Hurricane Preparedness

One of the largest challenges of living in Florida is hurricanes. I always say a little prayer when the weather people begin to announce the beginning of hurricane season. As I am writing this the meteorologists are tracking Hurricane Michael. Our family has carefully watched the weather reports and they are currently watching the track moving slightly west, and then slightly east. We are not sure where it will make landfall, or how much wind and rain our area will get, so we wait. We have prepared and now we wait.

Waiting for a storm to make landfall can be as excruciating as watching for water boil. It seems to be about to happen but the minute you check, it’s scarcely even begun. Hurricane Michael was wide enough to be affecting the entire Florida Gulf Coast, while the eye came ashore at Panama City Beach. There were miles and miles touched by this ferocious storm, inland as well as the coast.

I was thankful that once we heard that a storm was headed to the gulf that we knew just what we needed to do. After all, we learned the hard way back several years ago with Hurricane Ivan. We ran out of things after a few days. We were without power for three weeks. Now we know to be better prepared. We can not depend on the first responders to take care of us. It is up to us to handle the needs of our family.

Often we hear people going a bit crazy and getting so upset that they can’t even make good decisions. I always try and assure them that being prepared, staying informed, and remaining calm and following a plan is the best way to handle the situation.

Funny how this whole situation has a Spiritual side too. Yep leave it to me to find it!

Early on the weather people will begin to tell you that they are tracking a storm and they will keep you up to date. Jesus, our spiritual Weatherman if you will, said: “In this world, you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”(John 16:33 KJV, paraphrased). Tribulation here means adversity, sorrow, misfortune, grief, and many more words. For clear understanding, we will refer to tribulation as a storm.

Storms in the natural world come in all sizes and intensities. Spiritual ones do as well. Depending on the place you are in, your spiritual storms may come often or more sporadic. However, we have been told that we WILL have these squalls and twisters, and yes, maybe even possibly a hurricane or two. Psalms 34:19 The Message, “A righteous person will have many troubles [storms], but the Lord will deliver him out of them all.”

When the storm comes and it will, we must keep our faith. It is not always easy not to be afraid of the howling winds and piercing rain. I am desperate for a change from rage and stormy weather. Psalms 55:8. Debre plummets through the air like horses in a race. Pieces of your shelter may be torn loose, and trickles of water may find their way inside your warm and dry shelter. God will provide a warm, dry place in bad weather, provide a cool place when it is hot. Isaiah 25:4. Uncertainty can grip your heart and cause you to grit your teeth in dread. Just like the disciples so long ago, you begin to wonder if Jesus is asleep in your vessel. Jesus reprimanded them,, “Why are you, such cowards, such faint-hearts?” Then He stood up and told the wind to be silent, the sea quieted down: “Silence!”The sea became smooth as glass.

I have heard people say that God uses storms to get our attention. Maybe so. I will not argue that point. I believe that often times they are brought by principalities and the darkness of this world. Made to discourage you and push you off course. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Ephesians 6:12.

I share with you these verses from 1 Kings. It touches my heart every time I read it. To think the way our God prefers to speak to us. A hurricane wind ripped through the mountains and shattered the rocks before God, but God wasn’t to be found in the wind; after the wind an earthquake, but God wasn’t in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. 1 Kings 19:11-13.

It is time to stop telling God how big your storm is, and begin to tell the storm how big your God is. God has already promised in his word that he will bring us OUT of the storm. Now careful here. He does not say he will save you from the storm but deliver you OUT of the storm. You are going through part of that storm, my friend! Psalms 34:17 says, The righteous cry & the Lord heareth and delivereth them out of all their troubles.
Psalms 46:1. God is our refuge and strength and a very sufficient help in troubles [storms]. This verse clearly says IN troubles [storms]. That is pretty clear about God being there with you IN THE STORM. Praise God! I can’t think of a better partner to be by my side!
Psalm 107:19 talks about God’s people crying out in distress and He delivered them from their troubles. In other words, He removed them from the situation because they cried out to Him for help. So many times we complain to the Lord. Fuss at Him over the storm that we are facing, continually reminding Him how unfair it all seems to us.

All the while God is trying to teach us so many things before, during, and after the misfortune we face. Were we prepared and came through with minimal or no damage? Or did we receive flood damage, downed power lines, and loss of home and saftey? What purpose did this catastrophe serve? And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose, Romans 8:28.

So even if we do receive great storm damage, God will make it come out for good. Wow! Isn’t that amazing! Our God is so completely amazing! In the day and the night. In the storm or the quiet! He is Everything we will ever need in this life and the next. His Word is truth whether spoken or text. He Is God. Savior and King!

In Isaiah 55:8-11 God spoke, “So will the words that come out of my mouth not come back emptyhanded. They’ll do the work I sent them to do, they’ll complete the assignment I gave them.”

Praise the Lord, Hurricane Michael is passed. It is our job to survey our damage and make a new plan for next time. There has been catastrophic damage in some areas that were closer to the eye. Many people are without power. Some have lost everything. First Responders as well as many volunteers are working around the clock to assist those who are in such dire need.

