Hopelessness

To my friends who are feeling lonely. I get it.

Sometimes it doesn’t matter how many people are around you, you still feel like you’re alone. In your thoughts. In your decisions. In your world. In your battle. You don’t think there’s anyone out there you can talk to, but you’re wrong. Please, don’t let satan trick your mind into thinking you don’t have any help or that no one cares or understands. He sent you to ‘the corner’ for a reason. He knows when you experience this kind of loneliness, it develops into hopelessness. That’s exactly where he wants you.

But God…

He has a different plan.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10

Jesus loves you, this I know. For the Bible tells me so…

In John 3:16 it says this: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.”

How do you know if it’s the right time?

My birthday was a few days ago, and along with feeling loved by my family and friends, it provided an opportunity that really makes me feel older than dirt — I can now draw on my social security if I choose. For you young people, there’s so much to think about when you are making that decision. As in, is it worth it now — or should I wait a few more years so that I can receive more money each month. It’s like I wish I had a crystal ball to know how long I’m going to live, and which one of us is going to die first. It seems there’s been so many things lately that’s made us think about all of those scenarios. It’s not the most pleasant conversation. However, it’s something we all have to do. Let’s face it, we’re all going to die. When? Only God knows.

Before my special day, I had a conference call with a social security employee. One of my questions I asked him was how soon could I get my first deposit if I decided to draw on my social security. After he told me the month and date, he said, “You would receive it then if you are still living.” A cold chill went down my spine as he said those words. Why? Because it was at this age and the exact month he mentioned that my mother died. It hit me hard — I’m that age. What if this is my time?

After a lot of reflection, I now realize I’ve already made the most important decision without any prompting from the social security office — the one that will provide eternal life with our Lord and Savior. I’ve confessed I’m a sinner and need forgiveness. Although I did that many years ago, the older I get, the more I realize how much I need Jesus. That’s where my peace comes from. The thing is, God provides hope for anyone if they believe. I pray you have opened up your heart to Jesus. If you’ve been putting it off, today is the day — because who knows when it will be your time.

“Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” ~ 1 Peter 1:8-9

Be Still

Have you ever had a time when you just couldn’t seem to shut off your thoughts? Maybe you keep rehashing a conversation or something that you’ve experienced. If you haven’t, count your blessings.

My husband and I recently took a walk on some trails. We passed by several people who were walking the trail or riding bikes, however, there was a group of people stopped along the way who were all taking pictures of ‘something’. Curiosity got the best of us, so we stopped to see what was so picture worthy.

There were two deer walking timidly to the water. I was able to capture the one. It was the most peaceful moment I’ve had in a very long time. It was obvious that the others appreciated this moment, too. No one said a word, but they didn’t have to.

Whatever your life looks like right now, I pray you’ll take some time to just stop, reflect on something you’re grateful for. I assure you that it’s a game-changer. Be blessed.

Because He lives

They say in order for an article to be read, it needs to grab someone’s attention within the first two lines. Maybe the first sentence. So what’s this about and why do I want you to read it? It’s about receiving that phone call that no one wants to get, experiencing heartbreaking fear that you may suddenly lose someone you love, topped off with the fear of the unknown. And why do I want someone else to read this? Because maybe, just maybe, one day you will feel what I was feeling. There’s something about connecting with someone who understands. Sometimes that’s all you need.

A week ago, Friday, we got home from spending the week with family after meeting our new grandson. Needless to say, it was a joy-filled week. They live a few states away, but the drive is worth it. We were tired when we got home from being on the road (it’s like a 12 hour drive, total) so we didn’t even bother unpacking our bags before turning on the tv and relaxing a bit.

That’s when I received the call that our youngest son (who lives about 20 minutes away) was being rushed to the hospital. He had been in a scooter accident and we were told it was bad. It was about a 45 minute ride to the hospital, but it seemed longer than our ride home earlier that day. If we talked, I don’t recall any part of it. All I remember was that I talked to God all the way there.

The good news was he didn’t have a concussion and he didn’t hurt his neck or spine. To make a long story short, he had to have reconstructive surgery the following morning. Only two people could be there because of this crazy virus, so my husband went with my son’s fiance. I stayed home since I couldn’t even be in the waiting room. I prayed that God would take care of my boy.

The good news was, he got to go home Sunday. Let’s just say that his fiance is getting a lot of experience at being his helpmate in the worst of times. It did my heart good to see her care so deeply. The bad news came the day after surgery that my husband and I had been exposed to Covid. Any other day it wouldn’t have concerned me so much, but today? It was one. more. thing.

We began our quarantine, and later that day began feeling Covid symptoms. After learning that we tested positive, we were concerned that we had exposed our son and his soon to be family members. I guess the hardest part was that we didn’t see it coming and it was out of our control. It was like Satan pulled the rug from underneath us all.

Next up, our air went out. Of course no one could come in to fix the problem since we were honest enough to tell them we were sick. Did I mention it’s been in the 90’s? But seriously, that was the least of our worries.

It’s the unknown that kicks you in the gut. Will my son be ok? Will they get this virus on top of everything else? Part of our family that we had visited with now were ill and we couldn’t help them, either. How long will this last? Why is all of this happening? You can’t help but think – what’s next?

And then, God stepped in. He reminded me that life on earth can be hard. It can rip your heart apart, but He is still on the throne. He is still good. He is still with me. Don’t let your circumstances dictate your faith. Laugh if you will, but I believe He sent me a message during all of this. You can imagine how I felt touched by our Savior as I read the following devotion after I learned that I had Covid…

From Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young.

“Entrust your loved ones to me: release them into My protective care. They are much safer with Me than in your clinging hands. If you let a loved one become an idol in your heart, you endanger that one–as well as yourself. Joseph and his father, Jacob, suffered terribly because Jacob loved Joseph more than any of his other sons and treated him with special favor. So Joseph’s brothers hated him and plotted against him. Ultimately, I used that situation for good, but both father and son had to endure years of suffering and separation from one another.

I detest idolatry, even in the form of parental love, so beware of making a beloved child your idol. When you release loved ones to Me, you are free to cling to My hand….”

Dear friend, God is alive! He knows the message that we need. Keep searching. Keep believing in His Holy Name.

“How sweet to hold
A new born baby
And feel the pride
And the joy that he gives
But greater still that calm assurance
We can face uncertain days

And then one day
We’ll all cross that river
And fight life’s final war with pain
And then, as death gives way to victory
I’ll see the lights of glory and I’ll know he reigns

Because he lives I can face tomorrow
Because he lives all fear is gone
Because I know, I know he holds the future
And life is worth the living just because he lives” ~ Because He Lives

Love you, dad

My dad. Unfortunately, I only have a couple pictures of us, but the memories I have in my mind are more than I can count. I loved him so much. He was a very quiet man, but his actions revealed so many things about him. He was faithful to his family. He was a hard worker. He loved his kids. He served his country. He loved to watch sports, make chili almost every Saturday (when it was cold) and he made the best burgers on the grill. He liked to mow. He would flat-out tell me the truth. His famous saying was “OHHHHH boy!”

I am so thankful that he was my dad. He wasn’t perfect, but he was the perfect dad for imperfect me.

Can You Tell Her?

Opportunities. It’s funny how they sometimes land right in front of us, and other times we have to search for them like that lost sock in the dryer. The type of opportunity that I’m referring to is sharing the gospel with others. I want to let people know that they can spend eternity with God and that there is a way for their sins to be forgiven. There is hope for tomorrow.

Here’s the story. I recently prayed that God would reveal how He wants to use me in this world — because I am really clueless these days. Some of my friends have these obvious talents/gifts — like a musical talent, amazing leadership skills, and the ability to create relationships with everyone they meet. Sometimes I find myself feeling envious and then defeated. I know we aren’t supposed to feel that way, but sometimes it’s a challenge.

Anyway, today something happened at my preschool that I want to share. I have lunch duty, and as I walked by one of the tables, a 5 year old boy raised his hand to get my attention. I walked over and asked what he needed. He said, “Mrs. Knapp, can you tell her (pointing to one of his classmates) who Jesus is? She doesn’t know.”

My heart just about leaped out of my chest!

To hear someone even mention HIS name in a public school was music to my ears!

As you can imagine, I had to be careful with my answer. There was so much that I wanted to say, but I couldn’t. Anything associated with religion is pretty much off limits in a public school. So, I asked the little boy exactly what he told her so far. The girl listened as I I asked, “Did you tell her that he’s God’s son?” He just smiled and said, “And He lives far away — pointing up.” The little girl asked, “You mean the North Pole?” I said, “No, not there. Heaven.”

That was the end of the discussion. Very short, but it was a tiny seed planted and prayerfully that little girl will want to know more about Jesus. I wish I could’ve said more, but I knew I would’ve been stepping over the line. However, those rules won’t stop me from praying for her and giving thanks for that little boy and the opportunity to talk about the one I love more than anything – Jesus.

To God be the glory.

Kids and Dogs

Between preschool kids and my dog, I think I learn something new every day.

When we were outside for recess with our preschool students the other day, I noticed a little boy needed his shoelaces tied. He was running around in circles with friends and I could just picture one of the other kids accidentally stepping on his laces causing him to fall. So, I called him over and told him I needed to tie his shoes.

Student: Why?

Me: Because I don’t want you to fall. I explained the possibilities.

Student: But that hasn’t happened.

Me: But it COULD happen.

Student: I like them untied.

Me: …..

Side note: They were untied again when we were lining up. Haha

Lesson continues….

