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First Things First

There is a picture of a tear that has been going around on Facebook that says; “ever have a memory to roll down your cheek?” I recently had one of those moments. For me, it was hearing the song,  Don’t Blink and not some Christmas song that caused this gal’s dam to break.

tear

As I listened to Kenny sing about how life goes by so fast, I reminisced on Christmases past. As I reminisced, I looked about the family room and other rooms of little reminders of not only Christmases past but of those who have had a special influence and place in my life and heart.

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 In the picture there are four items that represent Christmases  past and the meaning for Christmas for me. The first item is the train under the Christmas tree. Growing up it was  a tradition  for Dad to set up the train under the Christmas tree. My brother and I would sit there for hours making up destinations of where the train would be going and we would also add a little cargo to the cargo cars as we played. Though the train only went around in one continuous circle my brother and I reached many destinations in our imaginations.

Christmas Garland

The other item in the picture is an elf. I remember the year Mom and Dad went to Sears and Roebuck to buy new Christmas ornaments. I was probably about six or seven at the time. Mom picked out candy canes, gingerbread houses, gingerbread men and these elves that would decorate our tree. Over the years these ornaments became damaged because of the wear of time and due to the moves they had to make as we moved from one place to another. However, out of those ornaments were two elves. One elf for me and one for my brother. This elf sitting on the ladder is the elf that has now gone with me from place to place. Each year I place it on the ladder going up the tree and each year I remember the Christmases from childhood. Oh, I could go on about the different Christmases and what made them so special but that will have to wait for another day and time.

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Beside the train lays a sweatshirt with a reindeer painted on it. This sweatshirt was a craft that my son, Drew made when he was in pre-school. On it is an old pizza stain that won’t come out but it does not stop me from getting it out year after year and having it on display somewhere in the house. When I reached into the closet to get this special shirt out the words; the secret to life is don’t blink  came to my mind. It seems like it was just yesterday where  Jim and I were out shopping for Drew’s first Christmas. And, this year we are Christmas shopping for  him  and his wife, Megan’s first home. It made me think of all the Christmases we have spent with Drew and I saw how time has really flown by. It is so true of what Kenny says in the song; “it’s important to put first things first” and “you can’t flip over the hour glass.”  A tear rolled down my cheek as I longed to have that little boy back but also another tear rolled down my cheek with pride knowing what kind of man he has grown up to be.

Christmas Garland

Earlier, I mentioned the ladder. Jim’s parents gave us that one year in our early years of marriage. Jim’s mom has had a ladder by her tree through the years  and she thought we needed one, too. Needless to say, I was excited to get it knowing that is was a part of bringing some of Jim’s Christmas past into our home. I don’t have them in the picture but there are snow flakes made by his sweet grandmother that go on our tree as well.

The train not only reminds me of Christmases growing up but it is a reminder that God sent his Son, Jesus and through Him there is a destination. The destination is heaven. By accepting Christ into my life, I have my ticket to heaven.

The elf on the ladder is a reminder that no matter where I go Jesus is there. Just like this elf being with me all these years and going through all the moves I’ve made, Jesus has always been there and will always be there with me. It is up to me to acknowledge His presence and make sure I include him in all that I do and invite him to go with me in all the places I go.

Love God

The sweatshirt reminds me of how time really does fly and the importance of staying in tuned to God in ALL situations everyday.  There are opportunities put before us each day of being a witness for Christ. We are given opened door opportunities to invite people to join us on the journey and yet so many times we don’t embark on them.

The snowflakes are a reminder of family. Though we are related by blood or by marriage,just like each snowflake  we are each different and unique in our own way. Each one has something that they can and have contributed to the family and to the world in order to make things a little bit better for someone else.

ladder to heaven

The ladder reminds me of the story of Jacob. A ladder  aids us in being able to reach something.  Therefore, the ladder represents our connection to  God. The ladder being Jesus whom is the very reason for the Christmas Season.

mary did you know

As I  listen to the song, Don’t Blink  again, I think of the song written by Mark Lowry and composed by Buddy Greene, Mary Did You Know?. Can you imagine what was going through Mary’s mind and what her heart was feeling as she watched her son carry a cross that he would soon die on?  You know she thought about the moments of his coming into the world and  the hours she must have watched him at play. Just like any mother she probably reminisced about his favorite foods and stories they had shared around the table. As a mom myself, I know it had to be a moment in time where she wished she could go back in time but couldn’t. Mary knew first things were first. She knew that though she carried and gave birth to this child of hers that He was God’s Son He was sent so that we may obtain the ultimate ticket to the most wonderful destination.