We should apply that to out Spiritual life well. After the storm, regroup. Pray and plan and prepare because as sure as I live in Florida, there’s another storm coming!

Be prepared

Be sure to check back for

Our checklist to help you be prepared for those spiritual storms. It is a simple download. The ideas are simple but necessary to put in place BEFORE the winds and rains begin.

What do I do about Halloween? A Guide for Christian Understanding

DISCLAIMER: THIS POST IS WRITTEN FROM MY PERSONAL POINT OF VIEW ACCORDING TO THE HOLY BIBLE AND MY UNDERSTANDING OF THE SCRIPTURES AND HISTORY ON THE SUBJECT MATTER. All scripture is from the Amplified Bible for better understanding.

I arrived at the local dollar tree to purchase a few new fall decorations while we are still experiencing 100-degree weather.  I love decorating for each season, and quite honestly I need Fall to kick Summer’s butt out of here!  All our stores are getting beautiful sweaters, long sleeve t-shirts, and hoodies, yet you can hardly breathe from the humidity when you step outside.  Nevertheless, I was determined to get in the mood for Autumn, one way or the other.  I transferred my sweltering body behind where two women stood in deep conversation in front of the fall leaves and pumpkin signs.

I could not help but overhear.  The discussion was Halloween.  One woman celebrated.  The other woman did not.  Now in this wonderful country that we live in where we have many freedoms, the lady who celebrated endeavored to convince the non-celebrator why she should be celebrating.  The conversation ended abruptly, with the non-celebrator responding by saying, “I know what I believe.  And I do not celebrate it.  Love you. Gotta go.”

Now because I overthink things too much that moment, obviously, has not left my mind.  I have my beliefs and I adhere to them.  If someone asks me, I will share with them what I believe.  But I have never been one to demand that others believe like me.  I will explain the reasons why I feel like I do, and allow you to make your own decisions.  1 Corinthians 6:12 is always a good way to begin, Everything is permissible for me, but not all things are beneficial. Everything is permissible for me, but I will not be enslaved by anything [and brought under its power, allowing it to control me].

That being said, I will share my personal views and what the Word of God says about this holiday that is called Halloween.  You know the name is even a bit strange.  The Catholic Church deemed Nov. 1 as All Saints Day, the day before became known as All Hallows Eve, and because humans are lazy it soon became Halloween.  Now, in the other communities lesser known to us, October 31 is called Samhain Eve, (pronounced SOW-in, SAH-in, or SAM-Hayne).  Samhain is the end of Harvest time, celebrating the end of summer and the beginning of the winter, or the darker time of the year.  Samhain is a time to remember those who have passed on or Feast of the dead and even Day of the Dead. The Druids and the Celtics would have made sacrifices to the Celtic gods of death, with both animals and humans thrown into huge firepits as offerings. It is also believed that the ancient Druids ate their firstborn children on Samhain, or collected the blood of their sacrificial humans in cauldrons and drank it.

Samhain is considered the Witch’s New Year. It is said that today feasting and drinking of the harvest/all natural items top the celebration.  It is a night that is believed that the curtain between the afterlife and life is the thinnest, and spirits return.  Most Samhain celebrations come complete with tarot cards, palm reading, and communication with the dead and other forms of divination.

Leviticus 19:31, ‘Do not turn to mediums [who pretend to consult the dead] or to spiritists [who have spirits of divination]; do not seek them out to be defiled by them. I am the Lord your God.

Well, as the old adage goes no matter how you slice it, it is appearing to be a holiday for the dark side.  Today’s witches and warlocks, yes there are real people practicing, are often a part of Wiccan.  It is a group that teaches what they call “white” magic. They claim to only create spells that are good and will not harm someone. They do not believe in heaven, hell, or the like. I like you to note here, Isaiah 5: 20,  “Woe (judgment is coming) to those who call evil good, and good evil;
Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness;
Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!

2 Corinthians 6:15, What harmony can there be between Christ and Belial (Satan)? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? 

Now, I learned a long time ago, the just because someone does or does not believe the truth does not keep the truth from being fact.  It may not be a fact to you, but it still exists as truth.  You may not believe that on a sunny day the sky is blue because you have only been outside on dark, rainy days.  This still does not alter the fact that the beautiful, blue sky is outside waiting to be discovered.  Just because you were ignorant to it, did not change it from being real.  I believe that whether or not to participate in Halloween is the same way.  I have read a bunch of articles, several of them saying that it was a personal decision, and up to the parent. I agree in as much as the scripture says in Philippians 2:12,  “So then, my dear ones, just as you have always obeyed [my instructions with enthusiasm], not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence, continue to work out your salvation [that is, cultivate it, bring it to full effect, actively pursue spiritual maturity] with awe-inspired fear and trembling [using serious caution and critical self-evaluation to avoid anything that might offend God or discredit the name of Christ].” 

With this scripture in our minds let us touch on a few more symbols that were and are pertinent to Halloween.  Let me begin this section by telling a quick story.  I went into my local store looking for some pumpkins.  I have purchased them in years past and wanted them for some arrangements.  I asked the sales lady if she was going to get any in this year, and she assured me that she would have them out the next day.  I go in the next day to find not pumpkins but glittery jack-o-lanterns and skulls.  First and foremost, all jack-o-lanterns are pumpkins, BUT ALL PUMPKINS ARE NOT JACK-O-LANTERNS.

