We Never Know

We have no guarantees. We have no promises of long life and happiness in this earthly life. Not one of us can predict what tomorrow might bring.

I read a post today about a friend who lost her sister in a tragic accident. She was a wife of 14 years and a mom to four children still at home. Talked to a young man yesterday who lost his mom 7 seven years ago; he’s just a teenager. Another friend is grieving the loss of her 16 year old who was lost in a house fire last month. Tragedy surrounds us everyday, and we may never know what someone is going through unless they share their story.

Sometimes, especially in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, we can get so busy with our ‘to do’ lists, our shopping needs and our holiday parties that we fail to see the hurting who may be standing right next to us. You know, the waiter who seemed to not care about whether you enjoyed your meal today? Maybe she just lost her mom last week, and she’d rather escape responsibilities right now; however, she has to work to pay the bills. The cashier who seemed mad that you were even in her line? Maybe she’s struggling through a divorce and won’t get to see her kids on Christmas Day, because the judge granted visitation to dad this holiday. Or the father in the grocery aisle looking lost and confused, who just won’t get out of your way? Maybe he is distracted, because his beautiful wife of 10 years is lying in a hospital bed suffering from an incurable disease, but he’s here, searching for the cereal that his four year old so wants for breakfast.

The promise of our Savior is one of Hope. Isaiah told us He would be called Wonderful, Counselor, a Mighty God, the Prince of Peace, and He is all of this and SO much more!  I have to ask, “Are we sharing Him with the world around us this Christmas?” Are we looking for those in need and taking the time to listen to their stories?

We never know the stories unless they share them with us. Yet, if we will open our eyes and listen to His voice, sometimes, He will bring them right in front of us. Just a smile, an encouraging word, a helping hand might help them make it through another day. God could have placed them in your path for you to see; so, you could share your story…because you are someone who has found the Hope they desperately need.

Pinterest.com

Let us not just be a great church who sits on a hill looking lovely and singing beautiful songs. Let it be our ambition to reach this community, to share the love of Christ to the unloveable and to proclaim His Hope to the hopeless. Let us share our story that has found love and grace and Hope in the only One True God.

Faithgateway.com

Your Words

 

psalm-19-14

kellyarcidiacono.com

Your words matter. Your words count. What you say can wound or heal those around you. Choose your words wisely.

Years ago, our nine year old son came home from school sad. He felt like he had a bad day. Now, this child has always been more sensitive to those around him, to his environment, words said and actions done. He’s my rough-and-tumble, tenderhearted boy. He likes things to be peaceful and stable, fun and joyful, and this day hadn’t been quite like any of that.

He told me about his teacher snapping at him, how kids had laughed at him, and how the lunch lady had harassed him. As the story played out, I realized the teacher had “jokingly snapped” at him when he told the other kids to be quiet in line, causing the kids to chuckle around him, and the lunch lady had “jokingly harassed” him when he spilled a little of his spaghetti from his plate, saying, “Your mom needs to teach you how to do this.”

Now, to you and me, as adults and people who have experienced pain, criticism and strife, what he went through may not be that big of a deal. I could tell, by the information he had given, that his teacher hadn’t meant to hurt his feelings; she probably didn’t even think twice about it. There was no part of bullying or harrassment meant in her statement.

Don’t we all do that from time to time? We will quip our answers “short and sweet” to those around us, never assuming that it might impact them differently than we intended. Yet, the sharp remarks he received from those two adults at lunchtime, combined with the snickering of children around him, had cast a cloud on his usual joyful demeanor and caused him to feel like his whole day was just horrible.

proverbs-18-21

mybible.com

As he grows, he will learn how to handle jokes, sarcasm and harassment. His tender heart may not always remain as tender, but I can assure you, this day reminded me that we should all be more cautious with, not only what we say, but also the attitude and tone in which we say it. There are times for sharpness, and there are definitely times for rebuke.

