Mind Your Mind, Child

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Photo by Kat Jayne

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.  Philippians 4:8  KJV

It was one of those days.  You know, the kind when you wake up feeling like you’re under a dark cloud for no apparent reason–one of those.  I don’t like those.  It’d been quite some time since I’d felt that way and that it didn’t shake easily bothered me.  Instead of post-Christmas cleaning like I should have been doing, I found myself searching my mind as to what had brought this on.  What was churning in my mind?  The truth is, I didn’t want to face it, but since I longed for the sun to return to my disposition I went into the shadows to see what lurked there.

Visiting with family during the holiday season was pleasant overall but there had been some difficult situations.  A particular memory was unknowingly stirred up by my husband’s sister that caused him a great deal of pain.  It kept us both awake that night.  It actually sat in me like a loaf of bread made from a brick.  Then on another day there was the inhospitable treatment at another relative’s home.  That was awful.

Then there was my ruminating over 2018 in general.  It felt like a loss due to dashed hopes and unmet expectations in our family as a whole–the kind that hurts deeply because I truly expected great things for us.   That led to me contemplating my own personal goals and what I’ve achieved.  It seemed like very little once written out on my mental tablet.  2018 felt like I was trying to catch vapors.  News flash: they can’t be caught.  I guess I just wanted…more.  Then I had a startling thought: I wished 2019 were over.  That jarred me.  Where did that come from?  I thought: You better get over that real fast because 2019 has only just begun.

Lone Follower, Encourage Me came back to me.  “Practice what you preach, Christi, encourage yourself.”  Oh, but picking oneself out of the doldrums is so hard!  “Do it anyway.  You know better.”  Okay.

Two to three years ago the LORD drove a scripture verse through my brain like a nail.  And let me tell you, I had to have it pounded into me.  But I was a willing recipient of that particular hammering.  I needed it.  I wanted it.  And I find that at certain times, such as these, I must revisit it.  This is the verse in two translations:

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.  Romans 12:2 NKJV

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.  Romans 12:2 NLT

This was so important to me because I would find myself visiting a cesspool of thoughts, especially concerning my husband.  I hated going to that place.  That doesn’t mean hurts and misunderstandings between us weren’t real; they were, they are.  But I visited them–no, I dwelt with them way too often.  He and I, we’re in this for life, so I had to figure out how to shut this place down.  It had way too much power over me and contaminated my relationship with him.  Not to mention it corrupted me by virtue of not wanting to be the kind of wife I found myself being at times.  I had to change this.  But it had to be changed God’s way: with the Word.

I first asked Holy Spirit to make me aware when the thoughts would begin trickling in.  My sad admission is that I  had to have Him tip me off because reverting to these thoughts had become so habitual I was afraid I would not notice it right away.  (By the way, this works with all thoughts contrary to God’s way of thinking).

My first severing Word:

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.                                                                                                I Corinthians 13:4-5 NLT

I had to train myself that if my words weren’t kind, or they were rude, or I was irritable, then I  wasn’t acting in love.  I wasn’t acting in God.  Therefore, it had to go.  That was basic.  That was doable.

I had to retrain myself to be the wife I wanted to be.  (God bless my Robert who, more often than not, said he didn’t notice when I’d go off and sit by the edge of the cesspool and then apologize to him for words and actions incurred during my visit there.)  More retraining and severing came from these:

A worthy wife is a crown for her husband,
but a disgraceful woman is like cancer in his bones.  Proverbs 12:4  NLT

What sane wife would choose cancer over a crown?

  Who can find a virtuous and capable wife?
    She is more precious than rubies.
 Her husband can trust her,
    and she will greatly enrich his life.
 She brings him good, not harm,
    all the days of her life. 
 Proverbs 31:10-12  NLT

I like the NKJV which says “the heart of her husband safely trusts her” and “she does him good and not evil”.  I want so badly to be this kind of wife.

She opens her mouth with wisdom,
And on her tongue is the law of kindness.  Proverbs 31:26  NKJV

Kindness again.

