Thursday, November 23, 2017

So Very Thankful On This Thanksgiving Day!

So Very Thankful On This Thanksgiving Day!
Happy Thanksgiving, dear FB Friends and Family! I am so thankful for far more than I deserve today. Of God's many blessings to me, He gave me yet another "surprise" blessing at this time in my life. He gave me YOU -- my Facebook friends and family. I can't begin to express how much your lives have blessed me as I read about your joys and blessings.as you post your life stories. I am so thankful for the many times you "like" or “love” mine, and provide your encouragement to me.

It's Thanksgiving Day when we amp up our hearts of gratitude for the many blessings in our lives. This morning I woke up and......oh, let's begin there. I woke up. I got out of bed. Oh, I'm so thankful for my bed and a good night's sleep. I got out of bed. Oh, I got out of bed all on my own. I went to the restroom. Oh, I could go to the restroom all on my own, and my "plumbing" worked. Soon, my family will be arriving at my home where the air will be filled with that best EVER aroma – turkey cooking in the oven.

I think you can see what I mean. Hearts of gratitude START with being thankful for each detail of our lives. Of course "the usual" -- thankful for God, family, friends, home, car, pet, clothes….but, then, seriously, think beyond those. At our Thanksgiving table, we’ll be giving each one, one full minute to share what they are thankful for – beyond God and family. I’ll have my stop watch set at one minute. Then we’ll name as many things as we can that we’re thankful for. Go ahead. You do it. You have one minute to name as many things as you can that YOU are thankful for. On your mark, get set, GO!

I did the exercise, gave myself one minute, and as I started the stop watch, I heard the garbage truck outside picking up my trash. I said, "I can hear." I heard the dishwasher running. I said, "dishwasher". My eyes went to my computer as I typed this post and I said “computer, the internet & technology”. I was seeing. I said, "my eyes". I have a TV set on my desk. I said “My TV”. I was sitting in my comfy desk chair -- "furniture". I'm cozy and warm on this chilly morning outside. I said “good insulation in my home – I don’t need the heat on”. I was sipping my coffee. I said, “coffee and food”.

In reality, literally everything from the breath we breathe to the bills we pay is a celebration of thankgiving. The bills we pay? Seriously? Oh yes, because those bills represent something to be thankful for -- a car payment (we have a car); a house payment (we have a home); an electrical bill (we have a warm home). Everywhere we look, we see things to be grateful for. And, when we live in an attitude of gratitude, rather than being bugged that the computer is too slow, we say, "I'm so thankful for my computer". Instead of complaining about our "old" car, we say, "I'm so thankful for a car." Instead of saying "I have nothing to wear, we say, "I'm so thankful for my clothes." Instead of complaining about our boss or a co-worker, we say "I'm so grateful for my job." A grateful heart sees each day as a gift. Thankful people focus less on what they lack and more on the privileges and blessings they have.

The grateful heart is like a magnet that collects reasons for gratitude -- for the paper clip to hold those pages together; for the milk in our cereal; for the song that soothes us; for the clock we hear ticking; for the light that turns on; for the safe drive home; for the clean water from our tap, for the time we had with our loved ones. Thank you, Lord!

May we choose gratitude as a habit that we choose daily as a way of life. May we adjust our lens and see our lives and our world through the eyes of a grateful heart. May we be overwhelmed with the beauty and abundance of it all. When we live with that kind of gratitude, we will experience Thanksgiving Day.....everyday! Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Christmas Before Thanksgiving?


Happy Thanksgiving Eve! Tomorrow will be our U.S. Thanksgiving Day. My Canadian family and friends celebrated their Thanksgiving Day back in October. For them, it makes Thanksgiving Day a couple of months before Christmas. I like that pause before Christmas activities. Whether October or November, it's been beginning to look a lot like Christmas for MONTHS now. My nephew, Mark David Lawrence, starts pining for Christmas and singing Christmas carols in July. I've seen some FB posts where folks were grumbling about Christmas decorations being sold since August. Christmas music is already being played in stores. I get that retail stores, needing their sales, amp it up to get us into the "buying" spirit waaay before the Christmas season.

I get that most of us want to embrace each season and make it as memorable as we can. We want to savor Fall with the leaves changing colors, candy corn, pumpkin spice coffee, autumn décor, and we want to remember the pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving and make this season special. But, I started thinking -- "What's the big deal?" And why should it matter when people begin to celebrate Thanksgiving or Christmas? Different strokes for different folks. Bottom line is that we open our hearts, and our homes, to being thankful at Thanksgiving and to the joys, delights, thrills and celebrations of CHRISTMAS – Christ and His coming to this earth. Thanksgiving AND Christmas are seasons that could be celebrated all year long.

My daughter and family already have their Christmas tree and decorations up and I'll admit, I love the gentle, sweet and tender atmosphere that the Christmas décor creates. I'll put mine out soon after Thanksgiving, but I’m already embracing Christmas as Mom, on my recent trip to Tulsa, gave me her beloved Christmas tree and manger scene ceramic characters that she painted years ago. I'll display them adoringly. So I'll be pondering and thinking about all that Christmas means when my Austin and Frisco family are here celebrating Thanksgiving tomorrow. We'll all be in such a mode of thanksgiving, it will make an easy transition for all the joys and beauty of Christmas.

I haven't complained about the Christmas decorations and music in the stores. It has just caused me to hone into the beautiful journey that will lead to the most HOLY AND MIRACULOUS DAY – and, it would have been alright if I started way back in July, with my nephew! After all, it’s more than a season or a day, it’s about a REASON for unspeakable joy, indescribable love, and amazing sacrifice – that the ONE who placed the stars in the sky and Who knows them ALL by name -- chose to come to this earth as a little baby to be with me, understand me, live in this world like me -- HE totally gets me and my frailties, but better yet, He is my all powerful, awesome and GREAT, amazing God. I'd say that's plenty reason to be celebrating ALL YEAR ROUND! So the next time you're tempted to complain about "too early", turn that around to being THANKFUL for the reminder to THANK God year 'round for THE REASON FOR ALL THE SEASONS.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Start With Gratitude and End With Gratitude

Start and Finish With Gratitude
Yesterday, this picture and message was posted on my cell phone timeline by Facebook. FB said this was the first photo I ever uploaded from my phone to FB five years ago today. That made me smile because this is the week of Thanksgiving, and it seems that I was in the gratitude and thanksgiving mode at this time five years ago.

It is a product of our upbringing and circumstances that we are "by nature" either complainers or praisers. Most people would agree that we have a lot to be grateful for. After all, most of us live a lifestyle of conveniences. We live in comfortable homes, wear nice clothes, and have reliable transportation. We have no shortage of clean water or healthy food. We have access to quality healthcare and education, and basically live a good life with a lot of freedom, safety and security.

It’s easy to take these wonderful blessings for granted and sometimes get into the bad habit of focusing on what we don’t have while millions of people around the world live without the basic necessities of life. I remember our missions trips to South Africa, Belize and Mexico, visiting those who lived in small huts and cardboard dwellings with a minimum of conveniences and witnessing children digging for food and anything worth selling in a city dump. Lord, may I remember them, especially when I even start to complain about ANYTHING!

Those without a place to live would love to have a home to clean, yet a homeowner is likely to complain about cleaning their home. Someone without transportation dreams of having a car to drive, while someone who owns a car is more likely to complain about the cost of maintenance and unexpected repairs. It is so easy to forget how blessed we are!

