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God’s Blessings

I woke up a bit after 3 AM this morning and God blessed me.

Normally when I beat the earliest of birds up from their slumber, I just try to go back to sleep. But this time I picked up my phone and opened Instagram. Instead of scrolling, I saw someone on the “suggestions” whom I know but haven’t spoken with in a while so I checked out her profile.

There on a sparsely used page were a few photos, and the newest one was posted exactly twelve minutes before I woke up in the wee hours of the morning. While it didn’t tell me much, it told me enough, and it soothed a mother’s heart.

It never ceases to amaze me how God works in our lives even when we least expect it. Enjoy the journey.

He is your praise, and He is your God, who has done for you these great and awesome things which your eyes have seen. Deuteronomy 10:21

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Water Of Life

Do you remember the last time you felt like your heart was splitting? There is such a paralyzing heaviness you almost feel like you can’t breathe, and if you somehow manage to draw a breath, it is saturated with your tears. It feels like you’re drowning.

How do you get out of that? Do you apply the nearest Bandaid fix, or do you perform major heart surgery complete with a staple, glue, and stitches lock up and hope for the best?

For those who cling to the promises of Jesus Christ, we don’t have to hope for the best because we already have it at our disposal. The best healing is brought by way of prayer, and more than likely, God is going to guide us out of our misery by leading us into the light of love for others.

Recently I suffered a loss. Through circumstances beyond my control, I was put in the position of having to make difficult choices that would affect relationships near and dear to my heart. Those who are believers know all too well the struggle to put God first in our lives while making everyone else happy at the same time. It doesn’t work out that way sometimes. And our hearts break.

While I sat here trying to figure out why and how this could be happening, I finally asked God, “What am I supposed to do with this”? “Can’t I be happy for just a little bit? My battle weary, scarred heart is stretching these old sutures to the limit. Please pull me through this and teach me what You want me to know”.

I haven’t felt so alone in a very long time.

UPDATE 2/24/2021: I’m looking around and find this draft that I wrote several weeks ago but have very little recollection of writing it. I do remember the pain. I have news. My friend and Savior, Jesus Christ, took my hand and led me out of that darkness and into the light of reason, reality, hope, and love. No, it’s not all better, but I am eternally grateful for God’s patience, peace, and unconditional love. God’s love never fails.

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I Noticed…

Parents are resilient people.

Most of us like to think we did a decent job of raising our children but for those of us not quite sure about that, we crave a little confirmation now and then. I’ve heard many stories from parents who were surprised at how badly they misread their children’s earlier signals that were painfully clarified by their hearts in adulthood. Here are some of the things parents noticed.

I noticed…when I heard you tell your friends your Mom was pretty cool.

I noticed…when I heard you tell your friends your Mom was a witch.

I noticed…when you lovingly placed a homemade card on the table for Mother’s Day and my birthday.

I noticed…when I got nothing, not even a phone call for either day.

I noticed…when your boyfriend changed everything about you until I no longer recognized my daughter who would no longer speak to me unless it was in expletives.

I noticed…when you called me upset and needing to talk when you were having a fight with your spouse and I listened, and then told you to go back home and work things out.

I noticed…when you came home looking beat up. You were.

I noticed…when you were excited about something that happened in your day.

I noticed…when you did something insensitive to someone who loves you.

I noticed…when you needed us to love you and you let us.

I noticed…when you got involved in something humanitarian, and then cringed when you did something unsavory.

I noticed…when you wrote nice things about me in your book report for school.

I noticed…when you left me out.

I noticed…when you asked me for what you wanted, instead of your dad.

I noticed…when you went to him for advice.

I noticed…when you were afraid to tell me the truth.

I noticed…when you trusted me with a painful secret.

I noticed…when you said you wanted something and you usually got it.

I noticed…when you gave your last dollar to a friend who was taking advantage of you.

I noticed…when you held the door open for someone.

I noticed…when you rocked babies to sleep like you were an old pro.

