Saturday, March 17, 2018

St. Patrick Knew Who He Belonged To

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! I know, like other religious holidays, this is another "' beered down" day when we get distracted from the true meaning of this day, but, just in case you may not know, I want to honor St. Patrick by sharing who this man was.

He was born around AD 389 in England. At 16, he was kidnapped and sold as a slave in Ireland. Six years later he escaped and returned home to Britain, but became burdened for the spiritual condition of the Irish. He eventually returned to their land as a missionary for 40 years and established more than 200 churches and led more than 100,000 to faith in Christ. It is told that he used the shamrock to talk about the Trinity. His death on March 17, 461 is remembered each year as St. Patrick's Day. "What the enemy meant for evil, God turned for good". (Genesis 50:20)

St. Patrick REALLY knew God -- and that He belonged to God. This is part of his Breastplate Prayer. Read how utterly consumed he was with his relationship with God in his prayer.

"I arise today through God's strength to pilot me, God's might to uphold me,
God's wisdom to guide me, God's eye to look before me,
God's ear to hear me, God's word to speak for me, God's hand to guard me.
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise.
Christ in the heart of everyone one who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of every one who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me, Christ in every ear that hears me.
I arise today through His mighty strength."

No doubt, St. Patrick knew God’s plan and purpose for his life. Today, you may be facing a storm of monumental proportions. Your world may be turned upside down. Maybe a dream you worked so hard to fulfill, flopped. Or your once rock-solid marriage has started crumbling. Or the cancer came back. Or something you were positive God put on your heart to do didn’t quite turn out the way you expected. I’ve learned that in these times of disappointment, failure or loss we need to be grounded in our identity in Jesus Christ. Look at St. Patrick’s prayer again. He was consumed in God. Sometimes we cave into the pressures of life, and we allow the things of this world to define us — like what we look like, what kind of car is parked in our garage, what title we hold at the office, how much money is in our bank account, our marriage, how well our kids are doing, how many followers or likes we have on social media.

But as Jesus followers, none of those things define us. Looks fade. Financial situations change. Jobs come and go, friends and followers, too. So who are we? Maybe the better question is, Whose are we? We are children of God. And because we belong to Him, we can endure even the toughest of times. Psalm 16:8 “I have set the LORD continually before me; Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.”

When life throws us curve balls and surprises us, it’s easy to doubt ourselves, God’s plan, even God Himself. But when we’re hurt, disappointed or frustrated by the plans-gone-awry, crushed dreams and painful losses, we can still hold on to God’s truth. Like St. Patrick, we can set the Lord continually before, in front, behind, beside, inside, underneath, when we arise, lie down or sit down. We can choose over and over to trust God and believe He’s still got a plan for our lives, even when we don’t have a clue what that is. We may feel shaken by emotions and circumstances, but we’ll always have Someone to hold on to. Someone who will never ever let us go. When we know Whose we are, it changes everything ABOUT everything.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Are You Being a “CAPTIVE” Audience?

CAPTIVE -- a person or animal who has been taken prisoner or confined; detained, in captivity, imprisoned, locked up.

Ever have one of those days, weeks or months, when everything you do seems to be inadequate, at least in your own eyes? Your parenting skills, being a loving and kind spouse, your efficiency at work, being a great friend. You’ve endeavored to be the best you can be, and it just doesn’t seem to measure up. “A good parent would have known their child was sick or on drugs or was missing school.” “A great spouse wouldn’t be so insensitive and unsupportive.” “An efficient employee wouldn’t be making so many mistakes.”

I hear those voices, too. “A great friend would stay in better touch.” “You talk too much.” “You’re too old to do that.” I’m here today to tell you AND me “Don’t listen to the lies of the enemy of our souls because he wants to take us CAPTIVE to those voices!” 2 Corinthians 10:5 says “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that is exalted against the knowledge of God, and bringing every thought into CAPTIVITY to the obedience of Christ.”

YOU ARE a good parent. You ARE a great wife or husband. You are a wonderful friend and daughter or son. You are an outstanding employee. The enemy of our souls wants us to believe otherwise. Sure, maybe there are areas that we could do better and we can always strive to be the best version of ourselves for others, but don’t, for minute, listen to the lies of the enemy. He has one goal in mind, and that’s to take us, and our thoughts – CAPTIVE – always wanting us to think less of ourselves than God does.

The accuser lies to us all the time. God is always for us and reminds us that even when we feel spent and insignificant and too little and we’ve let the enemy take our hearts CAPTIVE, God will not have it. Through it all – the ups and the downs, the mistakes we make and the worries we carry – our messes are not too much for Him. “My grace is sufficient for you: for my strength is made perfect in weakness (our messes).” 2 Corinthians 12:9

Maybe you can relate to what I’m sharing today. Are you wrapped in a bunch of lies about your inadequacies that weigh you down and wear you out? Please allow me to encourage you with this thought. Jesus doesn’t sit across the table from you or me saying “Your situation is beyond My pay grade.” In fact, I’m quite sure He leans in close, looks into our eyes, and says, “I will not ever leave you or forsake you and you will NOT be held CAPTIVE any longer.”

Jesus is our patient friend. Sometimes He speaks boldly through others and other times, He speaks directly to us with truth from His Word. Either way, when we’re tempted to believe one lie, or maybe three, we charge back with God’s truth instead.

God bailed us out of Satan’s prison. We are no longer CAPTIVE. Let’s take Satan CAPTIVE and imprison every one of his thoughts, emotions, and lies to listen to God’s voice and His truths. When we do, those negative voices don’t stand a chance!

Thursday, March 15, 2018

My Comforter is One of my Favorite Things

My Comforter is One of my Favorite Things
My word of the day is COMFORTER: a thick bed covering that is filled with a soft light material; also someone who helps you to feel less worried, upset, frightened; someone who comforts you.

I do a lot of traveling and that means sleeping in beds that don’t compare to MY bed at home. When I get home to my bed and my sheets, my five pillows 😴 and my COMFORTER, I sleep with COMFORT. My sleeping “paraphernalia” includes a sheet under my blanket/comforter and a sheet over it. I started that when we stayed in hotels that their sheets were on that way, which meant that the blanket or comforter that is rarely washed, is never against our body or face. That “cleanliness” sleeping way became an almost must-have for me.

Bottom line, I’m more energetic and more alert when I’ve had a good night’s sleep. Our beds are where we begin and end the day, and where we spend nearly a third of our life. So why not make it the cleanest and most comfortable spot in our home?

Speaking of COMFORT and COMFORTER, there’s nothing like the comfort a mother can provide to a hurting or frightened child. Her love moves into action, not with explanations or reasoning, but with everything in her power to quiet, to COMFORT, and to reassure. Her arms embracing that sweet one, speak louder than any words the child could hear in that moment of fear or pain. Her voice is soothing and quieting, “Shhh, it’s okay…Mommy’s here. It’s okay.” Those gentle words bring the assurance that helps the child to believe, “It is okay because Mommy is here, and I am in her arms.”

We are God's children and He desires to be that COMFORTER and encourager to us. He is HERE -- right now! Jesus spoke these words to His disciples, "I tell you the truth, it is better for you that I go away. For if I do not go away, the COMFORTER will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you." John 16:7. The COMFORTER is the precious Holy Spirit who lives in us as believers to provide that comfort that calms the storms in our lives.

The words in Psalm 46:10 are like the words of comfort from a caring mother to her fearful child: "Be still, and know that I am God". The language is simple and the words are few but they are words that tell us all we need to know to settle us, still our fears, quiet our hearts, and reassure us when we hear, “Shhh. Be still, calm down, release all your concerns, quiet your heart, it’s okay, I am here and you are safe in the shelter of My arms.”

