Compassion

Where does your mind go when you hear the word, "compassion"? Do you instantly have a person, group of people, an activity or event that took place come to the forefront of your mind?

From a definition standpoint, compassion is linked to someone who shows kindness, caring, and a willingness to help others. The word is an emotion that is 'categorized' as a positive one that displays a person being thoughtful and helpful.

This week's email Bible verse tells us that our God, the Father of Jesus Christ, is the ultimate Father of compassion and comfort! He gives to each of us His great compassion and comfort when we call out for His help. Indeed, it is His gift of compassion that helps and heals us, so that in turn, we can give compassion to someone else in need.

When did you last share compassion to someone? When was the last time you received compassion? Let's ignite a compassion campaign! Giving and receiving love, help and hope are healthy ingredients for compassion! Join us as we continue our compassion campaign in our community!

"Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience." Colossians 3:12 NIV

Who is Guiding You?

From birth we are guided by our parents, guardians, people who love and care for us. As we grow, our sphere of guidance/influence grows to include teachers, friends, additional family, social media, our hobbies/lessons/sporting teams, boyfriends/girlfriends, husbands/wives, travel, church community and God's Word - the Bible and your personal relationship with Jesus Christ. WHEW! Our guidance comes from a few sources initially, but then accelerates as we get older.

In our lives, some relationships and/or activities we are involved in are only for a season. At times, we have to walk away as the guidance and actions we are receive and partake in, is not good for us. Words that are spoken, actions that are taken can lead us astray.

God's Word - The Holy Bible is one source that will never lead us astray! Please read these verses from several books of the Old and New Testament. God's guidance, His counsel, His forgiveness, His unconditional love will guide us here on earth until we meet in Heaven.

“For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. He holds success in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones. Then you will understand what is right and just and fair—every good path.” Proverbs 2:6-9 (NIV)

“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” Isaiah 30:21 (NIV)

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,” 2 Timothy 3:16 (NIV)

“But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you.” John 16:13-14 (NIV)

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.” Psalm 32:8 (NIV)

Do you know God intimately? ,,,

Do you know God intimately?  This story stirred in my heart while a storm stirred off the coast of our state and I reflected on truths in Joyce Myer’s book about knowing God intimately. Weather forecasters seemed certain the category four storm would hit the Carolina coast as I scanned chapters and prayed the direct hit of the storm’s fury would hit another shore.  

With fingers resting on the dedication page of Joyce’s book, conviction of my selfish prayer consumed. Knowing God was tugging, I whispered another prayer asking Him to change the course of the storm and send it out to sea.  Then, I settled down on daybed with book in hand and hopeful waiting that the storm would pass us by and believing people would grow closer to Christ across the planet God created and satan craves to control.


Joyce’s words humbly, yet boldly shared her closeness to Christ, “This book is dedicated to the Holy Spirit, who leads and guides me and who is ever teaching me how to grow spiritually and dwell in the presence of God”!


The chapter that sparked this message was dogeared and waiting for me to write a Valentine story about its central theme:  Put Love First!  When February Fridays were already filled, writing this story would wait until next year; so, I thought!   Then, another dismal weather forecast followed a storm of negative news blasting hatred and hatefulness of God’s children from sea to shining sea in the land founded on Christian principles with God as our cornerstone. And I knew this story is meant to be shared now - ‘for such a time as this’ - when all His children need to know God intimately.


Turning the page to Table of Contents to find the chapter about Putting Love First changed the course of this story just as I believe God can change the course of the storm headed to our shore.  Taking breaks while writing gives time to listen and hear His promptings that help me share the story He sends.  Those who read with raised eyebrows - who might  have grown distant from God - can doubt or cast stones, while  readers who know God intimately can embrace and understand the meaning of His messages sent to us in many ways: church services, fellowship with Christian brothers and sisters, embracing our calling, time in prayer, reflection and relaxation in the beauty of His Creation, and stories inspired by HIs Helper who loves and lives within.


Sharing the titles of Joyce’s chapters can bring reflections and reasons for each of us to crave knowing God intimately.  Read them and take time to think of your own relationship with the Lord and your loved ones. Mrs. Myers who loves telling His stories and teaching His Word, shares four levels of Intimacy with God after an introductory question that should fuel our faith: “Is There More?”   Is there more in life that you feel you are missing?  Is there more in life that you feel God is calling you to do?  Is there more in life that can bring you joy here and happiness in eternity where God will be?  Is there more in life that you have rejected, disbelief that can destroy relationships and intimacy with the Lord and loved ones and send you to hell for eternity where God will not be?  These titles can spark your own stories to color your world with love and draw you closer to Christ and His children.

Intimacy Level 1   -  Something Seems to Be Missing; Yes, There Is More!; The Home of God; and Live under the New Covenant”.

Intimacy Level 2:  “Not by MIght, Nor by Power, but by My Spirit”; THe Divine Helper; THe Seven Spirits of GOd, The Supernatural Realm, Receiving the FUllness of the HOly Spirit”.

Intimacy Level 3:  “Ever Be Filled” with the Holy Spirit; Do Not Grieve the Holy Spirit; Do Not Quench the Holy Spirit; The Gifts of the Spirit.

Intimacy Level 4:  God’s Everlasting Fruit            

Gifts for Everyone; The Baptism of Fire; The Communion of the Spirit; The Wonder of It All!

Hopefully, this story has sparked seeds of Holy Spirit intimacy and revival that will sprout and spread like wildfire across America and throughout God’s Creation.

May we, the children He created - red and yellow black or white - rich or poor -  denomination or non denomination, seasoned or baby Christians, Jew  or Gentile - embrace a close relationship with Jesus Christ and give glory and honor to God who is great and good!

May people recognize that we are Christians by our loving attitudes toward them.  Then, they will understand our intimacy with God as we enjoy life and write the love stories He sends!


What song have you written in your heart that tells your life story?  

What song have you written in your heart that tells your life story?  This story stirs after reading pages in a 2009 journal and notes in the margins of a favorite book, ‘The Search for God’s Own Heart’!   Reflecting on how David’s heart was shaped from experiences he encountered and choices he made, I was encouraged to write songs/stories instead of continuously crying, shortly after Tim was healed of cancer to heaven and I was healed of cancer here in 2007.   Like David, we make choices of attitude daily. Every choice - whether for good or bad - shaped David’s heart, just as choices made shape yours and mine! God can use experiences in our lives to prepare us for our life’s purpose. 

In Romans 8:28 we are reminded, ‘He is able to work good in every situation for those who are called by Him, according to His purposes.’ 

David could have cried himself to sleep every night and stayed stuck in a cave when he made very poor choices. Yet, he sought forgiveness and set out to use his God given talents to write songs and fearlessly fight wherever he was led. David realized God was in control of timing and trusted him from fields as a shepherd,  battle field as a young giant slayer, caves with his renegade soldiers,  and mourner of King Saul with the nation he would be crowned King of in  God’s perfect timing.

David did wrong many times and paid the consequence for his choices. The difference in David and Saul was David prayed and waited on God to guide him.  David was truly a man after God’s own heart.  His amazing love songs in Psalm soothe hearts longing for direction as they did when David wrote them in perilous and precious seasons of his life.

When David felt he was close to the bottom of the world in those desolate caves, he chose to look to the heights of the heavens and write this song from his heart. David’s love and longing for God to guide and help in his desperate situation so that he could praise God for what He did can be felt in Psalm 42,

“I cry aloud to the Lord; I life up my voice to the Lord for mercy. I pour out my complaint before him; before him I tell my trouble.  When my spirit grows faint within me, it is you who know my way… set me free from my prison so that I may praise your name.”

David reminds us of the power of love in every song he wrote and example he set through real life experiences (good and bad)!  His actions were not always pleasing to God but His heart beat with love and respect for God. Through hardships and hallelujahs, David’s heart was molded by His Maker to be a great lover of God and leader of men.

What about your heart?  Are you reading this story and relating to David in his cave, being hunted and hated, on a rooftop of leisure, in depths of grief, and wondering what God could do with your life after making poor choices? God was with David and will be with you and me when tough times try to destroy dreams and keep us crying in pits of pity.  Though hardships and hurts try to take us down, just maybe the tough times in our lives are great gifts used to help mold our hearts?  

Even in our golden years, hardships and hurts can try to steal our joy.  David experienced many such times in his old age and almost threw in the towel, but his love for God rose up inside with emotions that came flowing out of him in a song.  David wrote a song from his heart in 2 Samuel 22.  Find it in your Bible and read it after you finish this story.  David tells of all God has done for him and how he rescued him over and over from battles, depression, grief, close calls with death, distress, and the list goes on. Then, David  writes how he envisions God: powerful, mighty, angry, rescuer, healer! David ends his love song with words that each of us can understand… God does all He does because God loves us so and He delights in us!  Has God rescued you, healed you, helped you, been silent, been faithful and never failed you in battles of life?  God loves and longs for us to be faithful and love Him.  Our Father loves to love us.  He delights in us.  And the most amazing truth is: God loves us despite our shortcomings!