I noticed…when you didn’t return my calls, texts, or emails for weeks at a time.

I noticed…when you played favorites.

I noticed…when you were doing things you shouldn’t have been doing. Yes, I knew.

I noticed…when you ignored my boundary requests in my own home.

I noticed…when you struggled because you ignored my advice.

I noticed…when you made difficult decisions responsibly.

I noticed…you, all of you, warts and all, and I love you and always will.

Did you notice…anything about me…other than my faults?

There comes a time, when all is said and done, and all that’s left is the memory, not as we remember it but as it was, and we have to take that shred of reality and live the rest of our lives knowing that is all we have left.

It never had to be that way.

THE CAULIFLOWER STORY

Have you gardening enthusiasts ever had a plant that you gave up on because it wasn’t thriving and didn’t look like it had much of a chance?

My planting was a cauliflower.  It was back in 1991.  We lived in a house in Southeast Denver, an older neighborhood of 1950’s cookie-cutter houses that had nice big yards for playing kids, barbeques, and gardens.  In the back, we had a huge vegetable garden, herb garden, strawberry bed, dwarf cherry tree, and raspberry bushes.  In the side yard, I had a cutting garden where I had planted several varieties of annual and perennial flowers for the birds, butterflies, and me!  I totally loved digging in the dirt and seeing what I could grow in this Colorado climate that is so different from Iowa where I grew up.

This particular year I had decided to try growing celery and cauliflower.   The celery took too much room in the garden as each plant needed a “mound” in which to be planted upright so the stalks could develop safe from the sun and elements.  So I needed to find a place for the cauliflower, which also required ample space.  This location was found in the cutting garden behind the lilac bush.  I made sure the lighting fit the requirements and gave them plenty of food and water.  I babied those plants until mid-summer when I realized I had miscalculated my time for planting because they were not holding up under the summer heat.  They were cool weather plants….duh.  I let them go; no more water or food.  I concentrated on nurturing the celery.

Skip ahead two months to September.  It had been a little cool but nothing too uncomfortable.  Most of the garden was spent, having been harvested already.  One particular day, it was rainy, and I was depressed.  I had been sober almost a year and that being said, recovery is not the easiest task to do.  Seeing one’s self and life with a clear head and honest evaluation could depress anyone!

My cutting garden was visible from the kitchen window and I stood there for quite a while crying, just watching the rain fall and the birds eating at the bird feeder. After a while, the rain turned to snow, and not a light one either.  It was coming down heavily and was quickly  covering everything in a white blanket.  As I stood there watching, I told God, “I really want to die but I’m too scared,  it’s up to you….would you please just send down a big bolt of lightning and take me out?”. (Yes, my dramatic flair is at it’s best when I’m sad.  What can I say?!!)

I looked out the window at the birds flying back and forth to and from the feeder… up to the bush… down to the ground…..hopping around in the snow………wait a minute…….what……no…..I tore out the front door and around the house to the cutting garden, and behind the lilac bush, covered in snow with just a small patch visible, was the biggest, most beautiful, white cauliflower I had ever seen!  How could it be?  I had completely forgotten it was even there and hadn’t given it any attention for weeks.  I saw its huge leaves growing but how could I pass by it several times a week without noticing its white growth? It was a miracle!

I was amazed at its beauty.  It was huge…about the size of a honeydew melon, and pure white, no blemishes.  The only reason I saw it when I did, camouflaged with snow, was because I was at that window, focused and praying to God , and He gave me His answer.  I recognized that, and because of it my mood was lifted immediately.

What a gift!  I thanked God for answering me in a way I could understand and for giving me the most tasty, succulent, cauliflower I had ever tasted, for dinner that evening.  I had a totally new perspective and appreciation for the creativity of the Lord’s answers to prayer, and even for what might be considered to be His outrageous sense of humor.

My Lord rocks!

Psalm 66

18 If I had not confessed the sin in my heart,
the Lord would not have listened.
19 But God did listen!
He paid attention to my prayer.
20 Praise God, who did not ignore my prayer
or withdraw his unfailing love from me.