I wanted to share this because this is a simple example of what retraining the mind looks like.  And it works for everything and anything.  Still, I was left with my current ruminations.  But thankfully, as I wrote earlier, God’s Word pertains to everything.

Our great desire is that you will keep on loving others as long as life lasts, in order to make certain that what you hope for will come true.  Hebrews 6:11
I like this particular verse because it applies to the inhospitable relative (keep on loving) AND hope (so that what you hope for comes true).
The sun (Son) broke through.
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Photo by paul kangas
And this for my feelings of little achieved and 2019:
For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.  I will be found by you,” says the Lord.
“I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your own land.”  Jeremiah 29:11-14   NLT
And this for all times:
…in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.  I Thessalonians 5:18 NKJV
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Photo by Marcus Wu00f6ckel
That’s a tall order, thanking God in everything.  It may help to notice the wording: in everything not necessarily for everything.  It would be silly to thank God for disease, divorce, bankruptcy, etc., but to thank Him in it looses Him to work in the situation and empowers us to triumph.  I’ve heard it said that if you can’t think of one thing to be thankful for concerning a difficult person/situation, then be thankful for something simple.  Inhospitable relative: seems to be a supportive and involved parent.  So-so 2018: 2019 is a New year.  Yes, the year has changed, God has not.  HALLELUJAH!!  Whatever it is, find one positive thing and cling to that.

I like what our Pastor once said:

Thanks> leads to >Joy> leads to >Peace> leads to >Answers

 

A cooperate prayer for all of us based on Romans 15:13:
I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill us completely with joy and peace because we trust in Him. Then we will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.
                                                  O      P      E
Whatever you’re facing today,  be it pain buried so deep from your past that you feel like the hurt will never end, contrary relatives, or the feeling of never being enough, our Father has an answer for that.  Join me in minding our minds and applying a fitting Word to all that ails us…and let’s give thanks.

Who’s Your Daddy?

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My middle daughter baked a jello cake today.  They are so delicious and moist.  After supper, she took out the cake and began slicing it for us.

“Can I take a piece to Dora?” she asked.

Dora is the sweet, white-haired, 70 something who lives across the road from us.

“Sure.”  As if my kids need permission to do something nice for someone.

I watched her cross the road and then returned to my dish washing.  When she came in she said Dora looked so happy to get a surprise piece of cake and said she was going to “eat it right away”.

While she was gone, I was wondering if people attribute the kindness of my girls at least in part to me (or Bob) and how we’re raising them.  “That Christi, she is such a good mom.”

Made me think about the partial scripture I used in a prior post, The Gray-Haired.

This time I’m going to share it in its entirety.

“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God.

“For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, ‘Abba, Father’.

“The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs–heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.”  Romans 8:13-17

There are certain criteria for being  children of God.  They:

Live by the Spirit, are led by the Spirit, have witness by the Spirit that they are God’s children, and they suffer with Him.

That last one is no fun.  Most of my suffering has come in the form of rejection.  I remember a particularly trying time when the rejection of someone close was repetitive to the point of madness.  I kept wondering what was wrong with me.  That’s when this scripture was highlighted to me and I realized nothing is wrong with me, I am normal by God’s standards.

“If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you.  If you were of the world, the world would love its own.  Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” John 15:18,19

Fun stuff (sarcasm), yet ironically uplifting (honestly).  Jesus knows.  He was treated the same way for no good reason, just because He was righteous and chosen–which is what we can all be if we so choose.

We live our lives below God’s standards if it’s all rejection, though.  We were made for so much more than that.  Jesus was our model.  He laid down His divinity to become one of us to show us how to live as children of God.

“Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.”  John 5:19

“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these will he do because I go to My Father.”  John 14:12

What did Jesus do?  Preached the Good News, set people free from bondage, healed the sick, made the broken whole on every level, and raised the dead.

