Sunday, December 16, 2012

“…who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped,  but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.  Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Philippians 2:6-7

Christ stripped Himself of His deity when he came to earth as a little baby. He was the King of Kings and yet was born in a stable, one of the lowliest places. And yet in many churches today people create title after title to attach to their names. Christ was constantly humble never looking to draw people to Himself, but to God the Father; and yet many folks have created “personalities” in our churches that must drive the most expensive cars and live in the most expensive homes, all the while spreading a message that we DESERVE the best.  What we DESERVE for our sins we could not pay the penalty for…it was so bad that Jesus had to come to pay the price for us. I wonder if the heart of God is not hurt by this. WE have gotten so very far from the example that Christ set for us while He was here on earth. ..God help us…
With all the pain and suffering in the world, how have we gotten so far off in some of our churches that only a "Bless Me" message is being preached?  Don't get me wrong, I don't believe that God wants us to be destitute and penniless, but we have taken greed  to a whole new level.
I know that I must not point my finger because the remaining four will be directed to me.  But I must call it for what I see. May God help me not to turn away from my first love, Him.  And then God help us to walk closer to the example that Jesus set for us on this earth.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Tis' the season...

"He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to His name."  Psalms 23:3

The Holidays can be so full of excitement and joy, but for some it is a season of depression and sadness.  I am very cognizance of hurting people this time of year. Mainly because this will be the 11th Christmas since my beloved husband passed away.

I so sympathize with others that have lost loved ones and must experience the Holidays without them.  With all the hustle and bustle of celebration, when you are missing your loved ones, it can feel like you are sitting in the bleachers of a really exciting basketball game and not having a clue why everyone is so excited.
It is so easy to then detach yourself from everything and everyone just to "survive".  And what is a very wonderful time of the year, to you, becomes a time of dread and anxiety to want it all to just be over.

But here is one thing that I have learned...God loves us.  He has not forgotten us and He will give us the strength to make it through not only the Holidays, but through each and every day.  He will give us strength not only to endure what ever sadness may come but His Strength will help us to once again began to be thankful that we are alive to celebrate.  He will help us to enjoy our "new normal". 

So the Christmas dishes come out!

My dog Bruno gets to hear his favorite Christmas Story!

And my precious Grandchildren get a grandma visit!

This season, my prayer is that you will allow God to give you renewed strength to enjoy the Holidays, and to experience the true meaing of what the celebration is really all about...

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Unknown Soldier

“Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Him with her sons, kneeling down and asking something from Him.  And He said to her, “What do you wish?” She said to Him, “Grant that these two sons of mine may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on the left, in Your kingdom.” But Jesus answered and said, “You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” They said to Him, “We are able.”
So He said to them, “You will indeed drink My cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with; but to sit on My right hand and on My left is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it is prepared by My Father.”
"And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your servant just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:20-23,27-28

The tomb of the Unknown Soldier is one of the most famous monuments in the United States.  It is guarded 24/7 with great ceremony and honor and yet…it represents people with no names.  Soldiers that gave their lives defending this country whose bodies were never found or identified.  It’s like an oxymoron…the FAMOUS Tomb of the UNKNOWN.

What a wonderful example of how you don’t have to make a name for yourself to be honored.  And yet most of us waste so much time trying to impress people that may not even care about us.  Call it “brown nosing”, “kissing up” or “fighting our way up the ladder”, it still amounts to just that…trying to make ourselves famous.  Grant it, we must have initiative, especially in the job market of today, but we have seen it when it goes to the outer limits and it can be very ugly.

In the scriptures above this mother was the biblical version of what we would call today a “stage mother”.  She wanted her boys to be famous.  She saw that Jesus was pretty well known and she wanted her boys to have a piece of the action or a piece of the throne in this case.  But Jesus astonished her I’m sure when He asked them were they willing to pay the price.

I am convinced that the most famous people are those that we will never know their names, but only their deeds. A good example would be: Do you know the name of the person that first told Billy Graham about Christ?  And yet because this person was faithful in sharing the good news to a young man, God used Billy Graham to reach millions over the years for Christ.  So who’s REALLY famous?

Today is Veteran’s day and I would like to say “Thank you” to all the men and women that gave and are giving their lives to defend this great country. And I also would like to salute the soldiers that we will never know their names…Unknown to us, but Known to God…”Thank you!”  You maybe Unknown , but you allowed yourselves to be Servants so your deeds are known and you are famous in the eyes and hearts of us.

Dear Lord, help us not to try to impress others, but let us be Your servants…

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Collector or Hoarder?

"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal;   but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. " Matthew 6: 18-19

I love Teapots!  I always have!  Ever since I can remember I have loved the pictures in books and magazines of people sitting at a table and having tea.  Even Alice in Wonderland having tea with the Mad Hatter appealed to my childhood dreams. My collection started out very slow, but in the past few years it has really blossomed!

I collect teapots sometimes by theme, like "Roses"

or "Apples"
I have lost count now, some jokingly say I am boarderline "hoarder". But I think I just enjoy the hunt for that one teapot that I may not have, at a cheap price of course! :-)  My eyes are trained now to scope out teapots as soon as I enter a Thrift shop or yard sale. So how can I be a hoarder if I keep them organized and only display a few at a time? Silly me, I'm just a collector.   I realize that I cannot take these things with me when I leave this earth; these "things" are not important in light of eternity, but God has given me a gift to enjoy while I'm here. I believe He loves to see His children happy doing things they enjoy as long as it does not cause harm, bring shame to Him or others, or takes the focus off of His purpose for our lives...not allowing it to become "god".  As I keep Him the focus of my worship, heart and life, I believe I'm okay. I'm not a hoarder, but just someone that enjoys the blessings God has so liberally placed on me!
Oh! I also have seasonal teapots, teapots by color...Next time I'll share more of my "Lovelies."

