I’m walking up the street after a rainfall in Upstate, NY. Some of my neighbors landscape beautifully. Other’s flower beds are sadly neglected. Maybe the people are not feeling well or are too busy.
May was a hard month for me, so I got help from my husband, my grandson and then later from my son from a town a couple of hours away. None of the three love to garden, but they love me and I thank God for them.
When I was a young mother and my husband worked a ton of hours, I remember thinking of running away for about a minute and a half. Then, despite not being fond of washing, drying and changing cloth diapers and sticking pins through all those layers, with my thumb posed to take the sharp jab if need be, I’d see the beautiful baby.
What were a few lonely hours compared to the joy of family life? When I read Genesis 2, God set Adam and Eve in paradise and as the first family.
They started out without sin for who knows how long? No selfishness, belittling one another, greediness, or any other ugly thing imaginable. That is, until sinful choices entered the picture. Then, God drove them out of the garden of Eden.
The world as we know it began. If there was no sin, there would be no racism. A young man asked my middle-aged friend why God made people with different skin colors and characteristics unique to various races. She prayed silently, “Father God, how do I answer this?”
Then it came to her. “Do you see all the different colors, sizes, shapes and fragrances of flowers? God likes variety.”
Years ago, when our house was up for sale, a realtor asked, “Why do you have Bible verses taped to your kitchen window and hanging on the walls?”
“They help me to live my life.”
Once, I taped a verse to the kitchen window and I told a close friend of my husband’s I felt it was for him. After he read it, he said it pertained to him and his wife. I had no idea.
Sometimes, I read the Bible out of duty or because I’ve set a goal to read so many chapters. Other days, I put on the tea kettle and picture myself having tea with our invisible God. Later, I read the Bible as I sip, and anticipate learning more about the Creator, the joy giver, the author of my faith, the God Who possesses Wisdom, according to (Proverbs 8:22, NKJV).
(John 10:10, NKJV) says: “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”
The real Jesus came to watch over His sheep, His followers. The thief, the anti-Christ comes to steal, kill and destroy people. Sometimes, I don’t want to read the book of Life, God’s Word which nourishes my spirit and my soul because of spiritual warfare-which I’m not always aware of.
I read Proverbs this week, chapter 1-12 so far. Wisdom is telling us in (Proverbs 8:30-31, NKJV) that during the creation of the world, “Then I was beside Him as a master craftsman; And I was daily His delight, Rejoicing always before Him, Rejoicing in His inhabited world, And my delight was with the sons of men.”
God says we are fearfully and wonderfully made in Ps. 139:14. So many encouragements, so many promises, so many warnings and incredible truths in the Bible. To me, that is the point of reading Scripture: to know God better and His ways for us.
Our library is open and I’ve been enjoying suspenseful romance novels by Mindy Starns Clark. One is A Penny for Your Thoughts, copyrighted in 2002 by author Mindy Starns Clark, published by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, OR.
I don’t know why I didn’t start with this first book but I finally got to it last week. I am enjoying this series. I was going to write that she is a new author to me, but as I looked for an image of this book, I saw that she wrote a book I bought a few years back, entitled The House That Cleans Itself, copyrighted in 2007 by Mindy Starns Clark, published by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, OR.
Another author in the same genre is Colleen Coble and I started the Sunset Cove Series last week. The first book is The Inn at Ocean’s Edge, copyright 2015 by Colleen Coble, published by Thomas Nelson, Nashville, TN.
Both authors penned books with family betraying their members, which made me feel sad. I don’t have a perfect family. I don’t know anyone who does. But maybe it’s the way I was brought up-as best we could our siblings watched out for one another. I recommend both these authors if you enjoy solving a puzzle while wondering if the heroine will find the love of her life.
I usually read Christian novels. Non-fiction is the kind of book I select most often, but I can relax and learn a little something from fiction at the same time as well.
Sometimes I’ll read and feel dissatisfied, so I’ll stick a bookmark in the tome and pick up my Bible. After a few pages, I’ll think about the life I find in Scripture. It doesn’t compare to a normal book. I ponder why I’m reading things other than the Word.
