Walgreens, McRaes, Dillards Oh My!

My mother loved a store. It brought joy to her heart just to be in one. I’m not talking about the hardware store, but the standard department stores and drug stores. I’m not sure where this love for the store came into play since my mother grew up in the Georgia Baptist Children’s Home. It possibly originated back to her single days living in Atlanta, GA, when she worked and had some disposable income for the first time in her life. Perhaps she was introduced to the place of variety and convenience after she left the home at the age of 20. Whatever the reason, just entering a store, it seemed her brain would be like popcorn, full of ideas popping up. She would think of someone who needed something, whether they did or not. And then there was always a reason to buy another tube of lipstick, and she walked out with a fresh pack of juicy fruit gum or candy of some sort every time.

Back in her single days, some of the best stores in and around the Atlanta area were Woolworth’s and Rich’s. All through our growing up years, her excitement over a store was in the background of my memories. I think mother felt like going to the store could make everything better. Once we moved to Mississippi, she enjoyed McRaes, and it was a big disappointment when McRaes eventually closed.

One year near Christmas, I took my mother to a Walgreen‘s near her assisted living. I knew it would be challenging, but I thought giving her this joy was worth any challenge. By this time, my mother’s short-term memory was failing. Repetitive questions and conversation were how this manifested. In addition, her hearing and sight were quite limited, making her perception of her environment closed off and inaccurate.

 I arrived at my mother’s apartment and informed her we would soon leave, and while we were out, we’d go to Walgreen’s so she could Christmas shop. Her excitement showed as she said, “Oh boy,” and I assisted her in getting ready. She cheerfully shattered like a child. We soon walked the long halls slowly until we signed out and exited to the parking lot. She was happy as a bird in a newly blossomed tree. Hearing her chatter so joyfully pierced my heart every time. It made me sad for her to be this happy over a trip to a store. But her world was small now, her independence virtually gone. I had to focus on her joy.

Typically, on an outing, I’d take her to the Taco Bell drive-through and over to a duck pond where we’d sit in the car to eat and watch the ducks. On this day, after this, we went to Walgreens. I hurried around to open her car door and took the few minutes it would take to help her from the car, get her stabilized, to begin the first steps. Inside, a shopping cart gave her stability. The beautiful decorations of the season and the vastness of the store overwhelmed her. We took it slow as we strolled looking, and she was mesmerized by the inventory before her. I planned to purchase whatever she wanted, whether it made sense to me or not. As I assisted her, she would be captured with each item, almost as if she’d never seen it before. She selected each item and soon forget what she placed in the cart. We moved slowly, only making it through a couple of aisles before she was getting tired. I knew her energy would fail before her desire to leave, so I decided to leave her holding on to the cart near a place she could stand looking. Then I scurried around looking for a thing or two she’d mentioned. Quickly I found the items and turned the corner to be with her again. It was then I saw a frozen look of despair on her face. I gently approached her and hugged her. She leaned into my hug as she mentioned the beauty she was seeing. Did she have a few memories from days gone by? Maybe she realized how little this activity ever happens anymore. Perhaps she was happy to be in a store at Christmas. Whatever she was thinking, I distracted her, and her emotions transitioned back to the delight she’d had moments before.

Back in the car, and as I was backing out of the lot, my mother broke my heart in two when she said, “Valerie, you’re not taking me back, are you?” She asked me this every time I’d take her out, and she would become aware of the routine, the sense of conclusion to an outing, and heading back to a place that would separate us. This time, I prayed as tears filled my eyes, and I said, “No, mama, we’re going to look at the decorations in this neighborhood.” I acted like this was planned, but I could tell she perceived the area and knew it was near where she lived. Even as she understood she was on her way back to where she lived, she tried to be a trooper as we drove around the streets looking at the decorations.

This is the plight of watching parents age. Some parents are more alert than others and have different personalities. My mother just wanted to be with her family. It wasn’t possible, and she never understood why. Up to her death, she could come up with scenarios of how she could come live with any one of her children. Her short-term memory kept her from keeping facts in her head, and it was pitiful and heartbreaking.

When there was no struggle like this, the visit could be pure joy. Singing hymns together, reading her a children’s storybook, producing a video on the iPhone, a ride out of the assisted living, coloring pictures, eating a peanut butter sandwich with a real coke. These visits deposited some excellent memories for me.

I’m thankful mama is living her most perfect life now. No more struggle with how she wished things could be. I can only imagine that although she was grateful for her childhood in a Christian institution, she had an ideal life she lived inside her head, and only sometimes did life here match up with that scenario. But that is no longer the case. She is well and whole, and I know she is content and entirely at peace with life with Jesus, every longing fulfilled, and every unspoken hurt defeated. I’m thankful my mother is in heaven worshiping Jesus. I pray she is playing her violin and visiting with some wonderful friends she met in Atlanta who helped her see she needed a Savior to forgive her. Hopefully, there is a store, and if there is, she is buying things for everyone and a little something for herself, because as I said, my mother loved a store.

But if my mother could speak now, she would want every person reading about her to know Jesus. He’s the One who purchased her life on the cross, paid her sin debt, and made her able to be with Him when she died. She would want you to know Him. If you want to know Him, Click or tap on this safe link and learn how you can.

The Paperclip Matters

Do you work in an office setting? Whether you have a corner office, share a cubicle, sit in an area with a few others, or just report occasionally to your supervisor’s office, integrity is necessary to live with a clean conscience and to enjoy favor with God and man. This is why the paper clip matters.

