Sunday, February 24, 2008

White as snow

Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
Isaiah 1:18 (KJV)

I never will forget my very special friend Shirley; friends like her are one in a million. Her life, though not perfect, shone with the light of Jesus. She loved God and people and her generosity in every way is still a testimony of the love of Jesus Christ.

She had many trials in her life, one of them being the caregiver for a parent with Alzheimer’s disease. Though she had actual physical bruises from trying to handle the outbursts of a person with the symptoms of this disease, I never heard her complain. Instead she counted it an honor to be a servant of God in anyway. When she ushered at church she did it with a smile that made many people feel welcomed. Even when she spoke a word of correction, it was done in a way that made you feel that she really cared.

She suffered much in her young life. Even when sickness had ravaged her body and she was just a shell in appearance of her normal self, she still praised God for His goodness. I remember one snowy day, just weeks before she would go home to be with the Lord, a conversation we had on the phone. She said, “ I am looking out the window and see the pretty white snow.” She went on to say that “It reminds me of how Jesus took all my sins away and now when He sees me, He sees me as pure and white as that snow.”

Even in her final days on earth she was still giving God the glory for His goodness and salvation gift. What a testimony she was and is. I think of her often and especially when I look out the window and see the snow as I do today, I am reminded of Shirley and God’s goodness

Monday, February 18, 2008

Invest in a smile

”A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance.”
Proverbs 15:13a

The power of a smile is phenomenal. A smile can be something that you give and 99% of the time you’ll get one back. I love watching people, in fact sometimes I think that I may have missed my calling, I should have been a private investigator or an international spy. (smile) Because I’m really interested in people and their “stories”, I have fondly been accused of being an interrogator working for the government and a member of the FBI. Seriously though I am bold and will ask questions if I see an interesting person (I do this with tact of course). (smile)

It is very interesting to observe mannerisms, cultures and accents. It must be a family thing because for a fun pastime, I along with a couple of relatives can have a whole conversation in a foreign accent. Now with all this in mind, a few days ago I walked into a real Italian restaurant. Pirone’s (pronounced Pee-ro-nees) was down the street from the county Library where I was to return some books, so it seemed only natural that I would go there. When I entered I was met in surround sound of a tenor singing in Italian and though I could not understand a word he said, by the little “tear” in his voice it had to be about a long lost love that had broken his heart. (sigh) Italy was EVERYWHERE in the posters on the wall, the aroma of garlic in the air and EVERYONE spoke in Italian!

A very handsome young man changed his language quickly to English as I approached the counter to make my order. “Maya I helpa you” he said. His accent was so fluid as each word flowed into the next with that little singsong lilt to it. All the while you could hear the chefs and staff in the back yelling at each other in Italian. Well to me it sounded like yelling, they could have been just having a normal conversation for all I knew! Needless to say that I was very amused.

After scanning the menu it was a toss up between the Chicken Parmiagan and pasta or as a sandwich. The young man tried to describe the sandwich to me with many hand motions “Eet iza a larga portion of cheekin ona niza roll and it comes wida cheeps.” In case you didn’t get that he said, “It is a large portion of chicken on a nice roll and it comes with chips.” Got that? Anyway I settled on that and sat down to wait for my take out.

While I’m waiting some diners finished their meal and are walking out. As they are leaving the largest man hollers out “Hey! Mario ciao!”. He said it so loud it startled me. I promise you he sounded just like Marlon Brandon in the Godfather. And on top of that he had these two shorter men following him. I quickly got myself together and cordially gave them a smile (with a gulp) and you know what? Even with their rough looking exterior they smiled back as they went out the door. That gave me some confidence, okay here comes some more couples speaking in fluent Italian, the women look my way and I give them a smile…guess what? They smile back. Hey this is contagious. By now I’m smiling to myself because I’m thinking how awesome God is. Sure a smile is a small thing, but it makes you feel real good and it’s catching!

My waiter comes to the register with my sandwich, I pay him and say, “Thank you and have a great day” with a smile. As I’m turning to leave he says “You’ra welcome ana you hava gooda day too”…with a smile! Proverbs 17:22 says “a merry heart does good like medicine.”(a translation says that it is “good for the bones”) So in giving those smiles you are actually doing people a favor as it causes them to smile back at you!

