Thursday, February 4, 2016

Practical Friends




I grew up with practical parents. A mother, God love her, who washed aluminum foil after she cooked in it, then reused it. She was the original recycle queen, before they had a name for it. A daddy who was happier getting old shoes fixed than buying new ones.Their marriage was good, their dreams focused. Their best friends lived barely a wave away. They worked hard to make a living and, at the same time, enjoyed life. Even in the tough times, my dad had a joke to create laughter. 

I can see them now, Dad in work pants, shirt and a hat and Mom in a house dress, broom in one hand, and dish-towel in the other. It was the time for fixing things. A curtain rod, the kitchen radio, screen door, the oven door, the hem in a dress, things we kept instead of replacing. 

It was a way of life, and  sometimes it made me crazy. All that re-fixing, eating leftovers, renewing, I wanted just once to be wasteful. Waste meant affluence. Throwing things away meant you knew there'd always be more. 

Now don't get me wrong, I never knew we had needs, always felt we had plenty. But just once, I wanted to feel it was ok to get rid of something.

But then my mother died, and on that night,  I was struck with the pain of learning that sometimes there isn't any more. Sometimes in the darkest hour, the truth slowly reveals itself. 

Sometimes, what we care about most gets all used up and goes away...never to return.. So... while we have it..... it's best we love it.... and care for it... and fix it when it's broken......... and heal it when it's sick. 

This is true. for marriage....... and old cars..... and children with bad report cards.....and aging parents..... and grandparents. We keep them because they are worth it, because we are worth it.
 
Some things we keep forever, like a
 best friend that moved away or a classmate we grew up with.

There are just some things that make life important, like people we know who are special........ and so, we keep them close! Good friends are like stars.... You don't always see them, but you know they are always there.  

You are probably thinking of those friends now, let them know you care by telling them. Don't let time pass you by and then have regrets. 

Enjoy life now, do it while you are able and ready to see what else is out there! It is ok to be wasteful, but only if it can be replaced. True friends cannot be replaced! 

Love to you....all my friends!

Blessings,
gs


Sunday, January 24, 2016

The Bike Ride

All of us have memories of childhood deep inside the wrinkles of our minds. We just have to think, or have a smell, or a sound, to bring the flashback of that memory. 

Watching the children in our neighborhood go out and ride their bikes brought back a sweet memory of mine. I am sure you will be able to relate to this story.

At one time we lived in a community where folks knew everyone and spent time chatting, not only on weekends, but during the week. Life seemed to go at a slower pace. 

We lived in a house that sat smack-dab in the middle of a very long block. The street in front of our house went up the hill, around the corner, back down the hill, and around the corner again, coming back up to our house. 

When I first started riding my bike, I was given utility poles as my boundaries.
"Don't go past the poles!" mother would say as I rushed out the door for the day. Then as I grew older, on occasion, with special permission she would allow me to ride to the top of the hill with my friends! We would come flying down the hill, so fast we would not be able to keep our feet on the pedals! We would just stretch out our legs and scream with delight! 

One day my cousin, who lived across the street, was brave enough to ask could we ride all the way around the block. For what seemed like an eternity for an answer, my mother slowly replied, "Yes, but come back to the house and let me know you are back.' 

Needless to say, we were excited as we road up the hill and then slowly we made the turn to go around. Our little hearts were pounding as we had never been this far, alone, without our parents. We were excited, but yet so afraid. 

After the turn we could see the hill, just like our hill on our own street, but we had never gone down this hill before. We stopped at the top and looked at each other. Neither had the courage to go, neither had the courage to turn around. What were we to do? We must complete our mission and go around the block or we would never be allowed to do it again! So go we did......pushing our bikes down the hill!! Well, we actually held them back as we walked down the hill!

At the bottom we smiled at each other, hopped back on our bikes and rode back home. We went into the house and told mother we were back, neither said a word about our new hill. We did not even go back out that day and ride our bikes, but we felt an exhilaration of accomplishment. We had been stretched and it felt good. 

God often puts us at the top of a new hill. Sometimes the climb to the top is slow and we wonder do we really want to do what He has called us to do. We are stretched, out of our comfort zones some would say. 

We only get one chance at childhood....and we only get one chance at life. God does allow us 'do overs' on occasion, but we have usually missed the ride down the hill, maybe we even pushed our way down. 

God has a job and plan for everyone of us. He has called us out, to do His Will, to give Him glory. 

Yes, we did go back around the block, several times in fact, as years past. We grew more comfortable and actually rode down the hill! But never as fast as we did on our own home street. 

God may call you to just ride your 'bike' on your own home street. But on occasion, He may call you to go around the block. He stretches us to grow us. He is with us, encouraging us to ride the best we can ride. We only have one lifetime and He wants us to ride it with Him. 

