Losing To Win

What would you give to have Life to the full?  There is an offer on the table.

I invite you to watch our latest video … and please share!

How Would You Like To Be Remembered?

My husband’s parents, like my parents, spent a lot of time in cemeteries, but for a different reason.

They were genealogists.  They very patiently, in all kinds of weather and environment, used chalk and paper to get information from tombstones that had long ago faded.

They collected names, dates of birth and death and then researched how they fit into someone’s family tree.

Occasionally they were able to collect information that illuminated details of people’s lives that brought a clearer picture of who the person really was.

They published a book of information on people buried in certain cemeteries.

So you can imagine my mother in law’s look of horror when I once said I did not see the purpose in tombstones.  I noted they just seemed to condense a life to just the dates of its beginning and ending.  What about the life in between those dates?

She immediately said, “Oh Carolyn, there must be a record that you lived!”

My thought has always been that the value of my life will be in how I positively affected other people.  How much Love did I show?  Did I ever get to the point of being able to say, as Jesus did, “If you have seen me, you have seen The Father?”

My life should not stand as an “ego wall,” of earthly accomplishments.  My life should be remembered as an example of how much of Love, Grace and Mercy God can pour through one of His Creations.

My husband and I have conceded my mother in law’s point.  We will have something that shows the dates we manifested on earth in physical form and the date on which people stopped seeing us in earthly form.

But we will also find a way of noting The Life God lived through us.  That will be our real and eternal message!

“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”    Colossians 3:17

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Cemeteries —Place For The Living Or The Dead?

My husband and I are at that time of life when we are considering how to best honor God through the release of our bodies when it is time.  In so doing, we have looked into various options.

Today we visited a local cemetary.  It brought various memories to life.  I have decided to share a few in the coming days.

My parents used to regularly visit the graves of their parents.  They placed flowers on their graves in all four seasons.  It was, for them, a way to honor their memories.

When ground keeping was not offered, they spent many hours at the cemetery cleaning up not only the area around their parents’ graves, but also other grave sites.

They stood reverently by the tombstones and enjoyed the memories of the times they had shared.  It was clear the cemetery was not just a place of death to them.  It was a focal point for remembering.

As a sweaty little girl, who had just baked in the South Carolina sun to help in this venture, I was less than sentimental.  I was also too busy looking behind each tombstone for rattlesnakes that frequented the area.

In their latter years, my parents realized there was no one left to clean up around their graves.  All their relatives had died or lived in places far from the cemetery.  There were long discussions about what to do.

My mother told me at one point, “Don’t bring up the subject of cemeteries.  Your father has imagined himself being buried all over the southeast!”

Besides where perpetual care might be provided, there was also the issue of how to be, as the Bible says, “buried with his people.”

Like many families, the backgrounds were different.  My father had grown up on a farm in South Carolina, my mother had grown up in a small town near Savannah, Georgia, they had lived much of their lives in Charleston, South Carolina and then settled in a small South Carolina town.  Both of their children lived in different places.  So where was the best place to leave their bodies?

Eventually, they decided to be buried in a perpetual care cemetary in Savannah, hoping to be buried near my brother and his family.  It was also near the small town where they had gotten married.  So there were connections.

Etched forever in my memory is the tender scene when my mother was buried.  My parents had been married for 71 years.  They were affectionate with each other openly for all those years.

My father said he read somewhere, if men kissed their wives goodbye, they lived longer.  Each time he left, even for a short ride uptown, he would kiss my mother.  He would wink and say, “I’m just prolonging my life.”  She would laugh and joyfully receive his kisses.

He never considered a world where he could not kiss her.  He was devastated when she died first.  He stood over her casket and openly wept, something I had never seen him do.  And he kissed her … undeterred by the fact she could not kiss him back.

The day of the graveside service, as they were getting ready to lower the casket, my father, who was decidedly weakened by the experience, struggled to his feet and walked over to the grave.  As he bent over, the cemetary worker ran over and whispered, “Don’t let him lean on the casket.  The whole thing may fall and he will fall with it.”