Personal messages in the margins of “Search for God’s Own Heart’  relate seasons of pain and praise for God in the love story God is allowing me to write.   The scribbled love note I wrote in 2016 simply says,  “God, my life is in your Hands”!  In May of 2014 my hurt and happiness filled a page that ended with this plea and praise , “Thank you Lord for helping me, take care of my family, Father; I love you with all my heart”!  God longs to talk with and get love letters from HIs children as we do from ours.  Write to Him in journals, agendas, margins of your Bible, sing Him a song, and talk to Him throughout the day. He listens and loves to be closely connected!

In closing, I share words about love from tattered pages in my 2009 journal. “…there is a lack of love in our world.  The love of God brings healing. Love never fails. Thank you for healing me God. We must love ourselves but not be in love with ourselves.  Love life, love your body - take care of it. Real life is to get yourself off yourself and walk in love.  God will give you a real life. Stop trying to make yourself happy and make God the love of your life. He is our source of happiness even when our hearts are broken; He puts them back together again and again.  Love out loud and enjoy the journey. Write your love story”

May each of us find love songs in our hearts that will please loved ones and praise God!  Sing songs and share love that reaches from here to heaven.  Write  notes to Valentines you might have overlooked who need to know they matter and deliver them in the spirit of love…and make every day a day to celebrate God's Love

What does God see in our hearts?...

What does God see in our hearts?  Would we be pleased if people could see all that lurks within our hearts? Sincerity of Heart stirs strongly ‘for such a time as this’ when our planet is plagued with   scandalous situations and perplexing people!  Watching nightly news and dealing with everyday life at work and play surely cause concern for children throughout His creation.

What is stirring within people’s hearts?  Who is sincerely seeking what is right and good for mankind? Who among us leads lives of integrity with sincerity reigning and our Savior shining? Discouragement and disillusion spread like wildfire in a world where people’s hearts have become calloused and corrupt! Yet, as faithful followers of Jesus Christ, we must nurture sincerity within hearts and stand firm for Christian principles. The focus within our hearts where only God sees and our way of living and doing business that man sees must be sincerely rooted in Christian principles if we hope to make a difference here and live eternally in Heaven.  So, what does God see in your heart, in mine?

“The Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”  1 Samuel 16:7

There are believers who quietly do the Lord’s work without fanfare or attention. They may never discuss their faith, but our spirit tells us that something about them is different.  They do not become entangled in situations where integrity and sincerely standing for what is right and good in God’s sight is questionable.  Yet, their quietness can cause uncertainty in man’s eyes. 

Then, there are those believers who are bold and vocal about Jesus.  They never shy away from bringing Him up, quoting HIs Word in conversations, and praying with people in a skinny minute.   They may not be as approachable and warm as the quiet believer, but we know where they stand on spiritual matters.

God loves all HIs children of faith, red or yellow - black or white, quiet and calm, bold and vocal, leading the pack with loud praise and witnessing to multitudes by quiet example…they are all precious to Him! 

God knows each and every human heart. Some of His children may be soft spoken and lead gently, but that does not mean they have less faith.  Other children may be more vocal and lead people with gusto and grit, but that doesn’t mean they have more faith.  Neither are doing it wrong when there is sincerity in hearts and motives to move people to embrace and enjoy precious, personal relationships with Jesus Christ.

Think of preachers and people God puts in your paths to nurture and help meet your needs along life’s journey. They do things differently with the cause of Christ being the central theme in their lives. We can glean, as Ruth did in the fields, and glow, as King David did being a man after God’s own heart, when our lives are enriched by both types of believers.

Are you a more reserved believer who quietly carries out the work of the Lord or a bold, vocal believer who stands up and speaks out for Jesus while following the calling to serve Christ out loud in love?

We are not the judge of people’s hearts or the sincerity of their faith and what they are doing to further the kingdom of God, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!  When we feel frustrated with other believers with ‘over the top’ devotion to Jesus or those whose perceived lack of enthusiasm for Jesus  and what He did on the cross for all of us, let us remember only God can see in their hearts!

Embracing a good blend of how we witness, work, and worship as believers can help us reach more people and expand our territories as God did for Jabaz.  The prayer of Jabez showed sincerity in the heart of a simple, quiet man who boldly believed and faithfully asked God to bless, protect, and expand his territories. Does God see our hearts as He did David’s…madly in love with the Lord, yet making mistakes along the way that kept him asking for forgiveness and forging forward in faith, whether quietly in caves or boldy in battle?

Do we pray with that same bold belief that God will hear and help us wherever we are?  Do we praise Him for moving mountains and making a way for us to sweetly, surely, stand up and shine for Him every day?

Now is the time for all of God’s children to quietly or boldly  stand up for Jesus and embrace love for the Lord and loved ones!  We should do it with sincere hearts filled with passion and purpose.  Then, we can praise Him with everything as did King David in Psalm 150.

“Praise the Lord. Praise God in his holy temple. Praise him in his mighty heavens. Praise him for his powerful acts. Praise him because he is greater than anything else.  Praise him by blowing trumpets. Praise him with harps and lyres. Praise him with tambourines and dancing. Praise him with stringed instruments and flutes. Praise him with clashing cymbals. Praise him with clanging cymbals. Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord”

And all of God’s children say… “Just Do It…AMEN’!

Do you believe witnessing a winter sunrise is...

Do you believe witnessing a  winter sunrise in your backyard or at the beach is a soul healing process…even in January?  I do! Early morning walks welcome happy places that my heart embraces.  When endless thoughts cause weariness and wonder to plague minds, pondering what we could have done or should do about life decisions can keep us wide awake in the still of the night. When restlessness settles in, rising up to read, pray, journal, even take a winter walk on the beach or in one’s backyard can bring blessings to burdened hearts.

Are you dealing with long, sleepless nights that send you out the door cranky and concerned? Do you embrace sound sleep and awake at the crack of dawn to enjoy a powerful sunrise and day in the place Dr. Seuss encouraged people to cherish…the happy place?  Sunrises can be just what the Great Physician orders to chase away sleepless nights and give promise for a new day, a new opportunity, and a fresh start.  If night wears you down, get up and go watch the sun come up! 

Can you imagine the sleepless nights Job endured when he had no idea why his world was being turned upside down?

Reading Job 7: 3-4 paints the picture of a worn out, weary man seeking a new sunrise.

“So, I have been allotted months of futility, and wearisome nights have been appointed to me.  When I lie down, I say, ‘When shall I arise, and the night be ended?’ For I have had my fill of tossing till dawn.”

Job was restless, brokenhearted, burdened, and wondered, ‘why me, Lord’?

The Lord waited as the enemy tormented and took Job’s family, home, livestock, even friends who questioned why he stayed faithful to God, wondering what Job might have done to cause his troubles?  Reading the story in the Bible brings life to the joyous ending when Job could sleep again and each new sunrise held promise as he recounted his new blessings with gratitude and glory to God.

Sleepless nights can cause people to miss blessings of new days.  Job could have listened to advice from his well-meaning but faithless friends. However, he chose to trust God, listen but not be swayed, and reap  rewards of faithful living even when he could not see the sunshining in his world.

Do you feel your sunshine has been taken away and sweet sleep seems impossible? Are you plagued by things in your past and perplexed by fear of the future? Does worry keep you up nights and down in the dumps during the day? 

The Lord says we are not to worry about tomorrow for…  ‘sufficient for the day is its own trouble’!  Matthew 6:34

When past mistakes, heartaches, and troubles spoil sunrises and ruin days, the only cure is to hand them over to the One who created us and cares for us like He does the sparrows in the trees.

The past is gone, we cannot change it!  Walking down the beach, in the backyard, on the treadmill, or around the block,  without Tim or James by my side sometimes makes me sad. Often, I wipe tears while remembering morning walks with them when we witnessed sunrises and new days together.  Yet, I cannot change the past, neither can you! We must rise up like the sun and shine for Jesus even when it seems we get stuck in winter! Satan longs to spoil dreams and destroy lives. However, when we put our trust in God and keep walking on in faith to new sunrises…happiness happens in His perfect timing.

No matter what has happened in your life, you cannot go back and change it, nor can you predict the future.  Like Job, we do not always know exactly why bad things happen to us and to those we love.  However, we cannot stop enjoying life and witnessing sunrises with hope and promise in our hearts just because our life might not be turning out the way we planned.  We can move forward when we keep our eyes on Jesus!

When our hearts are cleaned out and minds clearly focused on God’s will and living by His way, we can have a little talk with Jesus and sleep, sleep, sleep!  Then, when morning breaks, we can rise up and enjoy a splendid sunrise.  As we step in faith, we can cry out for God’s sufficient grace each morning, knowing He will provide according to our needs!

Dawn is coming with a fresh start, a new day, and a clean slate when we get things right with the One who made us and will one day welcome us Home!

Lord, thank you that by Your Son, we can receive grace and mercy. Each new sunrise is a reminder that every day starts anew and so can we!  Glorious sunrises and great days are reasons to give God glory and go tell it to our families, peers, and people God puts in our paths!

