Saying Goodbye

Sometimes it’s hard to say goodbye. When my sisters who live out of state come to visit, it’s hard to say goodbye when they leave because we don’t know when we will see each other again. When we leave a job or home that we enjoyed, it’s hard to say goodbye. Some even find it hard to say goodbye to fall when winter sets in and they know cold is on its way. But I think the hardest goodbye we ever say is when a loved one dies. A week ago today we said goodbye to our precious grandson. That’s something you never expect to experience. heartbrokenYou always think that you will die before your children or grandchildren. It’s shocking and it’s heart-breaking.

While our grandson was baptized as a teenager, we hadn’t spent as much time with him these past years as we wished so we weren’t really sure about his relationship with God. In the middle of the night Thursday/Friday and Friday morning I prayed that God would bless me by giving me some indication that he was in fact in the arms of Jesus. I knew that even though my heart was broken that he wasn’t here with me in person any longer, that would bring comfort to my soul. We buried him this past Friday. I won’t go into specifics, but God not only gave me an indication, He gave me two. God is so good!

Ecclesiastes3_1-2Our hearts still ache talk to him and our arms still ache to hug him, But, we are comforted that he is with God. We are strengthened in our resolve to pray fervently for our loved ones, our neighbors and our nation. Some don’t know God. Some may know God but aren’t growing in their faith. Some are simply struggling and need encouragement. I am now much more prayerfully passionate about the salvation of others and more fervently praying for them.

We have beautiful memories of our dear grandson and I am so thankful for them. He was so very sweet. So, for now we have said goodbye here on earth but will meet again in heaven. Of that I am eternally grateful.

Isaiah 58

As I read this chapter in Isaiah, I could not help but think of our nation, our people, and the church. Like all of scripture, we can apply this chapter to our lives today. It’s a good “self-check” and offers points of prayer as we seek God on behalf of our families, communities and nation. May God’s church kneel down in prayer and stand up for God.Isaiah 58

“Shout it aloud, do not hold back.
    Raise your voice like a trumpet.
Declare to my people their rebellion
    and to the descendants of Jacob their sins.
For day after day they seek me out;
    they seem eager to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that does what is right
    and has not forsaken the commands of its God.
They ask me for just decisions
    and seem eager for God to come near them.
‘Why have we fasted,’ they say,
    ‘and you have not seen it?
Why have we humbled ourselves,
    and you have not noticed?’

“Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please
    and exploit all your workers.
Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife,
    and in striking each other with wicked fists.
You cannot fast as you do today
    and expect your voice to be heard on high.
Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,
    only a day for people to humble themselves?
Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed
    and for lying in sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call a fast,
    a day acceptable to the Lord?

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
    and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
    and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
    and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
    and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
    and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness[a] will go before you,
    and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
    you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.

If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
    with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
    and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
    and your night will become like the noonday.
11 The Lord will guide you always;
    he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
    and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
    like a spring whose waters never fail.
12 Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
    and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
    Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.

13 “If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath
    and from doing as you please on my holy day,
if you call the Sabbath a delight
    and the Lord’s holy day honorable,
and if you honor it by not going your own way
    and not doing as you please or speaking idle words,
14 then you will find your joy in the Lord,
    and I will cause you to ride in triumph on the heights of the land
    and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.”
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

This says it all. Amen.

Unusual Sighting

I was unprepared for the very unusual and unexpected sighting I received this morning. As I got up and was walking toward the front of the house, I saw through the glass in the front door something large walking across my neighbor’s front lawn. As I got closer, I realized it was a wild turkey. wild turkeyWhat was it doing in our neighborhood where there was nothing but houses, no woods, no stream, etc.? It walked across the grass until it got to their front walk and then proceeded on the concrete path. I thought it was so funny that the turkey was walking on the sidewalk. Anyway, then it headed across the street and into another neighbor’s yard where it walked around their backyard and in between the rows of houses where I couldn’t see it any longer. This was certainly a new sight and out of the “norm”. I was unprepared. I didn’t have a camera or my phone with me to take a picture. No one else was up, so I couldn’t even share it with anyone. We have seen eagles, hawks and of course, geese in our neighborhood but this is the first time I’ve seen a wild turkey. It was certainly an unusual sight.

As I was thinking about this unusual sight., I considered another unusual sighting that will be coming our way. I wonder how many of us will be surprised as I was this morning. We have been notified in advance but how many of us really consider it and will be prepared? Jesus Christ told us Are you readythat He will return one day. He also told us what to expect to see before His return. He warned us against false prophets and those claiming to be him. Will we be ready, or will we be deceived? Will we hesitate or will we celebrate?

Matthew 24 gives us all we need to know to be prepared for the very unusual sight of Jesus’ return. “At that time, the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other…Therefore, keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this:… So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” Matthew 24:30-31, 36, 42, 44)

Jesus return is certainly expected. Our hope for eternity is in Him. But the question we must ask ourselves is, are we prepared for His unusual sighting?

