God’s Gift of Friendship

In early October, my husband and I drove south to PA to visit friends.

We got to see hills dotted with green trees and some foliage in the orange and yellow range. The further we went, the higher the hills until we came to small mountains.

Our friends moved closer to their children and grandchildren, leaving some loved ones behind. I knew I missed them, but when we exchanged hugs and then later, deep discussions, I thanked God for the opportunity to visit.

Sometimes, I expect things to stay the same. When their daughter decided to move, I felt strongly that she would meet someone and get married. Sure enough, it happened and their wedding date is set. What I did not anticipate was our friends moving a few months after she left.

It took me a while to get past acquaintanceship to becoming more open with her. To visit in their home, eat meals together and lodge under their roof deepened the relationship.

Even after finding out God wants us to know Him and love Him and speak to Him, I discovered over the years a deepening relationship as I took steps towards Him.

I attended a large church in Upstate, NY and a visiting Christian worker with the main preacher invited us to come forward if we wanted prayer for more of God’s gifts as mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12.

I went forward but admittedly, I was afraid. The helper asked if I thought God would give me a gift I couldn’t handle. I said, “No.”

“Do you want to continue with your request?”

I said yes and so she prayed a powerful prayer. God answered by giving me a small gift to go along with my few years as a born-again Christian.

People move away. Some decide to stop being a friend. It hurts.

Jesus promised to never leave us nor forsake us.

How blessed we are.

 

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A Movie for Thought

My husband and I, and my sister watched the movie, “The Shack,” the other night. We ordered it from Netflix.

 

I wrote my thoughts before I read the review from “Plugged In” from Focus on the Family website. Here’s the link I copied: http://www.pluggedin.com/movie-reviews/the-shack-2017/

I got the photo from that link.

I read the book years ago and if I saw the movie, I didn’t remember it. The idea of an African-American woman being God didn’t set well with my pre-conceived belief of God, the Father.

 

As I heard her explain that since the main character’s upbringing might cause him to reject an image of his cruel daddy, the three in the godhead agreed that “I Am,” aka God, should show up as a female.

 

That same person comforted him as a young child after a trauma and I wondered why he didn’t remember her in his adult years.

 

As the movie progressed, it got into some deeper issues. Why does God allow evil? Also, Romans 8:28. Additionally, where is God when we suffer?

 

Wisdom, a female as represented in Proverbs, had the main character put evil ones on trial. He was the judge. As an adult, he got to see his father traumatized as a child.

 

We noticed a contradiction to Scripture when they said God is not a god of wrath. He does get mad and metes out punishment-just read the Old Testament. God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.

 

It seemed as if all of mankind gets into heaven, if I understood the movie correctly. That is definitely unbiblical. Yet, by the end of the show I felt as if I knew God more. I experienced an infusion of hope.

“Plugged In” gives sidebars:

CAST

Sam Worthington as Mack Phillips; Octavia Spencer as Papa; Radha Mitchell as Nan Phillips; Megan Charpentier as Kate Phillips; Gage Munroe as Josh Phillips; Amélie Eve as Missy Phillips; Tim McGraw as Willie; Avraham Aviv Alush as Jesus; Sumire Matsubara as Sarayu; Alice Braga as Sophia; Graham Greene as Male Papa

 

DIRECTOR

Stuart Hazeldine

 

DISTRIBUTOR

Lionsgate

 

RATING

PG-13

 

GENRE

Drama

I believe the producer is Summit Entertainment because that’s at the movie’s website http://www.theshack.movie

 

God bless you all! Any thoughts you’d like to share?

Creating for Fun

 

I looked through a booklet I received when my children were born, entitled NAMES FOR BOYS & GIRLS with an advertisement from Enfamil baby formula in the center.

 

I wanted to name some characters with their heritage and personality in mind. To me, that’s fun. I got online for names that didn’t make the book.

 

When I see people, animals, plants, rock formations, clouds, forest, bodies of water, the stars and moon, etc., I get amazed all over again by the creativity of God.

 

Gen 1:1, (KJV):  In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

 

Gen 1:26  Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

Gen 1:27  So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

 

God told us to take care of the earth and the animals in Genesis 1:26.

 

Well anyway, we’re all so different. I got thinking of a guy I went to high school with; he was a pretty good student.

 

He was in my English class and afterwards he’d tell me how much he hated that subject.

 

Math tripped me up and he excelled in that. I’ve found over the years that the more I use math, the better I get at it. In high school, math was like a foreign language to me that I’d never encountered before. I learned it all through elementary school, but it didn’t register in my brain. I did just well enough to be average.