Just think about the blessings we often overlook -- like getting dressed on our own, driving to work, going to the grocery store, sending emails and text messages, and hundreds of other routine activities of life. It’s where the majority of our time goes, so why not learn to show gratitude for them? Choosing an attitude of gratitude not only honors God…it’s good for us!

No matter what, it's possible to BECOME grateful -- even if it's not our natural "bent", but it does take discipline. It's like learning to dance or play an instrument or any habit that is formed -- it takes practice and doing it over and over again. The reality is that a grateful heart will make way for EVERYTHING we encounter to find the good in it, and, best of all, it opens the door for blessings. We just have to replace complaints and fault finding, with praise and thanksgiving. I love Nancie Carmody's thought-provoking words that turn complaining to thanksgiving:
I AM THANKFUL
...for the mess to clean after a party because
it means I have been surrounded by friends.
...for.the taxes I pay because it means that I'm employed.
...for the clothes that fit a little too snug
because it means I have enough to eat.
...for my shadow who watches me work
because it means I am out in the sunshine.
...for a lawn that needs mowing, windows that
need cleaning and gutters that need fixing
because it means I have a home.
...for the spot I find at the far end of the parking lot
because it means I am capable of walking.
...for my huge heating bill because it means I am warm.
...for all the complaining I hear about our government
because it means we have freedom of speech.
...for the lady behind me in church who
sings off key because it means that I can hear.
...for the piles of laundry and ironing
because it means my loved ones are nearby.
...for the alarm that goes off in the early morning
hours because it means that I'm alive.
...for weariness and aching muscles at the end of
the day because it means I have been productive.
-- Nancie J. Carmody



Monday, November 20, 2017

Thank You. Thank You. Thank You.

I'm starting this Thanksgiving week with so much gratitude to God for His love and His many blessings -- far more than I could ever deserve! I am not lucky, fortunate, or merely disciplined – I am the recipient of God’s grace – His unmerited favor because I am His and He is mine. It's not enough to just say “Thank you!”, but to do something with the grace and blessings I’ve been given. And I know there is a responsibility that comes with privilege. I am blessed to bless. Gifted so I can give and that giving may come as just being a bright light that someone else may need.

Case in point. While in Tulsa, it was hammer down getting Mom’s things packed up for her move to my sis-in-law, Karen’s home. Mom isn’t moving fast these days, so we realized, neither should we. We’re giving her time and space to make these many easy AND difficult decisions. After all, she has an accumulation of many years of living -- 95 to be exact. She needed rest from her decision-making on Saturday morning, so I decided to go visit Karen’s husband’s Mom, Margaret, also 95 years old and who lives in a long care facility here in Tulsa. I was powered up to "make her day".

I drove just a few miles up the road to Inverness Village, her home for many years now, and tiptoed into her room because I could see she was dozing. George and Karen warned me that she has some memory loss now and may not recognize me. I gently tapped her leg and her drowsy eyes opened wide, and the biggest smile appeared on her face as she said, “Donna, you are here. I’m so glad to see you!” She was dressed to the nines, as usual. She was warm and welcoming and I could tell I made her day, but, more importantly, she made mine with the brightness in her eyes and the joy overflowing coming from her. I said, “Margaret, you look beautiful as always, but just look at your hair – it is so full and long!” With the humor I’ve always known her to have, she said, “I know. It’s because I’m ‘on the pill’” I laughed so hard and she said, “I love to say that to see people’s reaction. But, seriously, I’m taking a pill that has made my hair come back and it’s thicker than ever!” Then she went on to tell me about how much she loves living at Inverness. "They take such good care of me. The people (nurses, nurse’s aides, etc.) are so helpful and kind. I love the activities -- just look at the paintings I've done. I just love doing that." Me: “Margaret, you’ve got your Christmas up already!” Margaret: “Oh, no. I keep my Christmas up all year. It makes me happy all year.” She had so much enthusiasm and energy that it made me tear up with gratitude for her gratitude.

When I lived in Tulsa, I took communion to her on Sundays. I asked if anyone was bringing her communion and she said there is a lovely lady who brings her communion regularly and then she wanted to show me the chapel. "If you’ll push me in the wheel chair, I’ll show you!” So we took a stroll down the hall to see this beautiful little chapel, and as we rolled along, she waved and spoke to everyone we passed.

After spending about an hour with her, as my typical routine before I would leave, I had prayer with her and as I prayed, I thanked God for this precious bright light that blessed me more than I could have ever blessed her. I thanked God for caring so lovingly for her. I thanked God that her gratitude and heart of Thanksgiving made me even more grateful for my life.

When it comes to the understanding of the value of gratitude, sometimes it helps to look at the wisdom of others. Margaret has learned to count her blessings – a wheelchair that carries her to her next activity, a “pill” that’s made her hair grow, the ability to paint some pictures, her home – be it a room with many family mementos everywhere, her clothes, her children that come to see her, her beautician (she was emphatic about her hair appointment at 1 o’clock). Maybe her simplified life is far from where you and I may be, but oh that we can be as thankful for all that we have in our lives.

“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” – Oprah Winfrey

"In everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Sunday, November 19, 2017

God's Church Triumphant is Alive and Well

God's Church Triumphant is Alive and Well
I'll be heading home from Tulsa after attending church with so many of my dearest friends this morning. Of course, my sweet godson will be sitting by me. That's been his seat since my Sweetheart went to heaven. Each Sunday, he'd wait for me, or I would wait for him to snuggle close to me, often holding hands, and while in that place, I would remember the precious man whose place he took there. That man and I treated going to church like “date night”, except God was the center of our attention, while we held hands together. I never loved him more than when we were worshiping God together. My godson has helped me carry on that love.

The recent “church” tragedies could cause one to question that attending church isn't that safe place that it once was, but, without fear or doubt, I know it is still a place of hope, peace, comfort, faith, community, and fellowship with God and His people. Of course the enemy of our souls celebrates if he can create fear in our churches, in outdoor music concerts, in our schools, and even just a walk down the street, but fear only paralyzes us and keeps us from the abundant life Christ came to give us. Isaiah 41:10 says 'Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.'

Rather than being on the defense, St. Paul gave us a warfare strategy against our greatest enemy in Ephesians 6:10-17 Ephesians 6:10-17 “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the BELT OF TRUTH buckled around your waist, with the BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS in place, and with your FEET FITTED WITH THE READINESS THAT COMES FROM THE GOSPEL OF PEACE. In addition to all this, take up the SHIELD OF FAITH, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the HELMET OF SALVATION and the SWORD OF THE SPIRIT, which is the word of God.” Now that's what I call "suited up for day AND night patrol!

We continue to ready up each day by putting on our whole armor and that includes carefully choosing those friends that brighten our day with good news instead of bad news. That's why I love attending my church. It's the Body of Christ -- fellow believers. We're the family of God and when we gather together, we realize that these are the people who love to talk about the things that we love to talk about; they love to dwell on the topics that are dearest to our hearts. If our hearts have been given to the LORD, we gravitate to hanging out with His people who are like-minded in our desires to know Him and his children more. We even sincerely desire to reach out more to others to help them know Him more, too. We are motivated and inspired to live out our faith in word and deed. We find solace and peace within the Body of Christ. And in a world that presents so much chaos and confusion -- it's a safe place of refuge. I would propose to you that the Church is such a place. I am who I am today -- faith-filled, joy-filled, purpose-driven, and passionate about my Lord because of Church. The fact is: I've got friends in high places, where the Spirit of God dwells, not in just a building or place, He lives inside us. We are not just going to Church. We ARE the Church triumphant -- and we are ALIVE and WELL!


