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.

Do you believe the richest moments in life are not the most expensive?

Do you believe the richest moments in life are not the most expensive?   I do!  Thinking on things that are lovely, as Paul suggested in his writings, stirred this story.  Pausing before penning some of my rich moments, I wonder what Paul would tell if he were writing this story. In II Timothy, Paul shared personal words of love with his spiritual son that his race was almost over; Paul took time to stir up the gifts in Timothy.  Paul reminded Timothy of how his faith came to him and that he would have to stir up himself through prayer, worship, and praising God.  Paul even suggested Timothy preach to himself in times when he needed to be stirred up in God. In tough times, preaching to oneself can bring triumph!  Paul shared rich moments with Timothy and Titus even during persecution. Paul encouraged Titus to serve eagerly, enthusiastically, and live a “good life filled with beneficial deeds” (empowered by the Holy Spirit)! Titus was taught to live a holy life, be in a good church, and submit to godly, spiritual leadership. What are we teaching our youth today?  Are lessons and living examples missing the mark that make for rich moments?

Rich moments in Paul’s life before he met Jesus on the road to Damascus would tell a different tale. He dished out death sentences for Christians until he saw the light and his life was changed.  Can you imagine the moments recorded in the personal journals belonging to Saul the persecutor and Paul the persecuted?  What if Barnabus, Paul’s encourager, had chosen silence rather than speaking up and risking his life.  Barnabusreceived no fame for helping convert Paul, but can you imagine the crowns waiting for him in heaven. Rich moments (kisses from God) make for eternal happiness!

Rich moments Paul penned stir me up as I mull over his writings and marvel at his faith.  Those moments can encourage us to boldly testify of the Lord and not be ashamed of our faith, to stand up for the gospel, be diligent, work hard, be strong in grace, avoid disagreements that can divide us, endure hardship, “as a good soldier of Christ Jesus” II Timothy 2:3

Are we - modern day, much to do, sleeping, well meaning, weary, working ‘till Jesus comes -Christian?  Are we standing up for Jesus or being silent? Silent Christians avoiding persecution and being shunned from social circles or situations where our faith would be frowned upon?

Paul’s richest writing encourages us to know, honor and obey the truth of God’s Word and to fulfill God’s calling on our lives.  We would be wise to read his letters and get stirred up ‘for such a time as this’!

Reading writings in old journals stirs memories of seasons when Tim and James colored my world with love.  Rich moments Tim, Cameron, and I shared in the winter of 1980 brought Paul’s words to mind, “Come before winter”!  Paul was in a hard place and needed help and encouragement from his friends.  He beckoned them to come before winter.

Tim and I moved to Clinton in 1979 with our six month old son and settled in our home sweet home on Warsaw Road.  Our little family was happy even with little leftover money at the end of each month.  When winter came, we were unable to pay for heating oil to fill the big, silver tank beside our house.  I told Tim our parents would gladly help us with heating oil. He agreed but asked that we stick it out together and get through the winter without seeking their help.  So, we did! 

At first, it seemed a hardship to lug a mattress in front of our fireplace with quilts and pillows to make our nesting place warm and comfy. However, after a few nights cuddled up in our temporary sleeping quarters with warmth and wonder from a crackling fire, we knew this would be our happy place for winter and embraced the lean season of finances with faith and passion!  Recently, I found a picture Tim took one night when I feel asleep reading a book to Cameron in our den - winter bedroom.  Cameron’s little body was curled up close to me with his hands tucked under his tummy and his hind side sticking up in the air.  Seeing his little footed pajamas prompted memories of rich moments when bed time baths and baby lotion, pampers and sweet, sloppy kisses made us feel like the wealthiest parents on the planet.  In the eyes of our hearts we were (are)! We survived that sweet, cold winter with warmth in our home and hearts.  Rich moments continue to color our world with love as we grow older and closer to Christ.

Next week, I will share more about Paul’s contentment and my memories.  Until then, think on things that are lovely and recall rich moments that are worth more than silver or gold!

Do you believe love works sweet miracles? I do!

Do you believe love works sweet miracles? I do!  And so does Louisa May Alcott. This quote from Little Men shares her feelings about the power of love.

“Love is a flower that grows in any soil, works its sweet miracles undaunted by autumn frost or winter snow, blooming fair and fragrant all the year, and blessing those who give and those who receive.”

Willa Cather, a great writer believes also, “Where there is great love, there are always miracles”!