 

In New York State back in the day, if you were on a certain track in school, you didn’t get to take art or photography unless you worked diligently with your counselor to put it in your schedule. Those classes filled up quick, too. One of my best friends was an exceptional artist, so she took the same courses I did but majored, so to speak, in art.

 

I learned to crochet during my lunch hour with a teacher and two other girls. I signed up to work on the school newspaper and took gymnastics after school as well, but the writing grabbed my attention and the sport lost out.

 

Another guy I knew from high school absolutely hated conjugating verbs for French class. I took German and that’s got a lot in common with English, some of the time. I don’t remember struggling with the verbs, although their word placement is different than ours. One fellow in class went to Germany over the summer with his family and he came back with a strong accent. I never sounded like anything but an American trying to pick up another language.

 

A family friend went to school near Geneseo State University and she learned Spanish, I think, at a very young age because they learned that children pick up language easily the younger they are. She might have started in pre-school or kindergarten.

 

I had intended to write about some creative writing books I’ve been working through tonight. So, I hope to do that tomorrow.

 

What things did you try in school that you’ve incorporated into your life as an adult or young person?

 

I hope you are well! May God bless you!

 

 

Comfort in the Storm

Today started out kind of weird for me. My mind began dealing with sad news I’ve heard lately, plus a miscommunication I had with an author at a writers’ conference years ago. I recently bought one of her books and it reminded me that we never got to talk after our first conversation.

I wanted to clarify my reaction, but she stiffened up and ignored me. Her friend got her to soften her demeanor but all I asked for then was her autograph on a fiction book of hers.

So, I read Psalm 27 on a paper on the side of my refrigerator this morning. I do not consider her my enemy, but rather a sister-in-Christ. I took comfort from the rest of the verses concerning God’s presence and His faithfulness and His protection when we find ourselves in a storm.

Speaking of storms, I’ve been praying for Texas with their unprecedented amount of rain. We used to live near Houston many years ago. We made friends and enjoyed the optimism of the people in Texas.

Our local Christian radio has played the song of a woman thanking Almighty God for the safety of her family. The car is flooded, the downstairs is under water, but they are high above the danger zone.

This photo is from: https://www.christianbook.com/page/bibles/translations/nkjv?navcat=Bibles|Translations|NKJV

Psalm 37 is also great and I thought that was the Scripture on my refrigerator. As it says in verse 23, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD, and He delights in his way.”

If I’m good at all it’s because of Jesus.

May God bless you!

 

Unusual Circumstances

 

I’ve had some strange events over the last four days. I told some women at a meeting that I felt like the little foxes were stealing the grapes, from Song of Solomon 2:15. One annoying thing kept happening after another, nothing huge but adding up.

I needed to pick up a package and I called the store to see when the delivery company usually arrived because I had a full day scheduled. The computerized phone system directed me to press number three on the phone for customer service but they never answered. After three tries I gave up.

The next day at the store the young man at information at the entryway told me they’ve spoken to the people in charge many times. Doesn’t make sense to me to aggravate your customers.

Anyway, after some misunderstandings and perseverance, I got my package.

I needed to get a part replaced on my car so the horn would stop beeping randomly. The repair place wasn’t far from the other store.

I got home just before the auto shop closed. My car’s horn set off three times after it was “fixed.”

https://secure.icbdr.com/images/talentnetwork/Faulkner-CD_AutomotiveServiceManager.jpg

I called and the substitute service manager told me to bring the car in on Monday. The horn never sounded after the three times on Friday but when I prayed whether I should go, it seemed very apparent to me that I should.

Some nice things came out of me going to the dealership again.

One: The regular service manager who always deals with the make of my car told me that part which I bought on Friday works well. We walked out to the car, he lifted the hood, checked the part and declared it fixed. I hung around for a couple of hours in the customer lounge and the car stayed blissfully quiet.

Two: A lady and I struck up a conversation and before I left she asked for the church’s name I attend.

Three: I drove across the street to a Barnes & Noble to buy a snack and ended up buying How to Blog a Book: Revised and Expanded Edition, by Nina Amir. It’s published by Writer’s Digest Books, Cincinnati, OH and copyrighted in 2015.

Four: I spoke to the cashier about my blog. Between raindrops I hurried out to the car and then sat there eating. I thought I’d give the cashier a writing business card and wrote my blog address on it.

Five: I purchased an inexpensive CD set on learning Spanish while driving in the car, by Howard Beckerman and published by Fall River Press, New York, NY at the same time as I handed her my card.

