Saturday, August 31, 2013

~ "Options..."

Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? (Isaiah 58:6)

The command of Isaiah.  We cannot be saved by works alone.  We need faith in Christ, but our faith lacks sincerity if it doesn't reach out to others.

Fasting.  Some denominations discourage it.  God calls upon us to fast from time to time.  It can be beneficial spiritually and physically, but it only helps the person doing it.  God wants our service to go beyond our own selves, beyond our own personal growth.  He wants us to perform acts of charity, kindness, justice and generosity.  Pleasing God is more than what we eat or don't eat. It is what we do for others and for Him that matters most.  Those are our "works".  

Certainly, we can fast in prayer for others.  Jesus called us to be active Christians, not passive ones.  He called us to reach out to the poor and homeless, the sick and the lonely not only with prayer but by sharing the blessings God has bestowed upon us.  It's not only putting a tithe in the collection plate on Sunday - sometimes it's preparing a meal for the neighbor down the street, or helping someone to their car with groceries.  Sometimes it's giving your last dollar to help someone else.  

You know the verse: "God loves a cheerful giver" (2 Cor 9:7) - give with your heart; give of yourself!

Friday, August 30, 2013

~ "Hold on..."

Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. (1 Peter 5:6-7)

Easier said than done sometimes.  I talk to God every day.  I try to cast my cares on Him.  I do the very best I can, yet the enemy continues to attack.  My strength comes in knowing that the Lord will rescue me from this nightmare, yet until then, all I can do is pray.  I'm a "doing" kind of person - and in this situation there is nothing I can do.  So I wait and I pray.

I do know His decision was the best decision.  It always is.  I have begun writing and praising and reading verses of scripture more frequently.  I have become a bit calmer (not completely - but better).  There are no loud, teary outbursts anymore.  He will provide for me and He will bring exactly what I need exactly when I need it. I am not worried.

Trusting in God isn't really as hard as it sounds, especially if you know Him.  He listens, He comforts, He blesses and He cares.  Humble yourself (as Peter writes) and He will hold you in His highest regard!  His love is never ending.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

~ "Rejoice..."

Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;  Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality. (Romans 12:9-13)

Abhor:  a word stronger than hate.  We are told to love and "cleave" to what is good and to abhor what is evil.  We are to be kind to one another.  We are told not to be lazy and to serve the Lord.  We are to rejoice in hope, patient in troubles and to keep on praying.  Wow.  Those verses tell us very specifically what it is that is expected of us.

Whether you choose to believe it or not, there are people wandering around on this planet that are pure evil.  Their thoughts are only of how to get over on the next person and how to amass a greater fortune by price gouging, embezzlement, some even by stealing.  They think only of themselves and no one else.  They do not know the meaning of the word compassion.  

Our Lord reminds us, that we can be all of that and more if we fall into the traps the enemy lays before us.  We can become slaves to our "wants and desires".  No, it is not wrong to want more than we have - it's human.  It becomes a problem when we take what is not ours from someone else without permission, without proper reimbursement.  It becomes a problem when we receive a gift and offer no gratitude for being offered it in the first place.  

To be given the gift of eternal life is the most precious of all gifts offered.  It is greater than the new car, the fine house, the "toys" or the big bank account.  It is an everlasting treasure.  Some will receive it, some will not - and not because it wasn't offered to them, simply because they refused to accept it.  Accept Jesus into your heart now.  Ask Him to help you to grow in heavenly wealth, not earthly things.  Pray through His name, no one else's.  Walk with Him daily, speak to Him often (through prayer) and live as He lived.  He gave His life for you, dedicate your life to Him.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

~ "Standing at the corner of Discouraged and Hopeless???"

And I said, What shall I do, Lord? And the Lord said unto me, Arise, and go into Damascus; and there it shall be told thee of all things which are appointed for thee to do. (Acts 22:10)

"Okay, Lord, now what???" These were the words uttered last Thursday evening when I found that my income had been reduced to nothing once again. I wanted to shout to the heavens that I had done everything He's asked of me and now I'm in worse shape than I was two months ago. I wanted to tell Him that I don't feel His presence like I used to. I wanted to tell Him that I'm afraid. I wanted to scream at Him for allowing all the things that have happened in my life to happen. I wanted all the suffering to end and to just be done with all of this. But God has a way of making your see with your soul what you cannot see with your heart, your mind or your eyes. He does whisper in sweet, soft tones and reassures you that everything will be just fine if you trust in Him.

My response to that whisper was very simple: I trust in you, Lord, it's the people around me that don't have that same level of trust in you, nor do they think for a minute that you can and will provide for me. I have to deal with them on a daily basis and it's getting tough. I know I am where you want me to be, but right now I don't know what to do...PRAY!!!