It’s true, I don’t always look like Him and I am not seeing the great manifestations in my life that Jesus had in His.  But I feel I’ve had an incredible growth spurt in the last 2 years.  And even though I am not yet seeing what I am believing for, I know that I will because I have seen what the Father is doing and I am willing to let Him do it through me, just like Jesus did.  How ’bout you?  Who’s your daddy?  If you answered God, do you look like Him?  To know what He looks like, remember the example Jesus set for us.  He was the very image of His Father which was hope, joy, peace and love personified.  Join me this New Year by giving our best effort to present the face and hands of our Father to a lost and dying world.

Click here to check out No Longer Slaves.  Let the words become alive in you.

I’m no longer a slave to fear

I am a child of God.

I’ve been born again, into a family

Your blood flows through my veins…

We’ve been liberated from bondage…

I AM A CHILD OF GOD….

I AM A CHILD OF GOD.  Are you?  Let’s unashamedly live like it in 2019.

The Perfect Gift

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Another year of gift giving and receiving going, going, gone down the drain.  Time sure does fly.  In a society hyped up on materialism, it’s hard not to consider the stuff–the gifts.  I can’t imagine one person out there who celebrates Christmas that hasn’t had the frustration of finding the perfect gift.  If I said it once I said it 10 times this year: “I don’t want to buy a gift just to buy something.”  I shrink from the feeling of “having to buy”.  That’s one of the frustrating sides of gift giving.

Another side are good-intentioned gifts–the ones of which we say, “It’s the thought that counts.”  I’ve given them and I’ve received them.  That’s all I’m going to say about that.

There are the very memorable, perfect-for-me gifts.  Years ago for Christmas, Bob had me search the tree for my gift.  It was a ring with a heart-shaped ruby and three diamond chips on the side that represented me and the girls.  My mother’s ring.  Then there are the hand-crafted gifts that I cherish from Mum.  When I think of all of the time and love she spent on each cut, stitch, etc., it brings tears to my eyes.  And it’s so fun to see what the girls will come up with.  They’ve caught on to my love of writing and provide me beautiful books for journaling, pens, stickers, etc.  They’ve also given me some of the most beautiful decor.  My biggest problem is trying to remember who gave me what 🙂 .

Then there is the thrill of finding the perfect gift.  Years ago I found tea cups and saucers that match my great-grandmother’s china set and purchased them for Mum.  She cried when I gave them to her.  My brother, eyes a little widened and jaw hanging a bit said, “How do you do that?”

I know Mum.  I listened to her heart.  Just like she listens to mine and spends hours of time and loads of materials making memories for me using her crafting skills.  Just like my girls put pen and paper in my hands and beautiful, adorable, sometimes comical decorations on my table, island, shelves–anywhere and everywhere.  Just like my husband hung his heart on the tree for me to find.  They know me.  I know them.  It is our delight to bless one another with the exchanging of gifts.

You know what?  None of this matters without Jesus, the One Who knows us better than we know ourselves.  In fact, there is no Christmas without Christ.  The unbelieving can slice this holiday any way they like, but there is no reason to celebrate without Jesus.  Gifts wear out, don’t fit, rust, corrode, stain, fade, break, go out of style–they don’t last forever.  In fact, I read a staggering statistic in a magazine that said the average gift loses its luster after 2 weeks.  Two weeks!

But Jesus never loses His shine.  He can’t, because He is the Light of the world.  He knows my name.  He knows where I live.  He knows my heart’s desire and surrounds me with people who love me.  Even without the packages and bows I am full to brim–no, I am spilling over in awe of the love He has for me.  What other god would leave Heaven’s splendor to meet me where I am?  What other god would be born for the sole purpose of dying to save an undeserving people?  What other god would nail the sins and sorrows of man to His Holy Son and hang Him on a cross in order to deliver man from them all, all for the asking?  What other god would live as a man in order to demonstrate to us how we can live like God and make a way for us to spend eternity in Heaven with Him?  None.

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The LORD your God is with you, He is mighty to save, He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.  Zephaniah 3:17

Join me in taking time to listen closely this season to the song of Heaven.  Your Creator Father is delighting in you and rejoicing over you with singing.  Do you hear Him?

Lost…Then Found

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Thank God it was an exceptionally mild December day.  Temps reached into the 60s.  It was a good day for us to get our spring water for drinking.  Standing there filling jugs made me think of another day not too long ago.  It was in early September.