Then I drove down the street and decided to swing into Staples parking lot. I need a highlighter for the Bible, but they don’t sell the dry highlighters in their store.

Six: Choosing to go to the office supply store opened up an opportunity for me to talk to a young lady after a nudge from the Holy Spirit. She was parked near my car smoking a cigarette. Now I’m praying for her. Friday, in the same town, all seemed to go haywire. God allowed things to fall apart so I’d drive out of my smaller town to a busier place today.

I may never see those women I spoke to today in the Southern Tier, but I hope some other folks will get a chance to talk to them about Jesus. Maybe we’ll meet in heaven.

Seven: I stopped at a big box store and got larger quantities of fresh vegetables for the same price I’d pay near home and I’ve already been able to share the bounty. God is so good!

May God bless you!

Writing for Good

www.createspace.com/LoginProc.do took me a little hunting to find today, because I wasn’t sure exactly what I was looking for in regards to self-publishing with Amazon.

My daughter and her good friend, a surrogate daughter to me stopped over the house today. My daughter wanted to see her friend and the new baby. They met around 10 years ago in the state of MO. Some years back, the young lady decided to leave the warm state of Missouri and come to the cooler climate of NYS.

Seems God wanted her here, because she settled in and eventually a young man came along and they got married. She went to college for graphic arts and I want to develop a website, so I told her I’d love to have her help. She agreed, so after lunch and visit time ended, I got onto a domain hosting site and then realized I’m not quite ready to take that step yet.

There’s more to starting a website than I anticipated. So, I decided to check out Createspace.com, an Amazon company and discovered that I’m not ready for that either. I’ve started writing booklets that people seem interested in, and I thought I’d do one at a time, but as I read the details, it appears booklets to books is not what they do. That may be only in the fiction realm according to an article I read by James Scott Bell in the May-June 2017 issue of “Christian Communicator.”

He talks about short stories published under Kindle Select by Amazon under the Kindle Direct Approach in his article entitled, “Short and Strategic” under the Marketing banner in the periodical. I need to get more information. I heard at a conference that an author needs to spend as much time on marketing as they do on writing.

The short stories need to stand alone and each one can be a chapter in a novel. If you get a chance, pick up a copy of the magazine from American Christian Writers. There’s more than I could ethically quote since it’s copyrighted. Each month or bi-monthly, I learn more on the craft of writing from the “Christian Communicator.”

My daughter ended up critiquing my first booklet. She only made a few suggestions so that encouraged me.

I know God says to seek Him and the kingdom of righteousness first and all the material needs we encounter will be provided for. That’s in Matthew 6:33. I am trying to do that, and making it happen more often because of making the effort.

May God bless you.

Judging a Book by Its Cover

As a pastor’s wife, you run into lots of people from various cultures. We have a young lady that started attending church months ago. Her dad is Puerto Rican, her mom is African American with parents from Louisiana – Creole in heritage. Such a beautiful girl. She says strangers can’t decide if she’s Hispanic or African American with light skin or from India or other far away countries, then she laughs with a delightful sound.

I ran into someone else today who had to go to court and she was dressed in a pretty black dress with a multi-colored necklace and shiny silver shoes. The only thing out of the ordinary is an exotic hair style. The person that wanted her in court to press their case wore a man’s big sports t-shirt, sloppy shoes, baggy slacks, and a really short haircut. She usually eats poorly and sleeps erratic hours, so there’s dark circles under her eyes.

I told the first one she looked pretty. Then I asked how the other person appeared. She said, “You can’t judge a book by its cover.”

I said, “In this case you can.”

The court case didn’t go the way the finely dressed girl wanted it to, but it went the way she expected it to. She had been trying to help a friend and the judge said if the person doesn’t want assistance it’s time to stop. The one receiving care wanted to speak badly about the other. The judge raised her hand and stopped any comments. We’re not here for a discussion.

She ruled on the case and then turned to the lady in the dress. “Thank you for all that you’ve done.”

Friendly Female Judge Cartoon Clipart

(photo from clip art)

 

 

 

Then to the one that brought the case to court, she instructed her to get her act together and she wanted to see proof that the girl carried out the correct behavior. “No one will call you or set up appointments with professionals for you, but you will be required to carry through or face consequences.”

It was more than the pretty dress and clean appearance that caused Her Honor to praise the one girl and her husband. The judge saw a couple who truly cared and had stepped in when someone was floundering. Unfortunately, other influences occurred and voices spoke that stopped the positive direction. It’s not easy to change and sometimes people don’t want their friends or family to walk away from activities even if it’s the absolute best for them.