Do not get stuck in winter season!  Even though it’s cold outside, we can get up and do something that warms our hearts. Try writing in your journal wrapped in a cozy blanket, reading by the fireplace while sipping hot cocoa, watching a splendid sunrise from your favorite window seat, or taking a walk outside and enjoying wonders of the season at hand. Talk to Jesus, tell Him your troubles, shed a few tears, face your fears, decide it will be a good year, and soon, you will be in forward gear…feeling grand!

What holiday saying stirs your heart with holiday happiness?

What holiday saying stirs your heart with holiday happiness?  Do you have a special Christmas saying that calms holiday crazies and creates joyful peace as the countdown to celebrating Jesus’ birthday begins?  Holiday music fills my heart with lyrics that keep me singing throughout the year.  From, ‘it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmaseverywhere I go’, ’city sidewalks, busy sidewalks dressed in holiday style - in the air there’s a feeling of Christmas’, ‘O come, let us adore Him - Christ the Lord’, ‘Joy to the world, the Lord has come…let every heart prepare him room’, we choose to seek Christ or commercialism. ‘Jesus, Jesus, Jesus - sweetest name I know’ created quite enough love to massage calloused hearts and cause the world to sing in perfect harmony. Celebrating Christ the King or commercialism is a personal choice each of God’s children must make. Stay grounded in God’s grace and enjoy a simple, sweet, Christ centered season!  When powerful Christmas lyrics and sayings pour from our mouths, a contagious spirit of love fills hearts and homes every day of the year.

‘Mary, did you know…?’ is recorded in my heart as a favorite. Surely, it’s one of your favorites too! The song tells the story of a loving, lovely lass God chose to be the mother of His only begotten Son!? Can you imagine the faith Mary mustered up at a young age to stand strong against irate accusers ready to stone her for adultery. Knowing she heard from God, Mary did not know how it would all work out but trusted and obeyed. She must have embraced her own special sayings through seasons of visiting Elizabeth, seeing Joseph’s faith shine, nine months of carrying the Holy Child and feeling him kick inside her body, giving birth and placing baby Jesus in a manger, fleeing to Egypt, watching Jesus grow up with Joseph teaching him to be a master carpenter, leaving Him in the temple, hearing him preach and perform miracles, watching Pharisees and persecutors put Jesus on trial, torment Him, tell King Herod to take Jesus’ life and free Barabbas, and walking to Calvary with cheering crowds mocking the Master - her sweet baby Jesus - the ultimate sacrifice - the Savior - the Son of God who gave His life for you and me.  Mary did know that God gave her an awesome assignment. She stayed true to her calling and stood by Jesus from cradle to cross!  

‘Joy to the world, the Lord has come…let every heart - prepare him room - and heaven and nature sing’ is another favorite that reminds us to prepare room in our hearts for Jesus to come in and live, to guide, to give peace and promise as our Savior, to be our Best Friend every day…not just Christmas.  Are you enjoying the peace and promise that comes when Jesus feels right at home in your heart?  If not, seek Him as the Wise Men did, give Him your heart, get a satisfied mind and sweet Spirit that will keep you company through sunshine and sorrow, and enjoy everyday life living for Jesus and sharing His love. 

It truly is the most wonderful time of the year.  Embrace every gift He sends (many we take for granted - air, water, healing, happiness, family, friends, working body parts, joy, peace, hope, and the greatest of all…LOVE, extend hospitality and happiness wherever He leads, live excitedly and expectantly with an eagerness to give Jesus your best at Christmas and every day of the year, and look for His return in the eastern sky…for the time is nigh!  What a gift we get to open every day - ‘for such a time as this’ when signs are fulfilled and Jesus could come to call us Home…soon and very soon - ‘morning, night, or noon’!

Give yourself the gift of a satisfied mind and happy heart…’love Him first, love one another, love your neighbor as yourself’, honor Jesus every which way…and you’ll 'have yourself a Merry little Christmas Day'!

Does the love of Jesus shine in our words and ways while preparing and planning for a Merry Christmas Day?

Does the love of Jesus shine in our words and ways while preparing and planning for a Merry Christmas Day?  Are we celebrating the love of Christ by spreading joy all around or giving in to commercialism and ways of the world where the real reason for the season is not to be found? Do we cower in fear - choosing to sit safely on the fence, refusing to stand up for Jesus when times get tense? Have we lost the joy and hope given on that silent, holy night when Jesus came and all was calm and bright?   Will we pray and prepare for Christmas 2018 to be centered on Jesus’ love, with peace and promise of eternal celebrations when we are called to heaven above?  If we will embrace and share the love of Jesus, then we can celebrate Christmas every day of the year.  May this story spark fires to humble hardened hearts and encourage lukewarm Christians to rise up and shift to forward gear!  If we will love and if we will pray, Christmas can teach the world to sing in harmony and live by God’s will and way.  Then, all His children can celebrate a Merry Christmas Day!

Remembering a song titled Love of Jesus in Granddaddy’s hymnal, I pulled it from my journal and read the precious promise with teardrops falling on the yellowed page.  Love of Jesus is the greatest give we can give and receive in this sacred season when what the world needs NOW is Love sweet Love!  Read the song, make up a tune and sing the song, internalize the meaning of the song, and feel the love of Jesus make Christmasblues or burdens be gone!

LOVE OF JESUS

Can you comprehend never ending?

Can you comprehend never ending? Believing that life after death is never ending, it is wise to press forward in faith writing love stories and preparing for eternity. Seasons of living on earth - with pleasures, problems, and promise beyond understanding - will one day end. Then, eternity begins!

 Throughout life, we make choices that determine where we will spend eternity for a never ending life of happiness in heaven or torment in hell!  So, how many seasons of preparation do you have under your belt? My 260 seasons scroll through my mind, taking me on a sentimental journey of precious memories.  Knowing our seasons on earth are waning like the moon shining through my window, fleeting thoughts of when and how I will leave this world surface.

  My grandson and I enjoy playing a game of questions and answers and making up songs when I drive him to drum lessons.  Connor enjoys games on his phone traveling to Dunn; he turns it off during our meal together and ride home. Our songs and questions bring laughter and a good time together without our cell phones causing us to ride in silence.  On a recent trip home, Connor asked if I was trapped in a room, would I rather die with the walls closing in on me vertically or horizontally.

 Thoughts of such an agonizing death made me cringe while crying out, “oh my gosh - neither one”!

When I talked to Jesus (yes, we can talk to Jesus and contrary to what naysayers announce on daytime television - Jesus does talk to His children) that night, he knew my thoughts about death. With a peaceful assurance that only comes when Jesus lives inside hearts that trust and obey, dreadful thoughts the enemy could easily magnify were cast away.  I chose to concentrate on living and trusting my life in God’s Hands for when my time on earth ends and my forever more begins.

However, we cannot stick our heads in the sand and pretend everything will be just fine when our hearts are not in tune with Jesus. We must believe with hearts pruned and prepared for eternity in heaven where God is.

Connor’s question caused me to reread a book, Driven by Eternity, given to me by Doris McArthur years ago when her church used it for a Bible Study.  She walked in Tim’s Gift with book in hand and told me God told her to give it to me!  We prayed, she left, and I stood holding her gift - a book filled with perplexing questions and powerful answers that would change my life and cause me to ponder life everlasting with reverent fear and renewed faith!

 Connor’s poignant question and the perplexed times in which we live led me to reread the book. In Driven by Eternity, John uses Scripture to explain how critical it is for people to have a mindset focused on eternity.  After months of heart stirrings to write this story, I do so in faith that those who read it will be convicted of sinful, passive, lukewarm living, come closer to Christ, slow down, prune packed schedules, stand up for Jesus, let lights shine, and make more time to communicate clearly and cherish a close relationship with the Lord and loved ones. 

 In closing, sharing passages from Driven by Eternity will hopefully convict readers’ hearts as mine has been. Being cleansed by the blood of the lamb and sanctified by the Holy Spirit gives peace, 'for such a time as this'!

“Jesus is coming for a church without spot” (Ephesians 5:27) 

James stated that if a Christian wanders from the truth and remains in that state, his soul shall die.  John says there is a sin unto death for believers.  Jude states, ‘for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.’

Jesus said this about His coming and the judgment.  “Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching…but if that servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming, ‘ and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and be drunk, the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the unbelievers. And that servant who knew his master’s will, and did not prepare himself or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten with few.”   (Luke 12:37, 45-48)

This is a servant who knew his master's will yet did something contrary to it. Bitterness can open the door to defilement when harbored in hearts. For this reason, we read of God’s people “looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled.”  (Hebrews 12:15)

The greatest trap for pulling people away from their walk with God is unforgiveness.  In Matthew 18, Jesus tells the parable of a great king who forgave a servant whose debt was ten thousand talents (ten thousand talents of gold would be worth roughly fourteen billion dollars. Jesus made the point that the servant owed a debt he could never pay. Yet, when his huge debt was forgiven, he later refused to forgive one of his servant’s smaller debts.  In Matthew 18, the Master called the man a wicked servant who had been forgiven his debt but refused to show compassion on his fellow servant as God had shown to him…”And his master was angry and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him. So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.”

