Category Archives: Challenge

SPREAD THE LOVE FRIDAy – living from Disaster to disaster Without losing your positive attitude

“Commit thy works unto Jehovah, And thy purposes shall be established.”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭16:3‬ ‭ASV‬‬

Happy Friday! It’s Spread the Love Friday and touching is not allowed. When we had Church services we waived the peace sign to people across the room. Do not fear. There are other ways to spread God’s love.

A year and a half after Hurricane Michael our community is slowly recovering. Just when we were beginning to see help, we found ourselves faced with COVID-19. All my book signings and travel has been cancelled and we are working inside a locked building. It seems like it would be a great time to catch up on work, but work and the emotional stress is heavier than usual. Maybe it’s the isolation, or the amount of fear that blasts through television broadcasts and social media. One of the hardest things for me to accept is the inability to have worship services.

As the week Has progressed more and more business are shutting down and limiting hours of operation. Yesterday, a friend from California shared a story about her elderly mother being sick and her inability to check on her. During the day I was in meetings discussing how to handle hurricane evacuations during COVID-19 quarantines. Then, last night I learned our son-in-law, daughter and grandchildren have been exposed to someone who tested positive. This morning I faced the tear-filled eyes of a friend, who had lost her friend unexpectedly.

How can we stay positive as we watch the world, as we know it, fall apart? Part of the problem is God created us to be social. We need interaction with other people, and let’s face it, electronic media isn’t the same. Sometimes we need a hug without fearing contamination or exposing someone else. Sometimes we need to sit together and listen to the people we love express their grief. Sometimes we need to laugh together. I feel this need strongly, despite being immune compromised. I know I might get sick and die, but cannot help but hug someone who is hurting.

Another problem is we are so bombarded with negativity and fear, that we can’t see the good. In 1999 psychologists Daniel Simons and Christopher Chabris conducted the “invisible gorilla” experiment to show that when we focus hard on something, we become blind to the unexpected. (Choi; 7/11/2010; https://www.livescience.com/6727-invisible-gorilla-test-shows-notice.html). Volunteers watched a video of two teams (one dressed in black and the other in white) passing a ball. Participants were charged with counting the passes. They became so enthralled in their task that they didn’t notice a gorilla entering and walking around the room. Since that time there have been many other studies, but the point is sometimes we become so overwhelmed by what is in front of us that we fail to count our blessings. I know that I can become so focused at work that I’m easily startled. Have you ever experienced that?

We are being bombarded by news updates and images related to COVID-19 constantly. While we certainly cannot completely control our environments, we can choose to go outside for a walk, FaceTime family members and friends to check on them, send cheerful messages or funny memes to make others smile, and cry with one another. The human experience is important for everyone.

Our worship services may have been cancelled, but Isaiah 54:17 says “[n]o weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against them in judgement thou shalt condemn.” COVID-19 is not of God. We can continue to worship at home with our families. We can watch televised worship services. I have made adjustments by holding Wednesday night youth meetings and Sunday School meetings through a group chat app. Our minister is also live streaming.

In the middle of the chaos that is taking place, find your peace in God, who always understands. May God Bless You.


Forgiveness Thursday – Rely on God

“But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool. For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.”
‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭10:12-14‬ ‭NIV‬‬

It’s Forgiveness Thursday and a great time to forgive yourself and others.

This week has been truly hectic. I worked the weekend and the holiday, and still couldn’t catch up. However, I felt a little relief on Tuesday morning, knowing I had delegated out a large portion of the assignments in my office. That didn’t last long though. Every day, more and more assignments piled up. Yesterday, I locked myself in my office trying to meet deadlines only to find out that I had even more to do at the end of the day. I worked until the very last minute before I sped to Church to teach the youth. Last night I was thinking, “I don’t want to work this weekend, plus I have school work.” I felt like I needed a break, so I could live outside my job, enjoy my family, clean my house and complete my school assignments.