For the sake of this blog, the paperclip will represent anything at work supplied to you when you got the job to help you with your job. It can include everything from ink for the printer, copy paper, publications, sticky notes, calendars, pens, pencils, writing or drawing tools, receipt books, tape, and containers holding any of these items., cell phone, vehicle, expense report, office furniture, secretary or assistant, anything. Some of these items are small and easy to rationalize if you just borrow them. Have you ever “borrowed” any of these to help your child do their homework or to avoid a stop by the store on the way home? Most of these things fit easily into your work bag brought from home. It would be easy to take one or two items from work now and then and rationalize it. Rationalization is the struggle keeping you from integrity. Let’s consider some of the mindsets of rationalization:

  • The company won’t miss it. Hey, I’ll even replace it when I get a chance.
  • I need this so that I can help my child get a project done. My boss would want me to help my child.
  • I’m so busy, and I already work overtime. I don’t have time to go by the store to pick up my own supplies to use at home.

Every time you “borrow” these items from your workplace, you are setting a new precedent for your conscience to tolerate. It’s the small decisions we make every day, which define our destination.

So what does it matter if you take a paperclip every now and then? Who does it impact? Why can’t I take a paperclip?

Stealing is when you take something that isn’t yours without permission. It is #8 of the ten commandments.

Integrity is living a moral and ethical life in the sight of God and man.

Maybe you think taking a paperclip is not a test of your character. But if you are a follower of Jesus, then He sees you taking it. If you go back to the definition of stealing, then taking the paperclip matters. Being a person of integrity may be a quieter life, one marked by humility, but it is a rewarding life because it affords you sleep at night and a sense of well being during the day. Why negotiate with your conscience, or even with the Holy Spirit, when you can simply live your life in peace?

We’ve started a new year, another beginning. Do you want to be a person of integrity? Integrity doesn’t care who sees. Integrity doesn’t need an audience. Integrity is a decision to be who God created you to be, whether anyone is looking. Integrity is a core value for a Jesus follower. It’s a way to shine your light in the darkness. People will notice and appreciate a person of integrity. Even if you work in a Christian environment, the standard may not be as high as what is presented in this blog. You can be the one to change this environment in your workplace by being a person of integrity.

Integrity is what you do when no one is watching; it’s doing the right thing all the time, even when it may work to your disadvantage. Tony Dungy

Trust and Hope

I’m thinking right about now, there may be some of you hanging on by a thread with all the world events and personal sacrifice and loss of the year 2020. And now moving into the next year, the troubles have not disappeared. Who thought all this was going away just because a page turned on the proverbial calendar? I did not. This is the world we live in, and yes, it is frightening at times, but amazingly, God is still bringing His peace and stability to all who want it.

Recently in a moment of faith, which is another word we could add to this title, I came up with these acrostics. Just creating the acrostics brought peace and I thought maybe you could use them too. Here they are, and then below, I will list some ways you can make the most of them.

TRUST

T – Taking all I have

R- Reminding myself

U – Understanding His past care

S – Submitting my rights

T – Telling Him thank you in advance

HOPE

H – Having the same mind

O – Open to His future plans

P – Practicing Thanksgiving

E – Expressing Praise

So, you could make a list under each one. For instance, T – Taking all I have. List all you have that you can give to Jesus. R – Reminding myself – We have to do this. We have to remind ourselves who we are in Christ and who He is to us.

Do you get the idea? Just take each idea and expand it. By the time you finish, some peace will be restored.

Another activity you could do is get out your Bible concordance and look up the words Trust and Hope and find all the verses. Write the verses. Say the verses. You could do this for a week at least, and have plenty to look forward to each day.

We are not in control anymore. Whatever ideas we had previously about being in control are not working right now. We do not know if we will see those days again. But we haven’t lost Jesus. So if you are one of His children, this is not a time for the faint of heart. It’s time to spend time with your Father. Turn off the tv or whatever you watch and go sit down somewhere and find your rest in Jesus. It may feel awkward to you at first, but God honors those who honor Him. He will meet you.

If you have ideas of what you are doing now to abide in Jesus, list them in the comments.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. ” John 15:5

Passport Quotes

If you’ve done any international travel, you have a passport. 2020 was our year to get new ones, and after we received them in the mail, I perused through and discovered the interesting quotes in front of this document. You can’t get across any border without a passport, and these quotes tell of the freedom-loving country America is. How much longer will this freedom experiment last? We will see. But ultimately, freedom comes from Christ alone, and those who know this can petition the Father for a freedom-loving country and their walk of freedom in Christ. Take some time to ponder these quotes and leave a comment of your favorite. And take a moment to pray for your own journey with Christ and pray for America.