Don’t mistake my comments here to be an agreement with the recent cultural push for a kinder, meeker society where we can give no rebuttal to anyone without a cry against “tolerance.” When there is evil and wrongdoings present, it angers me to hear those trying to settle down a conflict when the only persons they’re trying to calm down is the very one confronting the sin or wrong being done! It seems this nation is working hard to excuse certain beliefs, actions or opposing viewpoints simply because they’re “new and culturally accepted.” These actions and attitudes are not what I’m talking about here.

I am referring to the words we use with those closest to us and the tones and attitudes we portray behind these words. It is so easy to be in the middle of having a bad day, be approached by a child and respond to them by snapping their little head off. It’s so common to be stressed out, right at the time of a deadline and just “blow a gasket,” simply, because your spouse asked where a clean pair of socks are. It’s such a ‘knee-jerk reaction” to be worried and concerned over a situation and respond to your ‘aggravating’ teen in an overemotional manner instead of stopping to realize they weren’t trying to get on your nerves; they’re just being a teenager. I know. I’ve been there, and I wonder if you have been, too…

proverbs-12-18

deebrestin.com

The heart of a child, a teen, and even our spouse are at stake when we allow our emotions to rule over our words and actions. We should not only have the mind of Christ, but we must have His mouth as well! Let our words always be tempered by His grace, love and Truth.

psalms_19-14

kingjamesbibleonline.org

 

Move On

When you keep walking, you can reach your destination. When you keep moving, you can avoid a mess or even a tragedy. When you keep going forward, you are able to step into a new chapter of life. It is when we stop, when we hesitate for too long that we become stagnant. 

Stagnation can lead to apathy, laziness and eventually death. 
It also leads to a stench that no one wants to encounter. Have you ever been by an area that is filled with stagnant water? Do you remember the smell? It will begin to have a putrid, stale odor that you don’t want to hang around to endure very long. 

That’s how it is in our lives when we stay fixated too long in things from which we should move on. When we stop at the time which we should move, we run the risk of becoming stagnant. We take the chance of getting lazy in our calling, in our purpose and even in our tenacity to finish. 

Now, I’m not talking about those moments before God when we should come before Him to be quiet and still to hear His voice. I’m not talking about those moments of refreshing solitude. Our sanity depends on those. No, I’m talking about those moments when God is urging us forward, and it’s a little uncomfortable. Those moments when He is drawing us beyond where we’ve been, and it’s even a little painful to walk away from the warmth and comfort of what we know into a whole new place of challenge and change. 

These are the moments with some of the most vital decision making of our lives. These are the moments when we choose to grow and become who God is calling us to be, or we choose to remain and become stagnant in our outlook and in our purpose of living. When we choose not to move forward, whether it be from the pain we feel, the shame we see or the fear we hear calling from the depths of our soul, we begin to die inside, and we may very well miss out on the opportunity God has for us just around the corner! So, keep moving to see what He has in store for you!

Living and Dying

Originally posted January 31, 2015…

Just came from the hospital… thankfully, not as a patient today, just a simple visitor. Yet, my heart aches deep inside for those I met, those I passed as I walked the halls. A wife praying over her husband, doctors can’t seem to find the source of infection. A mother, elderly, awaiting dialysis and hoping to heal from her fall. Others along the way, broken, battered and bruised. Some dying to live, others living to die.

You never know someone’s journey unless you walk alongside them. Some come in smiling, only to leave weeping. Others come in desperate, scared, only to leave rejoicing for one more chance. We are none guaranteed our tomorrows. We are not promised our next breath.

Are you ready for the end? Are you prepared for that last sigh of life? Some live like there are no goodbyes. Some trade the beauties of today for the sorrows of tomorrow. Some just wander aimlessly, never really living, not immediately dying, just simply existing in the nothingness.

Can I challenge you today? Can I spark a flame within? Live deliberately. Make your choice to breathe. Die with grace. Never give up a moment simply to clutch what might have been. Never let a minute go by that you forget the joy of living for the sake of sorrow, regret or even fear.