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The secret to life is don’t blink.” This lyric holds true not only for those moments we have with our family and friends. It also holds true for us in our Christian walk. There are opportunities out there for us every day to be the hands and feet of Christ. Yet, there are moments we sit and look back and realized we blinked. It is when we blinked we missed the opportunity of being a true ambassador for Christ.

Christmas Memories

This Christmas as I look at photos from Christmas past, hear the same old  stories told like they have never been told before  sing the old carols from years past, I will not only be reflecting on my life of memories with family and friends but I will reflect on my Christian walk. It is in the reflection where I will see where I blinked and will be made more aware of the importance of staying in tuned to God in ALL that I do.

This Christmas may you put first things first  and that is keeping Christ first in your life. May you capture all the opportunities put before you to be his witness. May you also capture all those special little moments that soon become memories with your family and friends this season.

Christmas Blessings

Looking Back….I Stand Amazed

Jim and me at Bowdon High School Football Game...October 25, 2013

Jim and me at Bowdon High School ( one of the high schools I attended) re-uniting and visiting old friends.
October 25, 2013

There is a reason I started this post out with the video, I Go Back by Kenny Chesney. It is when I hear this song I go back. I go back to some of the same scenes he mentions in the song. For example, the lyrics,  The smell of fried chicken after church remind me of my family driving from Monroe to Athens every Sunday after church. My grandmother would have fried chicken and all that goes with it ready for us to enjoy Sunday dinner and family time.

This song   takes me down a long road of wonderful memories of people I have met over my lifetime. Each appointment my dad served as a Methodist minister holds their own  special memories and footprints on my heart from dear people. There are also those dear friends from my Reinhardt College days (now Reinhardt University).  Fortunately, with the development of social media I have been able to re-connect with many of these special friendships.

photo album

It is good to look back now and then. Looking back gives us a perspective on life, the blessings that have already been received, the lessons learned, and to help you to see how far we have come. It also gives us perspective on the future. We see where God has brought us and walked with us and it gives us assurance that God is still walking and is with us.

I open my bible, I look back at the Old Testament stories. These stories give a perspective of where our Christian heritage started. These passages are reminders  those who have influenced our heritage as God’s child from thousands of years ago and they show us that God is still with us!  As I scan through the stories in the Old Testament, I see how God was already showing his grace and preparing his people for the Son that was to come.

Young woman reading bible

It is people in the Old Testament receiving redemption and grace that formed the family tree of Jesus. His tree is full of redeemed people. In Joshua, we learn about Rahab who was a prostitute. She lived on the wall of Jericho. Joshua sent spies into Jericho before invading and Rahab hid these spies. She not only hid the spies but she  lied to authorities about them being in her home and Jericho. Rahab had faith that God would protect her and her family if she protected the Israelite spies.

To God Rahab’s profession did not matter to him. It was her faith that matter to him. As we read on, we see that she is a part of the family tree of the lineage of Christ.  She was a person who had received God’s grace. We can read on and see that Rahab was the mother of Boaz. Boaz is known as the kinsmen redeemer for Naomi. He marries Ruth whom is a foreigner. Ruth and Boaz have a son, Obed. Obed is the father of Jesse whom is the father of David. (Matthew 1).

King David

Look back at David. He is known as the man after God’s own heart. Boy! Did he make some mistakes. If his life were put into a reality show, I am sure it would get top billing. He had Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah murdered so that he could have Bathsheba for himself. He committed adultery with Bathsheba before he even had Uriah killed. He disobeyed God and turned a blind eye to the sins of his children. Yet, David is known as being the greatest king of Israel. Fast forward to Matthew 1 and whose name appears in the lineage of Christ, David. God used David in preparing the way for his Son to come to earth to let people know that no matter how much you mess up, God still loves you and he wants your heart.  Again, if you read in between the lines you will see redemption and grace already taking place.

the nativity

In the Old Testament,  God was already showing to grace and redeeming people. He sent his Son to demonstrate that grace that is available to all of us. This morning as I thought about this my heart almost exploded with excitement just like it almost explodes from excitement from seeing an old friend. Going back to a special place and time.