I don’t think God minds me reading other books since I do read the Bible, but I do know He wouldn’t have me make an idol of fiction or non-fiction works. God is jealous for us. He made mankind for relationship with Him. Rather amazing when I consider that He’s so much more than a tiny human being.
As I listened to a pastor on our local Christian radio station speak on James 1:2 I had an aha moment. The New King James Version of the Bible states James 1:2-4 this way: “2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”
It’s my understanding that as trials make us “perfect,” it means “mature.” The whole book of James is full of wisdom, akin to the book of Proverbs, but with four chapters instead of thirty-one.
I knew a lady in her late 80’s or early 90’s. She came to our Bible study. One day she said, “I’ve been reading James 1. It says to count it all joy when going through various trials and temptations. Imagine that! We’re to count it all joy!”
I believe she was having a Rhema Word, when God highlights a Scripture to you, giving you a deeper insight. I’ve been reading Deuteronomy lately. Oh, the tremendous promises of God for those willing to love Him first and foremost and to obey His commands.
Then there are the curses that come upon people when they serve the false gods of the land the Israelites were about to enter. Sacrificing children to Baal by fire, worshiping gods made of wood, silver, or gold; and bowing down to the sun, moon and stars infuriated the God they could hear but not see. The God Who said He created everything, in Genesis 1 and elsewhere in the Bible.
And so, I hope you can count it all joy because of Jesus and the hope He gives if you’ll look to Him. During these times of quarantining and missing others who’ve chosen to stay away even when they’re healthy, with political upheaval, and civil unrest I hope you’ll seek Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. He promises never to leave nor forsake us!
I was reminded by the radio show’s pastor to count it all joy when going through hard times. I needed to remember that and to ask God to help me not to lose peace and joy, for my sake and for the sake of those around me.
A couple of weeks ago, I finished reading the book of Daniel in the Old Testament of the Bible. One thing after another kept me from blogging this entry. Sometimes, I think it’s spiritual warfare. Other times, I wonder if God doesn’t want it out there. Today, after a delay, all worked on the computer and on the WordPress site. Maybe I’m supposed to be learning a lesson in perseverence!
Well, anyway, when I read chapter one, it described four teenagers, handsome and intelligent men being trained to work for the king of another nation. They got captured as spoils of war, probably children of the royal family of the nation of Judah, and then neutered. Further on, I found out Daniel and his three friends are required to eat of the kings’ meats and to drink wine.
I don’t know why the guys wanted to eat vegan. Maybe the meats included pig and rabbit, on the unclean animal list for the Jewish youth.
They looked better after their trial run of vegetables and water for 10 days. Apparently, between the favor of the head eunuch and their healthy appearance, they continued on what is now called, “The Daniel Diet.”
After King Nebuchadnezzar talked to Daniel and his three friends, the king found them 10 times wiser and more understanding than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all the realm-a huge kingdom from years of taking over other countries, showing little mercy.
If I had been in Daniel’s and his friends’ shoes, I hope I would have clung to God despite any risks to life, like they did. Over 70 years serving the various kings, Daniel held high positions of authority and influence. What a legacy!
I wish I understood the visions Daniel experienced from God, near the end of the book of Daniel for the latter days. An angel explained, but it’s beyond my level of expertise.
God took care of Daniel in the worst of times. The book of Revelation in the New Testament says that God is, God was, and God will always be. I can rest in His care no matter what because God doesn’t change.
I’ve had some trouble with my computer freezing up and every time it did, I’d do a hard shut down. I learned that is bad for the computer. I had to get some work done on it and it took me a while to find someone to help.
In (Galatians 5:22, 23 NKJV), it says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.”
Longsuffering can be translated to patience. God is working on me to develop some better characteristics. Over this last month, patience is one of them. Between the computer and wearing a mask in public, etc., etc., ….
My mom used to say, “This too, shall pass,” when things were difficult. I agree.
