GIFTS- part 1 {7.24.18}

God-given gifts. We all have them. Yes – even you and even me. gifts given by GodSometimes we look at others and recognize their gifts but miss our own. Last night we met up with our cousin and his wife. We had not seen our cousin in years and met his wife for the first time.  It was a great evening getting to know them and share a bit of our lives. They were driving through our area on their way to an art show. Sounds exciting doesn’t it? They are both artists. Great artists I might add. His paintings are fantastic, and she makes lovely jewelry. We had the privilege of seeing samples of both of their arts. Our daughter, son-in-law and grandson were there too. They each have wonderful gifts of their own. I was thinking about that and realized that all of us have been given gifts. Some just seem more “special” than others – in our minds. Not with God though. He carefully gave them to us – specifically, on purpose. You have one (or many).

Can you identify your gifts? I am not musically inclined, and I do not have the gift of painting or making jewelry. But, I do have a big smile. Even though it shows teeth that are not straight and makes my eyes almost close, I have had people tell me my smile brought them joy. Imagine that – a crazy looking smile bringing joy! I think tha a gift. Maybe you have a green thumb. That’s a gift. Are you organized? Can you hit a homerun on a baseball field or make a 3-pointer in basketball? Do you swing a mean hammer? Cook a great meatloaf? Bake brownies like nobody’s business? Are you a great storyteller? Those are all gifts. Are you “tech savvy”? Now that’s a gift I could use! We mustn’t think more highly of ourselves, but we also must not think less of ourselves because our gifts aren’t visible to the multitudes. Maybe our gifts were to be shared one-on-one. Take a minute today to identify your gifts. Then thank God for them.

James 1:17-18 “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.”

gift gods greatest loveBack to our evening with family…

Isn’t it amazing how love can just pop up? We didn’t really know these two relatives but last night love showed up and now we have a love connection as well as a blood connection. That’s the greatest gift isn’t it? LOVE. GOD IS LOVE. GOD GAVE US LOVE. GOD INTENDS US TO SHARE THAT LOVE. We all have that gift and can put it on the top of our list. LOVE. The greatest gift of all.

Packing and Moving {8.8.17}

Have you ever packed and moved? If so, you probably are hesitant to read this blog post. We recently moved, downsized – really downsized! We are building a house so after we sold our home, we found an apartment (with a garage – thank you, God). garage storageThat’s great because after we sold some things, gave some things away, and pitched some, we were actually able to fit it all in. It took some really creative organization and we just hope we don’t need anything that’s in a bottom box in the garage (we have a narrow path to the door from apartment to garage). But, God blessed us with this place and we are thankful.  I have to say though…it was a struggle and the night we actually slept here, we were pooped (maybe a better word is exhausted but you get the idea). Counting this apartment, we have lived in 10 different homes in the past 35 years. Funny though…I don’t remember the actual moves. Maybe I blocked them out of my mind or maybe it was because I was younger then. Regardless, this move really knocked the wind out of me. If I had to carry boxes down those stairs another day, I might have gone on strike (ha ha). During this process though I began to think about the Israelites and felt humbled, a little bit guilty and a whole lot of thankful! After all, we had time – time to sort, time to sell, time to pack, time to move (it went right down to the wire but we made it 1 hour before our house closed and we had to be out). Grumble and complain – can’t do it when I consider my blessings. Let’s take a look at the Israelites.

Their exodus took place at night. exodusThey were told it was coming but still…did that prepare them for the moment’s notice to get out of town? I wonder. They grabbed what they could carry and off they went. Then as they traveled, God went before them in a cloud. When the cloud stopped they camped. When the cloud moved, they moved. They always had to be ready to pick up everything and take off. (Numbers 9:15-23) They followed the cloud and did just what the Lord commanded, when He commanded (immediate obedience – after all, is delayed obedience really obedience?).

Exodus 15:11 “Who among the gods is like you, O Lord? Who is like you – majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders”? (Remember all the wonders He showed them during their trek? Parting the sea is one of my favorites but so very many…) Exodus 15:13 “In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed. In your strength you will guide them to your holy dwelling.” God is good – all the time. He knows all; He created all. We can surely trust and follow Him!

