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My First Blog Post

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 2 Corinthians 4:16

This is the first post on my new blog. I am a Christian wife, mom to three adult children and a grandmother to seven biological grandchildren, nine step-grandchildren, and four step-great grandchildren. I have a background in dancing, singing, and acting but am, presently in church choir and participate in Single Action Cowboy Shooting. My writings are all based on my experiences with a Christian viewpoint.

Courage

Courage is such a strong word for a personal quality that is often misunderstood for bravery. I do not consider myself to be a courageous woman. I hate heights, scary movies, skiing, deep sea diving and any adventurous sport where I might be injured or get eaten by a shark. I also hate conflict and will avoid it, unless I explode with my own pent-up anger (which doesn’t happen, too often). There is a book, “Do It Scared,” by Ruth Soukup that explains that everyone has fears but when fear keeps you from achieving your goals and/or your dreams, it is detrimental to your growth, as an individual.

Sometimes, I know I need to commit to, or accomplish, a task but feel vulnerable, hesitant, or downright scared to do it. I might not know the steps involved, such as working technical aspects of my blog. But other times, I may be hesitant for fear about the outcome, or the possibility of increased responsibility. Someone I worked with, years ago, told me my whole life was ruled by fear. I was shocked and didn’t know what to say, but he was right. Then. Since then, I have ventured out into the world of blogging, have learned to drive our large, white, dooley truck, and plan on driving our new class C we hope to buy, next year. I agreed 6 years ago to move to Arizona, leaving my grown children and their families behind. Since then, we have lived in an RV, full time, for 4 years and bought a house in Sun City West, two years ago. Our major motivation, besides warmer weather, was to participate in the sport of single action cowboy shooting, which we had started in New England, over 10 years ago. Leaving my family, that I dearly loved was very difficult for me; heartbreaking. But it has given me opportunities I wouldn’t have had, otherwise. I did it, scared.

My newest challenge is writing. I have difficulty being consistent with it. This blog that is meant to encourage others causes my stomach to churn, and my head to ache when I can’t deliver my story, “on time”. I want to tell others how God helps me, comforts me, changes me, and how he can help them, also. Sometimes, I have the perfect story, burning on my heart, that I can hardly wait to share. Other times, I am in writer’s limbo waiting for lightening to strike my smoking brain. And many times, I am scared; scared of failure, scared I am wasting my time, scared that maybe God doesn’t want me doing this, after all. But then, I see an email or post where someone expresses the same fears and lies of the enemy, telling us we are not good enough. And that, along with Scripture, encourages me to keep going; to persevere.

“Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6 NIV.

And my favorite verse, in all scary situations: ” Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27 NIV.

So, I must trust Christ to meet my needs, comfort my heart, forgive my sins, and to keep me on the path he has set for me. He can do the same for you. All you have to do is ask.

Father, thank you for giving me new life through the blood of your precious son, Jesus Christ. I believe you have saved me and given me gifts to use for your glory. Please help me to use my gifts effectively, not giving in to apathy, fear, or disobedience. I want to feel successful, Lord, but not if it is not your will for me to write. So, Lord, may I yield to your Holy Spirit. Give me the courage I need to apply the gifts you have given me, not just for my satisfaction, but for the good of any or all who will benefit by it. In Jesus’ name, I pray.

Summer in the Pines

The cool, green, leafy canopy hangs high over my head as I walk the worn dirt path to the small office. Campers of all sizes align both sides of the road. Full timers have made their sites their second home, having added wooden stairs, decks, or porches as well as flower gardens or hanging potted flowers. I reach the office, a small wooden building with a social hall on one side, and walk up a long ramp to the mailbox. The “mailbox” is really a large rack, laiden with assorted mail, which campers sort out, for themselves. A small, but immaculately clean, inground swimming pool is in back, surrounded by a chain link fence. Another ramp leads to a bathroom, complete with a newly installed tiled shower.

It is quiet, here, especially since Covid-19 regulations have limited visitors to two per site, per day. I am grateful we can have anyone here. I have had each of my seven, grandchildren stay, overnight. My two thirteen year old granddaughters came, first, followed by my 9 year old grandson and his 4 year old sister. Finally, my 15 year old granddaughter came to visit.

