Work can be the birthplace of life-long friendships. Include the spouses and children in the mix and the two families sometimes grow close. Though there may be no shared name or heritage, it is their shared experiences that create the familial bond.
My dad, "Hoosier," and his friend "Conrad" shared an interest in boating. One sunny Saturday they took their young families out on their boat to spend the day on Berlin Lake.
It wasn't long before the two inexperienced boaters discovered the hard hitting waves had caused the plug to work its way out. The adults scurried around to return the boat to seaworthiness. In all the mayhem, the bean salad Conrad's wife prepared for lunch, tipped over and the air-tight lid released its contents all over the floor of the small motor boat.
Collective laughter erupted as Eli frantically attempted to clean it up and salvage whatever she could. Though none of us could understand her native Greek language, her rapid speech, and flailing arms revealed she was not a happy passenger. No one even got to try her salad yet!
It didn't take long for her to realize that it wasn't the end of the world. Before long the laughter ceased and everyone calmed down. The toppled salad was cleaned up. The two dads started the motor, and once again we felt the wind in our faces. We burst out in belly-laughs, when the beans were spotted floating in the disturbed waters behind the boat.
In our wake, we not only left a trail of legumes. We left with tummy aches and tears of laughter. It is our "Three-Bean Salad Saga." Through the years I heard my dad re-tell this story, in his most pathetic Greek accent, more times than I can count. A half-century old story re-told at every reunion of the second generation friends. It's one "family" story for their children - that just never gets old.
Our lungs expand and collapse as the oxygen sustains life in our bodies. We give it no thought. We inhale. We exhale. It is a natural reflex. Absent of trauma or illness, it takes no effort on our part. One day, however, we will exhale, and the air will no longer fill our lungs.
Beautiful sleeping baby
first restful night
quiet morning light
… too quiet
… final breath
… time stops
… final breath
exhausted, he will not wake
… future over
… final breath
One true love
officer at the door
knees hit the floor
… final breath
A wife- mother- grandmother
family and friends
a full life ends
… bedside gathering
… final breath
We cannot know when that last breath will come, whether for ourselves or for those whose lives are precious to us. If we could know, would we live our lives differently? Would we comprehend the finality and feel a sense of urgency to know, and to share, Jesus? How much time would we spend considering eternity?
Hebrews 9:27-28 (MSG) Everyone has to die once, then face the consequences. Christ’s death was also a one-time event, but it was a sacrifice that took care of sins forever. And so, when he next appears, the outcome for those eager to greet him is, precisely, salvation.
Father in heaven, with each breath, may I feel Your presence. May I grasp the urgency of the world's need to know you. Please give me the words to share Your love with the lost. And help me to be obedient to the leading of Your Spirit.
Aren’t the little surprise blessings in life the greatest? They are extra special when your day has been a rough one or something, in particular, has gotten you down in the dumps.
Maybe the concerns you secretly carry as you live life in the joy of the Lord, (hidden behind your cheerful smile) are clouding out the Light God wants to shine in your heart. I find fatigue seems to be key that unlocks the door to that “poor me,” vulnerable state of mind.
That leads to getting overwhelmed by my to-do list and from there it’s all downhill. I’m aware that the day will come every now, but I don’t add guilt to the other feelings bringing me down. I just ride out the storm knowing that it will pass. I also know that it will pass sooner if I keep my eyes on Jesus.
God knows when we need a little something extra to boost us out of our emotional funk. He knew I needed it the other day.
For me, the three-day weekends are sometimes accompanied by mixed feelings. Last Thursday evening was one of those times.
The forecast was beautiful sunshine all weekend. A real blessing after the entire month of rain we are recovering from. Then the dreaded question... ”Do you have plans for the 4th?” Ugh! That one question may have been what pushed me into my mini-depression.
With a smile as respond, “I’m not really sure yet. I may just stay home and get caught up on some things.” Then I start visualizing the endless list of stuff I could (and should) do. Fatigue already began to set in as I reviewed the imaginary list in my head. The tears begin to fall as soon as I sit behind the steering wheel and head for home.
Psalm 13:2-3 2 How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul,
with sorrow in my heart every day?
How long will my enemy have the upper hand?
3 Turn and answer me, O Lord my God!
Restore the sparkle to my eyes, or I will die. (NLT)
Tristan, our King Charles Spaniel, my constant companion and “baby-dog,” is on hand and crowding me in my chair. (He’s also ready to put a stop to any tearful pity party I may consider having.) It is impossible to cry with a dog in your face wiping your tears away and wanting to know what’s wrong. It’s impossible to stay in that, feeling-sorry-for-myself state of mind.