O say does that star spangled banner yet wave O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

…and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth, A Lincoln

We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessing of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

The principle of free governments adheres to the American soil. It is bedded in it, immovable as its mountains. Daniel Webster

Let us raise a standard to which the wise and honest can repair. George Washington

We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. excerpt from the Declaration of Independence

We have a great dream. It started way back in 1776, and God grant that America will be true to her dream. Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well of ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty. John F. Kennedy

This is a new nation, based on a mighty continent, of boundless possibilities. Theodore Roosevelt

Whatever America hopes to bring to pass in the world must first come to pass in the heart of America. Dwight D. Eisenhower

For this is what America is all about. It is the uncrossed desert and the unclimbed ridge. It is the star that is not reached and the harvest sleeping in the unplowed ground. Is our world gone? We say, “ Farewell.” Is a new world coming? We welcome it- and we will bend it to the hopes of man. Lyndon B. Johnson

May God continue the unity of our country as the railroad unites the two great oceans of the world.

inscribed on the Golden Spike, Promontory Point, 1869

The cause of freedom is not the cause of a race or a sect, a part of a class – it is the cause of humankind, the very birthright of humanity. Anna Julia Cooper

Every generation has the obligation to free men’s minds for a look at new worlds … to look out from a higher plateau than the last generation. Ellison S. Onizuka

We send thanks to all the Animal life in the world. They have many things to teach us as people. We are glad they are still here, and we hope it will always be so. 

excerpt from the Thanksgiving Address, Mohawk version

Delight and Distraction

154 (1)Have you ever had a moment when God surprised you by answering a desire in your heart that was there a while? Usually, that’s the way desires work; they come, they linger, and sometimes many years pass before any action happens regarding them. Desires by their nature are things we often wait for.

Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” 

This verse seems trite because sometimes we believe we’ve delighted in the Lord a long time, and a desire is still unmet? Why is that? One thing I’ve come to understand is the delight part of Psalm 37:4 is a command. That means in obedience, we choose to delight in Jesus whether we ever see the desire or not. The Lord knows His children, and He knows when we delight in Him, we don’t obsess on the desire.

If we only look for things that haven’t happened yet or something we don’t have yet, this becomes idolatry. The first commandment reminds us that God has nothing before Him. So, when we look to God and Him alone, somehow, He becomes our desire, and our desires become what He would desire for us.

We fall in love with Jesus.

We trust Him.

We trust His timing instead of having a “what have you done for me lately” attitude.

2 Chronicles 16:9 says that God is looking to strengthen the hearts of those who are devoted to Him.

Amy Grant wrote a song, and the lyrics went like this:

The Lord has a will, and I have a need to follow that will, to humbly be still, to rest in it, nest in it, fully be blessed in it, following my Father’s will. 

This delighting comes down to submission to His care, giving Him control in our lives, following His plan…learning to love the GIVER instead of the gifts.

Indeed, throughout our lives, God does answer many of our desires. He loves us, and giving is in His nature to do.

One fantastic thing I’ve seen God do in my life is answer desires I didn’t even know I had!

When this happens, it reminds me my distractions don’t come close to what God really wants for me. My heart rejoices in this truth, and I’m aware of how good God is, how He really does hear His children; He really cares. Being a child of God through His Son, Jesus is truly delightful.

Sometimes, God will step in and give us aid from our distractions. Other times, He just can’t. Distractions cause us to miss the very thing God wants to provide us. Surely the Lord knows how we are made, and He protects us from ourselves many times. But I believe, His desire would be that we would look to Him as longingly as we would look at a diamond, mesmerized, and longing to be in His presence. This is our protection and where our desires come alive. We learn about His mind and intention toward us. We perceive His plans as clearly as a well-focused picture. There are consequences to choosing to wander from His protection. God has given His children the plan. Like any child is expected to obey their parents, His children are required the same.

My own wandering requires me to refocus, do a soul check, and decide once again, God is my delight, and He is my heart’s desire. Spiritual tenacity is required. The enemy of our soul has his agenda. This quote from Amy Carmichael sums up his intent…

“Satan is so much more in earnest than we are–he buys up the opportunity while we are wondering how much it will cost.”

The enemy is laser-focused. He wants us distracted, humming along, thinking we are following Jesus. The reality often is, we have missed opportunities that had our desires in them. We want to run to lesser things. I’m thankful for the Holy Spirit, who makes me aware of the distractions. If I want all of Jesus I can have, I will have to delight in Him once again.

When are you going to get sick of your desires? When will you see all the distractions keeping you from God’s desires for you? The enemy is busy stealing, killing, and destroying. How much of your life have you let him steal already? When your plans become about God’s plans and desires, you live in His delight, and then you are living.
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The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? Jeremiah 17:9

 

Big Announcement! Good Comes Out of 2020

This is the 2nd installment in the goodness of God in the 2020 series.

By this time, Covid19 has likely impacted someone close to your inner circle, perhaps even in your inner circle. Our Governor this week issued a statewide day of prayer and fasting. As scary as Covid19 is, I believe this year has brought about good things. But people complain, and people are weary.

John 1:5, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

Covid19 has changed us. But for Christ-followers, the trials of life are meant to transform us into His likeness and, yes, bring Him glory. With that truth out on the table, I present to you someone who has a story of the goodness of God in 2020.Recently, it was my pleasure to receive a text recently from a past graduate of Buried Treasures Home, where my husband and I were Directors. The text resonated with this idea of the goodness of God in 2020. I asked Shonnon if I could use her words in the text for a blog, and she said she’d be honored. This is in her own words, just slightly edited.Shonnon’s testimony:

As we all know, 2020 has been a strange and weird year for so many. I have heard time and time again how people can’t wait for it to be over. Here is how I Shonnon see 2020….. I can genuinely say that I am more than thankful for this year. I would probably say it has been one of the best years of my life. 2020 started for me at Buried Treasures Home. At Buried Treasures Home is where I grew a hunger for God, who He is. I began to understand the love He has for me the best way I can because we cannot comprehend the love of Christ for us. We just can’t. It took me a little while and a lot of learning, but I began to cling to Him.