Beside swimming, there is not much to do in our retirement community, but my grandson was able to amuse himself, outside, when he was here. Picking up small, fallen tree branches from the pine covered ground and holding them on either side of his head, he said, “Look Grammy! I’m a deer!” and later, “I’m a moose!” My four year old granddaughter sat at our brown painted picnic table, sorting out matching picture cards. Earlier, she had picked up a sparkly, then a smooth grey rock from the ground for safekeeping.

I had purchased a paint by water book for the kids, before they visited, which was a big hit. Both kids painted about 5 pages, and I was able to keep one from each child to display on my fridge. This, along with dry erase boards, coloring books, and a scratch off hangman book, kept the kids happy when we weren’t swimming. Of course, we did swim in the little campground pool, using our foam noodles as floats or make believe snakes.

I thought the little one would have trouble sleeping in our trailer, overnight, but her brother, lovingly, brought her to the bathroom around 2 a.m. and encouraged her to go back to sleep. Later, my grandson confessed he did not get much sleep that night. I was surprised that he took such good care of his little sister, without waking me, but then reasoned he felt responsible for her, not being home. Still, I was quite impressed with his care and concern for her.

We took them to Golden Corral before returning home. Covid-19 rules were in place. Servers scooped our selections on our plates, as we were not allowed to touch the serving spoons. I did touch one, by impulse, and it was quicky replaced with a clean one. The kids chose pizza as their main meal. We wished we had taken them to a pizza joint, instead. Oh, well…

But, today, is a quiet day. What started out to be bright and sunny day with puffy, white clouds, has turned out to be a cool, cloudy afternoon with a possibility of rain. Earlier, I had taken my Bible, outside. Clearing the picnic table and bench of some dry, pine needles, I sat down to pray. An overhanging cloud kept me comfortably cool until the bright sun burst out, causing me to seek shade. I hoped no one would notice as I chose to sit on my neighbor’s deck, under their low, canvas awning. A charming, low, white fence partially surrounds the deck, making it look like a little porch. There is even a table with two lawn chairs, which I felt compelled to use. I knew I had no permission to sit there but I couldn’t resist the idea of continuing my devotional in comfort. A verse I wrote in my journal reflected my mood. “But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the Lord’s praise for he is good to me.” Psalm 13:5-6.

Two weeks have passed since that day under my neighbor’s awning. We just had my 15 year old granddaughter stay overnight. The first thing I noticed was her newly cut bob, dyed one half blond and one half dark brown with purple highlights. It perfectly framed her pretty round face, which showed a blush when I complemented her. I was just getting used to the two toned color when, later in the day, she announced that she was going to change the blond to orange. I had hoped she would change her mind, but I heard, this evening, that Lilly has already colored it. Oh, well, hair grows.

While she was here, my granddaughter showed me how to make a mexican style chicken meal with white rice, corn, shredded chicken, taco sauce, and diced tomatoes. I had hoped we would cook, together, and I appreciated the change from my husband’s and my rather bland diet. I didn’t ask for help with the dishes (I never do when my grands are here) so my granddaughter was free to pick out a show on the TV. Unfortunately, she picked a recorded video game which takes place after an apocolypse. There were man eating creatures, as well as “infected” zombie type people, that needed to be killed for the players survival. My husband and I were horrified by the killings, and tried to talk our granddaughter into a different show. Finally, on the second day she put on a TV show about teenage witches which was even more horrible than the video game saga! Seeing how grossed out we were, she finally settled on a new Disney cartoon show. That, was about witches, too, but the characters were cute, at least. The content of these shows concerned my husband and I. My sweet, innocent granddaughter is being indoctrinated by messages of revenge and the occult. She was surprised and offended by our reactions to her choices, so I gave her several hugs, telling her how much I loved her. Still, my granddaughter was unhappy that I did not like the Disney show and I felt bad that I did not have the opportunity to share my faith in a positive, loving way.