Bitterness almost always leads to anger and offense toward God. The person’s faith becomes defiled, and if there is no repentance and forgiveness, their end will be fatal.  The unforgiving servant now has to pay the unpayable debt he is required to, which is impossible.  This is the debt Jesus paid at Calvary. 

Jesus said in another account: “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.” Mark 11:25

Jesus says, “But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.”  (Mark 11:26)

The writer of Hebrews emphatically tells us to carefully examine ourselves and let go of any form of bitterness, for by it many are defiled.  Now, we can understand Jesus’ words concerning the latter days of the church. 

He says, ‘Many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another… And because lawlessness will abound, the LOVE of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved. (Matthew 24:10, 12-13)

All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It straightens us out and teaches us to do what is right.  It is God’s way of preparing us in every way… (2Timothy 3:16 NLT)”

Comprehending eternity in a place - where God is not - would be an eternal nightmare. ‘For such a time as this’, may we all make things right in our hearts, release bitterness, forgive and go forth with the calling on our lives, enjoy a close relationship with our Father and family, and be prepared to leave this world and head to heaven at any given moment. When our time here is done and we stand before the Master, may we hear Him say, “Well done my good and faithful servant”!

 Then, we can celebrate never ending life in a place called heaven...where God is! 

Do you believe each of us has a tremendous part to play in taking a stand for America?

Do you believe each of us has a tremendous part to play in taking a stand for America? One by one, could we make a difference by being Good Samaritans and sharing the love of Christ in the country we call home sweet home? I believe that and so do two ‘Good Samaritan’ gentlemen (one I have never met; the other is a prayer partner and volunteer at Tim’s Gift) who love the Lord and enjoy doing acts of kindness wherever they go.

Mike began frequenting prayer meetings on Tuesday mornings after stopping for tacos and curiosity getting the best of him. He read the sign - ‘Tim’s Gift’ - Giving Help and Hope - and entered one morning in 2016 to inquire what we did. Jennifer shared our mission of giving medical supplies, recycling medical equipment, helping with financial needs due to medical situations, and greatest of all - praying with people! Thus, a dear friend, prayer partner, volunteer, and avid supporter of Tim’s Gift was on board. Mike is a veteran who served our country for four decades in several capacities. Recently retired, Mike sought out a rural homestead and settled in Sampson County where he, his wife, and three children reside. HIs loyal participating in prayer, helping Jennifer, Diane, and myself with odd and end jobs or technology needs, and willingness to give a helping hand to people in need who come to Tim’s Gift has given him the honor of being our Good Samaritan. His love for God, country, and family are evident in the way he lives. He doesn’t just talk the talk; Mike truly walks the walk.

Last winter, a homeless man from out of state, trying to get a fresh start in Sampson County, came to Tim’s Gift. Mike was seated at the prayer table and offered to help “get the man out of the ditch and supply his needs” when he heard his story. For three months we worked together to help the man. Sadly, his attire brought raised eyebrows wherever he went, even while visiting four different local churches. One day, I called the gentleman to tell him to head downtown to a men’s clothing store and ask for the manager. He asked, “why”?

I told him a Good Samaritan wanted to bless him with new clothes. Late that afternoon, the gentleman pulled in Tim’s Gift parking lot riding the bike we gave him and looking like a million dollars. This man trying to make a new start came to Tuesdaymorning prayer every week. Mrs. Patty Cherry had told him over and over during those prayer meetings the importance of dressing with dignity. We gave him Tim’s Gift t shirts, food, encouragement, tools to do yard work. Mike gave him work to do and helped him get jobs. While everyone at Tuesday morning prayer encouraged, prayed for, and helped, it was Mike who went the extra mile to make sure the man was okay…just like the Good Samaritan we read about in the Bible.

Recently, during Tuesday morning prayer, we called the names written in our book sharing specific prayers for each of them. One man we prayed for was a patient at Duke Hospital, a friend of Mike’s; yet, he had no idea he was hospitalized. When prayer was finished, Mike asked directions to Duke, since he wasn’t raised in North Carolina and had never been there. He called his wife to tell her he would be home late that afternoon, for he was going to Duke to visit and pray for his friend. Mike’s Good Samaritan ‘on the spot - right when needed - no procrastination’ act of kindness got our attention…and surely got Gods!

Another Good Samaritan I enjoy reading about, and hearing his wife preach the gospel and help people with battlefields in their minds, is Dave Myer. Dave feels he is called to Pray It Forward and help others see the need to help protect our liberties and bring healing to America.

Dave challenges all Americans to honor God through praying and striving to make a positive difference in the direction our nation is headed. His words powerfully put the truth in a nut shell easily understood by people living in America who are willing to Pray It Forward.

“When it comes to praying for our country, 2 Chronicles 7:14 is undoubtedly the most quoted verse in Scripture. The Lord says:

“If my people, who are called by My name, shall humble themselves, pray, seek, crave, and require of necessity My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.”

I think it’s important to really pat attention when the Lord uses the words ‘if’ and ‘then’ in His Word. It signals that God is giving us a part to play, and if we do our part, then He will do His part.

Our part includes four specific things to do: Humble ourselves, pray, seek the Lord, and turn from wickedness. When we do, THEN God will do His part - He will hear from heaven, forgive our sins, and heal our land.

I often say the future of ‘America is in the hands of those who act or those who watch. What America will look like tomorrow, next week, next month and next year will be decided by those who engage or those who stand on the sidelines as spectators.

If you love your country and value your freedom the one place you don’t want to be is on the sidelines…and the one person you don’t want to be is the spectator!

With you help and with your diligence, we can protect our liberties. But without your help and your diligence, our liberties will continue to be lost!”

These two American Good Samaritans, one living in Sampson County - the other in St. Louis, understand what is needed to make America great again…putting God first, reaching out to help people in ditches, and living by Jesus’ example. One by one, we each have a tremendous part to play in taking a stand for America.

Dave Myer’s words are the perfect ending for this story stirring in my heart - hopefully yours and many other Americans too.

“As we are faithful to do what we can do, the Lord will be faithful to do what we can’t…and bring healing to our land.”

Mike’s words, at a recent Tuesday prayer meeting, ring in my ears and resonate in my heart, “God is good to us and wants us to be good to Him and His children.”

Now is truly the time for Americans to Rise UP, reach out, and share God’s grace from sea to shining sea!


Do you believe the American Flag is more or less respected than in 1970?

Do you believe the American flag is respected more or less today than in 1970? This is the third story written in response to my English paper about a Flag Wearing Youth Ordered to Pay Fines in the early seventies: dateline - Charlotte, N.C., date - May 6, 1970, seventeen year old boy ordered to appear in court for wearing a flag on his jacket with words ‘give peace a chance’ written across it. North Carolina law prohibits anything being written or placed on the flag, boy found guilty on technicality - no criminal intent to desecrate, deface or defile the United States flag.

If you are reading this with flashbacks of the tumultuous seventies, you will appreciate my written response as a seventeen year old wondering if my boyfriend would be drafted to Vietnam, conflicting views concerning politics and patriotism, and uneasiness about the affairs of our world. Giving peace a chance should be heralded as top priority with people across the land of the free and the brave.

Sharing parts of my seventies response releases my take on fining the seventeen year old for wearing the message to give peace a chance.

“ …If more Americans would give peace a chance our world would be a better place. This article brought to mind an incident aired on national news last week. A mob of students were marching against President Nixon’s move in Cambodia at a northern university. The president of the university had the flag, which always flew over the campus, taken down. He had the flag removed because he was afraid of the threats from students who vowed to tear it down. Yet, these students were not fined as was the seventeen year old for wearing the flag with ‘give peace a chance’ across it. They only received national publicity which fiercely fueled the ‘tear down the American flag’ flame!

Why are we witnessing such foolishness in our nation? Why are Americans becoming blind to things which can destroy future freedoms and national unity in our country? Why is there bias in sentencing and news coverage? It seems if you are a loyal person you lose and if you are a protestor of America you gain.

Really what these people gain is nothing which will get them through that last gate. You cannot demonstrate and protest your way into heaven. You must give peace a chance and God will give you the peace of knowing you are headed in the right way.”

Mr. Randall marked my paper and wrote 96 in red near the right corner. Pondering what I would write today concerning national news coverage, protesting, sex scandals, dishonesty among Americans, betrayal, removal of Ten Commandments from court houses and prayer from places where it was once heard echoing through halls and open fields and gymnasiums where recreation events began with prayer, and good character suffering rapid decline like a fierce lion with a faint roar. Where are we headed? What can we do? And I realized all the papers written, protests planned and promoted, and pursuits to be happy and give peace a chance will never pan out until we the people ‘go and tell’ of God’s wonderful love and live by Jesus’ example. The past is gone and we can’t change it. The present is now when lovingly letting our Christian voices be heard and words penned can bring positive change, and the future is dawning when what the world needs is love sweet love for it truly is the only thing that there’s just too little of. And when we love per God’s greatest commandment…peace will have a chance and people will come to Christ!

What can we do? We can pray and believe that God can turn things around and help peace be found! May we accept a national challenge to ‘give peace a chance’ and help teach the world to sing in perfect harmony…and let it begin with you and me!

What is God waiting on you to do?