A bit of history here.  As I said before, it was believed that on that night the spirit world would eek over into the regular world.  Food was placed on the porches as offerings to the good spirits, turnips were carved with faces and a candle was placed inside.  This was a place for a spirit that had no place to go could fill the turnip and not harm people. In other words, it was a symbol of or for, if you will, a damned soul. Druid stories are more gruesome claiming that hollowed out pumpkins and turnips would be filled with fat from previous human sacrifices and lit. Today pumpkin jack-o-lanterns are primarily all we see.

Jack-O-Lantern.  Where did that name even come from?  It is from an old Irish folktale about a guy name Stingy Jack.  The short of the story is that Jack tricked the Devil and trapped him inside a tree with a cross on it.  Once he freed the Devil and he died, Hell did not want him because he tricked Satan, and Heaven did not want him because he was such a mean trickster.  The devil gave Jack a lump of burning coal so he could see to wander, and jack hollowed out a turnip and placed the coal inside to light his way.  He became known as Jack of the Lantern, and eventually Jack-O-Lantern.  So we can see that these hollowed-out pumpkins with faces symbolize in many ways a damned soul. My heart just breaks every time I see a small child holding this symbol.  Just seems so horrible for an innocent to cling to that horrible figure.

But test all things carefully [so you can recognize what is good]. Hold firmly to that which is good. Abstain from every form of evil [withdraw and keep away from it],  Thessalonians 5: 21-22.

Costumes originally were worn to protect one’s self from evil spirits.  The people believed that the costumes would confuse the spirit into thinking that the human was one of them and not haunt them. Personally, that is not giving much intelligence to the spirits, but I digress.

Costumes today vary in style and price.  From the very simple to the very elaborate.  The costumes are created for every age and every size.  You may be thinking that if your little man goes to a church party dressed as Captain America you are in a good place, but does it matter WHAT you dress up as, or the fact that you dress up on an evil day?  

Romans 12:2, And do not be conformed to this world [any longer with its superficial values and customs], but be transformed and progressively changed [as you mature spiritually] by the renewing of your mind [focusing on godly values and ethical attitudes], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His plan and purpose for you].

Black cats are a symbol we see this time of year. It was believed that cats had/have magical powers and could/can carry evil spirits.  I have also read of them being used in rituals and blood sacrifices in Satanist circles.  As a matter, of fact, in most major cities a black cat cannot be adopted on Oct. 31.  Even if it is not a written policy in some cases they will still adhere to this as an unspoken policy.  

Skeletons/skulls are seen a lot during the Halloween celebration.  After all, it IS the celebration of the DEAD.  What better way to show that skeletons and skulls?  Our culture uses skulls and skeletons all the time in graphics and decorations.  Why have we accepted a symbol of death so readily?  I wonder if the enemy of our souls just laughs at the way he sneaks in at every turn?

And do not give the devil an opportunity [to lead you into sin by holding a grudge, or nurturing anger, or harboring resentment, or cultivating bitterness], Ephesians 4:27.

Yes, it is hard when this holiday is so widely accepted to separate ourselves. However, it is not impossible.  I believe that when it comes to our souls and eternity it suddenly becomes an easier decision.   I remember the dilemma for how to handle the situation for my children in school.  I went to their teachers early on and explained that we did not celebrate Halloween and that I did not want my children participating in anything having to do with it or it’s symbols.  Most of the time there was no issue.  I simply explained that it was against our religion to participate.  Children are resilient, and I explained the reasons to them from early on.  Hate what is evil [detest all ungodliness, do not tolerate wickedness]; hold on tightly to what is good, Romans 12:9.

I understand that the kids love dressing up.  So have a dress-up birthday party or a block party with a costume theme.  We do not want to deprive the kids of fun, but we DO WANT TO DEPRIVE SATAN of any glory or worship. And we moms are aware of the candy aisle and even know what kind they like!  The kids will get their candy.

Do not participate in the worthless and unproductive deeds of darkness, but instead expose them [by exemplifying personal integrity, moral courage, and godly character], Ephesians 5:11.

James 4: 4, You adulteresses [disloyal sinners–flirting with the world and breaking your vow to God]! Do you not know that being the world’s friend [that is, loving the things of the world] is being God’s enemy? So whoever chooses to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

So I present before you these facts.  You are no longer ignorant of this information. The decision is up to you. Earnestly pray and seek God about your decision.  Comments are welcome.

God Bless!

The Giant that David Killed

 

Towering over nine feet tall, this Philistine champion was quite menacing.  The shear strength of this giant is explained by the massive amount of weight he carried with ease as armor on his body.  He wore a helmet of bronze that was about 150 pounds.  He also donned a coat of mail, overlapped to look like fish scales, that weighed 125 pounds.  He wore bronze leg protection and he harnessed a bronze javelin over his back.  The shaft of his spear was extraordinarily stout made and from hardwood and about 16 feet long, topped with an iron spearhead that weighed fifteen pounds. Altogether he carried way over 500 pounds on his body for protection.