The very essence of our faith lies in the belief that everything will work according to His plan. When we give ourselves over to Him, do what He asks us to do, will He not see that we are cared for??? Will He not wrap His heavenly arms around us and protect us from the earthly enemies that seek to destroy us? Will He not make our seemingly horrific situations a testimony to His good works? Will He not preserve us as we wander around in the furnace???

I laughed to myself when I remembered that some months back a friend and I were talking about "faith". My comment to her was "I want faith like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego." In Daniel 3:26, their faith protected them from the fires of the furnace and they walked out unharmed - they didn't even smell like smoke! My desire was to have faith like that!!! Well, in order to have faith like that, one must endure similar situations and not "cave" under pressure. 

I am not now, nor will I ever be, a "perfect" worshipper. I don't always take the time to sit and offer Him the praises He deserves. I make excuses for my short comings some days, I ask forgiveness for them and begin again. What I don't do is walk away. There have been moments over the past year that I have been angry with God, disappointed, I've felt rejected and left alone. I will even go so far as to say there were moments of hate directed towards Him as a result of certain situations I found myself in. But no matter how miserable life on earth got, God never left my side and continued to whisper those words I've become so familiar with..."I am here - you are MINE".

Whatever you face, you do not face it alone. Reach out the Lord of heaven and earth and entrust your soul to Him. Hand over your problems and your worries. He'll shine them up and hand them back to you so that you can see what needs to be done, if anything does, in fact, need to be done. He will offer you the solutions you need if you're listening. They may not be the ones you were hoping for, but they will be the ones that are right for you. Trust in Him, have faith in Him - listen...

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

~ This Song is Over..."

Me and Sal - 2009
Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. (Matt 27:50)

I'd like to tell you about a friend of mine.  I've known him for over 37 years.  When I was 19, there was a group of us who traveled together everywhere.  He could always make you laugh.  His weapon was sarcasm.  At first I thought this guy hated me - always had a comment about my hair or anything for that matter.  What I came to realize was that was his way.  He loved music (especially "The Who"), played guitar and sang.  His guitar teacher is one of my best friends.  I spent many nights with his sisters at a bar in South Jersey drinking and dancing to the music of "Nightwing".  

We'd seen each other over the later years, usually at family functions, and he'd never changed.  Always the same.  It wasn't until I moved to Tennessee and he found me on Facebook that our relationship took on a whole new dimension.  We began with a chat and I said something about an old friend of ours and he reminded me that that was not a "Christian" thing to say.  I stopped dead in my tracks.

The next day, the phone rang.  It was Sal.  We talked for hours.  We caught up on many years and then the subject turned to religion.  He told me how deeply "The Passion of the Christ" hit him.  He told me how he'd never realized the pain and suffering our Lord endured for us.  This man, who made me swear an oath of secrecy, told me that he cried when they scourged Jesus and when He was nailed to the cross. 

His belief in Jesus, His faith in God amazed me.  Yes, we were all raised Catholic, made all our sacraments and raised our children the same way.  But there were limits to our knowledge and belief system and gaps in our lives that could only be filled by reading the Bible.  

In that one phone call, I found a new friend.  I found an adult who was caring for his father and doing his best to get along in the world.  We met up a few times while I was home that summer for my daughter's graduation and laughed.  

Last night, God called him home.  He leaves behind four sisters, two sons and many nieces and nephews, great nieces and nephews and a multitude of friends.  He leaves a legacy.  A legacy that each of us has the opportunity to walk through the gates of Paradise, through the forgiveness granted us by God through Jesus Christ.  

"This song is over, I'm left with only tears, I must remember, even if it takes a million years" (Pete Townsend).

Monday, August 26, 2013

~ "Take time to rest..."

View from our Campsite
And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat. (Mark 6:31)

Well, I didn't go a desert place, nor was it deserted, but it was in the woods, in the mountains with a lake for me to view from our campsite.  It was a time to rest and reflect and just take a break from the world.  I spent Friday, Saturday and Sunday with my son, daughter-in-law, one of my daughters and my granddaughter.  We slept in a tent, we cooked most of our meals over an open fire (you know I had to have my coffee in the morning, so yes, there was electric and water.  

I had not been to this particular campground in over 23 years - but even with all the changes, the peacefulness and some memories still remain.  Watching my granddaughter laugh and play and entertain herself was priceless.  Spending time with my kids remembering how it was when I used to take them camping when they were little.  The fresh air, the sun, the beautiful scenery - all gifts from God.  He was everywhere this weekend.  