We moved into our home last November and we’ve been going back and forth about purchasing an Invisible Fence. We finally took the plunge last week and our dog, Bogey, has been in training. It’s actually been interesting and fun to watch him learn — most of the time. However, because of my impulse to prevent him from getting zapped ( as in NEVER), I have found myself a bit overprotective- OK, more than a bit, which in turn prevents him from learning the consequences of going beyond the designated boundaries.

The trainer’s words were this: “If you want to be able to trust him, then you need to let him feel some pain. You need to wait and see (and keep your mouth shut!) if he will actually go beyond the flags in the yard. I know it’s hard, but it works.”

Do you see where I’m going with this?

NO ONE wants to see someone they love experience pain. There’s a time to speak, and there’s a time to be quiet. Lord, give me wisdom to know and the strength to do what’s right.

“A time to tear apart and a time to sew together;
A time to be silent and a time to speak.” Ecclesiastes 3:7

Church

This is Holy Week. If you are a believer, then you are reflecting on the death, burial, and resurrection of our Savior. It’s also a time of year when believers are encouraged to invite others to church. Why now, you ask? If someone has any knowledge about the Bible or has had any exposure to Christianity, or if they were brought up in church but have drifted away, then they most likely understand the importance of Resurrection Sunday. It’s a chance for them to reconnect with Jesus. When prompted by a friend, they often go that Easter Sunday and hopefully every Sunday after because they’re reunited with their first love – Jesus. It truly is a heartfelt celebration when someone returns. The church body needs all of its parts, and you are an essential part to God’s plan.

In addition to the ones who already know the gospel, there are those people who haven’t been introduced to God’s unconditional love — and have never heard about how they can have a relationship with Jesus. Like, what does that even mean? (If you want to know, please ask.) Those are the ones who believers hope to reach, also, so that they can experience the richness of being a Christ follower and experiencing the truth that they can spend eternity with Him.

I believe I know what some of you are thinking. Yes, you can be a Christian and worship at home. BUT, tell me this – are you staying home because that way you don’t have to deal with difficult people? Maybe you didn’t like the type of music they used during worship or you’re not getting anything out of the sermons. There’s a variety of reasons and excuses that keep us from walking in that building. Last one, you felt like the preacher was talking to you in his sermon and you thought he was being judgmental, so you vowed to never return.

I recently overheard a conversation between three people. One mentioned she didn’t go to church because “they have the most judgmental people, ever.” After listening to her make several “nonjudgmental” judgmental comments about other people, over and over again, this thought came to my mind: ‘If church is filled with the most judgmental people, ever, then I do believe you would fit right in.’ Naturally, I didn’t say that out loud, but ooooooooh do I ever wish I had the guts to do so. It was the truth. A truth she didn’t see.

Friends, If you don’t go to church or maybe you’ve had a bad experience, please listen. I’m not trying to make excuses here. If someone has surrendered their life to Jesus, then they should be making every effort to become like Christ. Jesus didn’t hide the truth. However, he said it in love. People (*I*) need to work on that. A lot.

If you didn’t know it before, there ARE rules to living a Christian life and there ARE consequences when we don’t. God didn’t say, “If you love me and have asked for forgiveness, you now have the license to do whatever you desire. Live it up! All I care about is your happiness!” Umm, no. He cares about our holiness. “Then He said to them all, ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.’ Luke 9:23. When we follow Him, we experience joy like no other.

Unfortunately, church isn’t a perfect place where everyone lives in harmony. THAT place is called heaven. However, It’s a place for believers to come together and be transformed through a lot of study and learning from others. Let’s be honest, we all have something to work on. It’s a place where we are encouraged to love (even those difficult people) and serve others – (and not just the lovable ones or people who “deserve” it), worship our Savior, pray, and give thanks. It’s where I’ve learned the importance of and the power of forgiveness — through those difficult people that God placed in my life. That’s how we grow in our faith — facing the challenges and learning from them, not hiding from them.

In church and in Bible studies, I have learned scriptures that have helped me throughout my life. There are too many to list here, but here’s a few:

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Phil. 4:13

“And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31

“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life” Proverbs 4:23

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5

 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

“Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” Col. 3:13

I pray what I’ve shared has encouraged you in some way. If you have something to add, please comment! We’re in this journey together.

This simple truth

Every day after lunch, our preschool students take a nap. Well, most of them. I set out the cots, and then the teacher hands out their nap stuff while they take turns going to the bathroom. The teacher who I work with has it down to a science. However, sometimes it can be a challenge when you have little ones who don’t want to cooperate! And what I mean by that is some of those littles can be very talkative when it’s time to be quiet. It’s like they have something important to say all of a sudden – you know, like they have a scratch on their hand or their sock is twisted. Haha. You get the point!

One day last week, the little ones were really wound up. It’s rare that we have to tell them that they can’t talk at all, but this day was the one. After instructing them that there would be 0 talking, I heard a couple whispering behind me. When I turned around to look at them, (hoping that would be enough), one boy informed me who was whispering. I assured him that I already knew. “You guys, I KNOW your voices. Even though I don’t see you, I KNOW who is talking.” ~ Silence…..

During my lunch hour that day, I thought about the stunned reaction I witnessed when they heard me say those words. I can’t read minds, however, I’m almost certain they now think I have eyes on the back of my head. lol. That simple truth that I recognized their voice seemed to make a huge difference and they both were quickly doing what they were supposed to be doing.

Maybe we need that reminder, too. Because God isn’t visible , we seem to think we can get by with whatever our heart desires. Sometimes we justify our actions — been there? Or perhaps we behave like a preschool student and place blame on someone else. “Well, Johnny is doing it, too! He started it!” The difference is, God not only knows our voice — He knows our heart. What a game changer.

This season, I’m not giving up anything for Lent. I’m giving more – more effort to get to know the One who saved me. The One who forgives me. Truly loves me. Lifts me up when I’ve fallen. Thank you, Jesus.

“I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” ~ Psalm 119:11

Think about THESE things

If you’re in the habit of waking up at 1:00, 2:00, or 3:00 am and then have a difficult time going back to sleep, welcome to my world. I don’t have nightmares, nor do I toss and turn. It’s like I’m in a sound sleep and someone whispers my name.

One early morning, I woke up with such negative thoughts about something that I became overwhelmed with anxiety. I stayed there in bed, praying that God would help me stop this – whatever it is. That’s when these words came to my mind: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Philippians 4:8

Believe it or not, I was able to fall back to sleep after quoting the above Scripture. Later that morning, I realized I’ve not just been battling low self- esteem and maybe some jealousy; I’ve been in a spiritual battle. Oh, friend. Let me tell you how real it is, and the only way to overcome it is to know Scripture. If you’ve never read the Bible, now is the time. If you don’t have a Bible, order one or at the very least Google it. You can look up verses for times of despair, grief, death, betrayal, happiness, jealousy, joy, love, sadness. or confusion. Whatever it is you need to live this life and live it to the fullest is printed out for you to read, to learn from, to memorize, and to say out loud if necessary.

Lessons in the Wilderness

What is the wilderness, anyway? Some describe it as a period of time when God reveals our unGodly desires so that we will intentionally place Him above the things of this world. I guess you could say it is like a training period for whatever is coming next in life. No matter what, prayerfully, we will grow spiritually through it and our relationship with our Savior will be our rock. Not the things of this world.

When you’re in the wilderness, it’s like you wake up and realize that something is different. Maybe your world has been turned upside down, or perhaps it was you that changed. Whatever the case, Jesus seems quiet and distant. You begin to wonder what your purpose is. Questions like these surface: Is Jesus finished with me? Has my sin been too great? It’s not exactly a fun place to be, but hang on — He’s NOT finished with you.

Yes, I’ve been there. The funny thing is that I didn’t even realize it until I was near the end of my time spent in what I call the wilderness. That’s when I finally asked, “Jesus, what are you teaching me?”

I’m not an expert on this, but I do know that Jesus has a way of getting our attention, and what speaks to one person may not work with another. I think it may depend on how mature and obedient we are — spiritually speaking.

For example, If you’ve ever been a substitute teacher, then you know what happens when students realize their teacher isn’t going to be there and that they have a substitute teacher. I have learned from experience that the sub will see within minutes who is going to test them and who will be obedient no matter what. The same with God’s children. We either strive to be obedient, or we don’t.

Sin. Probably the only time we bring it up is when we talk about someone else’s sin. Am I right? “Did you know that so and so did this?” One thing for sure, we most certainly don’t like to tell others that we struggle with it. However, we were all born with it. The good news is there is a way to take care of it.

1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Its symptoms may not seem obvious at first, and If left untreated, it can take over your mind and your heart and possibly separate you from your family, friends, and your Savior.

If you find yourself in the wilderness, hold on. Take note of the messages God is trying to send you. Don’t ignore Him. This might be the most important part of your Christian life. Just listen.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” Psalm 139:23-24

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6

Resolution

It’s about 10:00 pm here, and like most of you — I’ve been thinking about this year. It’s been pretty unusual for all of us. No matter how much you try to avoid it, you can’t help but think about all the sadness that has surrounded us and all the changes.

When I was asked if I make a New Year’s resolution, I answered no –mainly because what I need to work on constantly changes throughout the year.

However, this year might be the exception.

A blogger I have followed for several years died yesterday. Although I’ve never met him, I felt like I lost a good friend. He battled ALS for 24 some years and wrote his last article about 7 days ago. It was short, and as he mentioned — it was his shortest one because of how weak he was. He was able to write his thoughts down through eye contact and a computer. I really can’t comprehend it, but I’m so thankful for technology. I’m even more thankful that he didn’t let ALS stop him from encouraging others. His love for Jesus was BIG. It was REAL.