His boisterous voice abounded mockingly across the valley to the Israelites.  “Do you need a whole army to fight for you?  Send me one man.  If he wins we will surrender and be your slaves, but if I win the Israelites will surrender and be our slaves.  I defy the armies of Israel! Send me a man!”

The Israelite army and King Saul was terrified. They could see the size and strength of this giant.  They knew that they could not beat him. They were completely dismayed and grievously afraid.  They did not want to become slaves of the Philistines.  So quietly they sat. Barely moving. Wondering what to do.

 

Now, David’s older brothers were serving in King Saul’s army.  Dad wanted to send a care package to them via little brother.  David woke up early in the morning and headed out.  Just as he reached the edge of the camp, he could hear Goliath shouting out against God’s people.  He began to ask questions of the men in Saul’s army.  “What are you going to do about this fool?”  Most of them responded by going to hide.  “This guy is defying the army of the living God!”  David said as he began to get a bit more zealous, “We can not allow this uncircumcised heathen continue to declare war on God’s people!”

David marched into King Saul and announced that he himself would take on the champion.  Saul was a bit unsure, but happy to have someone finally to accept the herculean’s challenge.  He offered David his own armor which was too cumbersome and heavy for the shepherd boy to use. On the way to meet the giant David picked up 5 smooth stones and placed them in his pocket. So, David went out to face the giant armed with what he had used before. A slingshot and a shepherd’s staff.

David arrived in the monstrous shadow and stopped.  Goliath looked down on the tiny little figure before him that was holding a staff.

“Am I a dog that you come at me with a stick?” Goliath questioned emphatically.  He cursed David by his gods.  The Philistine said, “Come here and I will feed you to the birds and the wild animals.”

Then David spoke, “You come against me with a spear and a sword, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty! Today the Lord will conquer you and I will kill you and cut off your head.  Then I will give the dead bodies of your army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel!  God does not need a weapon to rescue His people! It is His battle, not ours.  The Lord will give you to us!”

The mammoth figure moved forward to attack and David hurridly ran to meet him.  David reached in his shepherd’s bag and retrieved a smooth stone which he hurled from his slingshot and hit Goliath in the forehead. The stone sank in, Goliath stumbled and he fell face first to the ground.  David took Goliath’s sword and cut off the giant’s head.

It was known all over the land and all over the world that God took care of His Chosen People that day.

Now let us look at this situation more carefully. How does this story apply to today? Think about who David was.  A young shepherd boy who loved and served God.  He knew who he was in God.  Do you know who you are in God?

David put all of his faith in God.  Do you have all your faith in God?  What’s that?  You don’t have any faith?  Romans 12:3, “For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but think of yourself with sober judgment, according to the measure of faith God has given you.”  You have been given the measure of faith when you became a child of God. Now the scripture doesn’t say how large or small the measuring cup is, but it a measure.  We all receive a measure.  It is important to note that Faith is no good if it is not used.  Like a muscle that never gets used, it gets weak. It will wither away to nothing if it remains not used. However, if it is used regularly it will get stronger and stronger.

Thinking back to the measure of faith. Knowing that we all have the measure of faith.  Let’s read the words of Jesus in Matthew 17:20, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Faith as small as a mustard seed.  A teeny tiny mustard seed sized faith can move a mountain. WOAH!

Do not miss this. Think about that measure of faith, and about that mustard seed faith.

Notice in the picture below: The wood spoon is the measure of faith. We are going to say that the mustard seed IS the faith.  Now Jesus said faith the size of a mustard seed could move a mountain. How many does it take to move a giant?

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   A measure of mustard seeds.

David, when he prepared to go, face Goliath stopped and gathered five smooth stones.  He used one to take down the giant.  4 more remained in his pocket.  Have you ever heard the phrase, you mess with one, you mess with them all? Hopefully, that’s not just a southern saying, but basically, it means that family looks out for each other.  Well, Goliath had four other gigantic family members at home.  This was common knowledge, so David was ready with a stone for each and every one of them.

So was it really the stone that took out the Giant that day?  The answer is no.  That little rock flung from the sling of that small young man did not.  Faith took out Goliath.  David put ALL his faith in God, did his part and God took care of the rest.

Faith can move a mountain and Faith can conquer a defiant giant.  Since this has been proven over and over not only in my own life but in the lives of others, why do I still have so many enormous obstacles taunting me?  I have the measure of faith.  You have the measure of faith.  It only takes a little bit to do great things, then we need to start cutting off some heads and leveling some mountains. Build up your faith. Don’t know how? Romans 10:17,” So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”  Read God’s word.  Share God’s Word. Live God’s Word.

Once you start using your faith you will feel it grow.  You will be able to speak as freely as David did about what God is going to do because you will be more intuned to hie will.  But it all begins with that tiny bit of faith put to good use.  Before long they will be talking about the giants that YOU and faith killed.