For the past 8 months, I think I've had only one or two weekends off - one was for a wedding and I don't recall what the other was for.  I missed watching my granddaughter enjoy swimming in the pool and dancing with Elmo at Sesame Place.  I was bitter.  The Lord made a point of reminding me that nothing is more important than He is, and no one is more important than family.  It was a hard lesson to learn, yet an eye opening one.  Life passes by very quickly and you tend to forget the simple things - the important things.

Always take time to rest, eat right and praise His holy name.  Jesus loves us so much that He went to the cross and took the nails for us. Love Him enough to take the time to rest a bit and say "thank you".

Friday, August 23, 2013

~ "Heading back to school..."

Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus. (Acts 4:13)  

There is much to be said for education...especially if you want a good job, a specific career and a rewarding future. There is much to be said for enjoying your work as well. If you've read my book, you know I was not one who was big on school (I hated school - couldn't wait to graduate and get out into the real world). I was never destined to make the "big money". I am not dumb or stupid, nor am I lazy. I've pursued the "higher education" and been successful. The truth be told - I like what I do. I really did not need a college education to it. Peter and John were considered "uneducated", yet Christ chose them and they succeeded at what they did. They were not dumb or stupid either, and they definitely weren't lazy! 
Not everyone can be a scholar. Not everyone is cut out for college, prep school, or other educational institutions. I encourage many to attend and pursue their dreams. Reach for what it is you want to achieve, with Jesus at your side. 
To those young people headed off to college, take with you your values and your morals. There is much to be said for the adventures you will encounter, but there is much more to be said for the strength and courage to withstand the distractions and temptations that go along with it. Do not compromise anything in order to "fit in". Continue to be children of God, reading His word and doing all that you do for His glory. Don't allow yourselves to become stagnant in your devotions. Seek Him in all things - including your education! 
Those of you who are secretly saddened by your failure to go to college, or the inability to maintain the grades required to continue your education, don't be discouraged. Each of us has a purpose in life. Some are not meant to have a degree granted by a college. Someone has to be the checker at the grocery store, someone has to make the pizzas and the hoagies, someone has to collect the garbage, someone has to mop the floors, someone has to drive the buses, and someone has to build the elevators. We all have a purpose in life - find yours and do it to the best of your ability. God's plan for you may be just to be of service to others. Maybe your plan includes being the one who always has a smile on their face for the customers at the coffee shop when they get their morning coffee, maybe your plan is to greet each passenger who steps into your bus with a cheerful "good morning" or "have a nice day". Whatever your plan is - whatever God's plan for you encompasses, do it with joy and with a song in your heart. Far too many people are miserable doing what they what you do and do it well and give thanks to God for your ability to do it! 
Spread God's word no matter what your occupation is - you don't have to have a Master's degree to tell people that God loves them, that Jesus died for them and that the Holy Spirit guides them! And when you pack up your books to take to school - make sure that your Bible is one of them. Read it every day - even if it's just for a few minutes - don't put that part of your education on the back burner - that's one thing you can never be over-educated in and there is always something new to learn! Praise Him and thank Him for all He's given you and whatever choices you make, will be the right choices for you!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

~ "Oh, you want $1,900 -- let me just pull that out of my back pocket..."

And great multitudes came unto him, having with them those that were lame, blind, dumb, maimed, and many others, and cast them down at Jesus' feet; and he healed them (Matt 15:30)

No, the word "righteous" will not appear in today's post.  I wish it would, but from the "sticker shock" I received in the mail yesterday with regard to my COBRA benefits...we'll lets just say that I am definitely in need of a healing before August 31.  There was nothing righteous about it!

The great multitudes that came to Jesus, the lame, the blind, and all the others had one thing in common - they BELIEVED!  They believed in the power of this man who walked among them!  They believed in the power of God.  

I believe in the healing power of Jesus.  I believe that He is still the Great Physician.  I've seen miracles!  I've seen and been a part of His healing.  "Why doesn't He heal everyone, then?"  Sometimes the healing is of the soul - not the body.  Sometimes He heals and gives peace to the dying through something other than restoring their physical health - He restores their soul (Ps 23:3).

Whether or not my maladies are healed, my life will continue on in the same direction - it is bound for heaven.  I will continue to pray, to praise and to offer thanksgiving for all He does for me.  

God has never failed me!  He continues to love me and lift me out of the depths of despair.  He is my rock, He is my salvation, there is no one else I need to sustain me!  He is my Lord!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

~ "Going once, going twice...sold!!!"

