“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.” Hebrews 6:19-20 NIV
It’s tell me something good Monday! My good news is getting a little rest after Christmas. I had a couple of days off and enjoyed waking up slowly, cuddling with my pets and reading. I even binge watched a little Netflix. It was nice. However, I’m also glad to be back at work today.
This morning I’ve been reflecting on how our lives have changed over the past year. A new puppy joined us early in the year. Later in the year we welcomed a new granddaughter and was able to spend time with our grandson while our daughter was in the hospital. In January, I started a youth class at church with the wonderful assistance of my sweet friend Melissa. The teens designed their own shirts and enjoyed three fun outings. My husband celebrated 30 years at his job. At the end of the year, I published my first book and I have started on the second. It was definitely a busy year, full of exciting times. However, there were some challenges during the year, including my sister miscarrying her twin daughters, one of which was named after me, and her later finding out that her health is bad.
Whether your year was all that you wanted, or a little more challenging, the new year brings about thoughts of new beginnings and opportunities. It’s good to reflect on the past, but move on to the present and enjoy every moment. Find your hope for the present in Jesus. May God Bless You!
“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!
“That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;” Colossians 1:10-11 KJV
Isn’t it great to wake up and realize it’s Friday! I woke up today dancing a jig right out the door. Yes, I have a lot of work to do at home and the office. Yet, there is a little bit of happiness knowing a break is ahead for some fun and relaxation. This weekend I have my list of things to do, but plan to go outside a bit and breathe in the air, while I admire my surroundings. If you haven’t tried it before, even five minutes outside can improve your mood and outlook. Bring a friend and spread the love.
This morning as I was thinking about how wonderful Fridays are, I realized that I was letting events decide my perspective. How many times have I started the day happy, and something kind of spoiled the rest of the day? Of course, I know the old saying that “it’s not what happens but how you react” that’s important. However, today I was reminded of Colossians 1:10-11.
Colossae was a City located about 100 miles from Ephesus and near Laodicea. In Paul’s letter to the early Christians in the church of Colossae, they instructed them to be strengthened in God’s word. We can look to scripture for every occasion, but today I would like to encourage you to instead of letting what happens around you affect your attitude, pause and think of what God’s word says. Find your strength there. Joy is an action and choice we all have regardless of what’s happening around us. When we express joy we are also able to be more patient, kind and loving.
Have a wonderful Friday! May God continue to bless you!
“And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” II Corinthians 12:9 NKJV
Happy Friday my friends! Some weeks are tough and this one has been especially tough for me trying to race the clock and meet deadlines. Yet, I have a sense of accomplishment this morning. I feel like I made a difference. At the end of the day, that can be a game changer.
Have you ever fought for someone else? Most of us do it every day without thinking twice. Maybe it was for your children or your parents. You might have fought for an employee. Maybe you stood up for someone who seemed less that acceptable to others. Whenever we take these types of actions in our lives, we automatically feel the rewards. We don’t have to toot our horn or brag. God rewards us.
Have you ever had a heavy heart or maybe felt depressed? Depression is real. Society tells us that we are doing too much and should withdraw from helping others to take care of ourselves. This type of self-medicating often leads to alcoholism, drug abuse and isolation. While we should make time for ourselves, when we help others, God heals our hearts. In fact, the more we give of ourselves to help others, the happier we become. The grace of Jesus is the healing we need.
You might wonder what you can do. A very wise friend of mine once said that she listens closely to what others are saying, so that she is able to understand what is not being vocalized. That struck me and I have never forgotten. It means watching the person’s body language. It means really listening and not just waiting to make your point. I started doing this and found that the majority of the time I forget what I was going to say. Yet, it helps me to understand the needs of others. Once you know what someone needs, you can help them, and the process continues.
Today I urge you to reach out to others and help them. Your heart will be full! God bless you.