Training Wheels

Many or most of us are living under a “stay-at-home” order and are “social distancing” from extended family and friends during this horrible Covid-19 pandemic. It’s certainly a different way of life than what we consider normal. Sometimes the walls of our homes can seem to close in on us and we can get irritable, depressed and scared. Isn’t it a blessing though that it’s happening during spring when we can see the new growth of our lawns and the beauty of spring flowers? Where I live it has been sunny several days this week. I have been able to sit on my front porch and speak or wave to neighbors walking, riding bikes or jogging past.IMG_3781 Yesterday while I was again on my front porch reading a book, I heard quite a commotion down the street. A little boy was learning to ride his bike without training wheels. There was much emotion and encouragement being shouted his way as his Mom walked alongside him with her hands on his back, encouraging him. His Dad was shouting that he was doing great and that he could do it! Many times, they went back and forth, shouting encouragement. Then, he tried it on his own. You should have heard the exclamations of joy! I wanted to clap and shout myself, but I was several houses down and I didn’t want to scare him off balance. It was pure joy to see and hear that family enjoying this newfound freedom in their young son. He had been “training” on his bike for some time and was now ready to go it alone, without the crutch of training wheels.

This morning as I woke up and was praying, God reminded me of yesterday’s experience. He showed me that this little boy’s training wheels are like when we are learning God’s Word.hebrews-5-11-14 We need others to teach us. We need others to go alongside us as we learn about God and His plan for our lives. But, just as this little boy finally wanted to move forward to a 2-wheeler, we, too must move forward in our faith walk.

We can become lazy in our Christian walk and let others do the work for us. We can sit in church every Sunday and listen to a lesson and then go about our week without putting it into practice. We can pray about things we want to see God do without quieting ourselves, reading His Word and listening for His answer. We can think about the scriptures we know without searching them again for new nuggets of truth that the Holy Spirit will give us.

Now is a difficult time in our nation and world. We can’t gather in large groups. We can’t hug each other for encouragement. It is the perfect opportunity to seek God ourselves.2-timothy-3-16-17 It is the perfect time for us to draw closer to God. It is the perfect time to increase our prayer life. It is the perfect time for us to reach out to others with a phone call or note of encouragement. It is the perfect time for God to get our attention. Will we listen? Will we take off our “training wheels” and ride along with God on our own. After all, no one can take us with them to heaven and we can’t drag another along with us. It’s a personal walk of faith. We all need each other for sure but we go to heaven on our own. Are you allowing God to train you?2-wheeler Are you willing to take the risk and lose those crutches you might have been using and ride forward with God? It will be so exciting! We will feel like shouting for joy as we draw closer to Him! God promises it will be worth the risk. Go for it! Let Go and Let God!

The Little Things

This is a crazy time in our world right now. We are literally fighting for our lives. While we are not moving about as freely as we are accustomed to, we have much for which to be thankful. I am so thankful that we have a God who never leaves us. No matter where we are or what our situation, He is only a prayer away. I am thankful for our President and Vice President and all those who are making decisions in the best interest of our country and its citizens. I am thankful for all the medical staff, firefighters, police officers, EMTs and paramedics, grocery store workers, gas station workers, restaurant workers, and the many others that my mind can’t remember now. I say thank you and pray that God blesses you with safety, rest, peace and even joy as you tirelessly work for all of us. You are appreciated.

I know that some are plotting evil and trying to profit off the misfortune of others. That has always been a part of humanity and always will be until Jesus returns. But I am constantly reminded of the Romans 12goodness of mankind. In trying times, it seems the best or worst can come out of us. I am so happy that I am seeing the best most of all. Many are helping their neighbors, doing what they can to provide much needed resources. Both corporations and individuals are stepping up to fill the gap. Little things when done by many, make a big difference. It makes me proud to be an American. The past few years have had many at each other’s throats and I am seeing now most of us are coming together as a country and putting the needs of all before the wants of our own. I think God gives us glimpses of this to encourage us.

The other day I was in a drive-thru line at a fast food restaurant.drivethru There was an elderly lady in the car in front of me. She appeared to be in her 80s and was having a difficult time with her order. I wondered if it was the first time she had ordered in a drive-thru line. She was alone in her car. She finally moved forward and so did I. While she was at the window to pay, I heard the cashier tell her that the person in front of her had paid her bill. That made my heart leap for joy. I have seen this before and done this before but…this was a special moment for me. I believe she needed that encouragement and love at just that moment and it warmed my heart. It may seem like a “little thing” but, to her that day, I believe it made a huge impact.

This is an entirely different thing but yesterday I received a “little thing” from my husband. He was spraying our yard for weeds (and he was using weed spray) – check out my previous post “Mistaken Identity” on March 4.4and5leafclovers He came in the back door and called for me to come see what he had for me. It was a four-leaf clover. He has brought me those before but this time, he also had a five-leaf clover with it. He said he was spraying and looked down and saw both right next to each other. Now, I don’t believe in luck or superstitions but…this brought a smile to my face and lightened my spirit. I felt like not only was it a gift from my husband, I believe it was also a gift from God. Sometimes the little things speak volumes.