The wicked borroweth, and payeth not again: but the righteous sheweth mercy, and giveth. (Ps 37:21)

You can tell a lot about a person's character by the way they handle money.  The "wicked" person steals by borrowing and not paying it back (focusing on himself).  The "righteous" (there's that word again) person gives to the needy (focusing on others).

I know a lot of "wicked" people, but I know more "righteous" ones.  I even know the selfish ones who hoard all their money and wouldn't even offer you an empty room to sleep in for the night simply because it's theirs (in other words - they don't share).

Fortunately (or unfortunately) I am, by nature, a giving person.  If I have something that I no longer want and someone needs it (or wants it) - I give it to them.  I do not put a price tag on it and sell it to them - my theory is 'take it, it's yours now'.  Some people would look at that and say 'you could have made $50 on that' - that, again is not how I see things.

God gives me everything.  He provides a roof over my head (be it here or in a tent in the woods), He provides the food I eat.  He does, in fact, provide me with money earned through working to pay for the necessities of life.  He provides me with love and friends.  He allows me to laugh through my tears at times and for all those things I am grateful.  

It's not what you accumulate here on earth, not how big your bank account is, no, it's bigger than that!  It's what you accumulate in heaven that matters.  It's those crowns you have to lay at his feet - that's what makes you rich!

Monday, August 19, 2013

~ "I double dog dare you..."

But when Pharaoh saw that there was respite, he hardened his heart, and hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had said. (Exodus 8:15)

Nope...Pharaoh wasn't about to be a big man, and allow Moses and Aaron to leave with His people without putting up a fight.  He called God's bluff.  

When you walk with God (and I don't mean say "hello" every so often, or attend church once in awhile), miraculous things happen.  Blood, locust, frogs, gnats, flies, lice, disease, boils, hail, darkness and finally the death of the first born.  Our Bible tells us that this took some time for all of these plagues to occur.  Yet Pharaoh still wouldn't give in.  We know that eventually he did, and not too long after, sent his army to bring them back.  And, again, we know how that story ends.  There's been speculation over the years about the parting of the Red Sea.  Some say they crossed at the narrowest point and that it was "low tide", others deny it even happened.  I am prone to go with the miraculous - since we are talking about God who often, to make a point, does what seems impossible.  My image is the same as Mr. DeMille's - "But the children of Israel walked upon dry land in the midst of the sea; and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left. (Exodus 14:29)".

God can do and has done miraculous things.  He uses people you'd least expect and takes care of situations that seem impossible to resolve.  It is God, not karma, who continuously reminds His fallen souls to come back to His fold.  He calls those who do not know Him.  He calls those who don't believe His Word to be just that - His Word!  He wants all people to know Him.  He wants all people to know the power of His judgement. He wants all people to also know the magnitude of His forgiveness.  

Some people are just evil (we know a few of them behind bars), some people are devious and lie like snakes in the grass, waiting.  The Lord waits, too, and He is much more patient.

He gives each of us a chance to repent and be forgiven (and not just say, I'm sorry, I won't do it again).  To repent means to change your ways.  To fight the enemy when he tempts you.  Justice on earth (winning an occasional court battle) is nothing compared to the justice that will befall the unbeliever or the blasphemer.  THAT justice will be eternal. Be strong, be brave and know that God has everything well planned for you -- just as He did for the Israelites and Pharaoh...

Sunday, August 18, 2013

~ "The B Attitude..."

Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. (Matt 5:6)

The Reverend Billy Graham posted a link the other day with this precursor:
God says that only those who hunger after righteousness will receive it. You must desire it, above everything else. 
 I did not go to the link and read it, simply because it was an answer to a prayer that I would want to share with you.

Yes, I believe that God answers our prayers, often through others!  Sometimes making decisions that not only affect your life, but the lives of others (either in a good way or negative way) are hard.  Those decisions must be thought through completely.  We are told to seek out righteousness (His righteousness should be sufficient).  There are times in this life when events unfold that cause so much devastation that we cannot just walk away without doing anything.  There are God's laws and there are man's laws. We must follow both.  We must pay our taxes (render unto Caesar), we must pay for things we use (thou shalt not steal), and so on and so forth.

When God's law is broken, He sees and remembers.  He asks us to acknowledge the wrong and change.  "Go and sin no more" was the line Jesus gave to the prostitute.  Yes, I'm sure she continued to sin, but she changed her way of life and and no longer committed that sin.  (I'm thinking that's where the mortal and venial sin thing came from, but yes, another post).  He made a blind man see and a lame man walk.  He can vindicate those of us here on earth when we truly have been wronged.

When man's law is broken, a simple "forgive me" is rarely enough.  You see, Jesus may have paid for our sins on the cross, but He did not pay our parking tickets, our DUI surcharges and He did not do any of our jail time (if applicable), etc.

