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.

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

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?

Prayer

If you’ve never had the opportunity to teach a Sunday School class, you are truly missing out. I recently filled in for a teacher, and although our class was small — it was pure JoY spending time with young, honest, inquisitive 1st and 2nd grade minds. Did I mention honest?

The topic we began with was prayer. The guide broke prayer down into four parts: I love you prayers, I’m sorry prayers, I’m thankful prayers, and please prayers. In adult terms — adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication. I’m sure you’ve heard those terms. All parts are important to remember when we talk to our Savior.

First, the girls made sure I knew how their teacher did things each Sunday. (Insert a smile here) I do appreciate their help. The only time it becomes a problem is when you want to do something a little different. They look at you like you’re nuts!… or that you don’t know what you’re doing. (You can insert a laugh here)

Next, I asked them what they would say to God for each category. I have to admit there was one that stood out — perhaps due to the fact it was the FIRST thing that came to her mind. When we were focusing on the confession section of prayer, she said that she knew someone who needed to apologize. She said he had been mean, and he never said he was sorry. Isn’t that how we, adults, talk to God? “But God, that person is horrible! I’m so sick and tired of their behavior. They need to apologize! They need to change.” Yes, we need to pray for others, but let’s not forget something very important. ‘I’ am a sinner, also. ‘I’ need to ask for forgiveness. ‘I’ need to improve my thoughts and/or actions. ‘I’ need to change.

How are we reminded? Through the heart of a child and through His Word…

“You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” Matt. 7:5