This morning I came to work early, but it wasn’t long before my heart was racing. I suddenly remembered that I had not made time for my devotional. I stopped for a moment, to read my Bible. The priest in Hebrews 10 trusted God rather than relying solely on himself and others. That’s when I realized what was happening. The only one who will never let us down is God. I was putting the burden on myself. While it is good to do the very best you can at everything, stress is not healthy. God doesn’t want us to feel like we are alone and everything depends on us. He wants us to do the best we can and depend on Him.

Put your trust in God every day. I hope you have a wonderful day. May God bless you.

Use Your Gifts to Change the World Wednesday – Listen

“Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:”
‭‭James‬ ‭1:19‬ ‭KJV‬‬

Good morning!  It’s day 15 and still no electricity.  I’m excited to say that I’ve been able to find peace in the routine I have developed within the chaos.  For years I’ve heard people refer to their favorite vacation spot as “God’s Country”.  My mother is among those.  She loves visiting Tennessee and North Caroline.  I can’t count the times she has said “that’s God’s country”.  I few years ago, I started thinking that our home town is “God’s Country”.  Lately, those thoughts have been reinforced for me.  Our town has been devastated by disaster.  Yet, everywhere you go, people are thankful.  Maybe sometimes disasters bring communities closer together, or maybe they bring out the best in people.  Maybe opportunities abound among the rubble.

This morning in the quietness of my home, I listened.  For many years I known about  B7C89554-8956-41F6-B927-6755FDA6EEBFcontemplative prayer.  Essentially, you quiet your thoughts and listen.  Does this take practice?  Yes, but man is it ever worth it!  Just trying to listen to God without making petitions is so rewarding.

It’s equally rewarding to listen to others.  I mean really listen, and watch their body language while trying to understand what they are saying.  I’m referring to the part of what they are saying that isn’t so obvious.  I don’t know how Jesus made time for every person during his three-year ministry, but it was definitely a priority for Him.  I usually have to cut off the chit-chat at some point in order to get my work done.  I often think of how Jesus valued each person and accomplished so much in so little time.

So, today use your gift of listening and make the world a better place.  God bless you.

Forgiveness Thursday – And Forgive Yourself!

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭6:14‬ ‭NIV‬‬

 

1CAA2D95-BD5B-463C-894E-08E5341523D5.png
Enter a caption

Happy Thursday!  I can’t believe how fast this week has passed by. There have been quite a few things happening here.  A couple of days ago two children, who are well-known and loved, and come from families loved by the community, were in an accident that resulted in their deaths.  One of the boys was twelve and the other a senior ready to graduate this week.  The community is devastated.  While, we sometimes know the cause of an accident like this, we often still have questions about why.   I drove by our local high school on the way to work this morning and saw that it has black ribbons and bows at the entrances.  Please join me in praying for these families and friends that they can find comfort in their time of sorrow.

988AF24A-C245-46A8-A6FE-0C6D025CAFC1.jpeg

Yesterday, I enjoyed some much needed training.  I am thankful for people who are called to teach, even in a secular capacity.  I needed it.

Yesterday, was also our wedding anniversary.  It is difficult for me to believe that nearly thirty-two years ago I met and thirty-one years ago I married my best friend.  He has truly changed my life.  I can’t even remember life before my husband.  All marriages have ups and downs, but I can’t think of anyone else with who I would want to experience good and bad times in life.  As we have grown older and more mature, we’ve also grown closer to God.  Often our conversations are about scripture and life applications.  It seems sometimes like talking isn’t even necessary.  We enjoy the quiet moments together.  We almost always know what the other is about to say, and we enjoy each other’s company above all other people.  I’m thankful God blessed me with my wonderful husband.

Today, put all your anger and worries aside and make forgiveness a priority!  Remember to show love and embrace the ones you love as often as possible.  God bless you.

