Tag Archives: Family

A Joyful Saturday before Christmas

“And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”
‭‭Luke‬ ‭2:10-11‬ ‭KJV‬‬

Christmas Eve is only three days away and I’m cuddled under a blanket with a warm cup of coffee. Sitting here surrounded by my pets, I’m making a mental list of things that need to be done. It will be a busy week with many great moments. Yet, my mind drifts and my focus blurs as I recall years gone by and Christmas celebrations in my life.

As a child I loved helping my mother decorate and bake Christmas goodies. Not only do the scents of Christmas treats fill my mind, but also the strong odors of wood chopped by my father on those cold days we gathered firewood, and of the smell of a fresh Christmas tree harvested from “back forty” of my paternal grandmother’s farm. Christmas at church included going door-to-door singing Christmas carols in scarves and mittens made by mom. I sat in church with my maternal grandmother and listened by her side about what Christmas really meant. Christmas Eve was always celebrated with my paternal grandparents. My father’s four sisters lived away, so most Christmas Eve celebrations were at our home. We were allowed to open one gift and after dinner enjoyed fireworks bought by my parents. On the years that my aunts were in town, the celebration was larger and more exciting with cousins. The evening always ended with a ride around town to enjoy decorations and Christmas lights. Christmas morning was so exciting. After we opened our presents, we traveled all the way across the street to my maternal grandmother’s home for Christmas lunch and presents. When the day was over, I remember my mother feeling melancholy that Christmas was over until the next year.

As a teen Christmas was a little different, but still exciting. There were dances and parties to attend, and boyfriends that stole Christmas kisses under the mistletoe. One Christmas I went to the Blue-Grey Game with my high school band, where music my band director had helped me arrange was played on national television. Unknown to me at the time, this would be a transition into my adult life.

As a young adults Christmas meant juggling four sets of grandparents and two sets of parents. It was exhausting. Yet, today I wish I had that problem. It would be nice to spend time with each person who is no longer with us. From our very first Christmas together, we collected a special ornament each year related to where we were in our lives. Once our children were born, we kept some traditions and started some of our own. The traditions would continue to change with time. My husband and I had so much fun shopping for gifts for the children, and watching their faces as they opened their presents. Every year we watched Jimmy Stewart in “It’s a Wonderful Life” and counted our blessings. When the children grew older they were involved in Christmas pageants, handbells and acolyte activities at church. During their teen years we changed our tradition at home to opening presents after midnight mass at church. It made the kids happy, and we were able to get a little rest. Two of my fondest memories were of our son being Crucifer on Christmas Eve during his senior year of high school and our daughter playing the role of Mary in the Christmas pageant, when she was a little girl.

When our children left home, we celebrated college graduations, engagements, weddings and pregnancies. Hanging the Christmas ornaments became a nostalgic walk into the season. As grandparents with an empty nest, we still enjoy midnight mass on Christmas Eve. What better way to celebrate! We also look forward to our parents, children and grandchildren joining us on Christmas Day.

Last year, Christmas followed Hurricane Michael and celebrating was among the ruins. Despite the obvious, we celebrated. This year I have fallen behind. Less than a week to prepare and all I have accomplished is shopping, wrapping and attending parties. My husband is struggling, as well. He took the day off to finish putting a swing set together for the grandchildren. While we plan to attend midnight mass, it will be in the Parish Hall, because our House of Worship is still uninhabitable.

The angel of the Lord said “I bring you good tidings of great joy.” Have you ever thought about what “great joy” means? It’s not just happiness and fond memories. Despite the fact that it was a gift from the angel, we have to choose joy to enjoy it. Then, with the happiness we experience a peace that is far beyond our imaginations.

Our church recognizes the Liturgical Calendar. The season that we are in now is called Advent. The Christmas season actually starts with Christmas. Advent is a time of self exploration and penitence, but it also a time of joyful expectation. Christ is the “Prince of Peace” and his coming joy is a choice that we all need to accept. Even when we may have sorrow in hearts about people who are no longer here, or those who will be leaving us soon, and even when we long for carefree days gone by, we have the choice. As the seasons in our lives change, so does the peace that comes with the choice of joy.

Enjoy your Saturday and choose joy! May God bless you!

Tell Me Something Good Monday – Dance

“But thou, O Lord, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭3:3‬ ‭KJV‬‬

Happy Monday!  The conference was amazing!  I felt like everyone there was the “real deal”.  I’m referring to all 10,000 attendees, the crew working the conference and the people on stage.  Everyone was approachable and friendly, but on a different journey in their Christian walk.  All good conferences must come to an end, and that includes the excitement.  When we return home it is important to be committed in our walk with Christ.