It takes more effort than I’m willing to put forth to keep pushing him away. Before long his relentless doggy kisses have brought a smile to my face. With all that “love” in my face how could I possibly remain down in the dumps?
Love lifted me.
Then comes the call from the love of my life. Though apart, Larry has always been able to make me laugh at nothing... and at everything. A few more of the gray clouds, darkening my otherwise sunny skies, are edged out.
Love lifted me.
The “funk” had not totally disappeared, but at least I was feeling somewhat better. As I write, the silence of the rural evening is broken. Whoosh! I wondered, “What is going on the fritz now?” Whoosh! “What IS that? Is the air conditioner going?” WHOOSH! “It’s getting louder! What now, is something in the house going to explode?”
While trying to figure out what it could be, I happened to glance out the window. It looked almost close enough to reach out and touch. A huge, multi-colored hot air balloon hovered just over the tree line in the back yard. It was so close, so beautiful - such a blessing. “THAT’S what the sound is!” I thought to myself.
Within a matter of seconds the anxiety about the unknown problem disappeared. In it’s place, the explanation and peace of mind. As a bonus, it provided motivation to get up and get going (outside to get a picture).
This time, God’s love lifted me. (In the form of a hot-air of the balloon)
Psalm 86:4 Bring joy into the life of Your servant,
for it’s only to You, O Lord, that I offer my soul. (VOICE)The Voice
We cannot deny both good and bad things can happen to us on any given day. We live in a fallen world. One in which God is there watching over us. He is rejoicing with us when the good things happen, and he cares for us when we are up against trials, tragedies. He is cares. Even when we are in the midst of nothing more than a bad day, He cares.
We can bring all our cares and concerns to Him - the God of the universe. 1 Peter 5:7
I sometimes fail to remember that God is on the throne. He already knew that I would be writing this blog post on this day April of 2015. He knows every struggle that we will face and offers to be there for us. Nothing delights Him more than when we call on Him. Whether to praise Him for His goodness, to ask Him for strength or help or to beg him for the undeserved mercy He has already offered through Jesus Christ.
Today, calling on Jesus in times of tragedies is "normal." It is not frowned upon or ridiculed when we fall to our knees before God when our world is rocked to its foundation. It is not nearly, however, as common to hear praises for the times we are spared suffering or rescued from severe harm - even death? Praising the Lord for His goodness may not be met with scorn but smirks can reveal silent ridicule. Ridicule doesn't scare me. I will praise the Lord anyway.
What started out as a great day for my 11-year-old nephew ended with a God revealing His level of involvement in our lives. He revealed how everything works together for His good to glorify His name.
My nephew had already played one tournament game in the morning, and another was scheduled in the afternoon. His sister informed me that, though the team lost, it was an exciting game. She invited me to go to the next with them. As I mentally reviewed (with a sigh) my list of things I had to do, I chose to go anyway.
I did so for a couple reasons. 1) I'm not able to go to all my nephews games. 2) I enjoy watching. 3) Time and memories are precious. Though life gets in the way. Sometimes I need to ignore the dust on the table and the carpet that needs vacuuming, (and the writing that I hoped to get done), and do the thing that will mean the most. Yesterday, it was a baseball game.
All our decisions, the ones we consider for days and weeks or the ones we make at the spur of the moment, have the potential for miracles and tragedies to occur. My decision to go could have gone either way and praise be to God, it wasn't tragic.
The game, which was a pretty good distance away, was over. With but a half mile yet to go we were chatting and enjoying each other's company when suddenly it felt as if we were on an amusement park ride. Did my brother-in-law hit one of the mammoth potholes creating obstacle courses on the majority of highways, city side streets - and back roads like ours? No, that wasn't it.
Once our truck came to a stop, sitting stunned we all wonder, "WHAT, just happened here?"
It became apparent when we witnessed her wheel rolling down the road in front of us and into someone's front yard. Her back wheel came off the rim! While we were driving down the road. It sounds rather funny until you consider that we were traveling a significant distance today at some higher rate of speed most of the time. We were on highways. We traveled through both cities and rural areas. About a half mile further and we would have been in front of my sister's house. All that driving and God protected us.