I have a hobby – quilting. It’s a hobby I thoroughly enjoy (especially since I share the hobby with my daughter) but along with that hobby I have tons of stuff (supplies). As I was boxing up all the fabrics, books, tools, etc. I was a little overwhelmed myself with how many boxes it took to accommodate all my “treasures”.packing boxes.png In my defense (or justification), most of what I make is given as gifts but still – I think I might have to live to age 100 to use up everything! Humbling, a little embarrassing and extremely motivating to get busy and sew. I started thinking about what God says about our “treasures”. Matthew 6:19-21 says, “Do not (stop) store up for yourselves treasures on earth where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store (start) up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

I sometimes wonder, if I just had time to grab what I could carry and leave everything else behind, what would I grab? What would you grab? Makes you stop and think doesn’t it? What are our “treasures”?

god-is-loveWell, we are settled now until the next move and I would like to leave you with this verse about treasures – God’s treasures. Deuteronomy 26:17-18 “You have declared this day that the Lord is your God and that you will walk in his ways, that you will keep his decrees, commands and laws, and that you will obey him. And the Lord has declared this day that you are his people, his treasured possession as he promised, and that you are to keep all his commands.” If God is not yet your Lord, please seek Him. When you seek Him, you will find Him. His word tells us so. You will find what has been missing from your life in God, only in God. Have a blessed day!

Love {2.14.17}

Happy Valentine’s Day to all! I hope you are giving and receiving love on this day and every day. It’s hard not to think of love this time of year in our part of the world isn’t it? We are bombarded with suggested gifts for our loved ones. flowers I was in our neighborhood grocery store yesterday and before I even got into the store, the “in between area of carts” was FULL (I mean full) of flowers! It was beautiful! There was hardly room to get in the door. Our retailers help remind us all to give up some cash and show someone we love them. It’s not all about cash though. There are many things we can do and say to show our love. We can get creative and think like a child. They usually know what it’s all about.

I have felt God calling me to write a message on love for this Valentine’s Day and I actually typed one up yesterday but never could get it finished. It just didn’t seem “right” somehow. This morning I realized why. God gave me a message as only He can.

I checked Facebook to see how a friend is recovering from her surgery. Praise God she is doing well. While I was in Facebook I saw a post from another friend. It was a prayer request for a dear friend of hers who is waiting for a transplant. Then it hit me – right in the heart. You see I had a dear friend years ago who was also waiting for a transplant. It’s a terrible time of mixed emotions. You want the transplant because it will give the person needing it hope for continued life here on earth. However, you realize that in order for them to live, someone else must die. We don’t wish death on anyone (or at least we shouldn’t) so that’s a hard thing to wrap our heads and hearts around. Usually the person dies of illness or accident. While that’s a tragic time in the life of their family, it brings hope to the one waiting the transplant. Hope and despair sometimes go hand in hand.

There was another though who died so that we could live. His death was no accident. It was caused by no illness. He willingly gave up His life out of love for The Father and love for all of us – ALL OF US. His name is Jesus. He suffered more than any of us will ever be able to truly imagine and He knew exactly what it would be like before going down that road. Now that is love – true love – sacrificial love – pure love – everlasting love.god-is-love

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.” (John 3:16-21)

We all seek love. Millions of songs, poems, books, movies, etc. are centered on love. We all want to be loved and to love. But this Valentine’s Day, let’s remember where love started in the first place.

“Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” (1 John 4:8)

spread-loveToday it seems like we see a lot of hate in our world rather than love. Don’t you wonder what would happen if we turned that hate around by loving others? Let’s give it a try. It’s possible even to love our enemies when we have God in our hearts. We can make the world a better place – one person at a time. Like the song says, “Love is all we need.” Let’s share it.

Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37-38)

USA – Land that I love! {11.5.16}

As we approach Election Day next Tuesday, God woke me up this morning with some thoughts to share.  I was reminded of the companies for which I have worked in my career. There have not been that many (7 total I think from teenager to now) but most of them have held corporate values of which I could align mine. The company’s values are what drive their decisions, day to day operations and government of their employees. The same thing is true with countries.

Let’s revisit our country’s values. Of course foremost is our Constitution. I did not include it here because of space limits but encourage you to search it on your own and see what it says. Today, even some of the truth of our history has been changed to reflect “politically correct” thinking. It’s a good idea to seek and know the truth. Only the truth will set us free.  John 8:32 “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

I’m not even sure if school children still recite the Pledge of Allegiance but here are the words.usa-flag

Our Pledge of Allegiance

I Pledge Allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Our National Anthem is usually sung at sporting events but unfortunately, cheering for the teams usually begin before the singer has finished the first verse. Here are the words. The song actually has four verses. Pay particular attention to the last verse.