I know how it feels to give care and to receive help. I got blessed to go to Montrose Christian Writers Conference the week of July 12-17, 2020. On July 11, we drove a number of hours to go to a wedding. I love hearing the vows and the reminders from the pastor to be kind to one another and to be quick to forgive. I always commit to treat my husband better at these celebrations.
We went to the wedding in the evening, and then to the reception. A lot of sitting in one day. We stayed at a hotel and then joined the family at church in the morning. We found a pew and the service lasted about 90 minutes.
Then we drove to Montrose, PA a few hours away. When we stopped at a deli for lunch, we ate in the car because of COVID 19.
After getting settled in to my room, and then eating supper, I headed to an introductory lecture by one of the faculty members-more sitting.
Monday came and went with many classes, and three meals. With this pandemic, practicing social distancing in the dining area, we did not stand and interact as usual. We got our temperature taken first thing in the morning, wore masks and quickly found a seat.
When I awoke on Tuesday, after a quick shower, I began to get dressed when my back sent a jab of pain. I needed help to finish up, and being alone, I hobbled to an adjacent door. I knocked and when an instructor, Tiffany Amber Stockton answered, I thanked God!
After she maneuvered the clothes and my leg, she asked if I was okay. She offered to stay with me, but I knew she had responsibilities, so she left.
The day proceeded as the day before, but I sat and rose from my chair for the various events carefully. That night, just about ready for bed my back spasmed. Pain like I’ve never experienced hit.
I opened the door and the lady across the hall empathized. She had gone through the same thing one week at Montrose and needed to pull herself up the stairs by means of the hefty railings. She gave me a natural muscle relaxant from her chiropractor and I borrowed ibuprofen. I’m not much for medicines and their side effects, but I didn’t ask any questions except for the amount to take.
The contractions hit every three to five minutes and I froze like a statue as the waves of pain overwhelmed me. My neighbor asked if I’d like to go down stairs and speak to the director. She helped me get there. Some women visited in the lobby. The choices offered: go to the hospital or go home. On Tuesday night! Neither seemed right.
Another conferee offered to sleep in the spare bed in my room because I was warned the back stiffens overnight and the pain gets worse! Dear God. I told her no but I did say I’d call her if I needed to get up.
She helped me twice and once, at 2:30 a.m. I didn’t want to bother her. To arise from bed without her arm for leverage made me realize I didn’t choose wisely.
I didn’t hesitate to call around 7:00 a.m. and she praised me for calling and allowing her to help the night before. The next day I admitted the 2:30 a.m. blunder and she scolded me! I haven’t been reprimanded like that since I was a child. She said, “No wonder you were so much worse in the morning.”
I missed Wednesday morning breakfast and the morning worship, plus the faculty presenter before our class began. Jeanette Levellie promised to throw chocolate candies to the audience and she gave lively talks earlier on. I stayed in bed under the comfy covers trying to find a position that didn’t hurt. The Executive Director’s wife stopped in and then brought me tea and buttered toast with jam and crackers. I didn’t want more.
The pastor’s wife asking me to call her for assistance and her gentle care-even the talking to-from a relative stranger blew me away. What a demonstration of love!
Then, around 9:30 a.m. I called my friend. She has the gift of faith, which, in my pain I had forgotten. As I prayed, I thought God was telling me to stay. So, I phoned her and said, “I hurt my back. I don’t know what to do, stay or go home, would you pray about it?”
“Of course, you’re staying. We’re praying!”
Isn’t it weird when pain overwhelms? I prayed and others prayed for peace and relief, but when I picked up the phone it didn’t occur to me to ask for God to heal me. That’s unusual.
She asked me if I remembered the “Happy Hunter’s” from years ago. I did. When we held our hands on our hips and asked God to heal us, our body moved this way and that. They said God showed them. I wasn’t sure I wanted to move at all. My friend told me to put my hands on my shoulders and she prayed my muscles, ligaments, etc. would relax so we could pray the “Happy Hunter’s” prayer.