It excited me to be reminded that even before Jesus arrived as a tiny infant in a manger on a cold starry night  God’s grace was already at work. He just decided to  send it down to us in the form of a baby who would grow up to be a man who demonstrated God’s grace. He demonstrated God’s grace by healing the sick, raising the dead, forgiving the tax payer, the prostitute and the list goes on. Then, one day he would be put on the cross to die for my sins so that I would have a place in paradise.

reflecting back

What takes me back? When I hear the old hymn, In My Heart There Rings a Melody I can see Mr. Mac Beggs leading the songs in a small country church known as Redwine United Methodist.  There are songs like Meet Me In The Morning, Jesus Is Coming Soon, and I’ll Fly Away that remind me of  Campton United Methodist Church. I also remember it was in that church parking lot I learned to ride a bike.It is when I see an old country store no longer in business I think of Mr. Baker’s store that was up on the corner from our home. Mom would let me walk up to his store after school to get a coke before doing homework. It is when I hear Kenny Chesney’s song, I Go Back I think of camp meetings under an arbor and beginning high school in Bowdon, Georgia. The place where I stood at many crossroads of growing up.

Sanctuary of Redwine United Methodist Church

Sanctuary of Redwine United Methodist Church

Campton United Methodist Church

Campton United Methodist Church

When I open a coke or eat  a fried pie I think of Ms. Sara who was our neighbor and always had place on the porch for you to sit and visit. It is getting on my bicycle that I think of dear childhood friends, like Beth and Robert Rowland, LuAnn and Jeff Marlow and how we would ride our bikes all over the place. Our parents didn’t worry about us back then. I can order catfish at Cracker Barrel and think of Daddy Bill and his many fish fries.  It is seeing the arbor from Shiloh on Facebook that reminds of the place and time  I accepted Christ into my life.

campmeeting Shiloh

Campmeeting at Shiloh United Methodist Church

Every time I say the Lord’s Prayer I think of the Heritage High School Band .Our band director, Mr. Dent would huddle us together to say the Lord’s Prayer before we took the field to do our show. When I see a barbecue taking place for a fund-raiser, I think of Union Church and the barbeques they had each Fall and Spring. The people that would come and the fellowship that took place as the food was prepared and served.

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Union United Methodist Church
Stockbridge, Georgia

Heritage High School Band Conyers, Georgia

Heritage High School Band
Conyers, Georgia

When I see news from Reinhardt or a posting from a Reinhardt friend, I go back to those college days. I can hear certain anthems played and sung and memories of singing in the Reinhardt choir and our travels. I think of the professors who not only taught me topics but taught me things about life.

Reinahardt University Campus Waleska, Georgia

Reinhardt University Campus
Waleska, Georgia

It is in my looking back I see where God was using every situation to mold me, to teach me, show me his grace and that he was and still is with me.  Yes, there were mistakes made along the way but it is in those mistakes that I learned. I learned lessons that would help me to see life in a better light and to possibly help someone else along the way. All of the experiences I mentioned along with a lot of experiences I didn’t mention are all a part of God’s molding me, allowing me to experience his grace in ALL that I do. Not only does looking back remind me of where God has worked in my life but it helps me to look forward.  God has more plans for me, more people to come into my life and more grace for me to experience and share.

"He is the potter and I am the clay."

“He is the potter and I am the clay.”

Looking back. I walk through the scriptures. I reflect on my life. What do I see? Grace. And, I stand amazed.

Until next time, may you look back and see where God’s grace has been at work in your life. I imagine if you do, you will stand amazed.