By His grace, I graduated on June 1, 2020. That was one of the most significant accomplishments in my life. I received my driver’s license, and God poured His blessings on me with a car. I am honored to live in a home with a fantastic family who guides me and shows me how life is supposed to be. They help direct my path, even on hard days. They show me what true love is and what living a Christian life is.

God has blessed me with a great job, and my boss is a woman after God’s own heart. She prays for me and will pray with me. She also guides and teaches me. I have never had a boss that prays for me and especially not with me, in my entire life. And not to mention a Christmas bonus; I got almost exactly what I owe to have my fines paid off.

And to put the icing on the cake, I was blessed when God put Mrs.Mary and Mr.Roy in my life. They have chosen to pour their lives into mine as I attend their GED classes at the Grace Center in Richland, MS. They never once gave up on me. They constantly encouraged me and loved me, no matter how hard it was. I struggled with Social Studies and had to take the test a few times. I didn’t give up. I kept trusting God even when I didn’t see Him working. He was!!! I passed my GED test, and now I’m graduating in cap and gown. These things I never once dreamed of could happen to me, yet God is pouring favor. Through all of this, Mrs. Valerie and Pastor Clark, and I are closer than ever. When they left Buried Treasures Home, I thought that was it; they are gone for who knows how long. I thought I had lost them forever, and then God shows up again. While they wait to go to their country, God sent them right back to me as they live in a mission house waiting to go overseas as missionaries with the International Mission Board. Through it all, I have learned to do my best and let God do the rest. This is just a taste of what God is doing in my life in 2020, and so much more. Thank you, Lord, for who you are and for blessing me to be a part of this amazing year. God’s timing is ALWAYS ALWAYS PERFECT!! 

Isaiah 43:18-19 Forget the former things do not dwell on the past. 19. See, I am doing new things! Now it springs up, do you not see it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.                                                                                                           

Shonnon Carlson December 11, 2020

Shonnon’s Salvation story:

In October of 2018, I was a resident at Crossroads. Before this, my life was out of control. On this day, there was a conference at the ministry, and I heard testimonies of what Jesus had done for others. I had felt a tugging at my heart for a while even in prison but ignored it. That day after seeing and hearing what others said about Jesus and how no matter what you have done, He still loves me and will still forgive me, I decided, well, honestly, what could I lose? I knew, after all, I have tried everything else, and well, nothing worked. So that evening, when I went to my room, I was listening to worship music, and I said God, please help me. Help me like you have helped others. Everything I have tried and done isn’t working. Please help me with my addiction, my kids, my life. Jesus, please come into my life and save me, and be my Lord and Savior, because Shonnon can’t do it anymore.

But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8</

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Do you have a goodness of God in 2020 story? Please share it in the comments below.

Maley Grace – The Goodness of God in 2020

This week on my blog, I’m writing a two-part series on the goodness of God in 2020. Despite all the changes in our society, our behaviors, how we relate to one another, the doom and gloom of death, it is incredible, but God does not quit working. His promises are still true. He is still in control. I could write another blog on the goodness of God in my own life this year. But it is fun to focus on others and what God is doing in their lives. May these blogs bring encouragement and hope to your heart.

My first installment in the series is about 11-year old Maley Grace. The way I know Maley Grace is through Buried Treasures Home, where my husband and I worked. She and her mother would frequently come to visit a resident and encourage all of us. At that time, my husband and I admired Maley Grace’s character and pleasing personality. Later, my husband would cheerfully accept her cookie offerings and experience her skill as a baker.

It is no surprise to me to learn what God is doing in her life and why I wanted to interview her. The answers to the questions are as she said them. At the end, you will find her salvation story and all the information you need to keep Maley Grace in business. May God get the glory from this young life.

How did you decide on the product you wanted to sell?

Most of the items are my grandmother’s recipes and a family favorite. Others are experiments that I have tried that my parents really like.

I know you live in a loving family. Which one of your family came up with this idea of a bakery business?

It was actually a lady from our church, Mrs. Margo, who we gave a few pecan pies to try, and she asked me if I ever considered selling them. I decided to give it a go, and here we are!

What is the name of your business, and do you have a logo?

Oh My Goodies!

(She drew a sketch).

What’s been the biggest surprise so far?

Probably how many orders I have gotten and how much money I have made.

What’s the biggest challenge?

Making some of the challenging things and staying up late to finish them.

How do you find time to do it all?

I really don’t know! I make some things in advance and try to do my school work at school when I have free time, so I have time to do stuff when I get home.

Who are your customers?

It started off with friends, and they spread the word to their friends and so on.

What character traits do you have to run a business?

Integrity, perseverance, and patience

Do you see yourself doing this for the rest of your life?

Yes. I really love baking and hope I can continue to bake for a long time.

How do your parents help you?

My mom helps me bake certain items that take two people, and my dad is the taste tester!

Who is your boss?

God

How has your Christian faith helped you?

I always give all the credit to God and know He can help me persevere even when I am tired, or it gets hard at times.

Do you have a way to share the Gospel with your customers?

I put a Bible verse on a card in every order!

Have you seen any Covid19 effects on your business?

I actually think it has helped my business because a bunch of the other bakeries closed, and more people are supporting small businesses.

What advice would you give other kids who may want to do this?