The thing is, he never stopped letting people know about Jesus and the hope He gives. That’s my resolution. I pray that I can be like Bill and let his legacy live on through me. Even when life is hard. Even when I don’t feel like it. I pray I will set my selfish self aside and proclaim the love of Jesus to others. Always.

Thank you, Bill Sweeney — aka Unshakable Hope. You will be missed.

Resurrected Hope

Christmas 2020.

The familiar: Cold temps – 10 degrees, a dusting of snow, Hallmark movies, Christmas cards, phone calls, and gifts.

And what was missing? No in-person worship services (at our church), no big family gatherings, or time spent with many family and/or friends, and for the most part — no traveling. For some — lack of joy. Many have lost loved ones.

So….what exactly can we count on to remain the same? The reason we celebrate Christmas. God’s love. His expectations. God’s promises. God’s daily revelations and miracles. His strength. His wisdom. His Words that are in print. His Forgiveness. His whispers of Hope.

What is hope to you? If someone stopped you in the grocery store and said they were from a local newspaper and they were writing a story on hope and desperately needed your help, what instances would you share that gave you a glimmer of hope? Can you think of one? Maybe you need some time to think. Unfortunately, It seems most people can instantly remember those times that are discouraging or heartbreaking. I guess that’s a human trait. But what about those unbelievable God-wink moments?! Those a-ha! moments! Have you forgotten?

Author Lysa Terkeurst describes hope beautifully in her book Forgiving What You Can’t Forget. She said, “The reality is that Jesus’ death only lasted three days, but His resurrected hope has carried us into the future.”

Resurrected hope. That’s what we need — and that’s what Jesus provided all those years ago — knowing exactly what you and I would be facing today.

Friend, I don’t know about you, but I have to constantly remind myself that He is in control. Even when it doesn’t feel like it, He is very much alive and is on this journey with us. Even when we feel like we are losing a battle that we should be (or want to be) winning, HE is always there to pick us up. Yet we continue to grumble that life isn’t the way we want it.

Jesus loves you. He’s there, you just haven’t looked for Him. If you’ve accepted Jesus as your personal Savior and surrendered your life to Him — then you have hope for tomorrow! You have grace. Mercy. Unconditional love. Peace. Something to look forward to – ETERNAL life with Jesus.

If you’re having a hard time seeing God work in your life, please read the following. Once again, Lysa Terkeurst gives another good example of finding those glimpses of hope.

“The possibility of hope is what I want to look for so that hope is what I will see. And when I start to notice it, that noticing has a multiplying effect.

Have you ever decided you liked a certain kind of car, and though you haven’t noticed it very much before, the next time you’re out driving, you look for it? And when you look for it, that same car seems to be everywhere! You see two in your neighborhood, another at the stoplight beside you, and then several more when you pull into the parking lot of where you’re going. How can it be that you never noticed it, and then suddenly this car seems to be everywhere? It’s not that those cars just appeared on that day. Chances are they’ve been zipping around you for quite a while… but if you aren’t looking for them, you probably aren’t noticing them. That’s the multiplying effect of making the choice to look for something– you’ll start to see it more and more.”

The same is true with our faith. If we are experiencing an emptiness and feel as though Jesus just isn’t around or doesn’t care what’s happening in our life, we need to stop. We need to take the time to look for Him. Where does one begin? Start with the Scriptures. Believe me, you will find Him there.

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

“Peace is what I leave with you; it is my own peace that I give you. I do not give it as the world does. Do not be worried and upset; do not be afraid.” John 14:27

“Humble yourselves, then, under God’s mighty hand, so that he will lift you up in his own good time. Leave all your worries with him, because he cares for you,” 1 Peter 5:6-7

Living a Christian Life 101

The Lord sure knows exactly how to teach us life lessons in mysterious ways. I’m not quite sure why I often expect Him to get straight to the point with all my questions along life’s way. Perhaps it’s because of the world we live in where we can get a quick answer by Googling it or checking an email. The thing is, our Savior knows more than your best friend, Facebook or Google. His way from point A to point B may not be the fastest route, however, it’s the best route.

“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6

When you read the Bible and see how Jesus would respond to a question with a question or a parable, it makes perfect sense why it’s not always easy to know what His answer is to our prayers. I guess the important thing is that we never stop listening to or seeking our Savior. Because He lives, I can face tomorrow….

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13

Open the door

It’s Halloween. Most people think about decorating, dressing up, handing out candy, and parties. Some of those things come to my mind, however, losing my mom will always be right there at the top.

Twenty-five years ago, I received a call from my dad. I vividly remember how he struggled to talk as he shared he had just called 911. My mom lost her battle to cancer. I think what hurt the most is the fact that she lost her battle to living many years before that day.

Life is hard. Now that I’m older, I can see how it can be overwhelming. I’m not really sure why some people can’t overcome some of their struggles, but my mom never seemed to “live” life from the time I began middle school. Those were tough years for the both of us.

She was beautiful. She loved music. She loved deeply when she allowed herself to do so. Unfortunately, there was something unknown to me that brought her down into depression — to the point she hardly ever stepped out of the house. Sometimes she didn’t leave her bedroom.

It makes me so sad that I couldn’t help, but she wouldn’t let me in.

If you are struggling with depression, please listen to your friend, daughter, son, or whoever it is that is trying to reach out. They love you, but most likely they really don’t know the right words to say. They are afraid that they’ll push you further away. They are afraid that they’ll lose you forever.

I know you are tired, but there is one who can help. He will give you strength to face the day and to keep moving forward. He will give you peace, love, hope, and JOY! This isn’t coming from some self-help book — I’ve experienced it! Please, if you’ve closed the door on your family or friends, unlock it. Open it. Let someone in.

Most of all, let Jesus in. He is the answer to living life — today and forever.

“For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. ” Matthew 7:8

When your heartstrings get snagged

If you are a grandparent or a parent, you will be able to relate to the emotions that are tied to this story. Actually, MOST people will be able to relate because of life experiences.

My granddaughter, Natalie, recently started preschool. She FaceTimed us last week to tell us she had just completed day 1. It was a good day and her smile said it all.

However, the second day didn’t start off as well. The excitement of starting something new was gone and she woke up with tears streaming down her cheeks. She told her mommy and daddy she didn’t want to go. Some extra time was spent reminding her how much she enjoyed the first day. However, she still wanted to stay home. I’m sure most people can relate to what that feels like when you prefer to stay in the comfort and safety of your home.

My heart was a little heavy that morning and I couldn’t stop thinking about her – wondering how her day was going. My grandma instinct kicked in — and I kept thinking how wonderful it would be if I lived closer so that I could help in some way. I’m really not sure what I could do there to make a difference, but still — I was grateful that I could pray to the One who could be there.

It wasn’t long before my daughter-in-law sent me a text message that morning to share some incredible news. When they walked in the preschool, a little brown-haired girl ran from the other side of the room as soon as she spotted Natalie and asked if she would be her new best friend. Needless to say, that little brunette made a huge difference in how my granddaughter viewed being at school. The two girls immediately began to play and are now building a wonderful friendship. Once again — preschool was a good place to be.

What an excellent reminder her experience is for us all. Sometimes we don’t know when someone is struggling. However, God knows. And when God puts someone on your heart, it’s for a good reason. When we take the time to walk across the room to let someone know that they are noticed, it can turn their day around in a heartbeat – maybe their life. Who is God putting on YOUR heart?

“Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” ~ Philippians 2:3-4

I love you, dad. For eternity.

Beyond the grave.

I did something out of the ordinary today – I visited my dad’s grave. He’s been gone now for eighteen years, and I still seek the comfort I need by reliving all of my favorite memories. I know it’s a personal choice, but for me, I would much rather focus on what we had and what was good. Visiting the cemetery only reminds me that what I loved came to an end.

After I got out of my car and stood there for a few moments where he was buried, I felt a gentle breeze sweep through my hair. It was like God was nudging me to look up and beyond the grave.

I was glad that He caught my attention because I was blessed with what appeared to be a water color painting of trees that were yellow, orange, and green – all lined with the wonders of a golden colored bean field.

Losing someone in this life is hard. However, when we look beyond the grave – we receive comfort and peace when we remember the beauty of where our loved one now lives – for eternity.

Change

I always love it when I see that first leaf that reveals summer is coming to an end. Most of the leaves are still green, and then before you know it most of them have changed. There’s nothing like stumbling upon a rainbow of colors scattered around a tree. For me, this season is magical in Indiana.

Some people will say they do not like it because they know what comes next – snow, cold temps, and possibly icy roads. However, many embrace this time of the year. They love the cooler temps, change in their wardrobe, activities like bonfires, hayrides, football, and carving pumpkins. And, best of all – the anticipation of what colors they’re going to see each year. Sometimes the dominant color is red, and sometimes it might be yellow. Some years, orange. You just never know.

Although this season is one of my favorites, my husband has a different opinion. He loves it when it’s near 90 degrees. He enjoys being outside, so that means he likes activities such as gardening, mowing, and running. Let me tell you what, we are opposite in almost every way! He runs, I walk. He likes his food HOT, and I really don’t care as long as it’s edible. He likes to go, go , go – and I need to space things out. I like pineapple on my pizza, and he does not. He notices details, and I do not. I’m a huge dog fan. Him – not so much.

However, there’s one thread that keeps us together – and that’s our faith. Without it, I’m not sure we would’ve lasted 36 years. I respect his opinion, and he respects mine. I love Jesus, and so does he. We both fail, and we both seek forgiveness.

I’m here to testify that God’s love unifies. It covers sin. It forgives. Gives grace when needed. God’s love never fails.

If you are struggling in your marriage, maybe it’s time for a change – a change in your heart.

