VALENTINE’S DAY

tl-2-14-valentines-day-2So many folks are lonely on Valentine’s Day.  Today’s post will be less about the romantic side and much more about the reality that – YES – GOD LOVES YOU!77-flavors

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to-be-a-bridewithout-his-loveI hope the poetry today from Lucinda Berry Hill has been a great reminder that God really does love you.  He gives us the best gifts possible as we live our lives for Him.  God gives us friends, family and other people to love and care for.

God understands our prayers when they don’t make sense.  When all we can do is cry and mutter and sputter…  God gets that because He sees our heart and knows our intentions.  Why?  Because He loves us so much.

As God loves us, we are to love one another.  Husbands and wives pray for one another and protect one another.  Real love cannot exist apart from God – He’s in the center of every good relationship.

God not only sends special angels into our lives, but sometimes He even sends them back again if we forget to take notes the first time!  – Quoted in The Angels’ Little Instruction Book by Eileen Elias Freeman, 1994

Special angels???  Well…  sure – why not?  Billy Graham calls angels, “God’s secret agents” and we all need as much help as we can get, don’t we?  And yes, we should take notes the first time – but often we don’t, so they have to come back again.

God loves us, but sadly we don’t recognize some of the ways He shows His love toward us.  When was the last time you were driving and had a close call – nearly had a crash – but at the last second you stomped on the brake and everything turned out okay?  Did you thank God for that mercy, or did you congratulate yourself and pat yourself on the back for having such stellar ability behind the wheel?

When was the last time you were awakened by the song of a bird outside your window and thanked God that it was that instead of the blare of a train or a siren of some sort?  These little blessings often go completely unnoticed and God gets no credit or praise or even recognition for His attempt to show His love toward us.

Every blessing we receive regardless of the size is God’s way of showing His love toward us.  If we fail to show gratitude for the little things, surely we should not overlook the reason we are saved…  the sacrifice of Christ Jesus, God’s Son – on our behalf.  It’s only because of His death, burial and resurrection that we are able to make Heaven our home when this life is finished.  God has surely shown His marvelous love to us in big and small ways.  Happy Valentine’s Day. 🙂

 

 

 

A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART

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Sometimes the choices we make are irreversible.  Once we begin walking forward, we just have to keep going and never turn around.  Those decisions are made slowly and methodically.  Make sure you give it much thought, because you know there’s no going back.  Nothing in your life will ever be the same again.  You have to ask yourself if there may be a time in the future when you’d like for things to be the way they are.  If the answer is no, then there’s no reason to stay where you are.  That’s the only time it’s okay to take action and keep walking forward.

I’ve only done that once.  I don’t care to ever do anything that painful again for the rest of my life.

I’ve learned that there are things that go wrong that don’t always get fixed or get put back together the way they were before. I’ve learned that some broken things stay broken, and I’ve learned that you can get through bad times and keep looking for better ones, as long as you have people who love you.  – Bobby Fulks

Sometimes decisions are made for us.  Things happen in life that are completely out of our control.  Life-altering experiences occur and that’s when we are left with our faith in God.  We hopefully have people in our lives who love us, but we know without a doubt that we have God…  and yes – He loves us.  He cares and He wants to hear what our hearts are feeling.  Even if what has happened leaves us frightened and angry and alone – He still wants to hear from us.

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Life is a little like on the job training.  We are born into this world – expected to perform at a certain level through school and receive a diploma which magically leads us to the pursuit of happiness.  Right?  Hang on, Sloopy…  let’s back this truck up.

Stuff happens in life because not only are we just human, but the people around us are… you guessed it…  human.  We all have dreams and expectations once we graduate.  We’re going to meet the right person to spend a lifetime with – we’re going to have this wonderful family together and we’ll fly off into fluffy white clouds in a classic car – like Danny and Sandy did at the end of the movie GREASE.

