A Few of My Favorite Things

  • God and all that goes with Him
  • Time Spent With Family
  • Bedtime Prayers
  • Family/Group Hugs
  • The Beach
  • Good Friends
  • Good Music
  • Laughter

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

A Time to Think for Ourselves

I think we need to stop and with open minds look back across American history. The federal government has done nothing but grow. We are a country of people who no longer look to each other and ask the question" What can we do for each other?", but we are a country that looks to government and asks "What can you do for us?". We have gone from being a collective people to special interest groups. We no longer seem to value the lives of the very young, those with disabilities, and the old. History reveals over and over again that this is when things like the holocaust occur. We as a nation seem to have lost our ability to feel empathy for others. Violence has never been shown to affect real change. Real change is always made through kindness, honor, and gentleness. It's when we all look deeply into our own souls, see the world about us with open eyes and an open heart, and we think for ourselves instead of allowing the government and news agencies to think for us. Just over two thousand years ago Christ entered a world where Kings sent out soldiers to murder baby boys, women were looked at as property. The world did not love him, any more than the world loves those who speak for the most vulnerable of our society today. He was murdered by those who did not agree with him, yet He asked for forgiveness to be granted to them. Abraham Lincoln worked to keep a broken system together until violence forced a different approach. His life was cut short out of hatred. We see this over and over again in our history. We separate ourselves into groups and the use of vile and vulgar language is used as we spew hatred everywhere. No longer can we share our views and feelings without vulgarity and violence. The news agencies no longer report what is happening in the world, but they share their opinion and view of the scene. We are made to believe that all the work done by those over the years to end ugliness has been undone. In fact, it seems that so often those who are elected to protect us are those who continue to stir the pot. Martin Luther King Jr. said that the content of a man's character should be judged by his actions and not by the color of his skin. His message echoed that of Christ in the lesson who is my neighbor. He preached non-violence while marching for change. Hatred killed three little girls in a Birmingham church. Hatred filled the hearts of so many that black young people could not attend school with white young people, we could not drink from the same water fountains, use the same restrooms, or eat together at the lunch counter. It was not violence meeting violence that brought change, but sacrifice and nonviolence. Those who marched on Washington did so peacefully and effectively. Violence breeds fear and fear breeds hatred. It was hatred that killed Dr. King, hatred that killed President Kennedy and his brother. CHANGE IS SCARY, but when we allow that fear to end in violence no real improvement is seen. Fear causes us to dig our heels into the ground, shut our eyes to the feelings of the other side, and to fix the problem with violence. But problems have historically only grown worse when met with violence. When we spend our time yelling and screaming at one another instead of listening to each other and trying to find real solutions, we end up with riots in the streets, words that wound deeply are said, and the problems continue to grow.
It is time for us to stop and listen to each other, not so we can have the better argument but so we can affect real change. It is time for us to think for ourselves to study the issues without looking for a bias and to share our ideas and feelings without vulgarity and ugliness. This woman was raised in L.A.(lower Alabama) by a mother who taught her the attitude that Christ would use.It wasn't until after I started college that my naive belief that prejudice was no longer an issue in our world changed. I learned quickly it was alive and well and that it was not just one-sided. It is time that we stop whining and get busy. I may not be able to change attitudes on a national level. I may not like who is running our government, but I can change me. I can look at my little corner of the world and love inspite of the ugliness. I can share my feelings and ideas without vulgarity. I can pray to the Creator for patience and love and empathy. I can help those I come in contact with, and I can be a voice for those who have no voice. It was this ideal that our Constitution supports. The idea that we are all created equal and we all have the right to try our very best to live out our hopes and dreams in this nation.
May our God grant us time to grow and listen and share. May we no longer look to the government to fix the social problems, but may we look to each other with empathy and courage to act in a way that will help heal the wounds that have been torn open through hatred and media propaganda. May God help each of us to see those around us as He sees us, and may we love each other the way He loves us.

Directionally Challenged

I can't count the number of times that I've left home with extra time built into the plan, and still arrived late or not at all to my destination because I took a wrong turn somewhere. I leave home having checked my route, and will accidentally leave my written directions on the table. I pull out of the drive feeling confident, and five minutes later I realize I forgot my map. I hate losing the time spent going home; so, I convince myself that I'll remember the way.