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

God is Love

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."  John 3:16

The words of this song are constantly in my head:   Listen :   Lord I'm amazed by You

"Lord I'm amazed by You, Lord I'm amazed by You,
Lord I'm amazed by You, and how you love me."
How wide, how deep, how great is your love for me."

Such a simple love song to the Lord and yet it capivates the heart and helps you to ponder on the depth and magnitude of God's love for us.

I don't think that we will ever be able to understand in our finite minds just how much He loves us, but rest assured He does.

I don't believe that we can truly love someone else until we know how we are loved.  God's love is not only sacrificial, but itis unconditional.  He gave His utmost best to pay the penalty for our sins and the sins of the world and He loves us regardless if we partake of that gift of sacrifice or not. 
But His desire for us is to recieve that gift of sacrifice so that we can experience all that He has for us.

I guess, this post is all about how I am feeling so overwhelmed right now with the love of God.  To think that He would love someone like me blows my mind.

Thank You Lord for your Love!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Are you connected?

“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.  “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”   John 15: 4-5

While doing my weekly maintenance to my houseplants, I noticed that some of the leaves were beginning to turn brown on one of my favorite Philodendron vines. After close inspection I also noticed that though there were no sign of mites or any other pest; at the area where the vines met the soil they seem to be shriveling away.  This plant was given to me as part of a dish garden many, many years ago and I had taken excellent care, or at least I thought, to this plant.  So it surprised me when I took it over to the sink to spray it down with water and as I lifted the vines, the whole plant lifted up and came away from the soil as easy as lifting one’s hat from their head!

I then remembered that the week before, I had vigorously given this plant a good spraying as I lifted its heavy vines. And in so doing my “good” maintenance, I must have separated the vines from its main root!  And though it still looked nice and green just sitting there on the stand, I soon found out that it was in the process of slowly dying from being separated from its root.

Some of us may look alright on the outside but are we really connected to God? Lots of churches had their little promo’s going a few years back to get folks to stay in church and get involved. Many had lapel pins and banners displayed with sayings like “Are you connected?” and “I’m Hooked”. All with the noble intention I’m sure of encouraging members to be connected to their church organization.  But in the scripture above John writes about hearing Jesus speak of us being connected with Him.
Now before you get into a speech about …forsaking not the assembling of ourselves together…” let me say that I believe in the Church, it was God’s idea remember?  But the “church” that we see today is not what was described in the Bible’s book of Acts. Many good things have come out of these organizations and we should be committed and loyal when we give our word to be a blessing to that organization.  But first and foremost we must be “connected” to Christ and Christ alone.  He is the only one that can sustain us.

The church organization and its members can be a blessing to each other in times of need; to agree with you in prayer, to be by your side in times of trouble, even to bring meals over during a rough time; and I have experienced all of these selfless acts by wonderful fellow church members.  But I have also seen church members that appear on the outside as if everything was just fine when they really had lost their true connection and were slowly dying and withering away; because their connection was with the organization and not God Himself.
Paul wrote “…that I might know HIM…”, shouldn’t that be the cry of our hearts?  He is the vine and we are just branches. He is our true source.  My prayer: “Lord, I want to stay connected to You, because You are my Life source.” Amen

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Learning by heart...

"...being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ..." Philippians 1:6

I was in the 3rd grade and the buzz and excitement was about our annual school play; which would be "Alice of Wonderland."  You can only imagine my excitement when parts for the play were being chosen.  All us girls wanted the part of Alice, but it was given to a girl in my class named Linda, who had long curly hair and to me was kind of snooty. But just when I was about to go into my "poor me" persona, Mrs. Brown, my teacher came to me and said with a smile "We want you Veronica to be the Narrator because you speak so distinctly."  At first I was little upset, though I did not show it, I mean as a 3rd grader I had not heard the word "distinctly" too much nor it's meaning.  When I got home and my Mom explained to me what the word meant, I was happy again.

After weeks of practice and nearing the time of the performance,  Mrs. Brown (really her name) came to me and said "I hope you have learned all your narration by heart, because even though you will be holding a large book, there will be no words on the final pages!"  Though we were just in the 3rd grade Mrs. Brown always expected the upmost from us and encouraged us to be the very best that we could be. She went on to explain that my job as Narrator of the play was to "set up" each scene, get the attention and stir up the anticipation of the audience as I "read" from what would be a large ornately decorated book.  According to her I had a very important part in the success of this play!

The night for our performance finally came with me dressed to the nines in a new dress with so many crinoline slips underneath I could not sit down, patent leather mary jane shoes shining to perfection and the largest bow that my mother could find in my shirley temple curled hair!  As I walked out on the stage, I remember seeing my mother and father in the audience and almost getting choked up, not for being sad, but for being so happy that they were there as they always were for me.