Saturday, November 18, 2017

You Matter and You Are Loved!

You see all those leaves following from the trees? I’m here in Tulsa and the Oklahoma winds are blowing through with gusto which means the leaves must give way to the pull. Perhaps you see yourself as just another leaf on one of those trees that has seen its best days and is falling, falling, falling to the earth -- no longer feeling like you matter. Or maybe you feel like a snowflake in Colorado and you feel like no one really cares or notices you. You think that you really don’t matter in the grand scheme of things. We’re entering into the most wonderful time of the year – well, for some of us, that is. Others may be already dreading the holidays because it means you are alone and you just can’t help but feel discouraged and forgotten. I’ve said it before and it’s worthy of a repeat. You DO matter.

Our greatest example of One Who gave His all to show how much we matter is Jesus Christ. Here are just a few of His “You Matter” projects: The beggar -- blind Bartimaeus. He mattered enough for Jesus to stop and heal him. (Mark 10:46-52) The woman caught in the act of adultery and her accusers were about to stone her, but Jesus displayed she mattered when He said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.” (John 8:1-11). How about Jairus’ child who was sick and died? Death could not stop Jesus from healing her because Jairus and the little girl mattered. (Mark 5:21-43) Peter denied even knowing Jesus, but the greatest display of love, forgiveness and that he mattered was when Jesus said to him, “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church.” (Matthew 16:18) Jesus’ ultimate act of showing us we matter, is when He laid down His life for you and me. The underlying fact is…..WE MATTER!

The most important thing we can do for others is to help them know they matter. Why does it matter? Because it matters to our Creator. He specifically planned each of us individually and uniquely with the funny little quirky smile we might have, the color of our hair and eyes, or the freckles on our nose. We are so special that His eyes are on us ALL the time. He knows everything about us. We're His hand-designed treasures and He even thinks about us ALL THE TIME....so shouldn't we think about others in a way that God uses our arms to hug them and our mouths to tell them how special and beautiful they are? After all, they're our sisters and our brothers in this royal family of God. I can't explain it in mere words, but God sure can! Just take a look at how He masterfully and lovingly planned us and created us! We are ALL so special to Him. I hope these words by the Psalmist convince you of that!

Psalm 139:1-5; 13-18 "O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit or stand. When far away, you know my every thought. You chart the path ahead of me and tell me where to stop and rest. Every moment you know where I am. You know what I am going to say before I even say it. You both precede and follow me and place your hand of blessing on my head. You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit them together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! It is amazing to think about. Your workmanship is marvelous—and how well I know it. You were there while I was being formed in utter seclusion! You saw me before I was born and scheduled each day of my life before I began to breathe. Every day was recorded in your book! How precious it is, Lord, to realize that you are thinking about me constantly! I can’t even count how many times a day your thoughts turn toward me. And when I waken in the morning, you are still thinking of me!"

Capital letters here to shout out loud and clear – YOU ARE LOVED and YOU MATTER!

Friday, November 17, 2017

The Symbols and Mementos of a Beautiful Life

My Sweetheart went "home" on November 16, 2010. On the day after, it was already time to begin the preparations for his home going celebration. We had to do all those necessary things one must do in dealing with a loved one’s passing: go to the funeral home, choose a casket and determine burial logistics, go to a florist and pick out flowers from the family, and visit with the pastor about the funeral specifics. And, we did all those necessary things to celebrate my Sweetheart’s life and home going. God guided every one of our steps.

Symbolism plays a vital role in our worship to God -- no matter our religious affiliation -- our hand gestures, religious icons, candles, pictures, music, scriptures, and so many other various forms of remembrance. And, likewise, I would find so much symbolism in the decisions surrounding the preparations that followed. Everything we decided on symbolized this precious man we loved and adored.

So, yesterday, the 7th anniversary of his home going, we knew it was part of God’s master plan for Mom, Karen and I, to go through Mom’s things that we’re deciding on “keeping or letting go” before her move to Karen’s. Like my Sweetheart went through a transition time to heaven, no doubt Mom is going through transition time. It’s no longer sensible for her to live on her own, so we’re helping her “let go” of so many treasures and so many memories that she and Dad had for over 53 years together. Transition isn’t a “piece of cake”. It’s coming to grips with the “past is the past” and it’s time to move on. Mom is doing her best to move on, but we’ve learned, oftentimes the hard way, that pushing her isn’t the thing to do. I understand that. Her “normal” is changing and giving her the freedom she needs to stay in some form of control, we’ve learned, is best.

Yesterday, it was Mom and I going through her nightstands that contained so much memorabilia AND symbols that opened the door for many stories of where and who “that” came from. It was reading notes and then having to make the tough decision to keep or let go. It took over an hour to go through one drawer. We had so many priceless moments together. I surprised myself because I’m a typical “get-er’-done and be done, kind of gal” – but that is not the case with a 95-year old who isn’t thinking about time and “doing”. It was definitely time and “being”. On this day (the anniversary of Ron's promotion to heaven), God’s timing was perfect for us to be captured with precious memories that symbolized my Sweetheart’s and Mom's son's life.

We would find so many mementos that were symbolic of this beautiful man on this day. Mom pulled out a book and inside was this bookmark where Mom had written “Ron’s Silence” 11/16/10 – yesterday’s date of Ron’s passing. Obviously, God directed her to this book to be read on this day which talked about “stilling our bodies and minds in order for God’s Spirit to communicate with our spirit.” These words assured her that Ron’s inner and outer quiet during the many days of his illness, was him in a holy place of “the secret place of the most high”. We ran across the train of Karen’s bridesmaid dress that she wore in our wedding, 51 years ago. Mom ran across many hand-written cards and notes from Ron to her. We opened a clothes bag and there was Mom's "Run for Ron" t-shirt that we wore in our "Movement of Gratitude". All of those sweet items were remembrances – symbols – precious times of love, laughter, family, sacred holy times, full-of-life times.

Thank you, Father God, for your "hugs" from heaven on a day of celebrating your beloved son, Ronald Jonathan David Wuerch. Thank you for choosing me to be the love of his life and for me to be welcomed into that love – not only from him, but his entire family. Thank you for Mom who has been Mom to me from the start. Thank you for the journey of faith that began as children and carried us through the thick and thin times -- to that place of destiny and purpose until You call us home. Thanks for the memories!






Thursday, November 16, 2017

The Show Must Go On -- Here, and Up There

Today, I’m back in Tulsa where so many memories always await me. Of course, I’m with Mom (aka Mom-in-Law) and Karen, which brings a flood of memories when we’re together, but today, November 16th is exceptionally special to each of us. Mom’s boy, Karen's big bro, and my Sweetheart, gets my FB marquee placement today.

Heaven is a wonderful place and every time I hear about someone's loved one getting to go there, it seems to get sweeter and sweeter. At least it sure does for me. This beautiful man went there ahead of me...seven years ago today. His Bucket List was completed, and he received his ticket for the ride he'd waited for, earned, deserved and was awarded. On the other hand, he was always ahead of me -- leading and guiding me, and always my cheerleader. I like to think that's part of his assignment in heaven -- to keep pushing me to be the best I can be, like he did when we were teenagers and during those 44 years we were together.

What would it be like if I just sat and pined away about “the way we were” or for wanting to "go home" too? What if I didn't celebrate my life today and all the joys it holds for me on this side of heaven because I'm still here?

