A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!  God bless you – and thank you so much for reading my blog and following it.  How will you bring the New Year in?  How will you welcome 2018?

I think making resolutions is alright; however, there is far too much pressure put on a person, don’t you think?  I mean, how long is this list going to be?  If I’ve smoked for 30 years and I resolve to quit this year – then add to that a resolution that I’ll lose 30 pounds (all in one day, right?) – and oh, don’t forget, we need to pay off ALL our debt this year (that’s done in one day too, I’m sure.) 

I don’t dig the resolution thing because to resolve to stop every bad habit you’ve had for most of your life…  ugh – not so much.  It’s too much pressure.

Here’s another idea.  How about choosing ONE WORD that describes the attribute you most want to ask God to increase in your life this year?  I’ve taken the liberty of suggesting some possible WORDS you may want to embrace and pray to have enhanced in 2018.

I have a facebook friend who lives in the U.K. (don’t you love facebook???) – we chatted about this very subject a few days ago.  In her country, they have organized gatherings for senior citizens, which I think is a very good idea!  Social interaction is so vital to mental sharpness and let’s face it – we’re so much happier when we have friends and meet with them on a regular basis.  I told her in the U.S. we have things like The Red Hat Society, but I was not aware of a country-wide organized social gathering for seniors.  Compassion like Christ had – it extended to all people of all ages!  All people need the love of God, through His Son, Christ Jesus.  ❤

I get uncomfortable when I feel as though I’m losing control.  Is that human nature?  I don’t know – probably.  Giving your ALL to the Lord is not easy, and it’s never done just one time.  At least, in my life it’s never been done just one time.  It’s a daily commitment to hand everything to God.  It doesn’t matter how large the issue is, or how small…  hand it to God.  Give it to Him and trust Him with it.  Surrender to Him – and be obedient to Him.  He really does know best.  ❤

LOL – I was just fighting with my laptop (stupid thing!) – somehow, the screen got small and I couldn’t get the cursor to the place you click to make it regular size again.  Now, I ask you…  why would they put the icon over there where you can’t even reach it when you need it?  I think elves make these things – not rational elves either.  Anyhoo – I try to have more patience with human beings than I do with electronics.  Maybe we all need to pray for more patience in the coming year; and we will be careful to give God the glory for times when patience wins!  We really are nothing without Him.  ❤

I won’t lie – 2017 was one rough year for me!  I won’t bore you with the details.  My poor facebook friends have been subjected to the deets every step of the way.  Suffice to say…  I was stuck in bed with a bad back for about seven months!  It’s a humbling experience.  I would see the ads for Laser Spine Institute and just cry and cry!  I wanted to get my back “fixed” so desperately!  I’d struggled with sciatica for decades!  I finally had surgery on November 8th of this year.  But God is good because it was not a traditional surgery – it was the less invasive surgery with the less than 1″ incision.  That was the kind I prayed I could get!  That’s the kind they advertise on TV.  But my insurance would not have covered the procedure at Laser Spine Institute.  They covered it – the very same type of procedure – here in Kansas!  It’s a God thing – and I praise Him for His faithfulness to me!

I no longer have that shooting pain going down my leg!  It went away immediately – and once my incision healed and my back stopped having spasms, I was back to normal!  I’m still on restriction – can’t lift more than 10 pounds, no bending and I can’t dance the Twist yet…  but I can walk with no pain!  I walk now – so much and so far – you wanna know why?  Well, silly…  because I CAN!  During this time, my sweet friend Diane sent me this very special angel.  She is so beautiful!  She is in my “she shack” (it’s like a man cave, only for women).  She shines brightly and reminds me that there is always HOPE no matter what!  Thank you, Diane, for your kindness to me!  ❤

I’m reminded of an old hymn (hey, I was a church pianist for 50+ years, give me a break!)  The words say, “Faith is the VICTORY that overcomes the world.”  Victory is not attached to our circumstances – we are victorious no matter what!  Why?  Because we have FAITH which produces VICTORY and our faith is in Christ – and what did He do?  He overcame the world!!!  Past tense – it’s a done deal!!!  All we have to do is ACCEPT His gift!  Accept the sacrifice He made on Calvary so long ago for all mankind.  ❤

When my mama was here, I always talked with her, either on the phone or in person.  I couldn’t imagine a day without her.  Of course, I’ve been forced to embrace or at least accept a new normal since her death in 2004.  The really cool part about talking with the Lord every day is that – He’s not going to leave or die or whatever.  I know that God’s there, through His Son, Christ Jesus.  We talk nearly every day, and we talk about big stuff and small stuff.  He just wants me to keep Him in the loop, so to speak.  Just as my parent wanted to hear from her daughter every day, my Heavenly Father wants to have a conversation with me every day.  May we all seek His face every day in 2018.  ❤

