Clouds in the Sky

On work days, I strive to eat in a half hour and walk for another 30 minutes. It gives me the best kind of lunch break, for me, a gal that loves nature and experiencing all of her senses. I love the feel of the sun and the breeze, the songs of birds, the scent of flowers (and even weeds), the buzz of bee’s, and the sight of the clouds fluffy, yet huge in the sky.

Today, I was half way down our lane when I realized that I was hearing a bit of thunder. My walking pace slowed as I pondered the possibility of rain. Decided that I didn’t mind getting a bit wet, then considered that the sound of thunder meant lighting in these parts. Yet, I saw no streaks of lighting in the sky, so I continued. I prayed to God up in the heaven’s. I said, “Lord, you know I need this walk, if you could keep me safe from lighting I would sure appreciate it….I need to live at least another 10 years if you don’t mind! Then I proceeded to be grateful for the beauty of the day, admiring clouds as I walked.

When I started out, there was a mixture of stormy looking skies and bright blue and fluffy white cloud looking skies. On my way back I noticed that above me, in a path before me was pure blue and fluffy white cloud skies and I could tell the sun was trying to peek out. On each side of me were dark skies and no sight of pure blue beyond in either direction. It was like God had given me a path back home of pure blue, fluffy cloud skies. “Amazing!” I said to the Lord, right out loud. “Bless you and thank you Lord!” I continued thanking the Lord for anything in sight and as I approached home, the sun came out from behind one of those fluffy clouds and shone its light down upon me and everything around me. Now, THAT was cool!

Lesson? Talk to the Lord when you have the chance, you’d be surprised what that can do for you!

PS: For any who may be concerned about my work ethic, and the time it took me to write this, I have some COMP time coming and I planned to use some of it today anyway. Don’t worry, I will keep track of my time! This story just had to be told.

Encouragement During these Difficult Times

I would like to take this moment to encourage everyone to listen to their hearts about what to be doing with your time, and prioritize what is important each day. 

Perhaps we start each day writing out our goals for the day. First base your list on your needs. If you need employment right now, spend some time each day on your job search. If you need family, reach out, using the many technology methods available today. If I can learn Zoom and Facebook Messenger, you certainly can! If you have a need to improve your yard or home, make a list, wear your mask, and go pick up what you need in one trip. Don’t forget to wash your hands when you get home!

I myself have had no problem finding things to do.  For one thing, I am still working full time at home. However, there are still many things I can no longer do because of the pandemic (visiting family for instance). I am doing things that I have not had time for in the past. In fact, what I have found is that I need to focus on prioritizing all that I want to be doing. If I don’t prioritize then I am starting numerous projects without finishing any of them! In fact, because I am still employed and working at home, their are still things on my list that I am not getting to. I want to clean my attic and I want to varnish those two porch chairs, but I must focus on what is most important to me. I plan to paint my kitchen cupboards to brighten up my kitchen! In fact, I plan to take Thursday and Friday off of work this week in order to get started. Did you know that doing a professional job on your kitchen cupboards requires 2 coats of primer and 3 coats of paint! Can you imagine? I am going to embark on quite a time consuming project!

I have noticed from taking a look at Facebook occasionally and from what I see on the news that some of you out there in the world are struggling and bored. I want to encourage you today to take a hold of what you CAN do. Some ideas:

  • Start a new hobby
  • Go for a walk (I find that a walk really lifts my spirits)
  • Notice nature while walking; pay attention to all 5 senses on this walk
  • Exercise (relives stress)(make yourself do it!)
  • Meditate (this is hard work for me!)
  • Try out a new recipe
  • Remember when you couldn’t find the time to do all that you wanted to do?
  • Research ideas on the internet. I hear pinterest is full of ideas!
  • Look for professional development opportunities on line: check out Udemy, Coursera, Ed2Go, even LinkedIn has professional development within it’s website.

And finally, please don’t forget the keys to excellent mental health. Care for yourself in these three crucial areas: Exercise, Sleep, Eating healthy foods.

How we handle this pandemic is all up to us. We can look at it positively or allow our thoughts to go all negative on us which can lead to depression.  I stumbled across an online course for free the other day!  Thankfully, we can still do research in our own homes these days with a computer and/or a smart phone.