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

A Good Sense of Humor and a Merry Heart -- Good Like Medicine

Sense of Humor: funny side, amusement, hilarity, good humor, merry, funniness, lighthearted, spirited. A good sense of humor just happens in everyday conversations. It doesn't mean memorizing jokes and jamming them into conversations. A good sense of humor can turn messes and unfortunate circumstances into a great relief from the stress of it all. A good sense of humor can shine a light on the darkness of a moment.

My sis, Karen, and I have always had a good sense of humor. We could make the simplest mistake turn into tear-dropping, floor stomping, run-to-the-restroom-quick laughter! And that came in handy when we went into the Estate Sales business years ago just after my husband and I purchased land with its old home, barn, chicken coop, and farm equipment, along with most of the contents in the house. This experience amped up our sense of humor. Our merry hearts led the way for getting into the yucky crooks and crannies of that old house when we were cleaning it. Dead AND alive rats. spiders and their webs, cockroaches, etc., BUT, we also found many vintage treasures. There were relics and vintage finds that we didn't even know what they were or used for. Our set-up of that sale was so professional and our merry-hearts' attitudes with the folks that came to the sale, caused them to want us to do an estate sale for them. That spurred us on and, whoa la -- A-1 Estate Sales began. Merry hearts and a good sense of humor opened the door for us to have a thriving, successful business of which people would tell us “You’re the BEST!” The estate sale business is a work-out, but if you have a merry heart, a good sense of humor, love people and want to help them in times of transition and need, it's a great business AND mission field.

We witnessed the “junk” of many become the “treasures” for others. We’re now working on ONE LAST SALE (we think). Precious Mom, at age 95, was moved to Karen and George’s a couple of months ago. Mom has been a trooper – giving away so many of her things to friends and families, but, oh my goodness, there is still so much to be sold. We have laughed at HUMOROUS memories from some of those items, and cried bucketfuls of precious family times in this home.

Karen and I are “eating this elephant one bite at a time”. That’s what we said at each “sale” we took on. Initially, it would be overwhelming – but we’d LAUGH our way through it and before long, another successful sale and satisfied clients.

My post today was inspired by last week’s HUMOR that kept us going. Karen came into Mom's house while I was working in a back room and surprised me with a loud GOOD MORNING! I nearly jumped out of my skin. She jumped and started blinking and said, “Oh, NO! I’ve lost my contact!” We got on our hands and knees, looking AND praying for about 20 minutes, when she started belly-laughing out loud, and said, “Oh my goodness! I never put my contacts in this morning!" Then there was the Montgomery Ward "vintage" heat massager we found (shown here). We laughed hysterically as we thought we needed to put a sign on it -- "Use at your own risk"!

One morning, Karen came into the house, with something tucked under her arm. She said, “I dreamed that Sheila (my BFF) was here at the house shopping and you went to her and said, ‘Sheila, I know you want to buy me something from this sale, don’t you?’ To which Sheila said, “Uh, sure I do. What would you like?” And I said, “This frog!” That’s the frog pictured here that Karen had remembered in the garage and brought it to me. Of course that brought on our belly-laughter that ensued for several minutes. Oh, yes, that frog will stay with me -- for a memory -- and MAYBE it represents a prince coming my way!

Karen went with us to almost every doctor appointment for my husband. She would provide that shoulder to cry AND laugh on during some of our darkest times. We still laugh about so many hilarious experiences we had at the treatment center and hospitals. Those are the GOOD things we love to think about. Why was “sense of humor” my word for today? Because I want to give you a treasure – like the treasures we found in many of our estate sales. What treasures could be found in your junk and funk? Maybe you're so loaded down with care and concern that your "presence" dims the lights in the room and your soul is downcast. King David said, “Why be downcast oh my soul? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” Psalm 43:5

It's time to amp up the "SENSE OF HUMOR" light that's been hidden far too long. God is ready to shine through us and turn us into a beautiful lights that He can use as a precious vessel of encouragement, peace and joy to bless others. Your SENSE of HUMOR, your joy-filled face and spirit -- just might be the what they need today. .Go ahead and let the laughter roll After all, it's very good medicine for the soul! "A merry heart does good like a medicine."Proverbs 17:22."

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Is the Coming of Spring Bringing Spring to Your Steps?

Just 7 days until it's officially Spring (March 20th). The pink tulips, the bright yellow jonquils and the bright yellow forsythia are out. The red bud trees are red budding. The creeping phlox are creeping out. And, Sunday, I came out -- outside, that is. I've been hibernating for most of this winter. What happened to Texas heat, anyway?

My walking/jogging routine came to a halt when I injured my ankle and it's been so cold outside and I've been so busy and I've been traveling here, there and everywhere. Excuses. Excuses. Excuses. I was speaking all of that to myself when I took to the streets and sidewalks on Sunday. That's when I saw the new life in the plants, trees and flowers (photos here). I realized it's time to get Spring into my steps!

My word of the day is obviously, SPRING: to move or jump suddenly or rapidly upward or forward; leap; arise, evolve, AND the season between winter and summer.

I was a greeter and held the door open at church on Sunday in spite of the 30 mph winds. I'd use cliches like "Look what the wind blew in!" "So glad you didn't blow away!" "We've got that 'wind-blown-look today, don't we?" Then a jolly fellow that had a bounce to his steps, beat me to the punch and said, "Could you turn down the wind, please?"

Did you ever hear that phrase -- a SPRING in your steps? It means we're walking with a bit of a bounce in our steps, implying that we're in a good mood or something good has just happened to us. Ever been weighed down with a heavy situation, and suddenly good news came, and you felt light as a feather? You were pressed down and weighed down, then suddenly you had SPRING IN YOUR STEPS!

This time of year helps with adding Spring to our steps and we get a fresh new perspective on life. Spring marks a new beginning. I love that it brings Easter -- the celebration that Christ lives. All of nature is renewed and it reminds me all the more of God's great love for us. Everything starts to come alive. Our world gets filled with color. Isn't all that reason enough to have SPRING in our steps?

Spring in our steps brings a breath of fresh air to those we meet and come in contact with. We have the reasons for joy and life and it should exude from us. We should be like a ray of sunshine because we have good news of a great and mighty God to share. We have some wonderful things in our lives that make us different and because of it, we should have that extra bounce to our walk. Like the birds that come singing in the Spring, we should be singing songs of praise and thanksgiving with a "Spring in our Step" everyday! With each step, we should have a smile on our face and love in our hearts! After all, WE KNOW the CREATOR of Springtime. He is our Maker and He made us with "built-in" springs that can cause us to always rebound with God’s peace, joy and love each and every day!

Monday, March 12, 2018

It’s a “Come as you are Party”! WARNING: This is longer than usual, but it holds the keys to an EVERLASTING PARTY.

Back in “my day”, there were a lot of those “Come as You Are” parties. Here’s what that meant: You’d get a phone call from a friend and whatever you were wearing at that moment, was what you had to wear to the party. Folks would show up in their jammies and slippers or jogging suits or draw-string sweat pants, work-out clothes, paint-spattered overalls or gardening grubbies. The honor system was honored, and people, blushingly, wore what they were caught in.

Those were way before today when ragged jeans and t-shirts are acceptable almost everywhere. Back in my day “Sunday best” was the only acceptable attire for most occasions. I remember my mom making sure I wore gloves (and often a Jackie Kennedy pillbox hat) to church. BTW – you should see how many pairs of dress gloves we are selling at Mom’s Estate sale. Whew!) It was a point of etiquette and as standard for that attire back then as jeans and a t-shirt are today.

But, one of these days…..we will have a “Come as You Are” moment when our race on this earth is done and it will take our final breath. With our world in such disarray because of the enemy’s tactics to create chaos, hatred, confusion, bitterness and death, we need to be dressed in our best (spiritually speaking), to be ready to go at any moment, as sudden as a phone call or as quick as the flash of a camera.