So I feel like I got my full return on my investment of smiles that day. And on top of that the lunch was delicious especially the “cheeps” that turned out to be homemade kettle potato chips, which I devoured in the car on the way home!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Love Never Fails

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
I Corinthians 13:4-8a

Love never fails”, those are the words that my late husband always ended his cards and notes to me. After so many years of marriage, I came to expect those words at the bottom of the page; and I was never disappointed. I remember especially this time of year (Valentine’s Day) this fond memory because we were married on February 14th. My husband did not have the opportunity to be forgetful of our anniversary date, because it was Valentine’s day, with hearts, chocolates and greeting card commercials advertised in every store and on TV. And he did remember each year.

As we lived and grew together each year of our marriage, we learned what “Love never fails” really mean. The scripture speaks of patience, kindness, no envy, no pride, no rudeness and so on. I must admit we did not learn this all at once, like in the movies, but each day, each year we learned more and more what love really is. Love is more than hearts and flowers and violins playing, sometimes it can be painful and uncomfortable as you learn to surrender and love unconditionally. But it is truly worth it all. I believe that a husband and wife that truly love each other will continue to learn the love lessons until their very last breath. Only God knows all there is to know about a person. So as couples make a decision to have a successful marriage, they are continually learning about each other. And in that learning there comes a surrender and commitment to stay together.

Love is a wonderful thing and I thank God that I had the opportunity to experience it in my marriage. It was not always easy, but I would not trade those years for anything in this world. Because…Love never fails.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

His Mercy endures forever !

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Matthew 5:7

You know the Holy Spirit will be our own private tutor, if we let Him.
He gives personalized lessons on life when we allow Him to be a part of our everyday living. I can only sadly shake my head when I hear people trying to make God so mystical and in order to communicate with Him we have to be down right spooky!
NOT SO! God makes it simple because He knows how simple we can be! LOL
I love Him so much for being so understanding; I give Him all the praise.

I learned about mercy the other day in such a simple and profound way. I had only been to work for about a half an hour when several staff members came in the office to inform me that a student that was trying to park in a spot next to mine had hit and damaged my car. I imagined the worst, but when I got outside I saw that the only damage was some paint that had been scraped away from the bumper, one large and long spot and some smaller ones (estimated @ body shop as $493.00 to be fixed!)

The student that did the damage was walking away from the scene until a staff member eyeballed him to let him know that she had witnessed it. He still did not come to me. I had to call him out of class to get a report to our security officer. He was very nervous and asked that I not report it to his insurance company (this was his second incident in the parking lot). After hearing his request and then the angry remarks of some staff members to “Get him”; the Lord gently reminded me of an incident when I was guilty, and the person let me go “free”. I had not even thought of this incident in years, but God in the way that only He can do, brought it back to my mind without condemnation.

I knew what I had to do, even if it seemed crazy to those that I work with and the officer involved, I had to let him go. Now I know that this is not the answer in all cases, but for me, that day and that time, I know that I made the right choice. After I released it to God I felt such peace! I knew that God my father was proud of me.

Mercy is love and Love is mercy, you cannot divide the two. To love beyond ourselves is to love as God Loves. And as we give Mercy (love) we will receive Mercy (love).
This little act of kindness is nothing compared to what the Lord has done for us time after time. But thank you Lord, You are teaching me everyday how to love like You do.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Seeking Peace

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.
Isaiah 26:3

It is a very miserable feeling when you can't feel peace. And I have been feeling that way for a while. It is a foreign feeling for me, not unfamiliar, just a foreign feeling when it happens. I know what has happened, I have allowed the "trials of life" to overwhelm me. I have allowed bad memories and concerns to over take my mind and my joy. It is a very uncomfortable feeling, like wearing an ovesized, heavy coat on a sweltering summer day!

There is a story in the Bible when David is about to fight against Goliath the Giant and King Saul puts his armor on David to "help" him. When David discovers that the armor was way too big for him and that it would be cumbersome trying to fight with it on, he took it off. We all know what happens...David DID defeat the giant with only 5 stones and a sling.

I know that I am carrying a burden that I am unable to carry on my own. That is why I feel that I have no peace.
I know that I have to remove this burden and cast it on the Lord just like He told us to. Then and only then will I be able to fight the good fight of faith. And I have the Prince Of Peace, Jesus is just that I have temporarily lost my focus on Him; looking instead at what I consider as problems.

I do not see how people do it; how they live without peace. I suppose that if you live that way for awhile it kind of grows on you. But I do not want to live that way. My prayer is that I will stay focused on the Prince of peace, who was chastised and paid such a heavy price for my peace. Forgive me Lord when I stray from being thankful for your great sacrifice so that I could walk in peace...