Longing

In this world of instant gratification, we have forgotten what it is like to long for someone … anticipate their touch … imagine what it might feel like … and then discover and know.

Those who have known the joy of a touch now removed from them also experience longing. We wait for Heaven and imagine the touch that will be magnified even beyond the joy we felt on earth.

Bobby Hatfield expressed the feeling of longing so well in his classic, “Unchained Melody.” Here is the link. Enjoy!

https://youtu.be/IYj2hex99gY

joy Among Sadness

There is so much sadness in the world. As much as I try to focus on the positives, there are times when grief tries to overtake me.

I have “lost” four close friends in less than a year. While they are not truly lost (we know where they are), I miss them.

Even though the pandemic separated us, we had the hope of an earthly reunion when things simmered down. Now we wait for the heavenly reunion.

It is not only their absence that has troubled me, but it is also thinking of the suffering they experienced before being released from their earthly bodies.

Suffering has a purpose, but still it is distressing both to the one experiencing it and also to those who watch, powerless to stop it.

But among the cumulative feelings of grief, today The Lord brought many opportunities to experience joy in witnessing His Grace and Mercy.

We got to spend time with our daughter, son in law and grandson. There was a time when I thought we would have to continue to be separated by distance. And then came the miracle of their moving here.

I saw our friend, who had life threatening heart surgery just a few months ago, celebrating his 76th birthday with his family. He looks wonderful!

I saw a father reunited with his once estranged daughter. I saw him helping her with her car. I saw the hugs that signaled restoration.

I saw the husband of my heavenly promoted friend out cutting his lawn. His faithful dog was by his side. Life, though different, has continued. He knows he lives in a community around him, who care.

I saw two friends, once separated by divorce, who have reunited. They were happily playing with their children and making plans for the future.

I saw children playing, enjoying the kind of childhood that so many others are missing. They were riding bikes, playing with sticks, climbing trees and running just for the fun of it.

I went on rides with my husband. We watched the sunset together, watched familiar tv shows, and shared hugs and good foot rubs.

I saw flowers and trees blooming and giving new promises of life to come. I saw birds building new nests. I heard their songs of joy. And just for an added treat, we saw “Mother Goose” tending to newly hatched babies at the lake tonight.

All of that was in one day. And there were other blessings too numerous to count. Life is hard, but God mercifully provides cushioning for the rough spots.

After the labor pains, and, indeed, in the middle of them, He brings joy immeasurable. It is a beautiful world!

You make known to me the path of life; You will fill me with joy in Your Presence!

Psalm 16:11

I invite you to listen to this song and reflect on the joys in your life. Here is the link.

https://youtu.be/p-T6aaRV9HY

Where Are We Going?

Frequently I ask God where we are going and how long it will be before we get there.

His Answers are always the same.

“We are here. I am with you.”

As to how long, “Don’t worry about tomorrow. I know The Plans and I’ll share them with you when it is time.”

When I look back on my journey of life, I see that all He said is true. He has been with me for every step. And He told me what I needed to know when I needed to know it.

Never did He give me the whole Plan at once. He knows I have trouble figuring out how to read a map.

He knew I needed a personal Guide.

He knew I would need to follow Him step by step.

So if you wonder where you are going, be thankful He knows, He is with you and He will lead you step by step.

Your Word is a lamp for my feet, a Light on my path.

Psalm 119:105

Growing Up!

Does the butterfly try to get back in the cocoon?

Does the chick try to crawl back into the broken shell of its former home?

Does the baby wish to go back inside the womb?

Does the child resist growing?

If we are offered Heaven, why do we fight so hard to stay within the confines of this earthly body?

Should we not anticipate it … welcome it with joy as the next phase of God’s Creation of us?

Remembering Barbara

I had a long time friendship with Barbara Worful. She exited my life just recently, just as she would have wanted. She didn’t tell me she was leaving or even that her health status had changed.

No good byes. No shows of emotion. No advice to give or take. No forwarding address.

Whoever wrote her obituary summed up her life well. It would not surprise me at all to discover Barbara wrote it in advance. (Link at the end of this post)

While I had no opportunity to get her final thoughts on life, I have an abundance of memories. And in fact, Barbara would probably tell me there is no such thing as “final thoughts.”

I met Barbara in 1979 at the VA Medical Center where we both worked. She was the social worker and I was the Nurse Manager assigned to the newly being formed hospice unit.

We instantly became friends, not because we were alike, but because we both shared an ability to say what we thought … and to receive what the other had to say without being offended.