Most of the kids had started school in our area but we had not yet begun.  Miss Debbie (a teacher in the church) wanted to spend a day out with my older two girls so that left Rachel and me alone.  On the spur of the moment, we called Pappy and asked if he’d like to hang out with us.  We went to a beach at a lake and had the place to ourselves.  The day was hot and dry, so different from the rain-saturated summer we’d just had.  We waded and had a competition skipping rocks on the choppy waves. The two laughed at me every time I squealed about a wayward fish brushing up against my feet.  I think they were trying to eat my toes.

From there we went to a little local pizza place that serves up some of the best pie we’ve ever had.  It’s quite the treat.  Rachel took lots of pictures and relished being one of three children, if only for a few hours.  We filled water jugs at “our” spring and then took Pappy home.  It was there, chatting with Grandma about our day out, that I noticed Rachel was missing one of her rhinestone clip-on earrings.  Her face immediately fell.  The day had gone from sunny and joyful to dark and awful for her in one brief twist.

I was mulling over choices of action on the short journey home and while we unloaded the water.  My first course of action was to call the restaurant.  It was a very pleasant woman who answered and took the time to look around our booth.  She then called back to tell me that the earring was not there.  She’d tell the woman who sweeps at night to take extra care to look for it.

“That’s my favorite pair, Mom.  They’re so comfortable.  What am I gonna do?” she wailed.

My heart went out to her.  Her ears aren’t pierced because of the terrible reaction she has to metal.  Even some of the clip-on earrings cause her to rash and chaff.

She mentally retraced her steps.  She was almost certain that she had both of the earrings at the restaurant.  We then tore apart our vehicle looking for it.

“We’re going back to the spring.”

Rachel felt like that’d be putting me out.  It wasn’t far but neither is it just a couple of miles away.

“We can’t wait until we get water again, Rachel.  If it’s there it could be crushed from other people getting water.  We need to go today.”

I think her heart sank a little when we saw a vehicle parked where we had been not long before.  What if it was too late?  What if it had been crushed?  Or carried away in someone’s tire tread?  Or covered over with dirt so that we’d never find it?  Not wanting to freak the woman out who was getting water as we rushed the area, I gave a brief  explanation and began to scan the dirt myself.  Meanwhile, Rachel had immediately jumped out of the vehicle and seemed to go right to where it lay.  It happened so fast that I didn’t comprehend she’d found it until she walked towards me, a smile illuminating her face.

“Got it!” she said triumphantly.

“Already?”

“Yep.”

“Nothing damaged?”

“Nope, it’s perfect.”

That was the shortest trip I’d ever had at the spring.  And one of the happiest, I might add.

Years ago, Rachel’s older sister, Beth, had lost an earring at a Christmas party.  It, too, was one of her favorites.  I told her that God knew where it was, ask Him and He’d show her.  The next morning she said she had a dream that the earring was in her jeans’ pocket.  When she awoke, she looked, and sure enough, there it was.

People may say not to bother God with such insignificant things.  I say, Why not?  And who’s to judge what is significant or insignificant?  I look in the natural to my children.  If it concerns them, it concerns me.  They’re my kids.  I love them.

You know who I am?  I’m God’s kid, a daughter of Creator of the universe; Creator of me.  He loves me immeasurably more than I can think or imagine.  In a world of conditions, I can not wrap my mind around that kind of unconditional love.  And yet He has it for me.  And for you, if you’ve received it.

Give all your worries to Him, because He cares for you.  No matter how “big”, no matter how “small”, no matter anything~to Him give them all.  To have a Savior like that, a Friend, a Love beyond comprehension; Someone I can talk to anytime, anywhere, about anything…wow.  Words fail.  All words but: Thank You, God.