We are all responsible for our actions - each one of us!  How do you know when it's time to take matters to the next level?  How do you know if this is what the Lord wants you to do?  When do you not "turn the other cheek"? The simple answer:  You pray.  You ask for guidance.  You LISTEN for His response.  Sometimes it comes in many forms:  something someone says without prodding, a feeling, the revelation of a verse in your mind, or the words printed on the computer screen right in front of you.

Many of you who read my posts looking for an answer, looking to broaden your knowledge of God's word, hoping that in the post you are reading is the answer to YOUR question.  Why do you think God has me get up each morning and sit here and tell you MY story?  He's telling me to share His mercy and grace with YOU.  To let YOU know you are loved by Him.  He wants YOU to see the miracles He performs every day in my life so that YOU will see the miracles He performs in your!

He's faithful to us even when we are not faithful to Him.  That's a guarantee!!!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

~ "Blessed are they that weep and mourn..."

The place where I first met Jesus...
For ye shall not go out with haste, nor go by flight: for the LORD will go before you; and the God of Israel will be your rereward.(Isa 52:12)

"Be not afraid, I go before you always, come, follow me and I will give you rest..." and so the hymn goes.  Long before my sister, father and I sobbed as this was played at my mom's funeral, it had become a "staple" in our home.  As many of you know, I was "born again" while pregnant with my son.  The St. Louis Jesuit 'vinyl' played over and over throughout our home.  Years later, they would be played on the piano and finally, sung at my mother's funeral.  It was, for lack of better words, our "theme" song.  My ex could not understand why I insisted on playing "funeral" music in the late 90's on the piano and in the car.  What he could not understand, were the words that had touched my heart at age 18, still rang true.

Right now, as you know, I am struggling to keep my head above water.  I have no job and nothing in sight.  The resume has to be rewritten, a web search performed and the online hiring site has to send me my identification number so I can register and prove I've applied for jobs in order to collect unemployment (which, in an "at-will" state, can be denied for any reason, meaning I have PROVE I was fired through no fault of my own).  So, this collection (now on my iPod) plays to lift my spirits and remind me that I am not alone.

I've thought of spending a dollar on a lottery ticket, I've already begun to cut out some of the "non-essential spending" I've enjoyed for over a year (sorry, Lilo and Stitch, don't get sick because pet insurance was the first to go - and Bella will now cost me more because I am no longer employed in the veterinary field - and no, I could have left it as it was, but that would not have been honest, so I swallowed my pride, emailed the woman I know at the company and that is that).  The "home" telephone line will most likely be the next to go and I am grateful that the cooler weather is approaching, thus eliminating the need for the air conditioning.  I will now have to pay for "Cobra" benefits simply because now that I am under a doctor's care for the stress created by this wonderful endeavor called "work", I now am suffering from exhaustion and stress (not to mention the fact that by law, I must have health benefits).  And the list goes on and on and on.

Am I bitter?  As I wrote yesterday, no, not at all.  God has a very specific plan for me just as he had for Daniel, for David for Moses, for Noah and all the rest of the cast of characters I am honored to fall in line behind.  That one simple comment I made to my friend, Sandy, some years ago, continues to haunt my brain causing me to shake my head "I want that faith" - with regard to those three men wandering around in the furnace.  

It's real easy to have faith in the good times, in the times that are peaceful and pleasant - it's when the shoelace breaks, when the dog eats your couch, when the income stops...that's when true faith comes in!  Faith in God, faith in His Word, faith in the knowledge that you aren't forgotten, faith that He will stand beside you all the way, leaving only His footprints in the sand at times, wanting nothing more than to see you praise Him in the storm simply because He is stronger than the storm (yes, I stole that from Gov Christie of NJ) and you remember the time He led you from the quicksand to the safety of the bridge and has continued to walk beside you ever since.

So, be not afraid - He goes before you ALWAYS!  Come, follow Him, and He will give you rest!!!

Friday, August 16, 2013

~ "Fired..."

For I mean not that other men be eased, and ye burdened: But by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want: that there may be equality: As it is written, He that had gathered much had nothing over; and he that had gathered little had no lack. (2 Cor 8:114-15)

Paranoia and fear set in when one is home alone, depressed and bored.  No, not the insane "stop looking at me paranoia", the kind that the enemy loves to play with - "they don't like you, they don't care, they don't want to talk to you..." that stuff.  Knowing it's not YOU and that there are circumstances that are often beyond their control or yours is the key.  You can reach out to a point, then you must let it go. There is lies the challenge!  So, I will sit here and wait for those "I'll call you later"'s to come through..,but I won't wait long.  The Lord tells us to comfort those in need -- I'm in need!