Don’t let this pandemic get you down.  YOU choose how to handle it!

For those who are hurting and afraid

Some time ago I downloaded a “Holy Bible” app. I went with online version NIV. It gives you a verse of the day which is normally all I seem to have time for. Yesterday however, I stumbled upon a speaker, a Mike Holley on http://www.life.church/online/. He was great to listen too, and this just might be my church away from church during these difficult times. A few words about what I captured from his talk:

During difficult times we will feel better if we help those who are hurting and afraid. Speak faith to those who are paralyzed by fear. Share bible verses that help. Move to practicing our faith daily, not just weekly, but daily. We can gather on line and pray together on line. If you receive an awesome message, share it! Daily seek the goodness of God. Give generously to those who need – including spiritual & support needs. He says, “If we the church, are so busy putting our faith in action, we will have no room or time for fear!” Another quote, “We shine the light, we do not hide it!” And Lord, “Not our will, but your will be done!” Because of Christ we are not afraid. Check out this church on line: http://www.life.church/online/. While Mike was speaking there was a chat window on the right and those online were sharing thoughts and learning about each other. It felt all inclusive. Check it out!

In case there is confusion: Church is not just a physical building – it is a gathering of people and why not gather on line?

Be Encouraged

My husband and I went to church today, just like every Sunday. I was asked to sing and I like to do my part when they need me. I love to sing, but most of the other cantors have far better voices than me. I still love to sing.

The congregation was not what it usually is. Father had an awesome message, just like usual and I found myself wishing that I had thought to bring in a notepad and a pen. I sincerely wish that my memory was such that I could remember some of the most important words so that I could quote him.

He also had a message regarding the Corona virus. We are to stay in our homes during these difficult times. We can look at the positives. We can use this time to sit in silence and hear God’s message. We can make the best of it by enjoying silence that we rarely experience any more in this busy world we live in. We can spend more time with our families.

Then I arrived home and took a peak at Facebook. A women from Taiwan posted an encouraging message regarding our shut downs. She said they went through a 30 day shut down in late January and through February. “No schools and it was a ghost town.” Didn’t leave their homes. She acknowledged the fear, the worry and the anxiousness that we are all feeling. Told us that these are normal natural human responses and encouraged us not to stay stuck there. “Trust God and trust the process.” 30 day shut downs work! Quarantine and hygiene works! She encourages us to remember that God never sleeps (Psalm 121) so we can. We need to look at this shut down as a “staycation.” Hang with your kids, binge watch movies, make your favorite recipes and enjoy silence. Don’t forget to pray for those that still have to go out and serve.

What a blessing of encouragement! Thank you Juanita Brown Ingram!

Help Me Rest

I think most of you know that I read – a lot. I enjoy reading fiction where the characters are fascinating, and I enjoy reading self help, and lately a lot of spiritual themed works.

I have read half of the Sensible Shoes series (4 books in all), by Sharon Garlough Brown. The story is about 4 women and their spiritual journey’s. I enjoy the characters and two of the characters have hang ups similar to mine. These books have discussion guides at the end if you are interested in using them for a book club.

So far I have discovered a few things about myself (and God), thanks to the first 2 books that I have read. I have been trying to discern a purpose or a passion for my life from this day forward. I have time to do more good in the world, but struggle with what exactly that is supposed to be. Hannah, one of the characters in the book, learned that this burden can be lifted off of ourselves if we simply realize that God knows us well enough to know what will catch our attention. If he wants us to follow a certain path, He will make that known to us. She states that when we put confidence in our ability to hear God, it places all the burden of responsibility on us. I was constantly trying to discern a message from God. How much better to put our confidence in His ability and desire to speak to us – which allows us to put the burden on Him!

So help me rest in you, Lord. And give me patience to wait and the wisdom to see and hear what you lay before me.

Source: Two Steps Forward: A Story of Persevering in Hope, by Sharon Garlough Brown

What is Our Purpose?

Have you read “The Purpose Driven Life,” By Rick Warren yet? If not, I encourage you to pick up or order a copy. I have a newer version.