I pray that Christ may dwell in our hearts through faith; that we, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height–to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that we may be filled with all the fullness of God.  He is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.  GLORY!!!  Amen.  (Ephesians 3:17-20)

 

The Gray-Haired

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Stand up in the presence of the elderly, and show respect for the aged...Leviticus 19:32

This past weekend we had a Christmas party on my mother’s side.  For the first time in many, many years, it was cancelled last year due to no one volunteering to host it.  For as long as I can remember we’ve had parties but, although my Mum’s generation has the want for a party, most no longer have the stamina to coordinate them.  It fell to my generation and there were no volunteers.  My heart went out to the family but we had sickness in my own household; there was no guarantee we’d make it to a party if they had one let alone host it.  Earlier this year, at my request,  I was entrusted with the family finances that remained and offered help and cooperation to make this year’s party happen– which it did.

Planning the party was an incredible amount of stress, but I needn’t have worried, it went off without a hitch.  Throughout the evening I observed the “gray heads” laughing and sharing memories with each other and catching up on the new homes, new babies, and new jobs of nieces and nephews.  Then there were the cousins and cousin-in-laws entrenched in light-hearted chitchat.  Love bubbles floated all around me as I saw what joy getting together brought, especially to the elders.  Their joy made all of the time, effort, and resources invested worth it.

Family: love them, leave them, don’t judge me by them–I laugh every time I read that last one on a t-shirt.  Bob dared me to buy it and wear it to family gatherings.  Getting together with family creates stress in some people with just the very thought of it–I  know, I confess that I’ve experienced it.  There always seems to be that one relative that rubs me raw.  Hosting the Christmas party this year caused me to see family through a different lense, and though that evening was joy-filled, part of me is very grieved by what I’m seeing and hearing.

I fear what will happen when the gray heads, those ones not submersed in technology, who believed in hard work and not entitlement, and knew the value of family, are gone.  What will society be like?  How many times have I witnessed parents in public with their young children but they’re paying no attention to them; their eyes are glued to their gadgets.  I want to say, “Hello.  There’s a real, living being, your child, in your presence, engage them.  Look them in the eye and invite them to talk.  They’ll be grown before you know it.”  Then I’ve seen it in reverse: the kid out with the grandparent who absent-mindedly stuffs food in their face while staring at their gadget and the grandparent looks on in silence, a wistful expression on their face.  I want to grab that kid and say, “Hey!  Look them in the eye and ask them about their life.  They have so much to share and they’ll be gone before you know it.”  Another chance for meaningful conversation and memories shared, lost.

As frustrating as family can be at times, I’d suffer a huge void without them.  Earthly family got me to thinking about heavenly family.

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The Word became flesh and dwelt among us…  John 1:14

God created man.  He came and talked with Adam in the cool of the evening.  Then man sinned.  And the only way to redeem him, the only way God could bring man around to right relationship with Him again, to have him for the family He longed for, Jesus had to come.  He had to leave Heaven, His throne, and every thing familiar to Him.  He humbled Himself and became one of us.  As a child, He submitted Himself to His parents (Luke 2:51).  He learned the dynamic of the human family on first-hand terms.  He witnessed the ugliness and the beauty of humanity in an up-close-and-personal way.  And despite it all, He loved us to the cross.

Mind boggling, this love that God has for man.

Join me in passing on this love to the gray-haired by means of an unexpected phone call, surprise lunch out, or card via snail mail.  Having done visitation at a nursing home years ago, I remember how forgotten and lonely some of the residents felt.  Let’s show them love and give them the honor that’s due.

Let us also show love and gratitude to the Father of fathers and the Son Who has made us joint heirs with Him.

“The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God, and if children, then heirs–heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ…”  Romans 8:16,17

 

*For a comic treat, click here and check out some senior experiences and parodies done by “gray-haired” Barb 🙂  To make it even more meaningful, view it with an elder in your own life.

If You Dare

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Thanksgiving was a bust–for fitting in my jeans, that is.  Not many meals bring me as much pleasure or tempt me with gluttony as much as a turkey dinner with all the trimmings.  Mmm.

Black Friday we did a little shopping and took the kids to an all you can eat Asian buffet.  I’m sitting there stuffing my mouth with Hong Kong chicken and cheese won tons thinking to myself: What are you doing? 