Tears in a Bottle

If you’ve ever wondered if the creator of the universe really cares about you when your heart is broken – read on.

“You

keep track

of all

my sorrows.

You have

collected

all

my tears

in your bottle.

You have recorded

each

one

in

your

book.”

Psalm 56:8

He does...

I Believe in You

Mighty Savior. JESUS. Lover of my soul. Powerful. The ALMIGHTY God. Abba Father. Son of God. Prince of Peace. Holy Spirit.

These words tell me who YOU are. However, they remind me who I am – YOUR child. Your daughter. Chosen.

So then, why do I run elsewhere for strength – peace – healing – trust – comfort – wisdom – self-confidence – identity – confirmation – and love? Why do I depend on other people to fill those needs when you are the only one who truly knows my heart? Please help me to see me like you see me.

I love you, Jesus.

Thank you.

Goals

I remember watching my three sons shoot hoops almost every day when they were growing up. Often times I would catch one of them outside alone, aiming for the net – over and over. Our oldest loved going for the 3 pointers. One son loved to take on the challenge of dribbling past a sibling or a friend and taking it in for a layup. One particular son was satisfied (actually, his day was made) when he could participate in a neighborhood pick-up game.

Isn’t that the way it is in life? Some of us get a thrill when we take that long shot, while others have that competitive nature but want to take some time and come up with a strategy. And then there are those who thrive on the camaraderie of life. For them it’s not necessarily about achieving a goal, it’s about spending time with others.

It’s a shame that we can’t seem to find a way to appreciate the way God created others. 

 

How do we get there?

 

A few pointers from God

“Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.” Romans 14:13

“We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak. and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.” Romans 15:1-2

“I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love.” Ephesians 4:2

“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

I will follow Him

“Why are you afraid? How is it that you have no faith?” ~ Mark 4:40

Dispute Resolution

The first time I heard about dispute resolution was way back when my son was in law school. Here’s the definition via Google:

Dispute resolution is the process of resolving disputes between parties. The term dispute resolution is sometimes used interchangeably with conflict resolution, although conflicts are generally more deep-rooted and lengthy than disputes.”

Google’s definition of conflict resolution:

Conflict resolution is a way for two or more parties to find a peaceful solution to a disagreement among them. The disagreement may be personal, financial, political, or emotional. When a dispute arises, often the best course of action is negotiation to resolve the disagreement.”

Looking at the world around us, I truly believe that we all would benefit from taking a class or two to learn how to address differences in opinion – because we truly don’t know how to talk about it or how to properly receive it.

Friends, we are failing in so many ways. We are taking things out of context to back us up when we take a stand when we shouldn’t, and we’re being quiet when we should be making Scripture or God’s Wisdom known. Seriously, what a screwed up world we live in!

No wonder young children don’t know how to handle a simple situation like when a classmate removes a toy from his hands. Some say he should turn the other cheek and that it shouldn’t be a big deal, while others say he needs to learn to stand up for himself and grab the toy back. And then there’s the third – go to someone (teacher or parent) who can intervene and help both sides see what needs to take place. A child quickly learns what works and what doesn’t.

I’ve watched many children throw fits because of the above – and I’m sure the tantrums are their way of expressing ‘I’m mad, but I don’t know what I’m supposed to do to change what happened’. Isn’t that what we are witnessing on the news with the riots?

I agree 1000% that things need to change. People need to treat others with respect. We need to do a better job of listening. However, I feel it all comes down to the heart. Who is on the throne of your life? Who do you love most? Reputation? Self? Politics? President? Pride? History? Or, is it God? Whomever it is, I’m sure your words and actions reveal it.

Hope for you

We planted sunflowers and zinnias in our garden this year. Still waiting on the sunflowers to bloom. However, the zinnias are absolutely beautiful. I love all the different colors and details that make them all so unique.

I recently decided to gather a few and make a bouquet. I’m not very experienced with this, so I searched YouTube for advice from so-called experts who give you all sorts of tips. (By the way, the tips were great!) Although my goal was to learn the proper or best way to put flowers together – like approximately how many you should use so that it doesn’t look too crowded and how many different lengths are best, there was a piece of information that stood out – the meaning behind a zinnia.

First, it’s a symbol of endurance. The reason behind this is most likely because It blooms from mid-summer until the first frost. Second, it is a symbol of a lasting friendship. Let me tell you what, with everything we have experienced the last few months — like all the restrictions due to COVID-19, the constant bickering about masks, people destroying property because they want justice, riots and removing statues, and the ongoing battle about politics, we all need what this flower stands for – endurance and lasting friendships!

The only thing missing is Jesus – and without Him, we have nothing.Thankful for the hope and peace that He provides when we put our trust in Him.

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6

Timeless Gift of Time

I have several friends who have mentioned over the years that they never know what to buy their dad for birthdays, Father’s Day, or Christmas. I remember struggling with the same thing when I was young – so my usual go-to was something exciting like socks, underwear, a tie or cologne. As ridiculous as that may sound, I honestly didn’t know what else to buy him. Unfortunately, he never told me what he needed or what he would like. I have learned that most dads just want to spend time with their children because time just seems to evaporate and none of us will live forever.

The same is true with our Heavenly Father. How much time and effort do we give or show that we love Him? Don’t get me wrong, I know He already knows our thoughts and what’s in our heart – there’s no pretending with Him. He KNOWS if we truly love Him. The thing is, we are bold enough to make statements like “He’s my Savior. I’m a born again Christian. I LOVE Jesus. I don’t know how I did life without Him!” and then fall short when it comes to spending time with Him. As a matter of fact, many “believers” don’t even think about Him unless something has gone wrong and they lift up a prayer because, you know, that’s His job. (*sarcasm)

Jesus is more than that, friends. If that’s where you are – seeking Jesus only when you need something, you’re missing the boat. You’re missing out on experiencing the best relationship you can possibly have – with anyone! How do I know? I’ve been there!

Salvation doesn’t depend on works. However, our relationship with the Heavenly Father is going to be pretty shallow if the only time we think of Him or do something for Him is on Sunday morning – or when we’re suddenly thrust into a crisis and plead with Him to please help. Parents, can you relate to this? Does it feel like the only time your child wants you is when they need something from you?

I remember when I went out on a limb and asked Jesus to show me that He is real. I didn’t ask for a sign, per se, but I wanted to hear it from Him. Here’s what I found: When I opened up my bible and spent time reading (and not just hoping one verse would pop up for an “a-ha!” revelation), He reveals the truth. He touches your heart with words that aren’t just an opinion or happen chance. That’s where you will discover Jesus. That’s when your relationship will grow.

“Yet, O Lord, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.” Isaiah 64:8

“My son, pay attention to what I say; turn your ear to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to one’s whole body.” Proverbs 4:20-22

“By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” John 15:8-13

Does Jesus Still Perform Miracles?

“As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “it was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” Having said these things, he spit on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man’s eyes with the mud and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing.” John 9:1-7

What an amazing story, right? A miracle. I can’t imagine what the blind man experienced the moment he realized he could see! Did he wonder why Jesus healed him? Did he wonder why it took so long? Why now? Or – was he so amazed at everything he saw that he didn’t question anything.

I recently heard a sermon on the above scriptures from the book of John. I love how people have that gift to explain scripture in such a way that we can see how it provides important lessons for us today.

How about you? Are you like me and get so wrapped up in something that’s painful that you miss seeing the obvious that God is making something right?

Whatever it is that you’re going through, God is up to something.

Reflection: Is there something in your life that has changed that would glorify God? Perhaps that’s your miracle.

A New Life

In this time of uncertainty, I long for God’s presence more than ever.

What seemed so real and dependable, you know – those things that filled our time up with memories, are now suddenly gone. Vanished into thin air. So now we experience the emptiness of life and we grieve the loss of our normal. There’s no hiding the truth that this transition hurts. It’s difficult. It’s confusing. It’s convicting.

The encouraging truth is, however, we need not suffer from hopelessness – because our God lives. And He’s taking us to a new land. A new life. We just need to trust Him.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6

I can’t do this

One of the benefits of getting to watch church online is that I now have the opportunity to watch my favorite pastor, who happens to be my husband, share a message and then listen to several other ministers preach as well. For example, I’ve recently been blessed to watch a high school friend preach, and then I worshiped with another friend as he shared the gospel from his basement. Who would’ve dreamed that I would watch three different sermons on a Sunday morning?

Here’s the thing, I agree that we are the church. That phrase, in my opinion, has been used way too much. It’s like listening to the weatherman say the same thing over and over again when there’s a storm coming. WE GET IT! When you repeat the same thing 50000 times, it causes a person to stop listening and change the channel – or turn it completely off. I know It’s not the building, the pews, or the history behind the church building that makes us love God — but there are some things that do make me love worshiping with others.

Just in case you’re not following me, this is what I’m talking about…

I miss those moments when I get to hug someone and say, “Hey, how have you been? I noticed you weren’t here last Sunday.” Or, when someone walks up to you and says, “I need to talk to someone,” or maybe they let you know that they’ve been praying for you. There’s something about making eye contact — it allows you to see and feel their pain or joy.

And there’s more.

I love those moments when you hear a newborn baby’s cry echo in the Sanctuary, the crackling of candy wrappers in the pew behind you (because it reminds you they are there), soft whispers from a parent to their child, the closeness of the Holy Spirit that fills a Sanctuary while you listen to a Senior Saint recite a prayer from his heart, and when someone unexpectedly walks forward for prayer or to be baptized. One of my favorite memories was getting goosebumps when I heard Mark’s grandpa sing from his heart just a few pews away from me. No one sings like that unless they love the Lord. What a witness. All of those things draw me nearer to God.