Often, we don’t think we can make much of a difference, but we can. One person can make a difference. One “little thing” we do could be a big thing for someone else. I am encouraged to keep doing the “little things” I can and allow God to multiply them as only He can. That way, we will make a positive difference. What “little thing” can you do today?

I’d love to hear your stories of people doing the little things in your community. Please comment so we can all be encouraged. Thank you and God Bless.

Say your prayers, wash your hands, and keep your distance – just don’t forget to keep in contact with others. God is in control and we can trust Him!

Mistaken Identity

Spring is fast approaching. Flowers are poking their heads out of the ground; birds are singing; and we are all starting to get “spring fever” – itching for warmer temperatures. At least here in the Midwest we are. As I am witnessing nature’s new birth, I am reminded of something that happened several months ago. My husband regularly sprays for bugs inside the house. We don’t mind the little creepy crawly things God created but would much rather they stay outside. Anyway, one day I was in my sewing room sitting at my desk and my husband walked past with a sprayer. He was spraying around the baseboards with what he thought was bug spray. However, I noticed that the container said weed killer. I asked him about it thinking that JUST MAYBE, he was using an old container but had the correct mixture inside. But, not so. He had simply picked up the wrong one. In his behalf, they do look very similar – same size, same brand, same spray nozzles. Unfortunately, he had already gone through most of the house before I noticed what he was doing. The good news is that no weeds have grown up in our house this year! mistaken identity

Have you ever mistaken a stranger for someone you knew? I have. And, I have had people ask me if I were someone who I’m not. I’ve heard many times that “we all have twins/look-alikes”. Maybe that’s so. It may be something in physical appearance or expression but whatever it is, it does happen.

I think the most heart-wrenching story of mistaken identity that I can think of is the one that began on April 26, 2006 when a van collided with a tractor-trailer. I’m sure most of you can remember the story as it was all over the news. One young woman died and one lived. They were mistaken for each other and the mistake was not realized until five weeks after the accident. I cannot imagine the emotions those two families went through. Across the nation people grieved and sympathized with all of them. It was hard to fathom. It seemed impossible that something like that could happen, but it did.

Just like the above example, in the case of the weed killer and bug spray mix-up, the mistaken identity went unnoticed for quite a while. The weed killer spray had already covered most of our house before being recognized for what it really was. Isn’t that like Satan? He gets in and covers quite a bit of ground before we know he is “in the house” so to speak.

These mistaken identities are innocent mistakes. But Jesus warns us of others who purposefully try to get us to mistake their identity. These identity mistakes have eternal consequences. The bad news is that it must be easy to be misled because we are warned many times against it. The good news is that we can be prepared, and our eyes can be open to the imposter. God provides all we need to discern the truth and recognize the true Messiah. Lies are often disguised as truth. We must be on guard and be in constant contact with the truth giver – God himself. Here are some things God says about mistaken identities.

Matthew 7:15 – “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.

matthew 24-24

1 John 4:1-6 – Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world. You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit[a] of truth and the spirit of falsehood.

2 Peter 2:1-3But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping. revelation 20-10

 

The moral of the story is this… those who remain faithful and watchful; those whose hope and trust is in the Lord; and those who stand firm and stay strong win in the end!

Letting Go

Have you ever witnessed a friend or family member heading down a dead end path but were powerless to help redirect them? I recently exerienced that scenerio. For 14 months we tried to help a family member get his life moving forward toward success. We helped him make some progress, actually more than we anticipated. But, then things started to change. Old habits and old friends tempted him. The familiar old “comfort zone” called his name and he answered. Positive goals were gone and replaced with the desire for immediate gratification. A really good hearted person became mean and hateful in attitude and actions. letting-go

One evening when I was praying, God reminded me of the story in the Bible of the prodigal son. You can find it in Luke 15:11-32. I have read this story so many times but this time I was reading it from the father’s perspective. I felt like God was telling me it was ok to “let go”. Sometimes that’s all you can do. You know the father was heartbroken when all this son wanted from him was money. He had hoped for much more for his son. He knew what was ahead for his son if he went down that road.  But, we all choose our own path and this time, he let his son chose his.

Even though his son “took the money and ran” so to speak, the father did not give up hope.  Even though scripture does not specifically say, I think he was very much still living in the present. However, he had hope that at some point in the future his son would return. He was always looking down the road expectantly. In God’s perfect time, his son did return – repentant and humble. He did not expect to be received so joyously and graciously. But, his father had already forgiven him and rejoiced in his return.prodigal returns

This gives me hope that one day (I hope and pray soon), our loved one will come to his senses and change paths. Then we will receive him with glad hearts and be rejoicing and praising God! 

Until then, we continue to pray, hope and trust in God for we know that with God, ALL things are possible.