I don’t have a problem with commitment, so I was ready to get back to work.  All the way home I praised God.  Then, I came home and reality set in.  Before I left for Tampa, our daughter, son-in-law and grandson were staying with us.  I was also very busy at work dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Michael.  I think I was so busy that I was in denial.  So, after I returned home I realized we needed something from the store.  As tired as I was I told my husband that I was making a run to the store.  He warned me, but I didn’t pay attention.  I’m a little stubborn.  I drove into town at 0A1CD0D5-5FBF-4610-BBC7-9736C2B81023about 8 pm.  Nothing was open but one convenience store surrounded by police cars.  I had forgotten about the curfew, which I was violating.  It felt like a police state.  Sunday I couldn’t make or receive calls, or use the Internet.  In fact, we are not supposed to have service until November 29th.  I also cannot receive my medication that is delivered by FedEx.  In my frustration I went to town hoping for a signal.  Then, it hit me.  The town I have spent more than 20 years trying to improve is devastated.  Someone told me of a neighbor who was trying clean up his yard and perished because a tree fell on him. I also was informed that a young woman whom I knew died from suicide last week.  My heart was heavy.  All I could do was cry.

Reality sets in eventually for everyone.  It’s not the end of the world.  It just took me a little while to deal with my situation.  God is good all the time though.  I remembered the dancing and fun we had at the conference.  I turned on my radio and began dancing.  If you are ever feeling sad, turn on some good praise music and dance.  My mood was quickly lifted.  I have to add that it is good exercise too!  The words reminded of what is really important, and the movement felt good.

We all have a ministry.  How can we accomplish anything with a “gloom and doom” attitude?  So today and all this week, I’m going to take a break a couple of times during the day, and dance for a few minutes.  As a matter of fact, I might just do this indefinitely.  Let me know if this works for you.  God bless you!

 

Tell Me Something Good Monday – Our Need for Others

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” ‭‭Ecclesiastes‬ ‭4:9-12‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Happy Monday!  I’m glad to be at work this morning.  It’s good to see everyone and to get busy.  We have quite a bit going on and it feels good to make a difference.  This morning Chapter 4 in the Book of Ecclesiastes stood out for me, especially verses 9-12.

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It feels good to have someone by my side working at home.  When one of us is down, the other pulls the load.  Over time that load bearing partner has changed many times in our marriage between my husband and me, but we always work together.  We share the joys of our efforts, and the pain of each other’s sufferings.  We are empowered by God and our binds are strong.

Likewise, at work the efforts of two are more than double the efforts of one.  Although our department is small, the efforts of four is more than the efforts of eight.  When one person is sick or down, others pick up the slack.  We check on one another and look for ways to ease the burden of the one who is struggling.  We celebrate each other’s victories.  While we don’t lie together, we warm each other’s hearts with hope and joy.  We also share in pain and sorrow.  The work of this team of four is much like a team of twenty.  It’s wonderful.

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In my experience, it’s not good to be alone.  It’s not good to be one of those people who shows up on Sunday morning for Church and leaves immediately afterwards.  I’ve been that person in the past. Not participating does not prevent pain and suffering.  Plus, we unable to grow.  A big part of being a Christian is helping others.  It’s putting others above yourself and loving others.  If you are not convinced, study the work of Christ.  He was always taking care of the needs of sick, lonely and poor.  Loneliness and isolation lead to self-pity and depression.  I don’t know if you have ever considered this before, but self-pity is a form of idolatry.  It’s thinking more about your own problems, miseries, and self in general than God.  When we are serving others, our hearts and minds are renewed.  Don’t misunderstand me.  Everyone needs to refresh and take time for themselves, but isolation is not good.  We need each other and we need to love one another.

If you feel isolated, visit a local church and get involved.  God bless you and have a wonderful Monday!

Forgiveness Thursday – People Come and Go

The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.
‭‭Revelation‬ ‭22:21‬ ‭NIV‬‬

 

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Happy Thursday.  This last week I’ve been struggling with a little something that probably most of you have experienced.  From time to time people I have grown to love as friends have come into and gone out of my life.  It has happened so many times that I can’t even count.  They are people I treasure and never forget, but for whatever reason life takes them in a different direction.  I have often wondered if God sent them to me to help me learn a lesson.  Sometimes it surprises me.  Sometimes I see it coming and don’t understand why or how to stop them from leaving, if I could.  Has this ever happened to you?