One might ask, "Well then why didn't he get you home?" That's a great question. The answer is He had the perfect plan. Her truck stopped in the road right in front of a driveway. As my brother-in-began to attempt to jack the vehicle with the onboard jack, a young man emerged from the house, walked out toward the road and stopped to lean over his truck bed to get something. As he walks toward the road with an outstretched hand, he asks, "Need some lug nuts?" Seriously, it was as if he was waiting for us, and we finally showed up to get them.
Two other young men followed him out to lend their support. When the truck fell off the tiny jack - for the second time, one of the others headed back for to the garage. He returned with a larger, sturdier jack. Beer in one hand, jack in the other. Within fifteen minutes, we were safely home.
Looking back, it's as if it was all planned. Some may call that "luck." The events of this day were not just dumb luck. It was divine protection and divine provision. God is watching over us. He does care for us. Sometimes He allows unfortunate things to happen and other times he intervenes and protects - according to His will.
His intervention sometimes comes in the form of angels. On this occasion, one of them was holding a bottle of beer the other a cigarette between his lips, delivering lug nuts and a jack.
Playing Pranks …Waging War
Jul 27, 2014 by Melinda
Written for and posted on TheBottomLine.com 7/27/2014
TP-ing, it’s one of the favorite ‘harmless’ pranks of teenagers (and even some adults.) It is the act of throwing rolls of toilet paper into trees, bushes and yards. It can be done as a friendly prank or it can be done as an act of revenge. One can even find wiki-how instructions on how to properly TP someone.
The relatively inexpensive investment (a pack of toilet paper) makes it well within the budget of any young prankster trying to relieve their boredom. Personally, I never understood why anyone considered this to be a fun time but many did when I was in school and evidently it is still popular today.
I just shook my head as I gazed at the multitude of white streamers in my front yard while I took my little dog out at 5:30 a.m. If there had been a party, the decorations would have been quite festive.
Some parents may laugh if they arise to discover their house has been targeted the previous night. Others may consider the cleanup involved and become angry at the mischief. My son was the target and my son would be the one to take down these ‘decorations.’ Though it didn’t make me angry, it was still a bit annoying nonetheless.
Before the landscape returned to normal, my mind took me to a place I was not expecting. The Lord impressed on my heart how blessed we are to live in small-town America where our kids only have to worry about cleaning up the debris from toilet paper rolls. Unlike those who must worry about finding shelter from the incoming bombs in Israel, Palestine, and other war-torn countries.
It is quite sobering to consider the fear and uncertainty that these young people must feel. What a shame it is that the ‘adults’ who are ‘leading’ them cannot resolve their conflicts with civility. Because some choose to do evil, others must face the evil and deal with it accordingly.
Luke 21: 8-10 8 He replied, “Don’t let anyone mislead you, for many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’[a] and saying, ‘The time has come!’ But don’t believe them. 9 And when you hear of wars and insurrections, don’t panic. Yes, these things must take place first, but the end won’t follow immediately.” 10 Then he added, “Nation will go to war against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.
God created us to love Him. But to love we must have free will. Because we are a sinful people, we choose to rebel against God. Sometimes our sin is personal and no one knows about it. It only breaks the heart of our Heavenly Father. Many times, however, our sins bring harm to others.
So often people ask, “If there is a god, and he is good, why would’t he end wars and poverty?” If this issue is a stumbling block to you taking the step of faith, you can find honest answers to your questions on BibleAbout.com.
I have decided to take the path of faith;
I have focused my eyes on Your regulations. Psalm 119:30 (VOICE)
Facebook is a wonderful tool to keep in touch with friends and family. It also holds the capacity to eat up hours of your day in a flash. As I scroll the events of the day, I can see how others have been spending their time. My messages may contain invitations to join a group or play a game. 'Friends' share links to other sites that they have found interesting. Many times they are. - That's how it becomes a time waster.
The links that offer quizzes and enlighten us on ourselves are fun. I recently took a quiz that would reveal what type of woman I 'really' am. I answered the questions (some of which seemed to have little ability to learn the truth about who I am.
Upon completion of the questions, the revelation came to the light. I am a 'True Independent Woman.' Hmmm, this assessment need to be evaluated for its accuracy. It is true that I prefer being self-sufficient. The ability to figure things out and do things for myself brings a bit of gratification. It doesn't, however, make me 'independent.'
I am one hundred percent dependent on Jesus Christ to help me to do the things that I could never accomplish in my own ability. The relationship with my husband is one of inter-dependence. Our lives are one. I would not be the person that I am if I had not married him. I depend on my son to be a young man that will live honorably. My mom, family, friends, church family, co-workers... I depend on God to protect all these people that mean so much to me.