Growing up, I heard a lot of songs about heaven: "Won't It Be Wonderful There", "When We All Get to Heaven", "Heaven is a Wonderful Place", "In the Sweet By and By", "Shall We Gather at the River?" And I agree with those songs and many sermons about the beauty and grandeur of heaven. It will be beyond our wildest dreams and imaginations. But if we're not doing what we are supposed to be doing in the right here and now, we'll be most miserable. Why be always thinking about our past and dreaming about the future, when God has called us to pick up our assignments for right here and now, and DO THEM to the best of our ability today? There are people to love and encourage. There are young people that need mentors. There are more lessons to learn. There are widows and widowers that need to know how to continue living strong. There are prayers to pray and seeds to plant. THE SHOW MUST GO ON!

I keep remembering so many of my Sweetheart's quotes. "You can do this. Your best days are ahead. Have faith -- it's gonna' be alright. Throw your hands up in the air, and enjoy the ride. Finish strong. The show must go on." And during those times when I am challenged with life and the circumstances that sometime seem overwhelming….. like having to handle business affairs and financial challenges, home and car repairs, counseling friends and family members, and making so many life decisions on my own, and when I really would love to hear his sweet voice to tell me what to do, I compose myself and I sense the voice of my Heavenly Father saying, “Trust ME!” We have a resource that we can go to for the answers, Who gives us the strength, understanding, wisdom, and comfort we need.

Today, the 'SHOW" for me is my faith journey. And, on this faith journey, I’m always travelling on roads that take me to new places, new adventures, living large with my family, sharing God's "good news" and celebrating this “abundant life” Christ came to give us. You’ll recognize me on the road….I’ll be the one with lights blinking, horn honking and banners waving and shouting “Move out of my way…I’ve got a race to run and I’m going to finish strong!"

Happy Promotion Anniversary, Sweetheart! I love you FOREVER, and I’ll catch up with you soon! I’m not giving up – until I’m taken up! In the meantime, since you are so close to the throne of God, would you please nestle up close to Him and tell Him your adoring and loving wife could use some extra help down here? After all, THE SHOW MUST GO ON!”

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Practice and Practice Makes Perfect

I thoroughly enjoyed the TV show “Little Big Shots” with Steve Harvey, as the most incredible talents were revealed by the youngest children. Case in point: Four-year old Evan Le who “picked up” the piano only a few months before and played “The Flight of the Bumblebee” masterfully. (I posted the link below if you’d like to see it. It’s hilarious AND amazing!) I can understand how methodical training, coupled with guidance from parents and teachers, and personal determination and drive – the faster and the younger the children are in becoming accomplished musicians or whatever they are given to learn.

On a personal note, I started taking piano lessons when I was 8 years old. The first thing I learned was how to read the notes on a page and associate those notes to the keys on the piano. Then I learned how to look at the music and pay attention to my fingers at the same time. That sounds like a lot of coordination is involved, and, yes, it is -- eyes, fingers, ears, and a good brain. But as I practiced and practiced (for years -- much longer than kids today), something remarkable happened. Not only was I able, by instinct, to play what I was seeing, but before long, I even had music memorized and I was able to play by memory. All those lessons and all that practice served me well over the years as I played the piano and organ for our church and our quartet that itinerated around the U.S. and Canada.

Learning to play the piano (or any instrument) takes time, determination, practice and consistency. And that's the way it is with anything that we want to accomplish in life -- whether it be in learning to cook or a new language, being good at a sport, dance, or even in being a better husband/wife, parent, friend, employee or neighbor.

Let's say we really do want to be caring and giving. Maybe we've been "all about me" for far too long, and now we're ready for change. First we get a plan of action (like I had to with learning to read the notes and keys). Every day we think about how we can be more kind and generous to our spouse or neighbor or work associates. Then we determine to carry out that plan (just as I practiced over and over). We practice by offering to help someone with something they are having to do (i.e., clean out a garage, help an associate with meeting a deadline, take care of a neighbor's kids, tutor a child, offer to help at a local charity, etc.). And we keep on practicing those caring and giving habits. All of a sudden, by instinct -- by second nature -- we are living out what we put into practice. We become the one that raises our hand when someone asks for help -- just instinctively. We can't help it -- it's second nature.

Indeed....practice makes perfect in just about everything we hope to excel in -- in life -- and that holds true to practicing love, harmony, faith, good attitude, consideration for others, and generosity.

Here’s that darling video of Steve Harvey and Evan Le: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EnXT8SY4-9Q
#PracticeMakesPerfect

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Do You Have a "Quirky" Food Favorite?

Everyone has their favorite “quirky” food favorite. We were making a quick lunch for ourselves at Mom’s home in Tulsa a couple of weeks ago, and my brother-in-law asked for a peanut butter and pickle sandwich! Argh!!! That brought back the memory of my husband, as a teenager at 14, working for his uncles' construction company. His favorite lunch kit meal? Banana and butter sandwiches. He told me about the kids at school wondering what that smell was coming from his locker. Long after we were married, he still loved banana sandwiches.

Some of my fondest memories are those mayonnaise sandwiches (yes, just mayo and bread) and for an added treat, Fritos dipped in mayo – served, as a child, while spending time at my cousin’s home. Her Mom, Aunt Marie, made those yummy sandwiches. I love that memory and I loved my precious aunt who was a true servant/server. She ALWAYS made way more food than was needed, because Uncle Dewaine (her husband), wanted to always have “more than enough”.

And, I remember my loving and devoted mom who was my hero in every aspect of life -- eating pickled pigs’ feet and a glass full of cornbread and milk – which is still one of my favorites. In fact, I had a glass full of cornbread and milk when I had some Cracker Barrel cornbread while at Mom’s. I always think of my Mama when I enjoy my own cornbread doused in milk. I ate the pigs’ feet right along with her years ago, but now when I see them….I think…..”What was I thinking?”

Today, salt and vinegar potato chips are sold everywhere, but I remember when my husband took me to his hometown of Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada and McDonald’s serving vinegar packets along with their ketchup packets for their French fries. My husband always loved dousing his French fries with vinegar.


One of my favorite memories, though, is shown in this photo that has been passed on to my granddaughter. Papa, my sweet husband, loved to put sugar on tortilla chips and eat them for his dessert. I'll never forget my daughter's hockey player boyfriend, in total exasperation, when he saw Ron eating the tortillas and, what he thought was a pile of salt instead of sugar. He said, "Well, we might as well get a body bag and zip you up in it, if you keep eating salt like that!" LOL!

Remembering some quirky food favorites was a joy for me in this post, but REMEMBERING my absolute favorite is the dearest to me. I segue to what may seem like a strange food favorite to those who DON'T understand – and that is when we step up to receive Holy Communion -- the greatest expression of God’s love for His people. It may seem "quirky" to some folks who don't get it, but we do, as it always evokes the memory of the price Jesus Christ paid for us in His death, burial and resurrection. On the night that He was betrayed, Jesus ate His last supper with His disciples. And knowing what He would accomplish through His sacrifice, He instituted Holy Communion.

His loving instruction is that we are to REMEMBER Him as we partake of His body and blood in Holy Communion. Jesus wanted us conscious of how His body was broken for our wholeness, and His blood was shed for the forgiveness of our sins. And whenever we partake, we “proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes” (1 Corinthians 11:26). "We do this in remembrance of Him." That's just not a quirky tradition -- but one that gives us life-changing memories, and it's a feast where we aren’t “secret” believers. We are in the Family of God. We celebrate with other believers, and we communicate to Him saying "Lord, I belong to YOU and YOU belong to me."