Have you ever seen a classic car fly???  I rest my case.  Just as a classic car most definitely will not fly, no woman could possibly fit into that leather outfit that Sandy wears toward the end of the movie.  I’m convinced that’s why most men want to watch that movie so many times.  Sigh.  I dunno – maybe it is to see the classic cars… 

Yes, life is like on the job training; however, most jobs are dull compared to the twists and turns that life takes.  When it seems your life is a rollercoaster ride, just keep in mind that Jesus sits at your side.  He doesn’t need a barf bag…  but there are times when you might need one.  Jus’ sayin’…

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The common thread throughout this topsy turvy ride of life is LOVE.  Find LOVE – a connection that makes it all worthwhile.  Love here on earth, of course…  but know that you are loved completely by your LORD.  He knows you better than anyone, and He loves you more than anyone here ever will.  We need human love to hang in there.  We need God’s love to make us whole and give us purpose.

Finding love on this earth is so difficult.  Finding love from Heaven is so simple.  🙂

 

 

 

 

AUGUST IS READ A ROMANCE MONTH

AUGUST IS READ A ROMANCE MONTH

 

CONTENTED PEACE

There is not a better escape from reality than to read a good book with a good romantic thread running through it.  Books are an inexpensive way for us to take a vacation to far away places and live vicariously through the characters.

August is READ A ROMANCE MONTH!  I’m reading a good book right now called “Signs of Love” by Kimberly Rae Jordan.  It’s book two of the Christian romance series “Black Thorpe Security”, a spin-off from the Christian romance series, “The McKinley’s”.

If you have not read those yet, check out book one called “This Time with Love”.  Once you open these books, you will not want to put them down!

I haven’t enjoyed a story this much since I read the “Love Comes Softly” series written by Jannette Oke several years ago.  Of course, now those great books have been made into movies.

I enjoy romance novels, but when it’s a Christian romance, I am often reminded of God’s ability to make even the most unlikely of marriages into something beautiful.  In these books there are many moments when you just know the hand of God was in the midst of challenging situations.

According to Amazon, book three in the “Black Thorpe Security” series will come out in October of this year.  I can hardly wait!

I also enjoy the Amish romance novels that have hit the bookshelves in the past few years.  There are three very popular authors of Amish romance—Beverly Lewis, Wanda Brunstetter and Cindy Woodsmall.

Once in a while I like a good romance with some suspense mixed in, don’t you?  Check out some of these titles when you’re in the mood to mix it up:

No matter which series you choose, kick back and take a trip to another country or another time.  Maybe you can be a part of a totally different culture!

There have been many criticisms regarding Christian romance novels, but I believe they are so well written, and they emphasize the fact that God can make all things good.  I’m reminded of His goodness in our lives and our relationships.  🙂

 

MATTHEW 7:16 ON 7/16

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By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?  – Matthew 7:16

THANKFUL FOR FRIENDS

As Christians, we are abundantly aware of the fact that we are not to judge anyone.  God is the ONLY judge of all.  He has not given any Christian the authority to label anyone as a hopeless case.  To be honest, God has not chosen to label anyone a hopeless cause, so…  what makes us think we have the right to do so?

This passage of Scripture is not encouraging us to judge – we are told over and again that it’s not okay to judge, however, we are encouraged to discern.  Discernment comes from God’s Holy Spirit.  It’s that common sense that we take away from conversations and encounters with others.  It’s not a bad thing!

Have you heard the old saying, “It takes one to know one” – ???  Well, in life, God wants to begin like-minded relationships.  It’s part of the way He keeps us safe.  We all know there is evil in the world, but if we are tuned in to the Holy Spirit and ask Him to help us be discerning in our choice of friends, we can have the iron-sharpening experience that God wants for us.

Don’t get me wrong – we are to pray for everyone.  We are to help when possible.  There are just times we need to use the precious gift of discernment when developing relationships in life.  God wants to help us live the best life possible.  Discernment is not the exclusion of others, but it is a part of tapping into God’s wisdom.