The lights dimmed and as I held up that book which was about half my size, I began to tell a story of a little girl on an adventure, all by memory, all by heart. As I turned each blank page in that book, I learned that I did not need the written words before me to tell a story that had been written in my heart. With all the practices, rehearsals, Mrs. Brown's encouragement and a desire to make my parents proud, somewhere in the process,  Alice's story had become alive in me and I could tell it without hesitation or fear.

That was so many years ago and yet I was reminded of it as I meditated on my life, "My story".  The past few years I believe God has allowed me to live "my story" by heart. After many, many years of being involved in my church and community, I was wooed to take a back seat. At first it was so hard, but as I submitted to what I believe God was calling me to do, much to the disapproval of many well meaning people, I finally got peace about the transition.

I believe that God was inviting me to take all that I have learned and experienced all the previous years and walk it out. I have read the Bible many times over, but what good is it if I don't live it each day? So with hesitancy at first I began this adventure, much like Alice; but oh! what lessons I have learned! I am living by heart, God had given us His Book, the Bible and He expects us to not just read it but to learn it by heart so that even though the pages may appear blank we will have no problem remembering what He has taught us!

What I call "Walking your life out by Heart" is work! I think I'm busier now than I was before, less physically, more spiritually; but there is such satisfaction when you know that you are doing what He has asked you to do. God wants to complete the work that He began in us. I don't think He is so much concerned about what we do and how busy we can be, but He's interested in us becoming who HE wants us to be; and sometimes that means you have to take a few steps back and take a really good look at yourself.

Learning by heart...and then walking it out...what an adventure!

Friday, August 24, 2012

What's your purpose?

Ever wonder what is your purpose here on earth?  Let me assure you, we each have a specific purpose for being here, even if we don’t   feel like it sometimes.  Point in case ME… this morning, on the porch having a pity party ( I have those sometimes, no one’s invited though…sorry).  As I took inventory of my life; well into middle age, widow, work as a secretary for the past 15 years, who really needs me, I move slower, I wear jewelry with a sweat suit, I strike up conversations with strangers in a store, sometimes they respond, sometimes they look at me like I’m Osama Bin Laden in drag…yada, yada, yada…what do I do that rocks the world…I mean REALLY?

So with that baggage first thing in the morning, here comes the pity and the heaviness you get when your joy has dissipated, in my case intentionally. Why do we do that to ourselves?  I dunno…

As I read my devotional by Chuck Swindoll he said this “Two words will help you when you run low on hope: Accept and Trust. Accept the mystery of hardship, suffering, misfortune or mistreatment. Don’t try to understand or explain it…then deliberately TRUST God to protect you by His power from this moment until the dawning of Eternity.”

Many of us have quoted this scripture “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28  But do we really mean it?  Do we really believe that those not so nice things that go on in our lives that have not been blocked by God, can serve as a purpose to mold and make us into the person that He wants us to be?

Purpose…what is my purpose? We all have as Anne of Green Gables says “visions of grandeur” but is that necessarily our purpose?  Maybe it is, but maybe it is not.  My purpose is to be HIS purpose.  Dictionary .com says that purpose is “the reason for which a thing exists…”

So instead of me sitting around feeling sorry for myself and singing my greatest hits “Oh Woe is me”, “Nobody knows de trouble I seen” and “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot”…I better get off my Dukus and be thankful for the “Purpose” that I am walking in day to day.  Things in this life may not have turned out the way I wanted them to, but I must ACCEPT and TRUST that as I submit and commit my life to God, the One that knows all the details, will certainly work all things out for my good.  May not understand everything, but isn’t that what faith is?

My purpose?  Being me…Oh! He has a lot to work on with me; I am definitely a work in progress. But as I’m on this road that He has set before me, hopefully I will fulfill my purpose in Him. Accepting my not so perfect self but realizing that a perfect God is in control of my life.   That’s my goal and I know He will help me every step of the way.
(Pictures courtesy of my Teapot collection)  :-)

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Seeds of Hope

“ I have nothing in my own self and yet I have it ALL in Christ. Can God use a life that has made so many mistakes, has fumbled so many times and has been such a disappointment to myself and others?  I believe so…humbly, humbly recognizing that I am but a vapor and yet God can use me to plant a seed of hope into the heart of someone searching for the Truth.”  I wrote this on a piece of paper and stuck it in my Bible a while ago.  I found it yesterday and it started a flood of memories…
I cannot remember her name; only that she was a neighbor that lived up the street.  She would see me sitting on my porch and would stop by and somehow the conversation always got around to her past life.  She would openly share how she was a bad mother, going out late at night, partying all the time, neglecting her family, until one day God came into her life, changing her, making her the person that she really wanted to be.  I remember listening, but thinking “I’m not such a bad person as she was.”  But deep down inside, I was hurting, and needed a Savior, someone to love me through all my mistakes, heartache and secret shame.