Grasp today by the neck and don’t let go until it’s done. Drink in the sun. Soak in the rain. Take it for what it gives, and make the best of it. Don’t shrink away from the pain. Don’t boast in the joy. You may see it change in the next millisecond. Appreciate and love those around. Forgive and forget when you can. Impact your world for good. Love deep. Laugh much. Live full.

This moment is a gift! Open it. Enjoy it. Share it with those around you. It can never be returned. It can never be saved for another time in space. It is this moment. It is this day. Live it to the fullest in every way!

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Counted Worthy

Acts 5:41-42 “The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name.  Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.”

…rejoicing because of ridicule and persecution?? Who does that?? I don’t see many in today’s society who get excited over verbal attacks, much less, physical attacks! You can pick up today’s paper or turn on the nightly news and see accounts of those who are angry at any intolerance, any mocking or even the slightest implication of ridicule for their given faith, lifestyle or even choice of words. These men, here in the Scripture, were thrown in prison, mocked, accused, about to receive a death sentence, and ended up simply being flogged (for anyone wondering, that means “to be beat with a whip or stick”), and yet, they left rejoicing, because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. 

This Scripture is so challenging to me. 

I don’t know about you, but I’m not crazy about suffering, and especially, about being beat with a whip or stick. Honestly, that’s not quite my vision of a “fun day!” Yet, these men loved God so much that they were willing to go through all of this just so they could testify of His Name. They rejoiced that the suffering came their way, because it enables them to preach more boldly to others of His glory, and they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news from that day forward!

With the news headlines of all the Christians around the world being killed by ISIS, and so many other happenings in our own nation, this scenario is coming so close to being a reality within our own Land of the Free and The Brave. Growing up, I never thought this could happen here; yet, now, as an adult, I’m not so naive nor idealistic. I know it can happen in the blink of an eye, and to be honest, it does give me pause. 

I read books like Jesus Freak and Fox’s Book of Martyrs, and my faith is challenged by their boldness in the face of persecution. My petty little worries of friendships, light bills and “Are my children doing their homework today?” vanish into thin air in the light of their martyrdom. I pray I can be found this faithful. I pray I can be found this encouraging and this bold to share my testimony with others even if I am staring death in the face. 

It’s so easy to boldly proclaim your allegiance when no one is threatening you. It’s so easy to declare your faithfulness when you don’t have a gun aimed at your head, or your children are lined up at the stake, but as I read Jesus Freaks, I truly wonder if I could keep my bold faith when looking down the barrel of a semi-automatic or my children’s very lives are being threatened.

I pray I am found faithful and true. I pray I can remain steadfast and committed to the One who saved me, forgave me and gave me new life. I pray that, if I am found worthy of suffering disgrace for His sweet Name, I am able to stand, rejoicing, proclaiming His goodness and grace for everyone to see. 

How about you? What do you see? What would you do?

A New Beginning

“It’s not the end. It’s only a new beginning…”

A good friend shared this revelation with me as he had just been diagnosed with a curable sickness and was beginning to learn to eat differently and take some new medications in order to feel better…all at an age well over 60. 

I said goodbye to a precious woman the other day, a goodbye that will last until I see her again in eternity. She was a strong lady of character, dignity and grace. Her family is starting each new day with her absence, learning to grieve, to cope, to live again. 

Some great friends of ours moved away to another state months ago. We probably won’t see them but maybe once or twice a year now. They are greeting new friends and learning to grow and adjust in a new home, city and surroundings. 

Our sons started a new school endeavor this year. They are no longer taught in the classroom but now receive all their instructions virtually through the Internet and tutoring videos. They are beginning to transition and learn new ways of communication and knowledge gathering. 

In all these things, and in so many more, we close one chapter in our lives; yet, another is quickly opened. We may no longer have the comfort zones of our past, but in the new, we learn to thrive. That’s what life is all about. 