So, I received that dreaded phone call that we all want to avoid taking - the one that tells us we no longer have a place of employment.  I have, in short, been told that because of exhaustion and stress, created by that place of employment, my services are no longer wanted, that they are "no longer going to continue this relationship".  I have given over a year of dedicated service - never late, took one or two sick days, worked long hours (52-69 in any given week, often 12-14 hour days, in the past two months), worked holidays, came in on my day off, worked without a day off, been kind and considerate to clients (who, upon hearing that I no longer work there) have sought me out to tell me I will be missed.  Did I make a mistake - yes, I am human, it happens.  Did what I do damage the company - not likely.  Was there a valid reason - yes - again - exhaustion and stress, documented by my physician.  In the moment I was "sent home for the rest of the day to think about whether or not I wanted to continue working there", I knew that I would not be returning and it would, in fact, not be my choice.  It has happened before and it will happen again.  That decision had already been made long before my "breakdown". History has a way of repeating itself.  It repeated itself again yesterday when the phone rang.

Am I bitter?  No, not at all.  Will I fight for what is mine?  Absolutely.  Will I curl up in a ball and die?  Not likely (although it may take me a bit to get back on my feet and work through the grief - I really did love my job).  God's plan is far beyond that of a small group of selfish individuals who call themselves professionals.  God's plan includes a place for everyone.  Greater "mistakes" than mine have been overlooked yet they were forgiven.  Mine are forgiven, too, but not by anyone on this planet.  Mine are forgiven by the One whose opinion and forgiveness are more important to me than anyone else's.  I have been forgive by the King!  The Creator!  The Master! 

Our cries for help do not go unheard by Him!  He hears what we are saying and comes to our aid in the "nick of time".  He has, time and time again, given me a cross to bear - this is just another one that I will have to carry until He says "lay it down".  I am a survivor simply because I am His - I know how the story ends!  I know that only through repentance can I be forgiven.  I know that it is only by mercy and grace that I can move forward.    

So - pray for me that God will provide me with employment (please be specific - I'm really not cut out for road construction or furniture assembly).  Pray for those who believe their tactics and practices are "right" and that they are justified in what they do, for in every legal and Godly sense of the word, they are not.  Pray for those who still must endure.  Pray for those who even consider taking on what looks like a scene out of "Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark".  Pray for God to strengthen and heal those before me who have been subjected to the scars and torments brought on by their facade.  

I have faith that I will come through this, not without scars, but without hatred and anger.  I will come through this through the help of my friends and the power of God.  "I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me..."

Thursday, August 15, 2013

~ "I'm there, Lord, please send Your grace (THIS is what I was referring to the other day...SMH)..."

A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones. (Prov 17:22)

It never ceases to amaze me the number of people who still, in fact, do honor and do the bidding of the enemy.  People who go out of their way to be evil...bring destruction and hardship (and sickness) to people who are otherwise "good".  They think they are the masters of their small little world.  They forget that their deeds will not go unpunished (maybe not in this world, because they are of this world) but in the next.  They destroy countless individuals yet NO ONE will stand up for them or themselves simply because they can't "afford" to.

When the Lord tells you to "walk away" - that is when your faith begins to flounder.  That is when all you know to be true of His mercy and grace come into question through the "human factor".  You look for another way, you look for justice in a world that has none.  You reach out to those in power and they put out their hand for money and don't seem to want to tackle the beast and head him off at the path.  They want to wait until he has attacked and taken everything that was once you.  So where do you turn?

David knew where to turn: "Hear the right, O LORD, attend unto my cry, give ear unto my prayer, that goeth not out of feigned lips." (Ps 17:1) and his words still race across my weary mind from Psalm 121:2 when he said "My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth."  

When you've nothing left to lose, when you've been pushed beyond what is humanly acceptable and no one comes to your aid - you have only one avenue of escape...HIS presence!  Getting even?  Not nearly as rewarding as His divine intervention...He is ALL powerful and will vindicate His children.  If not in this life, then in the next (although in this life would bring a smile to this weary face).  

Go to the place where your heart can rejoice in His promises.  Sit quietly and allow that mercy and grace to flow over you like the rain of a summer's day!  Know that He has good things ahead for you even if you can't see them from where you are right now.  Continue to fight the good fight - the just fight - the honest and truthful fight.  Don't let the enemy win (no matter what form he takes).  Know what you know to be true!  Hang on just a little while longer!!!  His justice is mightier than their sword could ever be!  Believe, know and live His word and His truths and your inheritance will be greater than any victory in this world!  Have FAITH, HIS FAITH!!!  The Jezebel's of this world will pass away into the abyss and you will know joy and peace once more!!!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

~ "Generations..."