It’s a little like that with Jesus.  He was here and then suddenly gone.  The good news with Him is we have the Holy Spirit and one day we will be reunited with Jesus.  It will be a glorious day.  So, if you are struggling with something similar or have struggled with this before, know that we always have our sweet Lord.  Also know that once the pain eases, you will always have memories.

Have a wonderful day!  God bless you.

 

Perseverance during Life’s Trials

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.
‭‭James‬ ‭1:12‬ ‭NIV‬‬

F82890B1-382F-48D2-9A1F-40EAAF7835A6We have all endured temptations and preserved through life’s  trials, but some seem especially difficult.  Saying goodbye to a family member too soon, watching a friend slowly die or suffer with an illness, poverty, war, homelessness, hunger, and pain are among of the trials we encounter, and there are many more.  How close we live to pain and suffering.  Yet, when we search our hearts, we can find a glimpse of happiness even in the most painful moments.  Although it may be difficult, there is always something for which to be thankful, and there is always someone who has more difficult trials.

God does not bring pain and suffering, but people sometimes suffer because of their 5A149D40-4077-47B5-87E1-F8A9BEBB0DB6beliefs.  John the Baptizer was beheaded after rebuking Herod for marrying Herodias, his niece and ex-wife of his brother  (Mark 6:17–29).  Stephen was stoned to death (Acts 7:54-60), as was James, the brother of Jesus.  Peter was crucified upside down and Paul was beheaded.  Other early disciples were crucified in various places.  Christians have been cooked alive, dragged to death, skinned alive, sewn into skins and eaten alive by wild animals,  starved, boiled, ground to death, had the inner organs eaten by pigs while alive and tortured in numerous other ways.  Christians are still persecuted today.

So, one must wonder despite all these horrible things why has Christianity grown 51101F3D-30BE-4445-898E-A0AF47B4EACFexponentially from the very beginning.  Why are people willing to be tortured and killed without fighting back and all the while praying for those who persecute them?  For me the answer is undeserved loving forgiveness and redemption from sin (grace) by faith that brings promises of eternal life.  The faith carried by beliefs is so strong that we are able to face adversity in the steps of Jesus.  James the Just, who was later stoned to death , said “[b]lessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him” (James‬ ‭1:12‬‬‬).  The good news is whether you are dying a martyr or living through every day trials, your love for the Lord will lead you to the “crown of life”.  Keep the faith.

Have a super Saturday.  God bless you.

Blessings Abound

The blessing of the LORD brings [true] riches, And He adds no sorrow to it [for it comes as a blessing from God].
‭‭PROVERBS‬ ‭10:22‬ ‭AMP‬‬

Good morning!  The sun is out and Landon is excited.  If it doesn’t rain today, he will be able to go swimming.  After a long dry period, we have experienced a couple of weeks of daily rainfall.  When you are three and want to go swimming, this isn’t good news.  Unfortunately, there are children with larger concerns than rain affecting their fun time.

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At work I’ve started writing newspaper articles to help new businesses.  Yesterday, I hit the jackpot.  I interviewed a young man who was continuing a family business after his father had died.  I interviewed a Chinese couple who had  traveled from China to chase their dream of starting a Japanese restaurant. Finally, I interviewed a young man from Nigeria starting a used car business.  Did I mention all of these entrepreneurs are under the age of 30?

The stories were so interesting and heart warming.  I felt blessed to meet with each person. I worked four hours late to make sure their stories would make the newspaper deadline.  This morning as I watch Landon racing through the house and playing with his toys, my mind reflects on the last interview of yesterday, the young man from Nigeria.

91C7F62E-6E63-4B33-A7D9-ADC093EDC541In his interview yesterday, he shared how Christians are murdered in his homeland.  He spoke about extreme poverty and physicians leaving college to resort to a life a crime, because of their inability to earn enough money to feed their families.  He also shared his story of attending a summer basketball camp, where he was selected by a coach for the NBA.  Did I mention this young man is 6’11”?  I’m a mere 5’2” (when I stretch) and I was so glad when he sat down.

