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Do your circumstances define you or are you a reflection of who Christ is and of your relationship with Him?
Have you heard the phrase, “Just make the best of it?”
Have you heard the dry reply, “Yeah, right!”
Rog and Charlie worked in a bakery at which they arrived early to set up, whip up icing and start the baking before the store opened. Rog, having a mischievous spirit, enjoyed practical jokes especially targeting Charlie and the owner.
One morning Rog decided not to add the sugar to the icing made with shortening. He beat it and fluffed it until it looked like it was ready to put on the cakes and cupcakes. Gentle Charlie warned Rog to rethink his decision. Rog pictured what was about to unfold and his glee grew. The owner came in an hour after the fellows and one of the habits she had was to take her pinky, swipe it through the edge of the icing and stick her finger in her mouth to taste it. That morning Rog received the anticipated reaction. Gagging, spitting and sputtering she spewed not so kind words at the prankster. Rog as a gifted comic soon had her laughing as well.
Not only did Rog and gentle quiet, Charlie open the bakery they also closed it. That required prepping for the next day, cleaning equipment, sanitizing and mopping. The guys rotated the different responsibilities but the most miserable task for Rog was mopping. He hated to mop. That one job could just about ruin an otherwise great day.
One night Rog was cleaning equipment. Alternating between humming and whistling Charlie mopped. Now Rog is a type A personality. Gregarious. Practical joker. Hurry-up-and-get-it-done guy. Charlie is a quiet, gentle and methodical fellow. After ten minutes of Charlie’s cheerful labors Rog grumbles, “You are driving me crazy! Every night when you mop you hum and whistle. What’s with the whistling?” Surprised Charlie stopped, leaned on the mop and tilting his head stared at Rog for a moment.
Smiling, he turned back to his task and replied, “I’m not just mopping. Jesus and I are mopping. We are worshiping and praising the Father in song together. Ouch! Rog felt a piercing in his heart.
Charlie knew how to make the best of any moment. He focused on the Presence of Christ with him. Engraved on his heart were five words from Matthew 28:20 “…I am with you always….” and two words from 1 Thessalonians 5:16, “Rejoice always.”
Rog recalled Colossians 3:23, “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men….”
After locking up the bakery, Rog threw his arm around Charlie’s shoulder and as they began their walk home he whistled,
Jesus, Jesus, Jesus,
Sweetest name I know.
Fills my every longing
Keeps me singing as I go.**
*Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
**He Keeps me singing by Luther Bridgers, 1910. Copyright: Public Domain
Ask yourself these questions:
Is God a liar?
Is God all powerful?
Is God love?
Is God real?
Is God just?
Is God kind?
Is God compassionate?
Is God peace?
Is God patient?
Is God merciful?
Is God faithful?
Is God perfect?
Is God pure?
Do you know God personally or do you know about Him?
Do you love God more than you love yourself?
Do you love God more than you love anyone or anything?
Do you believe Jesus is the Son of God?
Do you believe Christ and God are One?
Do you believe without a doubt when you die you will go to Heaven?
Do you believe man is pure?
Do you believe man is perfect?
Do you believe the impure is allowed into Heaven?
Do you believe you are pure enough to enter into God’s Presence?
Do you believe you can be made clean and pure enough to enter His Presence?
Do you believe Christ can forgive you and cleanse you from all impurities?
Do you believe you can turn completely from your impure life choices?
Do you believe you can confess your impurities to Christ?
Do you believe you can confess your sorrow for your past?
Do you believe a price must be paid for the impure actions?
Do you believe Christ paid that debt for you?
Do you believe you can ask Christ for forgiveness?
Do you believe He will forgive you?
Do you believe He desires to be the first love of your life and Lord of your life?
Do you believe by confessing, repenting, asking forgiveness and accepting Him as Lord you will be saved to live with Him now and forever?
Do you desire to know God personally and live forever with Him?
Is God rejoicing over your giving your life to Christ and accepting Him as your Lord and Savior?
Truth sweet spoken.
Matthew 13:44 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field”
I came across this verse the other day, and instantly, it became one of my favorites. This verse is so simple and to the point, yet filled with so much hope, desire, and meaning.
I liked this verse so much, that I decided to do some research on it. I came to find out that Matthew 13:44 is one of the shortest parables that Jesus ever spoke. A parable is story used to illustrate a moral or spiritual lesson. Jesus left us with many parables to use as “directions” when following and growing closer to him. I think this verse was meant to reassure our hope and joy in Christ and the kingdom…
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a work of art that mixes styles, materials;
a literary, musical, or artistic piece consisting wholly or chiefly of motifs or techniques borrowed from one or more sources
The driver behind me must think a bobble-head is driving this truck. Each drop of a wheel into a pothole bounces me up and down, jarring me left and right. I grip the steering wheel and pray I remain on my side of the road. Jostling along I ponder potholes. Do paved roadways and life’s pathways mirror one another?