So, when changes come and transitions must be made, try not to be drowned by losses; look to what is ahead. Those things, and those people, will surely be missed, but if we remain stagnant in our grief, we will never be able to embrace the new which is ahead. We will never be able to start on the new beginnings, and growth will fall beyond our grasp.

So, reminisce over what was; cherish those memories. However, don’t stay there without forward motion, or you will surely miss the sweet moments which can be treasured ahead. 

One of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite authors might sum up this little thought…

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” ~ Dr. Seuss 

Overwhelming Life … Overcoming …

My heart is full of thoughts and feelings tonight – love, life, and longing; so much, that it’s hard to put it all into words…

Over the past few weeks, I have watched several bury their precious momma, several struggle with the intense sickness of a father or a 3 year old child, others who are striving to help their children succeed in new schools, with new friends and even new locations, and still others who are attempting to simply find a job, pay a light bill, or just make a new start in life, after a lifetime of bad decisions and reckless living. I wonder how those who don’t know God ever make it through these times.

I know, it’s not really popular these days to talk about God, Christianity, religion or even faith. You can talk about any sin you’d like (just don’t call it sin). You can talk about any politician you care to list (just don’t pick a conservative side). You can even talk about the latest celebrity trend or fashion faux pas (just remain unbiased to any real allegations). Yet, when it comes to anything remotely close to relating to the God of the Universe, the Savior of souls, the Christ who walked upon this Earth, you better keep your mouth shut, or someone’s going to profane your name.

Well, I just can’t keep silent one more second, and go ahead, make a note: this post is not to preach to you. It’s not to argue some denominational merits or mistakes, and it’s not even to debate the latest and greatest nor the oldest and ugliest. All I have to ask is, “How in the world could you possibly say, ‘No,’ to Him?” I’m not talking about someone who just simply wants to pat you on the back to say, “Good job for choosing me. Now, go work for me the rest of your life.” I’m not referring to some simple man who declared himself a prophet, wrote a book, all by himself, and claimed he must be followed. No, I’m not even talking about a belief system that teaches you all there is to life is living and dying and trying to reach perfection of all you have while you’re here.

I’m talking about a God who created the stars in the sky and caused the sun and moon to move in orbit. He told the ocean where to stop and the rivers where to flow. I’m talking about a Creator who formed the breath in your lungs from His very being and gave you the life to which you so desperately cling. I’m talking about a Savior who, not only, left His glorious throne to dwell among men to die for you, but who, also, rose from the grave, ascended to heaven and has promised to return to take His children home again! This is the kind of God I serve.

He is a God who loves us so much that He willingly died on the cross for us, because we needed blood to atone for our sins. He is a God who loves us so much that He sent a Comforter to dwell among us in His absence. He is a God who binds up the brokenhearted, heals the sick, delivers the captive, restores the desolate. He is a God who even cares about the tiny sparrow that falls to the ground. I just can’t fathom why there are those who hate Him for the goodness He brings. I can’t imagine trying to live this overwhelming life without His hand guiding me and helping me to overcome every obstacle, every failure, every pain.

I read, as my family, my friends, and even distant acquaintances share their struggles, on social media, and I listen as those around me call for help, kneel at the altars for prayer and even linger just to hear an encouraging word. I see their deep longing for healing, for peace, for moments of joy and a brighter tomorrow. I watch as they cling desperately to their faith, like an anchor, until the storm passes. The common bond is their faith, and I, again, pause to consider those without faith. I don’t understand how they can make it. I can’t comprehend their loss without having hope.

Faith in Him is the only thing which sustains me. Trust in a God who is bigger than my trial, wiser than my intellect and deeper than my understanding is the only way I survive. So, if you believe it’s just a crutch on which I lean, that’s okay. If you think it’s just a fairytale, and in the end, what we believe in life doesn’t amount to anything anyway, that’s your prerogative. If my words here simply light a fire of hatred and violence within your heart, and you can’t wait to tear me to shreds with your words, go ahead, because that’s exactly what they did to My Lord, My God, and My Friend. I long to be with Him beyond this world anyway, and it won’t be too much longer. This world is busting to implode, and if it does, I know where I’m going. Do you?