I believe that there are times when God will allow a rough patch in our lives in order to make us more grateful for our lives when they are better again.  He doesn’t lead us around bad things, He holds our hand and leads us right through them!  It’s easier to be grateful when everything is going well and we don’t feel pain.  I’m the first to admit that… but I’ll also proclaim that there is always, ALWAYS something to be thankful for.  I remember when I was lying in bed back in April 2017 – and I heard a robin sing.  I remember thinking, “Lord, if I was busy somewhere else, I probably would not have noticed that bird singing.”  I thanked God for the serenade from that robin!  It had been a very long, quiet winter – and when you finally hear a bird sing, there is a sudden rush of HOPE that pours over you.  ❤

Years ago I was invited to a lecture about communication in marriage.  I wasn’t thrilled about going because quite frankly, I had just gotten divorced and didn’t think the subject applied to me.  I thought I’d walk into this church and there would be lovey dovey couples sitting all over the place.  Does that seem like an environment I’d be happy in at that time?  Exactly.  I was like, “OK, let’s get this over with…”

I should have recognized that God was preparing me for the next chapter of my life.  I could not believe the wealth of knowledge I gleaned from that lecture!  It was awesome and well worth the time it took from my life.  It actually changed my life.  And I really didn’t see that many couples there – and as the evening progressed, I frankly didn’t notice because I was paying attention to the lecture.

I learned that listening is the most important job in conversation.  Listen – and use body language to show the other person that they have your undivided attention!  Lean forward and make eye contact.  Really listen…  wow.  You mean I can’t just start jabbering and expect the other person to do all the listening?  I was shocked!

That night changed my prayer life as well – I do less talking and sometimes I don’t talk at all.  I just focus on the Lord – lean forward and make eye contact (oh, I wish) – but I always want to incline my ear toward Him.  Always. 

Here on planet earth, we restore all sorts of things!  In an effort to recycle things, we save them and love them back into usefulness!  What an accomplished feeling we have when something old and rusty looks showroom new again!  Cyber high-five to all the restorers reading this post today!

The best restorer of all is our Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus!  He suffered and died on a cruel cross on Mount Calvary so that our sorry souls could be restored – saved for eternity!  That’s a big deal!  He loves us so much!  ❤

In 2018, I want to be more obedient to God and His Word.  Of course, to do that, I actually have to delve into His Word, the Bible.  Since I’m not really a creature of habit – some days I’m an early bird and catch the worm and other days I stay up and am a night owl.  Depending on which mode I’m in, I’ll either do devotions in the morning or at night.  I don’t think the Lord really cares when we make time to be with Him – He just wants us to make time for Him.  ❤

I think we get GRACE & MERCY confused sometimes.  It’s really okay because it’s all good stuff – but it’s also good to know the difference.

God’s GRACE is God’s unmerited favor. It is kindness from God that we don’t deserve. There is nothing we have done, nor can ever do to earn this favor. It is a gift from God. Grace is divine assistance given to humans for their regeneration (rebirth) or sanctification; a virtue coming from God; a state of sanctification enjoyed through divine favor.

God’s MERCY is His loving compassion for us.  He doesn’t give us what we deserve, but He gives us what He wants to give us – His love.

See how close and intertwined they are?  No wonder we get them a little muddled once in a while.  ❤

I want God to forgive me of my sins – well duh…  of course I do!  But He says I have to forgive others their sins against me.  That’s the deal, so I have to forgive – no matter how much a person hurts me, I have no choice but to forgive.  And you know what?  Frankly, to carry a grudge around on your shoulders is really stupid!  They’re going merrily on their way, living their life – and they’ve forgotten all about it – and you.  So…  ditch that heavy grudge and forgive – but some things you won’t forget – and shouldn’t.  There are lessons we learn in those situations.  You want to keep the lesson, just in case you get in a similar situation again.  Therein lies the wisdom…  keep the wisdom from the situation.  Forgive the person – ditch the grudge – keep the lesson and the wisdom.  Works for me!  ❤

I want to end with this lovely poem by Lucinda Berry Hill.  It sums up what we’re talking about – making this year better in every way than last year.

We all need God’s help to learn to take the high ground instead of jumping in the mud hole with others.  May we bring a blessing to each other in 2018.  ❤

I know this was a really LONG post…  they’ll get shorter, I promise!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!!!!!!!  Be safe and responsible tonight!  God Bless You! 