Barbara loved to dress well and was a bit concerned about my casual, baggy clothes, “frumpy” look. She tried for years to “dress” me, using every birthday and Christmas to give me gifts of clothes that I considered two sizes too small.

She always mandated that I try them on and told me how much she looked forward to seeing me wear them for our next outing. But even though she did not see them again, she never pushed it. She knew I was my own woman, but she never stopped trying.

Barbara was very concrete and yet very philosophical. She had been exposed to the formal church life, and she was repulsed by it.

She knew there was so much more to life than what was being crammed into limiting creeds or what she found to be narrow, judgmental views.

During the course of our friendship, my own spiritual journey changed markedly. When I would try to share my latest spiritual awakening, Barbara would roll her eyes and say, ‘You know I am not religious.” But she listened and tried not to make faces.

Barbara loved to walk … fast. Wherever we went in the early years, I had trouble keeping up with her. She told me, she loved the feel of the wind rushing past her body.

Once on a trip to Europe, she was walking rapidly down some stone steps and fell, injuring herself badly. The doctor even suggested she cancel the rest of the trip and go home.

She adamantly refused. Against all advice, she finished that trip, alternating between crutches and a cane. She was determined not to be defeated.

Barbara loved to travel. She was fearless. While I was a “cling to the side of the pool” type person, Barbara was all about exploring and seeing what else was out there.

Life was an adventure. She once told me, “If I died tomorrow, my only regret would be not seeing the places I have not seen yet.”

She took lots of pictures, put them in photograph albums, and treated us to stories about each place. It was our window on the world.

Christmas time was Barbara’s delight. She never lost the excitement and wonder of a child. We got together every year, had a meal and exchanged gifts.

Barbara decorated her house from top to bottom, often with fascinating ornaments from around the world.

She planned her menus in great detail, from appetizers to dessert and after dinner treats. Dressed in festive attire, she served everything with the flourish of a fine dining server.

While we struggled to find something that would delight Barbara, she never failed to find perfect and unique gifts for us.

She acknowledged she prepared all year for Christmas, and her stacks of catalogues proved it!

Not only did Barbara want to “dress me,” she was also bound and determined she was going to expand my tastes in food. I have been a very “selective” eater all my life. I never wanted anything beyond a few simple basics.

Barbara not only cooked, but she also made it her project to take my husband and me out to eat regularly. I both anticipated and dreaded seeing where we were going next.

When I turned up my nose, and she caught me just moving the food around on my plate, she would say, “Come on, Carolyn. Just three bites!” She said, “One bite won’t do it. You have to wade in a little further to get the full experience of anything in life.”

Barbara was single, meaning she never married one person. She said she had boy friends and got close to marriage a time or two, but just could not imagine being “tied down” with one person.

I asked her if she never felt lonely being alone. She said, “Oh I am never alone! I enjoy my own company and if I get tired of myself, I find someone I want to spend time with.”

Barbara had many friends, on all levels from casual to close. If you were her close friend, you were blessed. She was devoted, loyal and caring through all seasons.

In later years, Barbara had health challenges. She took on each one as a new adventure and was always positive.

Once when I saw her in the hospital after a serious surgery, I told her she looked good for someone who had just had surgery. She looked up through her grogginess and said, “Good. I’ll be a good looking corpse.”

Barbara fortunately lived to fight another day. She changed with each new challenge, finding new ways to have adventures. She dryly observed, “I liked my body so much better when it didn’t remind me it was there.”

I think now of the time Barbara and I attended a funeral service at the VA. The speaker gave an especially long eulogy, with dramatic repeating of the phrase, “So long, old friend.”

Barbara leaned over and whispered, “If I die first, don’t let anyone moan over me like that. Tell them I loved life, it was good and to get on with it themselves.”

Barbara, I had to say a little more than that. But you knew I would. And this time, I get the last word.

Godspeed on your next adventure. I’m betting it is better than any place you found on earth!

https://www.legacy.com/obituaries/kentucky/obituary.aspx?n=barbara-worful&pid=198257022&fhid=31227

I Forgive You!

Adam and Eve knew they were guilty. They tried to hide from God.

The woman taken in adultery knew she was guilty. She lay powerless at the feet of Jesus, Who she knew would find her guilty as charged.

Peter knew he was guilty. He didn’t need a crowing rooster to tell him. He felt it in the pit of his stomach the first time he denied Jesus. If Jesus spoke as Peter did, He would have said, “I don’t know him.”

Judas knew he was guilty. He tried to atone for his sins by trying to reverse what he had put into play. He did not ask for Jesus’ Forgiveness and he could not forgive himself.