For, if I’ve lived my life for Christ, and there is no eternity, then I’ve simply wasted my life; however, if you’ve lived your life for yourself, or some other god, and there is an eternity after this one, then you’ve wasted eternity…and at that time, there are no “do overs.”

If I'm wrong about God then I wasted my life. If you're wrong about God then you wasted your eternity - Lecrae

**I do not own this picture, nor did I take this picture. It was pinned on Pinterest, and I copied it here.**

Who will Cry For The Children?

 Sorry for the delay in posting today!)…Thinking of the news headlines lately, I thought I’d repost a piece I wrote many years ago…

  

Who will cry for the children?

They cry out in anguish                                  
They cry out in pain

Who will cry for the children?

They play in the streets
They fall in the rain

Who will fight for the children?

They fight for their freedom
They fight for their life

 Who will fight for the children?

They run into fears
They run into strife

Who will pray for the children?

They pray for the answers
They pray for the love

Who will pray for the children?

They seek out the Light
They seek out the Truth above

Will you be the one to reach them?

Will you be the one to pray for them?

Will you be the one to fight, to cry, to bleed?

 

penned 1/26/04 – MG

Light Pierces Through

  When the storm seems the darkest, when the waves are crashing in, just remember, light always pierces through the darkness. He is the Light which never fails. There is no storm so strong that He cannot prevail. There is no darkness so deep that He cannot shine. 

He brings peace where there is chaos. 

He brings love where there is hate. 

He brings healing where there is brokenness. 

He brings life where there is death. 

He is able. He is faithful. He is God. 

Just hope. 

Just trust. 

Just believe. 

The Facade

There She Goes

You know the one
She’s got her recipes plastered on Pinterest…all her beautiful cakes and dishes…Her creative parties and house decor…All those perfectly clean rooms and floors…
You know, supermom.
She’s got her status posted everyday of how wonderful life is, how precious her little angels are.
She adores her husband and he adores her.
She wrote just last night of how he brought her flowers for no particular reason.
Her ring is a true rock and her clothes always looks perfect and that hair…
Geez, does she go to the salon everyday?!
She’s not just supermom; she’s super wife!…Super-woman!!
She’s got to have it all and have it all together!
Or so you would think…
Yet, you didn’t see her last night snap at her husband and go to bed angry.
You weren’t there last week when she screamed at the kiddos when they spilt the milk.
You didn’t even know she ran back in the house this morning, make up streaming, baby spit up in her hair, Cherrios crushed down her new blouse, the car out of gas….because some Fridays just really start as Mondays.
You don’t realize she stresses out before every group event, because she’s really an introvert and worries about being accepted.
You don’t recognize the tears that brim as she smiles and slightly turns away so you can’t see.
You just don’t see her under the facade…
She awoke again terrified in the night …another nightmare…
She went straight to the babies’ rooms, scared that he had found her after all these years.
She’s suffered such abuse, such neglect, she wonders if anyone could ever truly care.
She wanders through this life simply surviving breath by breath, minute by tiny minute.
You never see her there, in the dark, all alone.
It’s all a facade.
It’s all a fancy charade to obtain a moment of sanity.
She dances with the emotions and she paints on the portraits.
All the while, she keeps the pain, the agony, the death, hiding there inside.
It’s time to coax her from the shadows, to give her hope for what might be.
It’s time to let go of our perceived perfection and love her for who she is, to help her dream of who she can one day become.
We must show her the hope she can have in Him.
We have to reach her, to be His hands extended, or she’ll forever be lost in her pain.
We’ve got to see past the facade to show her He died that she might live.
We must take off our own masks to let His love pour in; then, she may know His love and mercy that will sustain her, give her life and fill her with her with perfect peace.  
 image

Reposted for
Daily Prompt: Facade