“Therefore rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted the Lord is good.” 2 Peter 2:1-2
“Everyone is a critic.” ” If you can’t say anything nice then just don’t say anything at all.” These are a couple of sayings we have all heard at some point in our lifetime. The picture above is a picture of The Critic a popular cartoon that came on in 1994 where John Lovitz was the voice for the critic. It was somewhat of a parody of the critics who voiced their opinions of the movies on the big screen. Either they loved the movie or they did not recommend the movie. If John Lovitz’s character didn’t like the movie, he simply said; “it stinks!.”
There are times when constructive criticism is essential. Usually we experience constructive criticism within the workplace, within a group and/or organization we are in and I would hope within our family. Constructive criticism should be positive. In other words, we tell the person what needs to be done different in such a way that we are building them up as we point them in a different direction. It doesn’t steal their joy or ruin their day. I have known a few people who really have a the gift of constructive criticism. They do it in such a way that the person they are talking to don’t even realize that they have been pointed in a new direction as they change direction.
In my next few posts, I am going to be sharing about pirates. No, I am not talking about the pirates like we have read about or have seen Johnny Depp portray in the Pirates of the Caribbean. I will be writing about the pirates that are in our every day lives that steal from us.
The pirate of criticism or should I say negativity is one we all allow into our lives. There are some who allow these pirates into their hearts/lives more than others. We all know someone or maybe we are that person that no matter what there is nothing good to say and they see the negative in every situation. They critique Aunt Betty when she shows up at the family reunion, they critique Ms. Higginbotham about the dish she always brings to the cover dish dinner at church. It can even come to the point that a person will critique how someone just walks into the room. They are angry birds!
It seems in media and all other social media/media means there is negativity. Over time I have heard so much negativity among friends, family and in other areas that I actually had a meltdown. It breaks my heart to hear someone put someone down because they do something different from them. It makes me weary that we cannot accept one another for who they are and seek the goodness in their heart. Just because someone does something different from us does not necessarily mean it is wrong. It just means it is different.
The more I have thought about the negativity that goes on the more I realized that this is us allowing Satan to have his way with us and our hearts. You see, Satan wants us to see the negative. It brings him joy to see us tear someone down instead of building someone up. And, in the midst of the tearing down we are missing the blessing we may receive from the person we are criticizing. We are even missing the opportunity to share God’s wonderful grace. Negativity is the pirate that steals the joy we could be experiencing in that moment.
Yes, there are people that we struggle to get along. However, I feel as though God places those people in our lives to see ourselves a little better. They are placed in our lives to teach us patience and to learn a little more about grace. Though they rub us the wrong way and/or march to a different beat than us, we must remember that they are a Child of God just as we are a Child of God. They deserve to be respected just as we want to be respected.
Growing up in a minister’s home there was the occasion where I would experience a negative person. They seem to have really known how I needed to live better than I did. It was hurtful and hard to deal with at times. However, it was in those moments my mom gave me the best advice she could have ever given me. She told me to always be nice. I have carried this advice throughout my adulthood and have passed it on to my son. By just being nice and praying for the person, I have experienced a new kind of grace, joy and forgiveness. Thus, there is no burden to carry as we have when we allow the negativity get the better of us.
The next time you find yourself about to spit something out negative about someone or something, stop, breath, count to ten and find something positive to say instead. Seek the person’s heart you are with and seek the blessing God has for you in that moment. Life is too short to be critical. When it comes to negativity just think of John Lovitz’s character’s statement…”it stinks!’
“But encourage one another daily as long as it is called ‘Today’ so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” Hebrews 3:13
May we all be a people who builds up for God’s Kingdom.
Take a few minutes to watch the video below
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For Christmas my son and his wife gave me this Train CD. On our way home from seeing family over the holidays, Jim and I popped the CD into the player and began to listen. We heard this song and had to hear it again. It spoke loud and clear to us; “we all have bruises.” In other words, life happens to all of us. We all have battle scars and experiences that have happened on our journey here on earth.