"Bessie & Hazel" - photo by Nick Amatelli
Grandchildren are the crowning glory of the aged; parents are the pride of their children. (Prov 17:6 NLT)

Reflection and rest - something we all need.  Reflecting on what has allowed us to become the people we are today; resting in the knowledge that all of God's mercy and grace has led us to that point.  Yes, mercy and grace - here - now - right where we are!!!

It's called putting a "positive spin" on what can only be described as terrible!  But in those moments, something sparks your memory of a time when you didn't think you'd survive THAT tragedy and yet you  managed to pull through and came through it stronger!

Growing up, I had some very significant role models.  My Mom and Dad (obviously) but there were two other women in my life who were, without a doubt, my best friends through what I then saw as the "toughest time in my life" (little did I know...).

If you've read my book, you know that I became pregnant right out of high school and there was no husband in my immediate future.  Most of my "friends" walked away, leaving me with two old (well, they seemed old to me at the time) women.  My father's mother had long since moved to Florida and I can honestly say that I really never knew her, had a relationship with her or received a birthday card or phone call from her.  My mother's mother - priceless!!!  She was the "Nana" I knew I wanted to be (and I really hope Mikhaela feels about me someday the way I feel about Nana to this day).  

She and her sister, my Aunt Hazel, made me laugh, smile and taught me much about life without even realizing they were teaching me anything.  They loved me no matter what and were without a doubt priceless treasures lent to me by God.  Long gone from this world, they remain two of the most influential people I have ever had the privilege to call "family".  

Their courage and strength (as I see it from this point in my life) surpasses any award for bravery ever given.  My grandmother buried a baby and three husbands (two of them dying very terrible deaths).  My aunt buried a husband and lost a son during WWII.  They never seemed bitter, they never wore their loss on their sleeve for the world to see...they looked at what God had so freely given them - their children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews.  I can honestly say I don't ever remember them lamenting over their losses...always what was ahead!  They lived life!

God gives each of us an opportunity to either wallow in self pity or rejoice in the promise of a new day.  Sometimes it's hard to look beyond the pain we are in, the tragedy that we perceive to be insurmountable, and in that lies our strength!  

Children's children are the crown of old men; and the glory of children are their fathers. (Prov 17:6 KJV) - we are the children of the King - we are HIS glory and thus, we are His pride and joy!  He has nothing but the best laid out ahead of us - He has called us by name and we are His!!!  Move forward in this world with the strength and stamina that "Nana and Aunt Hazel" constantly portrayed - move ahead in FAITH!!!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

~ "Which way do I go???"

photo by Tracy James
By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. (Heb 11:8)

So many times we have no idea where the Lord is leading us, yet we question and negotiate with him to let us in on his plan. Sometimes we are unsure of the direction we're headed in (is it God's plan or is Satan involved in this journey). Our faith will not let us become lost. We follow where HE leads and we'll be just fine.

Abraham knew that God was faithful. He knew God would not let him fall into the hands of the enemy so he continued on his journey. God told him he would bring him through and he believed.

Today we are led to the cross. We make our journey and find the comfort of a loving God. When we are in his presence, we are whole. We trust in him and he provides, just like he did for Abraham. We know where the journey ends and yet we still have that shadow of a doubt that holds us back. Walk with your head held high and find that place where God wants you! Our inheritance is in heaven, with him! It will be greater than any other joy we've ever experienced on earth. Keep that in mind while you make your way and you will be in the company of great men and women who had the faith and believed that God would lead them!

Monday, August 12, 2013

~ "If I have cancer, then it's God's plan, right???"

And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not. (Rev 2:21)

He gave her time to repent.  

I have had numerous conversations with people more versed in the doctrine of certain religions about "death bed salvation" as opposed to what is written in the Bible than I care to discuss.  We all know that we are not guaranteed that final moment before death to accept Jesus as our Savior and walk hand and hand into Paradise.  This post is directed at a young lady, VERY close to my heart...but, please, feel free to continue reading - it may help you or you may pass it on to someone else you know in the same "place"...

