Easy Recipe

The theme of my website is “Winning Ways to Follow Jesus,” and taking care of our bodies is a winning way to follow Jesus. So in this article, I have a healthy, easy recipe to help you out this weekend and spur you on toward love and good deeds(Hebrews 10:24). But since we’re on the topic of taking care of our bodies, let’s look a minute at verses from scripture that go along with this idea. These are not all verses that apply to this topic.

I Corinthians 6:19-20 – Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God with your body.

Every follower of Jesus has the Holy Spirit. He comes to live in us at the moment of salvation. We belong to God. He is our master from that point, so our bodies are to glorify Him.

Ephesians 5:29 – For no one ever hated his own flesh but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church…

We are not to hate our body. Jesus had a real flesh and blood body, which was given to pay the price for my sin and yours. Our body is His temple. How can we hate our body? We can make daily choices to lovingly care for it and protect it.

Ephesians 2:10 – For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

God has work for each of His children to do until the day we die or until Jesus comes again. When we fail to care for our body, His workmanship((Genesis 2:7), then we will feel bad. Then we don’t have the energy or desire to do the works God has for us to do. We will miss out on what He had planned and lose our purpose.

Have fun researching this topic for yourself. And enjoy this tasty recipe!

Roasted Vegetables:

Wash 2 boxes of cherry tomatoes and dry

Open 1 frozen bag of vegetables(keep frozen)

Combine tomatoes and vegetables in a bowl

Drizzle olive oil on the tomatoes and vegetables

Add your own spices. Last night I used garlic powder and a little salt, and generous pepper

Stir until all is covered with oil and spices

Spray oil on a foil-lined pan and arrange tomatoes and vegetables on pan

Bake on 400 until tomatoes pop and vegetables are browning

1st picture – tomatoes and frozen vegetables:

2nd picture – roasted tomatoes and frozen vegetables

Serving suggestions:

Serve as a side dish

Serve over pasta and mozzarella

Serve over rice

© Valerie Rumfelt

Focus on Fruit – a poem

Every person in Christ has a treasure inside. It comes by way of fruit. The fruit within shows the world our Friend and the quiet display of His love.

 It is said we become like the ones nearest us so the fruit should be picked every day.

Evidenced through the trials we bear; down here there’s suffering and testing that tear. But it’s here when fruit bursts forth and grows strong, for endurance is needed and can be so long.

For how else will love grow but when put with a foe. Someone who is tiresome or one who is gruff. As God’s Word our guide and this fruit down inside commands love burst forth, alive!

Joy unending, flowing under it all, is the oil that yields produce, the soothing gladness of soul.

But joy brings peace and peace is still because peace is the space where the soul can heal.

But peace walks with patience and patience is lovely. What a relief when we do not act ugly.

Kindness can flow from a heart that is patient because kindness is known by a desire to be gracious.

Next on the vine, goodness joins kind because goodness describes God’s heart. God, if anything is always good, and goodness beside kindness is best understood.

To be a friend, to walk through a trial, to love when it’s hard is where faithfulness is found.

It may be the root of all the fruit, for faithfulness is lost now and needs to be found.

Gentleness, how lacking in this cruel world, is stolen, replaced by asserting ourselves. Passivity its counterfeit, but so far from right; Gentleness is strong and a soothing, warm light. To comfort, to calm, and quiet a fear. Gentleness works and draws us near.

But self-control beats a loud drum indeed. Dominance it needs in order to lead. The flesh needs a pause, self-control to rule, it’s payback is great, and it makes no fools.

So what is this fruit that comes from above? Is it useful and profitable and marked by love? Yes, winsome it is to a weary world and brings humility in midst of trial.  So how can fruit be good to the taste? It is in spending time not in want or in waste. And linger in quiet, the Spirit transform. For an increase of His company is how to reform. The flesh or the Spirit, this forever our choice, until He returns and then we’ll rejoice!

By Valerie Rumfelt

Based on Galation 5:22-23

by Valerie Rumfelt

5/2022

©Valerie Rumfelt

God’s Love Is Not Blind

freestocks-org-552875-unsplashAnd I will give them singleness of heart and put a new spirit within them. I will take away their stony, stubborn heart and give them a tender, responsive heart, so they will obey my decrees and regulations. Then they will truly be my people, and I will be their God. But as for those who long for vile images and detestable idols, I will repay them fully for their sins. I, the Sovereign Lord, have spoken!”

