This is for you, Mom….

Mother’s Day has come and gone. I didn’t call my Mom. I did send a card, but it probably didn’t get there until Monday. I haven’t been to see her in a year. Just because she lives 1000 miles away is not really an excuse. Seriously. As the saying goes, ‘A day late and a dollar short’ …. story of my life. I may not call often, I certainly don’t write or email much, and I don’t make the trip out to Arizona with enough frequency. Quilty as charged; mea culpa.

I love my Mom. She’s my hero. I’ve talked about her before. She should have medals and trophies for the hardship and deprivation she has faced – and overcome – in her life. She is facing still more hardship in the physical and emotional, and she continues in her 90’s to carry on with courage. She is the Proverbs 31 woman (verses 10-31). Her tribe of 6 kids can never show sufficiently show her how much she means to us all. I’m just really impressed she didn’t kill* any of us when we were kids because of our attitudes and actions. (*Figuratively, of course!!) Actually, I can’t wait to see the crowns and accolades she’ll receive when she gets to heaven!

Mom didn’t only have to deal with 6 children, although that task alone scares the bejeebers out of me! She was a preacher’s wife, and not just any kind of preacher, but a Southern Baptist, super-strict, totally dedicated to his job kind of preacher. I loved my Dad (still do!), but the truth is that he was a hard taskmaster, and still demanded more from himself than from anyone around him. Mom was a full-time Mom, full-time wife, full-time helpmeet at the church and at home. I know there were times when she was exhausted both physically and emotionally, but I don’t ever remember her ever giving up. She has inspired and is admired by so many people, including me. My life has been full of poor, and definitely stupid, choices, and I hurt my Mom and my Dad. I have deeply disappointed them. Through it all, they continued to love me and to pray for me, even (maybe especially) when they didn’t like me. She has been steadfast in her love of the LORD, in her love for my Dad, and in her love for her children.

My Mom is my hero. I may not call or write or visit, but she is always in my heart and my mind. I love you, Mom.

(Photo from BayArt.org)

Morning Has Broken….

…. to a misty, watery sunlight with intermittent rain showers. The mockingbird on the neighbor’s roof is amplified and sounds like it is broadcasting to the world. It rained a bit last night; just enough to get the ground wet and cool us off to a more spring-like temperature. It’s the kind of morning that makes me wish for a screened sleeping porch, so we could just laze and enjoy. Indoors, work beckons, but for now, I am resisting. The pups are finally okay with coming outside after the thundering of last nights storm.

A few years ago, a lightning strike and the gigantic corresponding clap of thunder right next to us made it feel as though the house jumped in surprise. It blew out the power, and a small ball of fire burst out of the fireplace. Since then, the little one hides whenever there is thunder, even when it is barely discernable to me. He refuses to go outside, preferring to cower under something inside ….. which leads to another problem. Little dogs, no matter the pedigree or background, have to go out more frequently than the bigger ones. Consequently, I got up this morning to several puddles on my newly cleaned kitchen floor. 🤔 Just like having a 2 year old without a diaper ….. Good thing they are so (stinkin’) cute. 😜

As pleasant as my morning is (except the pee-puddles!), there are hundreds of thousands who wake to a really broken morning. A home missing a parent – or both parents. Dealing with a recent loss of a loved one, especially losing a child. Homeless, hungry. Forsaken by a spouse, or worse, beaten and abused. Devastation from wildfires or floods or volcanos. Hopeless, desperate, depressed. I’ve known some of these, and I am grateful for my home and my place in this world. I count myself among the blessed because I have friends and family who care.

Most of all, I am Blessed because I know JESUS. He is the Morning Star, the Hope that gets me up in the morning. I’ve tried life without Him, and it can be passable, but it is lacking. How did I make it without the Hope, the Grace, and above all, the Mercy of my LORD? How? I’d have to say, very poorly. Because of Him, I have the pedigree of a princess. From commoner to royalty, I have been lifted up into the bloodline of the KING of kings, LORD of Lords, Creator and Ruler of the universe. What bloodline or pedigree can compare to that?

Tolerance, Diversity, Forgiving

What a wild, wacky world we inhabit. Tolerance and diversity seem to be the catch phrases in the U.S. today, but what I see most is in-tolerance and un-forgivess. By definition, ‘tolerance’ means “the ability or willingness to tolerate something, in particular the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with.