“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV
Happy Friday. I haven’t posted in a few weeks and I feel like I owe my readers an explanation. Sometimes explanations are easier to feel than to relay. Last Spring I took on an additional duty at work of writing newspaper articles weekly. I love this new part of my job. I have the opportunity to hear stories and convey them in a positive light. It’s not like regular news reporting. It’s promoting businesses and how people feel about themselves. So, weekly I interview people and write two to three articles which appear in two newspapers. I was very blessed to have one article appear in two larger, regional newspapers. I had experienced some heartbreak at home and this new venture, although stressful when meeting deadlines, left me feeling like I helped people.
Then, October 10th the world as our community knows it changed when Hurricane Michael wiped out our town. The workload in our office increased dramatically. I sometimes feel my head is spinning with tasks I’m juggling. Again, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I want to help with housing, economic recovery and spiritual health. So, about two months ago I began working more closely with others on housing provisions. Then, about a month ago I decided to get involved with the long term recovery team. This is on top of my already too busy workload. Yet, it feels good to make a difference in whatever small way I can.
In the middle of all this recovery work and writing, I decided to join the gym on January 1st. I want to be healthier and lose weight. I haven’t lost weight, but I have been faithful to going to the gym six days a week for 1-2 hours a day. Also, around this time we learned our daughter is going to have a baby. How exciting! I knew I needed to finish up my classes, so I could make her a quilt.
Then, one other thing happened. I had been hearing the call for a while, but for whatever reason, I wasn’t responding. One morning while leading Sunday School a grandmother conveyed her concerns about what was being taught in history at the local public school and how it conflicted with what the Bible tells us. So, I knew I needed to step up. Now, I’m leading a teen group on Wednesday night. For a church that had few children attending Sunday School, I feel so blessed to have 5-9 teens coming every week to learn. What a blessing!
Well, no one can do it all, and I’m no exception. In the midst of my own stress, I felt Satan’s daily attacks. Before I knew it, I wasn’t keeping up with my classes. I was studying my Bible to teach, but not for my daily reading, and I quit writing my blog. Most days I was going to work at 7 am and getting home around 9:30 pm. My husband has been supportive and helpful with the house work, but my life lacks balance. In the middle of it all I was spending far too much time on social media.
So tonight I realized that I need to give up a few bad habits and add back the good. While I will not be posting every day. I plan to post one to two times a week. I also plan to study my Bible daily for my relationship with God. I’m going to work more on my classes and spend less time on games and social media.
There are a few good things that have occurred over the course of the last year. God has brought some special Christian friends into my life. One friend is my gym buddy. Another is my spiritual friend, who fasts and prays with me. Also, about a year ago I joined a Women’s Bible Study class in another town and with another denomination. I love these ladies. We study together every week.
I have come to realize that none of us are perfect, but I have been growing despite setbacks. Satan knows our weaknesses and when I’m under attack the most, I must be doing something right.
It has now been over four months since the storm hit. I was in a meeting on Wednesday where six of the eight people present still did not have phone and Internet service. Our community was hit by one of the largest storms recorded, but we were forgotten. I live in a rural area with lots of trees, or maybe I should say we had lots of trees. The damage we have dealt with is different from what others have experienced. The storm hit right before the election and the California fires. We have been forgotten by many. Yet here we are, a community already economically depressed, with businesses and residents gone. This morning I was told that a school bus never picked up some of the children. Why? It’s easier to leave than to struggle in the aftermath. There were not enough school bus drivers. This is one of the many issues we face. Depression is another. I heard a report of seven suicides related to the storm. Just driving through the debris daily is depressing and many are not able to use their church buildings. Our church has this problem. Yet, our blessings are more. Hundreds of people have helped our community and we have each other. Above all we have our sweet Lord.
I request prayers for our community. God bless you.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,”
James 1:2 NIV
Happy Tuesday! Since Hurricane Michael came through the Florida Panhandle, I talk to depressed people every day. Honestly, the feelings have washed over me from time to time. It’s difficult to find joy in your world when it has been devastated. Every time we walk out the door we are faced with it again. So, we face daily trials, which will last for many years. Of course, we all have many things to be thankful for, and we are all thankful. Yet that is not enough.