These events remind me of how my daily walk with God can go. I've said a prayer, a quick glance at the day's devotional passage, and then I'm off navigating my day. Life is too busy to slow down and look back, so I keep on going on my own. Psalms 43:3 Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling! As long as I live my life following God's directions, then I will achieve heaven; but there are many times when the cares of this world grab my attention and I look to the news or latest "study" on how to achieve success, and lose track of God as my final destination.

There are times I've gotten lost simply because I didn't double check my directions and the turn I made just felt right. How often do I end up on a road of temptation just because it felt right? Sadly more than I want to admit. Isaiah 59:8 The way of peace they do not know, and there is no justice in their paths; they have made their roads crooked; no one who treads on them knows peace. When I make a decision solely because it feels right, I end up anxious and lost wondering just how far I've gone out of the way. Many times I've gone so far there's no way to get there even half an hour late and my only choice is to apologize and turn around and go home.

Our Heavenly Father gives us a lifetime (however long or short) to choose the path to His door. He loves us so much that we can apologize and try again. 2 Corinthians 7:10 For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. The further I go without knowing where I am and if I'm going to make it to my destination the more anxious I become. All I need to do is to turn around and begin again. How blessed we are that our Heavenly Father provides us with the path to salvation...His word, the Bible. Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. As long as I stay in His Word following His directions, I am promised salvation. I need to take time for prayer and Bible study; so that, I don't lose sight of my destination...Heaven.

Monday, January 15, 2018

A Righteous Legacy

I find it interesting how our heavenly Father uses the things in our lives to remind us of His will for our lives. This Fall, I was involved in two Bible studies: one online with a study partner at church and the other was our Sunday morning ladies' Bible class. At times these two studies overlapped and in so doing enriched my life and changed the way I look at the world and how I make decisions. It's been twenty years since a drunk driver killed one of my sisters and a cousin. They are gone, but their legacy lives on.

I was invited to a surprise party for a dear friend of mine in November...she wouldn't be a part of my life without Jenny. I listened to a room full of women excitedly awaiting the arrival of our friend: "she's such an encourager," "she gives the best hugs," and "she gives great advice". During that party, my friend shared that it was my sister who shared the gospel with her in college. In that room were four terrific teens, a group of young mamas, and a few of us "older ladies," all of us being encouraged and loved in a special way because my sister wasn't afraid to share the gospel. All I could think about was I hope that I leave that kind of legacy one day.

I have a precious family that I don't see as often as I would like, but when we all get together the time is not wasted. We've learned to say the hard things and fix what can be mended. Say I love you often, give hugs and sit back and soak up the joy of just being together. We've lost other family members since the kids died, but the urgency not to waste time is their legacy. I want to leave that kind of desire behind.

Taking the time to be silly and make someone laugh is also a blessing that they left us. Those two could fuss and get royally irritated at each other but forgave quickly. I wish they were here to talk to about the things my heart finds so hard to share with but a few others. My cousin helped me see how guys think, and my sister was there to bounce ideas off of for devotionals and Bible classes. I miss them and what they brought to my life but their legacy lives on in our friends and family.

It is with joy that I can look to the future, because I know I will see them again. It is with renewed determination that I look at each day to find ways to share the gospel with those whom I come in contact. It's with boldness and Godly fear that I choose to say the hard things sometimes in hopes of saving a soul or just doing what is right. All of that is their legacy, and it can also be mine and yours.

Jeremiah 29: 11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. 13 You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Nineteen Years of Head Pain