With that being said, I am beyond thankful for all of those people in the ministry who are stepping out of their comfort zones to make sure people are still hearing the gospel. They are working tirelessly in different ways to encourage people to dig deeper in the Word and draw close to Jesus, God, and the Holy Spirit. Maybe all of this is a hard lesson to remind people that It’s all about saving souls. Thank you for your willingness to be servants, for stepping out of your routine and what you’re comfortable doing — all for His glory.

If you have been discouraged or simply drained, here’s something I heard last Sunday. My high school friend, Danny, talked about Paul. He said that there will be times when we will say “I can’t do this, but the important thing to remember is this – but Christ can. Christ can do it through me.” Phil. 4:13

How to move on when you’re in pain

If I were to ask you to tell me about your most painful memory, I bet you could tell me in a heartbeat. It doesn’t matter if it happened 30 years ago, I imagine you could still give me every detail.

I could sit here and share mine, but the truth is — I don’t want to. It’s not something that would be helpful to you in any way. However, it’s a heartache that I’ll have forever.

Here’s the comforting truth, Jesus knows. You don’t have to say a word, yet He knows every detail and how you have struggled with it ever since.

Two thousand years ago, Jesus endured pain like no other. One of the (many) differences is that the details of what He endured does make a difference in our lives today.

We often think about the physical pain when He was beaten and hung on the cross. That in itself is difficult to comprehend. However, we can’t forget that He also felt heartache and anguish like we do today. What did he do when He experienced it? He talked to His Father….

Luke 22:42-44. Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” 43 An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. 44 And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.”

We’ve all been there — in a place where we don’t want to move forward – pleading with God that He would take this (whatever it is) from us.

Jesus set the example for us. Pray, and then let it go. Pray, and move forward on the journey that He has for you. Just like that day in the garden, God will give you the strength to move on when you truly believe.

Marriage 101

It’s hard to believe I’ve been married for almost 36 years. We tied the knot when I was in the eighth grade, and it’s been uphill ever since. 😉

The truth is, I didn’t meet him until I was a freshman in college — and it has been a rollercoaster ride ever since! My life, and everything that made it seem safe and secure, was about to change. It was that year that I became a Christian. It was that year when I met my future husband. It was that year when I had the courage to peel off my mom’s apron strings and learn to make my own decisions.

I’ll never forget the day I met Mark. There’s no doubt that I was attracted to his natural leadership skills and amazing example of what a faithful follower of Christ looks like. I remember thinking, “I wonder if he even notices someone like me?” I was a new Christian and wasn’t brought up in a Christian home. He was an extrovert, and I was more like an introvert. I could go on and on, but I think you get the picture.

In the midst of all the twists and turns that year, what I wanted in a soulmate changed, so I broke off a long relationship I had with a guy from back home. It was tough because I did love him as a friend and life sure did feel secure when I was with him, however, we both needed to look for another special someone. What I have learned throughout the years is what I needed most was a spouse who would love me, even when I mess up. And that, my friends, is exactly who I am blessed with. God knew.

I was recently looking for a devotion on my Bible App, and up popped a marriage devotion. I don’t normally do marriage devotions or even read books on how to improve your relationship because, honestly, I find them a little corny. Sometimes I have found them to have scenarios or topics I can’t relate to, so I stopped reading after a couple pages.

Well, I loved the devotion so much that I ended up purchasing the author’s book. It’s called ” A Lifelong Love” by Gary Thomas.

Listen, maybe you don’t think you need suggestions on how to have a good marriage. I get it. Let me tell you what, this book helps you look at your responsibility in marriage in a totally different way. I’ve experienced several “oh. my. goodness!” moments as I’ve read through the pages. All I can say is… I wish I had read this book a long time ago.

I admit I haven’t been the best wife throughout the years. There’s been a few times when I should’ve won Wife of the Year Award, however, I have failed in so many ways. Thankfully, I still have some time left to make my best effort to be what God wants me to be…. If you’re reading this, there’s still time for you, too.

What If…

I wasn’t going to write about the Coronavirus, mainly because I’m t i r e d of reading articles about it, listening to all the opinions that express frustration about this or that. Can you relate? I find it to be draining.

However, this is our life right now. Don’t get me wrong. I get it. I understand why people are anxious. In all of my lifetime, I’ve never seen things change so much in such a short amount of time. I work at a preschool, so guess what — my job may be over for the school year. I don’t know that yet, however, it’s a very unsettling time because of the unknown.

A friend mentioned that it’s like we are having an invisible blizzard. If you’ve ever experienced one, then you know that’s a perfect analogy. Everything is coming to a halt. We have no control. The main difference is that we still have electricity.

This is life — sometimes it can be really, really good. However, sometimes it can be the opposite. And this is why I started my blog. Over the years I’ve tried to be open and share what’s happening, and then I try my best to offer words of encouragement in case someone else out there is facing something similar. I don’t always have the right words, but I’ll give it my best shot.

I’ve been reading the One Year Bible since January 1, 2020. It’s funny how we shrug off what people went through back then because it almost seems unbelievable, and then…. here we are — in the middle (or is this just the beginning?) of something almost unbelievable. I guess the Old Testament is helpful for today!

Here’s the thing. It’s Lent. You know, that time when many believers give up something — like meat, chocolate, TV, FB, or something else that most likely isn’t that hard to live without. I shouldn’t throw everyone out there into the same basket. I do know there are some who take it seriously. I apologize if I offended anyone.

However….

What if God is allowing this to show us exactly what it means to give up something. What if He is trying to reveal to us what we truly treasure? Is it the almighty dollar? Sports? Control? Pride? What if He is allowing our life (as we know it) to be shook up in order to reveal how much we trust Him? Does our security come from trusting that He is in control — or does it come from other people, our finances, etc. When I ask myself those questions, I am humbled beyond measure.

I believe there’s a lesson in everything. I pray we will rise up to the occasion and be bold enough to ask Him to reveal what we should be learning in such a time as this. Then, I pray when this crazy virus is long gone, we will remember to look up and thank Him for such a teachable experience….and praise Him for bringing us through it.

Thank you, Lord.

 

 

Memes the Word

I find the trend to post memes on social media interesting. Maybe people do it because they don’t have anything to talk about, or perhaps some of those memes represent something that’s going on in their life. Probably both.

I feel that some of the memes that have been circulating around contain messages that most people seem to like or support, but I wonder if they really understand their meaning or why they were shared. It’s just so easy to click “like” – right?

The most common ones tell you to stop comparing yourself to others, love yourself as you are, and in a roundabout way say you will be happy if you remove yourself from toxic people.

Although I agree that it’s dangerous to compare, I believe it can motivate you to step up your game. Everyone knows we aren’t equally gifted in all areas. Where you are strong, I may be weak. Someone may be stunning in looks, but lack compassion for others. You get the picture.

Love yourself as you are? How about love yourself enough to make the effort to improve or change? I’m thankful I didn’t settle for how I was living my life several years ago. God loves me, yes. However, he sets the bar in His Word. If I’m not reading it, then I’m going to remain the same as the day I realized I needed Him as my Savior. I DIDN’T love myself back then. That’s when I realized I needed a Savior. That’s when my love for Him helped me overcome and start making changes. I’m still a work in progress. We all are.

Avoid toxic people? Is that really possible? What spot on earth can you separate yourself from them? Ha. I get it — some people are in a scary place because their life is being controlled by unhealthy people. Some friends I know have been abused and need encouragement to step away and seek help. I know it’s a serious problem in society. However, my point is — if you’re a believer, then you understand that God loves those people, too! We need to pray for them, work with them, and let them experience God’s love through us. If necessary – do those things from afar.

Last, but not least, let’s talk about those cat and dog memes. Now we’re talking! Those are all true, funny, and good for your heart.

No words

I recently went with a couple friends to visit someone I’ve known a long time who is in rehab. Although she’s dealing with a lot of physical pain, it was obvious that she was battling a broken heart. Completely shattered. You see, she lost her adult son a few months ago due to a tragic accident. I could feel the pain from across the room.

Sometimes she teared up and struggled to talk –that’s when I found myself absolutely speechless. I silently prayed that God would give me the right words to say because the words I wanted to speak didn’t seem right for the moment. However, all that I could offer was a nod that I knew her pain was as intense as it was the first day that she lost him.

We talked about many things, but we managed to come back to her son, and his wife, and their kids…..

She finally asked that one question that goes through everyone’s mind at some point in life. Why? Why, did God let this happen? I think that’s an answer she needs to learn from Him. Not from me or any other friend who tries to offer comfort. Because only God knows.

I am praying that she will allow God to lift her up and give her the strength that she needs in order to endure life. Won’t you pray for her with me?

“I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him.” Psalm 40:1-3

Child of God

I recently had the pleasure of going on a trip to Grand Cayman. What made it even more special was that I got to fly on a private jet. It was my first experience, and it was pretty wonderful.

I’m not one who likes to do things in order to feel better than everyone else, but I do like that feeling of being someone special. I guess we all do. It’s funny how ONE thing can make you feel that way.

The week was amazing. The weather was perfect. I truly appreciated being able to walk outside every day — especially since there were cold temps back where we live. The added bonus was that we got to know a lot of people from other states who were so fun to be around. What a blessing.

Yesterday, as I scrolled through my pics, I stopped at the one above. Although it wasn’t the best photo, it brought back that wonderful feeling of I can’t believe I’m on a private jet. We weren’t served peanuts and pretzels. However, we were served delicious danishes from Panera. I was like a kid at Disney when I discovered that lunch and dessert were served on our way home. I loved how the pilots took the time to talk to us. It was an experience I’ll never forget.