(My written experiences are for me, my kids, and family.  If anyone else happens to enjoy them, I’m honored.  If not, it’s ok!)

WHAT A PAIN IN THE BACK!

It happened after a fairly routine medical procedure for those of us who are older. Something went amuck.

Seriously, I had a colonoscopy five years ago and the next day I was perfectly capable of doing my daily routines. But this time, my lower back went out and stayed until I considered sending a posse to find it.

The ability to bend, roll over, sit, stand, or walk for extended periods was gone. The only relief I had(I’ve been told I was blessed)was lying in bed and sleeping relatively pain free. After a couple weeks of steady decline, I notified the doctor and he scheduled more tests and scans to try to find out what was going on.

Well, just like when you take your car in for a funny noise and it ends up being something else that costs an arm and a leg, we found something else that probably wasn’t causing the back problem. I thought, “Just keep mining for gold! There has to be something in there that’s causing my pain”!

I had read online many good tips from seasoned chronic back pain sufferers and it seems the best course of action was to take an NSAID like Advil along with an ibuprofen like Tylenol. I ran it through my doctor as the older you are, the more NSAIDs are discouraged because of complications. It helped but not enough, and I couldn’t understand why the pain seemed to be getting worse instead of better. The prayer warriors were dispatched.

On week four, it finally occurred to me (thank you, Lord) that maybe the time-release extra strength Tylenol wasn’t delivering enough ibuprofen at once to combat the pain and inflammation. I got hold of some 500mg per tablet BackAid Max and took that with the Advil and it was almost instant relief. After 4 days, I am feeling almost like my old self and am cautiously weening off the doses as I do a bit more activity each day and continue to use the back saving tricks I learned from this experience.

As of now, I don’t know what hurt my back but I suspect it was all the jumping in and out of bed the night before the colonoscopy. The next time I have one scheduled I will be sleeping on the floor or the recliner during the “purge”. I’m thanking the Lord for this experience for several reasons.

First: I have much greater empathy for those who suffer from chronic pain and mobility issues. Until it happens to you, you don’t know.

Second: I learned how to ask for help for the simplest of things like putting food in and taking it out of the oven, looking for something in the back of a cupboard, or picking something up off the floor. A hot bath feels good but then there’s the problem of how to get out without pain. Showers are better.

Third: I never realized how many things I drop in the course of a day! I have one of those apparatuses that picks things up but it wasn’t always handy, so I started leaving items right where they dropped and my wonderful hubby would pick them up in passing. He knew.

Fourth: Putting on pants and socks, and tying your shoes is torture. I learned to wear low cut socks and slip-ons. My jeans went on hiatus and I got some of the stretchy pants I said I would never wear. These days, stretchy pants don’t look like the ones Grandma used to wear and they are in style! Just make sure they are not too tight or the wiggling to get them on is going to kill you.

Fifth: Remember that long, delicious, full body stretch first thing when you wake up? I had to be satisfied with a careful stretch of the legs, and rolling over was in slow motion in a completely relaxed state. Doing either of these simple actions the wrong way would painfully shock me into full awareness. Same with getting into or out of bed. My bed sits 36” high due to a 14” mattress. I got a small wooden foot stool to help me get a leg up so I could learn how to crawl into and out of bed while keeping my back straight.

Sixth: Get a bidet. Trust me.

Seventh: None of this is sexy. Everything doesn’t have to be sexy. Love is sexy.

The important thing is I’ve gleaned whatever good there is to learn from the experience and hopefully, I”m better prepared if it happens again. I’m grateful, so very grateful for my husband and all the prayer warriors who prayed on my behalf, and to be able to share with my words anything that might help someone else going through the same thing. As an old friend once told me long ago, “We all need each other so very much”.

To God be the Glory.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

What If…

A Pieceful Life: Wishing you….

A friend posed the question if all the frills of Christmas including the gifts, decorations, trees, and food, were taken away, would we still be celebrating?