Billy Graham did his best to get his audiences ready to meet God. Twelve years ago today, March 12, 2006, Billy spoke these words at a “Celebration of Hope” in New Orleans not long after Hurricane Katrina ravaged the city:

“Tonight I want to speak on something that all of you are familiar with, John 3:16. “For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” I remember watching on television the approach of Katrina. I didn’t have any idea from what I heard that it was going to be the storm that it turned out to be. I was like everybody else. I knew it was a hurricane. I knew it was dangerous, but I had no idea the punch that it would have. In fact, I had never even heard of the levees in New Orleans; I’d never heard people talk about them. And then all of a sudden they began to tell us that the levees had given way and we saw the devastation that happened. We watched the brave, wonderful men and women in helicopters who helped carry people to safety. And we knew that a God of love was watching over us. The Scripture says, “Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love” (Jeremiah 31:3). God loves you.

Now, the Scripture says that man has a terminal disease; we’re all sinners and we’ve all broken God’s law. It’s a terminal disease because we’re under the sentence of death. Every one of us is going to die. War does not increase death. Hurricanes do not increase death, because death comes to everybody. Every one of us is under that sentence -- not only physical death but also spiritual death.

Spiritual death means that we are separated from God forever, and the Bible calls that hell. The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ. It has been said that the ultimate statistic is that “one in every one person is going to die.” Most of us in this auditorium will not be alive 75 or 80 years from now. All are subject to death.

Whether you are a young person here tonight or an old person like me, you’d better decide for Christ here and now, because you never know when your turn is coming. Some of the words that Jesus used to describe eternal loss are lost, perished, condemned, punishment, torment, hell, everlasting fire.

The Bible says that God gave His Son on the cross and made Him to be sin for us. Think of Jesus. He became sin. Not His sin, but yours and mine. God laid on Him the iniquity of us all, “Who His own self bears our sins on the cross” (1 Peter 2:24). “Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust” (1 Peter 3:18), and the Bible says that if we are to ever get to heaven and have the peace of God in our hearts, we’ll have to come to Him. “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (Romans 10:9). Has that happened to you? What do you have to do?

First, you must repent. That’s the first sermon Jesus ever preached, the first sermon John the Baptist ever preached. “Jesus began to preach, and to say, ‘Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand'” (Matthew 4:17). And tonight He says to you, “Repent.” What does repentance mean? It means that you are sorry for your sins, that you’re willing to turn from your sins.

The second thing you must do is believe. The word “believe” that’s used in Scripture means to commit. You commit yourself to Jesus. The Bible says, “God commands all men everywhere to repent and to believe and be converted to Him” (Acts 17:30), and “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that comes to God must believe that he is” (Hebrews 11:6). And it says, “But as many as received him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” (John 1:12).

I saw in a cartoon where someone wrote to a pastor and said, “Dear preacher, what does God mean when He forgives us?” The pastor wrote back and said, “All your files are deleted.” God deletes all your files. They are totally erased.

Once in a while a newspaper reporter writes that I have Parkinson’s disease, and that’s true, but that’s a minor disease compared to what I really have. About four years ago I had four brain operations, and today I have two shunts in my brain. I can feel them here on the back of my head, and they hurt every day.
One night, I knew I was dying, and I think the doctor did as well. I didn’t think I could survive. And in my darkness, I called upon God. All of a sudden, all of my sins since childhood came before me. And underneath them was written, “The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses from all sin” (1 John 1:7).

Now tonight, if you’re not sure of your relationship to God, if you’re not certain and you’d like to be certain, I want you to come and stand in front of this platform, and say by coming, “I want to know that I’m ready to meet God. I’m opening my heart and letting Jesus come in.”

If there’s a little voice speaking inside of you saying you should come, that could be the Holy Spirit drawing you. Don’t resist Him. The Scripture says, “He that hardens himself shall suddenly be lost” (Proverbs 29:1). Come.”

With those words, Billy Graham sent out a “Come as You Are” party invitation. For some time now, I wanted to throw this party, and I think Billy Graham’s words are the best I could use in this blog and Facebook post today to invite you to it. It’s time to come into the Family of God. Please come today. Pray this prayer that Billy Graham led audiences in, and believe with your heart, and you will be ALL READY when you are called to God’s “Come as You Are” party:

“Dear God, I’m a sinner. I’m sorry for my sins. I want to turn from my sins. I believe Jesus Christ is your Son. I believe He died for my sin and that You raised Him to life. I want to trust Him as my Savior and follow Him as Lord from this day forward. Jesus, I put my trust in You and I surrender my life to You. Please come into my life and fill me with Your Holy Spirit. I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.”

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Good Habits are as Addictive as Bad Habits

Habit: an acquired behavior pattern, regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary!

What habits do you have that might affect how others see you? Biting your fingernails (Oh, how well I remember that awful one when I was a kid)? Cursing? Running your fingers through your hair? Interrupting conversations so you can speak? Being a constant complainer? Saying “Like” all the time – “I was like so happy; I like ran to the store”. Talking with your mouth filled with food? Nervously tapping your fingers?

HABITS are almost like being on "Auto Pilot". Once we hit "auto pilot" -- we just move through life without really considering how our HABITS might affect our lives and how others see us. Those are our involuntary habits.

There are so many “good to great” HABITS that were formed in our lives that consistently, and repetitiously, make us BETTER people. For example, remember teaching your children to "Watch both ways before you cross the street"? Think about how WE were taught to look both ways before crossing the street. It served us well to this day. And it will for our children, forever, too! Encouraging them to say "Thank you!" and "Yes, Ma'am or Yes, Sir". Those are involuntary habits – that we’ve “habitually” driven home to them for so long and now, we are so proud of our apprentices. They have good manners. They are kind to others. They are generous and they express gratitude consistently.

And, there are so many positive habits we have that bring about the best in ourselves and others. Speaking "I love you!" "I appreciate you!" “Way to go!” “You are amazing!” And, those of us who are radical believers in the favors and special blessings that come directly from God......we just naturally and habitually say, "Praise the Lord." "Thanks be to God." “God is so good!”

For those of us who are in the middle of some “life” storms and are facing major challenges and circumstances that seem out of control -- we just naturally and habitually say, "Praise the Lord -- He's working all this out for my good. This is no surprise to Him. I thank you, God, IN all these things!" Great, involuntary HABITS that serve us well in good times.....and tough times.

It's true: Good HABITS are as addictive as bad HABITS -- but, oh, so much more rewarding.

Proverbs 4:20-27 "My son, be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Let them not escape from your sight; keep them within your heart. For they are life to those who find them, and healing to all their flesh. Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. Put away from you crooked speech, and put devious talk far from you."

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Privileged Birds, Privileged YOU and ME

PRIVILEGED means having special rights, advantages, favored

My sweet sister knows my love for cardinals because of so many that have visited me since my dear husband’s graduation to heaven seven plus years ago. She gave me these two cardinals yesterday that were given to her years ago. It touched my heart so much that she remembered what cardinals mean to me. I’m PRIVILEGED to KNOW where my sweetheart is right now. His grave site is here in Tulsa, but I rarely visit it because I know he's not there. As Billy Graham said, “Someday you will read or hear that Billy Graham is dead. Don't you believe a word of it. I shall be more alive than I am now. I will just have changed my address. I will have gone into the presence of God." I love that and that’s what I've thought since the day of my sweetheart's passing. Because I know he’s alive and well, those little cardinals which are said to represent a loved one visiting us, have been my little treat – every time I see one. I’m privileged to think that way.

I’m PRIVILEGED with happy and good thoughts daily because I choose to do so. Why am I and why are YOU so PRIVILEGED? Several years ago I was in Hawaii and eating in one of the open air restaurants. As I sat there, I watched the PRIVILEGED birds have a continual feast when someone would get up from their table. They'd sweep in and devour the leftovers. As I thought about those birds, I thought about the exquisite, yet simple lifestyle they have. They don't have to dig for worms or look far for food -- they just eat from the tables that are so readily accessible. Then, I thought about birds in other countries -- where there is abounding poverty, where there is little food to be found. Yet, those birds just stay with their "status quo", instead of venturing over to a place of blessings and abundance. They have settled for their "lot in life".