 

 

 

 

 

A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. – 1 Peter 3:15 & 16

Have you ever noticed when someone is asked to give a testimony, they break out in a cold sweat?  Actually, I’m describing my dad – he had a very humble and private walk with the Lord.  He didn’t make a big deal out of it, and he never wanted to testify.  If he was put on the spot, beads of sweat formed on his forehead, not because he didn’t have a story, but because he didn’t like to speak in public.

I think it’s funny now, looking back…  my parents had me in front of the congregation playing the piano before I was in junior high school.  Would either of them done anything on the platform?  I doubt it – but there I was – and there I’d stay for several years.  I’m glad they pushed me though, because the experience I gained at a young age taught me many valuable lessons.  From my unique vantage point, I got to see a few things.  I remember thinking, “I want to be like that person” – or…  “I don’t want to have an attitude like that person.”  We all do that in our youth, but doing it while seated at the piano in choir practice was special somehow.

We are to have a story and be ready to share it when it’s time.  Have you ever heard someone testify and seem to be almost angry that others are not coming to the Lord and repenting of sin as they think they should?  Sometimes your testimony is less about the actual words you say, and more about the attitude behind the words you’re saying.

A gentle quiet spirit that exudes thanksgiving and gratitude makes a much better impression than beating your hand on the pulpit and screaming.  Nobody ever scared anybody to the Lord – well, except the movie A THIEF IN THE NIGHT.  I think the whole youth group went forward and confessed every little sin after that movie was over – even putting chewing gum under the pew.  No, I didn’t do that…  but I found some once.  Eeeewwww.  It was a pew in the back of the church – it didn’t take a Sherlock Holmes to figure out who did it.

Every one of us has a different vantage point in our walk with Christ.  We see things from different places.  I sat at the piano and watched as a tween – maybe you sat in the choir and observed – or in the back row.  Sometimes I wished I could have been a normal kid and sat in the back row – I envied them a little bit.  The point is, we all have a story of our walk – past and present.  The walk I have with Christ is so much deeper and richer today than it was when I was saved at thirteen.   That’s what the world needs to hear – and that’s the truth of it.

Sometimes a testimony is painful to share.  That’s when we rely on God’s help to give us the right words to say.  As we listen, it might hurt, but we rely on God’s help to give us compassionate hearts and minds as we hear their story.  Christ reaches down to all of us when we’re in a state of disarray – and that’s putting it mildly.  We’re unsaved and without hope without Him.

I’m reminded of an Andre’ Crouch song called I’VE GOT CONFIDENCE.  With God helping us every day, we can have confidence and assurance that things will be alright no matter what the case may be – !

Don’t be afraid to share your testimony, your story, your faith.  If you’ve got it, flaunt it, spiritually speaking!  LOL – well, you know what I mean.  I’ve got CONFIDENCE…  God is gonna see me through.  🙂

 

 

A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART

Carry PEACE in your pocket.  If only we’d all do that, what a difference we’d see in this ol’ world.

I’ve known so many beautiful souls.  I’ll bet you know a few of them too.  The most wonderful thing about them is, they know they aren’t beautiful souls because it is their sheer determination to be nice or good.  They are beautiful souls because of their personal relationship with Christ Jesus.  They know that He gives them the ability to be compassionate, humble, kind, meek and patient.  God is pleased when His children are obedient, and even more pleased when He gets the credit – the glory – for it.

Lucinda has posted a verse about kindness every day – as part of Lent – she’s not giving something up, rather she is giving something – kindness.  What a wonderful idea!  I like it.  I thought this one was particularly nice for today’s post.Notice what words are used…  FILL, SHOW.  You mean these attributes don’t just magically appear once we’re saved?  Does a Father just automatically offer good gifts if their children never speak to him or offer some sort of effort in a relationship?  Well…  not usually.  Our Heavenly Father wants us to ask Him for what we need to be Christ-like in our lives.  We ask for His compassion, His strength, His mercy and then we ask Him to show us where these things need to be shown the most.

I’m not righteous in myself – nobody is.  It’s all about the LORD and nothing about me.  If there’s any redeeming qualities in me – I praise Him because it’s definitely not my nature.  If I was left to my own devices, I’d probably be the least patient person in the world.  I do literally have to ask God to help me when I’m standing in a long line or feel that twinge of impatience coming over me.  Part of it is because I have so much pain when I stand for long periods of time – but some of it is just that human nature wanting to come through.  God’s the only one who can keep it under control and surround me with His way – and His way is so much better.