I love giving and receiving gifts and all the glitter of the season, but I also love the SPIRIT of Christmas that prevails during the month of December. No matter what words someone greets me with, I know in my heart MY celebration is about Jesus’s birth, yes, even if we don’t know the exact day he was born. It doesn’t matter. Christians are celebrating Jesus’s birth!

The gift of remembering with a small, heartfelt, written letter or card and caring enough to give of your time is more than some ever receive and is the gift that keeps giving for a very long time. I still have the handmade cards and letters my kids made for me when they were little and they make me smile to this day.

A smile or kind word to someone who is downtrodden could be the best gift ever for you both. What about letting someone else have the pleasure of making the dinner and serving you? How about giving people the benefit of the doubt and offering some mercy? That’s a BIG gift, right there. So many people need forgiveness and compassion, and sometimes they don’t even realize it.

It’s these little things that make a person feel loved and esteemed. The older you get, the more you realize this because you are winding down on accumulation and seeking the significant parts of life. Fancy trips, new cars and houses, and giant RVs are nice but in the grand scheme of life, they are meaningless.

What would the world be like if the spirit of Christmas spilled over into the rest of the year? I like to think it would be a much better place where people could see beyond themselves to touch the heart of another person, whether they like them or not, or it’s convenient or not…even blood relatives.

Love ya, Humanity. We can do this!

 Merry Christmas!

A Move Of Faith

October 14, 2020

Today we finally closed on our new house! I’ve waited until this day to write about the last three months progress because I wanted the deal to be sealed with no chance of unforeseen problems. It was a long, sometimes very intense time of seasonal change in my husband’s and my life.

We had been playing around with the idea of moving from Colorado for a while. Both Marty and I lived in Colorado for over thirty years and while it’s a beautiful state to live in, it has changed enough over the years that it was time for us to make a change to a somewhat warmer climate that is in a central location to our extended families. I was the hold out because of the kids but our children are grown and have their own lives and it was a sellers market in Denver. When you are young you go where there is opportunity for work and you tend to want to get away, create your own traditions, and break away from the norm, but when we reached a certain age we wanted life to be simpler, quieter, and less complicated if not predictable. It was a tall order but God had a plan.

Just after July 4th weekend, prompted by something that had happened in the news, I made a comment to my friend, Pam, that we were wanting to move but had no idea where. Marty wanted someplace warmer but I can’t tolerate a lot of heat and humidity so there were some limitations. She had grown up in the Oklahoma panhandle and said the Tulsa area was a favorite of hers. She specifically suggested Broken Arrow as it was a small but not too small suburb of Tulsa. So we scheduled a few days in mid-July to visit and get a feel for the area, attitudes, and real estate.

On the drive there I prayed that if this was part of God’s plan, to make it clear and if it wasn’t what He wanted, to slam doors shut. First, this was during the Covid-19 pandemic and the state of Kansas was experiencing an upsurge in Covid cases. With my husband being high risk, we found Sonic to be a Godsend while traveling as we could order and eat without leaving the car. We arrived in Tulsa Wednesday night after a 10 hour drive! Oh, the joy of the long road trips we used to enjoy when younger! They may have been a little overrated but the sense of adventure made it fun. We loved all the lush greenery and trees after having left a brown, crispy, arid, high altitude landscape. It was warm and humid but we had AC!

After a rest, we did an internet search for a realtor to help us look at houses. Marty showed me a few pictures with brief reviews and told me to pick one. I chose Penny Capron who had great reviews, was a seasoned realtor, and had a beautiful head of white hair. You know what the Bible says about white hair, don’t you?

The silver-haired head is a crown of glory,
if it is found in the way of righteousness.

Proverb 16:31

We called Penny and it was set for her to meet us the next day to look at houses. Before we left in the morning I received a phone call from the Meal Ministry Coordinator at church in Aurora who said she felt led to call me and share a scripture she had just read that she understood in a different way than before.

a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, Ecclesiastes 3:2

She said a different translation used the word “harvest” instead of “uproot” which was a more positive sounding result of planting. She had no idea we were in Oklahoma with plans of moving. I was stunned and thankful for the encouragement that God placed on her heart to share with me. It was my first confirmation that we were on the right path.