As of 5:00 pm yesterday, I have officially been dealing with migraine pain every minute of every day for the last 19 years. Some anniversaries we'd love to do without. There are those days that forever change our lives. Yesterday all those years ago, had been a typical day at school, and we were getting ready to go to church for a meeting. Until then I'd had headaches but I had never experienced that kind of pain. It was the beginning of a search for relief that to some degree still continues today. The part of myself that could make long-range plans, enjoy screaming on roller coasters, and having the energy to do what I wanted...that part of me is gone. In return, I have more compassion for others who are struggling. I understand more than ever that it's God who gets me up each day and it's his promises that have kept me here. Depression is real and at times no matter how much you want to choose to be happy you can't. (It's this point you want to tell someone close to you exactly what you're thinking along with telling your doctor how you feel. Many of the drugs used to treat a migraine also treat depression,) Don't wait until you have all those meds lined up in front of you before sharing the struggle. You don't have to walk this path alone.
During those 19 years, I've dealt with some scary side effects along with blessings. I can be thankful for the migraine because it lead us to adopting our son. I've learned how to use relaxation exercises to keep me out of the ER. I've learned the value of combining traditional medicine with acupuncture, oils, etc. I learned early to research for myself the latest treatments for chronic migraine. I learned which doctors to keep and which to steer clear of.
I don't give advice on migraines unless asked because, by the time you've made a trip out of state and stayed in an inpatient treatment program, you come home knowing more than your local neurologist (unless they are a headache specialist). My longest hospitalization was right at a month in Michigan, I've also had many one week to three week stays at the Diamond Headache Clinic in Chicago.
Just a little more than 2 years ago, we began the process of learning to live with the neurostimulator implant. (Most pain docs are used to seeing these used in the treatment of backpain, so finding someone willing to work with us now that I'm wired for sound was a challenge and a blessing in itself.) The implant has made a big difference, I can now look at the world without the constant need for sunglasses, and though the pain is ever present it no longer puts me to bed for weeks at a time.
The best advice I can give is to find the headache guru in your area, be willing to give new treatment plans a try....even when it's a list of what to eliminate from your diet. Be kind to yourself and explain life with a chronic migraine to friends and family. There are some wonderful resources out there now that were not available even 5 years ago. Find a support group...you need someone who listens to the bad days but who will also encourage you to keep moving forward. Finding a circle of folks who deal with chronic pain of any type and create a prayer group has been just as important as the right treatment program.Nights are long and days filled with beautiful sunshine can sometimes make you feel like a vampire ready to burst into flames. Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Let it be your mantra. Spend time in Job...sometimes you'll see well-meaning friends among the friends of Job. Study the life of Paul, find the scriptures that you can repeat over and over again inside your head.
If you need an ear or a prayer, please feel free to reach out. I'm praying for all of us today that our Father will give us the strength to deal with chronic pain and that He will send us people who can help as we travel this journey.

Friday, July 14, 2017

To See The Sea

The land I live in is filled with ups and downs; I long for something more. This place is dark, and it is lonely, yet it leads me to a shore. The man I see is waiting for me with an offer I can't ignore. In this land I live in, he's provided helpers, and they promise he's the answer to the pain and sorrows here. They've told me that he's special, that he's a protector from the storm.

He waits for me with love and patience; I have only to reach out my hand. He stands beside a sea that he can walk on, I can see the love he has for me, he knows my every need. I look out across the water, sometimes it's gentle, at times it rages, but he has the power to walk on waves, and promises to walk along beside me. He holds onto a boat named Grace, invites me to come aboard. Do I have faith to board sweet Grace, and am I willing to row across the water? The Sea of Salvation flows to new shores, but I can hear the howling of the wind. It scares me, but the man says watch and understand.

He tells the winds to be quiet; the waves are still again. I look again out at the Sea, and then back to the boat. Once again the man reaches out his hand, and I reach out my own. What kind of land will I be rowing towards? Why should I leave this shore? With a gentle smile and loving tone, he answers, "It is my home. A place where there are no tears, no pain is ever known. Oh, the singing there is beautiful, and our father, who loves you. You see he sent me here across the storm filled sea.The sea now does my bidding, the winds I now control. All you must do to get there is keep rowing for the shore. The winds will come, and the waves toss high, but you'll never be alone. For I can walk upon the Sea, all you'll have to do is call."

I considered all the man had said and I stepped into the boat. I picked up the oars to row but hesitated still. I wondered what would happen if the storms about me raged, and I could no longer see the man who would push me out to Sea. "Dear one", said the man, "You worry over nothing, for there may be times I don't calm the storm, but I'll be with you to endure. If by some chance you lose hope and are tossed into the sea, all you have to do is ask for help, and I'll be there to rescue you. I'll be there to anchor the boat as you board her once again. You'll find yourself still closer to the shore you've made your goal."

With questions answered and safely aboard Grace, I began to row. Across the Sea of Salvation to the shore of Paradise, I set my course to go. The man who waited by the shore was there on good days and bad. Sometimes I work to stay afloat, the winds toss me about, but all I have to do is call for help. The man hears my cries and answers, strengthens my arms as I row on. I'm sailing on toward a distant shore, but when the rowing is done. I know the shore on which I'll land is a bright and shining home. A place to rest my weary head, no pain or sorrow there. A place where only joy and peace are forever found.

