three sons, ministry, friends, family, school, work, sports, illness, death, turmoil, anxiety, joy, rejection, and love.

36 years ago today, on Valentine’s Day, he broke up with me. This was before we had social media where you can spy (so to speak) to get answers to your questions like – are we even still friends, is he moving on, seeing someone else, sad about the break up, or is he even still alive?

We said our goodbyes on that February 14th —– and that was it. No phone calls. No letters. Nada. Everything I looked forward to was gone.

I was crushed. Shocked, actually. We had dated for a while, and I was sure he was the one. I tried to move on, but my life felt so empty.

So several months later, he called. We met for dinner, and a few months later he proposed. The rest is history.

The months between the breakup and his phone call were difficult. Maybe they were for him as well. I had so many questions and no answers. Should I date around or should I wait? Did I do something wrong? Am I a loser? Was I trying to make someone ‘the one’ when God had something better in mind?

So, I finally did it. I went out on a date and I was miserable. There was my answer. I was in love – so I waited.

If you’ve had to wait for something, then you know how fun it is. It’s not fun, but I’ve learned that it’s worth it.

A friend recently shared this analogy with me. She has such a way with words that describe the payoff of waiting for God’s will to be revealed:

“It’s hard to trust God in the unseen, the unknown, but when he reveals his will, his ways in our lives – it’s almost like the sun bursting forth through a cloud or over the horizon. It’s breathtaking and amazing!” ~ Luci