Soul Survival Everyday

Psalm 25 is hidden in my heart, but recently when I revisited it, the first nine words grabbed my attention like a diamond in a well-lit jewelry case. My eyes and heart were fastened to it, and I could not move further into the verse or chapter. Here are the first nine words to this beloved Psalm:

To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul…

This is what saturated my mind as the Spirit of God had me slowed to a stop on these words.
God is the only One trustworthy to care for my soul.

To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul…

The Spirit undoubtedly directed David’s heart, and David knew that God was his absolute help for the eternal core of his being, whether in peace or crisis.

To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul…

Why wouldn’t I, too, lift up my soul to the only Soul Lifter?

Is there anyone more trustworthy than the Lord? 

To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul…

To experience what David knew in the very first line of this Psalm, then certainly we have to go to the Lord to lift our soul to Him. We can not remain unaffected by this great God we know.

We can not hide in our super busy life avoiding Him.

We can not be puffed with pride in our significant space.

We can not run by Him in ministry mode.

We can not excuse our presence with Him because of a caretaking call.

We can not rest in complacency in our relaxation room. 

No, we must choose to go to God.

To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.

Are you overwhelmed that you can even approach God? 

God is available to every follower of Jesus. He is our Father, and He is there for us anytime, any day, any season of our life. But we must choose to stop our life, and go get His life each and every day.

Why not every morning say to Him…

To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.

The soul actually demands as much attention as the body…the soul was made for God, and without God, it is restless and in secret torment.

Billy Graham

Destinations Matter

For a decade or more, my husband and I led a Bible study in an apartment complex community room every Tuesday night. The gathering was part of our weekly life, much like going to the grocery store. We did this because a resident in the complex requested we come there because she said the residents needed hope. When we learned of this, the timing was perfect since we were new in the community and trying to build relationships and reputation to birth a church. Establishing small groups was part of that strategy, so this invitation fit the mission. The years in the apartment complex yielded a harvest of Christ-followers, some precious friends, and vivid memories.This story is about one particular night Clark showed The Nativity Story film to the residents in that room. This movie is a cinematically beautiful one with music riveting its viewers to the story throughout the film.

At the conclusion, Clark presented the Gospel. The room was hushed as each was hanging on his every word. It was clear the Spirit was working after the dramatic depiction of Jesus’ birth in the movie. I thought surely no one would resist the palpable presence of the Spirit and prayed that no one would. Clark led in a prayer to give anyone a chance to ask Jesus into their heart. Immediately after, since the room was quiet, it was easy to hear a very old gentleman talking to his wife. He shared that now they knew for the first time how to get to heaven. Everyone at their table called Clark and me over as the man and his wife signed their commitment card, which stated they’d prayed to receive Christ. All around understood the significance of what had occurred.This lifelong Catholic couple was in their 90’s. He’d been a high school teacher in the community for his adult life. But for those few moments in this community room, he recognized that stability didn’t come from longevity or even a significant career. He realized that his need for stability, for certainty, would not come from anything he had done. It all came clear to him that salvation in Jesus was the only way to heaven.From that point on, this couple came to Bible study faithfully. Within a few months, the husband died. Did it matter that we’d been obedient to that complex when invited? Yes. Did it matter that this dear, aged couple know the One who saved their soul? Yes. Do spiritual destinations matter? Yes. Where you choose to go could have a direct impact on someone’s destination for eternity.

Jesus answered, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father, except by me. John 14:6

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.

We’ve had many more earthquakes. No catastrophic ones.

©Valerie Rumfelt

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.

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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.