So I’m praying for all the parties involved. I’ve seen God answer prayers in amazing ways that seemed convoluted at the time. Yet, every twist and turn set the path for the proper ending. There are times when it’s appropriate to let go and wait and see how things work out. Especially if a judge says, “Thanks for trying, but it’s out of your hands now.”

That is exactly what God does when He gives us free choice. He gives people the opportunity to seek Him and find Him and learn from Him. He gives folks the chance to try other faiths or atheism. He tells of the benefits of following Him and He tells of the consequences of rejecting Him. I’ve been reading in 2 Chronicles and sometimes it’s long and not interesting and other places it’s absolutely riveting. When the kings stopped honoring God and obeying Him, their choices became absolutely demonic. I marked my Bible with that word outside the printing at 2 Chronicles 28:3 – demonic.

It’s such a relief when the chapter begins with the new king and the Word says this one did what was right in the sight of the Lord as his father David did. These kings were descendants of King David generations down the line.

We’ve been getting so much rain in Upstate, NY. Being a gray day didn’t help the emotions of the young girl summoned to court but God answered our prayers. I prayed that no weapon formed against her or her husband would prosper. That’s a promise from Isa_54:17 , (KJV): “No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me,” saith the LORD.

She prayed that they would be careful to speak with wisdom. God answered our prayers and He knows all about both young ladies and the situation. We can rest in His provision and control, just as King David trusted in God to protect Him in difficult situations.

I try not to judge people by appearances because sometimes scam artists dress very fine and clean up really nice. God knows all about everybody. I’m glad Christians kept after me even when I wasn’t sure I wanted to hear. One girl spoke gently and intriguingly to me every day at school for months. Then I would go home and ponder. She was not the only Christian I ran into in those days. Somehow it finally made sense to me.

May God bless you.

 

 

 

Practicing Good

Gal 6:9, (ISV):  Let’s not get tired of doing what is good, for at the right time we will reap a harvest—if we do not give up.

Gal 6:10  So then, whenever we have the opportunity, let’s practice doing good to everyone, especially to the family of faith.

These Bible verses came up in our Ladies’ Bible Study at church today. Then I got treated by a Christian friend to high tea in a small city in the Southern Tier. They’ve been open about a year and a half our waitress told us. They had beautiful artwork on the walls. Muted colors for the tablecloths caused the pink and blue flower-patterned china setting to sparkle in contrast.

I really like tea and I’ve heard about Darjeeling a lot lately so I ordered the never ending teapot of the Darjeeling Autumnal variety.

We decided we liked the chai tea the best. I ordered ginger orange second and my friend ordered a white tea whose name escapes me. It’s picked when one leaf and one bud open and is preserved for the customer’s use. She said the flavor was light and delightful.

We chatted over the various courses. It was a bit of a drive. There were three courses altogether and a lemon sorbet to cleanse our palate before the sandwiches and sweets arrived at the end.

I got home four hours after we left. My husband asked, “What can you possibly find to talk about for four hours?”

I told him we didn’t talk the whole time. We spoke to the waitress and the owner. I got to view some art and hear the history of the young girl in one of the paintings.

Somewhere between 1850 and 1910 at age 16 she got shipped off to marry a 47 year old man. She looks grumpy in the picture and the owner said, “Who can blame her?”

My friend and I talked about the Bible, politics, pets, fashion and available stores, shoes, nutrition, exercise, computers, Wonder Woman and other stuff. It doesn’t take long to fill the hours with good conversation when there’s listening and thoughtful responses.

I have another friend I drive 20 minutes to see and we spend hours, too. The times are spread out, but so far we’ve never run out of things to talk about.

I appreciated the high tea today because my schedule is about to become more structured and I don’t want to sabotage it once I begin.

When company comes to visit this summer, I’ve warned the groups that I host that someone else will have to lead. They’re very accommodating.

The second treat of the day, two mourning doves near our front door.

 (photo found on http://animals.mom.me/care-baby-mourning-dove-6968.html and tagged Tom Brakefield/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

 

The second one didn’t fly away immediately. After some time my husband drew closer, calling softly and then the young bird flew to avoid the perceived danger. Such beautiful creatures, I love their gentle cooing and their exquisite coloring. The little one blended into the bushes and the dirt with its camouflaging feathers.

How kind our God is to disguise animals to protect them from predators. I lost the little fellow for a few moments before he took to the air.

May God bless you.

13 Year Anniversary

Our Ladies Bible study celebrated their 13 year anniversary today. It’s actually two days from now, but we meet on Wednesdays.