What is God waiting on you to do?  Reading through one of my old journals while waiting on a stirring for a Mother’s Day story sparked memories from 2009.  Several pages were filled with adventures in NYC with dear friends. My journal entry dated November 12, 2009 brought visions of television crews and meeting a girl from Bosnia who personalized the power of Samaritan Shoe Boxes.

Rhonda and Selma chose to sleep in our first morning in New York. I arose early and quietly dressed with determination to experience Good Morning America and mark that off my bucket list. My country girl fear of big cities could have kept me safely snoozing in my warm bed that morning; yet, I mustered up courage and took steps of faith toward Time Square.  I thought of Peter being a scardy cat in the city where mobs of people sought out those who knew Jesus. He denied Jesus three times and cowered in fear choosing to hide out instead of standing up for Jesus.  With each city block I walked, anxiety tempted me to turn around and run back to our hotel instead of facing my fear of being by myself in unknown territory.  Pushing back panic, I pressed on knowing I was not walking alone.  With every step, I prayed for: safety, a sea of people pressing toward their own destinations, taxi cabs not to run over my toes while waiting to cross streets, a chance to be on Good Morning America, and to share the joy of Jesus.

Sharing the page from my journal that stirred this story replays my morning in NYC in my mind and makes my heart happy I journaled it and hopefully stirs yours to journal also. Penning thoughts and recording daily gifts from God preserve precious memories. 

“…Walked fast down Broadway. Stood in Times Square and prayed out loud to God my Father over the noise of cars and people. Sat in a chair feeling overwhelmed, saw film crews setting up, felt led to go over to a group of people in red shirts with Samaritan’s Purse. Amazing ---they pointed to my North Carolina shirt. I introduced myself and told them we did shoe boxes, about Ken and Marilyn working with Billy Graham ministry, and it went from there.  ‘I was in the middle of a miracle.’  One girl from Bosnia told me she got a shoebox in 1994 - war tore her country apart. She (Lejla) was 11 - her brothers were at war - family trying to survive cold winter and war. She had no shoes- food scarce; she decided to take her life.  Went to school thinking about how to do it.  Saw a white truck backed up to school door. All students called to auditorium. Samaritan Purse people passed out shoe boxes. She opened hers and had a pair of shoes. She knew God heard her prayers and wanted to live not die and become a worker with Samaritan Purse when she grew up.  And she did!  Meeting her in NYC and telling about my life in NC was awesome. They asked me to be in the filming for S.Purse with them.  It happened so fast. News crew told us what to do and for 3 minutes we were live on GMA sharing about a ministry based in my home state that helps people all over the world - met woman who works for S.Purse -she received a shoebox in Bosnia when 11 yrs. old. She walked to school barefoot in snow and got a miracle in her shoe box: shoes!  Exchanged phone numbers - hugs - prayer in Times Square., went our separate ways, new friends. Walked back to hotel thanking God every step for a miracle morning in NYC”

On the same journal page, I wrote: “What is God waiting on you to do?”, but never finished the entry. Wondering what sparked that question sent me down sentimental lane with my hands resting on   keyboard and visions of my precious mother dancing in my head.  Writing about a trip to New York, Samaritan Shoe Boxes, and what God is waiting on us to do for a story supposed to honor mothers makes no sense. Or does it?

Mothers train up their children in the way they should go, instilling courage, work ethic, joy, peace, love and pushing them to step in faith to each new season of life. I thought of Lejla’s mother teaching her daughter to press forward when life beyond war and starvation seemed futile. 

Then, I thought of my precious mother and the lessons she taught (use your time wisely Becky, rise early, work first - play later, shop sales, don’t be afraid,  go to church every Sunday, give to others, pray, and set the tone for happiness in your home) that have made all the difference in my life.  I never faced war in my hometown, hunger with no food, or a day without shoes while growing up in a close knit family where blessings flowed greater than we could even imagine.  What then is God waiting for us to do?

In retrospect, surely this story stirs for ‘we the people’ who enjoy, expect, even take for granted the abundance of God’s goodness and for children who do not obey, cherish, and honor their mothers. God is waiting, watching, and working miracles among us as we rush through life giving Him leftovers instead of our best! What is God waiting on you to do?

May you be moved to show gratitude to God for blessings beyond measure and make time to remember your mother (whether here or in heaven) ... for she is a treasure!

 

 

 

How do you dine?

How do you dine? Thinking on things that are lovely per Paul’s words in God’s Word and dining experiences throughout my lifetime stir this story.  Enjoying dining with deep appreciation was instilled at an early age in our home.  Mother was a master cook who made family mealtime delicious in many ways. Feeding her family faithfully and filling us with her good food and God’s sweet spirit was top priority in our home. Mama’s country cooking, that could have been served to kings and queens, and family fellowship and fun around the oval oak table were shared with love. The dining experience mother and daddy modeled fed our souls and kept us closely connected to the Lord and one another through seasons of sunshine and sorrow. 

Every morning, my brother, two sisters, and I gathered at the table with mama scrambling to feed her family before we would head to school and daddy would open our country store. Visions of daddy giving himself a shot for diabetes - before enjoying scrambled eggs and sausage, country ham with fried eggs and grits, or stacks of pancakes that disappeared quickly - impacted his little girl who thought he could walk on water - even with two prosthesis.   Daddy never grumbled during his daily routine of injecting sharp needles into his freckled skin and pulling on and buckling up his man made legs. His only complaints came when mama pulled the jar of homemade grape jelly from his reach. Mama’s faithfulness to serve up good meals - every morning, night, and lunch on weekends - and Daddy’s humility and humor at the kitchen table set the tone for how our family dined. 

Did we always dine together? Heavens no!  Closing our country store for nightly and Saturday meals was never an option, so mother put a plan in place and we handled meal shifts with ease.  When my older sister left for college, her empty seat made mama cry. Daddy’s humor and silly songs kept the sweet spirit alive at mealtime and we welcomed weekends when dining together was cherished.  One by one, we left home to start our own family traditions at mealtime.  Then, daddy passed away, mother’s nest was empty, and dining alone was not her cup of tea. As our families grew, holidays, birthdays, and special occasions  (any day was special in mama’s eyes to bring her loved ones home for a meal)  meant we would come together and dine around the old oak table with love and laughter being sweet music to my mama’s ears.  I could not understand mother’s sadness at mealtime until Tim and I experienced an empty nest and shortly afterwards, I tasted the sting of death - twice!  How I dine is different, but I am not alone. Memories of mealtimes through the years serve huge portions of peace and joy that satisfy my hungry heart.

The best gifts my family give are opened around our dining room table.  I love cooking big meals (complete with casseroles) and welcoming my blended family home where dining together blesses my heart.  The love and laughter around the table grows greater each time we come together to share good food and sweet fellowship while dining.  And when I dine by myself, memories keep me company when I open a can of soup on a cold night and eat in my recliner, prepare one of mother’s favorite dishes and pig out, eat leftovers - or eat alone in a restaurant after church where couples dine and families gather for a happy mealtime. Many people reading this story have experienced seasons when every dining room chair was filled and seasons when one by one chairs became empty and dining alone reality.

So, how do you dine?  Whatever your situation or season that affects how you dine, I pray for joy to fill your heart and home where Jesus longs to be invited and dine with you morning, noon, and night.  Whatever need you have in your season of life, Jesus can quench your thirst and fill your hungry heart with peace and joy for the rest of your journey.

A picture frame with a Bible verse sits by the window where I write and watch the wonder of God’s world. Michelle Reynolds gave it to Clint when he was in her youth Bible Study at Emma Anderson Chapel many moons ago. They concluded their study with a special meal that truly touched Clint’s heart.  Joy rises inside with memories of my son dining with me and talking about Jesus. I keep the framed scripture close to the place I migrate for writing and studying while at Topsail.  The message stirs my heart and fills my hunger with contentment that only comes from Christ. May this verse - Revelation 3:20 - be a source of strength for you too.

“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with me.”

So, how do you dine?  Jesus longs to be with you every single time!

 

How do you dine? Thinking on things that are lovely per Paul’s words in God’s Word and dining experiences throughout my lifetime stir this story.  Enjoying dining with deep appreciation was instilled at an early age in our home.  Mother was a master cook who made family mealtime delicious in many ways. Feeding her family faithfully and filling us with her good food and God’s sweet spirit was top priority in our home. Mama’s country cooking, that could have been served to kings and queens, and family fellowship and fun around the oval oak table were shared with love. The dining experience mother and daddy modeled fed our souls and kept us closely connected to the Lord and one another through seasons of sunshine and sorrow. 

Every morning, my brother, two sisters, and I gathered at the table with mama scrambling to feed her family before we would head to school and daddy would open our country store. Visions of daddy giving himself a shot for diabetes - before enjoying scrambled eggs and sausage, country ham with fried eggs and grits, or stacks of pancakes that disappeared quickly - impacted his little girl who thought he could walk on water - even with two prosthesis.   Daddy never grumbled during his daily routine of injecting sharp needles into his freckled skin and pulling on and buckling up his man made legs. His only complaints came when mama pulled the jar of homemade grape jelly from his reach. Mama’s faithfulness to serve up good meals - every morning, night, and lunch on weekends - and Daddy’s humility and humor at the kitchen table set the tone for how our family dined. 