Each person reading this story could share sweet miracles that have fostered your faith and fueled your love story. How blessed we are to serve a loving God who sends those sweet miracles, along with instructions for loving Him first, loving our neighbors, even loving our enemies.  An eternal act of love from John 16:28 is a sweet miracle for believers to embellish and enjoy forever and ever!

“For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me and have believed that I came out from God.”

The power of love comes alive in God’s living Word.  Are you living in love or lacking the passion and power that can be yours with God’s gift of GRACE and sweet miracles?  Do you truly enjoy your life?  Do you love where you live?  Does God (your friends and family) see you living out loud delightfully or depressingly? Do you faithfully hold to reins of hope with love shining through struggles and successes…sorrow and sunshine?  Are you crazy in love with the Lord and loved ones you share life with? 

“And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.”  Corinthians 13:13

“This is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”  John 15:12-13

Hatred permeates our planet with people seeking happiness, joy, peace, and love in all the wrong places.  When God’s children forget Him as our first love, where go sweet miracles? A reverent fear of God, believing in Jesus, and enjoying a close relationship with Him through the Helper God sent when His Son ascended to Heaven makes for happy hearts and sweet miracles.

Two sweet miracles God sent the week before Rise Up - Revive, when we were swamped with planning and preparing, prompted this story.   God surely has miracles waiting to send…while HIs children work without ceasing, put Him on hold, refuse to embrace interruptions, and fail to entertain ‘angels unaware’!

I can hear Billy Stewart’s song of standing by the one you love that Tim and I embraced while dating…”I Stand Accused”!   Do we stand accused of being too busy, burdened, or backslidden to enjoy God’s grace and sweet miracles…to enjoy daily living with loved ones?   I sing Billy’s lyrics while typing…”I stand accused of loving you. I’ve been loving you too long to turn back now” and think of Paul’s lyrics in love letters tucked safely in God’s Word.  Paul reminded people to stand accused of keeping God their first love and loving Him with heart, soul, and mind.  Paul stood accused?  Do we?  Paul expected miracles? Do we?  Hopefully, we sing with conviction “God,  I stand accused; I’ve been loving you too long to turn back now”!

A few days before Rise UP -Revive, Jennifer pointed out that I had several calls to return.  With a long to-do list in my hand, the temptation to put off calling people back grew. Yet, that deep down stirring to allow interruptions to take precedence grew. So, I sat down in front of Jennifer’s desk, grabbed the phone, and pressed the numbers as she called them from her ‘oh so organized’ daily agenda that keeps track of everything happening at Tim’s Gift. Waiting for a person to answer, I watched Jennifer (blind but full of vision) working diligently; JOY and Praise that surpasses all understanding rose up inside my heart.  I thanked God for the sweet miracle sitting in front of me, a miracle that blesses me every day we work, laugh, cry, pray, and enjoy together.  Do you stand accused of taking miracles right in front of you for granted, or not recognizing them as miracles from God? 

Almost ready to hang up the phone, I silently agreed to let it ring one more time. Are you sometimes so busy, you have little patience for interruptions or wait time?  What has happened to ‘time’?  It seems to be accelerated with difficulty getting things done that grow in piles stacked on our desks, in our phones, or wherever we settle down to tackle tasks on daily agendas.  Where is prayer time, play time with family, quiet time with God, visiting time with parents, grandparents, neighbors, witnessing time with those who are unchurched or in need, interruption time (for angels unaware)…God and me time penciled in on our ‘to do’ lists? Do we stand accused of leaving these times out, planning to work them in our already overextended schedules, or giving leftover time (which seldom surfaces) to our Lord and loved ones? OUCH!

Finally, the lady, we’ve been blessed to pray with and help the past three years with medical supplies for her elderly mother, answered and began shouting when she heard my voice.  Excitedly she belted out good news of a sweet miracle. 

“Mrs. Becky, I am so happy how God answers prayers.  Mother has been in ICU in the hospital here in Goldsboro for two weeks. I’m sleeping in the waiting room and staying by her side all I can.  The cancer is worse; she is weak and I keep praying God will help her and we can go home.  Yesterday, it was sunny and warm, so I took a walk outside the hospital.  I passed a thrift shop down the street and felt led to go inside. The days and nights are so long with little company and mother in a coma now, so I thought a good book would be good for me.  In the store, they had shelves filled with books.  I wanted to get back to mother, so I quickly pulled abook, read the title, Rise Up - Recount Love and headed to the check- out counter with it.  A book about love is what I needed, so I gave the cashier fifty cents and headed back to the hospital.  I settled down to start reading and saw your picture on the back cover. I couldn’t believe it; I had no idea you wrote a book. 