That feeling of being someone special or important is one of the best feelings, ever. However, I’m learning that it’s just a feeling and not necessarily the truth when it comes from an experience or from depending on someone’s compliments. It sure is hard when we sense that feeling is vanishing into thin air — especially as time passes, you grow older, or the compliments stop.

Self image is pretty tricky sometimes. I regret that I’ve depended on others for my self-worth, especially when my maker has been trying to tell me who I am all along.

Forgiveness

It amazes me how we all view forgiveness differently.

One may think that some don’t deserve it. However, when you’ve been on the receiving end — your view can change as you experience the force behind it.

I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life. Some I can view as normal teen error in judgement. Others, well — I just totally screwed up. It’s scary how satan can mask something so that it appears to be right.

A few years ago, I was told that I was forgiven by someone I love. I knew I didn’t deserve it. I guess that’s what made me realize I was truly loved.

Friends, if there’s someone who has hurt you, lied to you, or perhaps they rallied the troops to throw stones at you — remind yourself that there is someone who understands your pain.

His name is Jesus.

Jesus – There’s something about that name

After a long, difficult day where I help teach preschool, my soul was touched when I heard a group of children randomly sing “Jesus Loves Me” in our classroom. There is nothing more uplifting than hearing the voices of children lift up His name.

Oh, how He loves you and me…

What Happens When We Ignore the Pain

I received such a sad message this week that one of my son’s friends died at his workplace. I couldn’t believe it – he was only 34 years young. As of today, the cause isn’t known.

Tonight was the viewing, and as soon as I saw his mom we embraced. I sensed that she was still in shock, but it’s possible she ran out of tears for the time being.

After we talked in the entrance, my husband and I walked around — looking at all the photos they had on display. Such a short life to be captured on the boards along the way.

As we walked up to the casket, I felt his mom’s presence once again. She had walked up behind me and began to explain what she knew. She said,”He had been complaining of chest pains for a couple weeks, but he thought it was something like pleurisy.” Her explanation stopped there and that’s when my thoughts drifted off — trying to imagine what she is thinking and feeling. All I could think of is how different things would be if he had taken the time to get the pain checked out.

Such a sad story for the ones left behind. Absolutely heartbroken are his wife and 3 daughters, mom and dad, and naturally — his friends.

As we walked out to our car, I couldn’t help but think how easy it is to dismiss those warning signs that indicate something is seriously wrong — physically, mentally or spiritually. Why do we do it?

How about you? Are you ignoring some warning signs that are trying to grab your attention? Life can be incredibly complicated, but God is incredibly good.

He just might be pursuing you — sending you messages through something painful — trying to reveal that something needs to heal, change, be plucked out of your life.

“If you aren’t willing to listen to everything God has to say, you eventually won’t hear anything He has to say. If you want to hear His comforting voice, you have to listen to His convicting voice. And it’s often what we want to hear least that we need to hear most.” ~Mark Batterson

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Proverbs 4:23

Are you riding on a coattail?

When I was in the 6th grade, I had to give my first oral presentation. I was extremely nervous about getting in front of my peers, especially since I wasn’t prepared.

We had a choice to do a report on a book or a movie — then tell the class about the highlights. The purpose of the presentation was to make what we read or watched so appealing that most of the audience would want to read or see it. My best friend and I both thought the movie would be more fun, so that’s what we chose to do.

The thing is, I didn’t get to see the movie. I knew I would fail the class if I didn’t do the report and the presentation, so I did the unthinkable and asked my friend if she would give me all the details that she captured. All I had to do was change some of the words so that it wouldn’t be obvious.

I’ll never forget the anxiety I experienced as I waited for my name to be called to come to the front of the class. There’s something awkward about giving a speech about a movie that you’ve never experienced. My description was very straight forward and quite boring.

I remember the silence in the room as I basically repeated what my friend told me. Believe me, I didn’t experience a wonderful feeling of achievement when explaining the plot and the outcome since I didn’t see it firsthand, and I hoped with all my being that no one would ask me any questions — especially the teacher. Like, what would I say?!

All I know is that I could not wait to get back to my seat because I looked forward to having the weight of the world lifted off of my shoulders. Sadly, that didn’t happen. I ended up experiencing the complete opposite — more like an overwhelming feeling of complete failure all around.

  1. I had deceived my teacher.
  2. I put my friend in a bad position.
  3. I didn’t do what I was instructed to do.
  4. I received a grade that I didn’t deserve.
  5. No one wanted to go see the movie after my speech.

It was then that I realized that it wasn’t a good thing to try to ride on the coattails of someone else in order to be successful.

The same with my faith. I could repeat what others have taught me throughout the years; however, there wouldn’t be any passion behind my words if I haven’t read them and experienced them myself.

How about you? Do you know the way to Heaven, or are you simply hoping to ascend on the coattails of others?

“Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6

When You Hear Your Name

“And let us not get tired of doing what is right for after a while we will reap a harvest of blessings if we don’t get discouraged and give up.” Galatians 6:9

A preschool student was caught making a bad choice in the classroom. The thing is — this wasn’t the first time. Same mistake. Same reaction. When she heard her teacher say her name, she ran from the teacher. No matter what the teacher said as she tried her best to get her student’s attention, the more the little girl became upset and perhaps embarrassed. She finally ducked underneath a desk with hopes that she wouldn’t be seen. What she hasn’t learned yet is that running away and hiding doesn’t make something go away; it was only delaying the inevitable.

As silly or childish as that may seem to an adult, we have to ask — are we any different? It’s pretty humbling when we hear our Father’s voice call out our name as He reveals our sin. Although He may not yell it out from across the room, it’s pretty clear when He’s trying to get our attention through scripture, a sermon, or through a life experience.

Listen, no one likes to get caught doing something wrong. However, the sooner we stop running or hiding from God — from the truth — the sooner we are able to finally face the truth that we are sinning and that we need to change.

If you’re feeling as though God is out there — like….far away, perhaps it’s because you are the one who is running away. If you have something in your life that would make you cringe if it was revealed to others (like addiction, jealousy, lying, or stealing) then you need to just stop now…. and listen to the voice of truth. Why? Because He loves you and He knows what’s best for your life. Trust Him. 

“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” Proverbs 4:23

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dreams

Have you ever had a dream that something would happen? Like, you almost become obsessed with it and can’t stop thinking about it? I’ve had several in my lifetime, and it’s pretty amazing when that dream comes true.

I love to take pictures. Most of them are of nature or landscape type photos. They’re nothing really special and I certainly don’t receive a million likes for anything I’ve shared (ha), but I truly enjoy it. It does something in my heart that I can’t explain.

I’ve had this desire to capture different moments. The first is where it looks like someone is holding the moon in the palm of their hand, or where someone is hanging on the edge of a crescent shaped moon. That would be epic.

I guess missed opportunities sometimes spark something inside, too. I once saw a bright red Cardinal sitting on a snow-covered branch, and as soon as I took a step closer to snap a pic, he flew away. There’s no doubt that the picture would’ve been frame worthy, but I guess it wasn’t meant to be. Naturally, that is on my list.

The last one that I’ve always hoped for is capturing the sky with a red, white, and blue sunset. Unless you have photoshop, it’s not something that you make happen. So you look…and you wait.

The other night, I was walking outside when I noticed the beautiful sunset that was developing. I started taking pictures with my IPhone. It wasn’t until I looked at the photos later on that I realized that one of my dreams had finally come true. (Picture above) BAM!

Dreams are fun. I’m really not sure what drives us to dream of wanting something, but I do know they give you something to look forward to. Day after day.

Here’s the thing…. When we become so focused on the outcome of our dreams rather than what is eternal, we are setting ourselves up for disappointment and maybe heartache. Oh, it’s heavenly when something good happens — like getting that picture that you’ve always hoped for, but the thrill quickly vanishes. However, when we put all of our hope in those things that only God can provide — we will experience true joy. Everlasting.

“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

2 Corinthians 4:18

Embracing Love

If you’re like me, sometimes you read something that truly resonates with your spirit and you Immediately underline it or highlight it. You might even write a little note next to it with the date. If it’s on the internet, you might tweet it or post it on Facebook.

When I was reading my devotions, I read this: “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Keep your mouth free of perversity; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways.”

~Proverbs 4:23-27

I’ve read those words a million times, and I’ve never realized their significance until now. Isn’t it funny how life changes your perspective? Words I once read over and over now pops off the page and pierces my heart. That’s exactly why I’m sharing it here. Maybe you need the reminder, too.

I’m also reading this book titled Sensible Shoes, by Sharon Garlough Brown. Although I’m having the hardest time getting through it, (I’ve been trying to read it for a year!) I have highlighted several comments that were that good and I wanted to remember them. Today I read this…

“What if God is trying to pour out his love for you through me?”

The story is too complicated to explain and doesn’t really matter here but makes me think. Do you have that someone in your life that you’re rejecting because you’re just not ready for love? Or, perhaps you are losing someone due to circumstances you can’t control. Maybe God was using that person to pour HIS love into your life — just for a period of time. Whatever the case may be, we should be thankful that we got to experience it at all.

The old saying “love hurts” is true, but it’s worth it.

New Beginnings

And so a new school year has begun!


I don’t know about you but when I was growing up, I always looked forward to this time of year.  I couldn’t wait to get new school supplies and maybe a few new clothes. As I got older, I looked forward to meeting new classmates and new teachers. Along with the anticipation, however, I was anxious about the unknown and afraid of experiencing what seemed like unrealistic expectations.