The following day, I took a walk around the park. Wishing my teen granddaughter’s visit had been better, I peered up at the tourqoise sky, watching the tops of the pines sway in the light breeze, I prayed for forgiveness and guidance. Guilt from not being able to share my faith, effectively, weighed on my heart. My earlier efforts had come from a desperate, not a trusting, place. As I poured out my sorrow, I asked the Lord for guidance and found solace in Psalm 25:17-18. ” Relieve the troubles of my heart and free me from my anguish. Look on my affliction and my distress and take away my sins.” And finally, “Guard my life and rescue me, do not let me be put to shame, for I take refuge in you.” Psalm 25: 20. I know I am forgiven because his word tells me so. I can rest, knowing God the Father will work all my circumstances out for good.

My two 13 year old granddaughters, who visited earlier than the others, are great friends beside being cousins, so I always pair them together when they visit. It was cloudy the first day but they ventured into the pool, anyway. Using my red noodles, they blew plumes of clear pool water and splashed around, trying to keep warm. Shivering, they both climbed the stairs, wrapped their towels around themselves, and said they were ready to go back to the trailer. I made supper, while the girls put on a video game from U-Tube. The constant killing bothered us and Grandpa suggested the girls choose something else. Little did we know, then, that another game, worse than this one, would be played, weeks later. Around 11, grandpa and I turned in for the night. Hearing giggles and feeling the trailer rock, a bit, from movement, I fell asleep.

The next day was hot and sunny so I joined the girls in their play in the pool. Using our noodles, we blew clear flumes of water in the air. Then using the noodles as a seat, we floated lazily while I listened to their stories. I noted how the girls were more sedate than in the past, not splashing and jumping off the sides like the the little ones love to do. Still, they seemed to enjoy themselves and I was content with that.

After lunch, I took the girls to the Christmas Shop at the Mills Shops in Granby, Connecticut. Wearing our multi-colored masks, we opened the door to several heavily decorated Christmas trees. One was decorated for Halloween, but the others were decorated for the traditional holiday. Sparkling ornaments glistened in the low lit room. Each tree was trimmed full with ornaments from clear crystal to blown colored glass. Walking down a narrow hall, illuminated with tiny colored lights, we admired the nativity sets, of various sizes, and blown glass hummingbirds hanging on metal trees. I saw a figure of Santa Claus kneeling at the baby Jesus’ manger seemly hidden on a lower shelf, in the corner. I wondered if the owner was fearful of someone being offended by its message and was peeved at the prospect of that. Moving on, I admired the glinting miniatures of breakfast food, cowboy toys, rocking horses, snowflakes, and animals. It was then that I noticed the girls had lost interest in the ornaments and were admiring the squishy toys that looked like frosted doughnuts and cupcakes. I bought them each one and then left for home. Road work caused a bumpy ride home. We took advantage and let our voices vibrate, laughing how silly we sounded.

Not all our grandchildren will come to visit. Our grandsons, two who have autoimmune diseases, are being strictly guarded against Covid-19. I understand the parents’ concern but we are well and will return, soon, to Arizona. I have little hope for a reunion with them, this summer. However, I hope I have made some good memories with the grandkids who came. I am grateful for the time I have had, and look forward to times ahead with them and the rest of our family.

Deeply Rooted

 Keep your roots deep in him, build your lives on him, and become stronger in your faith, just as you were taught. And be filled with thanksgiving. Colossians 2:7 (GNT) My husband and I have been living in Arizona for almost two years.  We have a pretty home with a lovely walled in yard, surrounded in oleander bushes.  Since we leave Arizona, in the summer, I asked a friend if and how much we should water them when we are away.  She told me it is better to water once or twice a week for an hour, rather than watering them every day for 20 minutes.  Since the soil is sandy and dry, the water will sit on top never getting to the roots. Unless the drip of the irrigation system is slow and sustained, the roots will grow upwards toward the water, becoming shallow and eventually fall over and die.

Our time with the Lord can be like this, too.  When we are baby Christians, a few minutes in Bible study might be enough. But as we mature, we need more time to soak in God’s Word to become deeply rooted in him. It is not only reading the Bible, but meditating, studying, and perhaps memorizing it that helps us grow into the mature Christians we were meant to be.