 

 

Tell Me Something Good Monday – Trust God

I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.  Jeremiah 31:25

Happy Monday!  This was a fast weekend.  I had some fun time with Landon.  We blew bubbles, rescued caterpillars and sang songs.  What a great way to spend Saturday! Saturday afternoon I prepared my Sunday School lesson with excitement.  I had obtained some props several months back in hopes of being able to teach about blood covenants.  Sunday would be the day and man was I excited.  I woke up at 4 am and got ready for church because Landon was coming back over to go with us to church.  Hmm.  What is that quote about best laid plans?  Well, I just couldn’t do it.  The earache, sinus headache, fever and stiff, achy joints were too much to fight.  I was disappointed with myself and with not being able to do what I wanted to do.    That has happened to me more often than not lately.  So, I’ve been trying to lighten my load a little.  Let me tell you, it is easier to agree to do something than it is to back out down the road.  Don’t give in to the pressure, if you know you are unable to follow through.  If something changes in your life, let others know as soon as possible.

B72092EB-2FA7-4A73-A1B8-0AD6C214166F

Last night we had a whopper of a storm come through in the middle of the night.  I woke up to the sound of a frightened Great Dane standing over the bed.  Just like a little child Singer was shaking, panting, and drooling.  She was scared of the thunder and lightning.  Dominic wasn’t making her life any easier either.  He was stretched out on the chest at the foot of the bed ready to pop her if she made a move.  The night before she had been scared because of noises in the attic.  The good news for me is the storm settled the pollen and I feel better.

B82BDDE2-F9EB-4656-9103-1C13CB68B3F6

Funny, sometimes we behave much the same way as Singer.  When we are frightened and untrusting, the enemy lies in our path waiting to make our lives more difficult.  When we trust God, everything falls into place in the right time.

I hope you have a wonderful Monday.  God bless you.

Use Your Gifts to Change the World Wednesday – Speak Life

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable and pleasing in Your sight, O LORD, my [firm, immovable] rock and my Redeemer.
‭‭PSALM‬ ‭19:14‬ ‭AMP‬‬

It’s a frozen Wednesday in Florida today.  The temperature is below 27° and it has been raining.  While my body is frozen, I am thankful for the cold.  I have been told that cold weather helps control the populations of unwanted insects.  That is what I’m counting on!

7B5DE6F7-7A3F-4BF0-8361-7B7197348D60

Has your mouth ever gotten you into trouble?  Have you ever wanted to take back something you said?  Have you ever thought your words were okay, but were taken wrong?  Me too!  It is so easy to get in trouble with our tongues. In fact, you can look through the Bible and find the word tongue mentioned 42 times.  Our speech can bring life or bring people down.  If loving our neighbor is the second most important commandment (Matthew 22.39), and it is, then how we speak to others is very important!

81A1A5E4-6B0D-4A21-A8E8-5A2810950597

Equally as important is the ability to listen without interrupting.  Just listen and pay attention.  It is easier said and done.  I heard someone say that they pause before responding.  I think that is good advice, especially as I grow older.  The pause gives me time to digest their words a little longer so that I can truly understand what they meant.  Always remember that we never know what someone is going through at any particular time.  Yesterday I saw a friend that I had not seen in several years.  She was very quiet and subdued.  Later in the day, I learned that one of her children had recently committed suicide.  I didn’t do anything wrong when I saw her.  However, had I known the situation I might would have been more caring toward her.  So, this morning I ask myself, shouldn’t I be more caring to everyone all the time?  It’s something to think about.

52EC085F-1FE4-460B-9621-A9CD0D9D6708

Finally, I want to remind you that texting has no tone, which often leads to misunderstandings.  We have enough misunderstandings just listening to people.  I heard a friend say yesterday that she was in the doctors’ office and the receptionist asked her “Gay”?  She replied “I didn’t know.” The receptionist said “no, is your last name Gay?”  Funny.  I have seen more misunderstandings with texting and funny situations involving autocorrect than I care to admit.  So, use discretion on conversations involving texting.  If it is a sensitive subject, just call the person, or better yet, go see them in person.