The seeds of hope were planted in me through that woman being so transparent with me so long ago; and even though I did not get it then, a short while later when I was at the end of my rope, her words came back to me crystal clear, “Jesus saved my life”.  I wonder sometimes how she is and if she knew that what she was telling me would one day change my life forever. In  the book of  First Corinthians 3:7-8 Paul talks about how one person plants, another will water, but it is God who actually gives the increase.  Each of us have a very important job to do, we may never see with our own eyes the fruits of our labors and really we should not look for a reward here on earth for any good we may have done, but we must be faithful to do what we are called to do.
To plant seeds of hope may not be as big as your dreams but if you are faithful it will give an increase down the road.  Because someone planted hope into my neighbor years ago, she planted in me, bringing an increase in my family, so that now I see that increase in my grandchildren…

What about the person that planted seeds of hope into Billy Graham…and now millions of people have been planted with seeds of hope and it continues…
To my neighbor, wherever you are now dear lady, thank you for being faithful and obedient to share your story of hope to me on that North Philadelphia porch that day. I may not see you again on this earth, but somehow I pray that God will let you know that the seed you planted in me was good seed and it not only saved my life, but the lives of my husband, son, relatives; opportunity to plant seeds of hope to many in the prison systems of New Jersey that we visited for 18 years; through song to many and hopefully many more to come.  Even though we may plant and others water, it is God Almighty that ultimately gives the increase…all praise and Glory to Him!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

“They shall still bear fruit in old age; they shall be fresh and flourishing,
 To declare that the Lord is upright…”    Psalms 92:14-15

While out shopping the other day I noticed a little girl with what appeared to be her grandmother.  The older woman walked slower pushing the cart while the little girl danced and pranced down the aisles.  At one point they found an item to purchase and the grandmother questioned if it was the correct item. The child emphatically though not disrespectful said, “I KNOW that it’s the right one.”  Then she let out a loud sigh and placed her hand on her hip as if to say “Come on old lady let’s keep it movin’ !”  I had to chuckle to myself, because I remember that as a child I thought life itself was moving too slowly.  Maybe that’s why you hear people constantly telling kids to “Be still! “ Stop moving around so much!” Can’t you sit still for a minute?”    Maybe not, they are so chomping at the bit to get things going!  Only to want it to slow down as you get to my age.  LOL

But as I thought about it, it came to me; here we have the youth with vitality and physical strength, and the matured, though moving a little slower, but has the wisdom that only comes with experience.

The impatience of youth to have things happen now compared to the patience of a matured person is a study in life…period.   I am convinced that the impatience comes because they have not experienced much yet.  Because once you’ve fallen a few times you soon learn to slow it down and think about what you’re doing.  It is so true what Joyce Meyer says “The person with all the answers, have not lived most of the questions.”

That is why I love this painting so much that I had to buy it a few years ago. A little girl slowing down enough to braid her grandmother’s hair.  The grandmother utilizing that time to give her some words of wisdom perhaps.  Oh how I wish that I could sit at the feet of my mom and maternal grandma and let them pour into me all of their wisdom.  What they tried to tell me back then, I was too impatient to listen or thought it as not being useful.  I guess I thought how can someone that moves so slowly understand what I am experiencing in my young life?  Fast forward to now and I treasure the words I did manage to receive from them.  Words that I thought never took root, but somehow as I’ve gotten older, God has brought them back to life and I understand the truth in them.

The youth stir up our energy that encourages us to keep moving, while our words and encouragement from our experiences help them to make wiser choices and maybe avoid some things we went through.

I love being around young people they make me want to continue to dance through life.  And I thank God that I realize I have something to offer them too.  Since I’ve  ran ahead of them a bit on this journey through life, I can offer them my experiences; and hopefully one day they will remember as I do today, how much we need each other.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Remembering Dad

“For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers…”
I Corinthians 4:15a

As the scripture states there are many teachers, but not many that can father.  There are men that have sired children but there are unfortunately not many that know how to be a father…if you have or have had a true father then count your blessings…I had one…

My Dad, a gentle man, born May of the year 1919, was a precious, precious father.  If it is true that we get our first impression of what we think God is like by the example our fathers set, then my impression of God from as far as I can remember is that He is loving, kind, protective and yes, gentle.

Though my Dad came from a childhood of poverty in the south, back in the days when African Americans were looked upon as not being human beings; where the stereotype had already been cast that blacks, especially black males were lazy; he always found work and was never too proud to take menial jobs so that he could make some money to contribute to the pot for his parents and siblings.

This work ethic carried over into his adult years, where he worked at a paper mill for many, many years. He used to tell us stories of how the African American males had to eat their lunch sitting up on the rafters of the plant, because they were not allowed to eat with the “regular” folks, even though they did some of the same jobs. He told us stories of how as a black male you were not allowed to look a white person in the eyes, and if you did, you were called disrespectful and even worst could happen. But through all of this time of his life, my dad remained a gentleman.  When he told us stories of this kind, it was not with bitterness, but to caution us.  You see he loved his family very much and living during those times came with an extra concern for safety. And that even though he and my mom gave us a safe, nurturing and loving haven, outside of that was a world that could be very cruel.

When I was very young every chance that I got I followed my dad. Even a short trip to the hardware store was an adventure to me. My dad could fix anything…or at least my siblings and I thought.  The story goes of my oldest brother Calvin who when he was a little kid had a balloon that burst and while stifling back tears he said bravely, “that’s alright, my daddy can fix it with a nail!”  Daddy oh Daddy you were our hero!  J

He was a wonderful provider that saw that we had everything we needed as well as most of our wants.  Each summer he always made sure that we all went on a trip, usually to Buffalo, New York or Philadelphia.  All six of us at the time, would pile into our car and travel for over 16 hours (probably more). Despite the fights amongst us kids and the threats of putting us out beside the road, those were good times. We would always stop in the mountains of New York to picnic and take pictures.  And when I would ask my dad how much longer did we have to go, his answer would always be “Oh about another thousand miles.” With that I would collapse in the back seat with a groan!  Usually landing on the toe or foot of my one of my siblings that brought a big yelpl!  LOL

Another one of my fondest memories is of him asking (his wife) mom for some “sugar”.  He knew that she would be embarrassed when he did this in front of us, but it always brought a secret smile to her face. He would pucker up and make a kissing noise and try to grab her to smooch! It always brought laughter to us!  Such wonderful memories we have of you Dad.