His parents allowed him to go to North Carolina at the age of 16 hoping to provide him a better future.  They must have loved him so much to let him go.  Plus, he relayed that promises were made to his parents about his care that did not take place.  Once in the United States, he shared a dorm room without heat and air conditioning with three roommates.  He had one outfit to wear and he looked forward to going to Golden Corral to eat, because he was not provided food on a regular basis.  His Christian beliefs were what helped him obtain a degree and play in the NBA. He has also been instrumental in helping other young men get noticed by coaches too.  I felt his pain as he shared his story, which included his mother not being able to attend his college graduation due to a hardship in obtaining a VISA  from the US embassy in Nigeria at age 52.  He talked as if this is an old age, which surprised this 52 year old mother.

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His sad story was laced with hope for the future, which included his Christian beliefs.  As I explained yesterday, sometimes when we go through tough times, we can appreciate our blessings more.  God seems to use those of us who are the most broken.

I pray your blessings overflow today.  God bless you.

 

Try Something New Tuesday – Let God Take Over

The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.
‭‭Exodus‬ ‭14:14‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Happy Tuesday!  It’s raining here and we are so excited!  Isn’t it great God knows what we need and when we need it.

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Have you ever had one of those days where you felt invisible to someone?  I’m sure you have had at least one person in your life that has treated you like no matter what you have done, it’s never enough or good enough.  It’s tough not to take this to heart, especially when you feel singled out.  What’s worse is sometimes this type of behavior seems to almost grow contagiously, and before you know it multiple people have joined.  So, what do you do?

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One thing I know you don’t want to do is let them control your emotions and actions.  Sometimes it is just enough to take a deep breath, smile and keep going.  Other times you might feel a little more beaten down.  You can still take a deep breath, smile and keep going, but when the person is talking, listen to what they are saying and watch their body language.  Then, when they leave, pray for them and turn the situation over to God.

In Exodus 14:14 Moses told the Israelites that if they would stand firm against the Egyptians, the LORD would fight for them.  God is still fighting for us today.  We only need to be still.  While you are waiting, put on some praise music and to uplift your soul.  Whatever you do, try to avoid mimicking  the actions of people who mistreat you, when you deal with others.  If the situation continues, pray about it.  Unfortunately, sometimes it takes pain to get our attention and push us to make changes in our lives.  If that is your situation, don’t fret.  Just let God help you.

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I hope your day is wonderful!  God bless you.

 

 

Happy Mother’s Day!

So Jesus, seeing His mother, and the disciple whom He loved (esteemed) standing near, said to His mother, “[Dear] woman, look, [here is] your son!”
‭‭JOHN‬ ‭19:26‬ ‭AMP‬‬

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Happy Mother’s Day!  This day has been special for me.  I remember a time when I prayed to be a mother every day.  Now, I have two strong, beautiful and extremely intelligent children, a wonderful son-in-law that I call my own, a very precious grandson, and many other children that call me “Mom” and/or Memaw”.  Wow!  I feel that I should honor them.  I am also fortunate enough to have a wonderful mother, mother-in-law and several wonderful aunts in my life.  Each is unique and special.  Finally, my sister, sister-in-laws and friends are also mothers and grandmothers.

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This morning couldn’t have been more perfect.  My husband gave me a beautiful card and gift and we took Landon with us to church.  Of course, he was very well-behaved.  After church the men of the church served a delicious breakfast.  During Church and Sunday School, I listened to stories about how important different members’ wives, mothers and grandmothers were in their lives and the role these women played.  Some had recently passed away.  6DBAE8E5-1C80-41EE-A268-AB1C3C9D13FAWhile driving home after church, Landon sang to the radio.  I could hear his sweet voice singing “Jesus”.  He told us that he loved the song, so I will include it today.  It was then and in similar moments that I have seen the influence that we have as grandparents.  Mothers have an even stronger role.  When we arrived home, our daughter came over.  I am blessed.

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Being a mother is not always easy, but the good moments are priceless!  Mothers have an important role.  We care for our children before they are even born, forming very special bonds.  We go through the pain of childbirth.  We protect and nurture our children, teaching, believing, guiding, loving and cheering them along the way, even when we are heartbroken.DDE11D12-F854-4028-A3E3-6BD28F404B83Then, we take a step back and allow them to go out on their own, because we realize the children we called our own, were only loaned to us temporarily by God for us to prepare them for the world.  Mothers aren’t perfect, but they have an important role.  As he hung on the cross, Jesus remembered His mother.

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Take time to tell those in your life how precious they are to you, because none of us are promised tomorrow.  God bless you.