“For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.” 1 Corinthians 11:26

Monday, November 13, 2017

It's Not Broken -- Just Wrong Programming

Yesterday afternoon, I went to the fitness center in my community to run on the treadmill. As I ran, I watched the Dallas Cowboys game and they got off to a great start but, apparently they were "out of order" because they lost to Atlanta 7 to 27. On the same note, occasionally, you’ll see a sign on one of the treadmills in my fitness center that says “temporarily out of order”. I heard about one gal who was running on a treadmill and it started picking up speed -- a lot of speed -- and she nearly fell before she could get it to stop. But, it wasn’t about the equipment malfunctioning – it was because she "entered" a program she wasn’t capable of handling. It was “user error” and wrong programming. Now I know why they have some treadmills with a sign on them that says “This treadmill is for those members who prefer a slower pace.” So far, I’ve stayed clear of those machines!

Here’s my point for today’s post. We could be going about our daily routines -- coasting along -- business as usual. When, all of a sudden, our world feels like it's out of control and can't seem to stop the all-too-fast pace we are keeping. We realize we're about to lose it.....and we know we MUST push the STOP button, or we'll crash and burn. When we stop, we realize something is wrong -- is it my circumstances or is it ME that is out of order or I need reprogramming?

God created us as powerful, fully equipped "machines" that have everything we need to perform at full capacity, but occasionally "stuff" happens that causes our programming to become dysfunctional. For example, a couple of weeks ago, I was hit with an "issue" and I needed to go see my doctor as sson as possible. After tests were run, while giving the diagnosis, my doctor asked “How much water are you drinking?” I was caught by my doctor AND my body. I was drinking mostly tea and coffee and NOT drinking enough water, so my body AND my “programming” malfunctioned.

If we desire to be victorious, strong, confident, and faith-filled, always ready to run our race with vigor and vitality, we must keep up with maintenance checks -- to be sure we're programmed for efficiency. If that programming starts malfunctioning -- i.e., our physical bodies start breaking down, or we allow negative thoughts to bombard our minds – thoughts of fear, lack of self esteem, quitting thoughts, inferiority – it’s time to update our programming and get a tune-up -- from the neck up. Our thinking probably needs to be reprogrammed.
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Our Master Technician's instruction manual (The Bible) has all the operating standards we need to run at best performance. And, it gives us all the basics we need to "Troubleshoot", "Reboot" and "Reprogram". Once we apply this technique -- we'll be guaranteed to continue to run with efficiency and success. Here's one of the BEST peak performance tips:

Joshua 1:8 "Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful."

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Welcome to the World – Our New Baby Foal!

There is nothing to compare with the joys of new life – of a baby – and, in my grandson’s opinion – a donkey baby (foal). What the family didn’t know when they added two little miniature donkeys, Firecracker and Molly Grace, to their family in January, that one of them could be “expecting”. They only hoped that there would be an addition to the family sometime in the future.

As the days went by, it looked like Firecracker’s middle was growing bigger and bigger. Last month, while I was there, a vet came out and assured us, that a baby foal was on the way and could be here anytime from then to December.

Friday night, Shawntel and Bryson went out to check on the donkeys and they could only see Molly Grace (the other donkey) by herself and she was loudly hee-hawing. It was like she was calling for help and it wasn’t like her at all to be away from Firecracker. They are always side by side. Then they saw Firecracker and another little shadow, and there was our new baby – all legs and ears and as Shawntel put it, that “he’ll have to grow into”. There was no rushing Firecracker to do anything she wasn’t ready to do – her baby’s debut came when the natural process of birthing was ready. Oh, the miracle of God’s creation.

My first thought, when I saw the photos yesterday morning, “How in the world was that big baby in that tiny mama, and how in the world did she deliver that baby all on her own?" Again, oh, the wonders of God’s creation. Needless to say, there is joy and celebration in the Wuerch household. Baby immediately knew where to go for nourishment. The family gathered up the baby with mama and put them in the barn for safe-keeping.

Yesterday morning, in the light of day, the family Face-Timed me and I was able to see my new little grand-donkey firsthand. Witnessing Bryson cuddling and loving him brought such joy to my heart. What a wonderful birthday present for Bryson – he turns 11 this Friday, on November 17th.

There are few things in life that are as sweet as a birth. We ooh and aww at newborn babies – both human and animal life. We recognize the miracle of birth and as those little ones grow up, they’ll soon crawl and before long, they’ll walk. Not to be a boasting Nana, but DID YOU NOTICE my little pride and joy, grand-donkey was already walking at one hour of life? How’s that for something to talk about? LOL! What a glorious job God does with His creation.

That little Mama donkey has such love and care for her baby. She nudges him along ever so gently. There’s so much we can learn from the animal kingdom. I’m quite sure they are closer to God than we give them credit for. We like to think that our ability to feel and understand emotions is unparalleled, but watching God’s timing of the seasons, the instincts of animals and other creatures, I’ve come to realize His perfect plan for everything gives us a sense of confidence and peace that all things will work out in our lives.

I’ve watched Bryson and his love for his animals and have been so impressed with his understanding of responsibility and accountability. Not only have his animals taught him to be compassionate, but it has had such a direct effect on who he is as such a sweet, caring, compassionate, and tender-hearted boy. I tell him often, “You are going to be such a great daddy someday!” And, I know he will. In the meantime, Bryson will continue to grow in wisdom and stature and favor with God and man……and all of his animal kingdom friends.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Freedom Isn't Free -- Thank You, Veterans, For Paying the Ultimate Price for our Freedom!

When I was helping my youngest grandson with his history lessons, I was getting some history lessons of my own. I recalled those lessons when I thought about this Veteran’s Day -- this very important time of remembering the heroes who paid the ultimate price of their lives for our freedom. It is easy to take our nation for granted, but Veterans’ Day reminds us that freedom isn’t free. Bryson and I learned that without our soldiers' sacrifice dating back to the American Revolution, we could still be a colony of England or, even today, could be living in a world that was dominated by nazism, communism, or radical jihadism. It's a very big deal that we often take too lightly -- especially when we see another family saying "Good-bye" to their sons and daughters who have fallen during their call-of-duty.

Those incredible Americans who served and are serving in our military on active duty or in the reserves, deserve to know that if they give their lives for our nation, we will never forget their sacrifice, as well as the sacrifices made by their spouses and children whose loved one died for our country.

President John F. Kennedy said, ‘Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.’ There are few ways less noble to serve our country than through our military, whose sacrifice, courage and strength deserve our highest gratitude. I can’t imagine the bravery of those who are willing to be placed in harm’s way or dedicate their lives to protect people he/she has never met. I am not only proud, but also honored to live in a country where this kind of courage exists. Every veteran has made the ultimate commitment and has demonstrated the pinnacle of patriotism and courage. Having a day like today, seems like a mere "token" of appreciation, but we pray that veterans are appreciated, respected and given preferential treatment for their sacrifices when it comes to their well-being, their health, their financial rewards.

In return for their acts of courage and commitment, I pray, that we show up on the side of our veterans to love and appreciate their sacrifices. From the bottom of my heart, I shout "Thank you for your bravery. Thank you for believing in the stars and stripes. Thank you for standing up for us on the battlefield. Thank you for singing the "National Anthem" with your head held high, your hand saluting the flag and the freedoms that you fought so violently for. Thank you for your service to the United States of America." I stand with you, with my hand held over my heart in allegiance to our flag, I sing loud and strong "Oh say can you see by the dawn's early light....." and I thank God for your great love for us all.