This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it.  For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have great success. Joshua 1:8 (ESV)

Spending time, daily, with the Lord can be difficult, especially when life demands our attention.  However, when we do take that time to “be still” and allow God to speak to us through his Word and in our prayer, we are blessed with peace and a sense of direction for our personal lives.

All Scripture is God breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. 2 Timothy: 3:16 (NIV)

What is holding you back from spending some quiet time with God?  How much time have you spent on Facebook or Instagram, today?   It is so easy to fall into the trap of scrolling social media, or responding to instant messenger, instead of making daily Bible Study a priority.  Like any discipline, it takes commitment to develop a time to spend with Jesus. Find a cozy spot, void of distraction, where you can give him your undivided attention.  Yes, there may be interruptions, but most of the time you will be blessed as the Word “soaks” into your mind and heart.

The Racial Divide

When the news first came out about officer Dereck Chauvin pressing on George Floyd’s neck for nearly 9 minutes, I was stunned and then angry. As I watched the video and heard George cry out, “I can’t breathe!”, I turned away, in horror. Every time I thought of George’s ordeal, I cried. I cried for the loss of this man’s life. I cried for the horrible physical and mental anguish he endured. I cried for the senselessness of it all. Weeks later, I learned this man was a criminal and then, later, that it was all a setup by BLM. What matters is that a man died a horrible, senseless death.

It weighed on my heart and images of the arrest burned in my mind. Many white people were deeply affected by the arrest and subsequent death of George Floyd. One black woman said that they had been dealing with poice brutality, for years, and was puzzled why it should matter, now, to the white community. I was stunned but, after some reflection, I knew. When police shootings of black men were on the news, there were reasons given for the shooting that seemed reasonable but that the black community vehemently denied. I often did not see much of what happened on video, but this time was different. Whether the arrest had gone awry or not, the video that played, repeatedly, on the news created an avalanch of emotion that was to change the way police were allowed to arrest and a wave of sympathy for black people, in general.

I wanted to do my part. What could I do to make things better? My tears showed compassion but tears do not bring change. Neither does pulling down statues, burning buildings, shooting police, and innocent people. True change comes from a willingness to acknowledge what we are doing wrong and from a sincere desire to act differently. In thinking about this, the Lord gave me three reasons for racism: pride, hatred, and fear. I had always thought of racism as prejudice, an untrue vision or understanding of another person, based on the color of their skin. Now, I see it is far more than that. God revealed to me that pride in oneself can lead to disdain for others. This is not to be confused with healthy self-esteem. We need to feel good about ourselves in order to be productive and to feel good about others. But when we start to feel better than someone else because of our looks, intelligence, or place of residence, that pride becomes poison to ourselves and others. More importantly, pride ruins our relationship with God, himself. “The arrogant cannot stand in your presence. You hate all who do wrong. ” Psalm 5:5 The Apostle Paul said, “Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.” Romans 12:16

We are not all equal, in the eyes of society. Some of us are richer than others. Some are more talented or have more intelligence than others, but God looks on our hearts, not on outward appearances or our physical abilities. (1 Samuel 16:7) We are all equal, in value, in the eyes of God and so we need to value others, as ourselves. “And he made from one man (Adam) every nation of mankind to live on the face of the earth, having determined alloted periods and boundaries of their dwelling place.” Acts 17:26

We are to treat others as we want to be treated, but we cannot do this if we hate or fear people different than ourselves. It may be easy to be polite to a stranger you have never met, but it may be difficult to be respectful to someone who has hurt you or looks like someone who has. I do not mean to minimize trauma, here. What I am referring to is when we group all people from a certain race as bad or perilous because they look similar to those we see who commit crimes. I recently read an article, written by a black man, which said he was afraid to walk in his, predominately, white neighborhood for fear people would think him dangerous. Another black man stated that an elderly woman almost fell off the sidewalk, trying to get away from him. What a horrible way to feel! Do you feel threatened when a black or hispanic man crosses your path?

“Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs.” Proverbs 10:12

So, our answer comes through love. Jesus said whoever does not love their brother or sister (meaning any fellow man), whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. 1John 4:19-20 How can we love people we fear or do not know? We cannot love them through our own power. Only through the power of the Holy Spirit are we able to “love” them. We do this through fervent, humble prayer. We do this by not punishing innocent people of color (or whites) for the actions of others in their race. We do this by being kind to all people. We do this by reading his word, the Bible, to give us the discernment we need to stand up for what is right. Because, in the end, we will all have to give account of our actions. Romans 14:12. As Christians, we are called “to be the light” so that others will be drawn to us and, hopefully, to God. Matthew 5:16 With a world torn from sin and hate, we can choose to love, through God’s strength and grace for his glory and our redemption.

Our Annual Cross Country Trip

Being that my husband and I are originally from Vermont and Massachusetts, respectively, and that our families still reside there, we make an annual trip in our fifth wheel trailer from Arizona to Massachusetts every summer. This year was a little dicey with Covid-19, and having left our trailer at our RV park in Mass, drove with just our truck. This year, I flew home for a week during the holidays but, usually, we do not see family for 8-9 months.

During our first year in Arizona, we lived in a fifth wheel trailer at Pioneer RV Park, in North Phoenix. Feeling the pangs of leaving our entire family, for months at a time, was emotionally difficult for me so we stayed at the park for only 4 or 5 months. But the next year, we stayed a bit longer and the next a bit longer. Now that we have a home in Sun City West, we leave sometime in June and come back in the fall.

The first year we visited Arizona was for a national single action cowboy shooting match. We had started in St. Augustine for a match held there and, after a month, traveled to Phoenix. The best route from Florida to Arizona was rt. 10. Miles and miles of deserts, dotted with small, green scrub brush made the trip seemingly endless. Fuel stations were 100 miles apart and, except for some attractive rest areas, the terrain was monotonous. Heavy winds through Texas created problems, slowing us down to 5mph, in one place, and causing major damage to our slide in our first (not present) trailer. What I did like were the frequent, long trains that passed us, on either side, the purple-blue mountains, in the distance, and the vast blue sky, surrounding us. Although we are grateful to have had this experience, we do not wish to travel this route, again.

After some trial and error, we have decided that rt. 40 is the best way to go. Traveling through metropolis states has it’s advantages, such as better roads and plenty of restaurants and rest areas. Some of these rest areas were closed this year but, fortunately, we had to use the side of the road, only, once. We were nervous about eating inside any food service places, so we ordered take out, instead. After a uncomfortable first night, sleeping in our truck, we finally agreed to finding a hotel on two different nights. Unlike other years when we stopped at different gift shops to stretch our legs and buy a few things, we drove all day, each day, only stopping for fuel and food. The hotels were a welcome break.

One particular year, on route to Arizona, we started on rt. 40 and, for some reason, turned onto rt. 20. The weather had become treacherous and warnings were being broadcast in two welcome centers we stopped at. I was a little concerned and prayed we would not have an accident. My prayers were answered when we found a Wal Mart to pull into for the night. The next morning, the parking lot attendant told us it was good that we stopped for the night and that there were accidents up and down rt. 20. When we did get back on the road, we saw cars and trailers, one after another, flipped over on the sides of the road. Some were taped off, which my husband said signaled fatalities. We were stunned to see the tragic outcomes of the storm and were grateful for our safety. I truly believe God took us off rt. 40, which had been more treacherous. I believe he helped us find a safe place to stay for the night and have never forgotten his providence. I always say a prayer when we start a new day of travel for God to keep us safe on the road and ask him for help when I drive. Except for a bad sensor, we have never been stranded on the road and I thank God every time.

It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you, Do not fear or be dismayed. (Deuteronomy 31:8)

Our trip, this time, was without incident but was nowhere near as fun as some of our earlier trips have been. Many of the gift shops out west have all kinds of merchandise from clothes to Native American jewelry as well as artwork, dolls, moccasins, clothes, and other toys. Some of the shops include little restaurants where you can buy breakfast, lunch, or ice cream. We used to welcome these stops as a way to break up the monotony of our trip. With Covid at the helm, our goal was to arrive safely and soundly.