‘Diversity’ is defined as “the state or fact of being diverse; difference; unlikeness: diversity of opinion. … the inclusion of individuals representing more than one national origin, color, religion, socioeconomic stratum, sexual orientation, etc.” (Dictionary.com)

Finally, forgiveness. Psychologists generally define forgiveness as a conscious, deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment or vengeance toward a person or group who has harmed you, regardless of whether they actually deserve your forgiveness. … Forgiveness does not mean forgetting, nor does it mean condoning or excusing offenses. (Greater Good magazine)

And this is how Paul explains it to the church in Ephesus:

“Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as GOD through CHRIST has forgiven you.” – Ephesians 4:32 NLT

Being intolerant and unforgiving became a part of the human experience all the way back to the first man and the first woman and their children – our ancestors; the father and mother of the entire human race. Look at Cain and Abel in Genesis, chapter 4. Jealousy, anger, intolerance and unforgivess…. just because Able was different from his brother, Cain killed him. If we stick to the dictionary for answers, whenever we announce that we are tolerant, or liberal-minded, then we should be living the these things: Acceptance, open-mindedness, broad-mindedness; forbearance, patience, charity, indulgence, understanding.

Instead, we have redefined liberalty to mean tolerance of all views except our own. We offer charity and indulgence to people who agree with us, and woe to anyone who opposes us! Christians and non-Christians alike, man and woman, black or white, gay or straight, rich or poor, old or young; Baptist, Catholic, atheist….. it doesn’t matter what group or demographic you look at, you will find plenty of intolerance and unforgivess.

All of this begs the question, what can we – what can I do to break the chain of ugliness? I don’t know that we can anything, but each of us, individually, can stop it within ourselves. By proclaiming that I am a follower of CHRIST and that I was raised a Baptist (AND a Preacher’s kid!), many people assume that I am a goody-two-shoes, with a holier-than-thou judgemental attitude. People who really know me and my family would scoff at that label! I’ve done my judging, but it’s been aimed more at the ‘church’ than the world. I’m a hypocrite. I’ve done my share of causing pain to others. I am so far from perfect, I’m not sure it could even be measured.

No matter who you are, you are not perfect. The most liberal-minded liberal is intolerant and unforgiving. We all have the same opportunity to rid ourselves of all the negativity and ugliness in our lives, and that opportunity comes through our LORD and Saviour JESUS CHRIST. He doesn’t care about anything that defines you; He only cares about the state of your heart. Listen to the hymn Amazing Grace. No matter what we are dealing with in this life, or what we will go through in the future, JESUS has our backs.

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me! Through many dangers, toils and snares, I have already come; ‘Tis Grace that brought me safe thus far, and Grace will lead me home.

“For this is how GOD Loved the world: He gave His One and Only SON, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. GOD sent His SON into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through Him.” – John 3:16‭-‬17 NLT

Are you a liberal in GOD’s eyes, saved by Grace and following His Son, or are you a Liberal in the eyes of the world, intolerant and unwilling to include Christians in your diversity?

One day

Have you heard Jeremy Camp sing “There Will Be A Day”? It begins like this:

I try to hold on to this world with everything I have
But I feel the weight of what it brings, and the hurt that tries to grab
The many trials that seem to never end…..”

There are days when my head and body ache, and my eyes are gritty like they are full of sand. I’m tired. My mind wants to shut down and sleep, but instead of rest, the instant my head hits the pillow my brain is caught up in a maelstrom and swirls around in an avalanche of random thoughts. I want to get up and go and do things, but the wind sucks away all of my strength. My spirit is willing but my flesh is weak. My desire is to fight, but life weighs so heavily on me.

“Fight the good fight for the True Faith. Hold tightly to the Eternal Life to which GOD has called you, which you have declared so well before many witnesses.” – 1 Timothy 6:12 NLT

Am I alone in feeling this way?

All I have to do is open a social media site, or turn on the TV or radio, or pick up a paper to see the misery and anguish that permeates society. We are surrounded by complaining, grasping, whiny people, who often drown out the muffled cries of the ones dealing with real suffering and tragedy. No, I don’t count myself as someone who has real cause to cry. Most of my issues, physical and emotional, can be attributed to decisions I’ve made without waiting for GOD’s answer.