Whatever I am... however 'independent' I appear to be, is the result of total reliance on God. Daily, I choose to surrender all control to Him. I cannot boast in anything because all I do is by the Lord's design. I can live in confidence (which may appear to be independence) because I know He knows His plans for me. All I need to do is give Him my love and obedience, leaving the results in His hands.
In May of 2011, Laura Story released her album 'Blessings.' In 2012, the title song from the album spent multiple weeks at number 1 on the Billboard Christian Song chart and received multiple awards . In her Christianity Today interview, she stated “Blessings is just a bunch of songs about worshiping when life is hard." This may be a song about her and her husband's story, but it feels as though it was written specifically for me. It could very well have been written for all of us at one time or another in our lives.
We tend to breeze comfortably through life giving little attention to God, seeking Him only in times of trouble. Sometimes God must let difficulty rain on our sunshiny lives in order to turn our attentions to Him because He wants what is best for us. And there is nothing more important - more imperative, than our relationship with Him. The entire song touches me every time I hear it. I've considered singing her song one Sunday, but one line gets to me every time. "What if my greatest disappointments or the aching of this life, is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can't satisfy." - At first we can rarely see the mercies in the trials we endure. I guess we're too preoccupied with our own suffering. Although this is a perfectly natural and understandable response, when we fix our eyes on Jesus the burden becomes so much easier to bear.
When we allow God to draw us near- when we have acknowledged His mercies in the midst of our suffering, our faith is made stronger. When we are faced with another 'rainy season' in our life we are less likely to drown in our sorrows. Instead, we can stand strong under the umbrella of God's mercies and wait for the flowers to bloom. The greatest blessing the world has ever received was borne out of the greatest suffering ever endured. The torrent of suffering Jesus endured brought us the blessing of everlasting life. It is the ultimate demonstration of God's mercy shown toward us.
Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. Romans 12:12NLT
1 Peter 4:8 HSCB
8 Above all, maintain an intense love for each other, since love covers a multitude of sins
February - the month we celebrate 'love'. I must admit Valentines Day is one of my favorites. I realize that statement may offend some Christian 'sensibilities' but please hear me out. Of course, Christmas and Easter are the special ones. They tell the story of our Lord and celebrate our faith. Like Christmas and Easter, the marketing community appeals to us on Valentines Day, promoting their products, with the hope that we purchase them for those we love.
In elementary school children have their parties. They create valentine boxes, and trade valentines. For adults, Valentines Day is a day celebrating Eros' love - the romantic kind of love. We buy cards, and give chocolates, flowers, jewelry and other tokens of love to those who have captured our heart. It is the holiday in which we share and show our love.
The objective of any business is to make a profit by sharing the quality and value of their product. They believe in their products and make it a priority to let others know how great they are - why we can't live without them. Isn't our 'product' far more valuable? It may seem uncomfortable to liken our faith to a commodity to be 'sold'. But isn't our objective more important than simply making a profit? Our objective is to see souls saved through faith in Jesus Christ. It is something we truly cannot live without.
Shouldn't we proudly proclaim the message of the gospel? What if those of us who claim the name of Jesus Christ promoted His message as well as the commercial community promoted their products? Companies invest millions of dollars for 30 seconds of commercial time during a single football game. What if we all spent a just a few more minutes of our time each day sharing the gospel message?
John 15:13 HCSB
No one has greater love than this, that someone would lay down his life for his friends.
The message of the Cross is the greatest message of love ever told.
Is the Spirit speaking to you, nudging you to take action?
Do you squirm through the Lord's conviction as He questions you? “You asked. I provided. Now what are you waiting for?”
Do you have volumes of material, waiting to be edited and published? Are you holding back writing your testimony? Keeping your collection of personal devotionals to yourself when you dream of sharing them? Who knows? Maybe you believe that your creativity has given birth to the next best-selling Christian Fiction novel.
My enthusiasm about writing 'The Book' (as those close to me call it) is at times erratic...fickle. Shaking my head, I frown and begin berating myself once again. “Look at what God has provided you for material – faith, romance; comedy, tragedy; failure, redemption... and forgiveness. All YOU have to do is write it down and share it. Just DO IT! Then leave it to God to use as He will.”
Slithering in, the author of deception laughs as he points out my inexperience and the challenges ahead. “You don't know anything about authoring a book – much less getting one published... HA! And where will you find the time to write a book?” The deceiver would like nothing more than to prey on my own doubts and insecurities.