The other missing piece to this trip was my lack of taking pictures of the fantastic scenery, especially through the lush forests of Arkansas and Oklahoma, the steep, rocky mountains of New Mexico, and the copious flowering plants dotting the vast desert terrain. It is sad that this magnificent tableaux has become commonplace and unappreciated. We hope, next spring, to own a smaller RV, a class C, hopefully under 30 ft. so that we can travel for our enjoyment and not just out of necessity. I hope my appreciation for our surroundings will be renewed, along with my desire to photograph our travels in words and images.

But for now, we are here in a small western Massachusetts park called Southwick Acres. Surrounded by pine and oak trees, our camper is partly in shade and conveniently located across from the laundry shed. Two visitors at a time are allowed to visit and I am hoping to have the grandchildren overnight, as in the past. Our families are 60 to 90 minutes away making it necessary to arrange meeting times. If we are able to buy that smaller camper, we hope we will be able to camp outside our kids’ homes to spend more quality time with them. My prayer, for now, is that relationships will renew or strengthen and that some will heal. May we continue to make memories that will warm our children’s and our grandchildren’s hearts in years to come. My fear is the year we will not be able to do so.

Compromise

The word compromise brings memories of the difficult decisions my husband and I had to make, early in our marriage. Jack (not real name) had two grown children and I had two young teens and a second grader. Jack’s version of discipline was much different than mine and led to arguments. He was much more strict which caused resentment and alienation. The children picked up on my feelings and showed little respect for Jack, which made the situation worse. In an effort to correct the situation, we sought a marriage counselor. This proved just as difficult and, after seeing three professionals, we decided to work things out, ourselves.

It wasn’t easy. We agreed to compromise on decisions involving the kids. This was extremely difficult for me as I had been divorced for 8 years and was used to disciplining on my own. I winced at some of the consequences and rules Jack laid on my children, but in an effort to show a unified front, supported my husband’s decisions. Jack wasn’t abusive but rigid which caused frustration for me and my children. My son was the first to move out. As much as I loved my son, I was relieved. I knew he was safe and I felt a sense of peace in our home. There were a few issues with the other two kids, but time has erased most of those bad memories.

Once the children grew up and married, Jack was kind and generous to each. Grandchildren are welcome in our home and Jack enjoys spoiling them. I wish we had been part of a stepfamily support group, in those days. The only thing that kept us together was our determination to make our marriage work and to compromise instead of insisting to have our own way.

Valentine Bouquets

I had just finished an assignment in my dorm. Girl after girl were being paged to the office, on Valentine’s Day, to come down for beautiful bouquets of flowers from their boyfriends. How I envied them! My boyfriend and I had parted months before but hearing the names paged over the intercom felt like daggers in my heart. Even when I had a boyfriend, he never gave me flowers, except for the corsage he put on my wrist for the Prom. The aching wound, I thought was healed, reopened with new fervency.

As I sat on my bed, tears glistening in my eyes, I turned to my Bible. With the influx of term papers and mid-term exams, I hadn’t picked it up in days. How many days had it been? Goodness! I wasn’t sure, but it had been too long. Finding the bookmark, I opened to 1 John 4. Great, just what I need, a chapter on love. Numb with sadness, I began to read the words through my blurred vision .

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever, does not love does not know God. 1 John 4: 7-8

In my heart, I believed I loved God and I tried to be kind to people, even those I didn’t like. But, at this moment I hated the girls whos names were called and I hated the person who called them. It wasn’t really hate, but more like bitter envy. As I continued to read, I stopped short of the verse, ” Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.” 1 John 4: 21 My tear stained face turned hot. My feelings, over my breakup, had created a wall of self-pity and bitterness. Fresh tears streamed down my face as I realized that the flowers weren’t the issue, unforgiveness was.

Kneeling, at the edge of my bed, I poured my heart out to the living God, my Lord Jesus. Sobbing, and asking for forgiveness , the sadness and anger that had been festering in my heart, lifted. With a quiver and a deep sigh, I collapsed on the bed, and fell asleep.

I awoke to a knock on the door. Jenny, standing with a radiant smile, had come to ask if I had a vase that she could borrow. Earlier, I would not have answered the door. Earlier, I may have burst into tears and said, “No”. But, now, with a healed heart, I told her I did have a vase that she could use, but only… if I could see the beautiful bouquet she had left in her room.