So, today text with care, listen more, pause before speaking and bring life to others with your words.  God bless you!

Spread the Love Friday – Warm them up!

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭12:9‬ 

Good morning!  It’s still cold and raining in Florida.

5AFC7DCB-7AC1-4E72-AADC-3A5D4EF9DEF6

I woke up early today to take my grandson, Landon to school only to learn I had mixed up the days.  Add to that, my cold now includes a sore throat.  So, as I was sitting here aggravated with myself, I received a clear message from God.  “Take them warm hot chocolate.  They are working in the cold and rain.”  At first I thought . . . What?  I’m sick.  I told myself that I would work on my blog post since I had extra time.  Then I heard it again. “Take them something warm.  They are cold.”  Okay, this time I hear and understand clearly, but who?  Who is cold?  So, I said “no problem God, but show me who.”  I began pulling up my blog and I heard it again.  I know this sounds a little nuts to some of you, but I feel like I’m supposed to share this.  If it is cold this morning where you are, join me in taking a thermos of hot chocolate or coffee with you when you go out.  Someone will need it today, and we will know who it is when we see them.  Hmmm.  Maybe it wasn’t a mistake that I woke up early.  As I have been typing this post, my sore throat has eased up.

2D37A446-73FB-4250-94BD-A97A1B521AF4

Today, I challenge you to take something to warm to at least one person who is out in the cold. I can’t wait to hear what you have to share about this experience.  I will share as well.   Stay blessed.

 

 

Try Something New Tuesday – Make It Fun

Happy is that people, that is in such a case: yea, happy is that people, whose God is the Lord.  ‭‭Psalms‬ ‭144:15‬ ‭KJV‬‬

Happy Tuesday!  It’s hard to believe that it’s two days before Thanksgiving.

Since the beginning of the school year, two or three days a week I take my grandson to preschool. He’s three and it’s a good time to get him acquainted with going to school, playing, learning and making friends. Of course, he doesn’t want to go.  At first, I thought he was afraid.  I stayed with him an hour, before I left him.  Big mistake!  Then, I realized he didn’t want to go, because he’d rather stay with me or his parents.  That’s sweet and I can understand.  Wouldn’t we all like to stay home with our loved ones rather than go to school or work.  Unfortunately, that’s not reality for most of us.  A very nice friend suggested I try something that was working with her great-granddaughter.  On the way to the classroom, they picked up rocks to give to the teacher.  So, I made a slight variation, we picked flowers in the yard to give to the teacher.  That worked a little, I guess.  After a while it became a game of how to delay the dreaded trip to school.  Last week, I decided to try something a little different, which I knew was a big mistake when I started it.  It’s funny what you will resort to when you are desperate.  I bribed Landon with a toy.  The promise was if he was good at school, he would receive a surprise. He didn’t quite understand the delayed gratification, but he was a little better.  He still pouted as he walked in slowly.  This morning I did the same thing.  As you can imagine, it didn’t work as well.  So, I started playing games and singing songs with him while driving to school.  Then, when we arrived, we raced to the door.  He looked a little disappointed when he realized he was at the door to his school.  He went in a little sad, but a little better than last week.    I’ve been through all of this with my own children, but it seems a little worse with my grandson.  Maybe because I want him to love me and not think of me as the one who drops him off every day.

A316D9A3-1D7F-4012-B1F6-0B3322AA8E44

As I sit here I realize that whenever we don’t want to go to school or work, we can also play games and do something fun.  In fact, many of us already do this regularly.  There’s nothing wrong with turning dreaded tasks into fun games and rewarding ourselves from time-to-time.  Most things I dread, I really like after I get started.

0797503A-D143-4679-8201-4E9E90F5D1FA

One thing many people dread is reading and studying their Bible. I have heard people say that they don’t understand it, and it puts them to sleep.  Once you develop a habit of reading, you will be amazed at the stories in the Bible!  So, why not make a game out of reading the Bible.  There are trivia apps on the Internet that you play to test your knowledge.  You can memorize a Bible verse a week or a day.  You can challenge others to participate in games.  Before you know it, reading the Bible will be fun for you too.