Did we always dine together? Heavens no!  Closing our country store for nightly and Saturday meals was never an option, so mother put a plan in place and we handled meal shifts with ease.  When my older sister left for college, her empty seat made mama cry. Daddy’s humor and silly songs kept the sweet spirit alive at mealtime and we welcomed weekends when dining together was cherished.  One by one, we left home to start our own family traditions at mealtime.  Then, daddy passed away, mother’s nest was empty, and dining alone was not her cup of tea. As our families grew, holidays, birthdays, and special occasions  (any day was special in mama’s eyes to bring her loved ones home for a meal)  meant we would come together and dine around the old oak table with love and laughter being sweet music to my mama’s ears.  I could not understand mother’s sadness at mealtime until Tim and I experienced an empty nest and shortly afterwards, I tasted the sting of death - twice!  How I dine is different, but I am not alone. Memories of mealtimes through the years serve huge portions of peace and joy that satisfy my hungry heart.

The best gifts my family give are opened around our dining room table.  I love cooking big meals (complete with casseroles) and welcoming my blended family home where dining together blesses my heart.  The love and laughter around the table grows greater each time we come together to share good food and sweet fellowship while dining.  And when I dine by myself, memories keep me company when I open a can of soup on a cold night and eat in my recliner, prepare one of mother’s favorite dishes and pig out, eat leftovers - or eat alone in a restaurant after church where couples dine and families gather for a happy mealtime. Many people reading this story have experienced seasons when every dining room chair was filled and seasons when one by one chairs became empty and dining alone reality.

So, how do you dine?  Whatever your situation or season that affects how you dine, I pray for joy to fill your heart and home where Jesus longs to be invited and dine with you morning, noon, and night.  Whatever need you have in your season of life, Jesus can quench your thirst and fill your hungry heart with peace and joy for the rest of your journey.

A picture frame with a Bible verse sits by the window where I write and watch the wonder of God’s world. Michelle Reynolds gave it to Clint when he was in her youth Bible Study at Emma Anderson Chapel many moons ago. They concluded their study with a special meal that truly touched Clint’s heart.  Joy rises inside with memories of my son dining with me and talking about Jesus. I keep the framed scripture close to the place I migrate for writing and studying while at Topsail.  The message stirs my heart and fills my hunger with contentment that only comes from Christ. May this verse - Revelation 3:20 - be a source of strength for you too.

“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with me.”

So, how do you dine?  Jesus longs to be with you every single time!

Kristin Chooses Tim's Gift

kristin Burnett.JPG

Kristin Burnett from Missouri is pictured above with Becky. Kristin found Tim's Gift online while searching for nonprofits to donate to after surviving a  heart transplant and setting her sights on a goal to help others through non profits in all 50 states. In her search for North Carolina non profits that help people, Tim's Gift popped up. She took that as a divine sign and contacted Tim's Gift, Clinton, N.C. 
She called and asked for more information on what we needed.  Two weeks later, a UPS truck pulled up in our parking lot with a large package of medical supplies and ten cards to send to people in need of encouragement through our Card Ministry.  
In March, Kristin flew to Raleigh and a friend drove her to Tim's Gift.  She brought hundreds of Jesus dollars from herself and people all over the United States.  We had a wonderful visit and will share more abut what Kristin will be doing to help Tim's Gift in upcoming emails.

Loving with Passion

What is your focus during the season of Lent and celebration of Easter?  Honestly, have preparations for Easter been more secular than sacred in your heart and home?  Family talks have surely included plans for long anticipated holidays away from work and school.  Yet, has it been difficult to squeeze time into hectic schedules to talk about our Savior who gave His life as the ultimate sacrifice for our sins?  Are we including plans for praise, worship, prayer time, and serving the Savior by helping others during the days of celebrating Easter?

Excuses for putting Jesus on the back burner never pan out. God knows our motives and messes we will encounter when we allow things of the world to crowd Him out of our lives.  Including Him first in our plans is pleasing to our heavenly Father. Sharing His Word and ways while serving Him lovingly wherever we go gives joy on our journeys.  Being courageous and passionate about an intimate relationship with Christ can encourage others to become a close friend of Jesus too! 

However, Satan plunders hearts and homes with devious plans to extinguish passion for Christ, plant fear, and point God’s children to a path of hatred, apathy, sinful living, and horror filled (not happily) ever after in the fiery furnace of Hell…where God is not!

  During this Holy season of Easter, let us pray for people’s lives to be touched and hearts opened to accept Jesus as Savior (to repent, seek revival, re-new relationships) and serve Him with passion and purpose. Passing on God’s love while preparing for Heaven and happiness forever and ever ensures a priceless, precious endless life we can only imagine - complete with welcoming Home banquet and family reunion beyond anything we can fathom.  I don’t want to miss Heaven…how about you? When we all get to Heaven what a time of rejoicing it will be; we will sing and shout the victory and live for eternity…where God is!

The woman at Bethany is one of the first women of the Bible I want to talk with when God calls me Home.  I won’t know her name, but surely Jesus or my loved ones gone before me will help find her.  This nameless woman bravely walked into Simon’s house and interrupted an all-male gathering to honor Jesus.  She walked up to Jesus, broke a flask of expensive oil, poured it on His head, and anointed Him. Jesus understood the woman’s love for Him without regard for what it cost. He saw the genuine love and gratitude behind her offering of devotion.   However, His disciples did not grasp the significance of what was happening to the One who was about to drink from the cup and die on the cross.  Judas even scoffed her act of love as one of wasting money on expensive oil to anoint Jesus when it could have been given to the poor.

Jesus told his closest friends that there would always be poor among them to help, but His divine words went right over their heads. Oh, that each of you reading this could have heard my pastor (Ray Ammons) preach about Jesus and this woman’s sacrifices. His sermon inspired me to write this story and to search my own heart (as I encourage you to search yours) as we serve Christ courageously and help others selflessly. And if you are not in a Bible believing, passion filled church, I encourage you to pray about it and find a church home where you can grow in faithful service and enjoy fellowship among believers.  Just walk right in the church of your choice courageously and God will take care of the rest.  He did that for the nameless woman who interrupted the meeting with His disciples.

The woman at Bethany walked right in, sat right down, and let her long hair down. Then, she began the process of anointing Jesus’ body with the expensive oil in preparation for burial.  What Jesus understood, they could not! What the disciples criticized, Jesus upheld as a sacrificial act of love.

He said that, “Wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her”. Matthew 26:13

In this story of the woman at Bethany, and often when we serve Jesus, the sacrifice outlives the one who sacrifices.  Yet, we know courageously and faithfully loving Him, honoring HIs greatest commandment, living by His example, and serving Him out loud with passion and purpose gets God’s attention and a reserved spot in Heaven. 

Though people may never know our name and here we receive no fame, we will live happily and honorably without playing Satan’s game.  And when we are still and know He is God as we gaze into the starry sky…we can rest assured we, along with King David, are the apples of His eye!

Do you believe recovery from loss and pain is possible?  Do you believe God is faithful and full of surprises during recovery?  Can celebrating recovery be real for you and me?  I believe all three are possible when we put our faith in God who fulfills His promises and maintains His sovereignty in surprise.  God loves to care for His children and surprise them with special things, just as we do for our children. Visions of Christmas mornings with Cameron and Clint clad in pajamas waiting for the cue from their father to uncover their eyes and see the surprises dance in my head.  Writing the sunset stories of my life bring even greater joy while caring for and surprising our sons and James and Sarah’s daughters and their families. My love story, like yours, has seen some troubles and triumphs. Yet, God still cares for us and sends surprises. Plus, the best is yet to be for you and me when connected to Thee!

Loss and pain prevail across the planet where our love stories are being written.  The effect of the Fall, the reality of sin, the schemes of Satan, and the unexpected events of time and chance can rob our lives of meaningful joy and destroy love stories.  Yet, (even in these turbulent times) there is a way in Christ to recover all and write chapters of celebrating recovery.  Then, the love story we live will be a classic that will one day conclude with words from Christ and celebration in Heaven, “Well done my good and faithful servant”…and we will live happily ever after!

 My fingers feel ‘exceedingly great joy’ while trying to type what spews from my heart.  These stories of celebrating recovery with Christ as our cornerstone and main character could keep you (faithful readers) and myself busy writing, reading, and recovering through the summer season.  Summer, fall, winter, or spring - Jesus Christ can bring recovery and eternal life when He is the main character in our ‘Everything’! 

We should read the Bible as a story, not a manual or catalog.  It has a central storyline of Scripture told in the stories of Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham, the patriarchs, Moses, David, Elijah, Jonah, the prophets and kings, the apostles and saints, and most of all the Gospel stories of Jesus.  All of these stories are connected to one another to tell the big-picture of the Bible - the story of God’s intention to recover all. And He does, over and over and over again!

The story the Bible tells does not begin with, “Once upon a time,” because God’s story begins before time. In the Creation story, what God created, He called very good.Yet, His story took a tragic turn when the snake crawled in the garden, changed Adam and Eve’s storyline, and caused the Fall.   This fall brought sin, sorrow, war, injustice, pain, oppression, and loss to what could have been the end of the story.