According to your faith will it be done to you. Matthew 9:29 (NIV)

Consider the following when it comes to the ways God may want to stretch you:

  • God may want you to DO something.
  • God may want you to STOP DOING something.
  • God may want you to GIVE something.
  • God may want you to SAY something.
  • God may want you to STOP SAYING something.
  • God may want you to SELL something.
  • God may want you to BUY something. (presumably for a person or ministry in need)
  • God may want you to START something.
  • God may want you to END something.
  • God may want you to LOVE someone.
Get out there and ride your 'bike of life' that you can enjoy the thrill of Him and His Plan for you!! Just stretch out your legs, scream with delight, as you follow Him and His blessings! 

James 1:22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. HCSB

Blessings,
gs







Thursday, January 14, 2016

Life or Death on the Ride

The other night, my husband asked me how I knew something about what was going on in our community. Being a chaplain, I don't always disclose information, even to him, so I responded, "If I told you I would have to kill you." Now we all know I would never do that, but the truth was I could not tell him my resources. He knew I was joking, but yet serious. 

When I actually started thinking about life or death, the thought came to me, which came first? 

Being a christian, I believe I will live for eternity in a place that Jesus has prepared for me. However, I also believe that life will be much better than the life here on earth!

Pause for just a minute and think along with me as we go into life, living and death:

We are conceived---beginning of life or existence as we know it as a human Jer 1:5 
We live in the womb---beginning of formation of human Psalms 139:13-16
We are born into the world---life on our own as humans Genesis 1:28
We live our life ---- own choices Joshua 24:15 Joshua 24:15
We die a fleshly death -------end of life on earth 

 Ecclesiastes 9 says this:
 I thought about all these things. I realized that those who are wise and do what is right are under God’s control. What they do is also under his control. But no one knows whether they will be loved or hated. Everyone will die someday. Death comes to godly and sinful people alike. It comes to good and bad people alike. It comes to “clean” and “unclean” people alike. Those who offer sacrifices and those who don’t offer them also die.
A good person dies,
    and so does a sinner.
Those who make promises die.
    So do those who are afraid to make them.
Here’s what is so bad about everything that happens on this earth. Death catches up with all of us. Also, the hearts of people are full of evil. They live in foolish pleasure. After that, they join those who have already died. Anyone who is still living has hope. Even a live dog is better off than a dead lion!
People who are still alive know they’ll die.
    But those who have died don’t know anything.
They don’t receive any more rewards.
    And even their name is forgotten.
Their love, hate and jealousy disappear.
    They will never share again
    in anything that happens on earth"


After reading this, do you understand about 'life and death?' I am thinking that this is like a merry go round, literally called earth. We get on as a baby, we ride the up and downs of life, and yes, some of the riders horses are prettier than the others, but that is the ride! We do make our own choices. 

Then, as the music slows, the ride slows down, slowly, so slow. Some get off by themselves, others are helped off. 

But one thing I have noticed about this ride of 'life or death,' some get off the ride excited and smiling to go into the arms of those waiting to take them home. Others cry, not wanting to leave the ride yet, because home is not as much fun as the ride had been. 

Life, death, life.....round and round, then it is over. I have realized, during my ride, that it doesn't seem as long for some as others. You never know when it is going to be your stop, when the music will quit. 

The joy of getting on the ride at all, should be one that we know is exciting! John 10:10 He gives us life....ABUNDANT life! (often we don't choose the best horse!)

But, the joy of getting off and going home will be even greater!
 "In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. " John 14:2-3

Watch for me on the ride, I may wave at you! If not, I hope to see you 'at home!' 

Blessings,
gs

Monday, January 4, 2016

Life Can Be Messy

As most other families, we had children and grandchildren here during the holidays. We enjoy family so much, setting the time aside to enjoy and laugh together. Some say we have an unusual family, because all the daughters-in-law and son-in-law get along so well with everyone. The three brothers and their sister chatter well into the night. They all just pick and joke and laugh together, setting an example for the little cousins playing together and sharing their new toys. 


Yes, there were toys, shoes, socks and a total disarray in my home, but oh the joy! Once the parents started packing up, the barbie dolls were packed and racetracks put into boxes for the return trip to home, the floors appeared once again. 

We received text messages as they were getting close to home, or had arrived, after a long day of travel with children. We woke up to a quiet house in the morning, no snugglers coming sleepy eyed out of they beds. No chocolate chip muffins were to be made and our cups of coffee were drank with silence around us. 

In the middle of the morning, we received word that a dear cousin had passed away in the night. She has arrived in heaven after her journey here on earth. 