Don’t doubt yourself; have confidence! You can do anything you dream of if you practice enough. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you can’t do it yourself.

Maley Grace’s Salvation Experience

I was born on March 4, 2009.

I have heard about Jesus and been taken to Sunday school and church my whole life. My mom and dad talked to me daily about Jesus and sang fun songs with me about his love. We memorized Bible verses from an “ABC “mat that I used for meals. 

My dad always tucks me in at night. He reads my Bible stories to me, but now that I am older, I read them to him. He prays with me every night at bedtime.

I started a three-year-old preschool at Christ Covenant School and continue to be taught daily about the love of Christ. My teachers were always so loving and kind. I now understand that they were modeling Christ before me.

Bec also talked to me about God’s love and what Jesus did for me, and she still does.

When I was 4, I remember beginning to understand what Jesus did for me. I remember asking a lot of questions, but it was not that hard to understand.

I was five years old when I not only understood what Jesus did for me but also what I needed to do.

I told my mom and dad one night that I wanted to accept Jesus in my heart …

They talked to me a long time…and mommy cried…happy tears as we prayed together…I was so pleased…

They took me to talk to Ms. Stacy (Children’s Minister) and Bro Kevin to make sure that I understood what I had done. Everyone thought that I was too young, but I did understand the decision that I had made. 

Everyone agreed that I did understand my decision and we were all very happy 

I was baptized on October 5, 2014

I am so thankful that I made that decision early and that Jesus is with me every single day, helping me make the right decisions and be kind to others.

I am grateful for my mom and dad, Bec, my church and Sunday school teachers, and my school for helping me come to know Jesus at five years old.

God gives us the ingredients for our daily bread, but he expects us to do the baking!      Chip Ingram

The Best Christmas Gift You Can Give

Sunday at FBC Jackson, Mississippi, we recognized the International Mission Board(IMB)missionaries in the church who are obeying the GO portion of the Great Commission found in Matthew 28:18-20. This GO is to the nations.

Todd Lafferty and his wife Susan served in the field. Now, Todd is Vice President at the IMB and was our speaker Sunday. The IMB’s strategy is to have people GO to the nations. They equip and train their missionaries and provide for all their needs. IMB missionaries GO without financial concerns. IMB’s theme verse is Revelation 7:9.

After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.

Sunday’s message informed listeners on how to help the IMB fulfill its mission. This outline is my notes. I will comment more at the end.

  1. Pray for all nations and proclaim to all people

*This is a life-saving mission.

154,937 die daily without Christ.

2. Add variety to your prayers. Get the app IMB Pray on your phone. Set the notifications for your prayer time, or as a reminder throughout your day. You can pray for the 9 Affinity Groups IMB has identified. I have the app. These are specific requests.

3. Pray for the powerful

*Pray for an umbrella of peace to continue so people can hear the gospel in some nations. Pray this for the United States of America.

*New bible translation in China that blasphemes the Bible. The story of the woman caught in adultery has Jesus telling her that she’s a sinner, He is a sinner, and then he stones her.

*Pray for the persecutors. Pray that persecutors would turn from Saul’s to Paul’s. We pray so they will come to the truth and knowledge of Jesus. Jesus longs for the salvation of all who will hear. We must proclaim to all people.

The penetration of the Gospel into the darkness is dependent on the prayers of those walking in the Light

Statistics from IMB research:

The Gospel is shared with 275,000 weekly.

The challenge ——– 1.5 million people come into the world every week.

IMB wants 500 additional missionaries in the next five years.

IMB wants 500 global missionary partners.

IMB wants to engage in 75 global cities.

The Lottie Moon Christmas Offering is 60% of the IMB budget.

*God desires all people to have saving faith in Jesus

*God deserves the honor of all people

*Christ died to rescue all peoples

***If you are 60 years old, you need a 25-year plan for continued productivity. You can use your life experiences and giftings to reach the nations.

Valerie:

Pray – get the app IMB Pray

Give – to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering through your local church and tell your other friends to do the same. Give here:https://www.imb.org/lottie-moon-christmas-offering/

Gohttps://www.imb.org/go/

Did Covid19 steal your purpose? God still has plans for you. This time last year, my husband and I were in the first stage of the missionary process with the IMB. We didn’t know where it would lead. It was and continues to be a faith journey. In a few short weeks, a new country will be our home. It’s hard to fathom. The mission is overwhelming, but we GO in faith. Pray for us. Give sacrificially. Go if you can.

Why this strange indifference to missions? Why these scant contributions? Why does money fail to be forthcoming when approved men and women are asking to be sent to proclaim the ‘unsearchable riches of Christ’ to the heathen? – October 3, 1887, Pingtu – Lottie Moon

P.S. Masks were worn the entire time before, during, and after service. Removal was brief for the picture.

Did You Wash Your Hands Real Good?

This was a phrase I often heard from my mother in childhood. I think for her, it was important to add those last two words, “real good,” at the end. I believe she knew you could wash your hands real bad. And I think real bad would’ve been everything from just running the water a second or two over the hands, or not using soap, or not washing at all. So to her, “real good” meant hot soapy water and plenty of friction in between the fingers and over the hands, all the while hot water flowed in and around. Finally, the water was turned off, and drying your hands on an appropriate towel would follow. Also, and if need be, straighten the towel back on the towel holder, and turn out the light before exiting the bathroom.