Ezekiel 11:19-21

As Valentines Day approaches, may I recommend a sharp focus on Jesus! He meets all our expectations. He never fails. The world groans. It is predictable. If you follow Jesus, then you are in a relationship with the only One who gives hope and provides us perfect love. Remember, this world is not our home when we know Jesus. We don’t have to follow the world’s customs.  Valentines Day can be a time for followers of Jesus to tighten our grip and be all the more devoted to the One who saved our soul and who lives in our hearts!7a4be2db-ecc1-4f6a-a9a7-b5cc097922a9

Because of Him we have a new heart. We have His unconditional and intentional love. He loves us with an everlasting love and He sees us. Here’s four ways God shows us His love and we can know His love is not blind.

God’s love is NOT blind – Lost people act like lost people and He sees. He is not turning a blind eye. Lost people do wander in darkness and produce much wickedness and evil. It is up to us, His children, to live exemplary lives, to live set apart, to pray for hearts of the lost to to be transformed through the power of the Gospel. And we His children are commanded to witness, to share the gospel on a regular basis.

God’s love is NOT blind – Even believers can produce surprising amounts of wickedness and evil which He sees. Although we are His children, we still give in to our sin nature for a moment or even a season. When we do, His discipline, designed to chase us back will come. (Proverbs 3:12). As for consequences, those soon become self-evident. Grace is wonderful, but it is to be cherished and keep us humble. God’s love is not blind to our confessions and desire to turn back to Him and follow His ways. (1 John 1:9)

God’s love is NOT blind – He sees the good things His children do out of love for Him and He brings brings a harvest(Galatians 6:9). This is particularly encouraging if you’re in a thankless and under appreciated environment. God’s love is not blind, and it is thrilling when we sense His approval of who we are becoming as we obey Him.

God’s love is NOT blind – For His children, we are given grace and mercy in all of life’s seasons whether we are devoted or not. God’s love is not blind. It can’t be overstated how kind God is to His own. But just as God is love, we should be motivated by love to desire to obey Him and this should give us good testimonies and ensure a pure heart before Him.

As believers, we are to walk humbly before our God. God is all-knowing. We can rest in His love and know His love is not blind. For His devoted ones observing this world, this is a comfort to us.  God sees all and He has a justice system that is not based on human emotion. God does not change.  He will punish the wicked. He will uphold the righteous.  img_1444

Here are a few action tips for believers living in this dark world:

  • We can sharpen our spiritual disciplines in prayer, Bible reading, witnessing, sharing with those in need, fasting, memorizing and meditating on scripture, taking care of our bodies, praising Him, holding our tongues, committing to kingdom work through the local church.
  • We can remember that God is light and in Him there is no darkness, at all. Make times to focus on Jesus.
  • We can take a break from the news.
  • We can examine our own lives and ask God to show us any ways that don’t please Him.
  • We can humble ourselves and ask God to fill our hearts with His love for this world.
  • We can pray that the hearts of people won’t be hardened especially those who are in places of authority.
  • We can remember God loves the righteous and the unrighteous. We can remember that we used to be enemies of God.
  • We can strive to live in such a way that the Lord takes pleasure in us and provides His protection to us.

img_1584With all that is going on so rapidly in our world and in our country, it is comforting to know that God’s love is not blind. It is also important for His children to look for where God is working. Ask His Holy Spirit to show you and then thank Him for these good things. We must pray for those in authority over us and live our lives in a way that pleases Him. We are God’s way of reaching the world. When He looks at His kids, we want Him to see us actively involved in His work. After all, God’s love is NOT blind.

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Matthew 5:43-48

©Valerie Rumfelt

No Ordinary Trees

I don’t know about you, but time and again, I’m amazed by how one can take great photos from an iPhone! In my day, great photographs came from a traditional, expensive camera and there were people called photographers who took those photos. The rest of us attempted great shots but were often disappointed by blurry, oops, our finger in front of the lens, not great at all pictures. But these days, technology is so advanced that our devices can capture our lives with precision and clarity that is beyond our expectations. Additionally, free online classes that teach how to shoot these eye-catching photos with the iPhone give us skill at our fingertips.

One day as I was listening to an iPhone photography video, the instructor taught me how to frame a photo. There was one tree in a field that was his focus. When he talked about framing the picture, he said, “ It’s just an ordinary tree.” He was setting me up to show me how he could make an “ordinary tree” look spectacular. Instead, he sent my mind thinking, “ there are no ordinary trees!” As a lover of trees, I thought of the times a tree initiated my worship of its Creator. Trees are amazing as most things in creation, but trees have a presence and display God’s glory and what they offer to humankind, and the animal kingdom is magnificent.