While listening to this song, it made me think of a comment that a couple of friends I have re-united with on Facebook have said/messaged me. The comment is this: “if you only knew what all I have done, what I have not done and/or where I have been, you probably would not want to be my friend.” My reply to the comment is: “it doesn’t matter to me where you’ve been, what you’ve done or not done since I last saw you.” “What matters to me is that our friendship has been reunited and I can still see that love in you heart.”
Some have shared some of the things they have done and experienced. Others have simply said; “you just can’t imagine the road I have traveled.” Yes, some things I heard disappointed me but it didn’t change how I look at the friend.
I know over the years that life has happened. Life has happened to me. Each one of us has gone through changes and many seasons in our lives. It is these experiences that we draw from to understand someone else better, to love others a little more and to know that there is good in everyone. These experiences even give us a few stories to share that enable to us to laugh together, laugh at each other and even at ourselves. Along with these experiences giving us something to laugh about, they give us opportunity to show the changes we have gone through and to maybe help a friend who is struggling on a journey at a certain moment.
Listen to the song, Bruises one more time. Then, the next time when you re-unite with an old friend whether it be at a class reunion, Facebook or some other reunion, be ready to hear the response to “Hey, How You’ve Been?” Be ready to listen with unconditional listening and love because the response may not be what you were expecting to hear.
These bruises make for better conversation. Loses the vibe that separates. It’s good to know you’ve got a friend. That you remember now and then Everybody loses
Listen to the song and remember we all got bruises….
- Outreach program successfully rescues runaway teens (abclocal.go.com)
- Merry Christmas – Jesus’ birth created today! (spiceofyourlife.wordpress.com)
- Diamonds are forever like me and you together :P (misunderstoodmusings.wordpress.com)
In my previous post, I share about the Pearl of a Girl who was added to our family strand almost a year ago. Just as I looked up the meaning of Megan’s name, I continued on and looked up the meaning for Drew. Of course our Drew’s full name is Andrew. Here is what I found; Drew has a Welch origin. The short form of Andrew and it means “wise.”
In raising Drew, I was faced with many challenges that come with raising a boy. Grass stains that magically jumped up on his pants as he would explain why his good pants had stains. Loud noises and sometimes rude noises that I would immediately attempt to put a stop to. And, then there were things Drew would say out of the blue that would make Jim and me realize that he was sometimes wise beyond his years and sometimes actually knew a little more than we did. Yes, challenging!!
Drew was the type of child where Jim and I would have to draw straws to see who was going to do the punishing when Drew did get into mischief. You see, Drew had a way of looking at us and breaking us as we were attempting to correct/lecture him. One of us would have to do the confrontation/punishing while the other was in the other room with their face buried in a pillow laughing while it was all going down in the other room. Drew had and still does have a quick wit and tongue.
Yet, Drew has always been a child that Jim and I have great admiration for. He is always calculating, analyzing and researching before he makes any decision. For example, Drew did not actually start walking on his own until he was about twelve months old. However, we knew he could walk at six months. The reason we knew he could is because you could give him the thinnest of thread to hold on to and he would walk. Yet, he had to have it perfected in his mind before he would reveal that he actually knew how to walk.
We have watched Drew make life decisions in the same way. He would bounce a thought our way to see what input we would have but then would not pursue the issue as far as we knew. Yet, all the while Drew was gathering facts, and information to make the best decision. He did this as he prepared to start his career life in Chicago, as he moved to Atlanta last year and as he made he most current move to the DeMoss Group.
Jim and I have a lot of respect for our son, Drew. He reminds us so much of Jim’s dad. Jim, Sr is the type of man where people seek his advice and value his opinion. He is a man of wisdom. They are both kind of like the old commercial that was on years ago; “When EF Hutton speaks, everyone listens.”
Jim and I are proud of all of the decisions that Drew has made through the years. Yet, the decision to marry Megan has to be one of our proudest out of all of his accomplishments. It was only after a few visits with Megan that we knew that Drew was calculating something far more than a friendship. He was looking ahead at a life-time friendship, relationship and partner to walk with him the rest of his life.