 

 

The Slave, The Retch, & The Widow

What do a teenage slave, a smelly retch and an elderly widow have in common? Let us consider each one separately, to begin with:

The Slave

The youngest son of Jessie was a good boy. Joseph always did what his father instructed him to do and was loyal to his family. Joseph was born after his father was much older and was his favorite. Sibling rivalry is always an underlying factor in a household with boys or girls, and it was becoming a more complex problem of jealousy in this family.
It did not help matters that Jessie doted on the boy. Scripture even says that at seventeen, Jessie gave Joseph a multicolored robe/coat to wear. These coats were worn by shepherds in the fields and Joseph often tended his Father’s flocks. Generally, these coats were plain and one colored, but not Joseph’s. This multicolored symbol of his Father’s favor and undying love began to be a source of real resentment for his older brothers. A plot began to form.

The brothers took Joseph’s coat, and after putting him into a deep pit, they smeared animal blood on the coat. They returned the coat to their father and told him that Joseph had been killed by a wild animal as he was defending his father’s sheep. Jessie was devastated.
The brothers sold Joseph to some people traveling through as a slave. They truly believed that their dealings with dream boy were over.
Now here is where I will advise you to read the complete story for yourself, cause the hero, Joseph, deals with some pretty crazy stuff. And yes I called him the hero because that is what he truly turns out to be. (Genesis 37)
Many years down the line, Joseph becomes the most powerful man in Egypt. Famine is rampant and Father Jessie sends the boys to get food in Egypt. These cruel, jealous men have to come groveling at the feet of that most despised favored one.
Long story, slightly shorter, Joseph reunites with his father and meets his younger brother.

The Retch
Jonah was a prophet with an attitude. He had formed his own opinions despite what the Almighty had to say.
God told Jonah to go to Niveah and preach to the people.
These people were the most vial and nasty creatures and Jonah did not have much concern for them.
Most of us heard this story as a child, but really need to get a clear picture of what occurred. Jonah boarded a ship and headed the opposite direction of Ninevah.
So God decided that He needed to get Jonah’s attention. A horrific storm began to terrorize the ship. Fearing that all would be lost they began to basically ask all onboard who had made God mad.
Once Jonah confessed, over the side went the prophet. Quickly the storm settled as Jonah sank deeper.
Now a large fish swallows Jonah for his meal and this is where things get a bit confusing for most Believers. We often get a picture from a storybook of Jonah with a table, chair and a lamp sitting and praying for three days. This is so far from the truth. A great deal happened to him. Take time and check out the whole story sometime. (Jonah chapters 1-3)
As for our purposes, this guy spent 3 days and nights with the digestive juices of this enormous fish. The pungent smells and discomfort would have been enough to get most folks praying for help. His clothes would have dissipated. His skin would have turned very pale and sick and shriveled and all body hair would be no more. Covered in seaweed, skin burning, Jonah began to pray to God.
Finally, Jonah was regurgitated by this fish, the Bible says he went straight to Nineveh. Get the picture, this guy is like walking death coming there. They could look at him and tell he had been dead and was alive again.
That captured their attention better than a three-piece suit. They all listened. God’s message was heard and the people began to serve God.

The Widow

Famine covered the land where they lived so Naomi and her Husband, as well as both of there sons,  leave Judah to the land of Moab. The sons grew and took wives. After years there, Naomi’s Husband dies and so do both of her sons. Now she was practically destitute, so she decided to return to Jerusalem. One daughter in law pledges to stay with her wherever she goes, while the other decides to remain in Moab.
Ruth the girl who stayed with Naomi was young enough to marry again, so Naomi introduced her to one of her late husband’s relatives. A man named Boaz who happened to be successful and well known in the community. Under the keen direction of her mother in law, Ruth set her eyes on Boaz as the ultimate prize. She did not just flirt or even seduce him but won the heart of Boaz and they were married. Once she became his wife, they had a son named Obed who was the father of Jessie. Jessie was the father of King David who was the direct lineage of Jesus Christ.

So what do those three less than desirable people have in common? They were all called by God for a very important purpose. No matter the situation you find yourself in, God can turn it around.

Are you a slave, a retch, or a widow?
Did you feel like the favored one and now you are in the bottom of a pit? Has life been so cruel that you feel like fish puke? Or are you in the senior part of life going, now what?
God wants to use you. Just as you are! You do not have to be perfect to be used, you just have to be willing. It is my prayer today that you will recommit yourself to God like never before. Become the person that He created you to be, and fill His purpose for your life.

If you do not know Him, that is easy, talk to Him. Understand that ALL have sinned and are not worthy of the glory of God, but Jesus Christ gave His life for our sin that we might have perfect peace with God. He not only died but He rose again three days later and is alive today! Now tell someone that you accepted these things and have talked to God. Leave a note below, call a friend, or even better, do both!

It does not matter where you started, it matters where you are going!

Specifics

The men of our household were all gone one late morning, and I found myself alone with just my three kids. Of course, as a reminder, I use the word kids simply because I am a mother, but there is no one less than 16.  When they were little it was more demanding because you always had to stop what you were doing to see to someone’s toilet issues, or to get a drink for someone, or to find “the quiet one” and find out what he/she was up to. Today they all are big enough to fend for themselves, most of the time, yet it is not always true about them staying out of trouble.