Without getting a word in edgewise (hard to believe, right), she kept talking about how the stories in the book were speaking to her heart, especially the ones that told about taking care of Tim when he was battling cancer.  “Mrs. Becky, thank you for writing these stories.  I have read four and they are just what I needed right now.  Seeing the pictures of your family makes me feel love, especially the picture of Connor and remembering when I kept him at Tiny Tots.  I know God sent this book to me and it was in a thrift shop close by where I could get it quick and get back to mother. It’s just a miracle, Mrs. Becky!”

We prayed together on the phone, I hung up, sat still in the chair silently praising God while staring in theface of a sweet miracle God sent to Tim’s Gift!  Jennifer interrupted the silence with her angelic voice, “Mrs. Becky, what has happened”?

I humbly bowed my head, waited for composure, and said, “Jennifer, a sweet miracle!

The two of us communed with Christ, sharing time together… humbly thanking Jesus for the joy of serving Him, sharing HIs love, and giving help and hope to people He sends our way every day.

 Sweet miracles are still happening in the midst of the madness and busyness we juggle; God desires our first fruits, first time, first love - and carrying us through each struggle. Being faithless in our walk, forgetful of HIs gifts, and fickle with our calling can deter HIs sweet miracles!  Do we stand accused of loving Him long and loyally or leaving Him out when persecution or popularity prevails?  Hopefully, we will Rise UP Joyfully to sing the song about loving Jesus too long, never turning back, standing accused of loving Him with hearts convicted to give. and sharing stories of sweet miracles as long as we shall live!   

Do you believe incarnate love changes lives and gets God's attention?

Do you believe incarnate love changes lives and gets God’s attention?  Understanding incarnate love could bewilder those who do not believe in God - the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Incarnate love includes trusting, obeying, and honoring God while enjoying a personal, precious relationship with Jesus-  complete with a built in GPS!  Loving from the heart activates the Helper that guides and gives personal directions to those who are connected to the Vine!  Incarnate love gives daily dividends beyond understanding while serving our Savior out loud with gladness. 

Are we sometimes quick to judge people based on outward appearance or what we think we see them doing?   Surely, we have been judged just as we have judged others on first impressions. God reminds us to look closer at those we judge, with an inward focus.

Judging others can damage relationships.  Seeds of indifference can sprout in hearts where love should reign. When we live by Jesus’ example, love will light our paths through all seasons of our lives; hearts will be right with our Lord, loved ones…even our enemies!  We may not understand motives or methods of those with whom we share the planet, but we don’t see their hearts as God does.  He knows the rest of the story… for ALL His Children; He sees the hearts.

In 1 Samuel 16:7, we are reminded that God “…looks at the heart”!

God sees how we live, how we give, and how we love.  Many reading this story gave gifts to friends and family at Valentine’s Day.  Did you give roses, candy, or a special card that showed how much you care? Giving is great-t-t!  But genuine giving involves much more than giving things to people we care about.

Jesus Himself - who is, in His essence, love personified - didn’t merely provide us the gift of salvation; He gave us Himself?

So, what would Jesus want us to do ‘for such a time as this’ when people throw words at one another that cause us to shudder in our shoes? Newscasts replay revelers, naysayers, and unbelievers that reek havoc and hatred - pitting nation against nation, and we watch as our world makes what is wrong seem right and what is right seem wrong.  Are we truly sinking in sin far from peaceful shores, sinking to rise no more?  Do we stick our heads in the sand and hope it all goes away?

No, we must stand up for Jesus and show the world His love by letting our lights shine brighter than ever even when it seems we are sinking.  Standing up as soldiers of the cross for the Gospel, a gift of love from God, is needed and necessary from sea to shining sea!  When the Master of the sea hears our despairing cries, He will lift us by His love out of the angry sea of chaos, crime, and confusion and safe we will be!  When nothing else will do - love can lift me and you!

Neither can we as Christians throw words at people and not love them; our love would be hollow. Rather, we show love by giving of ourselves - by giving our concern, our prayers, our compassion, our Christlike, sacrificial love.

So, loving as Christ so loves us is the answer?  Yes it is! Divine love pays the price. It gets involved.  Incarnate love isn’t always convenient, but it changes lives…and gets God’s attention!

When we love like Jesus, we can sing in fierce storms, shout in turbulent times, and stand firm in faith as the world watches what WE will do.  

Our greatest duty is to LOVE.