Covid 19 has ushered in all kinds of reminders about hand washing, the spread of germs, and good basic hygiene. I find it amazing that our culture and government support things mamas and daddies are supposed to teach. But if you missed this in your childhood, there is no way to miss it now. 2020 is your year to get the memo!

I’m not too fond of hand sanitizers. When I was a substitute teacher, I saw children’s hands soiled with dirt and grime. As an effort toward sanitizing, children would independently approach the classroom sink toward the plastic bottle of the gel-like substance to “wash” their hands. Sometimes I’d approach and urge the child to turn on the water and use soap to wash their hands. Usually, the child rebuked me to my dismay, telling me that the soap dispenser was empty. Since my paradigm only supports soap and water as a successful handwashing practice, then the choice between hand sanitizer or just water was not worthy of consideration!

People have to choose to be clean. For believers, staying clean before God is a matter of worship and praise, reading His Word, and fellowship with Him in prayer. All this is best done regularly, often, even when you don’t feel like it. When any of these can’t be done, it’s a red light indicator to check on your heart. The Bible says that God looks on the heart. Your mother may have determined your cleanliness by looking on your hands. But God is concerned about both.

Psalm 24:3-4 says: Who may ascend the mountain? Who may stand in His holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god.

James 4:8 says: Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

Isaiah 1:16-17a says: So wash your hands. Make yourselves clean. Get your evil actions out of my sight! Stop doing what is wrong! Learn to do what is right! Treat people fairly. Give hope to those who are beaten down. Cheer them up.

Psalm 63:4 So I will bless You as long as I live; in Your name I will lift up my hands.

The next time you wash your hands because it seems the right thing to do, think about what is going on in your heart. Usually, you need just to tell Jesus you are sorry, and to help you to think right and to do right. Wash your hands, but be sure while you wash, you’re letting the Spirit in to wash your heart too.

Test me, LORD, and try me, examine my heart and my mind…Psalm 26:2

Holiday Help

The holidays can bring out the best or the worst in all of us. We cram into our schedules unusual activities. We long for scenarios that may never happen, even if it is Christmas. Or, our expectations are sky-high from people that haven’t performed so well up to this point! For some reason, we think the magic of the season will produce a different result or reaction from those who disappoint all year long. The traditions and practices of the season are different from any other time of the year. Everything is different at Christmas.

Why is this?

Is it true that “It’s the most wonderful time of the year?” My mother used to say the whole world seemed to change for the better at Christmas. It seemed to her people acknowledged the Reason for the season. I think she was right. Things were prettier, and people were nicer; the flow of society was happier and more gentle as anticipation grew toward Christmas. The Judeo-Christian values were held dear in most of society, and these values governed so much of our behavior and celebration of the season.

Unfortunately, the world is different, and now more than ever, we must focus on our individual journeys with Jesus to cope with the world as it is. Followers of Jesus must remain faithful to Him and choose Him when much of society isn’t. We truly have to decide to follow Jesus daily.

With that in mind, maybe the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons are more important than ever.

Let’s not allow the darkness to do what darkness does. Darkness will creep into your soul and make you cynical of all that’s happy and bright and of the goodwill still present on this earth. Even today at church, someone asked how she could quit focusing on all the bad in the world.

Here are eight tips for holiday help:

  • Stay with Jesus – Focus on scripture reading, and prayer. Add this to your life if it isn’t already. There are all kinds of Christmas Bible reading plans online. Find one and start it. If you are in this habit already, then keep it going. This daily discipline will save your life and keep you sane.
  • Enjoy the Body of Christ – If regular church attendance is already part of your life, keep that going. Be at your local church as often as the church holiday schedule allows. Our religious freedom is a gift, and corporate worship is God’s idea.
  • Pray for the lost – Your friends and family who don’t yet know Him need your prayers. You may have a divine opportunity around them these next few weeks. You’ll be ready for it if you’ve spent time with the Father.
  • Play the sacred Christmas carols – “Grandma got run over by a reindeer” will be heard a thousand times on any radio station. Raise the essence of the season and download some gorgeous, choral, or orchestral music, and enjoy the grandeur of these long-held hymns of Christmas.
  • Love the ones your with – Be kind, and use manners with those you’re around every day. You will feel better about yourself and your relationship with the Lord.
  • Teach the traditional– Christmas carols, old movies, poetry from days gone by, and lasting beliefs. Snuggle up and share storybooks of Jesus coming to earth. Focus on the biblical more than the secular.
  • Keep good routines – If you have good habits such as eating right, going to bed at a regular time, or exercise, then keep it up. If not, start. All these things are remedies for stress.
  • Serve others – This is basic Christianity and should be done regularly anyway. Work in your local church as there’s often a need for volunteers to greet at the Christmas services, or serve meals, or buy presents for others.
  • Live Christlike – There is incredible suffering, and people who know you are watching you. You can bring the light of Jesus to your world. If you have a stressful schedule, figure out your “no’s”, dig deeper, and lean on Jesus. 

The darkness of this world can breed a cynicism in all of us. As followers of Jesus, we have His light within us and we can be vigilant to keep the light burning as steady as a lighthouse. Let’s not cave in to the world’s darkness. Let’s live as children of the Light because the world has nothing to offer to us. They are searching for the Light. We have to remember…Joy to the world, the Lord is come!

Joy to the world, the Lord is come;
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven, and heaven and nature sing.