The thief on the cross next to Jesus knew he was guilty. Those who had called for his crucifixion knew it too. But in a moment, he knew he was not on just a cross. He was at The Throne of Grace. He asked for Jesus’ Mercy.

Do you feel the weight of guilt for things you have done in your life? You know you are guilty.

Sometimes you feel guilty because no one knows and you have managed to go on and have a good life. No one accuses you but yourself. You know.

There may be others who accused you. Their words from the past still sting. The words of today only add to the charge, “ You are guilty!”

But who is it really who accuses you and condemns you? Who tempts you to run from God instead of running to God to ask forgiveness for your mistakes? Satan.

When you fall, he rises and tries to keep you down by condemning you with shame and fear of punishment. His primary mission is to keep you from surrendering to God and get you to surrender to him.

Jesus was sent into the world with a Mission. His Mission was the opposite of satan’s.

“For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.”

John 3:17

Jesus had All Power and Authority to judge.

“All Authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me.’”

Matthew 28:18

But He chose to use that Power and Authority to forgive, not to condemn.

Jesus can forgive any and all sins by The Power of His Grace and Mercy. But we must be willing to come close and experience His Love and Mercy up close and personal.

And we must fulfill one other condition. We must forgive.

It may be what we consider major offenses we need to forgive. It may be temporary offenses that anger us, like the person who took the parking place we wanted.

But to God, it is the same. He has extended His Grace and Forgiveness to us for all sins. He expects no less from us.

May this week begin a new beginning of extending Grace to everyone you meet. When you feel the urge to say, “But they were wrong,” say, “In The Name of Jesus, I forgive you.”

“Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire Mercy.’”

Matthew 9:13

“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy!”

Matthew 5:7

Created For Such A Time As This

These are times that try our very souls. Those of us who love planning, organizing, covering all possible scenarios in advance and avoiding pitfalls never saw this coming.

Earthquakes, floods, fires, nuclear explosions … yes, we fretted about them all. Which country would try to do the other in first … yes, we thought about that too.

But a bug that would cripple the whole world, bring death and terror in a whole new way?

Something that would drive us away from our worldly pleasures and send us inside for an unknown period of time?

Something that would even close the doors of our churches?

Something that would separate us from our loved ones, not in death, but in life? No, we did not see that coming.

But perhaps what we also did not understand is that we were created for such a time as this. Does God cause disease and suffering? No.

Does He allow it? Yes. Read Job and you will discover satan brought the misery. But you will also see God allowed it.

Suffering comes not to torture, but to test. Suffering comes not so God can see what we are made of. He already knows!

Suffering comes to refine us and let us know what we are made of and Who made us.

When all the things that have covered over who we truly are are stripped away, we see who we were made to be.

God had a Plan for us before we were born.

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart.”

Jeremiah 1:5

He knew exactly what talents He put inside us.

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Ephesians 2:10

He knew exactly when He would send us to earth. He knows exactly how long our assignment will last.

“Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in Your Book before one of them came to be.”

Psalm 139:16

Why are we here now? Because God ordained that we be here at this unprecedented time in history. Every experience we have had in life has trained us for what we will do now.

God has called us. He is calling us now to grow up fully into who He created us to be.

But now, thus says The Lord, Who created you, and He Who formed you,

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;

I have called you by your name;

You are Mine.”

Isaiah 43:1

We have work to do.

May we be able to say with Jesus,

“I have brought You glory on earth by finishing the work You gave Me to do.”

John 17:4

I invite you to listen to this powerful song and ask God what He wants you to do now in such a time as this.

https://youtu.be/YmYOQ8h4wsM

Do Not Be Afraid!

I battle anxiety. As much as I try to be positive about life, there are things that get to me and I move beyond anxiety into fear.

Satan is sneaky. Sometimes I believe I have conquered fearfulness about something at the front door and he gets in the back door. I am caught unaware and I fall back into old fears.

How was satan able to get to Job? He knew just where to strike. He struck at what Job feared.

Job said, “What I feared has come upon me; what I dreaded has happened to me.”

Job 3:25

Paul advised us not to fall back into fear. It is easy to go back where you have been before. Don’t do it!

“For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’”

Romans 8:15

Today in between my fretting, worrying, whining and begging, I reflected on Paul’s good words. God spoke to my heart and mind.

I am sure the message is meant to be shared with you or someone you know.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 4:6-7

Do not be anxious about anything.

Pray about everything.

Pray. Understand your connection with Jesus. He is in you and you are in Him.