Isn't that like many of us who settle in for "I guess that's the best I can do....or the best that I can get"? As children of God, there's a place of PRIVILEGE and abundance for us, if we'll step out in faith and go for the opportunities and blessings that are just waiting for us. When we receive Christ by faith, we have the privilege of becoming His children. We are adopted into His family. "But to all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God." - John 1:12.

Back to those birds. In Matthew 6, Jesus put it this way “Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”

Indeed, we are PRIVILEGED to be children of God Who daily offers us so many blessings, but maybe it’s a matter of being present to recognize them. I’m quick to recognize the cardinals. What if we started recognizing our PRIVILEGES daily as children of God? Living in a free country, having a roof over our head, running water, a warm bed to sleep in, plenty of food to eat. Matthew 6:26 again – “BUT, seek FIRST the kingdom of God and His righteousness and ALL THESE THINGS (PRIVILEGES) shall be added to you.”

Friday, March 9, 2018

That Police Officer DEPRIVED Me of my Sleep

: To keep something away from someone. Those who live in poverty are kept from having enough food or shelter. Plants experiencing water deprivation will shrivel up and die. If a teenager is grounded, their parents might impose video game or cell phone deprivation. And if someone has trouble sleeping, they are sleep DEPRIVED.

I had only a very few hours of sleep, when I had to get up early for my drive to Tulsa again. Sis and I are still working on the Estate Sale for Mom and with our busy schedules, we've had to carve out time almost every other week to get it all wrapped up. We're getting closer each time I make my trek there again. Wednesday morning, I headed out early after those very few hours of sleep and by the time I hit the Indian Nation Turnpike I could hardly keep my eyes open. In fact, I did have moments where I nodded and caught myself. I slapped my face, chewed gum -- all to keep me awake. There are no rest areas on that stretch of the turnpike so I was pleased when the turnpike ended and I saw a motel and thought I'd just drive around to the back of it and stop to shut my eyes for just a few minutes. That few minutes turned into 20 minutes and it would have been longer, but the tapping at my car window by a police officer woke me and startled me.

I did my best to regain composure because I must have looked like I was on a stiff drink or drugs because he was eyeing my car in the front and back to see if I had anything in it to prove it. He said, "Ma'am, are you okay? We received a call from the motel owners and they said they saw a woman slumped over in her car." I replied: "Oh, I'm fine. I was so sleepy on that stretch of the turnpike and nowhere to pull off to rest, that I just had to shut my eyes for a few minutes at the first place I saw." By then I was WIDE AWAKE! I asked him to thank the motel owners for letting me take a snooze, and I was on my way.

I realized that I MUST get a good night's sleep before I head out on these road trips. Sleep DEPRIVATION could lead to real trouble in so many ways. It was a WAKE UP call for me for sure.

As I was typing my post for today, I thought about the word DEPRIVATION -- particularly as it applied to my sleeping habits, but I also thought about how we DEPRIVE ourselves from being physically and spiritually healthy. We deprive ourselves of water which is our main source of life. If we continue to deprive ourselves of getting the H2O we need, it can have severe repercussions on our health. Not getting enough water can result in fatigue and lack of blood flow to our tissues. Not getting enough physical activity and exercise will deprive us of good health and normal organ function.

In the same way, when we DEPRIVE ourselves of the refreshment of a close, abiding relationship with our Heavenly Father, we'll become spiritually sluggish, weak in faith and poor in spirit. Like the officer who gave me a WAKE UP knock on my car door yesterday, God is knocking on our heart's door and announcing -- drink up of this water that I give you and you'll never be DEPRIVED of water again." His love is FREE for the taking. We are never DEPRIVED of His peace, joy, hope and overflowing blessings. Those gifts are ours for the taking.

"Happy are those who listen to Me, watching for me daily at my gates." (Proverbs 8:34)

"Come to Me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28:

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Selective Hearing Comes in Handy

My iPhone must have selective hearing. I'll be audibly texting a message and the message comes out not anything like I said. My text message to my sister was supposed to start out "Hi sweet sis!" But, it sent "Hi, sweet the ass." She replied "This is too funny. Read your text 4th word." I have GOT to start reading my texts before I hit the SEND icon!!

My word(s) for today is SELECTIVE HEARING – one possesses this quality when they hear only what they would like to hear. Selective hearing is also known as hearing loss by attention. It affects many people and refers to the unconscious blocking out of sounds while engaged in another stimulating activity. For example, missing the sound of a telephone ringing because of focusing on a TV show.

There are times when I block out what someone is saying because I’m so busy with what I'M saying that I don’t hear what needs to be heard. I was at a conference last weekend and I was so busy in conversation that I failed to hear someone saying grace for our meal. My Selective Hearing was hearing my words, not someone else’s.

Selective hearing loss is not the result of one noise making another inaudible, but a choice by the brain to focus on one stimulus over another. For example: Mom: "Jimmy, clean up your room and them you can go to the movies." Jimmy: "Sweet! I can go to the movies!" Mom: "AFTER YOU CLEAN YOUR ROOM!" Jimmy: "What? You never said I had to clean my room" Mom: "I swear, you have selective hearing!"

Has your spouse, child or someone else asked you about something they had told you, and you don’t even remember them asking the question? At that moment they asked, apparently you had selective hearing and it didn’t SELECT that conversation. Indeed our children have selective hearing. We can call them and call them, and they don’t respond, but if we say “Ice Cream”, they’ll come running. We, also, have selective hearing. We listen to what we love. God is sending us messages all the time, but we’re not listening well. We’re distracted or preoccupied or just maybe, we don’t even want to listen.

Our Heavenly Father communicates with us all the time through His Word, His gentle nudges, signs and feelings, others speaking on His behalf and so many other ways. God is communicating with us all the time. He wants us, like we want our kids, to LISTEN WELL!”

Being a good listener is being present in the moments. Consciously avoiding distractions and honoring that one that is speaking to us. Proverbs 4:20 says "My child, pay attention to what I say. Listen carefully to my words." Such selective hearing is simply paying attention. God is speaking to us. Others are speaking to us. And when we pay attention and are tuned in to the Master's frequency, and when we set aside all distractions, we'll hear! ...When we do, we'll be listening WELL and SELECTING our hearing to hearing God's voice..

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Welcome to my SANCTUARY!

While having my morning devotion time, I looked at the sign on my fireplace hearth, SANCTUARY, that I see every day. But yesterday it resonated with me more than ever. I looked at the back of it to see when it was that my friend gave it to me. It is dated October 10, 2010. That was just before my precious husband had a pain pump surgically placed in his body to help subside the pain he suffered for so long. Though the surgery was successful, we still had to make the decision to go on hospice.

SANCTUARY: a place of refuge or safety, haven, shelter, hideaway, port in a storm.

Indeed, my friend knew that we needed to be reminded of the SANCTUARY we have in our relationship with God. I remember that because we determined that our home would be a SANCTUARY in that season of our lives. Indeed, we had peace and joy throughout the remaining days of my Sweetheart's life. As I wrote that word in my journal, I knew it would be my word of the day because I sensed it might be a word that some of my friends, who are facing some tough times, need to become familiar with because of the place of refuge, shelter, port in the storm they need today.

So how do we find that place of peace and the place to escape from the everyday stressors of life – an escape from busyness and chaos! That place where we find peace in our hearts and souls when with everything in us, wants to run for our lives.

We watched a lot of basketball when our daughter played in high school. We always loved having “home court advantage” over the visiting team. The home team fans were out in droves and the team spirit elevated our team's thinking AND their game. Home court advantage applies to the SANCTUARY that our home becomes as a haven of peace, love and rest when we treat it that way. It becomes our "home court advantage".