I slammed into a few devastating, deep potholes along my journey of life. Some were apparent to all and some were known only to me. My fishbowl life as a preacher’s kid kept me struggling to survive in waters of inadequacy and imperfection. My dad attempted suicide when I was sixteen. Two of my daughters suffered sexual assaults as young adults. My father-in-law ran over my two-year-old daughter. Stresses at work where I was the recipient of workplace abuse reinforced my sense of failure. My mom’s cancer returned and rapidly grew to stage four. My health crashed with anemia, hypothyroidism and exhaustion. Physically, mentally and emotionally I felt like I was drowning. The stresses and pressures became so jarring I eventually careened off my pothole pitted roadway into a murky, dark ravine of depression.
I attempted a Band-Aid-like approach to these difficulties and pain. I avoided discussing them and pretended as though they had not happen. I worked ten to twelve hours daily preventing myself from thinking about my circumstances. I withdrew from interacting with family and friends. I owned the heartache of others who suffered tragedies and wept with and for them. Pain and hopelessness crippled me. I believed the lying voices of darkness. Despair. Discouragement. Defeat. I wanted to die and I made a plan.
God had a different plan. He said in Isaiah 41:9-10 (MSG),
I pulled you in from all over the world,
called you in from every dark corner of the earth,
Telling you, ‘You’re my servant, serving on my side.
I’ve picked you. I haven’t dropped you.’
Don’t panic. I’m with you.
There’s no need to fear for I’m your God.
I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you.
I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you.
Through the prayers and loving hands of family, friends and my doctor He held me and opened the eyes of my heart to see His light in this dark world. He reminded me this world is temporary and we are engaged in a spiritual battle. In Ephesians 6:10-20 (NASB) He told me,
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. In John 10:10 He stated,
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.
We all have life-jarring moments that toss us hither and yon like limp rag dolls splayed askew wondering, “What is happening?” Our painful experiences pierce our hearts and minds causing us to crumble. The powers of darkness desire to crush us but we do not have to remain broken. When we give our damaged lives to God and trust our pieces into His care, He comes in and cuts away the wounded, festering areas of our hearts and creates something new. He takes the shattered, splintered parts of our lives and makes something beautiful, better and stronger than the old.
He said it Himself in Isaiah 43:19 (VOICE),
Watch closely: I am preparing something new; it’s happening now, even as I speak,
and you’re about to see it. I am preparing a way through the desert;
Waters will flow where there had been none.
In Isaiah 65:17 (VOICE) He promised,
Now look here!
I am creating new heavens and a new earth.
The weary and painful past will be as if it never happened.
No one will talk or even think about it anymore.
He called us in 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NASB) to come to Him.
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.
Winding roads, curves, precarious ledges and potholes of hurts and disappointments dot our lives. God desires to smooth out the rough terrain created by hardship and heartache. God is able. God is willing. He is the seamstress taking sundry scraps of fabric and piecing them together into a patchwork quilt. He is an artisan using colored shards of glass creating a stunning stained-glass window or lampshade. He is the Master Craftsman. He gathers us to Himself, with all our broken parts and splinters and creates a masterpiece. He makes us into something new and never before seen. Will you respond to His loving voice and tender embrace? Will you surrender your broken life into His capable hands and allow Him to mold you into a pastiche? He is waiting.
But as for me, I trust in You, O LORD, I say, ‘You are my God.’ My times are in Your hand….” Psalm 31:14-15 (NASB)
“The results of your mammogram were inconclusive.” Traci nearly always receives this letter and nothing is found. I returned for another mash and smash session that afternoon. On the black and gray screen, shining bright and white was an M&M sized dot.
A biopsy and three days later my family doctor and friend called to confirm what God had placed on my heart. That bright, white dot was breast cancer. That April, 2010, was the beginning of another, life-long adventure with my Savior.
No matter where this journey carried me or where it ended my Savior promised me that my times are in His hand. I experienced nervousness that I might behave so as not to honor Jesus. I also thrilled that ultimately, at the end of this time I would receive one of God’s greatest blessings!