God is Bigger Than Your Thanksgiving Stress

The Saturday before Thanksgiving. A disruption of our usual routine. Adjustments will happen this week, and the week will be different. Shorter hours at work, more cooking than usual, more errands. More thoughts, more expectations. Maybe more family and friends, maybe more quiet than usual, less rest, or perhaps more rest. A holiday week in America is here, and we look out onto the next few days, and we think we know what might happen, but sometimes the unexpected occurs, good or bad.

Supposedly a meteor shower occurred while we were sleeping. Isn’t that just like God? Even while we sleep, He is sending showers of blessing, announcing His presence, His all-knowing, incomprehensible intervention, mediation, and celebratory cheering into our lives!

How can this be? My soul thrills to think of my Savior, Creator God, active even in the night when my defenses are asleep. I wonder what it looked like in the transcendent space as this event took place. How much planning went into sending earth such a phenomenon? Just another exclamation point from Him to all the inhabitants on the globe proclaiming, “I’m here. I perform big things. I not only speak them into existence, but I also created each one.”

Years ago, Clark and I decided to wake up and venture into the cool night to attend a predicted and most spectacular meteor shower. If I never see another, that shower’s memory will linger as a most unusual sight and experience; an honor to witness. Each of our oculus uterque took in a supernatural display of light and speed, combined with incalculable distance in dark space! We got to see it. At times during the exhibition, we thought one might hit us! We perceived them to be falling that close to our low and humble presence. We watched hundreds of them light up the sky, and no fireworks can ever compare.

Heaven is declaring God’s glory; the sky is proclaiming His handiwork. Psalm 19:1

As we anticipate the week to come, whether it be lonely, or filled with joy or even pain, our God is still amazing. In all His glory, He faithfully chooses to light up the sky for all who wish to look up and see His glory so evident in His creation.

5 Promises for Peace and Transformation

Covid19 is still here. It’s impacted our lives, and I don’t need to tell you how. It’s quite hard to believe all the changes. We are wondering will things go back to normal. Here are some questions to ponder. Am I still the same? Am I changed? Am I closer to Jesus now? Do I love His Word more? Do I hear God speaking to me? Is there sin in my life that I need to confess and take action to flee?

Of course, we can always choose to be alone with God. A pandemic doesn’t have to be the reason. Do you have gaps in your days because of Covid? These are opportunities. And Jesus is better than any lottery ticket. He is dependable.

When all around you changes, He is not and will not. Hebrews has a verse full of stability and promise, which says, “Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever.” A world to our expectations is not part of the deal. Actually, in John 16: Jesus says, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

The other morning as I was in my quiet time, I came across all of these gems. Maybe reading these will inspire you to fellowship with God through His Word. There are many more scriptures like these that give testimony to the benefits of reading God’s Word. Ponder these few.

  1. Who knew memorizing it could help you not to sin.

2. This verse clearly explains the usefulness of reading and applying Scripture.3. Wow, let’s pray we love reading God’s Word more than food. 4. Jeremiah expresses a desire to read the Scripture and expresses the benefit. If you don’t have this desire, then pray for it. That is a prayer God will answer.5. Scripture comes straight from the Lord. Living by it is wise—every word.

Today is the day to invest your time reading God’s wonderful word. I have several blogs on this website on writing scripture which guarantees to slow down the brain and bring peace. Here’s one. FREE PRINTABLES are at the top of this site for you to work and enjoy. Suppose you don’t have the desire to get more of God’s Word in your life, pray for it. If you live in sin, you can’t hear from God even if you are a believer. Confess that sin, get out of the sin, and start again living a life that brings glory to Him.

The Bible was not given for our information, but for our transformation. D. L. Moody

Prepare For Thanksgiving

Recently, I was working in my Celebrate Recovery(http://www.celebraterecovery.com/) workbook. For those not familiar with this journey, it is a Christ-centered recovery program based on eight principles from the Beatitudes. It’s for people with hurts, habits, and hang-ups!
Getting out of denial is a step that is crucial to beginning any type of recovery.

Sometimes this time of year brings old conflicts, unresolved conflicts, new conflicts, stale conflicts, same ole conflicts up to the forefront in our minds.

We wonder if things will be different this year, or maybe we hold out hope that a person has changed. Perhaps we wonder if we’ve changed all that much. It comforts me to know that Jesus never changes. He is a Rock, a Strong Tower. (Psalm 18:2 and Proverbs 18:10).

I have to remember I can only be responsible for me. How other people act is not my responsibility.

Today I was talking to someone about how a specific family situation is going to turn out. The person was speculating that if the family member didn’t respond to her good gesture, then this would be sad to her. If the family member does respond, there’s a possibility the response could be with a sharp, snarky retort. For this situation, it would be desirable if the family member responded kindly and with manners. This surely would be proof things were changing or had changed.

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Thanksgiving is coming, and likely, most people will be with other people. Some of them we see regularly and others only on special occasions. Can we get along? With some core ideas to cling to, especially for the Christian, I think it is possible. The Bible says, cling to what is good (Romans 12:9). One of the questions in Celebrate Recovery is

“What areas of your life do you have power(control) over?”

As believers in Christ Jesus, I submit we do have control over some significant aspects of life. The most important and life-changing is our relationship with Jesus. We can talk to Jesus anytime, anywhere.