My son is busy on the computer, and when that is the case he is pretty well occupied. The only time he seems to stop is when a hunger pain hits. The girls and I are busy with crafts which are really tough on me today because my focus is off. I keep pushing through. I mess up and start over. Sometimes I mess up and revamp my idea completely. Nevertheless, I was finally being productive and realized that Elyssa, my middle child, had slipped into the kitchen.

I kept working. When she arrived back into the room, a wonderful aroma accompanied her. I took a long slow breath. It was sliders she had made from the porcupine meatballs from last night’s supper. The sweetness from the bar-b-que sauce and the freshly grown bell peppers. The aroma of onions mixed delicately with tomatoes and that sizzling beef made my mouth begin to salivate.

Back to work, I looked up and realized that my other daughter had made herself a sandwich of meatballs as well. Hmmm, probably all gone with everyone digging in. I thought to myself. I hear the beep of the microwave and realize that my son is also having lunch now. He has just warmed the meatballs. I feel like I can not stand it anymore. “Nate, will you make momma a sandwich too?” I called to him, “Please and thank you. ”

“Sure.” Came the reply that may have been sarcasm, but I ignored. As I glued my final piece to my project, a plate hovered near my head. “Here Mom.” The 16-year-old presented my lunch. Yet instead of the delectable meatballs that I had been smelling, I had been given a cold chicken and cheese sandwich. From the refrigerator, lunch meat and a cheese slice between two slices of bread.  My heart sank.   As I took a bite I could not convince my taste buds and brain that this was what I wanted.  Finally, I said to my son, “Nate, you want the rest of this sandwich?” He comes around the corner mouth full, with his one hand meal well in hand.  He finally swallows and replies,”I guess so.”  I looked up at him to respond and see his scrumptious meatball sandwich.  “Wow, I guess you got the last of the meatballs, huh?”  I asked resigning myself to the answer.

“No,” he responded,”  There’s plenty more.”

I pondered what I had heard.  If there was…?  Then why did I…?  And why did he…? I felt slight outrage.  Everyone else had a warm lunch, and I was stuck with cold cuts. To top it off my son seemed indifferent to it. “So, I just have to ask,” I chose my words carefully, “why did you give me a cold sandwich while making yourself a meatball one?”

My daughters began to laugh and make snide remarks like,”Oooo, you got caught.”  “Boy, you gonna get it now.”

“Now, Mom, in my defense,” he began to respond to me once the jeering died down,”You asked for a sandwich.  You never once specified what kind.”  I took a slow cleansing breath.  At that moment I felt that there was egg all over my face.  There was no argument to that.  He was right.  I did not specify anything except a sandwich.  I thanked him for his efforts and went and made me a meatball one on my own.  But as I did being “specific” kept rolling around in my mind.

With all prayer and petition pray [with specific requests] at all times [on every occasion and in every season] in the Spirit, and with this in view, stay alert with all perseverance and petition [interceding in prayer] for all God’s people. (Ephesians 6:18)

So God wants me to pray specifically.  Not just generic requests.  Not just God bless So-in-so, but God bless him with a new better paying job and heal his marriage.  See the difference.  Because those specifics are not just for our own personal issues but the petitions of all of God’s people.  It says so right there in Ephesians.  It amazes me how much instruction can be found in just one verse.

So, I have learned an extremely important lesson.  Ask for sandwiches, and pray very specifically, or you might get what you do NOT ask for.

 

Tidal Wave

I had hoped that today would be a day full of laughter and smiles, instead, it was full of new symptoms that can be described as waves.  One moment I feel content and putting on my mascara.  The next thing I know my mascara is streaming down my face. At first, I am busily going about my day, and end up dazed and confused about what I was even doing.

I realize that depression is probably an underlying factor, but these waves are new.  They have sent my family into a flurry of, “Are you all right?” and “What is the matter?”

I find myself at a loss for words when they ask me these questions.  It seems that this sudden onslaught comes out of nowhere.  It is said that stress is a contributing factor to anxiety, yet at the moments when these surges occur, I am not necessarily feeling burdened.

So I am attempting to write this post and had to stop typing because my eyes were so fogged up with tears.  I have no particular reason for this feeling, and once it passes, it is over until the next wave.

I have taken several days to complete this story and I feel that maybe I have a better handle on things now.  My storm was very real and in my face.  I have decided after much contemplation, that I have been experiencing grief.  I lost my mother back in October of 2017.  Every time I believe I have dealt with all the grief steps, something else rises up.  And in this storm, it was coming fast and hard and scary. You know hindsight is 20/20.  Well, after I am finished with the storm, I see perfectly.

Reminds me of a Bible story.  Jesus and the disciples climbed into the boat to travel across the Sea of Galilee.  Jesus has been preaching to throngs of crowds all day and was exhausted.  He went down into the boat and fell asleep.  A deep sound sleep.

A great storm arose with waves that beat against the ship and it began to fill with water.  In my mind’s eye, I can see disciples bailing to keep afloat.  They were scared to death and began to cry out and beg for help.  Finally, some genius decides to shake Jesus awake and ask, “Don’t you even care if we die?”