Held in His hand on this new path through mountain tops and valleys the blessings poured into my life. Newly married Michelle, soon to be in heaven with Jesus, approached this newbie after my signing in at the infusion center on the day of my first chemotherapy treatment. She demonstrated her trust in God joyfully even to the end of her short life. At my second treatment He blessed me when He led me to encourage a frightened Toni receiving her first chemo-cocktail. At my third infusion was Katie, enthusiastically celebrating her final treatment, reminding me to look ahead, to see joy no matter the circumstances. As Becky sat nervously across from me in the waiting area at my fourth infusion I removed my necklace and placed it around her neck. I had worn it reminding me to never give up because of God’s faithfulness.
At each of the eight infusions over sixteen weeks, the seven weeks of radiation and the numerous scans and feed-Dracula lab appointments, Jesus provided an opportunity to be loved and to love and encourage others. Because He kept me in His hand and showered me with blessings I left each time hopeful and full of peace. Bring on the mash and smash! My times in His loving hand are indeed beautiful. Do you trust that your times are in His hand? I pray that your times be beautiful as well.
So don’t be afraid. I am here, with you;
don’t be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you, help you.
I am here with My right hand to make right and to hold you up.
Isaiah 41:10 (The Voice)
Some glad mornin’ when this life is o’r
I’ll fly away
To my home on God’s celestial shore
I’ll fly away
I’ll fly away, Oh Glory…hallelujah…. (Brumley)
Daddy gazes up at me from his bed, a hint of a smile on his lips. Beth, Belinda, Susan and I sing this favorite hymn in four-part harmony as Daddy taught us when we were small. Trembling he reaches for me and with a raspy voice whispers, “Hold my hand.” I enfold his boney, cool hands in mine. He tightens his grip on my fingers staring at me through fear-filled, glazed eyes.
He moans and whimpers, twisting his head from side to side, searching for something or someone. Shift change at the nursing home and the staff scurries past his room, arriving and departing. Eyes wide with anxiety he hoarsely repeats, “There goes another one. There goes another one!” I wonder, “Another what?”
What in Daddy’s childhood or past affects him that floods terror through his heart and mind? Has he returned to World War II and the horrors he and the 409th Infantry experienced liberating the prisoners in Dachau? Is it the wounds from the cruelty of those he served during his years as a pastor? Is it the scars from the sexual abuse he suffered as a child?
My heartache and sense of helplessness transport me back fifteen years to my last few moments with Momma. I cradled her tiny fingers in my hand, applying the clear polish and finishing her desired manicure. Her breathing waned and she raised her arms, smiled then lowered them. She stilled. Sensing the presence of the Holy Spirit I watched in wonder. Did Jesus grasp her hands and lift her from her cancer-riddled body? I knelt by her bed and lifting my voice in song thanked God for His comfort and grace.
Once more I bow before my Heavenly Father, confident He holds my hand and I pray. Grant the doctor wisdom to determine the medication and dose that will ease or relieve this anguish in which Daddy dwells. Impart to my sisters and me grace and discernment to best love, honor and comfort him. May he sense the Holy Spirit’s Presence and peace.
With tear-filled eyes I smile and stroke Daddy’s thin, weathered hand. I derive comfort from another of his favorite hymns and croon to him.
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace. (Hemmel)
So it shall be as Jesus holds Daddy by the hand and he flies away to heaven’s celestial shore. Hallelujah!
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
John 1:1 (KJV)
Before time itself was measured, the Voice was speaking.
The Voice was and is God.
John 1:1 (Voice)
For years the desire to write words of encouragement and hope for others has been like glowing embers within my heart. This is the beginning of that calling coming to fruition. I am officially a blogger.
I’m no physicist or engineer or historian. I am, however, an expert on learning to live my life to the fullest with Jesus leading and guiding me. A friend said that we hear we all have A STORY to tell, but the reality is we all have STORIES to tell.
So begins my story-telling of some of my life’s lessons. I will share my joys, sorrows, hopes, disappointments and more. This is my responding to the Lord Jesus calling me to come along side others who are experiencing some of the same struggles, successes and seasons of life through which He has carried me and those times yet to come.
Let me list a few of the moments I wish to share with you.
My daughter being run over by a car that her grandfather was driving
One of my daughters being sexually violated
My having breast cancer
The time I believed my marriage wouldn’t last
Winning the war of depression
Join me, please, as I begin this new journey. Let’s travel through the valleys and over the mountains together. Sometimes the road may be rough and full of potholes and other times it may be smooth, gentle and relaxing.
The best part of this trip is Jesus is in the driver’s seat. Buckle up! Crank up the engine and let’s get going! Thanks for riding along with me!