A Different Perspective

“The Way you think determines the way you feel, and the way you feel determines the way you act.” Rick Warren

Recently, when talking to someone on the phone about my age, she said, “emotionally you don’t seem your age.” I was surprised and slightly offended. I should have asked her to clarify her statement but gave her a weak response, instead. Does she think my positive attitude and focus on the omnipotence of God is mistaken for a “Pollyanna” view of the world? While I choose to see the good in people and try to focus on the positive, I am aware of the darkness and danger in this world.

As a former worrier, I obsessed about my problems, my children’s problems, and the world’s, in general, problems. I could make myself ill over things which I had no control. Although I still brood a bit over these things, the Holy Spirit nudges me to let go and let God.

“Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy.” Leo F. Buscaglia Jesus also said, ” And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” Luke 12:25

So, how do I cope when my world (or my kids’ world) seems to crash around me? I pray. Yup, that’s right. I pray. When there is nothing I can do to make it better, then I go to the master who can turn the worst of situations into something good. And while I am waiting, I must trust that God will help me (us).

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

Research has shown that when people practice positive thinking, it changes their behavior and overall well-being. That doesn’t mean we should be naive, but it does mean not to focus on the negative. For example, when you first wake up, thank God for a good night’s sleep, for the gift of another day. If nothing else, thank him for his love for you, your family, your health, or anything God has done for you then ask him what you can do for him. Some mornings you may need his help just to survive the day. That’s ok, just try to look up, not down, at your circumstances.

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me” (Jesus). John 14:1 “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27

For those of you reeling from loss during this Covid-19 season, I pray that you will cling to Jesus. He knows how you feel and sees your tears. Don’t think, for a minute, that he doesn’t care for you. (Psalm 56:8) “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147: 3 But the secret is you have to go to Him, in prayer, and ask for help. If you are too distraught to even pray, look up the Psalms I have listed and “pray” them to God. He will hear you and comfort you. God Bless.

Riding on Two Donkeys

This Sunday, April 5th, marks the beginning of, what Christians call, Holy Week. It is the week that we remember the events that led up to Christ’s crucifixion. Today, as I read The beginning of Matthew 21, verses 1-11, I was struck by how Jesus rode two donkeys, a female and her colt. Jesus had told two of his disciples to go into the village where they would find a donkey tethered with her colt. The disciples did as Jesus said and brought back the donkey and her colt. This was to fulfill what Zachariah, the prophet, had said: “Say to Daughter Zion, ‘See, your King comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.'” (Zechariah 9:9)

When the disciples returned, they put their cloaks on the donkeys for Jesus to sit on. (Matthew 21:7) As Jesus rode into Jerusalem, people spread their cloaks on the ground and waved palm branches in his honor. The crowds shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest!” (Matthew 21: 8-9) Some people did not know who Jesus was and asked, ” Who is this?” The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”

This was a day to honor Jesus before his horrible death. How fickle people can be! But, that’s not my purpose in writing this. I am reflecting why Jesus rode both donkeys and how it may relate to us, today. First of all, the foal was tied along with its mother, surely for protection. Knowing Jesus, he would never have separated the foal from its mother, knowing the distress both donkeys would feel. I can’t help but see how this symbolizes Christ’s love for us. He never leaves us to walk alone. If we are obedient to him, Jesus is right beside us to protect and guide us, even when we do not sense him there.

Another thought I have is that his weight was distributed on both donkeys, not just the mother. Could it be that Jesus didn’t want the mother, who had recently given birth, to shoulder the whole load? Again, it is just like Jesus to be like the mother donkey. He “takes the load”, when we are suffering, so that we can bear our troubles and afflictions. Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) Christ didn’t say we wouldn’t suffer. In fact, he said the contrary, but he promises to help us, strengthen us, and lighten our load.

I hope, as we continue to deal with COVID-19, that we will spend time, reflecting on Christ’s love for us and what he accomplished by dying on the cross. May God protect you and lead you, by his grace, to a place of forgiveness and a new appreciation of our salvation, through him.