The politics. The news. The shootings. The weather. The hate. The worry. I turn the news on and then I turn it off quickly. It reminds me why I rarely, if ever, watch those live news broadcasts anymore. I don’t have the stomach OR heart for it all. The combative nature in people these days and the us vs. them mentality wears on my spirit. I don’t quite know what to make of it all, but as I sit down to write loving, comforting words for myself and for my readers, God places my attention on a little sign that says, “SANCTUARY” with a scripture reference of Mark 6:31 “Come away to a secret place and rest for while” that reels me back in to what matters most.

I don’t know what your world looks like today. You may have young children jumping off of the furniture and climbing in your pantry. Their sibling rivalry is at peak performance. Your spouse may be overloaded in worries and care. Your to-do list is way too long to stop in at the SANCTUARY. I know that atmosphere. It is very familiar to me. But what became the most familiar to me and the priority in my home was making God -- my deepest source of meaning, unconditional love and real peace. It can be found -- even in small increments of time. I promise you, when our priority is, first and foremost, going to the SANCTUARY sometime throughout our day, it will create a settled, peace-filled home because of the presence of a holy, loving, awe-inspiring God. When we ask Him to settle into our homes and our home-life with us, He does it. He is available, present and more life-giving and peace-giving than everything else combined.

Today, I offer you a glance at my sign. SANCTUARY. Doesn’t that sound like a relief, hearing it put like that? That lovely, reassuring place of safety. Relief from all the ugliness out there. A break from it all. What if SANCTUARY looked like nothing more complicated than a hot, comforting cup of coffee? A cozy pair of slippers. A fire in the fireplace. A pen in our hand, a blank page beckoning, with a Bible or devotional book nearby. Going to the SANCTUARY and having moments of quiet, deep peace and rest and the assurance “It is well with my soul.”

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

In Only You May My Soul Be SATISFIED

Satisfaction: fulfillment, gratification, contentment, comfort

Remember that old Rolling Stones song: “I can't get no satisfaction”? What is it that causes us to be completely satisfied? A great meal, a good night’s sleep, a day’s good wages for a day’s good work, receiving a pat on the back for a job well done, having a spouse that meets all our needs, having a family, a college education?

My post today is about how to be satisfied, really satisfied – SATISFACTION guaranteed. People all over this world are looking for the pot at the end of the rainbow or winning the lottery or getting that “dream” job and then they’ll KNOW, they’ll be satisfied.

The Psalmist wrote: “O SATISFY us in the morning with Your lovingkindness, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.” (Psalm 90:14)

Every good gift that God gives can only be truly and ultimately enjoyed if we start by allowing Him to SATISFY us. Riches, wealth, and honor don’t automatically bring SATISFACTION or contentment. In fact, sometimes they can bring unhappiness, and grief. A perfect example of this was Howard Hughes, who at age 45, was one of the wealthiest men in America. He dated actresses, piloted test aircraft, and worked on top-secret CIA contracts. He owned a string of hotels around the world, and even TWA airlines to carry him on global outings. Twenty years later, at age 65, Howard Hughes still had plenty of money—$2.3 billion to be exact. But the world’s richest man had become one of its most pathetic. He lived in small dark rooms atop his hotels, without sun and without joy. He had a scraggly waist-length beard, his hair fell down his back, and his fingernails were two inches long. His once powerful 6’4” frame had shrunk to about 100 pounds. Life held no meaning for him. Finally, wasting away and hooked on drugs, he died at age 67.

The lesson of Howard Hughes is this: “When God is left out of the equation, all that this world has to offer can be incredibly empty and unsatisfying.

Matthew 5:6 “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be SATISFIED.” That is 100 percent guaranteed SATISFACTION. No matter what we face – sickness or health; riches or poverty; a multitude of friends or few friends; single or married; children or childless – the promise of “they shall be filled (SATISFIED) is true, because God fills. “Filled” is a verb in the past tense which is not something that can be achieved, but rather it is something to be received. Christ alone gives genuine SATISFACTION.

Satan will try to deceive us into believing we make our own satisfaction. The world will try to persuade us that they have found true satisfaction. Even religion will try to show us how to achieve a divine satisfaction. And our brain will try to convince us it can be done! But, God, alone, can fill us. He alone has the power to bring genuine satisfaction!

Have you ever seen a truly satisfied person? One who is genuinely content in his lot in life? Jesus describes that kind of person—he is one who "hungers and thirsts after righteousness, for he shall be filled (literally: "continually satisfied"). I pray that your SATISFACTION includes a joy-filled life, family, a great job, friends, things that bring you pleasure, but more than all the intangibles and tangibles, I pray your greatest SATISFACTION comes from a relationship with Jesus Christ and when He is the SATISFIER, everything else in your life will be SATISFIED.

Enjoy this beautiful song, SATISFIED, that describes true SATISFACTION in God.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Be a REFLECTION of What You'd Like to Be

REFLECTION: an image that is seen in a mirror or on a shiny surface; something that shows the effect, existence, or character of something or someone.

I love how God gives us "thumbs up" on decisions we make. I typed up this blog early yesterday morning before I left for an event so it would be ready to POST this morning at 6 am. Imagine my delight, when a lady at the event said, "Donna, in my thoughts about you I saw you outdoors in nature and you came to a stream and you looked in the stream and saw your REFLECTION,....etc. Her words encouraged me beyond that word, but she confirmed the post I had written for you today. God is so faithful to me AND you!

I love this photo, and quote. "Be a REFLECTION of what you'd like to receive. If you want love, give love. If you want truth, be truthful. What you give out, will always return. REFLECTION is also like a boomerang -- when we give love, it will come back to us. If we give joy, we'll receive back joy. If we give forgiveness, we will be forgiven.

It's the Laws of Reciprocity -- God's laws of sowing and reaping. Those laws aren't new at all. It started with the greatest of all GIVERS when Jesus said, "Give...and it shall be given" Luke 6:38. Simply put, reciprocity is the notion of mutual exchange or fair return. It’s the basis of many business interactions where a fair exchange of goods and services is made between parties.

On the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gave us the Laws of Reciprocity in the purest form -- for example "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy." Matthew 5:7

We've heard the words: "Serve....and you shall be served." "Love....and you shall be loved." "Be a friend.....and you shall have friends." Just makes good sense -- especially when it's been tested and proven by successful leaders! Our dear friend, Zig Ziglar, said, "You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want." Smart and truly successful people get this. It's NOT giving TO GET. Typically, in those times that we give -- we do so with absolutely no expectation or desire to receive back.....but with God's Laws of Reciprocity -- there is ALWAYS a give back. Those laws just can't help themselves. We do receive back in so many ways. If our heart stays fixed on giving, serving and loving -- the REFLECTION and the ACTION will be to RECEIVE.

Sunday, March 4, 2018


In honor of this month of MARCH, and in honor of our service men and women who, on our behalf, are MARCHING to the beat of the love of their country, my word for today is MARCH.

It’s MARCH 4th -- the only day of the year that can also be a sentence -- MARCH Forth! Time is marching forth and so are we! An Army platoon marches FORWARD, not backward. Whether soldiers are at their home base moving from one post to another, or on the battlefield, they are on assignment until their mission has been accomplished. St. Paul wrote "One thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining FORWARD to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14

My daily goal is to MARCH forward. No backward marching for me because I want to make daily progress. Some folks have lost their hope and expectancy for good things to come their way so they HALT, and are at a stand-still. I get that because for over 44 years, my assignment included a partnership with my dear husband and his earth assignments ended when Heaven called his name. My life could be HALTED, too, but Heaven hasn’t called my name. I’m still here! I'd lose momentum in accomplishing my assignments if I stayed in backward thinking.

My precious 95-year-old mother-in-law often asks “Why doesn’t God take me home? I’m ready to go!” And we always tell her “He’s not finished with you here, yet! Keep sharing your love with others, pray, and be here for us! That’s your assignment until you get called home!” You and I are still here and we, too, must complete our God-given assignments. Keep marching!