In spite of self-doubt beginning to creep in, I trudge on in obedience, seeking advice on the internet. Then I found FaithWriters.com.
What an answer to prayer! No longer will I allow my inexperience to hold me back!
My Platinum membership provides access to a multitude of resources for hopeful writers like me. Writing lessons, tips, contests, and input from experienced fellow writers are among some of the benefits available to assist me in developing my writing skills.
FaithWriters proudly promotes its members. Once my Christian Non-Fiction book is complete, another phenomenal benefit of platinum membership is that my book will be marketed in a minimum of four ads throughout the FaithWriters site. And I can list two e-books in their online bookstore for free.
All the networking, skill-developing tools, and Christian Book Marketing – for a nominal fee of just $10.95 per month! Think about it. – You will be reaching the audience that is seeking what you, a Christian author, have to offer.
The member-posted articles and challenge entries are not only attracting readers, but publishers, and editors of Christian e-magazines, as well. They are looking for quality Christian material. With over 400,000 page views per month, the astounding traffic is awesome for Christian book promotion.
When readers searching for Christian books, enter cyberspace, they may find a multitude of sites offering Christian reading. What makes RevelationBooks the bookstore at FaithWriters, different, is that it promotes Christian writers while advancing the spread of the gospel. To date, it is reaching 217 countries around the world. In addition, there have been over 350 decisions for, or re-dedications to, Christ. And the number continues to grow steadily.
Proverbs 19:8 (NCV) Those who get wisdom do themselves a favor, and those who love learning will succeed.
It's up to you to define your personal success.
For some, success may be making Oprah's recommended reading list. For others, it may be learning that your words planted the seed that had eventually borne spiritual fruit.
Are you an aspiring Christian author with a message you feel the Lord leading you to share? In spite of His prompting, has your inexperience or limited funds discouraged you from publishing your work? You need to visit FaithWriters.com today. You will benefit from the wisdom of experienced authors.
FaithWriters isn't only for authors alone. If you enjoy losing yourself in a good book, you should check out RevelationBooks, the FaithWriters bookstore. In addition to offering the wide selection available on Amazon.com, you will find literature exclusive to FaithWriters. Signing up for the 'Free Reads' program affords you the opportunity to preview what may become a #1 best-seller.
Above all, when you support FaithWriters.com by becoming a member, participating in the critique circle, or by reviewing free e-books, you become part of a vessel bringing the gospel to the world.
Philippians 1:12 (NCV) I want you brothers and sisters to know that what has happened to me has helped to spread the Good News.
Glorifying God and seeing souls saved...
Now that's success!
John 19:28 NLT
Jesus knew that his mission was now finished, and to fulfill Scripture he said, “I am thirsty.”
This verse, the words of Jesus, never actually spoke anything deeper to me than that Jesus needed a drink of water. How utterly ashamed I am that I could have ever been so insensitive to His need. I never seriously considered the depth of his anguish.
Though intense, the brief time that I truly experienced thirst still cannot compare to the thirst of Jesus. However, the experience afforded me the opportunity to identify with Him more closely.
While in the hospital, being denied water – even a sip of water, was an experience that I will not ever forget. Evidently, when one has been on a respirator sometimes she is at risk of choking. Upon awakening from an eight day coma... I just wanted a drink of water.
God used that experience to help me understand how deeply I should hunger and thirst after His righteousness. It has shown me that just as my parched mouth craved a sip of water to be satisfied, I need the Living Water that Jesus offers to quench the thirst deep within my soul.
John 4:14 NLT
But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.”
Although the anniversary of my baby brother's birthday makes this day a somewhat sad one, I can rejoice in the Lord. ...Always.
Its hard to imagine what my sixteen year old brother would have been like as a forty two year old man. But I'm sure I would have been proud. My heart breaks for all of us who lost him when he drowned at such a young age. We all feel a void without him here. Unfortunately, sometimes loss is part of life. And sometimes we experience a loss is greater than others.
John 16:33 NLT
I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows.
But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
Though in this life we will experience suffering and sorrow, there is still so very much to be thankful for.
Strive to develop a thankful heart. It will help to heal a broken one.
Welcome to my site. It is by faith and in obedience that I've published this site.
The Lord has chosen to shower my life with his mercies. My prayer is that through sharing my experiences other Christians may be blessed and encouraged. I pray too, that perhaps God may use my life to reach the heart of non-Christians and reveal to them why He is a God who can be trusted to never leave them or forsake them.