But it’s not the end of the story!  Even before leaving the stories of Genesis, God spoke about recovering ALL!   “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed. He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.” 

God is no stranger to horror and sorrow in stories throughout the Bible. He was with Mary when her family and friends were ready to stone her, with David when he hid in caves and returned to a ruined Ziklag, and Ruth when her husband and sons died and she surprised her mother in law by entreating not to leave thee. “Whither thou goest I will go…thy people will be my people, my love” showed loyalty from a brokenhearted widow who also lost her sons and left her people to care for Naomi.  God noticed, for He sees the heart.  The sweet climax of what could have been a sad ending to her story surprised even Ruth. God sent Boaz, blessings, and a baby boy named Obed, all in the lineage of Jesus. God’s surprises come when least expected, sharing a little heaven on earth with children created in His image. Even in sad seasons when happiness is hard to see, God can open doors with divine surprises waiting for you and me.  

Oh to hear the stories of sweet surprises God has sent your way.  He knows exactly what is needed to bring sunshine to cloudy days.  Sending James Vann to Tim’s Gift to become my husband surely surprised me. The first time James asked me to dinner, I told him God wasn’t ready for that. How foolish that surely sounded; yet, James politely said, “I understand; I was your friend when I came and will be your friend when I leave.’  

God worked on my heart, showing me He knew what I was ready for. Sometimes, we get in the way of God’s handiwork and miss His surprises.  God heard James and my lonely cries, healed our broken hearts, and opened them to love again.  Our marriage and happy life together were gifts given lovingly from Him. James and I celebrated recovery.  Our love touches eternity for we are sealed together with Thee. 

If you are recovering from loss and pain, put your trust in God and see what He can do! Surprises will show up unexpectedly, your frown will turn to a grin, and the sun will shine again!  Celebrating recovery and surprises from Thee are divine gifts that can be real for you and me.

Are you depending on God? Have you been blessed by a Free Little Library?

Are you depending on God?  I am! Have you been blessed by a Free Little Library? I have! Three years ago, I was introduced to my first Free Little Library while visiting my son and his wife in Tampa, Florida.  Clint and I were enjoying a morning walk through his neighborhood, when what to my wondering eyes did appear but a library on a pole with lots of books to behold.  Clint explained the process of ‘give and take’ as I pulled a book that was surely placed there just for me.  I finished reading the book on my flight home with an inner stirring to see Free Little Libraries erected in Clinton. 

In the spring of 2016, Hunter Bruce, shared his desire to do his Eagle Scout Project at Tim’s Gift.  Plowing over possibilities, Hunter finally decided on beautifying the yards with a Prayer Garden and Free Little Library. Summer season was spent preparing for the project.  Hunter and his dad, Glenn, drew plans and projected costs, while water drainage problems were taken care of with volunteers who helped me throughout the summer.  , plans were in place and work on Hunter’s project began.  On a sunny Autumn Saturday, Hunter, seven fellow scouts, mom, dad, step dad, Papa Freddy, Mama Bonnie, and myself enjoyed seeing the Free Little Library take shape.  Hours of tedious planning by Hunter and his dad paid off as scouts measured, sawed, and hammered with a Little Library coming to life before our eyes.  Many work sessions preparing the yards and putting finishing touches on the library were needed before dedication day.  Piece by piece the library has been put in place, along with a prayer bench, flag poles and flower pots. 

Plans do not always go as planned.  When Hunter’s Papa Freddie had a stroke only one week after watching the library being built by family and friends, dedicating the Little Library and Prayer Garden Eagle Scout Project was put on hold until his Papa could attend.

A warm Saturday in November, Hunter and his scout buddy, James, joined friends and family for a day of hard work, good food, and lots of fun.  Hunter’s dad and step dad served alongside him as crew leaders. A work of progress was completed as the afternoon sun set in the western sky.  Exhausted and excited, we snapped pictures and patted one another’s backs,  with Hunter’s grinning face and strong faith a sweet sight to see.

Plans are still on hold for filling the library with books and sharing the official dedication of the Prayer Garden and Free Little Library at Hunter’s Eagle Scout service.  Hunter’s Papa Freddie continues to improve after months of medical complications and miracles by the Master. He is home, still smiling, teaching through his trials, and filled with strong faith that his healing will happen.  Hunter’s family and friends are faithfully waiting with him and praying for his Papa Freddie to mend per the Master’s plans.

My friend and I enjoy 6am walks that keep us in shape and aware of what’s going on throughout our neighborhood. One cold, dark morning as we slowed for a turn on our route, I shouted with glee while shining my flashlight on a new structure in The Edwards’ front yard!  With fresh dirt still surrounding the pole, I surveyed every detail of the beautiful blue Free Little Library.  My heart longed to browse through the books, but my friend pressed onward in the stillness of early dawn. So, I put browsing on hold, caught up with her, and walked home chattering about the little library with joy in every step I took.

For two months, I planned to stop and select a book from the library of a beautiful young couple who share my love for books.  Finally, one Sunday afternoon I set out on a solo walk with a mission in mind. When I reached the little library, I marveled at the creative structure Paul, a seventh grade student of mine many moons ago, must have built.  He was always intrigued with projects and challenges to create new things.  Surveying the details of the new Free Little Library in our neighborhood, an A plus for a job well done was well earned.  As cars whizzed by, I wondered how many people really understood the concept of the Free Little Library or had stopped by to check it out.  My excitement mounted as I prepared to pick a good read and head home.

The job of choosing a book took longer than expected.  Each book I pulled from the library perched on a post had something good to offer. Looking toward their home, I thought of the family pulling together as a team, planning, building, and stocking the library with books for others to read. Resisting the stirring to ring their doorbell and share my appreciation for their gift to our community, I kept browsing and finally decided on the book meant to go home with me.

Settling in my recliner with gas logs humming and hot muscle milk in mug, I opened the book titled, ‘Dear God, We’re Depending on You’ and read the little book with big message in minutes.  Sharing a short version of the messages seems like the perfect ending for this story.

“Dear God, I think I’ve broken my heart…Can you fix it? Let me tell you my side of this.

Sometimes bad things happen when you never meant them to. Maybe you were trying to help a friend stand up but knocked them down by mistake.  Or maybe you said something then noticed that it sounded mean.  Even when you get in trouble for something you didn’t mean to do, remember that God knows your heart and promises in Psalms to mend it.  You can tell Him everything. He will listen and help you.”

“The Lord will hear when I call to Him.”  Psalm 4:3

“Dear God, I’m lost…please find me.

You can get lost in lots of ways, You can dawdle too long in front of the cereal aisle or get turned around between library shelves. But for all the ways you can get yourself lost, there’s only one way to stop that yucky feeling inside by getting found again. And there’s only one God who always knows where you are no matter where you are.  Never fear, He’s always near, He’s here to save you.”

“Do not fear, for I am with you.”  Isaiah 41:10

“Dear God, We’re depending on you!  You can count on God to help you with anything, from pulling your loose tooth to writing your ABC’s.  In fact, every time you take a breath, every time you keep your balance, every time you get a cut and watch it heal up and go away, you’re seeing God’s everyday help in action.  You needed Him yesterday, you need Him now, and you’ll need Him forever.  Start depending on Him today.”

“Apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5

Dear God, I thank you for healing my broken heart, for always being with me and taking away my fears, for healing me and helping me do the things you’ve called me to do and enjoy life.  Thank you for free little libraries and time to sit in the swing and read good books.  Without You, what in the world would we do?  We’re depending on YOU! 

Are you blessed with rich moments and clear guidance from God?

 Are you blessed with rich moments and clear guidance from God?  Confidence on making right decisions as we journey through life, while taking time to bless and be blessed can cloud minds and confuse hearts. Clarity of doing things right and hearing God’s voice is easier when we’re closely connected to the Lord and loved ones. 

Hearing His voice comes easier when the pathway is cleared for that close relationship to flourish. Discernment is hindered when we have sin in our life and strong desires about situations.  Repenting of sins and taking the focus off our desires opens the channel for communication and blessings.

Being patient when the world shouts, ‘hurry’ can be hard to do.  It takes strength to stand still and wait on the Lord.  Yet, when we rush ahead of God, we may miss His will and blessings galore.  Wonder how many rich moments we’ve missed by rushing through seasons when God had great plans for “Thee and we” and family He gave us to love and cherish until death parts us?  Living overextended, offended, and opposing the clear guidance God willingly gives is dangerous.  He is well pleased when we stop the wrong attitudes and actions, look to Him for guidance and intimacy, and listen with discerning ears and tender, obedient hearts.

Powerful, persistent prayers get God’s attention.  The Bible clearly tells us to keep coming to the Lord with our concerns.  When we keep praying, He weeds out confusion until we come to His conclusion about whatever we are praying about.