THURSDAY

When we a ministry to be a part of, we have to be especially careful that we do not get caught up in false prophets or misleading of any sort.  If we will pray as we seek avenues of ministry, God’s Holy Spirit will show us where our work will do the most good.  He will not deny anyone an opportunity to work and witness.  Even if it is not in a traditional sense, ministry opportunities will be shown to you if you ask God to reveal them to you.  Trust God’s Holy Spirit to guide you to a place to share your faith.  🙂

 

 

MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. DAY

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DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING

I was only 2 years old then.  Toddling around, blissfully unaware of the need for civil rights in this country, unaware of something called war, or as they liked to call it, conflict in Vietnam.  From the photos I saw on the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite, I’d say it was war, but what does a toddler know?MLK QUOTE (3)Mine was the generation that underwent mandatory desegregation.  Many families, both black and white, no longer saw grade point average as a priority, but were more concerned about whether their son or daughter would be on the “list” to be bussed across town to attend school.  It was a true concern for parents.  I was never on the list, not that it mattered.  I was busy with my own kind of integration program.  It was nice because it came so naturally – I love friendships that God creates, don’t you?

My best friend was Johnette, the P.E. teacher’s daughter.  We met in Bible club at school.  I loved hanging out with her because she loved Jesus and knew His wonderful law.  We talked and laughed and sang Sunday School songs together.   We had a common bond that could not keep us apart because we both loved Jesus.  It was Johnette’s character I adored and wanted to be around.  She never had a bad day and wore a big smile on her face!

You know, I don’t know to this day if Johnette rode a bus to school or not.  Was she part of the social experiment?  I don’t know.  I assume (and yes, I know what that means) she was in the neighborhood around the school since her mom worked there.  I don’t know – and I don’t care!  Johnette and I were best friends.  Nobody made us spend time together, but I believe God allowed us to cross paths.  For that gift, I will always be grateful.

No matter what a person’s race is, it is their character that will shine and attract others.  Johnette and I were friends in Christ.  We sharpened each other’s iron and grew to be very close friends.  She is African-American and I’m so Caucasian I can’t even pay to get a good tan.

Color blindness begins with me – and I refuse to see anything but a person’s character.  It should be our common like-mindedness that binds us in the Lord and nothing else.  I have brothers and sisters in Christ.  We all have a unique quirk especially from Him.  We look for that quirk in each other – that is when we begin to sharpen each other’s iron – and that is when great things for God begin to happen. 

Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase. – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I wish I could have found the entire episode, but here is the last part of “Black Like Monica” from the CBS series, “Touched By An Angel”.  I hope you get a chance to watch the whole thing.  Monica was in a situation where she was a black human being for one day – but what a lesson she learned.

The Color of racism is fear.  – Monica, Touched by an Angel

I believe if we can keep our communication honest instead of ugly, God can help any relationship improve and eventually heal, don’t you?  ❤

 

 

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY

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On October 6, 1961, President John F. Kennedy advised Americans to build fallout shelters. I was only 6 months old, but my daddy made sure our house had a fallout shelter. Bomb shelters had to be built a certain way with specific features. It was more involved than building a tornado shelter and they were not inexpensive to build. When others in the neighborhood were buying fancy new cars and putting nice new furniture in their homes, my dad was building a bomb shelter to keep his family safe. It was not large or fancy, but cold and damp with a distinct sort of musty odor. If the civil defense sirens had sounded, the entire neighborhood would have clamored to get in to our dank little shelter.

Thank God the bomb shelter was only used to hide from Mother Nature’s tornadoes and not from the big bomb everyone was dreading. Was it worth it to be prepared? Of course. In my dad’s mind, it was more important to protect his family than to parade around the neighborhood in a brand new Cadillac or have a new color television set.

We welcomed the neighborhood in to our shelter when the tornado sirens sounded, but it was quite cramped when everyone was there. We sat there shivering, shoulder to shoulder, quietly listening to the transistor radio for the latest weather report. Even as a small child I remember thinking,

We could be here as long as it takes a tornado to come and go, but what if this was a bomb threat? There’s no way we could be stuck here like this for any length of time!

The neighbors got the same advice from President Kennedy that we got. Their priorities were mislaid or they just assumed they could come “live” in our shelter. While they were buying all those nice new things that, hello – if a bomb had been dropped – would surely be destroyed… my family drove an old car and we had an old black and white television. Daddy made much of our furniture, but I remember spending Saturday nights at the Bud Palmer auction, bidding on used furniture. We loaded it up and took it home in our pickup truck. No furniture trucks ever came to our house.