Blessings-                                                            

Extravagant Giving

 

The Taj Mahal Built in 17th Century

The Taj Mahal
Built in 17th Century

When you hear the word, extravagant what comes to mind? Maybe it is the latest sports car that is on the front of Car and Driver. Maybe it is that featured house in Southern Living and how it is decorated.  For some of us it may be a vision of that tropical vacation on some remote Island.

all inclusive resort

Extravagant is defined and perceived in many ways. The picture of the Taj Mahal is an example of extravagance at its finest. Shah Jahan ordered it to be built as a dedication to his late wife whose tomb is set within the building. It was said he did this because he loved her so much. It was built in the seventh century and it took twenty-two years to build. As I googled information on the building, it is said to be known as the most perfect building in the world.  This building stands all because of the love one person had for another. In other words, it can be seen and perceived as extravagant giving.

Extravagant giving. What does it really mean? Does it mean we give the biggest and most expensive gift to someone? Does it mean we try to build something big like the Taj Mahal to show our love to someone? My personal answer to these questions is; no. Extravagant giving does not mean giving the biggest and most expensive gift or building something big just to impress or to show our love to someone.

Luke 7:36-50

Luke 7:36-50

When I think of extravagant giving the story in Luke 7:36-50 comes to mind. Jesus is invited to dinner at a Pharisee’s home. Social graces were that Simon should wash the feet of Jesus and anoint Jesus’ head with oil. Yet, Simon had neglected to do this for Jesus as he entered the home. As Jesus enters the home,  a woman enters the home. The scriptures describe her as a sinful woman. “When a woman  who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume, and she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.”  This woman gave an extravagant gift and that was her overflowing love to Jesus for the forgiveness and grace he had shown.

Yes, the alabaster jars were considered to be extravagant in that time. The perfume she used was said to be a very expensive perfume. In a material sense she one would say she gave extravagantly and the Pharisees would agree. Yet, the most extravagant thing in her giving was giving of herself and her gratitude to Christ. She gave out of the abundance of her heart.

If there were time and enough space to type, we could go through the gospels and see other ways people gave extravagant gifts. The little boy with the fish and the loaves, the widow who gave the last cent she had, and the list goes on. No matter the story, the theme is the same. These people knew what it meant to give in extra-ordinary and extravagant ways. They gave from their hearts the very best they had without complaining. They gave out of love.

Christmas preparations

The Christmas Season is rapidly approaching. In a few weeks we will be celebrating Advent. Hanging of the Greens services will be taking place in churches. Preparations in homes will be made to get ready to celebrate Christmas with family and friends.  It is a time of year where we celebrate the extravagant gift we have been given from God. We celebrate his Son, Jesus Christ.

God's gift

For God so loved the world that he gave his ONLY begotten son-so that we may have life eternal” (John 3:16 paraphrased). It is God’s extravagant giving that we have received mercy and grace. It is because of his extravagant giving that life doesn’t end when we leave this world but we continue to live on in our eternal home with our Father.

The Christmas Season is rapidly approaching. Commercials are running promoting the” have to have”  product this year.  People are making their lists for Santa and gathering shopping lists to shop for family and friends. The common statement you will hear this time of year is: “I don’t know what I am going to give_________(you fill in the person’s name) for Christmas.

How about this year you give  not the  “World’s Most Perfect Building.” In other words, it is not about the thing we give that shows our love  but  it is out of the over-flowing of love and gratitude from the grace that we have been given and shown. Maybe there is someone from whom we need to seek  for forgiveness.  Maybe there is someone who needs forgiveness extended to them.

Perhaps God has placed someone in our  life who is longing to belong.  They are searching for answers and we are the ones who can tell them about God’s extravagant gift, his Son, Jesus.

Yes, the Taj Mahal may be considered “The World’s Most Perfect Building”  but there is no gift that is more perfect than the gift of grace that has been extended to us from the cross. May we give extravagantly this Christmas.

love overflowing

Where have you experienced extravagant giving?

Is there a significant person who stands out or has shown you extravagant giving?

What are some things you can do this Christmas Season to demonstrate extravagant giving and the true meaning of Christmas?

As you go through the days ahead, keep your eyes, ears and heart opened to where God leads you to share his extravagant love and grace.