Everyday we have the opportunity to MARCH to the beat of our Divine Drummer who has perfect rhythm so we can make daily progress on our journey of faith. No more rear-view-mirror glimpses of regret, unforgiveness or shame from the past. No MARCHING backward. We have assignments to complete. This year, with its surprises and joys, AND with some bumpy roads along the way, let's keep MARCH FORWARD to conquer whatever comes our way, hand in hand with our Commanding Officer, Joy-Bringer, Deliverer, Comforter, Guide, Peace-Giver.

What are the assignments that God has given you? What are you going to accomplish with YOU? Life is worth LIVING. We’re still here and we’re “on assignment” – let’s get our MARCH-ing orders today – our MISSION is possible!

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Our WORDS Matter

If you follow my blog or my Facebook posts you know that I’ve determined to have a “word of the day” every day this year. Having that focus has sure helped me with my subject matter. God highlights a word to me and then I run with it. My WORD today is WORD: a single, distinct, element of speech or writing, used with others (or sometimes alone) to form a sentence. That sounds innocent enough. Right? Oh, but our WORDS matter!

Our WORDS convey who we are and what’s in our hearts. “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” (Luke 6:45) I watched Billy Graham's funeral service online yesterday. Whenever I’ve heard his name mentioned, since his passing and before, he was the good man that this scripture described.
Like Billy Graham, may our hearts be filled with good things and when we speak…..people listen to those words and are refreshed and encouraged because of them. May we be God's instruments of peace and love when we speak not hate.

God, Himself, proved that WORDS matter. He started out this massive universe with creative WORDS “Let there be light, and there was light”. (Genesis 1:3). It’s been a great learning experience to look up word definitions, but to also take those WORDS to heart to help make me that good woman who brings good things out of her heart. Our WORDS matter.

Aren't these some of those good words? “I love you, you’re important to me, thank you so much, how can I repay you, you look really nice today, I’m so sorry, I forgive you, I like your new hair style, great job, this place wouldn’t be the same without you, I’m so proud of you, you are irreplaceable, you brighten up the room when you come in.”

And then there are those words that produce just the opposite: “I hate you, you're stupid, I am such a LOSER!, you are hopeless, I wish you had never been born, I wish I were dead, you make me sick, I will never forgive you, I want a divorce, nobody cares about you, I’ll never speak to you again.”

“Words can bring death or life! Talk too much, and you will eat everything you say.” (Proverbs 18:21). We were made in God’s image. He created this world with His words. We, too, create with our words. We can usher in praise when the world seems to crumble around us. We can bring hope when everything seems hopeless. We can soothe a troubled heart, when someone is in despair. We can bring LIFE with our words.

In our lifetime, we could fill a library with the words we speak, and if we did, what would the titles of those books be? Our words have a powerful influence on others. God is looking for messengers of hope, faith and love and He wants our WORDS to be on target each day doing just that.

Proverbs 16:24 says "Pleasant words are honey from a honeycomb— sweet to the soul and healing for the body." Don't we want pleasant words to come from our hearts and mouths that reflect God’s character in our actions. Whether we are talking with a store cashier or interacting with those we do everyday life with, don't we want to work towards being men and women who display Godly character and who possess the Fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control to be evident through our words?

Whether our day goes smooth as glass or is rocky and bumpy, may God’s messages of truth have such an impact on us that our hearts and mouths produce "soft and sweet that if we have to eat them, we'll be eating yummy, delectable treats.

Friday, March 2, 2018


GRACE is a word I’ve heard all my life because I heard my sweet Mom singing “Amazing Grace” throughout our home and I heard it sung worldwide as an anthem of praise. Why would that old song still be relevant, especially when there are so many wonderful songs of praise that are written and sung today?

My word for today is GRACE. My godson’s 16-years-old, big sister's name is Grace. One of the definitions of grace is simple elegance with refined movement, which fits our tall, slender, elegant GRACE to a tee.

I remember when we had a loan due at the bank and they gave us a GRACE-period. Then there's the tabloid article about the politicians or actors who fell from GRACE. We’ll describe a dancer as GRACEFUL and people who devote their time to the needy as GRACIOUS. Then there’s that meal-time prayer when someone says “Who will say GRACE for us?" No wonder when a foreigner tries to learn our language, they are confused about so many definitions for one simple word GRACE. But, the greatest of all definitions is the one that speaks of "Amazing Grace"– the one, saved by GRACE. That is God’s amazing GRACE -- the free and unmerited favor of God, demonstrated by His great love for us in sending His Son to die for sinners (you and me) and pay the debt He did not owe. GRACE is getting what we do not deserve.

Back to that beloved hymn, "Amazing Grace", that was written by John Newton, a former slave trader in 1772. It is estimated to be performed over 10 million times annually and has appeared on over 11,000 albums. It has been an anthem of hope and faith for generations. Why does that hymn still have such an impact? What was it that John Newton pointed out about God’s GRACE that resonates with us so strongly? It probably has a lot to do with the truth that the Apostle James expresses here: “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” (James 5:16). This hymn is a prayer! We pray together as we sing. We confess our need for God’s grace to one another, and look with eyes of faith to the glorious future for us who are "found". The power of this prayer-song transcends time, culture and place. I’m quite sure this song will last right on through eternity. The more we enter deeply into prayer, the more beautiful and stronger our soul becomes and we are able to resist evil and do good.

I attended a large dinner banquet at my church and one of the men at our table told how he knew he had been touched by God and received His "amazing grace" two years' ago in a dramatic way. Though he is still waiting for a liver transplant, he uses his story to speak out to young people of how he seriously abused his body with alcohol and medications. His story was amazing, but then we looked around our table, and we all realized we have our own AMAZING GRACE story of how God's grace kept us, delivered us, spared us, healed us and restored us. We are on the same road.....coming from all directions.....but we are all here to grab someone's hand and help them through because "we've been there, too". God's grace is given TO us, so it can flow THROUGH us to build others up in faith and trust in Him.

Think about God’s GRACE in some of the Bible character’s lives. Moses, whose hot temper led to murder and rebellion against God, and David, who committed adultery and murder. Then turn to the New Testament where a former traitor, SAINT Peter, leads the Church and a former “human rights abuser”, SAINT Paul was the author of one third of the New Testament. Indeed, God’s GRACE is amazing. We can never sink so far that God’s grace will not reach us. At the same time, GRACE does not leave us there. It raises us to new heights, causes us to demonstrate that grace to others in words and actions, and THAT "grace that brought us safe thus far? THAT "grace will lead us home"! THAT GRACE, my friends, really is AMAZING!

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Commandments or Keys to a Blessed Life?

My word for today is COMMANDMENT: an authoritative command or order; mandate; precept.

What was God thinking? Ten Commandments to live by? After all, we have just one life to live and shouldn’t we live it with no restrictions and no holds barred? Weren’t they just suggestions? Those questions almost seem sacrilegious, don’t they?

By the same token, why do we COMMAND our children: “Look both ways before you cross the street” and “DO NOT touch that burner on the stove” and “DO NOT put that screw driver into the electric socket”. Are those commandments or are they words of wisdom and great love to keep them from harm?

I’ve been pondering how great God’s love was for us when He gave Moses the Ten Commandments. He loved His children so much that He wanted them to be blessed beyond measure and spared the pain of regret and harm. Here’s a reminder of those COMMANDMENTS:
1. You shall have no other gods before Me.
2. You shall not make idols.
3. You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain.
4. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
5. Honor your father and your mother.
6, You shall not murder.
7. You shall not commit adultery.
8. You shall not steal.
9. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
10. You shall not covet.

Like we give our children COMMANDMENTS, God gave us the Commandments to protect us from harm – mentally, physically, and spiritually. I think about the protection, peace, joy, being close with God, hearing His voice, having daily sweet communion with our Father and experiencing the comfort of “It is well with my soul” when we obey and keep those keys to a blessed life. It truly baffles me that anyone could object to them unless they are willing to be subjected to harm, loss of peace, and destruction.