Thanks Dad for being the man that you were, so solid, full of integrity and with such love. Thanks for being that example of what a real man should be like. Thanks for not bending or swaying under the pressures of being a man, an African American man during a time when it was almost unbearable. Thank you for relying on God to help you be steadfast, immovable and consistent in taking care of your wife and family. I miss you today and always. You will always be in my heart…I love you Dad.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Peace comes with acceptance...

"Which of you by worrying can add one cubit (inch) to his stature?"  Matthew 6:27

Peace comes with acceptance. After the many years that God has blessed me, I now have learned how to accept who I am.  Now you can look at that in two ways 1)Why the heck did it take so long or 2) Finally! the girl has some sense!.  I choose to believe the latter, though I am no longer a girl... but a 60 year old woman, who by the way has a lot less baggage than I used to have...

Along my journey God has helped me to "lose" some of the baggage of my younger years. One very major piece baggage was "What people thought of me".  Ha!  When I think of the years I worried, cried and fretted over what folks thought of me, I could just about upchuck over wasted time. We should live our lives in such a way that people will respect us, but in the major scheme of things "You can't please everyone" SO! you might as well be your respectful self and be thankful for the ones that accept you and respect the ones that don't.  Free country I always say.  LOL

Another piece of baggage was "I didn't like me".  I mean why am I so short and have such wide feet?  Oh! oh!  and I can't forget  my broad shoulders...okay why did I always compare my shoulders with a quarterback from the Philadelphia Eagles?  I mean EVERY other woman on earth have nice petite shoulders, but me...why me?  And why have I ALWAYS had double chins...even in my somewhat leaner days?  While I am writing this I can "hear" how ungrateful I must have sound to God.

I was a major project for God to work on, and I'm still a work in progress. But He is so faithful and patient. I am SO learning to love myself, just as I am. I realize that God makes no mistakes and in the words of Popeye the sailor man " I'z am what I'z am and that's ALL what I'z am".  God made ME and I accept that. 

Acceptance doesn't mean just settling, but it means taking a long look at yourself and CHOOSING to agree with God that He knows you and has a plan and purpose for your life.  Then the peace comes. Money is good but it doesn't make you happy. That was proven last week with the suicide of a member of the Kennedy clan.  Fame and beauty is good but it doesn't make you happy, think of all the famous beautiful people that lead reckless lives or have taken their lives at a young age.  But what makes you really happy is having peace in your soul and knowing that you have a purpose in this life.  And that you love yourself.  Love yourself, because I truly believe that you cannot truly love others, if you don't love yourself first.

So! Me with my Quarterback shoulders, double chins, wide feet, short self...guess what? I'm loving myself, I'm accepting myself, I'm not wasting precious time worrying about what others think of me. I have a purpose, God has a plan and with His help, I'm walking in it!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Letter to my Mom...

Dear Ma,
Well, another Mother’s day has rolled around; this is the 12th one without you.  But your passing from this life to eternity seems like yesterday sometimes. I miss you so much.  And it seems that the older I get, the more I understand you…does that make sense?

I passed by a mirror the other day and wow I could see you in me so much…your mannerisms and movements! If I am becoming even a fraction of the woman of grace that you are I am so thankful.  I know, I know…during my turbulent teenage years I wanted to be anything but my mother. But now Ma, I am so thankful that you hung on to me during those times. Me with my smart mouth and “always having to say the last word” self; you hung on to me, even when I’m sure I broke your heart a few times.  Thanks Ma…only a Mother’s love can do that.
I can think of a lot of things I’m sorry for; like the time I missed your 50th wedding Anniversary; and the time after Dad had passed, I should have had more compassion, instead of trying to rush you through your grief. And even the time I never got around to trimming your hair for you on one of my visits. But I know Ma you wouldn’t want me to feel guilty about any of that stuff, because not once  have you EVER made me feel guilty about anything while you were with us on earth. You only showed unconditional love.

You gave birth to me with God’s help on a hot day in July after you discovered my older brother had splattered mud on your clean laundry hanging on the clothes line! (I love when my brother tells me about that day).  And from that day on you have been the most excellent example of what a real woman should be; strong, smart, giving, loving, graceful, a cute dresser and on and on.  You taught me how to be a good wife, even the part about “in sickness and in health”, when I watched how you took care of Dad during his illness.  Who knew that I would be following in similar footsteps?  And you taught me how to be strong and resilient during times of sadness.
You Ma gave me the gift of humor and laughter!  Oh the times we’ve shared laughing so hard that I literally crawled on the floor, because I was laughing so hard I could not get up from the spot where I’d fallen! I still laugh out loud when I think of some of the things we laughed about and your gift of humor has spread from generation to generation.  Thanks Ma!