Related articles

Pack Lightly

Jim and I enjoying a football game and seeing old friends at Bowdon High School, Bowdon, Georgia

Jim and I enjoying a football game and seeing old friends at Bowdon High School, Bowdon, Georgia

A couple of weekends ago Jim and I headed to Georgia for a long weekend. This weekend involved in being at several different venues during the course of the weekend. As always I struggled to discern on what clothes I needed to pack and what really didn’t need to go.  Progressing into the weekend, I realized I didn’t need to take as much as I took.

over packing for a trip.

We have all been there. We are planning a trip and we over pack. We over pack because we are afraid we won’t have the right outfit for a dinner, or something could happen and we need that particular item. Thus, we pack everything but the kitchen sink and take it with us.

over packed car

The result in packing everything but the kitchen sink is that the room in the car is limited. Our car has been so packed full at times that I was not able to recline my seat back. When Drew was young and still in a car seat there were trips where there would be just enough space for his seat.  I look back on it and laugh and yet I see it as sad, too.  Sad because we got so caught up in the packing that we didn’t look forward to the trip.

We didn’t look forward to the trip because we were exhausted from packing.  And, we were dreading getting to our destination because we knew we had to unload it all and then pack it all up and take it back home. It makes me tired just thinking about it now.

let go of the world

In this world we are on a journey. On this journey we tend to over pack. We over pack by carrying burdens we do not need to carry. Our over packing involves living with not forgiving someone or even sometimes forgiving ourselves for something. In other words, we stuff our lives with baggage of shame, guilt, and with what the material world says we need to have.

Jesus tells us in Matthew 11:28-30 that God wants us to pack lightly as we journey through life. He says:
Come to me all you are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart,

and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

In other words, we don’t need to carry the burdens, unforgiving hearts, ways of the world and all other things that weigh our hearts down. I love what Rick Warren says in Purpose Driven Life “God created us for his enjoyment”  Do you think he enjoys seeing us continually stuffing things down in our souls and carrying it wherever we go?

worry fear guilt

We stuff these things down in our souls and hearts because of fear. It is just like over packing for a trip, we are fearful that we may need it at some point or we are afraid of what might happen if we leave the item behind.  Then, as we journey in life we are exhausted, we dread what is ahead of us and we miss the blessings that God has planned for us.

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Our journey is before us. May we begin to sort out what is and isn’t important. May we seek forgiveness where forgiveness is needed. Let’s no longer hold on to things with the fear that we can’t be without it. Instead, let’s lay our stuff at the feet of Jesus and begin to enjoy our journey and look forward to our destination.

Our destination is heaven. God says to pack lightly because all he needs us to bring is our hearts to him. There is no need to arrive exhausted and weary.

jeremiah

Until next time, may you enjoy the journey and experience God’s blessings.

enjoy the journey

 

 

Seek God’s Beauty

model of beauty

“Cultivate inner beauty, the gentle, gracious kind that God delights in.”

I Peter:3:3 The Message

As I go about my daily activities around the house, the television plays in the background. Though the television is on, I find myself caught up in my own thoughts. Yet, I hear the words of a testimonial from an infomercial; “his product really changed my life, ” I feel better about who I am.” 

These testimonials echoed in my head and in my heart this morning. I thought about how we have put such emphasis  on outward appearance these days. Infomercials tell us what products we must have in order to look and feel better. Other social media avenues such as Pinterest and Facebook have all the different fashions all put together for us as a blueprint of how we are to look as we head out to run those errands.

fashion

It is my fear that we get so caught up in what society defines as beauty that we have forgotten the true beauty God created. Society telling us what to do, what to use and defining beauty is no different from the Pharisees were with their rigidity of the laws that they had added to God’s commandments in order to be right with God.

relationship with God

The Pharisees missed out on the relationship that God wanted to have with them because they were so wrapped up in the laws. We miss a relationship with God and with others because we get so wrapped up in how we look and assessing others on how they look. Not only do we miss the relationship, we miss the blessings God has planned for us when we are wrapped up in ourselves instead of focusing on him and those around us.