Our National Anthem – The Star Spangled Banner

Oh, say! can you see by the dawn’s early light What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming; Whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight, O’er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming? And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air, Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there: Oh, say! does that star-spangled banner yet wave O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep, Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes, What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep, As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses? Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam, In fully glory reflected now shines in the stream: ‘Tis the star-spangled banner! Oh, long may it wave O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion A home and a country should leave us no more? Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps’ pollution! No refuge could save the hireling and slave From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave: And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Oh, thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand Between their loved home and the war’s desolation! Blest with victory and peace, may the heav’n-rescued land Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation! Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just, And this be our motto: “In God is our trust“: And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

usaNow that we are reminded of what is so special about our country and its core values, let’s pray for our nation to get back to those values and that we will live in truth and freedom. After 9-11 many sought God immediately and fervently. Then time went on and we forgot God. It’s time to humble ourselves and turn back to Him today. Only God can truly heal our land. 2 Chronicles 7:14 “ if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

May God Bless America – land that I love!

Hi Ho Hi Ho, It’s Off To Work We Go {9.21.16}

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. What a movie! What a song! I can’t sing or even think of that song without smiling from the inside out. It just makes me happy.seven-dwarfs One of our grandsons used to love to watch that movie but he called it the “Hi Ho” movie. So, when he wanted to watch it, he asked for “Hi Ho”. There is just nothing like the old Disney movies. Even though they all had their share of evil and some scariness (is that a word?) in them, they always had a happy ending. Those are my kind of movies – happy endings. I also like all the loose ends tied up in pretty bows too so don’t take me to scary movies or those who leave you hanging. Anyway, back to Disney. Their movies are like our lives, aren’t they? Evil, bad times, temptations and goodness all together in one story. But like Disney movies, if we trust in God and follow closely after Him, we will have a very happy ending to our life here on earth. God is using this movie to teach me some lessons about work. Not just the work that people do when they go someplace and get paid for a job they do for a company, anything we do that is a work. Here’s what God says about it:

Colossians 3:23-24 “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”

That’s the key to being able to happily sing the “Hi Ho” song. It’s all about attitude, isn’t it? This is not a suggestion, it is a command. This scripture does not say “if you work outside the home” or “if you are a stay-at-home parent” or “if you get paid a huge salary” or “if you like your job” or “if they treat you well” or “if you feel like it” or “if people praise you”. It says, WHATEVER YOU DO. Yikes. That means whether you are a movie star on a red carpet, owner of your own company, cleaning toilets, mopping floors, digging ditches, teaching rebellious kids or dishing out fries at McDonalds. I wish I could say that I live out this scripture but I can’t. I think I usually have a good attitude but…there are times! And I have to admit, when I’m dusting furniture, I definitely do not have the right attitude. How about you? Maybe if I sing the song when I tackle less than pleasant tasks, it would make a difference. I’m going to try that. I’ll make sure I’m alone though. Only God can appreciate my singing voice. Come to think of it, I think it’s time to get out the sweeper and get to work.

Colossians 3:23-24 “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”

snow-white-and-dwarfsFunny how God speaks to us. This time He’s speaking to me through a Disney movie and the attitudes of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. God works in mysterious ways and with the simple (like me), he uses the simple things to teach us. He is so gracious and loving!  I’ll share more lessons from these characters in future posts. Snow White, Doc, Grumpy, Happy, Sleepy, Bashful, Sneezy and Dopey all have something to show us. Stay tuned for more from “Hi Ho”.

Terror from the Tempter {7.13.16}

I don’t know about where you live but when I turn on the news each morning, there seems to always be sad and tragic news in abundance. I really don’t remember the last time I watched the news and there was no killing reported. It’s so sad. It rouses many emotions in us but I wonder how often it prompts us to do the things we can do – pray and love.

Matthew 5:44: “But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”

The terror we are seeing is from the tempter, Satan. He wants to steal, kill and destroy. He appears to be doing quite a fine job of it, with help from us. God never tempts us to evil but He does allow us free will to choose good over evil.

James 1:13-15: “When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”

1 Timothy 5:15: “Some have in fact already turned away to follow Satan.

Remember, when we are tempted to sin/evil, God will ALWAYS provide a way of escape for us. We need to look for that escape route and take it.

Loving our enemies is hard to do, hard to even think about doing in our own strength. That’s why we need GOD. It’s only possible through His love and His Strength working in and through us.

