About Valerie Rumfelt

Valerie enjoys finding new ways to keep her life with Jesus insightful and interesting. She expects to learn more about her friend Jesus and loves to spend time with Him. He is her dearest friend and His word is life to her. She shares her life with her loving husband, Clark, and delights in ministry to others. After serving 20 years with the North American Mission Board(NAMB), (the last six years as directors of Buried Treasures Home), Valerie and her husband now serve with the International MIssion Board(IMB) and will make their home in Japan soon.

He Died For Me

He died for me?

How can that be, that Jesus chose to die for me?

Nailed to a tree, unjustified.

His blood applied. What news! That Jesus died for me!

He knew His purpose, He knew the Plan.

God would come in the form of man.

To live with us and dwell with us.

For me, for ME? He died for me.

The joy before Him, He endured the cross.

He suffered and scorned its shame.

Left without a friend, obedient to the end.

This Jesus, my Jesus, He died for me.

Foretold in Isaiah,

Spoken for by John.

Baptized in the Jordon, the sky would open,

The Father had spoken and the mission had begun.

This Jesus, my Jesus, He died for me.

Tempted by Satan, proved faithful by Scripture,

He preached repentance and called His disciples.

He healed the sick so I could see.

This Jesus, yes Jesus, He died for me.

Spoke from a mountain and told of the fountain,

The life we could have in Him.

Love the lowly, avoid adultery.

Be salt and light, and love, peace and mercy.

Stay free, live free. His mind always on me.

This Jesus, merciful Jesus. He died for me.

Give it all away, pray and forgive,

Store up treasures where one day you’ll live,

Don’t worry or judge. Ask, seek and knock.

Enter the narrow gate and stay close to the flock.

He’s prepared a way.

This Jesus, my Jesus, He died for me.

No houses on sand, build a solid foundation.

Have faith, be healed and let His glory be revealed.

Be devoted and follow, let Him calm your storms.

No sacrifices needed, only a heart turned towards.

This Jesus, my Jesus, He died for me.

The workers are few, the LOST are many.

Pray to the Lord for more help.

He wants to save, let’s pray today,

for our families, friends and enemies.

He loves them all, we don’t understand.

This Jesus, unfathomable Jesus, He died for me.

He calls us out every single day,

Go, tell, and be sure to pray.

Love in my Name, and do all for Me.

I promise to provide and give rest when you’re weary.

Keep my Sabbath, stay faithful in meeting.

Your strength comes in numbers, love one another deeply.

His plan is good, better than your own.

This Jesus, Son of Man, He died for me.

Love as a child; stay on the straight and narrow.

I’ll provide your food, your rest and a bright tomorrow.

No worry for clothes or a place to lay your head.

All that is my joy to give, trust me, you’ll be fed.

Such love, such care we don’t deserve.

This Jesus, my Redeemer, He died for me.

He came as a babe, so lowly and small

no place for Him, but a dirty stall.

The King of Kings and the Lord of Lords

He came so I can live.

He humbled himself, our example, the Servant.

He taught us and so now, we can be fervent.

Our devotion is true and our lives shine,

All for His glory and none for mine.

Because He lives, I can live too.

This Jesus, my Jesus, He died for YOU.

Defeated and mocked or so it appeared.

They stripped Him, but couldn’t take His glory.

Even to the end, redemption told the story

For one who was on His side – paradise was his reward.

The curtain torn, they laid Him in a tomb, guarded by soldiers,

Oh, such doom.

But victory was coming, the women were running,

to tell that they had seen Him!

To many He appeared, even to those He loved dear,

And now He reigns on His throne above.

This Jesus, My Jesus, all for love, He died for YOU.

The day and hour is not known, but one day He will come.

For now, He reigns in our hearts and on His heavenly throne.

This Jesus whose blood was shed for me

has made my life worth living.

This Jesus, my Jesus, He died for me.

It happened long ago we know, and yet the truth remains.

His resurrection ever told, through the truth of His claims.

They cannot prove otherwise, His followers know it’s true,

for we are forever grateful and try to show it in all we do.

He is the Way, the Truth, the Life. He is the only One.

He’s the God of all gods and the only true Son.

It is our joy today to honor Him and bless His Name,

For we know He lives because our lives are changed.

This Jesus, the Powerful Savior, it’s Him we celebrate.

The cross was the bridge for our sin sick souls

Our hellish lives could now be redeemed.