That first day out we were disappointed that most of the houses we looked at were not what we were looking for. They were either too small or needed lots of repairs. We didn’t want a fixer upper. This was going to be our retirement home in a few years and we didn’t want to be saddled with major repairs and renovations. We decided to increase the price we were willing to pay in order to get what we wanted.

There was one house that looked promising from the outside but the renter was at work and her teenage daughter told us she wasn’t allowed to let anyone in without her mom there. We understood and Penny had her call her mom but no deal. We had to settle for being allowed to look into the house from the open front door. I believe if Penny had had the means she would have hoisted a ladder so we could have taken a peek at the upstairs, too. She was that determined to find us a house!

Unfortunately, Penny had a trip planned and was flying out the next day. She encouraged us to keep looking on our own and gave instructions on what to do to make sure the sellers agent knew we had our own agent. On Friday, we found one more house that looked beautiful on the outside. We called the sellers agent and told him our story and he agreed to show us the house which had only been on the market for a day and was scheduled for an open house that Sunday. It was perfect.

We were told that houses were flying off the market in Tulsa and we could see that on Zillow and Redfin, the online real estate listing pages, so we needed to move quickly. Penny worked with us over the weekend, on her vacation, to get the ball rolling to put in a bid. We offered what they were asking because we thought it was worth their asking price. They accepted our bid and we were on our way to buying what we thought was the house of our retirement dreams.

Now, back up a little. While this whole process is going on Marty hasn’t said anything to his employer about moving to Oklahoma but he’s pretty sure he might be able to work for the same company remotely. He’s pretty sure. I still had a job to go to in mid August when school started again but the start date wasn’t set in stone because of the Covid-19 restrictions going with the flow of infections at any given time. At any rate, when we moved I wouldn’t have a job waiting for me. If Marty couldn’t work remotely the whole deal would fall through because no bank is going to finance a mortgage to people who don’t have jobs. Can you say “GULP”?

The day after we put in a bid and it was accepted, Marty talked to his employer and got the go ahead to work remotely. It was a big relief to know he had a job to take with him to Oklahoma. I wasted no time in sending in my resignation to my employer the very same day. We had a lot of work to do and very little time to get our house ready to put on the market. We had twenty-two years worth of life to sort through and either sell, store, keep, donate, or have hauled away. We did a lot of each but ended up having four truckloads of stuff hauled away. Less than two weeks later we put the house on the market. Our realtor to sell, Tracy Alford, is the daughter of a woman I know from church and she very quickly and professionally helped us with getting our house ready, pricing it, and making it look its best for showing. It wasn’t easy but her help made it go very smoothly and seamlessly. Tracy also prayed for us. There is nothing quite like buying a house when you don’t have your current house sold yet. I don’t recommend it.

Our house sold in five days. Now we were cooking!

The closing date for our house was set for September 24th and for the Oklahoma house on September 25th. Since we were picking up the U-HAUL truck on the 22nd, Marty arranged for us to sign the closing papers on our house a day early on the 23rd so we could finish loading the truck and clean the house before we left on Thursday the 24th. The time crunch was wearing on us especially when during this whole time period, Marty continued to work full-time and was on call 24/7 the week before our move. There were times when our heads felt like they might explode from the stress. Marty said he had been holding his head while sleeping in the fetal position but we were on the downhill side of a new adventure in a new house in a new place.