I gently told Daddy he needed to step back.  He told me through tears he just wanted to kiss her one more time.  Telling him he could not, was one of the hardest things I ever had to do.

He lived another five years without her.  Several times he said, “Just think of your Mama lying out there under all that dirt.”  I reminded him of what he already knew — that she was not there — she had risen.  But it troubled him.

He never wanted to visit her grave.  Cemeteries were never his focal point for remembering after that.  Even when offered other living arrangements, he chose to continue living in the small town where he last kissed my mother.

He was finally buried next to her in Savannah.  After the funeral, all our family sat around my brother’s kitchen table and remembered.  Because my father told his stories over and over again, one of us could start one, another pick it up and finally all of us were repeating it in unison.  And we laughed until our tears of grief became tears of joy.

None of us go to the cemetary much.  We discovered what my father ultimately came to know.  Our parents are not there.  They live on in each of us!

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How To Heal A Country

This is the link to a blog posting from a previous July 4th.  Still true!

How To Heal A Country

 

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Welcome Home!

My father grew up on a farm.  When he was older, he moved to town.

He went home to the country on the weekends.  He had a car that had something that was called a “mile away horn.”  He said when he blew the horn, it could be heard from a mile away.

He recounted how when he was about a mile away from home, he would blow the horn.  His mother would hear it and be waiting for him at the gate with arms outstretched.

He loved that memory, but always told it with a trace of sadness for a time gone by that would not come again.

His mother died at a young age of cancer.

I told Daddy that I imagined that St. Peter would sound the trumpet when Daddy was getting close to his heavenly home, and his mother would be waiting at the gate.

He liked that thought.  At age 96, when he was nearing Home, I reminded him of that special link between what he had once known and what he would soon know.  He smiled in joy.

I now cherish that thought that he and my mother will be waiting at the gate for me one day!

 

A Time To Be Born

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born …

Ecclesiastes 3:1-2

My parents were married for ten years without children. My mother said she saw others with children and she was happy for them. She wondered why she did not have children, but she felt certain God had a Plan.

She surrendered to His Will, whatever it might be.

In the tenth year, she became pregnant. My parents rejoiced!

However, when the time of birth came, there were significant complications. My mother’s water broke, but labor did not progress. After many hours of agonizing labor, the doctor came out and told my father it was likely either my mother or my brother or both would be lost.

The doctor asked my father, if it came down to a choice, which one he would like saved. My father refused to make that choice, instead asking God and the doctor to save them both.

More hours passed while my father paced up and down outside the delivery room and prayed.

Both my mother and a healthy son lived. My brother grew up to be, among many other things, a father, grandfather, and great grandfather. He also became a wonderful Bible teacher. He has been The Promise fulfilled to a praying father and laboring mother.

My parents rejoiced in the raising of their son. Ten more years passed. In the tenth year, my brother got the mumps. My father “caught” the mumps also. Having the mumps as an adult male often assured sterility.

But in the eleventh year, my mother became pregnant again and nine months later, I was born. Again, it was a difficult birth, as I was breech. Again, there was prayer and hard labor. But my mother and I survived.

My father jokingly told the nurse when they left the hospital, “We’ll see you in twelve years.” Twelve years later, my brother’s first child was born!

Each of us … my brother and I … and everyone in God’s Creation was born at a time designated by God. In fact, each of our ancestors came along, moving the line forward to make it possible for us to be here at just this moment.

You are here in this time and place to be a living testimony of Your Creator. The people you influence will influence others and Life will move forward.

And perhaps one day, as this song beautifully illustrates, God will allow you to see all those who were touched by your life, even though you never met in the flesh.

I invite you to take a few moments and reflect on all those who have touched your life. Thank God for them. And thank God for all those He will bring into your life.

And never, ever doubt The Power of connecting to The Creator of The Universe through prayer!

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Your Tears Will Become Your River Of Life!

Sometimes when we cry, we think we cry alone. But God values every tear we cry. He collects every one.

At just the right moment, He returns them to us, in a gentle rain. He cleanses us. He refreshes us. He transforms our tears into Holy Water.

One day, our tears will stop. And we will see The Ultimate Holy Water. We will see The River of Life!