It seemed that life paralleled the week we had just spent with family. I am certain she is in heaven rejoicing with family. 

Heaven will be a great experience, it will be eternal, no one has to leave! But, the experiences we miss here on earth can and should be like appetizers to heaven. 

Some people carry grudges and 'cool' feelings toward others and cannot enjoy being around family. Some actually refuse to go to family affairs, especially if 'in-laws' are going to be there. 

Folks, you are missing life and what blessings God has in store for you. He has put people in your lives to enjoy the benefits each one can bring to the table. It is true we are not going to get along with everyone we meet, we are not going to have the same likes and dislikes, but can't we find something nice to say and begin to figure out why God put them in your life? I am sure God did not do this to make you miserable, but maybe to learn something? Maybe we should ask the Lord to change us instead of them! 

Let's just step back and think about when the next meeting, with a person you don't like to be around, will be. Plan ahead, think positive thoughts and pray for this person. Ask God to allow you to see the good in them. Ask God to tenderized your own heart, so you may be open to hearing His voice in each situation. 

God cares so much for us, He sometimes stretches us out of our comfort zone to help us grow in Him, learning to love and forgive. 

Relax, it is going to be alright if toys are spread out among the guests, it is alright if the glass of milk is spilled. It will only take moments to clean up the physical mess, while it will take a lifetime of cleaning up hurt feelings in the family. 

You will enjoy the times coming up if you begin praying and preparing now. Learn to pray for others as well as yourself. Who knows you may even find a new friend in your very own family! 

Oh yes, get ready! Easter is coming soon!! :) 

1 Timothy 5:8 Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. 

1 Cor. 13:7
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things

Blessings,
gs

Monday, December 7, 2015

Is He Here Yet?

While growing up, my dad was a police officer and worked the 4-11 shift and usually got home around midnight. On Christmas Eve, my mother would help us put out cookies and milk for Santa and then hurry us off to bed. Usually I would try to stay awake as long as possible, so I could hear Santa when he arrived. I was always hoping to just get a peek at him and our new toys. No matter how hard I tried, I never could stay awake for long.

But I do remember on one occasion, I heard a noise. What was that? I sat straight up in bed and rubbing my eyes asked, "Who's there?" It was my daddy coming in the front door. After realizing it was him, in my sleepy, childlike voice, I anxiously asked him, "Daddy, has Santa come yet?" He took his flashlight out of his policeman's belt and shined it all under the tree, so from my bed I could see there was nothing there. He said, "Go back to sleep honey, old Saint Nick's cookies are still here and there's nothing under the tree." 

Disappointed, I lay my head back down on my pillow and squinched up my eyes so I could go to sleep quickly. The sooner I got to sleep, the sooner morning would come. 

Looking back at this time of being anxious for Santa, I now can compare that night and feeling with the anxiousness I now have as a Christian waiting on the return of Christ. The excitement of knowing, without a doubt, He is going to return far exceeds the excitement in a child's heart of waiting on Santa. 

As a Christian, I can compare my life with that same little child of long ago. Yes, I had chores to get done, my mama made sure there were plenty of them. There were manners that were expected, the 'yes mams' and the 'no sirs' were not options at my house. From early childhood I remember being told to be of good character, because you belong to this home and we expect nothing less, that people would talk about you...good or bad...and it better be good. 

Aren't these things paralleling my childhood with my life as a Christian? God does not expect us to sit and do nothing for Him as we wait the return of Christ. He expects us to act like children of the King, with good character, because we belong to Him. Yes, people may talk about you, but hadn't you rather it be that you are reflecting Christ than one who has never met the Savior? 

As we experience the excitement of the Christmas season, let us reflect on the return of Christ. His birth was splendorous thing long ago. His death on the cross for our sins was for our forgiveness and mercy. His resurrection was nothing short of a miracle for us to live eternally. His soon returning to take us to our heavenly home is expected and foretold. 

"And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am." John 14:3

May we all get into the Christmas spirit this year, that of a child of the King, not looking for Santa, but looking for our Savior. I can feel the excitement in the air! I can feel His Presence in my very soul! Look up, not for a sleigh, but for the Savior! He is not a myth, but the very One and only reason to celebrate! 

"So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him" Matt 24:44

Merry Christmas!! 

Blessings,
gs

Monday, November 23, 2015

Honor and Praise

Many of you are dreading this Thursday, the day of preparing, cooking and being with 'all those' folks! Many of you are looking forward to the day of the feasting and being with family and friends. 

In looking back over the past few years, I can see all the ways God has truly blessed me and my family. He has protected us from tornadoes, healed us from motorcycle wrecks, blessed us with new babies and even college graduations. Many of you have been a part of this and have prayed along with us during all of these times. 