Just as I looked up scripture that went with Megan’s name, I did the same for Drew. “Have I not command you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
Jim and I know that in ALL the decisions Drew has been faced with that he has faced each one with confidence and great courage. He is a man who walks with God each and every day. It is because Drew has exemplified these characteristics over time that we know without a doubt that he will always watch and do what is best for his family. Most importantly, Drew will do everything it takes to take care of his “Pearl of a Girl”, Megan. Yes, Jim and I consider Drew a very ‘wise guy.’
In our home, you will find many bibles of many translations. Some people may question the number of bibles that are in my possession. However, I learn something new of God’s teachings, and gain different perspectives of God’s message to me through the various translations. One of my favorite study bibles that is marked, highlighted and showing some wear is the NKJ Women’s Study Bible. In this particular bible are devotionals, quotes of wisdom, historical information and insights of how the scriptures apply to me in today’s world.
This morning as I was reading my study bible. I was reading in the Psalms. In this reading, I came across a devotional reminding me of how God’s word is such a precious treasure. At the end of this devotional was this hymn that was written by John Burton ( 1773-1822). After reading through this poem, I felt lead to share it with my readers.
When reading this poem, be reminded that the Word of God is the light to our daily path. It is not only light for our every day path but it is a reminder that the Bible is a place where we will find comfort, wisdom, healing, and learn the true meaning of unconditional love. The poem also reminds us of our beautiful heritage and that we are all children of God.
After you read this poem, I encourage you to begin reading a Psalm and a Proverb each day. You may want to begin a journal where you read scripture and write what God is saying to you. Trust me, it is a wonderful way to begin your day and to draw closer to your Creator and His Son, Jesus Christ.
Holy Bible, book divine
Precious treasure, thou art mine;
Mine to tell me whence I came;
Mine to teach me what I am.
Mine to chide me when I rove;
Mine to show a Savior’s love;
Mine thou art to guide and guard;
Mine to punish or reward.
Mine to comfort in distress.
Suff’ring i n this wilderness;
Mine to show by living faith,
Man can triumph over death.
Mine to tell of joys to come,
And the rebel sinner’s doom;
Oh thou Holy Book divine,
Precious treasure, thou art mine.
The bible. May you not only read its words but will engrave and treasure the words of God in this precious book on your heart. I challenge you to share this precious jewel of words with those you encounter on your faith journey.
This song is taken from a Hawkins’ favorite move, “The Fighting Temptations.” In the movie, Cuba Gooding, Jr.’s character, ( Darrin) is a person who returns home at the request of his aunt who has just passed away. Before arriving to his South Georgia hometown, he has lost his job in advertising for passing himself off as someone he wasn’t. This seems to be the theme throughout the movie.
Darrin is asked to direct the church choir at his aunt’s final request. Needless to say, there is not much of a choir to work with and he is left at grabbing at anything to get a choir ready for a choir competition that will soon take place. Throughout the movie, you see Derek continuing to pass himself off as someone other than himself but as he does, the real person hidden deep within gradually comes to surface. Not only does the real person within come to surface but you see the cast of characters that eventually come together and make up a choir.
The choir is made up of people who have made mistakes, who are considered outcasts of society,and some with low self-esteem. As the movie unfolds, you see this group of unlikely people bond together and lift their voices in praise. The words to the video above sum up the plot of this story quite well, “I may not be good enough but He still loves me.” In their singing and coming together, they all begin to realize that their past does not matter and where they come from does not matter. But, what does matter is that God loves them when others have doubted and lost faith in them.
We are all sinners. If God treated us like we should be treated for what we are doing or have done, we would be in a lot of trouble. As Christians, we have been forgiven. As we walk through the days ahead, let’s keep that thought close to our hearts and show the undeserving God’s wonderful grace and love.
Blessings If you have not seen the movie, “The Fighting Temptations”, I encourage you to view it and see how it teaches us all how to be real. Meet People Where They Are Today You Will…. via Jonathon Pearson
My Dearest Jim,
Last year we celebrated our twenty-five years together. Now, we are here again celebrating another year of wedded bliss. This past year has been a year of weathering storms. Together we have celebrated new mile markers in our lives. It has been a year of really seeing love in action. A year where we have had really had to work together.