On Thanksgiving day, when you are with all those “others,” you may find it stressful. You may need to slip away and have a little talk with Jesus. But don’t wait until that day. You can prepare for that special day by spending extra time with Him. Here’s some ideas:

  • Look for some verses to claim( controlling your tongue, focusing your thoughts, gentle conversation, etc.)
  • Write out these verses
  • Pray out the verses over your life and commit to obedience. These verses can become your life, help, and strength.

It’s nice to think about Thanksgiving and being together with the ones we love. We want to have warm feelings and hope for the best. But the reality is, we all struggle, and there are dynamics in families that may or may not ever heal.

  • We have to get out of denial
  • Accept the way things are
  • Keep our focus on Jesus.

If there is nothing we are responsible for in unpleasant situations, then get out of the way and let God be God.

The one thing you can control is your relationship with Jesus. He loves you. He understands your situations. Focus on Him and make some intentional choices to read His word, write out His word, and pray His word.

Prepare your heart for Thanksgiving.

5 Reasons To Send Christmas Cards This Year

Do you still send Christmas cards? If you are a certain age and generation, you grew up with piles of Christmas cards coming in the mail from friends, family, coworkers, and acquaintances. Displaying them added to your home’s Christmas decor. After each card was tacked up, the scotch tape dispenser would be close to empty, but the door facings in the living room and kitchen were full.

The tradition of sending Christmas cards is one that I love. There’s just something about getting real mail in this highly technological age. And this mail is beautiful and personal! Since the digital age, many choose to send ecards or no cards at all. This post will hopefully quicken a desire in you to connect with others selflessly. If you’ve never sent Christmas cards through the mail or have dropped the idea years ago, then this is the year to send them. People are weary of isolation and need this personal touch in their lives right now. Sure, you have no guarantee you will get a card back from everyone you send one to, but they will know you thought about them, and that is wonderful. So let’s get started thinking differently about this idea of sending Christmas cards.Cards come with glitter, 3-dimensional art, gold and silver letters, foil or vellum lining, shiny graphics, or embossing. It’s eye candy for sure! There’s no doubt about it. This is happy mail! What other time of year can one get correspondence creatively portrayed on paper with thoughtful words inside declaring GOOD NEWS? Not just good news but THE Good News. Perhaps this year, you are thinking of not sending Christmas cards? I think even those of us who love the tradition are tempted in this way. Maybe you have so many people to send them to, and it seems overwhelming. Perhaps you thought that you were the only one that actually sends them anymore.
I want to encourage you not to give in to these ideas.

Here are 5 reasons for you to send Christmas cards:
  • Real mail – People love it when the mail is personal and not a bill or junk.
  • Remembered in prayer –  A family I know keeps every card they receive and places them in a basket. Every day of the year, the family pulls a card and prays for the person or family.
  • Recycle – Christmas cards are gorgeous and can be used to make other crafts.
  • Reminiscent – Each card represents friendship or a memory of a person. A card is a personal act of love. I often keep them from year to year.
  • Reflective – Sending cards through the mail seems nostalgic. Keeping this tradition alive gives people a few moments in their day to reflect on the sender.

When someone makes the effort to purchase the cards, fill out the cards, and mail out the cards, that is a thoughtful act! Whether you enclose a photo or a gospel tract or just your signature, receiving them is a blessing.

There’s no other way to look at it. It takes time, money, effort, and intention to send Christmas cards. Let’s keep this tradition alive and keep sending Christmas cards!

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Sending Christmas cards is a good way to let your friends and family know that you think they’re worth the price of a stamp. Melanie White

5 Ways to Handle a Busy Schedule

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My husband and I are in full-time ministry, and just like you, we are busy. Like you, we struggle with time management, priorities, and just getting the daily list done sometimes. Some days the pressure comes, and it honestly seems no way to get it all done. As the holidays approach, you may find you have to drop some things and add other things. None of us can do it all. Wherever you may be on this struggle to juggle, maybe some of these ideas will help you as they’ve helped me.

1. Make a list– You don’t need a fancy planner to make lists. Use the notes on your phone or other apps. Sticky notes still work great for me. Whatever you use, you will find a sense of accomplishment for every task marked off or deleted.

2.Set the timer – When pressure comes, setting a timer moves my focus from all the tasks. The focus shifts to the job at that moment, and it never ceases to amaze me the satisfaction that comes after a 20-minute time frame. Repeat as needed.

3. Turn on background music – Calm music gives me a sense of being in charge and the manager of my world. It also makes the job more pleasant.

4. Pray – Talk to Jesus everywhere you go. Even when you work from home, talk to Him. When I lose something, I ask Him to help me find it. When I can’t find it, my frustration level doesn’t get out of control, but often I find it. Have you ever paused to ask the Lord to redeem the time? Ask God to be in charge of all you do; how you sound on the phone and talk with others is a good start.

5. Listen to inspire- If you are running errands, choose what you let in your brain. Car time can get the best of you. You can end up with road rage or poor thoughts. Focus your mind on beautiful music. Use your phone to listen to the Bible. Wholesome audiobooks take me to a pleasant place.

Not all days are going to be productive in terms of a list. I’ve sat at my desk at the end of a day with nothing marked off my list. That’s when I think the Lord had another plan for that day.

As the holiday season looms on the horizon, it’s essential to keep some of your usual routines. It’s good also to be open to eliminating some other things which send you to your crazy place. Remember to focus on your relationship with God and place this as a priority if it isn’t. God is the one who gives you your life and honoring Him is a daily joy.

But do everything properly and in order. I Corinthians 14:40