I have to share something that impacted my soul. Something that was eye opening on this day, yet something I had read recently in my bible and just breezed over.

Isn’t that often how it is? We read something, and think nothing of it, then later (and it can be much later), it impacts our soul. That is what I call, developing a relationship with our Lord, Jesus. Keep on reading His word.

Here is the verse in the bible: “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:14)(NIV)

What helped opened my eyes was what Rick Warren had to say about that verse. He says, “When the disciples wanted to talk about prophecy, Jesus quickly switched the conversation to evangelism. He wanted them to concentrate on their mission in the world. He said in essence, “The details of my return are none of your business. What is your business is the mission I have given you. Focus on that!”

Rick Warren further says, “Speculating on the exact timing of Christ’s return is futile, because Jesus said, “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Since Jesus said he didn’t know the day or hour, why should you try to figure it out?”

“What we do know for sure is this: Jesus will not return until everyone God wants to hear the Good News has heard it. Jesus said, “The Good News about God’s kingdom will be preached in all the world, to very nation. Then the end will come.”

So, if we want Jesus to come back sooner, we need to get on the ball and share our belief with those who do not believe, and provide service to both those who do believe and those who do not believe.

Rick Warren gives a lot of wonderful examples – and advises us not to quit our jobs to do our Lord’s work. When we follow the path the Lord set for us, using our strengths in the work place, we will see opportunities to share His word with people that we meet, as the opportunity arises.

Rick Warren says, “There are people on this planet whom only you will be able to reach, because of where you live and what God has made you to be. If just one person will be in heaven because of you, your life will have made a difference for eternity.”

Isn’t that awesome? So, keep your eyes open everyone, so that you can do your part. And remember that overdoing it can turn people off. Reach out when it feels right. Get some tips from Rick Warren.

Sources: The Purpose Driven Life; What on Earth am I Here For?, By Rick Warren and My NIV Study Bible.

Believing in the power of prayer

Let us believe in the power of prayer. It can be so powerful, and yet God has a plan. He is able to grant some of our needs and wishes and others He is not. Often we suffer a loss that we cannot understand and only years later can see possibilities as to why it was a part of His plan.

As some of you out there in the internet world know, I have been suffering the loss of my sister for several months. I am her Personal Representative so waiting for probate so that I can close on her home and finish my job has been an exercise in patience; along with continuing to grieve along the way. My adult children have watched me stress over it all, and two weeks ago decided that enough was enough and began to daily pray for the lawyers (my sister had property in 2 states), to get it together and move towards getting my sister’s home sold since we received another offer on it. It feels like a miracle to watch the emails flying back and forth as I continue to sign legal documents. In the last two weeks (thanks to prayers), it has all moved forward much faster than the past 11 months. The power of prayer.

Our nation has a need. We have become a divided nation. Democrats and Republicans unable to agree on policy that is needed for the survival of our nation. In just about every other issue on this earth, when two parties cannot agree, a mediator is appointed. A mediator would work with the two sides to help them hear each other; help them to meet in the middle somewhere so that problems can be solved and bills can be passed to better our nation and its people.

Let us pray for our nation. We could pray for some type of mediation, or we could pray that another political party will step up, find a candidate that can lead our nation, and guide both Democrats and Republicans in a way that helps them to work together instead of working against each other.

Pray for our nation. And in the future, vote for men and women who listen to each other, and who work for the betterment of our nation, rather than spending all their time working for their own personal purposes, or to promote their own hatred towards others.

Journaling

How many of you journal out there? I will admit, since my sister passed away in February, I have had difficulty doing what I MUST do, much less take the time to journal. But what I am thinking?!? Keeping a journal is the best way to deal with feelings, with grief, with my thoughts. Knowledgeable counselors tell us that putting our worries and concerns on paper helps us to get them out of our brain, so we are not worrying or ruminating excessively.

I have been keeping what I call a “prayer journal” for several years. I write in this journal when I feel that God has spoken to me in some way. When things happen that really can’t be explained by anything other than the knowledge that God had his hand in this occurrence.

I will share one of the stories in that prayer journal.