I looked at pictures of that house every day and planned where furniture was going to go and where to hang pictures. I even took virtual walks around the neighborhood and looked up phone numbers and addresses nearby for all the stores we would need for groceries, prescriptions, pet food, as well as doctors, dentist, and veterinarian. We were all ready to make ourselves at home in Broken Arrow, OK until…

Two weeks before our closing, our mortgage banker called and told us we needed to immediately have an onsite appraisal of the Oklahoma home. We were told by this same person when we first applied for the mortgage that a Rapid Value Appraisal was all we would need because we were making a nice sized down payment on the house. We had banked there for thirty years but knowing that this particular bank had been in the news often in the last few years for some very costly mistakes and unethical practices resulting in lawsuits, we started getting a very bad feeling. Not only could our loan process be delayed but the loan itself could be in jeopardy and we were so close to closing on both houses.

The appraisal was scheduled for that Friday but the appraiser canceled at the last minute and rescheduled for the next Tuesday. On Wednesday, nine days before we were supposed to close on our dream house, we got the results: the appraisal was $30,000.00 less than the asking price because of recent sale prices in the neighborhood. We couldn’t put down thirty grand more of our own money and the seller refused to lower their price. We offered to go halvsies with the loss and give them fifteen grand more than the appraisal, but they refused. So we walked away knowing we would lose our good faith money and prepared to be homeless when we moved to Oklahoma.

Our Penny was livid. She is relentless, and found out that our banker in the process of talking with the sellers realtor, who incidentally works for the same agency as Penny, divulged some privileged information about our finances which was probably instrumental in the seller refusing to lower their price. As it turned out, they finally did want to renegotiate by taking us up on our offer to split the thirty grand but by that time it was too late as the whole deal had soured. Then the seller went to the title company to collect our good faith money and the title company couldn’t find the check! We had confirmation they had received it so they told us to cancel the check since it hadn’t been cashed. Would God do something like that?

In the meantime, Penny was on the lookout for another house for us and two days later sent us a listing for a brand new house in Bixby, another small but growing suburb further south of Tulsa. It wasn’t quite finished yet but the builder reluctantly agreed to let us live there rent free for three weeks until closing. If we didn’t like the house we would pay a set amount for rental while we looked for another one. Either way, we would put down a hefty $5000 deposit which was nonrefundable unless we bought the house and then it would be deducted from the mortgage. Penny sent us more pictures and videos that she took with her phone and it looked pretty good so we took the offer. Her husband is a builder also and they work together as a team. He knew the builder of this house and said he does good work so we trusted their judgment and sent the $5000 deposit check for a house sight unseen; money that we would possibly lose if we didn’t like this house. Trust and faith were majorly at work here. God paved the way for this move and we know He works all things for good.

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28

On Thursday afternoon, we tied up loose ends, picked up our check for the sale of the house, and left Denver for Oklahoma. We were exhausted mentally and physically so decided to take our time and arrived in Tulsa on Saturday. We got to see the new house on Sunday and moved in on Monday.

God is so good. We absolutely love this house even more than the other one. It’s like city living in the country with most everything we could need only five miles away. The house backs up to a belt of woods and the subdivision is only about twenty-five percent finished so we are all newcomers. It’s an awesome house for Marty who will be working from home and needs some solitude.

When we decided to buy the house, Penny recommended a lender who got the ball rolling on financing and streamlined the process into a closing that happened in three weeks instead of the typical 4 to 6 weeks. She also contacted us to let us know her employer, McGraw Realtors, had decided to pay the amount of our good faith money for the first house to both the seller and us, splitting it evenly, even though the check remained missing in action. For those who have never seen it, this is what good business ethics look like.

We marvel at the fact that all of this occurred in less than three months time. I don’t think we ever felt like giving up. At times we wondered if we were doing the right thing or if we were out of our ever loving minds, but we were steadfastly assured that God started it all and would finish it according to His will. We knew He was watching and had everything under control, so we pressed on and here we are; with strengthened faith, loving our house, and loving the people and the area. We found a church within two weeks and went to a home fellowship group and God willing, I’ll be going to the women’s retreat in November in the hills of the Ozarks. Penny and Hal gave us a beautiful concrete bench as a housewarming gift and we plan to have them over for dinner soon. I met someone yesterday who recently moved here from Aurora, Colorado, too. It truly is such a small world. It makes you wonder how we can seem so far apart but that’s another story for another time.