I asked my family how it is we can gorge ourselves one day, thinking we could go a week without eating, to the next day eating it all all over again.  No one had an answer for me.  To make matters worse, we had family Christmas parties Saturday and Sunday.  Today was not a good day to try on clothes.

It was at one of the parties that I talked with a cousin that I rarely get to see.  I guess that’s one of the reasons for those sorts of things.  I enjoyed our conversation thoroughly.  There was a bit of it, though, that I haven’t been able to shake.

I said I wanted rid of one of our politicians like I want rid of a migraine.

She smiled and said, “Well, at least you know what ya have.”

Ever heard that?  Ever said that?  Ever thought that?

“At least you know what ya have.”

What if:

*Christopher Columbus feared uncharted waters?

*Martin Luther agreed that the church, not God, had the final Word?  

*Our forefathers thought taxation without representation was cool?

*All the nations believed Hitler was doing the world a favor?

*Jesus didn’t think we were worth His precious life?   

That one might give you pause to think.  It caused me to pause and I’m the one writing it. 

“At least you know what ya have.”

That statement makes me think of another.

There are three types of people: those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and those who wonder what happened.

At different times in my life, I’ve been given to all three.  But as I age, the last two are becoming less acceptable to me.  I imagine I’ll find all three a part of me for as long as I live, but the latter are much less desirable.  It’s as if I have a holy dissatisfaction rising up inside of me.  I know what I have and it simply isn’t enough.  There’s so much more to life than this.  I cost Jesus too much to live a life that’s beneath the price He paid.  He offered me His life.  Should I offer Him any less?  Should you?  

I was wondering if you might be willing to take a challenge with me this Christmas and ask Jesus what He would like for His birthday.  Believe it or not, if He has something specific in mind, He’ll tell us.  It might be to give something away that matters little to us but will mean the world to someone else.  Then again, His request might cost us dear.  And maybe not so much by way of material goods (although that may be the case) but a sharing of ourselves that takes us out of our comfort zones or requires time we don’t think we have.  We have a few weeks to ask.  He has a few weeks to answer.  The only thing we have to lose is ourselves.  Are you brave enough to join me?  

Macaroni Woes

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Our refrigerator has been making an odd noise off and on for quite some time.  The noise is something like a moany whine.  I hadn’t voiced what I noticed when one of the girls confirmed my thoughts by bringing up the subject.  There was nothing we could do about the noise but listen and shrug.  Shortly after our conversation, we went on a cooking binge and our frig was full of leftovers.  In fact, it was much fuller than it had been in quite some time.  Leave it to my middle child, the comedian, to point out that the frig had been making all of that noise because it was hungry; now that it was full of food it was quiet once again.  Oddly, it was.

Food is quite a serious matter in our house.  Pastor learned that the hard way.  A while ago, when he had taken on some extra chores at home so his wife could pursue her studies, I felt moved to take him meals.  They were random lunches, here or there, dropped at the church office.  I don’t know, I just think food is a balm of sorts and it seemed to me that a man keeping his full-time job and also taking on more responsibilities at home could use some balm every now and again.  One day I took him a meal that included my homemade macaroni and cheese.

“Do not tell the girls that I gave this to you.  It’s one of their favorite dishes and they hate to share it.”

Being true to male form, he did not listen and came to thank me for the lunch after Sunday service. He specifically mentioned the macaroni and cheese.  My youngest’s jaw dropped.  She laser beamed us with her baby blue eyes and burned through me.

“You mean you gave him our macaroni and cheese?!”

I wasn’t angry.  I consider it a badge of sorts that my family thinks my cooking is so good that they don’t want to share it with anybody.  Frustrating sometimes, yes, but nevertheless, complimentary.  Neither was I embarrassed.  I warned the pastor; he didn’t heed me.  Truth be told, I was slightly amused by the emotions parading across his face at her sudden outburst.

After some seconds of gathering his thoughts, Pastor said, “Wow.  You weren’t kidding.  I thought you were kidding.”

“When it comes to food, there’s no kidding in our house,” I said.