John 13:15 "Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."

Friday, November 10, 2017

Am I Your Favorite?

That's the question I get, regularly, from my four youngest grandchildren. It's actually quite hilarious and my usual answer is, "I love you all the same" or "I love you all uniquely because you are all so special in your very own ways!" I will respond to my 11 year old, Bryson, when I get that question from him, "Yes, you are my FAVORITE 11-year old." None of those answers seem to satisfy them because of late, it's the last one to have my cell phone in hand who places their photo on my home page, that they deem to be my "favorite". When my Alexia and Payton saw that I had Bryson's birthday picture on my home screen a couple of days ago (because I was just there celebrating his birthday), they battled it out for who's picture would be there. It seems Alexia won because hers is the one on there now. For my birthday, Payton wrote on my card envelope: "To: Nana, From your favorite grandson aka Payton. Alexia wrote: "To Nana, From Alexia (Your fav granddaughter). I love this competition for Nana's approval and love. They know they have it and, of course, I know they're all playing me!

When my husband was in his final days on this earth, my daughter, Staci, and I would often be with him, tending to his needs and wants. One day -- without looking directly at either of us, he said, "I love you so much, my precious darling!" We both asked, at the same time, "Which of us are you talking to?" In his usual finesse and wisdom, announced "Both of you!" VERY wise man.

Maybe you don't feel like anybody's "favorite" today. Here's the truth -- I am God’s favorite…and so are you! Psalm 16:3 As for the saints who are on the earth, they are excellent ones, in whom is all my delight."

I have people respond to me from time to time, “Wow, God sure loves you and favors you!" The fact is I know I'm not favored above anyone else, but I do know I want to make Him famous so I talk about Him a lot. I celebrate His blessings -- big and small. But, the fact of the matter is God says in His Word, He is not partial. Romans 2:11 "For God shows no partiality." He will not favor me over you. You see, I am His favorite, but you are too! I rejoice with you that you share in this great reality. We are God’s own favorite people.

It’s hard to imagine that our great God is not partial, but we are, in fact, His favorites. We are His own special people and so are any of the “whosoevers” that John 3:16 talks about. The "whosoevers" become His favorites by believing John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that WHOSOEVER believes in Him, will not perish but have everlasting life!" That's forever! That means He loves us so much that He will never be an "empty-nester". You know, like those parents who look forward to their kids moving out and starting their own lives. That's not God. He welcomes us to live with Him forever and ever!

So, yes, we are God’s favorites FOREVER. You and I are God’s special treasures and this astounding promise lasts forever and FOREVER! Hebrews 13:5 "For He Himself has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you.'”

May we realize that we are all God’s favorites. If He had a cell phone, my picture would be on it when I looked, and when you looked, your picture would be on it. In return for that favoritism, may we live our lives completely out loud for those who are lost and hurting and don't know His love. May we help Him help all of His kids to know His love that can never be compared and that they would know they are God’s favorites, too!

Thursday, November 9, 2017

RELAX!!!

Yesterday, it was in the low 40s in Frisco and it rained, literally, all day. My kind of day! I started out sitting in front of my fireplace -- sending love text notes to my children. I never made my bed -- just in case I wanted to crawl back in -- I did. After all, those 4 to 5 hours of sleep at night justifies a little nap during the day. I did lots of office work, made several important phone calls, had a sweet time of devotion, washed clothes, created this post (as well as a couple of other posts for another day -- time well spent), and I loved every minute of this easy-go, easy-flow, RELAXING day. I looked into my bathroom when I laid down for that little middle-of-the-day nap and saw those words RELAX and I could hear two reassuring messages from God.

1) RELAX -- I was feeling a little guilty about having such a care-free day, doing just what I wanted to do. But, then I remembered the last three weeks of call-of-duty with my grandsons and then my mother-in-law -- that were non-stop, sometimes exhausting days. Here's what I know. It's okay to have a day when we can just BE. After all, we were created by God to be human BEINGS, not human DOINGS. I know that many of my younger friends dream of days like this. I was you in my busy working days, wife and little children days, Bible teacher and speaker days -- and now I am here, in these days. You'll be here one day and I urge you to savor these days, because tomorrow can be amped up, full-on, all-out exhaustive days. These are the days to refuel and get ready for firing up for the next call-of-duty.

2) RELAX -- There are many things to be concerned about in my life, my family's life, our city, country and world. How can we relax when there's so much to do for God? After all, we are His hands extended. After all, if we don't go, who will? After all, if I don't take care of this and that, who will take care of it for me? Then, loud and clear -- I could hear God's voice in these words in Psalms 26:3, "Be still and know that I am God." When He said those words, He meant it for the many troubles in King David's life and times, and just as assuredly, He means it for you and me today. I don't think He meant for us to actually sit in a chair and be still, but I think He meant "Be still of worry, anxiety and fear." How many times did He say "Do not fear. Do not be afraid"? I didn't count, but I read in my Google search, 365 times. So, then, when God says to RELAX -- that means, fear is unnecessary AND is disobedient to God's command of "Do not fear!"

Isaiah 30:15 says “For the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel says: in returning and rest shall you be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength….” I've been at this journey of faith long enough to be convinced that in quietness and confidence in God’s faithfulness, we will be renewed and strengthened daily. The word for quietness in Hebrew means “repose”. And repose means calm, relaxed, free from all anxiety, to be still, to lie down with support underneath (like the green pastures in Psalm 23). That was my yesterday -- enjoying the green pastures of my Father -- and RELAXING -- because why should I worry or fret, when He can handle it all for me?

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Treating God Like a Slot Machine or a Loving Giver

I get amused at how absurd some of the material for my daily posts comes to me. Case in point: There are three casinos that I pass along the way from Frisco to Tulsa. When I passed them as I drove home on Saturday, I thought about how people go to a casino to “invest” in a game or slot machine in hopes to receive a big payout from their "investment". A casino really does represent hope and great expectation for the folks who go there. I know, from those we counseled over the years, that many people play the games with money they really don’t have to spend, but still hope that they will hit “the big one” that will pay off some debts or help them make ends meet.

In the 80s, we attended a business convention in Las Vegas. One of our goals, while there, was to see Wayne Newton in concert and we did. We had a great time as Wayne was at his finest! When the concert was over we walked into the open air casino, Slots of Fun, that was across the street from our hotel. We were newbies to Las Vegas and to slot machines. I thought about the potential of a BIG WIN! Our kids played arcade games to win tickets to earn a prize, so maybe I could win some nickles. My husband was roaming around when I sat down and put a few nickels in the machine and within minutes I hit the “big one” and nickels were clinking out of that machine like crazy! I was "loaded" with a bucket full of nickels. I was so elated when I found my husband and shouted “I won!” He burst out laughing when he saw me because my face and hands were so dirty from handling those nickles that I had played and won. I saw how addictive "investing" into those machines could become -- not to mention I had to get "cleaned up" from my fun.

Passing those casinos as I drove home, vividly brought that memory back to me, but more importantly came the idea for today's post.

How often do we treat God like a slot machine? Instead of acknowledging Him and coming to Him daily for WHO He is, we come to Him for what we can get out of Him. We often come to Him for the “big payout” -- to take care of the big need or want we have. He is a casual acquaintance until we have a crisis or other need of some kind, then we show up with our nickels (i.e., our needs and wants) and put them into our “God” machine and we expect Him to come through for us. And, when we don’t get the answer we expect….we walk away and blame it on the "machine".