In January, my dad announced his retirement. A mile marker in anyone’s life. Yet, with this bit of news, we knew that a celebration of Dad’s years in ministry needed to take place. It was with the help of friends and members of Dad’s church that made this celebration possible. Yet, there were things to be done on this end which was a difficult tasks being four hundred miles from the venue. But, you held my hand and asked “what can I do?” You helped scan pictures, helped me with fielding phone calls and countless emails. You even stepped up and wrote the poem The Master’s Walking Stick to make Dad’s celebration and tribute of forty-seven years of ministry a little more special.
Spring arrives along with the Spring storms. We spent many nights in our master closet waiting to hear the all clear as tornado warnings would be issued for our area. One evening, we realized that we had spent too much time in the closet when we would open our back door for our black lab, Tori to come in with us. Neither one of us had to tell her what to do because she would instantly go take her place in the closet! There were mornings when storm warnings were posted. You were at work and I was at home. You would call and make sure I was okay and assured me that you were okay.
As summer approached, we receive news that Drew’s best friend who was more like a brother and son to our family had drowned. You came home and we held each other as we grieved for the loss of Josh, for his family and for Drew. We took a deep breath, said a prayer, and held each other as we called Drew to give him the news. Then, as we stood at Josh’s graveside, we held tight again as we watched Drew place his carnation on his buddy’s casket and say one more good-bye.
The days of the year and summer clicked on as we received more bad news regarding family members and their health situations. My Dad’s brother/ my uncle, Dan passed unexpectedly. Again, you asked what could you do and held me tight. You took time from work to drive me to Arlington to attend the services and to be with family.
Among all these happenings, there was a wedding being planned. Not only were there details to work out for a rehearsal dinner, but a dress for me to be found as well as working out other details for a wedding that would take place out-of-town. Again, you stepped up and asked, “how can I help?” You took time off to go look at the venue for the rehearsal dinner, you helped with phone calls, setting up and countless other things to get ready for our son’s special day.
As we watched Megan and Drew, say their vows, I reminisced our special day when we said our vows. I reflected on you watching me come down the aisle as Drew watched his bride walk down the aisle on her daddy’s arm. On November 23, 1985, Drew was only gleam in our eyes. Now, he was marrying the girl of his dreams and beginning a new life of his own.
One of our favorite songs is Clint Black’s Something We Do. There is a lyric in the song that tells how love means working together and helping each other. “Love is something we do” is also the main lyric in this special song.
Jim, you have demonstrated love as an action verb ever since the day we met. While working at Lake Junaluska, I got sick and you got me to a doctor. Over the two years of long distance dating, you would drive down to see me at school after a long week of medical classes and/or clinicals. Once we were married and Drew was in school, you encouraged me to go back and finish my degree. Along with encouraging me to finish my degree, you helped me with Drew . There were papers to write. I would write and you would type (no computers then). You did all these things with love and without complaint.
Today, you continue to show love as an action verb. When life happens, you ask; “how can I help?” You take time off from work to sit with me at countless doctors appointments. When I am behind on things around the house, you gladly pitch in and help me get caught up. We may be watching television and you will offer to go pour me a coke or scoop a dish of ice cream. Love is something that you do on a daily basis.
This year, we have had a lot of tears. Tears of joy and tears of sadness. But, I would not have how this year has gone any other way. It is through the celebrations of life and the letting go in life that makes us stronger as a couple and as individuals.
Yes, ‘I remember the day we wed. It began with a simple vow.’ The simple vow we said has brought us through a lot and I know it will get us through more celebrations, tears of joy and tears of sadness in our journey ahead. ‘Love is strong’ and our love is strong and it keeps getting stronger.
‘We give ourselves; we give our all; it’s something that we do.”
Happy Anniversary! I am looking forward to sharing the next 26+ years with you.