1 Thessalonians 5:15-24: “Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else. Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not put out the Spirit’s fire, do not treat prophecies with contempt. Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil. May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.”

Sometimes we let these awful things we hear go in one ear and then out again if it doesn’t happen to our family or friends. But, we know that it affects us all. This is a war we are in the middle of and the battle is fierce. It’s a war against good and evil. It’s a war against our nation, our families, and even our sanity. The great news is that God has provided us all we need to fight this battle. Check it out below.

Ephesians 6:10-18: “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. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for the saints”

So, I guess the purpose of this post is to remind myself and others who may read it to keep on praying, keep on trusting God and keep on fighting the fight, on our knees and with love. Loving God first and foremost and then with His help, loving others – all others. After all, Christ died and rose again for EVERYONE.

If you have not yet joined the family of God, you can do that right now. Admit your sins, accept the gift of the cleansing blood of Jesus Christ as your savior and then love, trust and follow God. It’s that simple. God will help guide and direct you and give you understanding through His Holy Spirit.

Mighty things can happen when we all join together in love and prayer. Are we with God? Or, are we with Satan? Those are our only two choices. If we don’t actively choose God, we choose Satan by default. His team may win battles but they lose the war and end up in terror and torment for eternity. Choosing Satan is a choice leading to death. With God, we will spend eternity in heaven. Easy choice – choose God and live!

Addicted to Love {6.20.16}

Do any of you remember the song “Addicted to Love”? For some strange reason it’s been in my head for about a week. I’ve been thinking about addictions and it popped up. Like a song you hear and can’t get it out of your head until another one takes its place. This verse is what I keep thinking about:

“You might as well face it, you’re addicted to love.”

Addiction: The act of devoting or giving up in practice, the state of being devoted. To devote or surrender oneself to something habitually or obsessively.

We can find ourselves addicted to many things. It can be fame, money, certain foods or drinks, alcohol, drugs, exercise, hobbies, television, internet, Facebook, pleasing people (fill in the blank for your life). addictive behavior

We want to feel like we control our lives. And, we do have control over some things. We have control over the choices we make. We have control over our attitudes. Maybe that’s why we are so easily tempted to the bondage of addictions. It’s our self-satisfaction we desire and sometimes think we deserve. I believe we all have tendencies to addictive behavior. Whether it is having to have a cup of coffee, soft drink, or tea before we think we can begin our day, an addiction to drugs or alcohol, or not letting anything or anyone disrupt our exercise or TV schedule, they are all types of addiction. I mean, the fact that I can’t open a bag of chips and stop at 1 or 5 or 10, but can keep eating long after the hunger is gone, that’s addiction. The fact that I will stop at McDonalds to get a tea even if I’m not thirsty, that’s a habit turned to addiction.

When we realize we have an addiction that is starting to control our lives instead of us controlling it, we need to take action. We all have a void in our lives that only God can fill! He is the only person who can really help us and fill void. After all, He knows our struggles already. He knows everything about us (Psalm 139:1-16). He created us to love and worship Him. And, NOTHING is too hard for God. He is creator! (Jeremiah 32:17) He loves us with a love that we can’t even comprehend. And, God’s power in us is strong enough to demolish any stronghold (2 Corinthians 10:4-7). The Spirit of God gives us power, love and self-discipline (2 Timothy 1:7).

God’s Word tells us that no temptation has seized us except what is common to man and God is faithful. He will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we can bear. And, when we are tempted (and we will be), He will provide a way out from under the temptation. We just need to be willing to take that escape route. Sometimes I’m willing and sometimes I’m not. I do like to get my way, even if I know it’s not in my best interest. Maybe that’s another definition of insanity. It’s like doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

1 John 4:8, 16 “Whoever does not love does not know God, because GOD IS LOVE.” “And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. GOD IS LOVE. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.”

1 John 5:3 “This is love for God: to obey his commands.”

I don’t know about you but…I need GOD and I need His help to put Him first in all things and only be addicted to love – Love for God and others. After all, GOD IS LOVE. Only through God’s power in me will I be able to truly love Him and all others. Because, like me, not everyone is always loveable.

addicted to love I want to be addicted to God to the point that being with Him and following His lead are both a habit and obsession. In order to truly love others, I must love GOD FIRST and MOST – all the time. Only then will the light of God shine in my life for others to see.

I pray that one day people will say to me, “You might as well face it, you’re addicted to love.”