Thank God. Meditate on all the ways He has always provided for you.

Request what you believe you need. He already knows what you need, but He will listen to you. Talking to Him will bring you more in line with His Perfect Will, Which is more than anything you can ask or imagine.

Receive The Peace of God Which surpasses all understanding! You will be able to feel peace even when you see nothing in your situation to feel peaceful about.

God will guard your heart and mind. When you surrender to Him, He Himself will guard your mind from anxious thoughts. He will guard your heart from fear and doubt.

You will go beyond just believing to knowing for sure and certain that Jesus is with you always.

“Peace I leave with you; My Peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”

John 14:27

The Deep, Deep Love of Jesus

Today many people celebrated Easter in various ways. But the only true way to celebrate Jesus is to let Him continue to do His Work through us.

Jesus said, “I am in my Father, and you are in Me, and I am in you.”

John 14:20

Jesus made it clear His Work on earth was not done. He was trading in one human body for many. One of them is yours.

He assured us we are up to the task because He will be making all calls. Our only job will be to come along for the ride, do what He says and not hinder Him.

Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me.

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in The Name of The Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.

And be sure of this. I am with you always.”

Mathew 20: 28

Where do we start? With Jesus’ First Commandment. Love.

Jesus said, “A new command I give you: Love one another.

As I have loved you, so you must love one another.

By this everyone will know that you are My Disciples, if you love one another.”

John 13:34-35

How did Jesus love? He freely loved everyone.

He loved those who had been rejected. He loved those who were suffering. He loved those who were grieving. He loved those who had sinned. He loved His enemies and those who hurt Him.

His Plan for Love was that we love like He loved. And in so doing, we would become one, together in Him. What a Glorious One!

His Love was so great and His Plan so expansive that He did not limit His Prayers to just His Followers in one time in history.

He prayed for those who would come after them. He prayed for us.

This is what He asked for all of us. Start by receiving The Great, Great Love He has for you and then pass it on!

“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for [insert your name here] those who will believe in Me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as You are in Me and I am in You.

May they also be in Us so that the world may believe that You have sent Me.

I have given them The Glory that You gave Me, that they may be one as We are One — I in them and You in Me — so that they may be brought to complete unity.

Then the world will know that You sent Me and have loved them even as You have loved Me.

Father, I want those You have given Me to be with Me where I am, and to see My Glory, The Glory You have given Me because You loved Me before the creation of the world.

Righteous Father, though the world does not know You, I know You, and they know that You have sent Me.

I have made You known to them, and will continue to make You known in order that The Love You have for Me may be in them and that I Myself may be in them.”

I invite you to reflect on The Great, Great Love of Jesus, as you listen to this song. (Be sure to listen to the end. It has a pause in the middle.)

Here is the link.

https://youtu.be/KLTu1xv2-Us

Forgiven

Jesus began His time on the cross by speaking the very heart of Grace.

Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

Did the soldiers not know they were driving nails into Jesus and the two men on either side of Him? Yes, they knew.

Didn’t they premeditate what tools to bring along and the most efficient way to get the job done? Yes, they did.

Did they know that what they were doing was wrong in the sight of God? No.

As Jesus looked on the soldiers and the world, past, present and future, He said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

Think about your life.

Are there things you have done that you honestly did not know at the time were wrong? Or perhaps you knew they weren’t exactly right, but you justified them in some way?

Are there things now that you may be doing that you do not yet know are wrong? Do you have the courage to ask God to reveal to you what He sees in you?

Can you say with David, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

Psalm 139:23-24

When God shows you what He sees, be prepared. Satan will immediately tell you that you are so sinful God will be completely repulsed.

He will tell you not only will God look away, but He will also get out His nail gun. He will tell you you have fallen from grace and there is no return. Satan will tell you, “Welcome to Hell.”

But remember how Jesus described satan.

“He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

John 8:44

Why did Jesus come?

“For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.”

John 3:17

Jesus did not come to condemn.

Jesus said to the woman taken in adultery, “Neither do I condemn you. Go now and leave your life of sin.”

John 8:11

There is nothing you have ever done that God will not forgive, if you are ready to repent and receive His Gift of Grace.

He is looking at you in Love right now, Arms outstretched, ready to hold you next to His Heart. He sees you. He loves you. You are forgiven. Welcome Home.

I invite you to reflect on the wonder of forgiveness as you hear the story in song of Peter. Peter fell. But he also learned The Joy of being forgiven.

Here is the link.

https://youtu.be/1DQfthEHVc4