The song goes on to say But I hold on to this HOPE and the Promise that He brings
That there will be a place with no more suffering…”

I pray that when things, when life, looks and feels hopeless, you will raise your eyes and look to JESUS. He walks beside us, and He will carry us when we need it. He will take our burdens if we’ll just let go of them – picture this: your hand is gripping the handle of your baggage, then loosen your fingers and move your hand away from it…. Flex your fingers. It feels so good, not having to lug that heavy load!

I long for the day when JESUS returns and the enemy is conquered, because then we will have a new heaven and a new earth; a place where GOD Himself willwipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” – Revelations 21:4 ESV

Conclusion? Life sucks sometimes. I can blame others, I can claim victim status and vie for sympathy, or I can lay myself and my burdens at the foot of the cross of JESUS, and carry on with His help. What will it be for you? What a friend we have in JESUS! Amen!

Does It Take Love To Achieve Peace?

That is a question I have grappled with most of my adult life. Does it? As a young adult, I rebelled against the discipline and structure I lived with while growing up. I was a rebel; following the path of my older brother, whom I idolized. Geographically, I didn’t stray as far as he did, but as for the rest….. but it wasn’t a contest then, and it isn’t a contest now. I threw myself into the quest for ‘love’. My brother didn’t love me, at least, not in the way I needed. I rebelled against the strictures of my parent’s teachings, searching for someone who would love me and protect me againt the world. Someone who would have my back. Remember the song, ‘Looking For Love’, sung by Johnny Lee?

I spent a lifetime lookin’ for you …..
I was lookin’ for love in all the wrong places
Lookin’ for love in too many faces
Searchin’ their eyes
Lookin’ for traces of what I’m dreaming of
Hoping to find a friend and lover
I’ll bless the day I discover
Another heart lookin’ for love ……

The basic cause of both crime and war, of turning our backs on those who do love us, is the inherent sinfulness of human nature. The world cannot be reborn until men are born again and are at peace with God. I couldn’t be reborn and at peace with myself, or anyone else, until I could be at peace with GOD.

World peace. Who doesn’t want it? I know we won’t see any real, lasting peace until JESUS returns, but I pray for wars to cease, just as I pray for crime to stop. We can have at least a partial peace, if we can individually be at peace… And the only path to true peace is accepting Jesus as your Savior.
I know this from personal experience.

Reckless Love, by Cory Asbury, says:

When I was Your foe, still Your love fought for me
You have been so, so good to me ….

GOD is fighting for me, and He is fighting for you, because He LOVES us and wants the best for us. Heavenly Father, I pray for all the people who are searching, looking for love in all the wrong places. It is YOU Whose heart we are so frantically searching for. I pray for the peace of the world through individuals surrendering to Your Son, Jesus Christ. Bless all today who are spreading the Gospel, in their homes and workplaces and neighborhoods, as well as those working around the globe. I pray that we can all see that it is only through Your Love that we can acheive any measure of Peace. I pray for the rebel, that they will experience Your divine, inimitable Love, and understand that You are the source of true Love and ultimate Peace.

And JESUS said, “Yes, it was written long ago that the Messiah would suffer and die and rise from the dead on the third day. It was also written that this message would be proclaimed in the Authority of His Name to all the nations, beginning in Jerusalem: ‘There is forgiveness of sins for all who repent.’ While He was blessing them, He left them and was taken up to heaven.” – Luke 24:46‭-‬47‭, ‬51 NLT

“Therefore, since we have been made right in GOD’s sight by Faith, let us have Peace with GOD because of what JESUS CHRIST our LORD has done for us. Because of our Faith, CHRIST has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing GOD’s Glory.” – Romans 5:1‭-‬2 NLT

People Laughing….

Laughing. Crying. Stony faces, worried faces, blank faces. Fat people, skinny people. Lackadaisical. Proud. Strutting, shuffling, confident. Glowing, pale, broken, bruised. Lazing around, pushing stridently through the crowds. Sleepy. Jittery. Miserable. Happy.

People watching is an interesting hobby. Trying to guess what is behind each expression, each action is fascinating. So many postures, so many expressions. My favorites are the laughing faces when they connect a couple or a group, and especially when they involve children. Children are the most expressive with their emotions worn on their sleeves. I love watching, and listening, to a child’s laughter. There’s something contagious about a baby or a child as they giggle and laugh. Nothing sweeter.