True beauty is a matter of the heart. It is allowing God’s light and Holy Spirit shine through us and sharing that light with others.  As we see others, we need to see them as Christ’s sees them. He sees beyond the outside and sees the heart.

seeking the heart

The words, “his product really changed my life” really hit a nerve for me today. The only one person who can change your life and make it more beautiful is accepting Christ into your heart. It is when you accept Him into your heart, walk in the footsteps of his grace and love, and begin to really seek the heart of others, we experience the beauty God meant for us to experience.

heavens gates

Think about it….when we reach those pearly gates, God  is not going to make sure we are in the latest suggested fashion before letting us into his kingdom. However, he is going to look at our hearts and how we shared His grace and love to others. God is going to see how we lived our love for his son, Jesus out loud.

I challenge you in the days ahead to look beyond the appearance of people you encounter. It is going to be in these experiences you are going to experience the beauty of God and his love and grace.

“Since prayer is at the bottom of all this, what I want mostly is for men to pray-and shaking angry fists at enemies but raising holy hands to God. And I want women to get there with the men in humility before God, not primping before a mirror or chasing the latest fashions but doing something beautiful for God and becoming beautiful doing it.” 1 Timothy 2:8-10 The Message

Seek God’s Beauty. It is all around you.

audrey hepburn beauty

ATTITUDE CHECK!!

AttitudeCheck-large

“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which

being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds, and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”

Ephesians 4: 22-24

How many of you remember going to church camp, conferences, or even worship services and a leader would shout out; “ATTITUDE CHECK!”? The response from the participating group would be; “PRAISE THE LORD!”.  In other words, it was a barometer of how the group was feeling and an encouragement for everyone involved to have a good time, to take part and be in fellowship with God.

attitude

Our attitude affects our every day living. If we look at life or what we are doing with doom and gloom, it is going to be just that….doom and gloom. However, if we wake up every day ready to receive the blessings God has planned for us and with a smile on our face and heart there is nothing in this world that can pull us down.

the-power-of-prayer

In my last blog post; We Need to Bow Down I share how we need to spend time in the presence of God and how we need to kneel before Him.  We have to empty ourselves before God so that He can fill us up again. It is in this moment of holiness with Him that we open our hearts, we tell Him we trust Him and His plan for us, and we make ourselves vulnerable to life’s events whether they may be good or bad.  In other words, it is this time of holiness that puts our attitude into check.

Porch-with-chairs

The theme of Thoughts From The Porch is “Encouraging words for a busy world.” As the technology age began to evolve, we were told that these tools would make life easier. And, most times technology does make life easier and better. After all, it has given people like me a chance to express ourselves, share the gospel to people we may not ever encounter in person, re-connect with friends and loved ones, and to get information easier and faster. Yet, it seems since the technology era has taken off, people are working more hours,  people can’t leave work at work and bring it home because a lot of what they do is by computer and the computer has become more portable via the Smart phone/iPhone.  Thus, this business can  affect our attitude on life and to those around us. In other words, there are times when we need to take time out and have an attitude check

If I were to shout out to you at this moment ” ATTITUDE CHECK!!”, what would your response be? Would you be saying “PRAISE THE LORD” no matter the circumstances you are facing or would your response be; “don’t even ask” ?

change your attitude

Life is busy. Life is stressful. The economy is rough for everyone right now. It seems more and more people are hurting and are sick. Yet, if we change our attitude on these issues, praising the Lord comes so much easier. Instead, let’s look at things this way:

Life is busy    Life is full of blessings at the moment

Life is stressful  Life has given me the opportunity to spend more time in my Father’s presence

The economy is rough for everyone right now     The economy has given me opportunities to count my blessings all the more and to share my blessings with those less fortunate

People are hurting and sick    I have the opportunity to lend a hand to someone, encourage someone to look UP!

You see, life is all about our perspective and our attitude. I love the story Zig Ziglar shares in the video below:

ATTITUDE CHECK!!!

I Call You Friends

cats friendship

“No longer do I call you servants for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from MY Father I have made known to you.  You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask my Father in my name He may give you.  These things I command you, that you love one another.”

crown and heart

Jesus  wanted the disciples to know that they were considered His friends and not His servants. Jesus encouraged the disciples to go and love one another. In other words, go out not just make disciples to go out and make friends. He wanted them to demonstrate the most wonderful love that connects each one of us to one another and that is the love of our Heavenly Father.

dog and bunny friendship

Over the years, I have been blessed with many friendships and acquaintances. Each and every encounter of every person placed in my life has made some sort of mark on my life for the better.  Whether it was for a few days I knew the person, a few minutes while standing in line or for many years, each friend/person that has crossed my path has been a part of God’s molding me into His likeness.