 

Finding the Balance: Listening and Speaking

Listen and hear my voice; Listen carefully and hear my words.
‭‭ISAIAH‬ ‭28:23‬

Someone once told me that God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason.  Yet, listening is something that is difficult to do.  Is it because we are so selfishly caught up in ourselves or maybe it’s because we want someone’s attention?  Could it be because we want someone to care or understand our perspective?  Is it possible that we are lonely and need human connections, or could it be that we have only been speaking Mickey Mouse and Big Bird to children and we are just excited to converse with another adult?  Is it possible that there is no one at home to listen or could it be that we have short-term memory problems and we are afraid we will forget what we need to say until a time when it’s too late?  Maybe we just need to be heard and feel valued.

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True listening requires taking control over our thoughts and quieting our minds.  This is very difficult for most of us in a world where we are constantly flooded with input and information.  That is one reason scientists tells us that meditation is good for our health. Over the years I have learned that it is when I’m the most quiet and I’m able to control my thoughts, I hear God.  I don’t sit around with my legs crossed mumbling mantras, but I do sit quietly and contemplate scripture.  More often than that I sit quietly and tell God how much I love Him.  It’s not an exercise for me, because I mean it.  However, it is very therapeutic.  I also try to take a short inventory of my blessings each morning.  When things seem the worst, it helps to realize how many blessings we have.

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Yet, listening goes beyond listening to God to the world around us.  This morning I noticed my grandson stuttering trying to get my attention.  He needed me to repeat what he was saying, so he would know I was listening.  He needed me to hear him.  This past week someone wrote an email about me not performing a task well.  At first I was a little irritated because there had been no conversations concerning the request, and I didn’t realize it was a task expected of me.  Then, I took time to listen.  I watched and listened for an hour, calming my thoughts so that I could understand.  I heard the need for validation.  I heard loneliness and the plea for recognition.  I heard knowledge and the request for respect.  I heard wonderful ideas, and inability to physically put dreams into action.  Then, I asked myself “am I all that different?”

We need to find a balance between speaking and listening.  No one should feel the stress that causes stuttering or frustration that results in inappropriate correspondence.  We all need to listen and we all need to be heard.  If you are having difficulties with a relationship, quiet your mind and listen.  Listen to God and listen to those around you.  I assure you your mind will better understand.  Some of the best listeners I know are also gossipers, or people who gather information to manipulate.  Take the high road and don’t fall into these traps.

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You need to be heard too. Find someone with whom you can share stories and confide. You can always talk to God, but we all need people who understand.  If you don’t have anyone, I’m here.

Have a glorious Saturday!  God bless you.

 

 

Try Something New Tuesday – Make New Christian Friends

The man of too many friends [chosen indiscriminately] will be broken in pieces and come to ruin, But there is a [true, loving] friend who [is reliable and] sticks closer than a brother.
‭‭PROVERBS‬ ‭18:24‬ ‭AMP‬‬

Happy Tuesday!  A couple of months ago a nice lady that I’ve known for many years invited me to join in a Women’s Bible Study.  She had asked me a few months before that to participate in another event at her church.  She’s very kind but lives about 20 miles away.  I know it doesn’t sound like that far away, but after a long day at work it might as well be 100 miles.  This time I decided to take her up on the offer.  Since that time I’ve grown to love her as a dear friend, and I am crazy about the women in the group.

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The group meets every Monday night.  Last night I was just exhausted.  I had spent the weekend finishing up my BA requirements, and I just needed to rest.   Plus, I felt like I had been neglecting my husband. My friend was very understanding, but sent me the cutest photos of the other ladies waving at me.  The text said “[w]e are thinking of you, . . . miss you . . . [and] . . . look forward to seeing you.”  The message went on to say that the group was praying for my safe travels to New Orleans this weekend.  Isn’t that great!  It feels so good to have friends, and to sometimes feel missed.  Better yet, isn’t it great to be prayed for by friends!

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My friends waving at me.  Their faces tell me a million stories.

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My Christian friends.  Every one of these ladies is special in their own way.

God knows what we need in our lives.  We just need to listen.  Is it hard to go to the Bible Study?  Not really.  I just get tired driving home.  Do I learn anything?  Absolutely.  Do I like the Christian friends I’ve made?  You can’t imagine how much!

It’s good to have friends with the same values, who look after you and “prod” you forward in your Christian walk (Hebrews 10:24-25).  So, if you are like me and don’t want to add anything else to your schedule and God keeps sending someone around, take a chance and try something new.  You will be amazed how much your life will be enhanced.  God bless you.