We’ve been getting new people lately and I love how our group welcomes visitors. Occasionally, I jump too soon into giving a book away and the person never returns.

The latest person, a young college student, rearranged her classes so she could attend today.

She is going to memorize the worship songs and bring her guitar on Sunday with permission from the leader.

I sought out a stranger in town today and found out she’s this young girl’s mother. They both have the sweetest smiles and joy in their hearts for the Lord.

One never knows what a day will bring. Since I gave away our last spare book to someone that may not come back, I’ll ask this young person if she wants our Unglued tome by Lysa TerKeurst.

My husband said since we’re almost done and if she doesn’t need the help that book gives, she may not want Unglued.

I’ll ask her on Sunday. I’m going to try and remember to bring in a zucchini plant as well. Her mom thanked me for the cherry tomato plant one of the ladies gave her daughter.

So delighted over a plant, it sparked the thought, I have four zucchini plants and a small space set aside for a garden.

I offered her a zucchini plant and she smiled with such delight, it gave me a warm feeling inside.

No wonder the Lord tells us to be thankful. It’s good for our attitude and I imagine it gives Him joy to be appreciated.

Occasionally people scam other people – strangers or friends may steal. My dad determined in his heart whenever he lent money to hope for repayment but not to expect it. That way it didn’t get in the way of relationship.

With the way the world is going, we have chances to forgive people daily – even those we haven’t met in person.                                                              (photo from http://images.search.yahoo.com/yhs/search;_ylt=A0LEVvRSUSZZpR8ADktjmolQ;_ylu=X3oDMTBsa3ZzMnBvBHNlYwNzYwRjb2xvA2JmMQR2dGlkAw–?_adv_prop=image&fr=goodsearch-yhsif&sz=all&va=praying#id=251&iurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.womensetapart.com%2Fwp-content%2Fuploads%2F2014%2F11%2Fbigstock-Praying-African-American-Teen-47553724.jpg&action=click)

So, we opened our Bible study in prayer, as usual, but we included people we don’t know whose names or home cities were in the news. We prayed for victims and families of deceased victims and for perpetrators and we prayed evil ones would repent and get saved and stop hurting people. Then we remembered our loving, just, all-powerful God before we shared favorite Scriptures.

A little later we celebrated 13 years of Bible studies and prayed for a continuation for as many more years as the Lord allows. Praise His name!

May God bless you.

Disappearances

My husband called to see if I could find a necessary receipt to prove we’d paid for something. Then I got online so I could let the agency know we’d paid. I looked at the clock and two hours had slipped away.

I went to the library today and got rewarded with a dark chocolate candy today because I “got caught” reading. While my friend dished out the sweet morsel, she got serious. I waited a moment and then she said, “*Marcy passed away at the end of April.”

“I’m so sorry to hear your mom is gone. I loved your mom.”

“Me, too,” she said.

I’m invited to her memorial service at the place where her mom worked because she loved it there and it seemed appropriate to her daughter and Marcy’s  boss is all for it. They had a lot in common.

Later in the day I did some typing for someone and the last time I worked, I put the info from the flash drive onto my computer. I thought, I don’t really need to do that, but there’s no harm in it and I think I have lots of room on the hard drive to save it.

Tonight I decided to type for at least an hour and when I searched for the thumb drive it was gone. I didn’t search high and wide because I didn’t want to waste time, but I couldn’t believe it wasn’t where I normally store it. After I post this, I’ll look slowly and thoroughly and if my husband is up I’ll ask him to check. He’s been known to find things that are in plain sight that I’ve not been able to see when it was right in front of me.

Sometimes I get ideas to do things that don’t make perfect sense to me and then I realize that it saved me stress and I thank God that I did that.

Well, I need to cut this short because I’m busier than normal because I prayed for work and God answered that prayer the very next day. Now, I have a commitment to do the work.

Speaking of commitments, I usually attend a Bible study on Fridays, but my husband’s cousin who has been sick for a long time now, gave up the fight and he’s no longer with us. I’d like to attend the funeral. I guess I’ll have to see if someone is willing to fill in for me on short notice or I’ll have to stay home and send my condolences with my husband.

A friend of mine tried to find me once and I was missing from all the normal places I might have been. Finally, I was able to answer her voice mail. She said, “I thought you got raptured and I missed out on it.”

I laughed and told her I was pretty sure if I got raptured, she would too. If there truly is a Rapture, when it occurs, there’s going to be lots of folks disappearing.

At the second coming of Christ, Jesus said to be aware and to be ready, for He is going to return like a thief in the night in Matthew, chapter 24.

May God bless you!

* Not her real name