Many people face depression and trials that still their joy. It doesn’t have to be a hurricane. It could be a situation at work, or with family. It could be a problem with finances, especially with the government shut down. Many people worry so much about their children that they lose their joy. It’s a common problem. We look to the past have regret. We look too far into the future and have fear.
I was listening to a minister this morning who said “if you are not joyful, then there is a problem with your priorities”. This statement is powerful. Where do you find your joy. How many times have you posted photos on Facebook or Instagram to get likes. Do you think likes determine friendship? I use Facebook, but we can’t let it rule our life. Most of us have a few friends we can call on in emergency, and they aren’t the many who like our photos and memes.
True joy comes from a heart with God as the top priority. If you are finding your joy is gone and you are in despair. Check your heart and priorities. Don’t look to what’s around you. Don’t look to the past or too far into the future. Look to God and place him first. Realize that whatever trial your facing is temporary and is being used to shape you.
“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 contemplative 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.
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
Hebrews 11:1 NIV
Happy Friday! This morning I’m reflecting on all the ways God has worked in my life this week. I’m suddenly aware of how our faith can be at different levels. When I was younger, I read the Bible and questioned whether the stories were true. I felt something, but my faith was very low. I only had enough faith to want to believe. Later, I accepted Christ. I believed what I read and knew God was working in my life, but I justified actions that were not acceptable. I was like a baby Christian Learning how to walk in faith, still crawling most of the time. Over time, I turned more and more to prayer, but I didn’t see my own faults. I just couldn’t figure out what was wrong in my life. I began studying the Bible more and listening to ministers. I was walking in faith and seeing my faults more clearly. I strived to be better and began taking classes. The more I studied, the more God showed me.
Now, don’t misunderstand me. I’m still growing in faith. If I had to guess, I’d say all Christians are learning at one level or another. We’re not in the same place. So, we must be patient with others and ourselves. As we walk closer with God, we will see and understand more clearly. It is important to study and listen, but also be open to the gifts of the Spirit. This has led me to seeing transformations in certain areas of my life.
Last night I listened to two ministers. One spoke about sins in our bloodline affecting us, and the other spoke about our emotions being a way to feel God. I prayed with the ministers. The Holy Spirit spoke to me with both sermons. How often have I cried and felt someone else’s pain? This is a blessing God has bestowed on me. He allows me to empathize by feeling the pain another person is going through. For years I’ve tried to avoid this blessing, but I realize now it is a gift. Then, I thought of some of the sins in my family bloodline that could have been affecting me. I don’t feel hard hearted or unforgiving about their sin, but I feel free from the burden today. This is a burden I didn’t realize was dragging me down.
How deep is your faith? Are you willing to trust God and grow? What’s holding you back? As you study, and pray, be patient for God’s answers come in His perfect timing. God bless you!
The wicked desire the stronghold of evildoers, but the root of the righteous endures.
Proverbs 12:12 NIV
Happy Friday! Spread God’s love everywhere you go.
Have you ever been teased for being a Christian? Have you ever felt that you had to stifle your beliefs or that you were be considered a “goody two shoes”? Have you ever been left out or ostracized for your beliefs? Well, you are not alone. Christians are revolutionaries for Christ. As such, we are called names, teased and ostracized. It’s not easy and it sometimes hurts. We need to rely on Christ to work through us, especially in our weakest moments. Do we have to give up things or avoid going certain places? Yes, but what we gain is much greater. I have found so much happiness in being a Christian and doing God’s work.
If you are discouraged because you aren’t accepted. Think of all the good you are doing when you let Christ work through you. God bless you.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter And our tongue with joyful shouting; Then they said among the nations, “The LORD has done great things for them.”
PSALM 126:2 AMP
Happy Friday! One way we can spread God’s love is through laughter. A friend shared her morning devotion which said surround yourself with laughter. What a great idea! When you are happy and filled with God’s love, others will be attracted to your happiness.
Have a great day and make difference everywhere you go! God bless you.