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Since signing up for Facebook a few years ago, there have been friendships that have re-emerged from my past. I am so thankful for those friendships then and for them now. These are the types of friendships where you pick up like you were talking a few minutes ago and carry on but we haven’t seen or heard from the other in years. These friendships of the past are a big part of who I am today. These renewed friendships are now making new marks on my life that are wonderful blessings. There are days when I wish I could reach through my computer and give each one a hug.

imagesCAKNE00E

Along with renewed friendships, I have made new friends even through Facebook and through my blog writing. On Facebook, it the connections of people. Someone I know has put me in touch with someone they know that I have something in common with. In making that connection, I have learned new things and discovered more about who I am. Again, God using friendships in His molding me into His likeness.

bring people together

In my blog writing, I have made friends who have the same interest of writing topics. They are writers who are also passionate about getting the Good News out and in encouraging others. Many times we will comment on each other’s blogs or send a tweet of “hello, how are you this week?”. Then there are times where we will have prayer concerns that we will share with one another and we know that we can count on each other to pray.  In the virtual world, we are friends that can sit down at our computer and have a cup of coffee with each other and catch up on thoughts, insights and sometimes a laugh or two.

cover pictures for april

There are friendships that I have in my small groups within my church and community. These are the ones you see at least once a week to connect, to be accountable and to encourage one another through the daily challenges that the world brings into our world. They are the ones you call up and say; “I need to talk. Can we meet for coffee or lunch?” These are the friends that are close by and within a reach of a hug.

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Believe it or not there are the quick friendships. The friendships that are made while standing in line. The little old lady in front of me in the grocery with a wonderful sense of humor. Being stressed, tired and on a deadline to get things done, I end up behind her and she makes me laugh until I am crying. God knew that I needed a little humor to lighten my load for the remainder of the day.

The friendships of that homeless person I pass on the streets of Chicago that says; “God Bless You” when he has nothing to offer and I haven’t given him a cent. He still offers God’s blessing on me and smiles. The blessing and smile make me realize to appreciate the smallest things in life like a smile and a blessing from a stranger.

people

The friendship of the UPS guy in the lane beside us. It is a summer day and we are driving on vacation with the top down on the convertible. We get stuck in the left lane. Jim and I becoming frustrated in wondering what the hold up is ahead. The UPS guy in the lane beside us yells down at us and tells us what is up and says he will let us over to get away from the hold up.  Again, a smile from God letting us know He is looking out for us. Also, a gentle reminder that there are still good people in this world.

Oh, my list could go on and on of brief encounters and long friendships that have made and who are making me who I am. As I write this very post, I smile because I feel the warmth of each and every encounter in my heart and the blessings each one has brought me. All of these encounters are the wonderful examples of living out the words that Jesus told His disciples; LOVE one another.”

sign about friendship

You may ask if there have been negative encounters in my life. My answer to that is “yes” but even in those negative encounters I learned from them and they also had a part of my molding me into His likeness. God uses every encounter and person in our life to mold us into His likeness. It is these situations  that pushes us  on into that perfection that we will one day receive.

 Friendships are the leaves  that grow out from our family tree. Today, I ask you to ” remember where we met….you are the leaves of my family tree.”  To all those who are reading this post, it is my pleasure to call you, FRIEND.  

Listen to the lyrics of this song….

friendship tree

Good Morning!

it's in the waiting

I received this letter via email several years ago. It is a letter that I keep in my bible. And, it is a letter to be shared with others. Have a wonderful day!

Good Morning,

I am God. Today I will be handling all of your problems. Please remember that I do not need your help. If the devil happens to deliver a situation to you that you cannot handle, DO NOT attempt to resolve it. Kindly put it in the SFDJTD (Something For Jesus To Do) Box. It will be addressed in MY time, not yours. Once the matter is placed into the box, do not hold on to it or attempt to remove it. Holding on or removal will delay the resolution of your problem. If it is a situation that you think you are capable of handling, please consult me in prayer to be sure that it is the proper resolution. Because I do not sleep nor do I slumber, there is no need for you to lose any sleep. Rest my child. If you need me, contact me, I am a prayer away.