If we know Him in our hearts, we cannot help but sing.

The One who’s closer than a brother,

The One who calls us His friends.

It doesn’t seem possible, this personal Savior.

He’ll see us to the end.

Heaven is our future, Hell has lost its sting.

Through generations till He comes, His truth forever rings.

The best thing that has happened is we know deep down inside,

He makes His home in our hearts and there He now abides.

No more could He have done,

His love has set me free.

This Jesus, yes Jesus, He died for me.

by Valerie Rumfelt – based chronologically on Matthew’s gospel

Silent Saturday

westerly 469Our Lord is in the tomb. What were all His followers thinking? All those he’d healed and taught—those closest to Him and all the women who’d aided His earthy ministry.

What were they thinking?

What are you thinking?

This Saturday.

Pray the hard prayers today. Pray the incorrect prayers today. Pray the utterances from your soul today. Know every prayer is going straight to the Father. He will make all things right in His time.

Never lose hope. Followers of Jesus have eternal and living Hope.

Keep praying, keep building your faith muscles. Quit trying to impress God with your words. Pray the gut prayers. He longs for that honest relationship with you and me. We are His children. He wants us to climb in His lap and tell Him everything. If we only climb up, look at Him quizzically, squirm back down and run away, we will have missed Him. Climb up and lay your head on His shoulder, cry, and let Him hear your heart. This is silent Saturday. The answers are coming.

Tomorrow.

If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. Romans 8:11

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I look up to the mountains—  does my help come from there? My help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth! Psalm 121:1&2

Mary of Bethany

Just a few days before Jesus would die on the cross for the sins of the world, there is an account of a woman who took an opportunity to worship Him. Her display was remarkable and loving and remembered throughout all time.

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John 12:1-8 is the passage. We find Lazarus hosting a dinner for Jesus. Martha is serving. Mary is near Jesus.

It is six days before the Passover Feast. Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived. Lazarus was the one Jesus had raised from the dead.

2 A dinner was given at Bethany to honor Jesus. Martha served the food. Lazarus was among the people at the table with Jesus. 3 Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard. It was an expensive perfume. She poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the sweet smell of the perfume.
4 But Judas Iscariot didn’t like what Mary did. He was one of Jesus’ disciples. Later he was going to hand Jesus over to his enemies. Judas said, 5 “Why wasn’t this perfume sold? Why wasn’t the money given to poor people? It was worth a year’s pay.” 6 He didn’t say this because he cared about the poor. He said it because he was a thief. Judas was in charge of the money bag. He used to help himself to what was in it.
7 “Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. “The perfume was meant for the day I am buried. 8 You will always have the poor among you. But you won’t always have me.”

What splendid love Mary displays.

As onlookers to this beautiful story, we admire Mary because of her outward evidence of inward devotion toward Jesus. She gave all she had to worship Jesus and show her love to Him.

To Mary, Jesus was the only one in the room. She is compelled to worship Him in this precious and costly way.

Judas, the one who would later betray Jesus was in the room and opposed this act of love. Judas’s weakness was he cared only for himself. When he tried to deceitfully point out Mary’s love toward Jesus as being misguided, the selfishness and darkness in his character are exposed.

The difference between Judas and Mary is stark. Judas tried to garner favor for his position by pulling in the poor as his cover. He not only revealed his true colors but tried to deceive those around him into thinking he was concerned for the poor.

Jesus, of course, was the One present concerned about the poor most of all. The fact that Judas tried this tactic with Jesus present exposes even more about Judas’s unfavorable and repulsive character.

Mary, on the other hand, is generous in her expression of love. To be clear, it was a display. Unabashed, Mary seems oblivious to the dark character sitting near her in Judas and still displays a lavish love for Jesus using a lavish product. She is one to admire and esteem.

Jesus knew both hearts, of course, and welcomed Mary’s love and worship while penetrating the darkness of Judas with a direct command to leave Mary alone.

This story thrills me. Jesus, willing to fellowship with friends and foes alike, ready to defend the pure in heart, receives an extravagant love and appreciates the sacrifice. In only a few words, He exposes the motives and forces of evil sitting near Him in Judas.

The people in Jesus’ day didn’t understand they would soon lose Him to a brutal and sacrificial death on their behalf. Even in this passage, Jesus tells those present that He will not always be with them. They couldn’t grasp that He’d soon be gone. No matter how many times Jesus spoke of His coming death, they could not understand.