The fact is, our Father God is a wonderful bestower of blessings to us – from the breath we breathe, to the food we eat. When we acknowledge Him as our Lord when we pray, we are expressing our dependence on Him for all things! It’s one of the blessings we can have in a relationship with God -- to be invited to talk to Him in prayer and ask Him for things, and to know that He cares about us and listens to us. It’s even greater to know that He answers our prayers according to HIS good purposes, because sometimes the things we ask for aren’t even what’s best for us.

Prayer is far more than just asking God for things. It’s being in a loving relationship, where we talk to each other -- about everything. We talk then we listen and He talks back to us. We're not just trying to get something out of Him.
We are enjoying just being together in relationship.

Still, we are told to ask God about anything big or small – Philippians 4:4-6 says “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again, I say, Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." When we pray like that, we are asking for God’s priorities in our lives instead of our priorities. We can be assured that God knows what we need before we even ask it, and He is committed to our best interests even when it might not seem like it at the time. Ultimately He most wants for us to know Him, to love and trust Him, and spend time with Him as Father God – after all – no slot machine could bestow on us the riches, treasures and blessings of our God – in Whom all things are possible.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Love God and Do Whatever You Want

Love God and Do Whatever You Want
I heard that St. Augustine quote on Sunday and I thought “Did I hear that right? Do whatever I want?” How can that be? The answer is shocking at first. It sounds like a license to sin and a way to avoid responsibility. Anything I please? The key to understanding St. Augustine, as well as my pastor’s message, is found in the order of the words. It can even be brought out with the addition of a comma: Love God, and do what you want. As long as the first command is truly followed, the second will follow after God’s heart and will. LOVE is the answer. If we use the filter of LOVE, it will sift everything else out, that isn’t right.

That message reminded me of a personal story. A couple of years after my sweetheart went to heaven, I met a beautiful, sweet and kind gentleman. We had many things in common, but some opposite opinions when it came to matters of the heart – those “Love the Lord your God with ALL YOUR HEART” matters. I rationalized “This friendship is good and I enjoy his company and kindness, so I’ll continue to be an example of God’s love and, hopefully, he’ll come around to my way of thinking on those areas that we don't agree on. Not long after that, he asked if I would go away with him. I knew what he meant. Immediately, I recognized our main difference was my profound love for God. I explained that I was in a “love” relationship with God and I wouldn’t dare do anything that would damage that relationship. My true “North”, then, and thereafter, has continued to be “Love God. Period.” That “True North” of loving God – is my fixed point that keeps me on track in making daily life decisions, finding compatible friends, reacting to challenges, guiding my walk and talk and staying in touch with my most deeply held beliefs, values, and principles.

Last night, my daughter told me that they had gone to a new movie that they had looked forward to as a family. Just a few minutes into the movie and seeing so much witchcraft in it, each of them agreed, "This movie isn't for us." Their "True North" guided their hearts. “Love God, and Do Whatever You Want” is just that. When we take those words TO HEART, what we want, is to love God with all our hearts, and that becomes our filter for everything. Love God and WWJD are guides for ALL matters.

St. Augustine thought that if we love God, we aren't going to offend Him and so we don't need any "Do's and Don'ts rules". St. Augustine agreed with Jesus in this scripture in Matthew 22:36-40 “‘You MUST love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important commandment. The second is exactly like it: ‘You must love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commandments.”

John 14:15 reconfirms those words: “If you love Me, you will keep my commandments.” Here's the point: The person who loves God and seeks Him, the things that please the person, are the very things that please God. That’s my desire. Do I always get it right? Heavens NO! But do I strive to get it right? Heavens YES. I’m so thankful for this “love” relationship that keeps me grounded and looking upward. Even when I mess up – it keeps me coming back to my Lover of all Lovers, asking for His forgiveness and in His case, He ALWAYS forgives. When He forgives me so freely, it causes me to love Him and want to please Him even more. Do you have a "True North"?




Monday, November 6, 2017

Acts of Random Kindness aka ARK

Yesterday, I joined with about 60 other volunteers from my church, to donate the fixin’s and make over 2,400 sandwiches for the homeless in downtown Dallas. The sandwiches, carrots and raisins were then taken to the “The Soup Mobile” which is a mobile soup kitchen that feeds and shelters the homeless in Dallas. Their Mission Statement are the three simple words of Christ to Peter, “Feed my sheep.” It felt so good to participate in a simple act of kindness to feed Christ's precious sheep.

Jesus said, in Matthew 5:25, "For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in."

I remember the story of the starfish -- we can't help them all, but we can certainly make a difference one by one. That's what God calls us to do – every day -- at home and in places where we can help "save" a life!

After that time well spent, I stopped by Taco Bell for a quick drive-through lunch, placed my order and went to pay my $5.95 bill and the cashier said, “Your food was paid by the man in front of you. The lady in the car in front of him paid for his bill." I wasn’t about to be outdone – I paid for his bill. We were paying it forward. Acts of Random Kindness aka ARK – those times when we just can’t help ourselves, we want to see kindness spread like wild fire.

I love seeing the generosity of people who do random acts of kindness -- like that one who stops to help someone with a flat tire or who leaves a little "extra" tip for their waitress or simply rushes to open the door for others.

When we genuinely care about people, we find ourselves paying attention to what might be a blessing to them. As our love grows, the details of their lives become more and more important to us. It begins to really matter to us if they are sad or discouraged, struggling or in pain, needy or lonely. A sure sign that our concern for people is growing is when we find ourselves looking at people and thinking, “What would help her? What would help him? What does he need? What does she need?” We might even ask God, “How can I serve this person? How can I make his or her life easier?

A.R.K. -- Acts of Random Kindness -- Let's start a flood of kindness!! The flood that comes from a simple Act of Random Kindness -- caring and sharing from our bounty of blessings with others. What can we do to make someone's life better each day? Maybe it's just a hug or a smile.....randomly pay for someone's meal....pay a compliment, offer to baby sit for a weary single parent, take someone a meal, wash someone's car, send a card or make a phone call to encourage someone. There are so many little things we can do to help someone have a better day – that doesn’t cost anything.

Let's TRY A LITTLE KINDNESS today......perhaps our kindness might just be what someone needs to change their dark world to light and bright!

Ephesians 4:31-32 “Stop being mean, bad-tempered, and angry. Quarreling, harsh words, and dislike of others should have no place in your lives. Instead, be KIND to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another..."



Sunday, November 5, 2017

Adapting to Change

ALERT!!!! If you're reading this at what you think is 7:00 am, then you under-slept! It's only 6 am here in the Central Time Zone. You missed the "FALL BACK" time change. Thank Ben Franklin for his grand idea. Change came, both in our daylight savings time and change is happening in the trees with their leaves becoming all variations of beautiful color. I witnessed it firsthand yesterday when I traveled home from Tulsa to Frisco. What a beautiful sight! We're even having cooler weather.
CHANGE is coming. It will get even cooler.

This is my favorite time change – the one that “falls back” and for those of us who remembered, we get a much needed extra hour of sleep. We adults can get this and adapt quite readily. But, oh my goodness, I remember when my children and grandchildren were babies and those time changes came and it was a work-out to get them on the new schedule. But, these days, wise young moms have learned to trick the time clock. They start regulating their children's schedule way before last night. They gradually moved bedtime and morning wake up time and nap times later by 10-15 minutes. By the time this Sunday came those little ones' schedule was already tracking the new time change.