 

 

 

A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART

The goal of John’s ministry was to urge folks to turn from their sins and accept Jesus as their personal Savior and Lord.  He preached baptism – the washing away of sin with water.  He emphasized the importance of complete repentance of sins.  The baptism with water is just the outward sign of an inward work and the renewal of the heart.  The inward work, of course, is done by the Lord and not through anything we do.  That is not to say our good deeds do not count or matter – they most definitely do – but in God’s eyes, it’s WHY we do those good deeds that matter most.  Our heart’s intentions are important.  Motive.  It’s about our motive.  What motivates us?  If we are in love with the Lord – His love for us and our desire to share His love through good deeds will surely be our motivation.

If we are not really holy in heart and life, our profession of religion and relation to God and His church is meaningless.  You can fool people, but you can’t fool God.  If we are to plant seeds of kindness and compassion, we must determine to meet some needs that other people have.  The two go hand in hand – it just makes sense.

A wise pastor once said, “If you don’t meet a person’s immediate need, you have absolutely no business trying to plant a gospel seed.”  We have to feed, clothe, cry with, listen to – before we can even think about introducing the wonderful good news – the gospel of Jesus Christ.

One thing to keep in mind is that if you have nothing to give, you can say prayers for those in need.  Remember, God sees your heart, your motive, and intentions.

Kindness really does count.  It matters what we share and that we care.  🙂

 

 

WHITE CHRISTMAS

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Sprinkle me with water and I will be pure; wash me and I will be whiter than snow.  – Psalm 51:7

I love Lucinda’s new poem about a white Christmas.  There’s a stanza that talks about showing love and compassion at this time of year – about helping someone pick up items they’ve dropped.  I had to laugh because that very thing recently happened to me.  I’m not sure why the good folks at Walmart think that fourteen gazillion items can be stuffed into one of their plastic bags – and they don’t have to double-bag it.  Sigh…

I was crossing the parking lot and it was so crowded – people everywhere and cars lined up waiting for me to get out of the way.  I had left the cart inside the store, thinking I could carry the bag to the car alright.  I thought wrong.  The bottom of the bag broke and stuff dropped out!  It was everywhere!  I was so rattled and embarrassed!

I scrambled to quickly pick things up, although some things had rolled away from me.  It’s amazing how kind and helpful the folks around me were!  There seemed to be folks coming from everywhere to help – and many were showing true empathy, explaining that at some time or the other, the same thing had happened to them.

The people in cars put them in park and got out to help me!  Nobody seemed angry or upset – but everyone was so very kind and helpful.  I was silently thanking God for that.  As we all know, sometimes people are less than kind and compassionate to another person’s plight.

I hope you enjoy this poem as much as I did.

a-christmas-of-whiteAnd I’m reminded too that my neighbor is everyone – not just the person who lives in my neighborhood.  Every time others are kind and compassionate with me, I become more kind and compassionate with others.  We teach others how to treat others by our own actions and reactions, you see?  It’s a choice we make and it’s a choice to ask God for help or not.  I don’t know about you, but I want to learn every lesson I can from God if it will mold me into the kind, compassionate, caring person I need to be.

May all your Christmases be WHITE.  🙂

 

PRAYERS & WISHES FOR THANKSGIVING

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I’m thankful for the internet. I’ve been able to reach so many people with inspiration. Not just with selling my books via my website, but also with sharing things online. I have made some really good friends, and really good acquaintances. It’s not what I’m most thankful for but it is one of many. – Lucinda Berry Hill  www.lucindaspoetry.webs.com

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Surfing the internet is a bit like driving a car.  There are streets here in Wichita that I literally avoid because they are just too rough.  I opt for a smooth ride…  call me crazy.  We all know that making wise choices on the internet just makes sense and usually keeps us out of trouble.  There are all sorts of speed bumps, and there are fake people all over the place.  On facebook alone there are people who take military photographs and use them to create false facebook accounts.  I admit, it took me a while to catch on to that, but I’m so much more careful than I used to be.  Today I decline many friend requests, especially if we have no common friends.

It’s sad and scary on the internet – but it’s also a wonderful tool for ministry!  I can post little rays of God’s love and His Word every day on pages like AMERICA, BLESS GOD and POEMS & PRAYERS FOR MY SAVIOR.  It’s such a blessing to share encouragement in groups like A SECOND HELPING OF WELLNESS…  WITH A DASH OF HUMOR & A PINCH OF FAITH and I’M A BASKET CASE.