Pressing on until God provides another assignment!

BLUE GARLAND

Special occasions call for special attention.

Way back in the 1960’s grocery stores commonly had promotions to get you to buy your groceries at their establishment.  They gave away “Green Stamps” for each dollar you spent and these were usually pasted into stamp books which after saving up enough could be redeemed at designated stores that had catalogs from which you could choose whatever merchandise you wanted.  This was a great way to get the kids to help.  Give them a sponge to wet the stamps and press into the books and let the fun begin.

Grocery stores also gave away or sold at a small cost, cookware or dish sets with a certain dollar amount of purchased groceries.   This was how my mother obtained her set of china.  I don’t remember how long it took but with each weekly purchase she would bring home a piece of china to add to her set.  The pattern was “Blue Garland” by Haviland and it had dainty blue flowers with silver trim.

Mom collected her china until she had eight full place settings which included dinner plates, salad plates, soup bowls, cups and saucers, serving pieces, and a coffee pot with sugar and creamer.  I don’t know if she quit collecting them because she had all she wanted or if they finally stopped offering them and moved on to some other promotion, but she had her set and carefully packed them away for safe keeping.

Mind you, we were not fancy people.  We lived in a trailer on my grandparent’s farm and family dinners were at Grandma and Grandpa’s house.  We used paper plates and cups because the crowd was so big and who wants to spend the afternoon doing all those dishes? Those holiday dinners were filled with laughter and fun and delicious food that would have tasted good served on anything! I miss those large family dinners with the paper plates and TV trays.

Over the years, the china was loaned out to friends for their own special occasions but I don’t ever remember it being used by our family, and after a while I forgot about it until years later when my parents downsized and the set was offered to me. I was happy to receive it.  It was very special but not so special I wasn’t ever going to put it to use!  I enjoy using the dishes at least once a year and not only does it remind me of Mom, but it reminds me that it’s nice to bring out the best for the best!

Image result for it is possible to give without loving but it is impossible to love without giving

This kind of special treatment doesn’t signify love as much as it shows honor.  The kind of honor that says “I love you and I want you to know I want the best for you. Thank you!” Isn’t that how it is in our relationship with God?  We trust Him and thank Him, and want to give Him the best and do our best in honor and love.  Sometimes we make sacrifices for those we love, not like burnt offerings, but the kind that of sacrifice that involves a giving of ourselves and our time.  Like lovingly washing and drying those special china pieces by hand, and storing them away for the next opportunity of honor.

Love each other.  Honor each other.

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CHOICES

Image result for choices

We enjoy a lot of freedom in this world.

It is our choices... that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities. - J. K. Rowling

We can choose how we live by making choices that set the ball rolling to achieve our goals…or not. That “or not” is also a choice.

We can choose our emotions and how we will react to the things that happen in life; the words said that sting and hurt, the seeming unfairness of the way life has a habit of going its own way…God’s way instead of our way, the actions of others who will not acquiesce to our plans, and the injustice of those who get away with far more than they should without consequence.

We can choose our mate and when to let them into our hearts forever.
We can choose our words or whether to say anything in any given situation.
We can choose how we treat people. We can treat them with respect, forgiveness, compassion, and decency, like Jesus, or we can treat them with disdain, distrust, abuse, and hatred, like the world would have us. God gives us the choice.

When we first believe, God changes us from the inside out, but if we do not make a choice to act upon those changes, we will stagnate right where we are and wonder why nothing is happening. We pray for years for God to change our hearts so we can see people as He does and love them as He does, not realizing that He already has, but we haven’t made the choice to put that change into action!

Making a choice is as simple as a prayer seeking God’s will and the willingness to put ourselves out there to be His hands, feet, and heart in service to our fellow man with a reverence for God that honors His Will over our rights. Even then, it takes time.

I’m so thankful for God’s patience.

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 And He said to him, “‘You shall love Adonai your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’  Matthew 22:37-39

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