I was willing, but I admit a little concerned. Then, my hips moved a fraction of an inch to either side and I felt something twinge gently in my back. The pain was about 95% gone! I changed clothes and went bopping down the stairs. I told myself to be careful!
When I reached the lobby, some of the ladies from Tuesday night saw me. They came rushing over. “What happened?”
“God healed me!”
At the end of the week, one lady said, “Connie, I can’t believe the difference. Do you realize you looked gray with the pain? Now your face is a healthy color!”
When I first got home, after sleeping, my back stiffened some. Each day it’s better when I wake. Thank You, Jesus. I sat in a recliner with no pain today for the first time.
This last Tuesday night, a friend’s daughter called to see if I could free up my Wednesday so I could visit her mom. Her mother had surgery on Monday and she didn’t want her to be alone. It worked out and I was able to visit and bend to pick up her phone charger when it fell. Scrambled a few eggs and made toast for our breakfast. I started this blog post because I’ve had company over pretty steadily lately. She slept in her recliner on and off, so I took the time to write.
We talked and talked. She showed me video clips, and Scriptures that inspired her. What a wonderful day!
Then, I went home to see my grandson and my husband. The next week my other grandson came over before school starts in September!
After that song played, a medley of songs by Mercy Me and other artists came up, one after another. I remember “Holy Water” by We The Kingdom and Tasha Cobbs started and that is a praise and worship song. I must have pressed the +50 button. Some of those spiritual warfare songs rising up got me dancing. The next one was Mercy Me’s “Even If”.
In the Bible in the Psalms somewhere close to Psalm 150, it mentions fighting the adversary of our soul. I believe I learned that singing to Jesus and dancing for Him makes the enemy flee. Lisa Bevere taught many years ago at a Ladies’ Retreat offered by Bethel Full Gospel Church on East Avenue in Rochester, NY. The ladies traveled to Watson Homestead in Coopers Plains, west of Corning, NY. Maybe that’s when I learned it.
The next song may have been “Raise a Hallelujah” by Bethel Music. I remember “Chain Breaker” performed by Zach Williams and “Redeemed” by Big Daddy Weave and “Eye of the Storm” by Ryan Stevenson and “Surrounded (Fight My Battles)” by Michael W. Smith.
Earlier, I was asking God, “What’s the matter with me?”
Were tears brought on by being overtired, not getting the right nutrition, because after all this alone time-meetings starting three to four a week, what was it? Or maybe a combination of it all? Company staying over for days on end, as much as I love the people involved? Reading the book of Job in my daily devotions?
Heart breaking from my country attacking itself from within. Disbanding police is the most ludicrous thing I have ever heard of. Dear God.
After a few songs, a few worshipful dances I began to realize whatever was bothering me was completely gone! Lifted! As long as I’ve been a Christian, there are still times when I don’t recognize spiritual attacks. The enemy of my soul threw salt into wounds. Looking to God, Who is in control-even if I can’t see the way things will work out for people, gives me back my peace and my joy. Repentance and then prayer moves the hand of God!
I began reading another Bodie and Brock Thoene book this week entitled Second Touch from the A.D. Chronicles series. It was copyrighted in 2004 and published by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, IL in association with the literary agency of Alive Communications, Inc., Colorado Springs, CO.
Part of the story deals with leprosy and its affect on major characters. I began to cry at one point and then decided to pray for a real situation. A young lady I know posted a prayer request on Facebook. She contracted the Corona Virus and wants prayer for the pain to leave and for her sense of taste and smell to return. So, I did pray and called other pray-ers from our church.
Before writing this post, I checked on the internet. Leprosy does exist in the world, but is treatable by antibiotics. If caught soon enough, there are little to no effects. If not, then there may be damage to skin and nerves, etc. We are blessed not to live in times of hopelessness for this dreadful disease.
I’m enjoying this book, Second Touch. I feel like I’m understanding Scripture better because of the examples of the Jewish and Roman cultures when Jesus was in Israel as a man in His early thirties.
I’ve not read the first book in the A.D. Chronicles series. I’ll have to search for a copy. Do you have a favorite author or two you’d like to name for us?