Why do we designate a day of 'stress' to be thankful? Thanksgiving Day has been celebrated on the last Thursday of November, since declaration by Abraham Lincoln in 1863. It was to be day of praise and honor to our Father in heaven. 

Let us look at this a little closer now.... a day to praise and honor our Father in heaven. I am wondering how many of us stop to pray as we rush off to the store to buy all the fixings and baste the turkey one last time? How many of us pray instead of agonize, 'is she going to bring that awful congealed salad again?' 

Being from the south, I by no means want to dampen your beautifully set table, with the flora arrangement so tall, and the candles perfectly placed in their silver candelabras! The beauty can be almost as good as the taste! But, what I am saying is to slow down, everything does not have to be perfect to the point that you are not enjoying it yourself. 

When time comes to sit down for the meal, it seems to happen so quickly, no one remembers who made all this stuff anyway! When the day is over, the kitchen is cleaned and all the leftovers are put away, we realize we had plenty of food and it is finally over.

The purpose of Thanksgiving is just what it says, to praise and honor the Father. You know what? He will remember if we honored Him or not. He will be glorified in all we do, if we do it for Him. 

Don't miss the real blessing of this Thursday by letting this opportunity, declared by Old Abe, slip by. Stop in the middle of the morning, give a little praise to Him. Stop in the middle of stirring that gravy and take a deep breath, thanking Him. Listen to the chatter of those around you, thank Him for them. When you sit down and start to say the blessing over the meal, don't just let someone do it, but pray in your own soul and spirit. Let Him know you are truly thankful for what you have, no matter how little or how great. 

“Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.” Rev 4:11
  

Remember Honor and Praise HIM
Happy Thanksgiving! 
gs 
 

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Is God Telling You Something?

Today's world is so busy, we get so caught up in what we should be doing, where we are going and what we have left to do at the end of the day.Time seems to slip away as we try to fill every moment, like stuffing dressing into a turkey. We want to cram all we can into it and  even then we are not satisfied with the outcome.

When we start our day, do we give God the time He deserves? Do we hurriedly throw our requests and demands at Him like He is a child hurrying off to school? Do we ever pause and listen to what He says? 

Sure we say, "Let Him hear me out and I will listen to Him as I drive to work and get these errands done." Yes, He can speak to you at anytime, but how do we know when it is God that is speaking to us? 

Have you been seeking answers from Him and not knowing for certain which way to go? Do you ever wonder if He is really leading you to go another direction in your life? Is He trying to lead you in an area you have never thought about going?   

How do we know if it is really from God or our own heart desires? 

There are some absolutes, that come from Him in the scriptures, that help us discern His Will and direction in our lives. 

First, when you have prayed and prayed and seemingly have not received and answer from God, go to His Word. Now I don't mean to close your eyes, open the bible and put your finger on a verse and say, "This must be what He wants me to know!" No, open it to some familiar verses to you and study on them, soaking up what the meaning of those verses are, while communication with Him fills your spirit. 

Second, remember God's will for your life is never in contradiction to His word. If we feel we are being lead into a lifestyle or job that will cause us to be in disobedience to Him, then we need to stop and review the situation. I personally feel those things that cause us to be in those situations are temptations and not from God. God's word clearly states that God does not tempt us (James 1:13-14)

Third, I believe there will be some kind of confirmation from God. You will feel a peace and contentment. Oftentimes you may have a verbal confirmation from someone, even a stranger. 

I remember when we were thinking about buying our home, we waited until the realtor left us and we started praying and walking the border of the property. The elderly neighbor came out of his home, carefully maneuvering the yard using his cane. He walked to us and asked if we were going to buy the house. After telling him we were thinking about it, he immediately said, "Every morning, since they put up the 'For Sale' sign, I have knelt by my sofa and prayed for God to send a good family to our neighborhood." Needless to say, we bought the house!  (Ezekiel 33:1-9)

We need to be assured that God will never give us anything that will separate us from Him. God wants us to stay in communication with Him, therefore He wants us to rely on Him to help us through the way. If you think you can't do something without Him, you are probably correct and He will give you the strength and help you need, but you must know it comes from Him!! You must have the faith, for without Him we can do nothing. (John 15:50)

God wants us to be stretched and grow in our walk with Him. He wants us to learn that He is always there for us, speaking through His word, the Spirit and others. We need to seek Him and lean on Him to find His Will in our lives. He does not 'hide' what He wants us to do! He wants to bless us and give us joy in our journey here on earth, so He may be glorified. We can do this only if we do what He is telling us to do! (Hebrews 11:6

Walk boldly in life, knowing the direction you are going is toward God. Let the days go by, fast as they may, with the assurance that He is smiling down and blessing your steps. 


Blessings,
gs