In a few days, each day leading to the Resurrection holds a different meaning. Let’s ponder Mary. This brave lady used her opportunity to worship Jesus in the face of evil.  In a few days, she would be at the foot of the cross with other women who loved Him. Let’s be like Mary, unashamed to worship the One who saved us and faithful enough to live for Him until the end of our days.

Perhaps the most striking lesson to be learned from Mary of Bethany is her unwavering devotion to Jesus. She not only followed Him; she worshipped Him. She hung on His every word. No matter what was happening around her, she never lost sight of Him. Jesus defended her pure love, and He ensures her story is told through the ages.

She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he said. Luke 10:39

 

The Best Sermon I’ve Heard About Work

This blog is about winning ways to follow Jesus. Work is indeed a biblical way to follow Jesus. We watched a sermon online yesterday from Tokyo Baptist Church. He did all the research for this topic and I’m passing it on to you.

Pastor Takeshi Yozawa ·

He preached 2 Thessalonians 3:1-13. These are notes I took. If you want to hear the sermon and take your own, then go here https://youtu.be/08DYW1UcC-A

These are in order in terms of what he said, but there is no outline. It’s straight from my notebook.

Sermon Notes:

Paul starts by saying to keep away from certain Christians because they don’t live according to tradition. Tradition means what is originally received from someone and passed on to someone else. This would mean a teaching from Jesus to the apostles, and the apostles pass it on to the churches. Paul says when we disobey the teaching of the Apostles, we disobey Jesus. 

Paul says there is disorderly conduct and idleness. They are out of order. He commanded the church to work, but some disobeyed. What does our work have to do with the testimony of the church? Our attitudes toward work should change.

Verses 7-9

Paul says he was NOT idle – He labored. He did this for two reasons:

-He did not want to be a burden 

-He wanted to be an example so that they would imitate him

In the modern, individualistic world, we tend to think vacation is great and work is a necessary evil. 

But work is a God thing. Work is our first calling as humans. Starting in Genesis 2:15, the man was placed in the garden to work and watch over it – 

Work is not a punishment. It is a gift – a blessing of God. 

Sin has made work harder.

John 5:17 My Father is still working, and I am working also – 

Work is in the Ten Commandments – You are to labor six days…

The rest of the command is the part we focus on about resting. Resting is good, but we are no longer under the Sabbath law because it’s been fulfilled in Jesus.

Work is the means for us to serve Jesus and bring glory to God. 

Colossians 3:23-24

I Corinthians 10:31b

Our workplace is the one place we will impact more non-Christians than anywhere else.

We can show Christ and bring glory to Him.

The calling of mankind:

To serve God

To show the character of God

To bring glory to God

2 Thessalonians 3:7-9

vs.9 – Paul was working as a gospel worker for the church. He believed he had the right to get support. But Paul didn’t receive support from a church he started. He would not make them pay. He was fine about outside churches supporting him.

Every pastor on staff at TBC was a church member before they were called to their current position – the supporting staff too. They were volunteer workers before they were ever paid by the church. Their hearts are about giving and serving others. Vs. 10-13

Those were not willing to work – this was a particular group. He calls them busybodies, unwilling. 

He is not talking about the sick, people who want to work but can’t find work, or the old and retired who can’t work, or homemaker teaming with your spouse to run the home and children, or students working hard on their training and education. This is not who Paul is talking about. 

These are people unwilling, and he calls them busybodies. 

We use our gifts to glorify God and serve others, especially for the salvation of others. We are a peculiar people. It’s entirely different from others lives. We don’t work for ourselves. We rejoice to serve at home, church, and work. This is the Christian life. We live and work and serve. It’s the life of Jesus. 

The Night of the Earthquake

We were still watching orientation videos and reading articles about our new home. The survival video in case of a massive earthquake and other related disasters was a bit intense, but my eyes were wide open to the information alert. It was a lot to take in; nevertheless, we were making a list of all suggested items for a GO BAG, and we were on a trajectory to get all the necessary supplies. We’d had smatterings of conversations with veterans on the field about the 2011 earthquake (its tenth anniversary commemorated this past week). It had us thinking. We were trying to get prepared. Perhaps we’d already experienced a few tremors, unaware! This was way more earthquake talk than I wanted to hear, even though preparation was on our minds.And then it happened. Sitting on our couch one Saturday afternoon at about 2:10, the couch and the iPad on my lap moved from side to side like soft jello when it hits the plate. The shift lasted long enough for me to understand what was happening. I’d say eight to ten seconds. Once things were still, I said, “Well, Lord, I guess that was a tremor.” Clark did not feel it in the other room. After I documented it, I went on about my day. Since this happened during the day, you know this is not the occurrence that gives this blog its title.