You keep track of all my sorrows.
You have collected all my tears in your bottle.
You have recorded each one in your book.
Psalm 56:8

Let us acknowledge the Lord;
let us press on to acknowledge him.
As surely as the sun rises,
He will appear;
He will come to us like the winter rains,
like the spring rains that water the earth.
Hosea 6:3

He will wipe every tear from their eyes.
There will be no more death
or mourning
or crying
or pain,
for the old order of things has passed away.
Revelation 21:4

The angel showed me a river filled with the water of life,
as clear as crystal.
It was flowing from the throne of God and the lamb!
Revelation 22:1

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Angels Give Hugs!

There have been various times in my life when I believe I have encountered angels.  Today was one of those times.

This has been an indescribable year for us, packed with unexpected traumas and joys.  And in between, there have been a steady flow of challenges, which have left us sort of living “on guard.”

As I have battled back and leg pain, I became aware of how much tension I was holding in my body.  But I did not realize it was visible to others.  I always try to put on the “brave face.”

Today we went to session #30 of Jay’s cardiac rehab.  I was sitting on a bench outside, while I waited for Jay to park the car.  I was lost in thought when I noticed an elderly woman, who was walking with a cane.

She started for the door and then turned around and looked directly at me.  Her smile was so full of kindness and compassion, it was like looking into The Face of Jesus.

She left her companion and walked over to me.  With no introductions or any explanation, she said, “I want to give you a hug.  Is that ok?”

I was completely caught off guard, but agreed.  She hugged me, not as the frail lady she appeared to be, but as a person somehow connected to The Source of all Power.

In the few seconds of that hug, it was as if all the empty places inside me were filled up.  All the dry places were watered.  All fatigue and pain were released.  Love flowed into every cell of my body.

She then released me and without another word, walked back to her companion.  I called out a thank you.  I asked her if she gave out hugs to people.  She smiled and said, “Yes, when they need it.”

She went on inside.  Jay came immediately after that, so I expected to see her inside.  But she was gone.  Inexorably vanished.

Was she an angel?  I don’t know, but I know she was sent to me by God.  She gave.  I received.  And I am so thankful.

Remember to welcome strangers, because some who have done this have welcomed angels without knowing it.”

Hebrews 13:2

 

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Talk Back To God!

Many times we turn prayer into a one way wish list.  We do all the talking and do not give God a chance to get a word in edgewise.

We present our case.  We present our plan.  We tell Him exactly how we think He should work.  We give Him the timeframes of when we want it (usually now).  We move on.  If He does not do what we want when we want it, we may complain and get more prayer partners to yell louder.

Jesus modeled for us the kind of real communication God wants.  A loving conversation of agreement.

Instead of trying to get God to agree with us, our goal should be to agree with Him.  We seek to put our spirit into complete alignment with Him until we say back to Him what He says to us.

Try it.  Hear what God has said.  His Word never changes.  If He ever said it before, He is saying it now.  He will say the same thing in the future.

Know He is talking to you now.

Be still.

Listen.

Then respond, confirming you believe Him.  No matter how much chaos is in your life, just believe Him, not your circumstances.

He is The Only Truth.  He will never change.  He is solid.  He is here for you now.

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God.”

Psalm 46:10

Answer, “I am still.  I know You are God.”

   

“Surely I am with you always.”

Matthew 28:20

Answer, “You are with me always.  I am with You always.”

The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

Exodus 33:14

Answer, “Your Presence is with me right now and ever shall be.  You give me rest”

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Joshua 1:9

Answer, “I am strong.  I am courageous.  I am not afraid.  I am not discouraged.  You are with me wherever I go.”

You will keep those in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you because they trust in You.

Isaiah 26:3

Answer, “I have Perfect Peace.  My mind is stayed on You.  I trust You.”

 

 

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Life and Death

Most all fears lead to the biggest fear — the fear of death.  If Heaven is so great, why are we fighting so hard to stay on earth?  Everybody wants to go to Heaven, but no one wants to die. 😳

Jesus came to free those who all their lives had been held as slaves because of their fear of death.  Watch our latest You Tube video and be free of the fear of death!