Yes, I always tell you "God has a plan".  If His plan is for you to have cancer, then you will have cancer.  If it's not, then you won't.  Either way - He does, in fact, have a plan for you.  What you choose to do with it is totally up to you.  If you choose to not treat it and live out the remainder of your life, it's something I can live with.  If you choose death over chemotherapy or radiation, I will hold your hand.  If you choose to not have surgery and let your life be over, I will honor that choice. that time, God is giving you yet another choice...He is giving you the choice to choose life - not life in this world (because no one gets out alive), but the choice to choose eternal life - with Him.  If they tell you it is cancer, He is giving you the opportunity to come to Him, to accept Jesus as your Savior, to repent (ask forgiveness) for all the times in your life you have failed to honor Him, give glory to His name and praise Him even in the storms that have touched  your very short life.  He wants to wipe the slate clean - to have His child come to Him and say "thank you for sending Jesus to pay for all my sins so that I may have eternal life with You".  He is asking you to acknowledge that you are nothing without His mercy and grace.  He is asking you to humble yourself before Him and say you are sorry.  

Remember, Heaven knows no pain, no suffering, no regrets - only peace and joy.  It is available to all people and the price for admission has been paid - the only thing you must do to enter is accept and acknowledge.  If that is where you want to be, waiting for me when it is my turn, make that decision, make that choice, swallow your pride and take the leap of faith - faith not in what I tell you, but in what your soul knows, what your heart knows.  Stubbornness and pier pressure - pffft - let them go!  The doctrine you've been taught is not enough.  You don't get to go to heaven simply because you went to church every Sunday, confessed your sins to a man in a box, received church ordained sacraments as defined by their only get to go to heaven if you believe and accept Jesus!  

I love you more than words can describe.  If I could trade places with you, I would gladly sacrifice my life for yours.  I would walk through fire for you.  But there is one man who has already done that - Jesus!  Accepting the plan He has for you includes accepting Him!!!  Get to know Him through His word (and I know you have a Bible - I've given you at least two of them - but if you'd like another, just let me know).  You can start in 1 John (it's in the New Testament) and go from there.  If you want my help and guidance, I am a phone call away.  Don't leave this life unprepared!  Leave it KNOWING that there is a place you are destined to be - that place is Heaven...go there!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

~ "Do's and don'ts..."

And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time. (Daniel 7:25)

This wasn't what I was looking for when I sat down to write this morning, but, alas, God has another plan...

Adam Clarke (a British Methodist Theologian and Biblical Scholar), wrote one of the commentaries I refer to when I write my post.  I would encourage you to read his commentary on Daniel 7 when you have time.  Remember when reading this that the writer died in 1832.  It will shed some light on a question I've had for many years (but that is for another post - but read it anyway - it does explain a lot).

I can remember how tired my children would make me when they were growing up - they would "wear me out" with questions, opinions and their idea of what the perfect parent should be.  They would challenge my authority as they got older, yet in the end, they have almost all come to the conclusion that "Mom was right".  There is a poem that both my sister and I keep as a remembrance of our mother..."Meanest Mother In The World".  I am happy to report that it hold true for the both of us to this day.  We did have a "Mean Mom" and we let her know that every change we could.  We are also both very grateful that she (with the help of my Dad) succeeded in raising two very well-grounded daughters who have tried and are trying to do the same with our children.  We each did it a little differently, but again, we can lay claim to the fact that we, too, are "Mean Moms".

We don't always like what God expects from us (and quite frankly, with the sacrifice He made, I'm more than happy to oblige).  He asks us to love one another, be kind to one another.  He asks us to honor Him and pray to Him and only Him, through Jesus.  He asks that we spread His Word, do our share.  He asks us to love Him with our whole heart and soul.  Sounds simple, doesn't it?  

Those two great commands given to us by Jesus are packed with a multitude of "do's" - there are no "don't".  That is not to say that there are not things we shouldn't do - He just put a different spin on it (and yes, there are don'ts - they are written throughout His Word - but the focus is on the do's).  

If we love "our neighbor" we won't gossip about them, will we?  If we are kind to one another, we won't do thing what will deliberately hurt someone.  If we honor God, we won't allow the enemy to walk freely through our day to day life (he may try, but all we need do is call on the name of Jesus and he will be gone).  If we pray for others, we are putting them first, just as Jesus put us first.  Get the picture?

When all is said and done, we will not be perfect little Christians running around in robes doing no wrong.  We will make mistakes.  We will not keep those commands.  We are, however, forgiven!  Jesus took care of that when He hung on the cross.

So give it a try today.  Be just a little nicer to that person who makes you crazy.  Be a little more understanding to the co-worker who has "issues" or the one who does nothing but complain.  Be a little more patient with the fellow ahead of you in the check out line who can't read the sign -- that's THEIR problem, not yours!  Don't feed into the negativity the enemy taunts you will - dive into the light that Jesus shines on you today and every day!!!  And remember, the only thing you can really change is yourself!