I’m proud of my parents! I’m also very VERY thankful we were not faced with a life or death situation in which we would have most certainly had to turn our friends and neighbors away from our shelter. Thank You, God! ❤

 

 

FRIENDSHIP DAY

TL 7-30 FRIENDSHIP DAY

7-30 FRIENDSHIP

When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.  – Henri Nouwen

How true this is!  Most of the time when I talk about a problem, I’m not seeking the solution to it, but I just need to talk about the problem.  I need to “get it out there” because the act of venting makes me feel better.

The most important lesson of friendship is also the most basic:  In order to have a friend, you must be a friend.  – Ruth Soukup

I’ve heard that if you have five true friends throughout your life, you are blessed indeed.  How many real friends do you have?  There are people who come into your life for a short while and claim to be friends.  There are people who you have a nodding acquaintance with for a lifetime, but can’t call friends.

A loyal friend is like a safe shelter, find one, and you have found a treasure.  – Sirach

God sends people into our lives at different stages for different reasons.  There will be some good memories made but unfortunately there could possibly be some hurt feelings as well.  Either way, God knows who we need in our life, when and for how long.  We have to trust Him to know what is best for us.

One night I called my longtime friend Lydia to escape from mountains of paperwork and errands.  She said, “Don’t you remember what you always used to say?  ‘When I die, I don’t want people standing around my grave saying, “Ohhh, she kept a perfect house.”  You wanted them to say, “Wow, she was a Woman of the World.”‘”  I didn’t remember that until my friend reminded me.  I was struck by how relationships connect us to a part of ourselves we’ve long forgotten.  They remind us who we really are, rather than the person that years of responsibilities have us thinking we should be.  – Mary C. Bounds

What a perfect description of a longtime friendship!  May we all have at least one such friend.  One who will remind us of what we truly think.  I’m so thankful to God for my brothers and sisters in Christ.  I love friendship, don’t you?  😀

 

 

A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART

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A DIFFICULT PRAYER
Some prayers come so easily. The prayers of thanksgiving just sort of flow in an effortless fashion. Thanking God for the bounty He provides is so easy! Praying on the behalf of those who are ill is not even that hard. The prayer of repentance is a bit more difficult because that is hitting mighty close to home. There’s one even more difficult prayer to pray and that is the one that says, “Lord, change ME.”

Everyone has an ego. I don’t care who you are, there is some degree of ego. We don’t like to think that we are the problem. We like to think that we live our lives in such a way that we are the contributors, the do-gooders and the peacemakers. The fact is, sometimes it is not the other person who needs the adjustment, but sometimes… it’s me. I need to change an attitude or a behavior or something.

It’s true, and it’s painful. No matter what relationship it is, work, church, school, even more personal relationships like marriage or a sibling or a parent – sometimes we need to pray “Lord, change ME.”

Without going into detail, I know for a fact that little three-word prayer works. God takes that heart-felt prayer and performs what I consider to be a real miracle with it! And, the funny thing is, the more often you pray it, the easier it gets to pray it! That ego just begins to shrink and there’s a sort of attitude “shift” that takes place. The other person gets viewed not as a problem, but as someone who you need to understand better. In order to understand where they are coming from, you need God to tweak your sense of understanding toward them. LORD, CHANGE ME.

I love how God works and the prayers He uses. It’s our willingness to let our ego shrink and accept the fact that we need an attitude adjustment from God that allows God to do the work. Once that concept becomes clear, it’s not a difficult prayer to pray. At first, it’s probably the most difficult prayer you’ll ever pray. Don’t give up, just try it and see if God doesn’t perform a real miracle for you too. ❤

IRON SHARPENS IRON… FRIENDSHIP

IRON SHARPENS IRON (2)

FOR ALL YOU'VE DONE
When you were a child did you play on the teeter totter??? My friends and I spent hours on it – going up and down while we said little rhymes, like:

Teeter totter,
Bread and water,
Wash a fish with dirty water.

We also had fun with this classic as we went up and down:

Teeter totter up and down,
This is the way to London town,
One foot up, one foot down,
This is the way to London town.