Your Father,

God

crown and heart

The Table Is Set

The Table Is Set

For us Southern Belles, not only is getting the tree and fireplace mantle in perfect shape but getting the dinning room table is at the top of list in what absolutely has to be done at Christmas.  For me, candles are essential when setting the table not only at Christmas but year round. Having candles on the table holds meaning for me.

My grandfather on my dad’s side was a retired Army Colonel. When we visited my grandparents’ home, Mom would always make sure we were brushed up on our manners especially before going to the dinner table. Dinner at Papa Hill’s house was an event every night. The good china and silver were used. And, there were always candles on the table that were lit before we came to the table.  No one sat down until Papa Hill took his seat at the head of the dinner table As a teen I would roll my eyes and think; “why can’t we just use the everyday dishes?” I would think this because I knew I would be the one helping after dinner hand  washing all the china and silver and putting it all away.

antique photo album

Over the years in my adulthood, I have reminisced on those dinner affairs and their true meaning. For Papa, dinner with his family was special to him. He cherished having his family around the table for not only a meal but for a visit.  Many a story and tale were shared around the table as we savored the pot roast, mashed potatoes  green beans and apple pie.  Grandmother had so lovingly prepared.  Along with no one sitting until Papa sat, no one got up until they were properly excused by an adult at the table.

memory lane

As I reminisce about dinner with Papa and once I had been properly excused from the table,  I also remember being  in the kitchen with Grandmother up to my elbows in suds helping her wash the china and silver. It was those moments in the kitchen where Grandmother would not say a lot but here and there she would gently and lovingly smile and give you a little wink. She was a quiet lady with little to say but her smiles and winks said it all. You knew all was right in the world.

One evening in May, 2002 I stood by my Grandfather’s bedside just a little before mid night. Jim and I had volunteered to take the night shift of staying up with him at the hospital. From the looks of things, we had a pretty good idea that Jim and I would not be there all night.  Late in the night, Jim sat by Papa’s side checking vitals until Jim noticed Papa’s breaths were getting further  apart.  As these breaths were getting shallow, I came over and took Papa by the hand.  While holding tight to his hand, I looked at him and thanked him for all the cherished memories he had given us around the table that was always beautifully set with linens and candles.  Then, I said “Papa, the table is now set for you. God has the candles lit and He has your place ready for you to take your seat at His banquet table. ” A few seconds later, Papa joined Jesus at the great banquet table.

banquet table in heaven

The table is set. It is Christmas. The candles, fine linens and china are on the table. A meal will be prepared and the candles will be lit where new memories will be made and old stories shared.  As I light the candles, I will not only remember my loving grandparents who showed by example that we are all special but I will also be reminded that Christ is and has always been the center of our family.

How about you? Is your table set? If you haven’t already, add some candles to your table. Let your family know how special they are and remind them that Christ is the center of your home by lighting the candles.  Sit around the table and make memories and share old stories. The teenagers may roll their eyes a little but let them roll. One day, they will be thankful that they have such warm memories.

This post is dedicated in loving memory of  Col. Carl R. Hill, Sr and Virginia Louise Hill

Merry Christmas!

 

Things To Remember


christmas listIt is that time of year again where we have multiple lists that we are checking off. These lists include added items to the usual grocery list, baking list, gift list, party list and the lists go on. You cannot imagine having yet another list. Yet, I am going to give you a list to remember this Christmas Season.

Things To Remember:

Stop.

We all have to just sit down and rest at some point and time.

Take a deep breath.

It is in those deep breaths we can relax and inhale the joy and love of God into our souls.

Look at all that is around you.

Give thanks to God for the daily gifts that surround you.

Remember to keep it simple in the gift giving. 

The most cherished gifts are not the most expensive but the ones where thought and love were put into them.

After all, God’s gift to us happened in a simple place to simple couple but He came with a lot of love.

The Gift

Jesus Christ.

baby jesus

 

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