And He got up and [sternly] rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Hush, be still (muzzled)!  And the wind died down [as if it had grown weary] and there was [at once] a great calm [a perfect peacefulness]. Mark 4:39 AMP

As a Christian, I have Jesus in my spiritual boat.   Yet, I question sometimes if He is asleep.  Be honest, you do too sometimes.   Now even when He was sleeping in the boat with the disciples, He knew exactly what was happening.  After all, Jesus was God as well as human.  God also sees and knows what is happening to me.  He feels the pain I feel, and the sadness, and even the loneliness.  But He is always there to take care of me, guide me, and see that I do not go under.

And Jesus said to them, “Why are you so afraid?  Do you still have no faith and confidence [in me]?” Mark 4:40 AMP

Why am I afraid?  365 times in the Bible the words, “do not be afraid” is written.  One time for every day of my life. Jesus rides with me. The ruler of the universe, the Savior of my soul rides with me.  All I have to do is ask for His help.  He will stand up inside my situation and speak peace.  Even against a tidal wave.

 

For a bit of humor in the rain.  Try this story: Caught in the Rain

Word Bombs

I am in the family room with my feet propped up watching and listening to my two younger kids play a game. I took my turn and am now waiting. The title of this games is Keep Talking and No one Explodes. It is literally a bomb defusing game. It is played with one person on the computer and one with a printed manual. The idea is to communicate and not “blow” up. We have done fair. Only exploded 60% of the time.  Okay, that is not so hot.   The kids are better at it than me, but they have had a bit more practice. That’s my story and I am sticking to it.

  •  How many wires do you see?
  • 4   
  •  How many red wires are there? 
  •  3 
  • Okay, cut the last wire.
  • The last one? 
  • Yes.
  • Are you sure?
  • I’m sure.
  • Really?  Be sure.
  • Yes, for heaven’s sake, cut the wire!
  • “Snip”
  • BOMB EXPLODES ON SCREEN
  • Okay, maybe I wasn’t sure

 

Communication is a huge deal in life. It is a necessity to keep things running smoothly in every aspect where we deal with other human beings. Wow. So, we are referring to work, family, church, shopping, …. this is too much for me to fathom. I am supposed to be cautious and careful in my communication? Why don’t other people just make allowances for me, and then things would be just perfect?  If only!

Sometimes when you need a bit of entertainment, go and people watch at the local Mart store or shopping mall. It is the funniest thing. When you get past the weird way people dress then start noticing people communicating, or not.   People yelling at their family members, some so angry with each other they won’t even speak.  Folk complaining to employees, and occasionally quite boisterously.  Every single person trying to push their point of view on the other, giving no caution about the other’s feelings, or purpose.

Now, as I have said before, I am a Bible-believing person.  I do my best to follow what the Good Book instructs me.  Yet just like playing baseball, you may not get a home run every time, but you should always aim for the fence.  Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. (1 Corinthians 15:33 KJV)  Wow, you can sure see that people watching!

Ephesians 4:29, Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.  

Now for those of us who are not Bible scholars, corrupt is having or showing a willingness to act dishonestly in return for money or personal gain.  How many times have I opened my mouth with the intent of gaining personal superiority?  In other words, giving someone a piece of your mind just to make yourself feel better.  We have all probably been guilty of that at one time or another.

Edifying means to instruct or benefit, especially morally or spiritually; uplift.  So, these people who really do need our instruction need to be told in the right way.  Oh, help me, Lord!  Cause I honestly, want to tell them exactly how it is!

Grace in Ephesians 4:29 literally is a Greek word meaning that which affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, loveliness.  When was the last time you set out to say anything that followed that pattern?  Hum, you don’t answer that and neither will I.

Just like the kids had to learn how to talk to each other to keep the simulated bomb from exploding, we must learn to talk the right way and to listen the right way.  Listening is just as important as proper speech.  The person in the game giving the instructions must be heard correctly by his teammate or the instructions are useless.

There is a ton more that could be said here about positively communicating but I will tell you one thing I know for sure.  It must start somewhere, and it might as well start with me.

So the game name should be Keep Talking Correctly or You Might Explode.  I guess it doesn’t have the same ring to it, but I bet the next time you think about telling someone off, you will remember this story and the scripture.  Then hopefully a bit of grace will be on your lips.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Overcoming Captivity

My head pounds until my vision blurs.  Pain trickles down from the base of my skull to the fingertips of each arm.  My chest feels compressed by an unseen force. I struggle to breathe.   A searing, burning pain explodes in my mid to low back and I suddenly notice a freezing numbness in both my feet.  My legs ache like I have overworked the muscles for days.  Anxiety engulfs my soul and causes me to tremble.  Every word that is spoken to me cuts into me like a knife.  Silent screams rise up inside and dare to escape me.

“My Lord, please let this pass” I pray in desperation, ” I do not know how long I can take this.”  My family is still learning to deal with these episodes too.  They must understand that if I speak harshly to them, I do not intend any harm.  They also must learn that I will probably not have much memory of what the tell me.  If I have any at all.

Anything planned out of doors today will have to be postponed.  I can not face the outside world.  My family will forgive my shortcomings and inabilities, but outside if I overreact in the world I would be labeled a witch (But it would probably start with a different letter.)