I love you,
“And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” I Corinthians 13:13
For those of us who grew up in the 1970’s, we remember Donny Osmond being the heart-throb for most teenage girls. Puppy Love was one of his hits that made all the girls melt. For many girls, I am sure that it was puppy love they felt when they saw Donny on television, in concert or heard him on radio. (By the way, yours truly is still a Donny Osmond fan)
When we think of the term puppy love, we think of young teens having a crush on someone, a young but immature love. It is also defined as a blind affection and as a strong positive emotion of regard and affection. Somewhere in life, I am sure most if not all of us have experienced puppy love.
Over the years, I have gained a different perspective of puppy love. Jim and I have had the honor of owning dogs of our own growing up. Then, when our son was six, we adopted a rescue dog, Abby who was a black lab and gave us thirteen years of unconditional love and affection. One week after her passing, we adopted Tori who is another black lab that has brought love and laughter to our home. Then, our latest addition to the family is Smokey. All three of these dogs have taught our family a new definition of puppy love. Their puppy love has been far from being a simple crush or even immature. But, they have all shown us a mature love of deep affection that sometimes is humbling for Jim and me.
If you have ever owned a pet (especially a dog), you will know that they are the most loving, most forgiving and display a true example of God’s grace. When God created this species, God knew man needed a companion and someone who would exemplify what His love is for us. No matter what we do or not do, God is there always loving us. When we mess up, He forgives us and shows His wonderful grace.
These days, as I go from room to room, there is Smokey following me and watching me as I go about my business. Again, another example of God’s love for us. No matter where we go and no matter what we do, God is there walking with us every step of the way. He is watching us as we go about our daily business.
Just like how our Abby use to look at us with great love, just as Smokey and Tori now look at us with great love, God is looking at us with His GREAT love. May we love unconditionally, be always forgiving and extend the grace of God to others.
“And this commandment we have from Him; that he who loves God must love his brother also.” 1John 4:21
While out running errands, Jim calls me up only to tell me he has locked his keys in his truck. He wanted me to come to the rescue with the spare key that was supposedly on my key ring. Then, as the conversation progressed, it was brought to our realization that the spare key was the key locked in the truck! I had given Jim my copy of the truck key when his key broke one evening. Needless to say, a locksmith had to be called to get Jim back into his truck.
Ironically this incident happened the day before we begin lent which will lead us into celebrating our risen Saviour. In the beginning when God created the world, he created paradise where he allowed Adam and Eve to live. But, Adam and Eve had boundaries which, in the end, were tempted by the serpent. They crossed those boundaries given by God. We know how the story ends with Adam and Eve. They were kicked out of Paradise and Paradise was locked and sealed from man. In other words, mankind was locked out of the kingdom.
Then, God sent the ultimate locksmith. He sent His only son Jesus Christ to teach mankind about love, grace, forgiveness, and having a non judgemental heart. Though there were those who accepted Christ teachings and followed Him, there were also those who were very much against Christ and His teachings. He became so hated that the crowds voted to crucify Him.
On the day of Christ’s crucifixion, one of the thieves that hung beside Christ said these words to Him: Lord remember me when You come into Your kingdom. Jesus responded by saying: Assuredly, I say to you today you will be with me in Paradise. ( Luke 23:42-43) You see, there were men who mocked Jesus, who thought He was a fraud, and thought they had put His teaching to an end by crucifying Him. Yet, what they did was to fulfill prophecy and gave man a second chance with God. On Calvary, Jesus went and unlocked Paradise so that it is now open to all who accept Him as their Saviour. He is our locksmith. We are all familiar with Matthew 14:6 where Christ tells how to find our way to the kingdom of God. He says: I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
When we accept our Jesus as our Lord and Saviour, the door to Paradise is open to us. Yet, as Christians we also hold a precious key to paradise. The key we hold is the key of witnessing to others about Jesus Christ. All of us will have or have had encountered someone in our lives who are locked out and don’t know about the ultimate key to the Kingdom. As an ambassador of Christ, we are to love unconditionally, show grace each and every day and demonstrate the same forgiveness that Christ demonstrated while He walked this earth. We as Christians are the spare key that are used to come to the rescue of those who are frustrated with life and possibly locked out.