Do you believe Rising Up and being Revived to enjoy life here while preparing for Heaven is needed in our world?

Do you believe Rising Up and being Revived to enjoy life here while preparing for Heaven is needed in our world?  This story stirs as I fly above the clouds covering Texas and head home to Carolina, where nothing could be finer, as the old song says.  Another song rises up inside, “leaving on a jet plane, don’t know when I’ll be back again…” reminding me that my destination (home in Clinton) is not assured. 

 Rising Up and being Revived stirs strong as the bumpy ride keeps people buckled up in the friendly skies above our nation.  I think of America and how God must view this land we love.  He sees every heart of  every child He created and longs for a close relationship with each of us. Sadly, many are sinking in sin, far from peaceful lives.

 God is watching and waiting for us to turn our eyes upon Him with repentant, rejoicing hearts.  So, what are we waiting for?  Our last day on earth could come soon.  Another old song resonates while riding high in the sky…’Jesus is coming soon, morning or night or noon. Many will meet their doom…”!

Now is the time to come closer to Christ and be Revived. Writing this story with winds whipping around the plane plays tricks on my mind.  The gentleman in the aisle seat eyes my journal, which leads to a lovely conversation about Christ the solid rock. He seemed troubled as we talked.  I pulled a book from my bag and began reading Randy Alcorn’s writings about Heaven.  The man asked about my faith, then shared a story about his mother’s recent death.  He told about a treasure found when he and his siblings cleaned out the old home place. His parents’ prayer journal (which they were unaware of) was filled with written prayers and messages for their children.  He shared about her funeral where his brother did the eulogy and joked that most of the prayers in their parent’s prayer box. where the journal was kept, were for him.  Do you journal and write prayers for your loved ones?   Sure, we keep things stored in our hearts but holding messages personally penned and prayed over is powerful.

Do messages from the Bible challenge you to Rise Up?

Do messages from the Bible challenge you to Rise Up?  Reading Romans 13, Paul’s plea to put on Christ stirred my heart with memories of similar words from Mrs. Eloise Brewington in 2011.  Paul’s message (and Mrs. Eloise’s) issue challenges to Get Up and Get Going for Now is the Time…Today Matters and Tomorrow May Never Come!  

 This scripture passage resonates where we are today:  “And do this, knowing the time, that now is high time to AWAKEN out of sleep, for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.  Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh to fulfill its lusts.”

Paul’s challenge can be summed up in three words…Awaken, Abandon, and Adorn!  He warns people to WAKE UP; the night is almost gone.  Now, is the time to Rise Up and act! What we do today matters. He tells us to stop being foolish and undisciplined in the flesh.  Paul also says now is the time to ‘put on’ Christ, to adorn ourselves with Him.  The inward brilliance of Jesus living in one’s heart should shine like a lighthouse pointing people to safe harbors.

Mrs. Eloise understood Paul’s plea and lived it out loud in love. Wherever she went, the message of Romans 13 was a shining light. She was a shining example every day…letting others see Jesus in her words and ways.

In 2007, she and friends from Prayer Connection prayed over me the night before I was scheduled for surgery. After prayer, she stood over me with a message to ‘get up’, that I would go home the next day and not have surgery for colon cancer. And I did!  My faith continued to grow as did a close relationship and deep love for the woman who taught me the power of prayer and Rising Up!

Our visits always ended with powerful praying. I would sit at her feet like a hungry student waiting to be fed. And she did just that! One afternoon, she shared her burden to warn people that time is nigh to ‘get up’, that preachers should preach powerful - not watered down - sermons for people to ‘Rise Up’ and get going for God.  

God spoke to her one morning as she lay on her bedroom floor praying for help.  This ninety five year old sweetheart had fallen and couldn’t get up. Hours passed with her faith shining and God speaking to her heart a warning to share with His people…”time is short, get up and get ready for I am coming soon”! 

After four hours on the floor, she did get up and called for help. After a hospital stay of healing and witnessing, she returned home with the plea for people to get right with God burning in her heart. She had an urgency to share the message.  One spring morning, we sat in her front porch swing and she shared the words delivered divinely as Gavin Spell, who worked with me at The Learning Station, recorded her plea for people to rise up and live like Jesus.   When I click on this precious video at Tim’s Gift website and watch the wind blow her hair as she shares the truth of Romans 13, I weep for joy.