I love scripture writing. I have several blogs devoted to this topic and recommend it to anyone who loves the Lord.

Psalm 4:8 In peace, I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.

The verse above was the third one I’d scribbled down before heading into one of the deepest nights of sleep I can remember. I am no deep sleeper, nor do I write scripture every night. At 11:08 pm was when the movement began. I could not figure out what in the world the sensation was that seemed big, all over the room, and wouldn’t stop. The room shook from side to side. 20 – 30 seconds later, it stopped, and my husband and I marveled at the fact we’d experienced an earthquake. You notice I didn’t say our first earthquake. Let’s not go there. Later we heard our impact was only a four to five! The epicenter up north experienced a seven. Would you believe after we chatted, I again returned to sleep, peacefully all night. For all who find that unthinkable, I do too.

Unsplash.com Shefali Lincoln

God’s power evident in our lives that night brings comfort for the future. The preparation for this peace started before the event. His tender loving care of not only our lives and our new dwelling place, but over our minds and spirits is a blessed and wonderful promise realized.

Update: Another quake occured on Saturday evening March 20th, 2021, after dinner, a little after 6pm. This was a 3 on the scale but lasted more than 30 seconds.

Add More Scripture in Your Life Now

If you are a follower of Jesus, you should esteem His Holy Word and desire more of it in your life. It is the way to transformation. My scripture testimony is that the more I get in my life, the more I love it. The more I love it, the more I love the Author. My life makes more sense, and I have more peace.

Psalm 1:1-3 Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the<, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers.

Sometimes we know we need to read the Bible, but we are slow to obey. I always say, do the opposite of what you feel like doing regarding Christian faith practices. If you want more peace, tamp down your anxiety level, and have a sense of closeness to God, then intentionally add scripture to your life.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Have a committed morning time with God reading His Word and praying. If you have trouble with focus, read out loud.
    YouTube has scripture reading with nature sounds or music and a variety of options to hear scripture.
    If a scripture keeps coming up, write it on a card. Put the card on the bathroom mirror or your desk. Say it every chance you get.
  • Get an app on your phone that sends you a scripture. Some apps read scripture to you while you’re folding clothes or running errands.
  • Write scripture. Write a chapter of the Bible. Write a book of the Bible.
  • While waiting anywhere, read the Bible.

Any effort you make to get more scripture in your life brings stability and purpose. You actively engage the presence of God’s Spirit in your life, and you will feel peace as you focus on His Word.

I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against thee. Psalm119:11

Love Big

cathal-mac-an-bheatha-208192-unsplashAre you dreading Valentine’s Day? Expectations of an upcoming Valentines’ Day are looming as the day approaches. We long to be on the receiving end of any gesture of friendship or love. 

Last year, I took a class where John 12:1-8 was studied. Let’s see if the following thoughts can help you with your expectations and save you some hurt and disappointment.

In this passage, we find Jesus reclining at the home of Lazarus; Mary is near Jesus. Martha is serving. 

Readers of this story have a higher view of Mary because of her outward display of devotion toward Jesus. She gave all she had to worship Jesus and show her love to Him. This story is about one who loves big.

It was six days before the Passover Feast. Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived. Lazarus was the one Jesus had raised from the dead.

A dinner was given at Bethany to honor Jesus. Martha served the food. Lazarus was among the people at the table with Jesus. Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard. It was an expensive perfume. She poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the sweet smell of the perfume.
But Judas Iscariot didn’t like what Mary did. He was one of Jesus’ disciples. Later he was going to hand Jesus over to his enemies. Judas said, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold? Why wasn’t the money given to poor people? It was worth a year’s pay.” He didn’t say this because he cared about the poor. He said it because he was a thief. Judas was in charge of the money bag. He used to help himself to what was in it.
“Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. “The perfume was meant for the day I am buried. You will always have the poor among you. But you won’t always have me.”


What lavish love Mary displays.