If the Ten Commandments weren’t setting the bar high enough, what in the world was Jesus thinking when He came up with an even “stiffer” set of commandments in Matthew 5:21-48? “Do not murder” wasn’t enough because Jesus said, “Anyone who is ANGRY with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment.” Apparently, “Do not commit adultery” wasn’t enough because Jesus said, “I tell you that anyone who LOOKS at a woman lustfully, has already committed adultery.” And, I might add, He even said “If your eyes cause you to stumble, gouge it out.” YIKES!!

Yes, Jesus raised the bar on the Ten Commandments and took them to a new level by wrapping them all up in one concise GREAT COMMANDMENT: “You shall love God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12:30-31). He taught that everything is summed up in love of God, love of self, and love of neighbor.

Before His death on the cross, He reminded his disciples of that COMMANDMENT in even more concise words: “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another” (John 13:34).

Here is the crux of what I’m trying to say to my dear friends and family today. God didn't create us for mediocrity. He created us in His image -- He makes the impossible, possible. He makes can't, can. There's nothing mediocre about Him. His expectations for us are extremely HIGH! Why should we be satisfied with a just-get-by mindset, when we have a Father who is unlimited and abounding in love and favor toward us? He desires that we live and experience an abundant life of blessings. He wants us free from heartache and pain. If we want to protect our children from anything harmful – how much more does our Heavenly Father want to bless us? And, if He didn't think it were possible, He would have never set such high standards for us. That's raising the bar. God didn’t set the bar high so that we would fail. He did it to show how high He can take us! We'll have to stretch out of our comfort zone, but the benefits of stretching gives us rewards beyond our greatest expectations.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Love Means Saying "I'm Sorry"!

My word for today is: APOLOGIZE – to express regret for something one has done wrong; saying “sorry”, asking for forgiveness; asking for pardon

Today is the last day of February, the month I deemed early on as the LOVE month. What a better way to end it than with an appeal for us to live in self-awareness of our words and actions. The saying goes "Time heals all wounds”, but not all. Sometimes a stronger salve than time is needed to restore wholeness and full health to those we may have hurt, intentionally, and even those things that weren’t meant to hurt. Maybe it was just a curt remark or some smack talk that seemed playful at the time, but those little remarks can sting and be hurtful. At the time it seemed so innocent in our eyes, but by the look in their eyes, we know we hurt them. The question is “Do we let it go as playful fun, or are we quick to APOLOGIZE?”

One of my favorite all-time movies was "Love Story" (1970) with Ryan O'Neal (Oliver) and Ali McGraw (Jenny). Oliver blamed himself for keeping Jenny from her music career and when he was apologizing, Jenny's love for him was far greater to her. That's when she said that famous line. “Love means never having to say you're sorry". At that moment in the movie, I was moved to tears, but, in reality, “Jenny” got it all wrong.

Love doesn't mean “never having to say “I’m Sorry”, and it’s sure not a line that God EVER uses. APOLOGIZING and expressing regret for the mistakes we make is the language of love. God's love. In fact, Jesus APOLOGIZED for mankind when He cried out, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do."

On this last day of this month of love, I'm driving home the importance of being a lover. The Apostle Paul told us how: "Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance (1 Corinthians 13:4-7). And, when we miss that mark, LOVE means ALWAYS saying "I'm sorry. I was wrong. Please forgive me."

In our world of social and political hostilities with all of the rash comments, quick retorts back and forth to each other, this is the time when we, who live above that fray, should be setting the example of mending torn and broken hearts. When we say to our brothers and our sisters, "I'm sorry. Please forgive me," there is hope for healing, restoration, and reconciliation. May we let go of our need to always be right, cast aside our pride and say in words and actions, "I APOLOGIZE! Please forgive me." And, by the way, from our heart when we say "I'm so sorry, Father God, for the mistakes I've made and change my habits so I use my tongue to speak hope and favor upon others", we'll see the greatest example of love ever given when He opens His arms of love to us and says "I forgive go and sin no more."

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Forgiveness is Unlocking the Door to Freedom

Forgiveness is Unlocking the Door to Freedom
FORGIVENESS: to wipe the slate clean, to pardon, to cancel a debt. When we wrong someone, we seek his or her forgiveness for the relationship to be restored. Forgiveness isn't granted because a person deserves to be forgiven. Instead, it is an act of love, mercy, and grace. "Forgiveness is unlocking the door to set someone free, and realizing you were the prisoner." Max Lucado

I’ll admit FORGIVING is a “tough nut to crack” when we’ve been so rejected, wronged, harmed, heartbroken and betrayed. But, then there is the upside down world of God’s Word which usually tells us to do the opposite of what seems right for us at the time. Colossians 3:13-14 “Bear with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.” That scripture doesn’t say anything about the one apologizing and ASKING for forgiveness. It simply says “forgiving each other”. How is it possible when we may have been hurt so deeply?

I've read many incredible stories about people who forgave in the most heart-wrenching situations, especially when forgiving would seem so unnecessary on a human level. Most recently, we all grieved with the families who lost their loved one(s) in the Florida school shooting by a 19-year old man. I can’t imagine the deep sorrow of the parents' and the spouses' and families', but I do know our all-loving God is with them to comfort and strengthen them as they reach out to Him. I was so inspired when I read the story of 11th grade student at the school, Daniela Menescal, who survived the mass shooting. She told a news station “It’s a miracle that I’m alive.” She said she thought it was a drill until the moment bullet fragments slammed into her back and leg. Inside her locked classroom, she said she and other students hid behind a metal cabinet as gunfire sprayed the room. "I saw the blood and then the girl in front of me turned around and I saw her -- she was hit in her face." Two students in her class didn't survive. Despite what happened, Menescal said she still believes in FORGIVENESS. "In the back of his mind (the shooter), God is with him and I know that we all deserve a second chance, and that even for all that he caused, I forgive him," Menescal said.

Another 16-year-old Junior at the school, Shay Makonde, led a time of prayer. He said, “Those who are lost, we shall carry on their lives for them.” Then he went on to say that he cannot hate the shooter — he hopes he changes in prison. Instead, Shay says he wants to focus on the people he still has in his life, and on honoring his lost friends' lives. “Hatred”, he said, “only breeds more hatred and pain. I can’t afford to hate, or lack courage."

On October 2, 2006, Charles Carl Roberts walked into an Amish school in Pennsylvania and shot ten girls, killing five of them. On the same day of the shooting, a grandfather of one of the girls who had died, told other relatives, "We must not think evil of this man." Another member of the community visited the shooter's family that day to comfort them and offer forgiveness. Dozens more attended his funeral and offered to give financial support to his widow. One member of the community later said, "I don't think there's anybody here that wants to do anything but forgive and not only reach out to those who have suffered a loss, but to reach out to the family of the man who committed these acts."

The truth about forgiveness is that it is not a natural response and it isn’t for the person we’re forgiving. It’s for us. I heard it quoted: "Unforgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die." Unwillingness to forgive eats away at our hearts and souls, while forgiveness frees us. No greater forgiver was Jesus, Who, after the lies, beatings, denials and pain, said "Father, FORGIVE them for they know not what they do."

When we have been hurt, we face the same challenge that those who we've hurt faced. Will we respond with compassion, kindness, and FORGIVENESS? And, will forgiving become a way of life for us? "Be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ." Ephesians 4:32. It sure seems like a tall order, but one that comes with sweet rewards. We can move on with our life, have freedom from the pain of the past, enjoy greater happiness in the present and better health and well-being. Love means saying "You're FORGIVEN!" We may not forget, but we are at least free from the burden of unforgiveness. It’s not that we dismiss the pain, but it does mean we recognize that even our greatest wounds and deepest pain will one day be transformed into beauty by our God who wastes nothing. “And FORGIVE us our trespasses as we FORGIVE those who trespassed against us.” From “The Lord’s Prayer” in Matthew 6:12.