Some trees are stunning in their form whether my amazement comes from their stately form or their spindly or gnarly details. Others are dead, yet still, display a hollow, docile beauty of their own, and others are floral or bear fruit, and fragrance wafts from their verdant form. Still, others are puny, unpruned, out of control and fruitless. Whatever the tree’s condition, trees are incredible. There are no ordinary trees.

I think this is what our Creator God thinks because He uses trees throughout His holy Word to make points and underscore principles. There was one tree from which our Savior hung so that all who believe would be forgiven and gain eternal life. If you’ve not paid attention to the trees nearest you lately, perhaps these verses will bring awareness to the fact that there are no ordinary trees.

Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so. Genesis 1:11

Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them; let all the trees of the forest sing for joy. Psalm 96:12

Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. Habakkuk 3:17-18

But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit. Jeremiah 17:7-8

“No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit.”  Luke 6:43

The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and those who win souls are wise. Proverbs 11:30

Then he lay down under the tree and fell asleep. All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” I Kings 19:5

He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. Psalm 1:3

Zaccheus was trying to see who Jesus was, and he was unable due to the crowd, because he was short in stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up a sycamore tree in order to see Him, because He was about to pass through that way. Luke 19:3&4

The glory of Lebanon shall come to you, the cypress, the plane, and the pine, to beautify the place of my sanctuary, and I will make the place of my feet glorious. Isaiah 60:13

Then I will give you your rains in their season, and the land shall yield its increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit. Leviticus 26:4

His shoots shall spread out; his beauty shall be like the olive, and his fragrance like the Lebanon. Hosea 14:6

The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had put to death by hanging Him on the a cross. Acts 5:30

I think that I shall never see a poem lovely as a tree.

Joyce Kilmer

©Valerie Rumfelt

Notes off Notes App

Cleaning up my data on my phone recently when I discovered these notes. I’m passing them on to my readers. Remember the word content is not mine. Priscilla Shirer (daughter of pastor Tony Evans) was in person a few years ago at FBC Jackson and this is notes from that message. Take what’s useful.

Priscilla Shirer

Prayer doesn’t manipulate God, it gives you access to what He already has planned for you.

The enemy wants to devalue.

Psalm 133- God commands a blessing. 

Unity- He commands that there be a blessing.

Philippians 1:6 

We sit on our feelings like they are fact

You don’t execute- you just hold on to your knowledge.

We never need to pray about a command.

Only the Creator can define you and call you by your name.

You are not defined by anything other than who God says you are.

The applause of those around or lack of applause doesn’t define you.

Even your weaknesses can become a platform.

When I surrender all I am to God then I become a temple for the Holy Spirit.

When God encountered people He changed their name.

Align everything with your identity.

Over 8000 promises. To grab hold of them you gotta know who you are. 

When you don’t know who you are you get attacked by the enemy. 

Judges 6

And everyone was doing what they thought was right in their own eyes. 

The Middianites had conquered them.

Vs 11&12- Gideon was met by the angel and the angel called him a valiant warrior.

The angel of the Lord came to meet with mere people. It is God. Gideon is threshing wheat in a wine press. He is hiding. The angel of the Lord went to him. vs 11- He was there but in vs 12 he became aware he was near.

Open our eyes to see Him.

We want the manifest presence of God. We see Him. We see His tracks.

He hilights the word!

Spiritual senses so that our spiritual radar is up.

If you’ve not been able to detect God, and you can’t trust His hand then trust his heart. 

You know you are hearing from God, when you hear truth. He will not conform to us. We must turn into His likeness.

Truth doesn’t change just cause we don’t like it.

Ch 6&7

You’re entire family is waiting for you to figure out who you are.

The whole nation was waiting on one person.

Daniel- God didn’t take them out of the fire, He joined them in the fire.

Isaiah 65- I allowed myself to be found by people who didn’t want to be found.

©Valerie Rumfelt

After a Bad Day

It’s only January 5th of 2022 but a bad day has already showed up and you are discouraged. Is this your situation? If it is, let’s remember that if you follow Jesus then He is with you. He loves you. You need not fret, or allow your spirit to be troubled. Bad days are a reminder of how dependent we are to be on Jesus. They are not a commentary on how life really is.

Psalm 73:26 says, ” My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

Often bad days are full of lies. They are meant to discourage you. While there is some truth that comes from bad days, don’t let everything about them become your truth. While there usually is something to learn from a bad day, it is not a reason to give up hope, lose faith in God, or believe that a plan He’s made clear to you has ended. A bad day isn’t that serious. Try to keep your perspective because the same God who is with you before and through the bad day is with you beyond the bad day! Praise the Lord! Last night in a devotional piece by Amy Carmichael, I read this reflection:

And if the day ends in what seems failure, don’t fret. Tell Him about it. Tell Him you are sorry. Even so, don’t be discouraged. All discouragement is of the devil.