I won’t be sad this Mother’s Day, because I know you would not want me to be.  You would want me to be happy and enjoy the life God has given me. You always would say to me “Roni, enjoy every second of your life.” And that is what I now say to my son and daughter-in-love, “Enjoy! Enjoy!
Thanks Ma for being a wonderful mother to me, and I pray that somehow God will let you know how much I love and appreciate you.  I miss you like crazy, but know that one day we will see each other again and Oh! What a day that will be.

With much, much love,
Your middle daughter,

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Wanna feel lighter?

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight”. Proverbs 3: 5-6

Reminded once again about “letting go” today. Am I the only one that have a hard time sometimes letting go?  The past, things and people in the now and present and oh yeah! The future too. 

I’m a music person from the heart…I LOVE music!  Even as a child I can remember harmonizing with commercial jingles. I could hear harmony notes in every song that I heard at a very early age. So knowing that God has given me this gift, it is no wonder that God speaks to me through music. Listening to the CD “When Women Worship” today, they began to sing “I Surrender All”.

 And If I can be perfectly honest with you, it is a song that I have been sort of scared to sing.  Yes Me! Miss “I know the Lord and He knows me”.   It’s like I hold back a part of myself when I sing that song, fearful that if I sung it and really meant it, God would ask something of me that I was not willing to give, or that He would allow something painful to happen that I could not bear. Now I’m sure if you talk to Dr. Phil or a Psycho Analyst they would have some explanation of why I felt that way, but bottom line, it comes to a matter of Trust.  Things have happened in my life with or without me singing that song from the heart and guess what? God has brought me through each one.  So there! (me)

Surrender means: to yield (something) to the possession or power of another) according to Why is that so hard to do sometimes?  Well in my case, sometimes I think that I can work it out better or quicker than God can…now don’t laugh, you know you do that too!  Or I don’t let it go because I really like rehearsing it over and over again in my mind, letting it marinate like a nice steak or chicken in some teriyaki sauce…after 30 minutes turning it over to marinate on the other side…now I’m getting hungry. Lol

But seriously do you know how weighted down a person can get when you’re trying to carry stuff that you aren’t designed for?  That’s why I believe most folks are tired all the time!

I remember several years ago now, I received a phone call from a person that was having a problem, it was the middle of the night and they called me to update me on what was happening. After they explained, I felt so helpless, because 1) they were too far away, and 2) I could’ve done anything about the situation anyway! After hanging up the phone I tossed and turned for a long time, all the time praying and travailing over the whole thing.  I must have sounded like a robot that had lost all it’s screws and was stuck on one phrase “Help ‘em Lord, help ‘em Lord, help ‘em Lord.”  Finally I think He had enough and gave me a clear visual of me carrying that person and others involved, all their possessions, including vehicles all on my back.  I mean REALLY. I looked like a stupid version of the Atlas man, but instead of the world on his back, I had all of these individuals and their stuff on mine!  Now I know it sounds crazy, but right there at about 3:00AM, I laid in my bed and starting laughing so hard at that visual that I thought I was going to bust a gasket! LOL!  It was ridiculous!

And THAT is how ridiculous it is to think that we can carry life’s issues…we can’t!  God wants us to lean on Him and not our understanding! Is that easy to do? No , not always, but practice DOES make perfect. When the thoughts come and you know that you are helpless to do anything about it or if you SHOULDN’T do anything about it…throw that thought down...away from yourself and ask God to help you let Him work it out. Eventually you’ll get it and feel so much lighter!

Friday, April 27, 2012

His Eye is on the Sparrow..and I know....

“Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” Matthew 6:26

I have a picture hanging in my foyer that says “Faith is…the bird that sings while the dawn is still dark.” Don’t know who said it but it encourages me.

I arise very early in the morning in order to take care of my dog, pack my lunch and most importantly spend some time reading and meditating in the Bible. It’s not that I’m so spiritual, it’s because I am a morning person and that is the best time of day for me. And with the exception of the coldest day in winter, for every season I always can hear birds singing as early as 4:00 AM. Pitch black outside and they are just singing away! It never ceases to amaze me!

We can learn a lot from nature, in fact I think God must chuckle sometimes when the creatures in nature seem like they have it together more than us humans. Jesus shared about this in the above scripture…birds, he says, have nothing to do with planting or gathering food, but yet they trust that God, their creator WILL feed them. That is why they can sing when it’s still dark outside. Unlike us sometimes we have to have the most optimal conditions in order to praise and thank God; these creatures in their little “bird brains” know that if God thought enough of them to create them, then they had better be about what He created them for! AND be obedient about doing it whether it’s dark outside or a sunshiny day!

Can we “sing” like the birds in our darkest hours? Hard question…even harder answer… but God says yes. I remember when my husband passed away; it was one of my darkest times. Coming home from the hospital and facing that house where he would never set his feet again…seemed so hopeless. For days with the preparations and people coming and going, I operated on auto pilot. I remember slipping down into the basement early one morning and singing softly “I Exalt Thee”, softly as not to wake anyone. As I began to sing on auto pilot, suddenly my spirit inside felt as if it was a bird being released from a cage. My connection to God had been blurred somehow by the days and weeks of suffering and sadness; but as I began to sing a simple song of worship, my connection was again made clear and though I knew it would be rough ahead, somehow I knew I would be okay. It was just the beginning of the many times I would sing in the “darkness”, but thank God the “light” of dawn does come.