A journey of a thousand sites begins with a single click.  – Author Unknown

God gives us choices because He created human beings – not robots!  Free will…  it’s not a curse, but a gift from our Creator.  If for any reason we choose unwisely, we need to know that God will forgive and allow a U-turn.  We just have to make that U-turn and not look back!

Let’s pray for courage and wisdom to use the internet to SHINE for Christ:

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I wish you safe surfing with no creeps on your facebook account.  I wish you many friends and acquaintances along the way.  May you have wisdom from God to choose good sites and stores to visit on the world wide web.  There are good things, but please remember there are also bad things.  Please be cautious and careful as you surf.

I’ve been blessed to minister via the internet since 2012 with blogs and through facebook.  It’s a real pleasure to design and post Scriptures, poems, sayings and quotes that uplift and encourage others!  May God bless you through something on the internet today.  🙂

 

BIRTHDAY #55

TL 4-2 BIRTHDAY #55

4-2 PERKS & PITFALLS

Last night I got such a sweet present from Lucinda Berry Hill.  Thank you, my friend!  You’ve made turning the ol’ double nickel so much better!  🙂  I love that basket heart too – don’t you???

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God has blessed me with another year of life!  Today I am the ol’ double nickel…  old enough to receive a senior citizen discount at most restaurants and I could join AARP (but that will never happen because I am not a fan…).  I am a fan of good health, happiness, faith and joy.  I’m thankful for every day God gives me to begin again and do better with His help.

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved,  compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and,  if one has a complaint against another,  forgiving each other;  as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.  – Colossians 3:12-13

Of all the things I could pray for, today I ask God to give me more compassion for everyone and everything around me.  I want to be more relatable than ever because it’s what God wants for me.  He wants all of us to be more gentle and kind with one another.  I KNOW I need to have more patience and compassion for those young drivers…  Lord help me with road rage!

Until he extends the circle of his compassion to all living things, man will not himself find peace.  –  Albert Schweitzer

You are not going to believe this, but shortly after I wrote this post, Lucinda sent me a poem to design.  As I read it – the little blurb about compassion just reached out and slapped me!  I have to share it today.  I love how God guides both of us to write – but it’s especially cool when we’re both directed to write so similarly!  I just got chills when I read this.12571279_1738613263049803_574237969_n

Yes – I will make an effort to bring calmness where I walk, to show kindness and compassion, and pointing all to God.  SEE why I got chills up my spine???  WE LOVE HOW GOD WORKS

Love you, my sister in Christ!  ❤

My husband gave me a a 3.5 qt. Dutch oven.  Of course I’ll be trying it out today.  So, let me share the recipe with you.  Just one more thing…  if you are not a vinegar fan, you may want to add a couple of packets of Splenda or Truvia to this.  It’s got a pretty strong vinegar flavor.  😉

Vinegar-Braised Chicken & Onions (serves 6)

Ingredients:

2 lbs. pearl onions

Kosher salt

3 Tbs. olive oil

8 oz. pancetta (Italian bacon), cut into 1/4″ pieces

4 cloves garlic, peeled & crushed

5 lbs. chicken pieces (I use thighs & legs)

Freshly ground black pepper

3/4 c. balsamic vinegar

3/4 c. red wine vinegar

2 c. low-sodium chicken broth

1/2 c. golden raisins

2 bay leaves

Directions:

  • Cook onions in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender, 5-8 minutes. Drain and let cool. Trim root ends; peel.
  • Meanwhile, heat oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add pancetta to pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until fat is rendered and pancetta is brown, 8-10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer pancetta to a large bowl.
  • Add onions to same pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to brown, 8-10 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring often, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Transfer onions and garlic to bowl with pancetta.
  • Season chicken with salt and pepper. Working in batches, add chicken to pot skin side down and cook, turning, until browned on all sides, 10-15 minutes per batch; transfer to bowl with onions.
  • Carefully drain fat from pot and return to medium-high heat. Add both vinegars to pot and bring to a boil, stirring and scraping up any browned bits from bottom of pot. Add broth, raisins, bay leaves, and reserved chicken, pancetta, onions, and garlic to pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, partially covered, until chicken is fork-tender, 35-40 minutes.
  • Using a slotted spoon, transfer chicken and onions to a large platter. Skim fat from cooking liquid and discard. Remove bay leaves, and season sauce with salt and pepper. Spoon sauce over chicken and onions.

For dessert we will probably have some fresh sliced strawberries with whipped topping.  Sounds like a great birthday dinner to me!  🙂