 She went on to say this…

Then let your soul hang on Him. “My soul hangeth upon Thee” (Ps. 63:9, PBV)—not upon my happiness in prayer, but just upon Thee. Tell Him you are sorry, and fall back on the old words: “Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee” (John 21:17)—unworthy as I am. Let these words comfort your heart: “The Lord . . . lifteth up all those that are down” (Ps. 145:14, PBV). “Cast not away . . . your confidence” (Heb. 10:35); there is a “great recompense of reward” waiting for you a little later on. Carmichael, Amy. Edges of His Ways (p. 243). CLC Publications. Kindle Edition

There are a few other things to remember after a bad day:

1. God is still working. If your bad day was a direct consequence of your actions, then confess that sin to God and to the other person. If it is because of another then forgive them now. Move on.

2. God sings over you and He is the lifter of your head. Zephaniah 3:17 says,

“The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in His love He will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”

You may not be singing but He is. That is a mystery to me, but I choose to believe it.

But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high. Psalm 3:3

3. God is your hope. A bad day is not a predictor of the future. Go to Him in prayer. Sing a hymn. The devil is not coming around anyone singing to Jesus. Determine to focus on Jesus.

It’s a new year. Your emotions are not telling you truth. Turn to scripture for truth and keep trusting God and putting all your hope in Him.

Happy New Year!

© Valerie Rumfelt

Why the Angels Sing

0e3fe-hark-the-heraldChristmas music abounds with scads of beautiful and touching carols, but none has captured my heart more than “Hark the Herald Angels Sing.” I checked a few lists and this triumphant, happy song makes the top 20 Christmas songs. The theology in the hymn is crystal clear, and my heart rejoices to hear and sing it. The imagery of angels singing is not hard to visualize. The story told within the verses is joyful and masterful.

You may pick out some other Christian themes in it, but these are the ones obvious to me.

  • God sent Jesus into this world to save us.
  • All the nations rejoiced at His coming.
  • The angels proclaimed His birth.
  • Jesus is the highest and all supreme God, born of a virgin.
  • He deserves our devotion and allegiance.
  • The Trinity, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit were all present at His conception and birth.
  • HE IS WITH US.
  • He is the epitome of hope because He brings life to all who accept Him.
  • For those who accept Him, death is just a passage to the best life.
  • He is PEACE, He is RIGHTEOUS, He is LIGHT and LIFE.
  • He put His glory aside to come to earth as a humble babe.
  • Those who know Him, one day will rise to reign with Him. And lastly…
  • All glory, any amount, should be directed, and freely given to Him.

HARK THE HERALD ANGELS SING

Hark! the herald angels sing
Glory to the new-born King
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled
Joyful, all ye nations, rise
Join the triumph of the skies
With angelic host proclaim
Christ is born in Bethlehem
Hark! the herald angels sing
Glory to the new-born King

Christ,the everlasting Lord
Late in time behold him come
Offspring of the Virgin’s womb
Hail the Flesh, the God Head
Hail the incarnate Deity
Pleased as man with man to dwell
Jesus, our Emmanuel!
Hark! the herald angels sing
Glory to the new-born King

Hail the Heaven-born Prince of Peace
Hail the Son of Righteousness
Light and life to all He brings
Risen with healing in His wings
Mild He lays His Glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
Hark! the herald angels sing
Glory to the new-born King

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc, Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLCHark-the-Herald-Angels-Sing

This carol thrills my soul. Hearing the introductory notes, my heart and spirit get simultaneously glad and the words bring tears to my eyes . True worship to our King Jesus is contained in this song. It’s easy to see, why the angels sing!

Listen here…

Glory to the New Born King!

“Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests’.” Luke 2:13-14

 

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

 0f6c02bc-bd6b-4112-b22a-820c631798f9.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

How You Can Be Prepared for God’s Plans


When was the last time you thought about a beaver? Me either, but these interesting rodents recently came to mind when I pondered being ready for whatever is coming. Curiosity led me to research these non-hibernators. Beavers have a method of gnawing on trees and branches near a stream. This begins the process of building a dam and a home for themselves called a lodge. These creatures choose a shallow body of water. Choosing this protects them later from a build-up of ice in the winter. The build-up would slow down their ability to go to and fro in their engineered paths for food. They strip away from the trees and bring along other limbs, twigs, stones, and other plants for this intentional endeavor. The result; survival. In addition to this fundamental need, the dams serve as protection from those who seek to devour them; predators.