Have you shown this kind of love toward Jesus?

Do you know how to love that big? 

Compared to Jesus, we all fall short of loving big. 

        I don’t feel that people can love big if they haven’t fallen in love with Jesus.

When we fall in love with Jesus, our focus changes, and obedience to Him is first. We can enjoy His presence in our lives. We will do things we previously wouldn’t have done. Our actions marked by faith in the One

  • who has our back
  • who will see the purity in our hearts AND
  • who appreciates our selfless motivation and sacrifice

We live for the audience of One.

Loving big means we care more about what God thinks more than how our love will be received or perceived by another human. This mindset is huge in preventing unnecessary pain. Please remember this part. Please God in your giving. Now on with the story!

Judas’s weakness was that he cared only for himself. When he tried to deceitfully make a point about Mary’s love toward Jesus being misguided, the selfishness and darkness in his character were exposed.

The difference between Judas and Mary is stark. Judas cared only for himself, but not only that, he attempts to garner favor for his position by pulling in the poor as his cover. Acting in this way, Judas reveals his true colors. He carefully tried to deceive those around him into thinking he was concerned for the poor.

Jesus, of course, was the one present concerned for the poor, most of all. The fact that Judas tried this tactic with Jesus present exposes even more about Judas that is unfavorable and repulsive, to say the least.

close up of figurine

Mary, on the other hand, is generous in her expression of love. To be clear, it was a display. Unabashed, Mary seems oblivious to the dark character sitting near her in Judas and still displays a lavish love for Jesus using a lavish product. She is one to admire and esteem.

Jesus knew both hearts, of course, and welcomed Mary’s love and worship while penetrating the darkness of Judas with a direct command to leave Mary alone.

This story thrills me. Jesus, a man willing to fellowship with friends and foes alike. And ready to defend the pure in heart, willing to receive a lavish love, and appreciate the sacrifice. Yet, in a few words, He exposes the motives and forces of evil sitting near Him.

This story gives new meaning to true love and can give you another reason to let Jesus love you and your heart. Your heart is safe with Him. Focus on your relationship with Him this Valentines’ Day. Celebrate your relationship with Him if you know Him.

Here’s an activity you can try this Valentines Day. Why not write Jesus a love letter thanking Him for who He is and remembering how well He has loved you?

Mary held nothing back, and she’s a worthy example of one who had so richly experienced the love of Jesus and was eager to love Him.

Jesus is the answer to a dull and jaded heart. He’s the only One who can help us love lavishly. Usually, this shows up best in how we love our neighbors under our roof and around us. Jesus rewards a pure heart every time. A life of devotion to Him is a life marked by displays of love to Him.

This valentines, don’t hold back. Spend time with Jesus. Give Him your heart. Ask forgiveness for holding any part of it back from Him. Doing this will enable you to love big.

Let Jesus protect your heart.

We see in this story, He surely will.

 

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The Spiritual Inventory You Need Now

When my husband and I went through missionary training last year, this was some material we received. We had to be alone to evaluate ourselves. I did not come up with this. This is from the agency where we trained. It is clear and not too complicated. If you can use it, may the Lord be praised, and may you be encouraged.

TRANSFORMED:

Heart– You to be born again

Mind – God’s thoughts, we need constant reinforcement of the truth. 

Affection – We need to love the truth. We need to love what God loves, hate what God hates. Sin needs to repulse us.

Will – This is where Obedience comes to play. This is Obedience out of love for Jesus, Not rule-based. In Faith – I obey. In Love – I obey…no matter the cost.

Relationships – We are to reflect His love. We love our christian family, our neighbors, our enemies.

Purpose – The purpose of life is not me. I don’t live for my pleasure. I live for Jesus’ agenda. New purpose.

How to evaluate your spiritual growth:

Is my life increasing in line with the biblical picture of a disciple? Die to self? Tell others the gospel? Keep growing myself? 

What do I know about Jesus now that I didn’t know six months ago?

Am I learning more about Jesus and living more like Him?

Am I increasingly obedient to Godly living and the mandate of the Great Commission?

Do others increasingly recognize spiritual growth in my life? (ask someone since we evaluate ourselves poorly).

In areas no one else sees, am I giving those over to Jesus?

Am I increasingly walking away from sin?

Am I increasingly reproducing myself in others?

After pondering all these questions, what actions do you need to take? Are there areas you are doing well? 

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:17

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