Monday, February 26, 2018

A Love-Fest Day With Jesus

My word for today is "Love-Fest" -- when two or more people indulge in expressing their love for each other in such a way that it never ends. It is the ultimate expression of deep, true love and respect for each other, usually manifested by an outburst of love expressions that make all involved feel warm, acknowledged and cared for.

Last Saturday, precious women from my church headed to Bowie, TX for a one day “get-away-with-God” retreat before we serve 40 women at our ACTS Retreat, March 15-18 and it turned out more glorious than could have been expected. There’s just something about women getting together for time away with God that sets the mood to be vulnerable and open to receive an outpouring of His love to His girls. The wonderful presenters of the retreat called the day "A LOVE-FEST Day With Jesus". Indeed, the definition above was proven to be true! Notice our "doo-rags"? We were heart-cleaning!

No wonder those gals in the Bible wanted to hang out with Jesus. He always seemed to have a little band of women with Him, and He embraced it. In so many places in this world, women are marginalized and ostracized – simply because they are women. If only our world used Jesus' example of how He loved and respected us. He "upset the apple cart" in His culture in the way He related to women. In Luke 8 we see there were women followers who traveled with Jesus and His 12 disciples as He ministered all around Galilee. Those women came from all walks of life, they were single, married, and some had questionable backgrounds, but here’s the common thread – each of them experienced healing through their encounter with Christ. He loved them, taught them and could have cared less about what the pious religious folk thought.

The women that Jesus touched and loved is a mighty indicator of His love for us. The women at the foot of the cross and at the tomb held a tiny flame of faith that He would rise as He promised. That flame never went out, and their faith was rewarded.

That's the way we felt, when, after a sweet time of unbridled openness to each other in small groups, we resumed altogether with candid moments of sharing, giving, encouraging and building each other up in the awareness of God's love for us.

Each of us felt that compassion and love from Jesus and we expressed our love back to him as we each wrote Him a love letter. We all poured our love out to Him -- He Who loves us unconditionally, without judgment or condemnation, and like the woman in the Bible who was caught in the act of adultery, He lovingly wraps His arms around us and says….”You can do better. Go sin no more.” No wonder our innermost love for Him poured out in our love letters.

I know it's absurd of me to think God ordered this LOVE-FEST day just for me, but I did. I like to think that I'm so special to Him, that He orders up special gifts and treats.....just for me. The Apostle John thought the same thing. Remember how he kept referring to himself as the "one that Jesus loved"? Those words are found six times in the Gospel of John. Sounds a little cocky, but, NO, he knew he was tight with his Master. Each and and every one of us can say that. "I am the one that Jesus loves," because He does. Today is another day when duty will call and this team will regroup and finish up our preparations for our upcoming big retreat and 80 women will come together for a weekend of encounters with Christ, but for this day, there was a special, loving, devoted group of servant-women that it was all about the "want to's," Our LOVE-FEST with Jesus will continue.

At the end of the retreat and we were saying our good-byes, I went to my car to load up to go home with my passengers and couldn’t find my keys. I realized, in my haste to get out of the down-pouring rain earlier in the morning, I must have dropped them on the floorboard when I was getting my umbrella. Fortunately, I carry AAA auto insurance and was able to call a locksmith. While waiting for him, I had one on one time with the hosts who, I learned that we have so much in common that pertains to our faith walk and we had mutual time of encouraging each other in the Lord. When I made it home, one of my gals that was a passenger going out called to check on me, and she, too, felt the same about the “interruption” as she had never been able to get to know her driver very well and she did on that trip home. Of course God would “work things for our good” because, after all, we had spent the day talking about His Son, writing love letters to His Son, and celebrating His goodness to us.

When I returned home and while I was basking in His love for me, I realized that daily, Jesus writes a love letters to me telling me “You’re my girl. I’m with you. I’m for you. I love you.” He gave us so many love letters in the Bible, and with each sunrise, each raindrop, each sweet smile and "I love you" from others to us, and even, each morning -- just waking up -- is His love letter to us. He says "I love you. I love you. I love you." When we make our Lord our highest priority, then EVERYDAY becomes a LOVE-FEST with Him.

Saturday, February 24, 2018


My words of the day are:
PLANT -- sow, seed, place or fix into a specified position
REPLANT: To plant again in a new place

Seven years ago, this Peace Lily PLANT was given to our family for my husband’s memorial service. What a beautiful representation of “peace” that was given to us. And peace is what God gave us. I REPLANTED that PLANT into a larger pot, but it seems I need to go bigger as it’s been struggling some in the last couple of months. Quite frankly, it’s a miracle that plant is still alive at all, given my record of being “green thumbless”!!

Besides a plant being planted, PLANTED also means being stuck, fixed and unmovable. I've proven that is not me. I've found that REPLANTED can be a very thing. It’s over a year since my home in Tulsa sold (without me even trying to sell it). I knew God was setting me up to be REPLANTED in Texas near my children. I’ll admit there have been many times of discomfort during the process of the move – finding the exact “pot”, rather "home", to be REPLANTED into and getting use to all the changes in my life here in Frisco. In the directions for replanting and repotting a Peace Lilly, it says: “Don’t worry if the plant looks a little bedraggled for the first few days after replanting because slight wilting often occurs. Give the plant time to settle into its new home.” And, God was saying to me “Trust me and my timing. You may feel a little bedraggled, but you’ll see “I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans to prosper you and not harm you, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

REPLANTING me from my familiar surroundings, my family and friends, my home and church in Tulsa was oftentimes bittersweet though the sweetest part is living closer to my children. Of vital importance was to find a church to call "home" here in Frisco. Oh I know that God is with me anywhere and everywhere, but having that “family” and “community” connection has been a mainstay since I made my debut on Planet Earth. Church has been where I met God, personally, and where I found friendship and fellowship and solace during challenging times and where I found my greatest expression of worship and praise to my God.

My search for that church “pot” to be replanted in took months because I was looking for “a feeling” of home like my wonderful home church in Tulsa – smaller where you get to know everyone and everyone knows your name. That just reminded me of the CHEERS theme song. LOL! Then it occurred to me “Select one then, dive in. Get involved. If you want friends, show yourself friendly.” I did. A 39,000+ member church. WHAT??? How can I experience “family” in a church that large. “That POT is just too big to be REPLANTED in” is what I thought.

I found and signed a contract on my home on February 21, 2017 – one year ago, I settled on my new church, St. Francis of Assisi in July – seven months ago. This post was inspired by my being a Greeter/Welcomer at my church this week when we were having a 3-day Lenten Mission. As people came in the door, many said “Hi, Donna!” and hugged me or I would recognize them and welcomed them to the service. Other greeters with me who had been part of the church for years said “Donna, you sure know a lot of people for being here such a short period of time!” When they said that, I had an “aha” moment. God’s words to me had come to pass. You see I did get involved. I became a sponsor to a young woman in our church’s discipleship program (RCIA), I became a greeter, I attended a women’s ACTS Retreat and met 80 women who will be lifelong friends to me and now I’m serving on the Spring ACTS Retreat Team. I am a Eucharistic Minister, serving communion, and attend Bible Studies. I have a church community and family that I love now.

Yesterday morning the inspiration for this post came to me and I looked up on my wall across from my bed and read the words from the Bible and penned by my daughter, “Oh Lord, bless me indeed and ENLARGE MY TERRITORY (He sure did!). Let your hand be with me and keep me from evil so I will be free from pain.” 1 Chronicles 4:10.

Yes, big changes in our lives can oftentimes be uncomfortable and downright painful, but when we realize that our times of REPLANTING and REPOTTING are the ways to stretch us to take us to the next level of maturity and growth. Maybe you’re being stretched today. Maybe your “pot” is too small to hold the expectations that God has for you and you need to be REPLANTED. Trust Him and do your part to open up to new horizons, new opportunities and new friends that God wants you to love, encourage and support.