As the old childhood song goes, “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so…” And He proves it over and over again. Even reminding us as we hear the birds sing in the darkness before the sun rises. In this life there will be times when we may not see or feel the sun (Son) in our situations, but be encouraged, just as sure as the light of dawn is there, so is He…so sing on!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Peace, peace...wonderful peace

“Cast your cares on the LORD and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous be shaken.”
Psalms 55:22

Spring cleaning!  That’s what I have been doing this past week. What a blessing it is to have a job that gives you a week off for the Easter break!  I considered traveling, but decided that I needed to take care of some needed things on my “to do” list.  So I have been busy, busy taking care of the things I felt needed to be done around the house.  But noticed this morning that though I had accomplished much, somewhere between taking care of those, what I thought were urgent needs, I had lost my peace.

Now if you have ever really had a taste of what REAL peace is, you will know when you’ve lost it.  See I know what it is like to have peace, God’s peace in the midst of a storm. The storms of life that come and almost take your breath away…yep, I know what it feels like to be so shaken  that you can barely stand…but to instantly feel God’s hand steady and assure you that He is with you and will see you through.  So I know what real peace is, and I knew this morning that in all my busyness I had somehow lost it.  I felt uneasy in my spirit, began to think about negative things.  And as I was purging my book collection (still spring cleaning), I came across some class notes  that my late husband and I had completed years ago, it brought back sad memories of things I thought I had dealt with. And because I had no peace, God’s peace, the memories began to suck me in and take me back to a place, I thought I had forsaken for my good.

Why am I feeling this way Lord?  I know that You are with me…why do I feel so vulnerable?  Then He reminded me of the story of Mary and Martha:

 “Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.”

 And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”  Luke 10:38-42

Martha was so busy doing many things, good things yes.  But she forgot the most important part…the good part…spending time with Jesus. 
After He reminded me of this story I was like “ OOOOOOHHHH  I get it!”  LOL Thank God He knows me and that it takes me a little time to get things!  All this week I have been busy, doing great things but  I confess I have spent very little time in my Bible and just kicking back and spending quiet time with Him.  You know the ironic thing about it is that I always say “Whenever I get some time off, I will be able to really spend some quality time reading and meditating on the Bible, not just my 15 minutes each morning before I go to work.”  And I am ashamed to say, here I was given the time and instead spent it on something not as important.

So without that communion with Him, I had begun to lose my source of peace.  Don’t think this is strange!  In any relationship you must spend time with a person to get to know them more, to know their ways.  So it is with a relationship with God… to truly know Him is to spend time with Him.

Am I forgiven by Him? Of course.  He is my Father and knows my weaknesses and shortcomings. But that doesn’t mean I should habitually make the same mistake.  That is not unless I want to lose all the benefits that come with knowing Him. God wants the best for me and you, and to receive that we must make time getting to know Him. 

My peace is back…lesson learned.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Each day a new beginning...

“Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6

I have always loved this scripture; it always encourages me that God has not given up on me.  In this text Apostle Paul was encouraging the new converts to Christianity of Philippi; letting them know that as they grew in the knowledge of their new faith, even though he, Paul may not be there, God would surely be there for them to continue the work in them.

Some days, I need to read that over and over again! If you dare to listen to the news or look at one of the many reality shows on TV, it shows just how this society has fallen way below the expectations that God has for us. Isaiah 5:20 clearly states “Woe unto those that call evil good and good evil”…yet we see all the forms of media promoting sex and vulgarity and people, parents  allowing it to flow freely to our younger generation, and in most cases encouraging it.

I look at today’s society and am overwhelmed with the mess.  Where do we start Lord? How do we clean this up!  I feel sometimes it’s like standing in one of those homes on the TV show “Hoarders” and all you have in your hand is a measly little broom!

Young people are killing themselves and each other, parents killing their children and children killing their parents, it is enough to make you sick to your stomach. It was one of these times that I was feeling terribly overwhelmed that the Lord spoke to my heart. First of all I in my own strength can’t do anything to change the world, but I can help by letting His light shine and affecting one person at a time.

In all honesty, I am not perfect.  There!  Now you all know J so how can I affect anyone positively? By being transparent about myself, my shortcomings, but also letting people know that though I am not perfect, I love and serve a Perfect God in whom I have entrusted my life.  I trust Him to finish that good work that He has started in me.  Though I blow it most days, I still know to whom to go to get back on track.  I don’t give up…I can’t give up. There are so many that need to know and hear this.  With all the mess that is going on in this world, there is still hope, hope that God can change anyone; no matter what the situation. Romans 8:28 says “For we know that all things work together for the good of those that love God those that are called according to His purpose.” There is nothing that is too hard for God…the key is surrender, we must surrender it to Him. But you must be willing…

Each day is a new day, a gift from God so that we can start all over again, another chance to get it right. As we give our lives to Him, He has promised to finish the good work He has started in us… will you trust Him today…

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Are you Looking or Seeking?

“And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.”  Jeremiah 29:13

Seeking…looking…what’s the difference?  According to, the word “Look” means to turn your eyes towards something or to turn in some direction in order to see [a person, place or thing.] also states that the word “seek” means to go in search or to be in quest for a certain person, place or thing.