God bless you.

 

 

 

 

Praise the Lord Sunday – What’s Your Gift?

For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey. Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents. And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two. But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord’s money. After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them. And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more. His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them. His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine. His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.        Matthew‬ ‭25:14-30‬ ‭KJV‬‬

756C3BD7-B2CC-4E48-9544-5FE4EA34512C

Happy Sunday!  Today in Sunday School and Church we discussed the Parable of the Talents.  The Talents discussed here are your gifts that God has given you.  Have you ever thought of what your gifts are?  Do you use them for God?  You are entrusted with gifts.  Everyone has gifts, and the gifts are not all the same.  When we use our God-given gifts to profit God, he will reward us with more and better opportunities.

85428015-7F29-4ABA-AE88-D2E22492CDEC

Sometimes we wander around for years trying to figure out what gifts are?  Sometimes we know and our fear prevents us from using our gifts.  I’m a good example.  I have known for years that I need to teach and preach, but couldn’t accept it.  I tried everything to move in a different direction.  I had a fear of public speaking.  Fear doesn’t come from God.  Whenever I trusted him, he gave me the courage and the students.  Every week we have more people.  I have fun and my heart is filled with joy.

Are you using your gifts to serve God?  I encourage you to start today.  God bless you.

Forgiveness Thursday – Where to Go for Answers

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
‭‭John‬ ‭1:1‬ ‭

Good Morning.  We live in a beautiful small town in Northwest Florida.  In the early mornings before it gets so busy, I notice the beauty of this quiet little town.  This morning I’m enjoying the stillness.  It’s so quiet I can hear God talking to me.

Now, there are good and bad things to all cities, small and large.  One of the bad things in our small town is everyone knows everyone.  The people are closely connected.  Everyone knows your business.  There are no secrets.  Whereas, if you live in a big city, you can go unnoticed.  The bad is also a good thing.  Since everyone knows everyone, where ever you go you will see someone you know.  We look out for each other, and are quick to notice strangers.  We are kind to strangers, but not so quick to include them into our small town family.  It takes a little while for them to assimilate.    You see, the good and bad in our town are like a double-edged sword.  Looking out for everyone is great, but when you want to run to the store unnoticed, it’s not going to happen.

I was thinking this morning that this double-edged sword thinking is common in many things.  I’m the Municipal Development Director for our City.  People come to me and complain about the laws.  They get really worked up and upset.  They think the laws are too strict for a small town.  The same people come and complain when their neighbor is doing something and the law allows it.  Hmmm.  There is no easy answer, because you can’t make everyone happy.

Often these same situations happen in families.  My friend is a new mother.  At first her family was upset because she wasn’t working.  Now, they are upset because she’s a working mother.  Imagine her frustration.   She can’t make her family happy, and she wants her children to enjoy close family bonds.   I remember similar dilemmas when my children were little.  I was asked, will you let your baby cry and learn to calm himself, or are you going to be one who quickly picks your baby up when he cries?  I remember thinking, this is a trick question, because the answer is somewhere in the middle.

Have you ever felt like you just don’t fit it, or maybe like you are being smothered?  Do you feel like there are no right answers and you can’t find real happiness?  The best thing to do is study the Bible and talk to God.  It’s amazing how similar the issues were in Bible times.  No matter how many times I read the Bible, I learn something new.  God doesn’t want you to be unhappy no matter where you are. For example, Jesus instructs in Matthew 22:38 -39, that we are to love God with all our hearts, and love our neighbors like we love ourselves.  We are taught about acceptance of others in Romans 15:7 “[w]herefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God.” The stories in the Bible are relevant as well.  Read the story of Ruth and how she took care of her mother-in-law.  She was rewarded by God.

Today, I encourage you to first, forgive yourself and others.  Then, read God’s word and ask him to guide you through life’s problems.  God bless.