If you were to try to play on a teeter totter alone, you’d find it quite difficult if not impossible. It takes two people to make a teeter totter work correctly. As children we learn how to play together and get along so that when we grow up we will know how to socialize, interact and work together. There are not many things you can do alone – or should have to do alone. A marriage is a great example of teamwork in action. If both people are not completely committed to it, the chances of success are slim at best.

Friendship is another good example of teamwork. Many times in life I have been on a teeter totter with a friend for a time, just to realize that while I’m up in the air, they decide to get off – then I go crashing to the ground! I think that has happened to most of us – but as we get older we just see it as a part of life. Every friend crosses our path for a certain purpose and for a given amount of time. It’s rare that a friendship is really forever. If you have one forever friend, you have a rare gift.

We should ask ourselves three questions before we speak: Is it true? Is it kind? Does it glorify Christ?  – Billy Graham

The ups and downs of any relationship are inevitable, whether it’s a marriage or a friendship. God did not make robots – He made human beings. We are moody and have a vast range of emotions and desires. What works for us one day may not work for us the next. It’s sad when one wants to grow and move beyond the status quo while the other wants to stay stuck in a rut. To say this is unhealthy is a dramatic understatement. Not only is one person unhappy and dissatisfied, but it does not please God either. He wants His children to grow in grace.

Choose the one you play on the teeter totter with very carefully. Make sure you choose someone who plays fair and won’t suddenly get off the teeter totter when they reach the ground, sending you straight down for a crash landing!

If you have the courage to walk away from toxicity in relationships, your life will improve. Once you know people who truly love and care for you, you will wonder why you did not move on sooner. Even if you are alone with no relationship or no friends, you are still better off than you were with the toxic people. Eventually you will find good people to surround yourself with – and life will be better and you will be much happier.

I’ll play on the teeter totter with you – but you have to play nice!

I know a Man who will never let you down!!! His name is Jesus.

WATER A FLOWER DAY

TL 5-30 WATER A FLOWER DAY

Today is WATER A FLOWER DAY!!! I humbly give you a thought to ponder. A strong relationship is like a soft, fragile flower. Without water and care, it withers and ultimately dies. Even a cactus needs a little water once in a while.

In our world, the media would have you believe that everything is all about sex. From shampoo to chewing gum, sex sells, and always has ! The superficial coating that people want to pass off for love leaves me shaking my head and screaming at the top of my lungs… THERE MUST BE MORE TO IT THAN THIS!!!

Let me begin by saying I am not an expert or a therapist or anyone who has the perfect formula for a relationship. I’m just a person who finds human behavior fascinating and I wonder why some relationships seem to flourish while others seem to fade.

I believe that relationships should be rooted in the soil of trust. Whether you are in the flourishing class or the fading group, one of the most important ingredients for success is trust. Once it is plain that the one you have entrusted with your love and your very life cannot be trusted, there is little hope for love to grow. At that point a relationship cannot thrive and will die rather quickly.

But trust extends beyond just knowing that your significant other is not stepping out on you. Trust also includes a degree of respect for what the other person wants and needs along the way. Seeing to it that they have what they need is good, but when what they want is also deemed as important, that is when love can be seen and trust can be built. If that is lacking, then trust can be easily lost.

Just as the best soil for flowers is beneficial, there is real delight when you know your partner in life can be trusted. Trusted to care for you – see that you get not only what you need (food, clothing, shelter), but what you may want once in a while. I’m not suggesting that anyone take advantage or be taken advantage of. I am, however, suggesting that trust is reinforced when both parties play fair in the relationship.

This post may fall on deaf ears, but I’m writing it anyway. I submit that good healthy relationships, like flowers, are all about using good quality soil (trust) and proper watering (care). If you want to keep your partner happy and healthy and feeling delightful, be trustworthy and caring! Doesn’t everyone deserve to feel delight in a relationship?

Remember the Golden Rule

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you

Well, the rule is still golden and the principle still applies. Nobody likes to feel slighted, cheated – or like a second-class citizen!

It’s a delight to trust somebody so completely. – Jeff Goldblum

Do more than is necessary to make your partner happy. Don’t just do the least required. How much does that person mean to you? Think about it. ❤