There are many scriptures in the Bible referring to and using the word “seek” when talking about God, not many about “looking” for God.  This made me begin to ponder the difference.  One example that stands out in my memory is the account about David, a shepherd at the time, and Saul who was made King.  Saul who had all the external attributes to be King was “looking” for that position, but David on the other hand just a young shepherd that spent most of his time out in the fields and hills watching sheep and praising God was “seeking” for God’s will in his life. As the story goes (I and II Kings Old Testament) King Saul was proven not to be such a good choice, while David who was really God’s choice was so busy out praising and seeking God, the prophet had to actually go and seek him out.  Acts 13:22 reminds us, “After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’ 

 God chose a “man after His own heart”…a man David, not perfect by any means, but one who knew the difference between “looking” and  “seeking”.  We will all make mistakes and have trials as we walk this journey of life, but if we continually have a heart that seeks after God’s guidance, forgiveness, direction etc., etc.  Then we will somehow manage to always get back on track.  David was no foreigner when it came to making mistakes, but he always came back to God to seek His will, His forgiveness (Psalms 51).

I believe that when we “look” for God, we are only using our eyes, our physical abilities to satisfy a longing within all of us to know a “Higher Power” if you will.  All creation is looking for the Creator, whether they acknowledge it or not.  I think the animal and plant kingdom are ahead of us in that they KNOW who their provider is and go about doing just what they were created to do.  We humans on the other hand go all around the mulberry bush before we finally surrender that there HAS to be someone bigger than us!

There are many people LOOKING, but are they really seeking?  When they have the limelight, they say thanks to God for winning this or that but their lifestyles beg to differ.  Being “Spiritual” is now a popular and pet phrase but are you looking or seeking after the one True God.

You can look for something [turn to, in the direction of in order to see] and never partake of it; but when you seek…you search, and go to what you are seeking.  And it’s not just with your eyes, but you seek with your heart.

That helps to explain to me why a lot of celebrities, look for God and acknowledge Him on occasion, but live their lives in a way that is not pleasing to Him.  Because when you truly seek God, it may cost you something, He may ask you to put away some things that are not good for you and not pleasing to Him.  That may be hard for some to do.  In my own life I have to question myself daily, “Am I seeking Him and His will?”

Most of us know the story of Samson that can be read in the Book of Judges, chapters 13 through 16.  Samson’s conception and birth was a miracle, he was born for a purpose and that was to defeat the enemies of God’s people.  However as Samson grew he got his eyes off his purpose and he no longer sought after God and His will.  In the process, he was tricked by the very enemy he was ordained to defeat, lost his hair where in there was a covenant with God for His strength and also lost his eyesight.  But when Samson was in a place of surrender, he once again began to “seek” God and in this prayer you can hear his heart…”Then Samson prayed to the LORD, “Sovereign LORD, remember me. Please, God, strengthen me just once more, and let me with one blow get revenge on the Philistines for my two eyes.” Judges 16:28

When Samson began to once again seek the Lord, his purpose was fulfilled and though he sacrificed his life in the process, it proves that it is never too late to seek God.  Samson is listed in what is called the “Hall of Faith”, Hebrews, chapter 11… he is remembered as a hero.

God is looking for seekers “The LORD looks down from heaven  on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, anyone who seek God. “ Psalms 14:2  

If you seek him, you WILL find Him, He’s waiting, waiting for us. Waiting for us to stop merely looking for a good life, when He wants to give us an abundant life; looking for an escape, when He wants to deliver us within; looking for the easy way out when He want us to be victor over the situation.  Help ME Lord to seek you more…this is my prayer…

“O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You; In a dry and thirsty land where there is no water.”  Psalms 63:1

Sunday, January 29, 2012

A Brand New Day

Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in Him.  
I Thessalonians 4:13-14

Today, January 29, 2012, marks the 10th year that my beloved husband left this world to enter his eternal home.  I never much cared for the month of January; I mean the weather is usually gray, cold and dismal. Plus with all the celebrations of Christmas, January has a hard act to follow. But for the past 10 years there has been another reason I did not care much for this month, it reminded me of my husband’s illness and his passing.

But this year I have chosen not to dwell on what was the sadness of January. I have chosen to think on the good things…the “whatsoevers Paul talks about in the book of Philippian: “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Philippians 4:8

Has it been an easy transition? “No!” But it is do-able with God’s help.  I have learned lots of things these past years and one of them is: grieving is a process that takes most of us a lot longer than we want it to.  But the key to the healing is to take it at your own pace, whether that is one day or one second at a time. Another thing I have learned is: there are lots of people out there that are hurting. I believe that I have more compassion and sensitivity towards others that are grieving for whatever reason. So I must move on, not wallow in self-pity.  There are many that need encouragement and yes… hugs.

I’m not the same person I was before January 29, 2002.  It has been a long, slow and sometimes excruciating process. But this one thing I KNOW, God has been with me every step of the way.  NEVER have I felt He had deserted me. He has been by my side teaching me things I thought I could never do, encouraging me to put one foot in front of the other and move on and yes comforting me when no human could do so.  Yes! God is real!  And He loves us with an everlasting love!

When those close to me say “You have changed” I am thankful that they see the work God has done in me. I am grateful that I did not allow myself to succumb to the grief that tried to overtake me. I am grateful that I …”do not grieve as those who have no hope…” The HOPE is Jesus; He is our all in all. He wants us to come to Him with our hurts, our sorrow, and our pain.  He will comfort and make us whole again.

It is a nice bright sun-shiny day today, unlike the “normal” January days.  Thank You Lord!

(pictures taken by my son @Laguna Beach California 2008)