In Pastor’s defense, I have a sarcastic sense of humor at times so it isn’t surprising that he thought I was kidding.  And there’s nothing wrong with offering a polite compliment to the cook, just don’t offer it in front of the girls–especially when homemade macaroni and cheese is involved.

This attachment to food made me think of something Jesus said in rebuke to satan.

 “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”

That scripture coupled with our humorous little “incident” got me to thinking about heeding certain warnings.  Verses in Deuteronomy chapter 6 came to mind.

“So it shall be, when the LORD your God brings you into the land…to give you large and beautiful cities…houses full of all good things…wells…vineyards…trees which you did not plant–when you have eaten and are full–

“then beware, lest you forget the LORD who brought you out…from the house of bondage.  You shall fear the LORD your God and serve Him…You shall not go after other gods…You shall diligently keep the commandments of the LORD your God…And you shall do what is right and good in the sight of the LORD, that it may be well with you, and that you may go in and possess the good land…

“You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. 

“And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart.

“You shall teach them diligently to your children….” 

I don’t find it coincidental that these verses are what’s tripping through my mind during one of the biggest food fests known to those of us here in the United States of America.  Most of us are going to be popping buttons in the near future as we roll from the Thanksgiving table to the New Year’s celebration.  I do find it sad, though, that we have gone against the Word.  We are blessed to be in one of the richest, most beautiful, self-sustaining lands known to the world.  And what have we done?  We have become fat, ungrateful, and complacent.  We not only have forgotten Who created us, we kicked Him out.  And then we stand around and scratch our heads wondering why the division, the contention, and the outright hatred among a people who are supposed to be “one nation under God”.  When Love is scorned, hatred abounds.  When Life is squashed, death runs rampant.  When Truth is banned, lies eat away like a cancer.  Darkness spreads like a disease.  What, then, is the answer?  From where do we get our hope?

“if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves,  and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”  2 Chronicles 7:14  

America is not suffering from a political problem.  We suffer due to our selfish sin problem.  And the problem lay at the Church’s door:  “if My people…”  Not the Republicans, not the Democrats, but My people.  We do not love the LORD our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength or we would not treat one another the way we do.  True love sacrifices its own selfish desires.  If someone says they love Jesus but vote for candidates who are pro-abortion they have voted contrary to God’s Word.  

“Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you; Before you were born, I sanctified you.” Jeremiah 1:5

It’s not enough for my children to know my word, they must heed it.  Should Father God expect any less from us?  Disobedience sows fields of woes and what we’re seeing is a bitter harvest of our own making. We have not injected ourselves into our nation.  We kept silent while God got the boot, students were taught apes are their uncles instead of Adam, and babies are killed in the womb.  Eventually our nation became enlightened to the “fact” that there are not absolutes so here we are in an absolute free-fall.  What did we do to stop it?  For the most part, nothing.  I don’t think we believed America would ever partake of such utter darkness.  But she has, and now we’re drunk on it.

red love heart christmas

Oddly, the thing that gives me the most hope is the extent of the darkness.  I don’t know of anyone who hasn’t had a power outage.  Grab a flashlight, light a candle and look how such a little light lights up the room.  I have a personal belief that the darkness is so thick and gross because our enemy sees the Light just beyond the hill and he is doing everything he can before our Redeemer says, “Enough!”  It’s a soft glow now but Jesus comes closer daily.  I tell you, that for those of us who keep the faith and follow the Word, God is going to cut loose in our lives in wonderful ways that we never could have imagined.  But we must hold on.  We must do as God has said: humble ourselves, pray and seek His face, and turn from our wicked ways.  Further, don’t curse the darkness, light a candle.  Let’s do what God has called us to do.  All of us have a purpose.  He formed us, He knows us, He will equip and strengthen us.  We must at least try.

I know you’re weary and maybe even afraid for yourself and for our nation; I have felt that way myself.  But please, let’s not give up.  God cannot lie: if we will then He will Stay in the Light.  Let’s hold on and sing our praises all the louder.  And please, please join me in offering up thanksgiving and prayers for the United States of America.  Despite our current condition, I love America still and I will fight for her on my knees and whatever way I can.  Will you?