Middle school…. How do you explain the middle school years? If you’ve been through it, you know these years can be the best and most challenging of all.  That’s when you’re trying to figure out who you are and where you fit in.  I often pray specifically for these teachers because they play such an important role in helping their students learn how to handle all kinds of changes.  

Everyone has their favorite years.  For me, it was a relief to start high school. It was my freshman year when I realized I needed to buckle down and focus more on my education. There’s nothing like a fresh, clean start.

When I started college, my life changed in many ways.  That’s the year I realized I needed to focus on what God desired rather than striving to be loved by my peers. The truth that Jesus loved me and had a purpose for me ricocheted in my spirit and changed everything. I pray you understand that truth applies to you, too. 

Since that time,  I’ve learned that life can give us some of the hardest lessons and tests.  Sometimes we ace them, sometimes we fail. What we need to remember, though, is that God gives us the wisdom, strength, and courage we need if we’ll just take the time to read His Word. Unlike certain subjects in school that seem worthless because we don’t see how we’ll possibly use them later in life, His Word is filled with words of wisdom that we need for eternity.

“For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” Romans 15:4

Pick Me

Queen Anne’s Lace

I have always loved Queen Anne’s Lace and I’ve often wondered how something so beautiful could possibly be a weed. If you’re not familiar with it, you can find it growing along a country road or next to a field. Be sure to look for it. Its unique design reminds me of a snowflake.

Recently, curiosity got the best of me so I googled this plant to see what I could find out. One fact that didn’t come as a surprise was that it reproduces from seed and each one can produce thousands of seeds. Needless to say, it is invasive. No doubt that’s why most people don’t want it around. What surprised me, though, is that it’s considered to be a weed in some locations and in some areas it’s not. Apparently it depends on who you ask.

The story that really struck me, however, was this one. A lady stopped at a flower sale and purchased a plastic cup that contained a plant. Even though she wasn’t sure what kind of plant she was purchasing, she didn’t mind because she loved it!

Not long after got home and planted it, a friend of hers asked if she realized she had purchased a weed. As you’ve probably guessed, she had purchased a cup filled with Queen Anne’s Lace.

Her story reminds me of Jesus and how He paid the price for us . Even though He knew we were far from perfect and that our bad choices could multiply like a thousand seeds blowing along the country side, He still picked us so that we could have life — eternity with Him.

“I’ll never quit telling the story of your love.” Psalm 89:2

“Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.” Ecclesiastes 3:11

What’s holding you back?

You guys. If you read my previous thoughts about going to the Dominican, I hope you will read this one!

I’m back home now, and oh my….. I’m so thankful I didn’t let fear stop me from going on this mission trip. Every single bad thing I thought might happen….didn’t. What I thought would be the highlight….. wasn’t. What I was unsure of became the best part. Life is like that, isn’t it? We just never know what the future holds. I’m learning that’s exactly why we need to stand firm in our faith.

I was offered an opportunity to help teach children English and teach them about God — mainly by sharing His love through my actions. The day before I went out to one of the villages for VBS, I shared part of my testimony with a group of women. They encouraged me to share it during VBS, but I just couldn’t bring myself to share it. I’m still struggling with the fact that I missed that opportunity. It’s like having a sour stomach — for days. I pray I’ll be able to share it one day.

The message on her shirt says it all.

Here’s what I shared with my group. Maybe it will help someone who’s reading this now….

Side Note: The reason I shared this portion of my testimony was because of this question that came up: When did you realize you were a sinner? It brought up a memory from when I was younger and a realization that I discovered I was a sinner before I was a teenager, but I didn’t know what I needed to do about it until much later.

This is what I shared:

When I was in elementary school, a friend and I argued over a boy we both liked. I remember telling her that he was going to marry me. Her reply has stuck with me all these years. She said, “He will never like you because you don’t go to church.” I remember how sad I felt because it was true. You can’t argue with the truth. My family didn’t go to church. In addition to that truth, I thought God probably didn’t love me for the same reason.

For years I felt like I wasn’t good enough, my life was hopeless and that God didn’t even like me. Thankfully, one day someone finally explained that we are all sinners (even the ones who go to church) and although worshiping with other believers is important, it wasn’t something that God checked off a list to determine if He should love us. He loved us first and our “works” aren’t meant to be a way to get to Heaven but should be a heartfelt response to our love for Him.

The truth is, He died on the cross for all of us – not a select few. He loved us from the beginning, and He will continue to be there for us – waiting for us to come to Him – to come home. It’s so hard to comprehend this unconditional love when we constantly face judgement and rejection from others. Can you relate?

However, there’s no comparison to God’s love. No matter how difficult it is, we can’t take our experience with relationships here and compare them to our relationship with Christ. He knows us better than anyone, and He still loves us. Thank you, God.

If you haven’t accepted Christ as your Savior, you can do it right now. You don’t have to go to church to make this happen, but you can. The truth is –God is right where you are. Tell Him you love Him. Tell Him you know you’re a sinner and you’re seeking forgiveness — then let Him come into your life and change it.

“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” ~ Romans 5:6-8

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:2

What are you waiting on?

Where Does Your Peace Come From?

Several years ago, we went on our first mission trip. The place was Costa Rica. It was a life-changing experience; however, I remember telling my husband during that week that I wasn’t cut out for this. I remember being so relieved when we got home. I had learned to appreciate what I took for granted. I saw families experience happiness even though they basically had nothing. I experienced the love of Jesus in that place. No question. The thing was, I just didn’t think I could do it again — ever.

But here I am, packing for a trip to the Dominican. We are going with a different group, but they have the same purpose — to be the hands and feet of Jesus.

I admit I’m a little nervous. There have been 9 reported American deaths in the D.R. A part of me wants to cancel, but a part wants me to stick with it. So, here we are…

I recently sat with a senior saint from our church. After she walked me around her back yard, showing me her beautiful flowers, she started talking about her family.

She said they are “crazy fun” to be around. She paused, then she mentioned that one of her daughters died several years ago. She was one of the healthiest kids — always eating right and exercising. Unfortunately, she found out she had cancer and died a few months later.

This senior saint looked up at me and asked, “Do you believe that God determines how many days we will live on this earth?” She then added, “I do, and that’s what gives me peace about my daughter.”

It gives her peace knowing that God is in control.

What a blessing her visit was. She has no clue how much I needed to hear those words, but God…..

“Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand–when I awake, I am still with you.” Psalm 139:16-18

Let them Know

A thankful heart for his hero. Whoever your hero is — first responders, military, or a policeman — be sure to let them know that you are thankful for their service.

Control

I’ve been thinking about all the hot topics in our country. Know what I think? I think it’s all about control. No one wants to lose it. No one wants someone else telling them how to live their life and that they can’t do this, buy this, or live this way. Naturally, morals and faith come into the picture when we take a stand, but what screams out is control.

Just read the following story and see what your conclusion is…

My dad died in 2004. It was difficult for many reasons. My adult, mentally challenged brother still lived with him prior to this and we needed to figure out where he was going to live. None of that was discussed, ever. My dad had dementia; therefore, it was impossible to find out what he wanted for my brother.

Thankfully, after doing a lot of research and making a lot of calls, we were able to get my brother in a program that provided services for adults with special needs. It was very beneficial for his well-being. Having a social worker take care of his bills was the best thing for him. She gave him an allowance each week so that he wouldn’t spend all of his money at one time. THIS way, I knew all his bills would be paid — and paid on time. THIS way, I could be his sister and not someone who became his caretaker. Because of his strong personality, this was for the best for both of us.

Well, he didn’t like the fact that someone else had control of his money — even though it was the best thing for him. He didn’t like being told “no” when he asked for more, so he signed himself out of the program.

Needless to say, that was the worst decision he could’ve possibly made. In his eyes, however, life was good again because he had the freedom to make his own decisions about what happened with his money. He could take off for Florida if he chose to do so. He could go out to eat every day if he wanted. The bad thing was, he quickly ran out of money. His bills piled up and his electricity was almost shut off several times. The car he purchased on his own was a lemon and he had to have it towed. It couldn’t be repaired so he returned it to the small business dealership where he purchased it. Oh, and he put a post-it note on the windshield with this message: “I don’t want this car anymore. It’s a lemon.” He has told so many lies over the years — I’m not even sure what the truth is anymore.

{Side note: If you’re wondering why I, his sister, didn’t become his payee and take care of his bills, I did. I tried. However, he called the sheriff’s department in the county I lived in to report that I was “keeping his money from him.” This, of course, wasn’t true. He was willing to do whatever it took to get what he wanted}

My brother wanted complete control over his life. Well, he has that now– but it has only created one problem after another. Because of his situations, I have received call after call — wanting me to fix it – NOW! I could write a book on that!

You might be thinking…but this case is unique because he’s mentally challenged. Is it? Isn’t it a prime example of how many others are fighting for their right to having control over their life?

Sometimes other people do know what’s best for you — even when what’s best isn’t convenient for you or exactly the way you want it.

Just my thoughts…

Fill My Cup, Lord

When you hear the word ministry, what’s the first thing that comes to your mind? If you’re a minister, on staff at a church or someone who is committed to serving, I hope you think of love.

Working with people is hard. There’s so many different expectations; most importantly — there are many needs.

Friends, there are people dying who have never experienced the love of Christ because no one cared enough to take the time to show them. (Hopefully that someone didn’t run out of time because they had to rush off to a meeting!)

If you are in the ministry, I pray you remember who you are serving. This will help you to know when it’s OK to say ‘no’. On the flip-side, keeping this in mind will also help you know when you should drop your to-do list and take the time to show the love of Christ.