With each passing day, it is so important for us to stay tuned-in to others around us. When we hear that cry for help, we need to go to the rescue as a spare key and tell them about the ultimate key. In the days ahead, offer Christ. No one wants to be locked out.
” Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres.” (1Corinthians 13:4-7)
My last couple of posts have been focused on 1 Corithians 13:4-7 and what it means to display the example of God’s wonderful love and to live our lives in His likeness. In this post we will look at the remainder of this chapter of how love is not self seeking, rude, does not anger and keeps no records of wrongs. Furthermore, the remainder of this passage reminds us to trust God and to pursue our journey with Him.
In my post Does Self Get In The Way of Your Christian Walk?, I share a personal testimony of how I allowed self get in the way of my Christian walk. When I allowed self to get in the way, all it did was cause guilt, shame and put me on my knees seeking forgiveness. Instead of allowing self being in the way of our Christian walk, no matter the situation we are in, we need to stop, take a breath, think and pray before we act or speak. It is important to keep our eye focused on God on our journey here on earth.
Along with love not being self-seeking and rude, we are told love is not easily angered. Yes, there have been people who have angered me, hurt me, and all I wanted to do was to lash back. I will also confess that I have acted out in anger in my lifetime and have since sought forgiveness for those moments.
What does anger do to us? Anger can make us physically sick, make us an emotional wreck, and it takes our eyes off of Christ and His grace. Allowing ourselves to be angry, is allowing Satan to have a hold on our hearts. When Satan has this hold on us, we are disabling God to help us in the situation and we are allowing Satan to steal the joy and blessings that God has planned for us. Over time, though a hard lesson it has been, I have learned to let go and let God! Once, I began to put the situation or person into God’s hands, my stomach quit hurting, there was peace in my heart and I was able to forgive and ask for forgiveness. As a result, I would pray for the person or situation that made me angry asking God for a softening of hearts for all parties involved. In my prayers, I would also ask God to forgive me for being angered and allow me to see others as Christ sees them. To this day, being not easily angered still is and always will be a challenge for me. You see, I am human but, as a Christian, I know what to do about that anger and I have a choice to allow the anger be a burden or to let go and let God.
Love does not keep a record of wrongs. There have been many times I have heard the statement; “I will forgive but I won’t forget.” What good does it do to keep a record of wrongs? Again, we are allowing Satan to have the upper hand in keeping our minds busy with past wrongs. Hey, people can change and have changed for the better. But, if we keep a record of their wrongs, how are we being the Christian example of grace and forgiveness. Instead, we need to look beyond the past and look to the present. We also need to seek the good in ALL people. Remember that the person who has made us angry and/or has done wrong is also a Child of God and is His workmanship.
Last but not least, love always protects, trusts, hopes,always perseveres. No matter the challenge that is before us on our Christian journey, we must remember that God’s love protects us and our trust should be in Him. It is through the love of Jesus Christ that gives each one of us hope no matter our circumstances. As I have shared before and will many times more, God has a plan and it is a good plan. Sometimes, we may question His plan and wonder why we are being put to the test. But it is all a part of our Potter molding us into his likeness. Thus, it is important for us to persevere in our journey, demonstrating His love and grace.
There is no greater love than the love that was demonstrated on the cross over two thousand years ago. Think about all the pain and suffering our Saviour endured while on earth and on that cross. When you think about Christ’s suffering, our challenges don’t seem to be so bad.
Each post, I try to issue you a challenge. It is a challenge for me as well. This week I have several challenges that I would like to put before you as you carry 1 Corithians 13:4-7 in your heart:
1. Pray daily for patience in the areas where you need patience.
2. Don’t envy what another person is doing nor envy what he/she has. May you be content with what God has blessed you with. Count your blessings! You may want to start a blessing journal. You realize you will want less when you see all that God has given you.
3. Remember to put God first in all situations. What would Jesus do?
4. Someone or something has made you angry. Let go and let God! Put the situation and/or person into God’s hands. Allow His love and grace to intervene and remember to be patient because God has his plan and he works it out in his time NOT our time.
5. Each day put your trust, and hope into the Lord. Then, persevere in the walk before you demonstrate God’s grace and wonderful love.