Today, Mrs. Eloise and Paul celebrate in heaven as the power of their prayers and passion of their love for Jesus live on here in people’s lives who listened to their pleas.  Paul’s preaching and her praying on the streets of gold is surely a sweet sight to behold.  One day Jesus will return to take those who are ready to meet the Master to their heavenly Home.  Many will Rise UP to greet Him while others will meet their doom.  Are we prepared for that day that could come in the twinkling of an eye?

Ending this story with a plea for people to Awaken and cherish a close relationship with the Lord and loved ones, Abandon things that are not pleasing to God, and adorn ourselves with Him is what Paul, Mrs. Eloise, and Jesus would want. For anyone too busy, heavily burdened, not living in right relationship with Christ, with ought against a brother, sister, or friend, with hardened heart - unrest and weariness within, take time to humbly bow and give it all to Him.  He will wash away any sin and fill hearts with joy, love, and dreams of that beautiful shore!

Then, Rise Up - Revived and ready to enjoy life… for every day with Jesus will be sweeter than the day before!

Do you remember singing the old hymn?

Do you remember singing the old hymn ‘Revive Us Again’? Memories of standing beside my mother when I was barely tall enough to help hold the green Broadman Hymnal and belting out ‘Hallelujah, Thine the glory, revive us again’ sooths my soul.  Remembering great moments shared with loved ones gone to glory resonates joyous healing.  Mother embarrassed me many times as we stood in worship and sang hymns. Her beautiful voice and southern twang rang in my ears, with me wishing she would sing a little softer.  I’ve typed and deleted the next sentence at least twenty times; wishing mother back here to stand beside in church and hear her sing would be wrong. Besides, she wouldn’t want to come back anyway.  My mind can see her standing on the streets of gold with Mrs. Norma Howard and Faye Williams singing for Paul, Timothy, James, King David and loving every eternal moment of it! I believe we will sing together one day in Heaven and that thought keeps me singing as I go.

 Do you wonder about your loved ones in heaven also?  We can be thankful for God’s promise to prepare a place with eternal peace and joy beyond understanding for them there while keeping us alive and well to finish our race here! Knowing they are safe in the arms of Jesus gives comfort.  Knowing we are right with God and ready to meet Jesus at any moment gives peace.  Are you ready right now to go to heaven?   Kenny Chesney sings about wanting to go to heaven but not today. So,  we may not actually be ready to go now but if now was your time or mine…are we ready if Jesus called us in the twinkling of an eye like He did the 27 year old middle school teacher in his classroom a few weeks ago?  Are we really ready or do we need to repent and be revived? Waiting to get ready and make things right with the Lord, loved ones, and those we have might have ought against makes for dangerous living!

Sharing the words to ‘Revive Us Again’ sparks precious memories of yesterday, thankful yet troubling thoughts for today, and earnest, hopeful prayers for tomorrow. Let your heart sing the lyrics wherever you are reading this. Feel the power of words that ring truth ‘for such a time as this’ when Revelation plays out before our eyes and being ready for heaven at any given moment is wise!

“We praise Thee, O God for the Son of Thy love, For Jesus who died, and is now gone above. Hallelujah Thine the glory, Hallelujah amen, Hallelujah Thine the glory, revive us again.

All glory and praise to the Lamb that was slain. Who has borne all our sins and hath cleansed every stain. Hallelujah thine the glory, Hallelujah amen, Hallelujah Thine the glory, revive us again.

Revive us again, fill each heart with Thy love. May each soul be rekindled with fire from above. Hallelujah thine the glory, Hallelujah amen, Hallelujah thine the glory, REVIVE US AGAIN!”

In Zephaniah 3:17 God’s Word tells how He rejoices over His children!  “He will rejoice over you with singing.”   Clearly, God loves to hear singing and praising in HIs courts and in our hearts.  When we feel down and out, we only need to hum or sing a favorite hymn to be revived.  Praising the Lord with joyful singing is pleasing to Him and heart mending medicine for His children.  Why not sing a little song or whistle while you work today?  Singing in our hearts and minds is music to His ears only.  Singing out loud, even when we might embarrass those standing beside us, shares the joy, joy, joy deep down in our hearts. When you enter your home tonight, purposefully be singing a little love song and see how your family reacts.  I grew up to mother singing Amazing Grace, Love Lifted Me, and Revive Us Again. Daddy, on the other hand, sang little rhymes that brought laughter and a sweet spirit in our home when one or the other of us needed an attitude adjustment. I can see his humble smile widen as he sang with conviction…”I was going ‘round the curve making ninety miles an hour when the chain on my bicycle broke, or “did you ever see mama make water, she could pee for a mile and a quarter”!  Wishing I could remember all his little tunes, I cherish most the humble, loving, happy spirit in which he sang his songs! 