Searching the scriptures brings answers for every need we have.  The Holy Spirit guides us in the right direction.  Often, we react to situations without taking time to pray and seek guidance from God’s Word and His Holy Spirit.  We want quick answers, but God delights in deepening our relationship with Him. In HIs perfect timing, He answers. While we wait on the Lord, He longs for us to enjoy the intimacy of His presence while seeking His will.  Lyrics from an old hymn give confidence and clarity, “ Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, just to take Him at His word. Just to rest upon HIs promise. Just to know “Thus saith the Lord.  I’m so glad I learned to trust Thee. Precious Jesus, Savior, Friend; And I know that Thou are with me, Wilt be with me to the end. Jesus, Jesus how I trust Him, How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er! Jesus, Jesus precious Jesus. O for grace to trust Him more.”

Rich moments of trusting Jesus together, from the time Tim and I fell in love our junior year of high school until he took his last breath here at home, replay in my mind. I stop writing in the wee hours of the night, waiting for clarity on the right ending for this story, listening to the clock tick as my heart pounds in my chest, smiling at family pictures on my bookcase, and focusing on one of Tim and me enjoying time together on our sailboat at Topsail.  Closing my eyes, I wait in silence while pondering things in my heart. 

Tim and I made Rich Moments sailing that still sets my heart on fire. Seeds of sailing were sown when we were dating and dreaming, wishing and hoping, waiting and praying.  God protected our love, guided our steps, and blessed us to write a beautiful love story with two children, two daughters in law, and two grandchildren - the apples of our eyes!  On our 25th wedding anniversary, Tim surprised me with a Hunter sailboat. Oh, the joy we shared sailing the ocean and soaking up intimate times with the Lord and one another.  Thirty three years before our sailboat dream came true, Tim gave me a card with prophetic words of love and a picture of the ocean at dusk, setting sun casting light on the dark waters, silhouette of a sailboat on the horizon, and a person walking alone on the dark shoreline. Taking a break from writing, I spent time in my prayer room tonight, my favorite hangout!  Pondering the ending of this story, sharing Tim’s words from a RICH SEASON when we were so young and yearning to be together forever and ever seemed right.  Sitting on the floor in the middle of my room, I wondered which box on my shelves held the precious card.  Feeling led to scoot closer to the back wall where prayers answered and special cards from people are secured, I gasped when I saw Tim’s card taped to the wall just waiting for me to find where I forgot I put it. Are you with me?

  The joyous passion I felt in 1972 was even more powerful tonight when Iopened the card and read his words of love.  Tim penned the message in a season when we were unsure of our future together and completely trusting God to work all things out.  And He did in HIs perfect timing.  Sharing the precious, personal love letter from Tim will hopefully touch someone’s life who needs to write a love letter and rekindle intimate relationships with loved ones and the Lord.  Paul’s desire for people to be closely connected to Christ and one another is poured out passionately in God’s Word.  Tim and I shared our love passionately through actions and words written in letters, cards, church bulletins, our agendas, even on napkins that surprised us in special places.  May sharing Paul’s and Tim’s words of love encourage you to desire and develop a close relationship with Christ and those HE gave you to love and cherish . Take time to pen precious words to someone you love today.

“Becky, without you - a sail without wind.  Without wind a sail hangs limp. A mast. Motionless, without beauty. With a gust of wind that same sail blooms into a thing of beauty, reaching out to kiss the sky.    Together the wind and sail work perfectly - moving along the surface of the world in search of a better horizon.  But without one, the other is nothing!  Let our love bloom.  You are Sail; I am Wind.  I need you.  There is a greater LOVE to accompany that need.  I love you, Timothy”

Our love bloomed through 32 years of raising two sons, moving four times, teaching school, building two businesses, working in church and community, and enjoying a good life together with God at the helm.  We witnessed the miracle working power of God’s loving Hand of grace through it all.   When we raised our sails and set out to sea for a day of sailing, we looked to the skies with honor and glory to God for keeping HIs promises and answering our prayers.  Today, Tim sails on the better horizon he wrote about in his card and I carry on the legacy of our love and of James’ love…for as long as I shall live.

“Thank you, Lord, for Rich Moments that keep me company… and closely connected to my family, friends, and heavenly Father.  I love you, Becky”

Do you miss the joy of Rich Moments by stewing over situations that keep you captive to sadness or sorrow?

Do you miss the joy of Rich Moments by stewing over situations that keep you captive to sadness or sorrow?  Paul could have plummeted to depths of despair over perils and persecution he endured, but he didn’t!  Have you suffered for seasons with little hope of pulling from the pit of pity that consumes and keeps us from enjoying the good life?  What good life, you just don’t know my troubles, happiness went when my loved ones left, you might be thinking.  Negative thinking and living consumes, giving an open door for the enemy to steal, kill, and destroy.  Satan has no power when we stand firm, not being swayed like waves of the ocean, and seek contentment by trusting Christ to strengthen and show us the way to HAPPY living filled with RICH Moments!

Paul (when he was Saul) thought he had everything, prestige as a Pharisee, degrees of higher education, and fame for persecuting Christians, but after his conversion on the Road to Damascus, he had contentment with Christ.  Persecutions you and I feel we’ve faced pale in comparison to what Paul endured; yet, everything he went through helped him serve the Lord with greater joy and effectiveness. Paul learned to be content no matter what his conditions were.

 As Charles Stanley says, “Paul’s contentment is wonderful news for us because it means we aren’t at the mercy of our circumstances: we, too, can learn to be content regardless of what we’re facing.”

Paul’s rich moments came when engaged in service to the Savior and helping others!  Mentoring young Christians was his cup of tea that satisfied his thirst to serve God! Sharing the good news wherever He was called to go kept Paul writing, speaking, encouraging, and staying closely connected to Christ through prison time, isolation on island time, prayer time, ANY time!  Are we willing to sacrifice our time to spread the joy of Jesus and serve Him with contented, happy hearts…even in persecution?   Rich moments come when we rise up and reach out in love.

This series of stories stirred while studying about Paul, finding a picture of Cameron and me sleeping in front of our fireplace (our winter bedroom in 1980) and reading entries from my 2013 journal.   On August 30, 2013, my entry was titled Beach Blessings - It’s a Small World!  Reading the details of that day James and I shared together at the southern tip of Topsail Island brought joy to my (still being mended by the Master) heart.  The Rich Moments of that day (and memories of Rich Moments of the past) are best captured in the words I penned while James and I soaked up the sun’s rays on the sandy shore by the sound. James hoisted his net to catch minnows with me admiring his strong body and big heart. I could see his lean, healthy body and his happy, big heart by the way he lived and loved. We soaked up every rich moment God gave as we enjoyed and cherished our time together.

Experiencing the joy of him castingour lines, securing the poles, kissing me on the forehead, and reeling in his catch (hoping for a flounder large enough to keep), was proof that contentment can come in all circumstances!  God can fill hurting hearts with happiness and bring miracles from brokenness when we believe and give love a chance.  

Thanking God for this journal entry, I feel led to share with you the joy of rich moments that can be lost if we do not take time to make them and record them on our hearts and paper.

7:30am Aug. 30, 2013God’s timing always right. James came back to house to get me after setting up our fishing spot. We loaded our picnic lunch and headed to the point.  Within 10 min. of settling down with poles in water - God opened a door to minister ( love our prayer time every morning when we pray - to be a blessing to someone that day - it’s our best times together) A couple (our age- grey hair) walked by and asked James about the foam on the beach. James explained, shook hands, and went back to his fishing pole.  They walked away but turned and came back to ask where James got his fishing cart.  I closed my journal and laid it on the chair so we could talk.  They (Dennis and Barbara from Ind. Indiana) looked at my journal and said “I see your book with “I Believe” on it. Are you Christians?”  James said, ‘Oh yes we are’!  Within min. we were both sharing how God healed and helped us. His wife walked up on the dunes and stared at the water. Her husband started to follow but hesitated.  “My wife had breast cancer 20 years ago.  1 week before we were to leave for this vacation, the doctor called to say a spot was on her other breast.  She is devastated and wanted to stay home.  We decided to come anyway - a week away to think and relax.  He stood still - James and I gripped hands and began sharing about Jesus.  We told him about God’s healing power; he said they couldn’t talk about it or Jesus.  We talked about God’s healing power and shared where we’d been. Then, we all joined hands and prayed.  I gave him a card with our name and number promising to pray for them.  He wiped tears and said - thank you - it’s a small world.  They held hands and walked away.  James and I praised God with happy hearts.”

Our beautiful day together brought even more healing to us when we were a blessing to a couple we did not know, but God did and sent them our way.  James and I talked about people who blessed us in our broken seasons - our children, brothers and sisters, friends, neighbors, Pastor Roberts, Pastor Charles Allard, James’ mother, Tim’s mom, and strangers divinely placed in our paths.  God was with us every sad moment we suffered (just as He is with those reading this story who feel trapped in sorrow and situations that seem hopeless)!  Healing and happiness come when we get our hearts right with the Lord, loved ones, friends, even our enemies…and step in faith to the plans God has for the rest of our lives.

Next week, I will share the joy of finding clear guidance and being a blessing to people.  Until then, take time to make rich moments and record them in your hearts…and in your journals.  One day, when those loved ones might not be here to share sunsets and early morning prayers… you’ll be glad you did.