Sometime, try going to a crowded place and taking a seat on the sidelines (but not a sports event!). Don’t speak, just smile and nod as people glance at you. Pay particular attention to the little ones. Wiggle your fingers in a hello to them, and smile. Most likely you will be rewarded with a wave back, or a least a toothy grin. When we smile at people, it’s difficult for most of them not to smile, or grin, back. If you are having a bad day, however that is defined for you, look in a mirror and smile. For one, smiling takes less muscles than a frown. For another, it takes years off your appearance. When your world is falling apart, regardless of the why, remember David’s prayer:

“Have Mercy on me, O GOD, because of Your Unfailing LOVE. Because of Your Great Compassion, blot out the stain of my sins. Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin.” – Psalms 51:1‭-‬2 NLT

“Yours, O LORD, is the Greatness, the Power, the GLORY, the Victory, and the Majesty. Everything in the heavens and on earth is Yours, O LORD, and this is Your kingdom. We adore You as the One Who is over all things.” – 1 Chronicles 29:11 NLT

Isn’t that plea, that prayer, enough to bring a smile to your face, and to cause laughter to bubble up inside? From experience, I can say that it is only by GOD’s Mercy and Grace that I can laugh or smile at all. My laughter comes from the LOVE, from His Forgiveness when He washed away my guilt. God loves to hear us laugh in our freedom!

Photo credit: Trudnoco.hr

Lies, Deceits, Untruths

“Rescue me, O LORD, from liars and from all deceitful people.” – Psalms 120:2 NLT

I’m angry.

Nope. Try again.

I’m ANGRY!!

Better…..

One lie I’ve heard over and over is that we are where we are by our own choices. NO. I did NOT choose for my late husband to spiral into a pain-filled opioid addiction, exacerbated by VA doctors, which led to increasingly irrational, irresponsible, erratic, and dangerous thinking, and ultimately his death. I did NOT choose to lose our business as a result of his illness. I’m angry because he left me here alone, to deal with life on my own. I’m angry because he lied to me when he said he wouldn’t leave me, that we would face the world together. Even 20 years later, the hurt sometimes tries to overwhelm me.

Nope, it’s just not right. How can we pledge “to have and to hold … for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and health, until death do us part,” never knowing when sickness will strike? When death will take our partner? We did them all, but death? Death is too final. When we say those vows, I think it’s safe to say that the vast majority don’t even register the ‘death’ part. I didn’t, because I knew he wouldn’t leave me alone. He pledged all those things to me, but it wasn’t true. He did leave me. I guess I lied to him, too, because I put my physical safety over him and left him to face his last year on this earth, alone. I’m angry about that, too. I deserted him when he needed me most.

Most of all, I’m angry at the serpent, the belly-dragging, dirt- eating deceitful creature we know as the enemy. The father of lies, the false accuser, adversary…. I won’t even give him the satisfaction of saying his name here. This lowest of the low, this creature introduced lies and deceits, trickery and untruths, ugliness and evil, into our world. He resorts to these tactics to pull us away from GOD. I’m angry at the illnesses, the evil, the creature has introduced into our beautiful world. The Liar has perfected his methods over the millennium to the point where he knows what to do to cause us to doubt GOD; to doubt the TRUTH that JESUS is LORD, and that the HOLY SPIRIT will carry us out the muck of lies, deceitfulness, and untruths…. IF we allow Him to.

I find the strength to forgive Ron through the work of the LORD in my life. Forgiveness doesn’t mean forgetting. Sometimes, like today, as I reflect on my life, I remember the anger and sorrow and the feeling of being deserted, even before he died, because of the illness and addiction. I miss him and the things we shared; the laughter and the adventurous spirit, the incredible talents he had. I miss his willingness (and patience!) to work with me, to answer my questions, and teach me. I miss his strength, and I miss his presence. I don’t miss the frustrations of his illness and addictions.

Jesus said, “Get away from Me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to Me….” – Matthew 16:23 NLT

Thank You, JESUS, for putting the deceiver behind me! Listen to “Point to You by” sung by We Are Messengers at https://g.co/kgs/eJqUCB