Monday, July 3, 2017

A Time to Meet Christ

The following is a little different from what I usually share but it has been tugging at my heart for two years.

She stood on the edges of the crowd, she just needed to see for herself surely the boy who grew up in Nazareth that the little old ladies talked about being born "early" wasn't the man who drew a crowd no matter where He went. It couldn't be Mary's son that was causing so much talk.
Yet, there before her eyes was the Man who had the same eyes and strong hands she remembered from His working with Joseph. She kept thinking I'm not brave enough to approach Him.
The more she listened, the more hopeful she became. Jesus took care of the sick, He touched those who were unclean. Yet deep down she didn't feel worthy to even be in the crowd with Him. She knew the drill... pray, have faith, and the pain will stop. The emotional pain, the physical pain that woke her in the dark hour before dawn, all those things together must mean she's not worthy of His grace.
But wait, He just caused a blind beggar to see...He spoke to a Roman soldier, and from across the crowd, she could see them smile and leave.
She'd spent so many days following and listening. She knew the names of others who stood on the fringe, the ones like her who wanted to hear every word, the yet couldn't grasp that God could love someone so small, so full of sin. Yet the night had been a long one, filled with hurt, confusion, and anger. She knew that this was her moment to break loose from sinfulness to living a life with real meaning. It was amazing to look him in the eyes and recognize He already knew everything that she needed from Him. She just had to say it out loud and know that she didn't have to carry the pain alone. The Man who stood before her now spoke of His yoke being easy and the burden He asked her to bear being light. She thought about the pain filled night and His promise that one day He could give her a home where the son shine was always bright, there would be no tears, and the streets would be made of gold. So the woman who had been on the fringe of the crowd weaved through the vast numbers and reached out Her hand.
It was with a little fear and a lot of hope that she touched just the hem of His garment...so many were doing just as she was. The joy came when she lifted her eyes and looked into the eyes of Mary's son who she now knew was the Messiah who had been promised. The gentleness and love looking back at her made her weep and want to sing all at once. He continued teaching, as she moved so another could get close enough to find healing too. He didn't just heal the physical pain, but He healed all those broken pieces of her heart. She was ready now to live for the promises He taught, and she shared with all who would listen about how the Teacher had transformed her life.

Today, God has given us the Bible. He has provided us with the way to reach Him. It is my hope that this fictional story will make you long for the personal relationship with Christ that comes from reading His word and obeying it. By reading the Gospels and the book Acts, we can all see who Christ is and what He wants for our lives. The way to salvation has not changed since the first gospel sermon given in Acts 2. May God bless us all as we strive to live our lives for Him.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Times of Tough Spots

During the tough spots of our life, we either end up losing more than we ever thought possible or we slowly find our way through faith and grace a new level of hope that we never dreamed was possible. It's those times we are hurting emotionally, physically, or both that we get to choose to stay stuck in the middle of the yucky, lost place we're in, or we can deal with the hurt and find out that God has worked in our hearts another level of hope, love, and compassion. Sometimes it doesn't take us long to decide, but there are times when it takes long sleepless nights, days spent feeling sorry for ourselves, and time spent examining our hearts under the microscope of what we think is fair or unfair. It can feel as if every breath we draw and every decision made is a battle waged against the devil. He is the deceiver. He wants us to look at what we're dealing with and see an unloving God who plays games with our lives or A God who no longer cares or sees us hurting and fighting. It's been a rough season for me. My heart breaks with those who have lost loved ones, friends who are dealing with chronic pain, and watching those I love walk their own roads of suffering. It's when we are trying so hard to please the Father, yet we continue to encounter road blocks at every turn. I don't have the answers, but I know the One who loves me enough that He suffers right beside me. He cares so much more than I can begin to fathom the depth of that love and grace. So this morning, I'm pushing to see the beauty and growth that comes with suffering.It's the tough times that are used to bring us a deeper capacity for caring and loving. It's those times that help us see that this world is not our home. It's those times that help us see the Sonshine and walk in the warm rays of God's love and grace.
Romans 5: 1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.