The truth is, serving others shouldn’t rob the joy of serving our Creator, and our busy life shouldn’t get in the way of leading someone to Christ.

If you’re getting t i r e d or maybe wondering if what you’re doing even makes a difference — go to Jesus now and let Him fill your cup with His power, wisdom, and strength.

Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go.d 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.e 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations,f baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,g 20 and teachingh them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with youi always, to the very end of the age.”j
Matthew 28:16-20 “

A Father’s Love

BABY
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.


Point me in the right direction

Have you ever told someone that you can’t do something because it’s out of your comfort zone? Yeah, same here. I have said that about two things: speaking in front of people (I visibly shake all over), and lacking the ability to teach a group of high school age – older adults.

Let me tell you what, God sure knows how to get you to do something without you even realizing what’s happening. Although most of my friends have witnessed how standing in front of people makes my blood pressure spike, and that teaching preschoolers has always been my first choice – I’ve learned that God’s plan doesn’t always align with what we think we are capable of doing. Catch my drift?

Not long ago, a Sunday School teacher invited me and a good friend of mine to his class that’s geared for young adults. I’m not even close to that age, so I guess they just wanted some input from someone older. I like to think that I had some words of wisdom to offer since I have certainly experienced a lot of life-lessons that taught me well. Some were pleasant, and others- not so much. After a few Sundays, the teacher alluded to the fact that he would like us to co-teach the class. I laughed at first, but then quickly realized he was being serious. I’m not sure if that was his plan all along, however, it was a brilliant way to introduce us to the class and help us feel like we were a part of it before he asked us to help lead it.

Don’t ever underestimate God. He is so amazing in how He orchestrates His plan. It’s all about His timing and our willingness to serve Him.

“Show me the right path, O LORD; point out the road for me to follow.” ~ Psalm 25:4

How’s your heart?

I had to see a cardiologist last week. What prompted this appointment was high blood pressure and the results from an EKG. A PA put me on a new Rx a few weeks ago that seemed to take care of my bp, however, my EKG indicated I needed further testing. I had a stress test, so next up was an appt. with the cardiologist.

I really wasn’t nervous about it. I looked forward to meeting him and truly planned on receiving good news that everything is OK.

When I was alone in the examining room, I couldn’t help but notice the beautiful wooden bookshelves that were filled with books that all said “Heart” something on the cover. Shocking, I know. But seriously, how many books are there about the heart?

Behind me was a mirror with a message written around it on the wall that said something like, “Miracles happen every day.” I l o v e d it. I’m sure many have hoped for a miracle – especially when their heart was failing. I was going to get out my phone and snap a pic, however, I figured the doctor would walk in about that time and think I was taking a selfie — which would be weird and awkward. Ha ha ha.

First, someone came in to do another EKG, followed with a lot of detailed questions that required a lot of answers I had to think about. Some answers were obvious, but some of the questions were different than what I expected. That’s when the doc explained that I may have a beginning of a blockage. As a result, I had the option of scheduling a scan (with dye) or a heart cath. If they don’t see a blockage with the scan, then there won’t be any further tests. Of course, if there’s a blockage, they could take care of it right away if I would go with the second option.

He said it was up to me. I didn’t hesitate with my answer – I wanted a scan.

You might be wondering why on earth I wouldn’t want to do the heart cath and take care of it right away – if needed. Believe me, I realize that timing is everything. I’ve heard many stories when a doctor said after a diagnosis or a death, “If only she had come to me a month ago, or even a week ago.” The thing is, I had a heart cath several years ago and didn’t have a good experience. Very scary, actually. I ended up staying in the hospital for about a week. Once you have something like that happen, it makes you run the other way.

I understand why you might question my choice, and I’m trying my best to understand yours….

Why don’t you see a need for Jesus in your life? You might be wondering what Jesus has to do with my appointment. Friend, Jesus has everything to do with my heart — and yours. If it’s something you’re putting off for another time, remember that time is fleeting. If you had a negative experience associated with church, please don’t let that reflect who God is – and what Jesus did for you. People fail. God doesn’t. If you really don’t know that much about him, why not spend some time reading about him? If you don’t have a Bible and you’re shy about asking a friend, google this question: Why is Jesus important to Christians? That’s a start, anyway.

Listen, I’m not your judge. I don’t want that job! I’m just passing on what I know and what I’ve read in God’s Word. Just like when the cardiologist told me I had a choice, you have to make a choice, too. NO one wants to hear that there’s something wrong with their heart, however, taking the time to make sure it’s OK is worth it.

God told us through His word that we are all sinners. No matter how good we look on the outside, we need Jesus. It’s a choice I made years ago, and I’ve never regretted it. No one forced me. No one had to drag me to church. I felt a tug, His invitation, and I accepted.

Am I perfect? Far from it. Is my life magical and without problems? Ha! No. But, I now have hope, guidance, strength, love, comfort, and wisdom from the One who specializes in transforming hearts – Jesus.

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. ~ John 14:6

Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. ~ Psalm 51:10

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. ~ John 3:16

Fall in Indiana

I love to take pictures. Usually my objects are places or things. I recently went to one of my favorite walking spots to see how much the leaves had changed. It was beautiful. A picture doesn’t capture the sounds you hear or the feel of the cool, crisp air. My favorite time of year.

I took a picture of the bridge, although I knew it would be very similar to ones I’ve taken in the past. The only change was the color of the leaves that framed it. Was I disappointed? Not really. Sometimes it’s nice when there’s not a lot of change in your go-to place. It almost represents a place of stability.

If you’re a novice, what’s your favorite place or thing to capture? What do you find to be the most challenging? Please share!

Let love win

I always say I’m not going to do this, but here I am again- talking about the day my mom died from cancer. I received the call the day before Halloween. A call I’ll never forget. I guess writing this out here is my therapy.

It’s been years. We weren’t close, yet we were. I guess you could say our relationship was complicated. There’s no doubt that I loved her – the heartbreak I experienced when my dad called that morning told me so. It meant that there wouldn’t be any more time to make amends. No more time left to make up for lost time when we didn’t speak. Years lost.

I have forgiven her for those things that hurt me so deeply. Did she ever say she was sorry? No. Did she ever admit that she made mistakes? No. Does she deserve it? This is when I look at myself, and all the horrible mistakes I have made over the years. Do I deserve forgiveness? No. Have I been forgiven? Yes, by the grace of Jesus.

God has taught me through life experiences that there’s power in forgiveness. If you want control (like I did) and want to make sure you’re never hurt again by that person, forgive them. Set boundaries if necessary, but you can be the bigger person. You’ll never forget, but the incredible power of the Holy Spirit can create a peace in that heart of yours that you never knew you could experience. Trust me.

Friends, if you are carrying bitterness in your heart because you know someone was smart enough to know better when they hurt you (through their words or actions) – do yourself a favor, and let. it. go. Learn from it. Seek counseling if you need to and absolutely do not forget to pray to the ultimate healer of all – God. Don’t waste your life with vengeance being your driving force. That only wastes precious minutes or years on your timeline. Time you can’t get back. You miss out on God’s goodness, love, and peace when you’re so focused on hate. Move on. Don’t repeat the past. Let love win.

Lessons from a child

Life has certainly been a whirlwind these last couple of weeks. Our youngest son married his best friend last Friday. I absolutely loved everything about the ceremony – and most of all, I love the people who were in it. My husband officiated it, my other two sons were groomsmen, and my granddaughter was the flower girl.

A few hours before the ceremony, my granddaughter asked if we could walk out to where the wedding was going to take place. It dawned on me that she hadn’t practiced, so I thought it would be a great idea for her to do a walk-thru. As she started to walk down the aisle, I noticed she wasn’t pretending to toss the petals. When I mentioned it to her, she told me she was going to wait until she got to the front and toss them all up in the air! Although that would’ve been a brilliant way to introduce the bride and fun to watch, I told her that the people in the back would be disappointed that they didn’t have any petals. I explained that they were like a gift to everyone. (Wouldn’t you know, during the ceremony she made sure each pew/bench received some at the end of it. It was priceless.)

Before we headed back to where the wedding party was gathering before the guests arrived, I pointed to where her mommy was going to sit so that she could sit with her after she finished walking down the aisle. About the time I finished my sentence, she walked up to the round table where the unity candle was going to be placed and said in her sweet little voice that this is where she wanted to be when she was done. I asked her why she wanted to stand there, and she said in the most convincing and sincere voice, “because I am the princess.”

I couldn’t argue with her statement. How do you tell a 5 year old they aren’t a princess? Instead, I said, “Yes, you are a princess, and some day when you are a bride – you can stand at the round table. Once again, when she finished passing out the petals during the actual ceremony, she did exactly what she was asked to do. She sat by her mommy and aunt.

I think my granddaughter taught me a valuable lesson last Friday. We are all important for different reasons in the roles we play in our small world, however, sometimes we have to be willing to let someone else shine and have the spotlight.

Are You Ready?

Afghanistan. Covid. Racism.

War. A virus. A people problem.

What do they all have in common? Turmoil, Death. Division, and no control.

I don’t care which political party you choose, how much education or money you have, OR where you live –because the real problem is that people are turning away from the ONE who has all the answers; the one and only who holds the key to peace, joy, love, and eternal life.

You say God is something made up? I say you’re wrong. You think this world is bad? Just wait. My God, even though I deserve hell, promised He would save me and give me eternal life with HIM if I repent and surrender my life to HIM. That promise is for all who make that choice. Does that mean this life will be easy? No. But now I have something to look forward to – eternal life with Jesus.

If you are holding back, it’s time. It’s time to surrender and let go. Who knows, Jesus might return tomorrow. Are you ready?