Beavers offer some analogy for us as humans. At times in our lives, we may choose to let go of unnecessary things, just like animals shed their fur to stay cool. This is good. But more often than not, it is God who orchestrates processes to cause this. The letting go can be in many forms and can come quickly or over time. This process is to get us prepared. Some choose to cooperate with God in this process, others dig their heels in.

Who could have predicted an unseen, worldwide, pandemic, and all it’s ramifications? Covid 19 shut down gyms for a while. Was this a routine in your life? How did you adjust and prepare for the new season? Did you get creative and find other ways to stay fit? This is an every day example, but twists and turns that require our adjustment come and we must be prepared. We won’t always have time to get prepared. Consider the following scenarios: a tragedy of some kind, a natural disaster, the death of a close loved one, a financial collapse, incarceration, a move to an unlikely place, a call to ministry or missions, a terminal diagnosis, or being caregiver for a vulnerable person. It could be God is calling you out of your comfort zone, and you need to prepare for your next assignment, or the surprise of a godly man or woman entering your life as your future mate.

Back to the beaver: eventually, the dam or the lodge is built. Its functions and purposes are in place, and the beaver begins life in its new ecological home. Survival in a new season instinctually led the beaver to build a shelter. In contrast, we can often ignore or procrastinate when action is needed. We spend more time than required asking why. We complain. We need time to process, and we wish things would go back to the way they were. We have no interest in being challenged or surrendering to God. Beavers? They do what’s necessary for life and living and survival. They do these acts of survival year around. I know I can learn some things from these nocturnal, busy, and intentional creatures.

Our God is sovereign, and He is powerful, and nothing comes into a Christ-followers’ life can be wasted or unplanned. There are no surprises to God. Since this is true, then why does it take us so long sometimes to get on board with His plan? The beaver knows what is required and gets about doing it. The result is efficient, prepared, and ready for whatever may come. We can do the same. God is not interested in us being ill-equipped or unprepared for life. We can adjust ourselves to God.

Our ability to adjust seems related to our ability to trust our Heavenly Father.

So just like the beaver, we can build our earthly life efficiently, with preparation, and live in the reality of what is instead of what we wish it would be. We can grow no matter how old we are, no matter the situation. We can be ready for what God has. It doesn’t mean we won’t have fear or anxiety, but I humbly submit when I incorporate specific disciplines and habits, my response improves when the challenge comes and when life is changing. I also know the enemy is prowling, and he preys on those who are idle and unprepared. Christ’s followers are in the Lord’s army, and we must have a soldier’s readiness. We don’t want to cooperate in any delay of God’s plan, do we?

Here are some practices and disciplines I’ve learned which help me. I’m still growing, and need God’s mercy and help every day of my life.

Tips to be Prepared for Life:

Memorize and meditate on scripture – The Bible is God’s Word and the roadmap for life. As followers of Jesus, He expects us to obey it. The more scripture you have inside of you, the better your foundation for action when the plan comes.

Pray – Prayer is meeting with our Father. We are talking and listening, but mainly we are in His presence. If you want to feel close to God, intentionally set times aside to pray. When the plans begin to change, you will be at peace.

Keep your mind clean – Just because adults can view it doesn’t mean you have to view it. Be discerning and be vigilant to guard your mind. Your mind is a camera, and every word and image is inside your brain. Jesus tells us to love Him with our minds. You will be better able to love Him with a clean mind.

Exercise and care for your body– We tend to feel better about ourselves when we do this. Giving in to every indulgence is not useful for building yourself for service to Him. Discipline and self-control are all close to God’s heart. He writes about the body in His word. It’s essential, and you will be ready for any new plans coming when you care for your body.

Love the Church – Beavers stay in groups and care for one another. God has given us the church body to love and serve. Attend your local church, serve your local church, love other believers. Live in unity with every believer.

Be weak – God cares, and He can perfect those weak and faithless places in you. Weak people depend on God. Our faith hangs by a thread sometimes. He is your dearest friend and loving Shepherd. Humbly seek His help and ask Him to make your faith strong.

The next time you sense your life is about to change. Consider how you will respond. Ponder one of God’s most unique creatures, and have a winning response. Success in life is when you walk hand in hand with Jesus. Faithfulness to Him. The beaver is prepared. It ends up with shelter, an efficient way to get provisions, and a fun and safe place to play in the water away from predators. Jesus is our shelter, our safe place, and He desires we live in the joy of His presence.

God is the God of ‘right now.’ He doesn’t want you sitting around regretting yesterday. Nor does He want you wringing your hands and worrying about the future. He wants you focusing on what He is saying to you and putting in front of you … right now. Priscilla Shirer