I love that. Adapting to change. Rather than cranky moms, dads and kids….be forward thinking. What can I do to make what I know is coming…..an easier, calmer, less-stressful outcome? First of all, I can ACCEPT that changes are inevitable. Like this Daylight Savings time change – it happened whether we liked it or not. Again, thank good old Benjamin Franklin for that! He proposed rising an hour earlier in order to conserve candles, but it didn't take root until World War II, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt started what he called "War Time” in an effort to save resources. Thanks, Ben, & President Roosevelt!" And you can thank me for giving you this piece of American History. You're welcome!

Being willing to embrace change has so many rewards. While I still love my former home city of Tulsa, and the friends and family that live there, because I made the change and moved to Frisco, TX, now I have precious new friends. I'm closer to my family for sweet times that I would have missed if I hadn't "made the change".

Change in our lives is inevitable. We can hold change like the tight reins of a horse and resist it and refuse to submit to change, or we can take off those old hats of “I’ve ALWAYS done it this way, and I’ll never change” or put on those new hats of “I’m going to embrace change – and grow and learn and adapt and be ALL God destined me to be.” Maybe it’s time to rethink that potential new hairstyle, that better job, that computer course to up your game, that circle of friends, that same-oh-same-oh attitude of gloom, doom, and despair. Just maybe it’s time to get a new lease on life by being willing to CHANGE!

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Are You a Caregiver? Then You Are His Hands Extended.


When I moved from Tulsa a year ago, I knew God was directing me back to my home state of Texas – closer to my children and grandchildren, yet still close enough to get back to Tulsa should I be needed by my sister-in-law in the care of Mom (my mother-in-law). I have felt like I abandoned ship because not long after I moved away, Mom needed more care. Fortunately, Karen and George have run their business out of Mom's home so Mom isn't alone very much. Also, they live only five minutes away from Mom. Of late, however, Mom has needed extra care which has put greater demands on my dear sis and bro.

I’m so thankful that God has given "super powers" to Karen and George -- His strength, patience, and guidance along the way. When Mom became nervous about driving, on her own, years ago, gave her car keys to Karen and said “I’m through with driving.” What a wonderful announcement that was. We didn’t have to make that decision for her. And, Karen told her years ago that when she’s ready to move from her home to theirs, she should just tell them and they’ll welcome her there. Sure enough, Mom recently declared “I’m ready to move to your house!” What a sweet relief to know she made that decision herself instead of being forced to move.

Since then, Karen and George have been making room for Mom by painting rooms, moving furniture out to make room for Mom's furniture, and adding fixtures to accommodate Mom's needs. Over the last several days, Karen and I have been cleaning out closets and storage spaces for Mom and decorating her beautiful, spacious room at their home.

We’re so thankful we have the privilege of treating Mom with so much dignity that she is in the driver’s seat, so to speak – getting to select the day and time for the move. But this dignity and care, has been ongoing for many years. My sis, Karen, truly has a servant's heart. She is so devoted to Mom, being on-call 24/7 to her call and so very patient, loving and kind. She takes her to many doctor's appointments, gives her daily care (and that's a lot) and shows her such unconditional love.

Witnessing these tender moments, made me want to reach out to my FB friends who are caregivers and encourage you with this beautiful ministry of care-giving. I believe you have the Father's heart of love and compassion.

I recognize that ministry. I was the caregiver to my precious Mama for many years and into her later years, her 24-7 caregiver. Then during my Sweetheart's illness, being his 24-7 caregiver.

Caregiving should never feel like it's merely a duty or obligation. Caregiving can be welcomed into our hearts as a God-given ministry. It may be a hidden ministry that goes unnoticed by many, but it is a ministry that God sees and one that pleases Him. Jesus recognized its importance when He said, “Whoever helps one of these little ones because they are my followers will truly get his reward. He will get his reward even if he only gave my follower a cup of cold water.” Matthew 10:42.

As a caregiver, God will use your hands as an extension of His hands—to hold, to support, to embrace, to comfort, to bless, to help, to heal; He will use your words— to encourage, to build up, to speak hope, to convey truth, to strengthen faith, to deepen trust, to impart love; He will use your presence— to show care, to bring companionship, to wipe a tear, to soothe a pain, to dispel a fear, to rub a brow, to kiss a check, to hold a hand, to fluff a pillow, to reassure when there’s a setback, to celebrate when progress is made. Those actions certainly do sound like the actions and character of God.

As His servants, the ministry of caregiving means that whatever it is we do to help another, even if it means the simple act of giving a glass of water, the Lord receives it as a ministry done unto Him. How blessed we are to be able to make God's heart glad as we touch others with His love. I can imagine He is giving you applause and a standing ovation for a "job well done"!


Friday, November 3, 2017

Your Mission Should You Choose to Accept It

I always enjoyed the Mission: Impossible TV shows back in the 60s to 80s, and then the movies that took the show to a whole new level with Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt. The most familiar quotes were “Your mission, should you choose to accept it....” and “As always, should you or any of your I.M. Force be caught or killed, the Secretary will disavow any knowledge of your actions. This tape will self-destruct in ten seconds. Good luck.” How’s that for dare-devil adventures with the potential of failures that could lead to death?

And something similar to that statement was asked of Jesus – only much, much greater if He chose to accept His mission, He would have to leave heaven for earth as a baby born to a virgin, to grow to manhood, perform all His ministry, duties and responsibilities as the Son of God – miracle after miracle, transforming lives, teaching love and showing love – even to the point of sacrificing His life for you and me. The most mind boggling component about His mission was that He was never guilty of any sin, yet was willing to accept His cross. He ONLY chose the “YES” – which he KNEW would result in death.

We, too, have been invited to accept or reject the mission God has called us to. He is waiting for our “yes”. As Jesus did, giving Himself wholeheartedly to God in service, undaunted and unwavering in faith, and living out God’s character of love, kindness, meekness, gentleness, wisdom, understanding, determination – so do we. And, as He was special to His Father, so are we. We may ask “Who ME? I’m not qualified for a mission of such monumental importance – especially if it’s going to require that I step out of my comfort zone.” All He asks for is our YES, because He doesn’t call the “qualified”’ He qualifies the “called”. He is looking for those who don’t hold back their talents and abilities. When we say “yes” as the young peasant girl, Mary, did, when she was given her mission – to be the virgin who bears the Son of God, and raises Him, her mission became Mission POSSIBLE and so it will be for us. Ours, too, will be Mission POSSIBLE.

Speaking of Mission: Possible and our acceptance of our God-given mission, I want to share my daughter with you – who was my mission for many years. I completed my mission. Well, sort of. I raised her to be a mighty and strong woman of God. I know my mission is to continue to pray for her and her family, but now, she, as a notably gifted teacher, life coach, author, recording artist, entrepreneur and speaker, has her own mission to fulfill. Staci Wallace, my daughter, accepted her mission to write a book entitled “Mission: Possible” and on November 1st released her "Mission: Possible" online study course. The "Mission: Possible" online study is an in-depth life mastery course designed to help you dig deep into your behaviors, faith, emotions and daily habits to see what it is that has been holding you back from knowing and UNLEASHING your fullest potential – to know your God-given MISSION. The study will help you discover your own life in scripture and enable you to see that every part of your design, your personality, your history, your failures, your successes, and your desires -- all have a purpose in positioning you to be a world changer and history maker to the world around you. Nothing about you is an accident. God has been molding you, protecting you and preparing you FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS. TODAY!
For more info about the Mission Possible training series, go to: http://www.staciwallace.com/mission-Possible

I pray that we all discover our MISSION that is possible because we serve God – Who With NOTHING is IMPOSSIBLE!