God sees our hearts as we sing. He watches as we rush through days and nights with little time left for Him…or them (family) when we allow ourselves to become overextended!

Rising Up early to spend time with Him before the world wakes up wonderful.  This morning, I read while listening to Reflections on Daystar.  Tranquility filled my heart as peaceful pictures from God’s creation faded in and out on my television screen.  The following verse from Psalm 119:14 popped up beside a scene of poppies in a field with sunshine glistening through gentle raindrops on the green pasture.  Hopefully, these words will resonate in your soul and become part of your daily routine.  Whether we take time for ‘God and us” early in the morning or late at night is not the critical thing in our relationship with Christ, what matters is we ‘Just do it”!  For me, putting Him first in my mornings makes for a day that’s great-t-t-t!  Being closely connected to Christ keeps us singing when the world is whining and wondering why we are happy!  Being Revived brings us closer to Christ with peaceful hearts ready to meet Him whenever He calls.

“I RISE before dawn and cry for help.  I put my trust in You”!

Now is the time to Rise Up and be Revived…put our trust in God, be ready to meet Jesus, and enjoy the rest of our journeys while writing our stories out loud in LOVE!

How do you spend your time?

How do you spend your time?  Many people annually rank time management as top New Year Resolutions.  Spending time well is wise and works when one learns to prune and prioritize.  What would Jesus do became a popular catchphrase with bracelets and badges worn to show support for Jesus’ wise decision making and encouragement for His sheep to do the same.

How would Jesus spend His time?  While here on earth, Jesus was under the same time constraints as the rest of mankind.  He had twenty-four hour days throughout HIs life that was bordered by life and death - just like we do.  How amazing to think of Jesus living among HIs family, followers, and friends, who probably took HIs presence and (present) for granted…just as we do today.

Do you have a balanced life? Jesus did!  Though we don’t have a replay of his daily schedule, Luke sheds light on our how our Savior spent His time. 

Luke 2:52 says, “Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.”

This verse helps us understand decisions Jesus made around the time HIs parents found Him in the temple, not a place your typical twelve year old would spend time teaching elders about God’s Word and ways.  Jesus spent time caring for HIs mind and body during the years that followed HIs temple experience until the time His public ministry began around the age of thirty.

Growing up and gaining favor with God and men was important for Jesus, as it is for you and me.  Jesus chose to spend time nurturing relationships with His Father in heaven and with people here on earth.  Lessons on time management He taught many years ago are spot on today. Spending time with the Lord and loved ones is a wise and wonderful way to live and stay closely connected.  

If Jesus was growing ‘in favor with God,’ then God approved of how Jesus was spending the time He’d been given.  Does God approve of the way you and I spend our time?  What takes top priority when planning how we will spend our time?    We should think on these things that make life lovely and spend time with our heavenly Father first. Then, a few of our favorite time takers should be caring for our mind, body, and relationships. 

Surely you are thinking of all the other needs that must be accomplished in a day: meals to be made, laundry to be washed, house to be cleaned, church and community activities, jobs with work that can overwhelm, and tons of tasks of making a living and caring for a family that take up a large portion of our time each day.  Many reading this story are carving time from other things you need to be doing. Making a living and trying to do things that fill our agendas can consume time and cripple relationships.

Luke 2:52 reminds us that it takes more than ‘making a living’ to make a life.   In other words, we make choices of how we spend our time that makes a difference in our happiness for life on earth and for eternity!

While reading this story, what thoughts have tendered your heart?  Have you been convicted of how you spend your time?  I have!  Can’t you just see Mary and Martha preparing that meal Jesus and close family and friends would share in their home?  Mary chose to take time from their busy schedule to sit at Jesus’ feet and listen to His stories.  Martha’s frustration kept her from enjoying precious time that could never be recalled. Housecleaning and cooking is essential when company is coming; yet,  being consumed and going overboard with things can cause us to miss spending time with our Lord and loved ones.  A simple meal and fairly clean home with sweet fellowship and time for nurturing relationships is better than a feast and fabulous house where frustration reigns over faith.

 How we spend our time will determine how we spend our lives.  We must learn to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ when scheduling our days.  Taking time to nurture our hearts (relationships with others), our souls (relationships with God), our minds (both wisdom and knowledge), and our strength (our physical bodies), every day will help us lead a more balanced life - a life that will keep growing stronger in favor with God and others.