These are the times when you learn that depression is more than just sadness.  It is more than loneliness.  Although those are a definite part.  Pain is a part of my depression that no one ever thinks about.  The pain that I already have in my body be it arthritis or injury can be intensified at the height of my depression symptoms.

Depression is like being lost in the rain. You long for the sun to return.  You know where the umbrella is, and that there is shelter nearby, yet you are frozen standing in a downpour that never seems to end. It seeps into every part of you while you stand helplessly drenched.

Now I have heard and read several trains of thought on what I have been experiencing.  I am a Bible-believing person, and I do accept the Holy Bible as divinely inspired.

Now it has been proven that depression is a chemical imbalance of the brain. I understand that this is the case for me as the situation has run in my family.  I do take medication once a day for this imbalance, the medicine makes a great deal of difference.  That said, I also believe that there is a spiritual component to this as well.  The enemy of my soul wants nothing more than destroy me completely.  If I listen to his propaganda I will end up in worse shape than before.

2 Corinthians 10:5,  Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

Satan and his imps will jump on the bandwagon when those physical symptoms of depression and anxiety occur.  He will cause you to imagine every awful thing under the sun.  He will cause you to have nightmares that will stay with you after you wake.   He will cause you to think things that are so far from the truth that you can not even trace it back to the truth.  He will cause worry and fret to exalt themselves so high in your thoughts that you can not even conceive the knowledge of God.  According to the scripture, we must cast down, and bring into captivity.  Now those are some violent actions.  Get that junk under control!  Don’t let the devil feed you any more junk!  Tell him out loud that you have had enough.  That you are not going to take it anymore!

When my thoughts do not agree with what God says I am, I must forcefully remind myself even though I do not feel it, that God is for me and nothing can stand against me. (Romans 8:31)

Symptoms will come. They are inevitable.  But I have decided I will not allow myself to be snatched down into the abyss that Satan wants to keep me in.  I will overcome.  I will beat this!  I will be strong in the Lord and I will conquer this battle with help that only comes from above!

Careful Directions

Life with depression can have its lows and highs.  There are days when you feel everything is wrong, and will never be right again.  Yet there are the days when the sadness seems a slight memory that you long to make a distant memory.  Those are the times when you push to do things that you do not normally do.  Today was that day for me.

My husband and I had taken a short drive into town together, which was a pleasant change of pace.  We even had time to hold hands and sing to some old Country and Western music playing on the radio.  It simulated the moments from when we were dating.  We have only been married for 9 years, but the stress we have been experiencing lately has caused us to lose track of time.  He is the man I have waited for all my life.  God took all the pain and sadness from all the past and multiplied it with twice as much love and happiness.

We picked up the middle child, Elyssa and ate lunch in town just the three of us. She is so busy with school and works during fall and spring semester we do not get to see her much.  Full of our meal and of all our chit chat, we climbed into the car to start for home.

A quick side note here.  Practically everyone in the world has a vice.  Some people smoke cigarettes, and some drink alcohol.  Some people get regular manicures and pedicures.  There are even people who have to have only the latest and greatest tech items.  This is not a judgment by any means, to each his own.  I have a vice.  Some people in my family might even say an addiction.  My thing is Diet Dr. Pepper.

Just for the record, I also have Hubby addicted. I can say with definite certainty that we are the only ones that in our home that feel that way.  I don’t think you could even pay any of them to drink it.

Well, today as we are leaving the parking lot, my dear husband reminds me that we are almost out of soda.  Now I am scanning the sale papers in my mind trying to remember who has our delicacy on sale.  Of course, the fog that comes along with my depression is playing with my memory.

I turned to my daughter in the back seat and requested that she ask Siri.  Her phone is more advanced than mine.  “Hey, Siri,” she said, and the phone beeped. “Where can I find Diet Dr. Pepper on sale near me?” Another beep comes from the small device.

“Okay,” the answer came, “I found a clinic with the nearest Dr. Pepper on…”I can not tell you exactly what Siri said after that because I was laughing so hard.  Actually, we all were.  We had gone from a beverage of choice being located to a real person of the same name.  Just crazy funny!  So many people use Siri or similar assistants every day.  I hope they are getting better results than we did today.

There are millions of self-help books, preachers, teachers, videos and CD’s, all claiming to know how we should live, and change and be in this life.  My personal experience is BE VERY CAREFUL.  Just because someone is popular does not mean they are in the right.  Just because they have published a dozen books is not proof that they are the one you should base your beliefs on.  1 John 4:1 read, Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God because many false prophets are gone out into the world. 

 You do not want to be deceived.  You do not want to follow someone blindly.  If someone is praiseworthy, you will be able to tell if you will only try the spirits.  Ask questions about what they say.  Do they line up with God’s Word?  If not, leave them be.   After all, today if I had followed Siri’s directions, I would have been sitting in Dr. Pepper’s office waiting for a beverage.  It really just would not have made sense.  Following people who look and sound good, but are leading people astray with wrong or slightly mixed up directions is a choice that will be detrimental to your eternity.

 

You really do not want to miss the article called GPS