“Yesterday when I arrived at my son and daughter in laws house, my son sensed how down I was – he said he could feel the “negative vibes.” He was worried but said nothing. My daughter in law and I went to the IF women’s conference. I couldn’t get into the music as I had last year when I attended, and I took very few notes which is unusual for me. I had considered backing out of my registration for this conference, my sister had passed away in February, my house was ripped apart (planned before my sister passed), and I was genuinely tired of life. I slept poorly that evening and when we rose to go to the second day of the conference, I felt no better. Still dragging, but with a feeling of hope since talking to my son that morning and hugging my grandsons, I went to the conference. During the opening praise music, I again felt nothing which is odd for me. Music tends to be uplifting to me. During the last song, I asked God to please come into my heart and heal my sad soul. Two or three times I prayed for this. As the morning continued two or three of the speakers “spoke” to my heart and soul and I found myself writing notes frantically, looking things up in the bible that my daughter in law had given me, and feeling uplifted in an awesome way. I had another great conversation with my daughter in law and my son. We did a prayer circle together thanking God for healing me and asking him to help my son with whether he could make a career change, and help my husband as he continues to support me in my loss.”

I really did feel blessed that day and recording it in my prayer journal helped it all feel more powerful than if I had not. Also, if I would not have recorded it, I would have forgotten all about a day when I felt blessed. Now I can go back and remember.

God has a Plan

According to Mary C. Neal, M.D. in her book, “7 Lessons From Heaven; How Dying Taught Me to Live a Joy-Filled Life,” there are two favorite bible verses that compete for the rank of #1.  One as you might guess is John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son…”  The other is Jeremiah 29:11:  “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Mary says, “I find this little fact revealing because it shows what people most want to know and remember about God’s intentions toward us.  In John’s gospel, I learn that God loves me.  In Jeremiah, it’s that God has a plan for me.  Both are exceptionally good news.”

I so agree with her when she later says that these verses are favorites because we humans need to know that we matter to the one who made us.  That we have a future no matter how difficult life gets for us.  We are all struggling hard to live life in a positive way when there are negatives all around us.  We are hurting from the loss of loved ones; struggling with life challenges.

My beloved sister of 54, passed away on February 1st. She had high blood pressure, but was otherwise a healthy, active and adventurous young lady. Her loss breaks my heart.  At her funeral our priest said something I will never forget:  “We can welcome grief, at least be unashamed of our grief, for after all, when we grieve a loss it is because we loved greatly, and we are here on this earth to love.”

1 Corinthians 13:13:  “And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love.  But the greatest of these is love.

Two Sunday’s later I was singing the Gloria in church and I had raised my voice to heaven when I saw in my mind my sister in heaven.  Jesus’s arms were around her and she had the biggest, happiest grin on her face that I have ever seen.  She had struggled with depression here on earth and at one time told my other sister that she couldn’t remember feeling real joy, she wasn’t sure what that felt like.  So seeing her in heaven with such joy on her face, was healing for me.

“So if God does have a plan for me in all this mess, what is it and how can I find it?”

Source: 7 Lessons from Heaven; How Dying Taught Me to Live a Joy-Filled Life, by Mary C Neal, MD

Meaningful Gift

Visited dad today at the assisted living facility.  His appetite is still not what it was, but he looked good today and I noticed that he looked happiest when we told him that we had four loads of gravel delivered to our driveway – something that would not have happened if he hadn’t put it in the contract with the quarry he owns.  We thanked him and he looked very pleased.  This reminded me that we are happiest when we are able to give.

I have been looking for a way to give my dad something.  It is hard because at this point in his life he wants nothing, material things are meaningless.  I told him today about the book I read, “Imagine Heaven.”  I asked him if he would like me to type up some of the best parts of the book, and he actually said, that yes, he would like that.

So crazy as it may seem, I am all excited about doing this.  I have highlighted and underlined all the passages in this book that were “ah ha” moments for me, but I might need to do some skimming to determine what parts might be “ah ha” moments for him  I will have to put myself in his shoes.  I am better at that than some people, but I can picture it being a bit of a challenge.  I also don’t want to re-write the book or anything, and I would like to have something for him to read next weekend when I go to visit.

Pray for my success with this please?  Thanks in advance.