Why Are You Here?

Many people spend their lives wondering why they are here on earth. And the expectation that we should know starts early in life.

Children are often asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

As we get older, we start considering what we are going to do, now that we are almost grown up.

Often we start making life decisions based on who other people have told us we are. We start to try to match up with the expectations of others.

And when we get tired of that, we sometimes dive into the thinking of “I’m done with trying to please everyone else. I am going to please myself now.”

We try to create ourselves, experimenting with different looks and different ways of thinking.

But eventually we may reach the crisis of realizing we never were who we think we should have been. We want to make the rest of our life different. But we are not sure where to start.

The answer comes from asking The One Who created you to tell you who He created you to be.

God knew you before He even put you in your mother’s womb. He knew exactly how long you would remain on earth.

David said,
“My frame was not hidden from You, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.

Your Eyes saw my unformed substance; in Your Book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.”
Psalm 129:14-16

God had and has a Plan for your Life and it’s a Good Plan.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Jeremiah 29:11

God knew before He created you what good works He had for you to do on earth.

Paul said,
“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

If you think you have missed it, don’t despair. Everything that has happened to you in your life has prepared you for this moment.

What counts now is what you do now. And the first step is getting to know Your Creator. Simply introduce yourself. He already knows you, but He will welcome you and let you talk.

“When you call Me and come and pray to Me, I will listen to you.”
Jeremiah 29:12

Not only will God listen, He will also talk.

“Call to Me and I will answer you. I will tell you great and mysterious things that you do not know.”
Jeremiah 33:3

When you get to know God, He will tell you more about who He created you to be.

When you know Who He is, you will know who you are and why you are here!

I share this link with you for its message, not to sell you books. I wrote it when we first published our book, If You Only Knew … Who I AM!

Miss Bea’s Blessing

Some years ago, Jay and I met Miss Bea Coaxum outside a shop in Pawleys Island, South Carolina.

We sat on the porch with her and watched her weave sweet grass baskets. She handled each strip of grass as if she was holding a precious treasure.

In fact, she was. She was carrying on the gift of her ancestors who brought it to the shores of America long ago.

The art of sweetgrass basket making came to South Carolina in the 17th Century by way of West African slaves, brought to the south to work on rice plantations.

Traditionally, the older African men would weave these baskets, making large “fanners” to be used in the rice fields.

Later, women took up the craft, making coiled baskets of different shapes and sizes to hold vegetables, shellfish, and cotton.

Sweetgrass would be gathered along the marshes, dried, and then bundled together and coiled, held in place with palmetto fronds.

Sometimes bulrush and pine needles were woven into the baskets to add decoration.

Miss Bea told us her mother had insisted she learn the trade and carry the gift forward. Miss Bea resisted. She said she felt it was a burden, not a gift.

But, as time went on, she learned a valuable lesson. “What seems a burden to begin with may be a blessing in disguise. Sometimes God gives you burdens to grow blessings inside you.”

She said, “And you got to go back to the beginning. I was not just doing something for my people. God was doing something and I got to be a part of it.”

She held up a strip of grass. “You see this right here. It was made by God.”

She reached for a basket and smiled. “You see this right here. He let me make it. We do it together.”

We sat there with Miss Bea for quite awhile that summer afternoon. Others came and went. Some bought baskets. Many, like us, were mesmerized by watching her and hearing her tell her stories.

When it was time to leave, we bought two baskets. We felt honored to receive a treasure of what God had created, given lovingly through one of His Creations.

But there was one more blessing to come. Miss Bea took a strip of grass and handed it to me. She then took another strip and handed it to Jay.

She then guided us through weaving them together. She then put her hands over ours, smiled and said, “When you have woven the grass together, you become one with He Who created it. And you will be together forever.”

It was a benediction, a promise to take with us, and I felt all of Miss Bea’s ancestors saying, “Amen!”

And God said, “Let the earth grow grass.”The earth grew grass. And God saw that this was good.
From Genesis 1

Who Will We Become?

We do not know how our heavenly bodies will look. But it is interesting to imagine.

We already see in nature how God’s Creations grow and are transformed, being able to experience and do more with each stage.

Caterpillars can barely see at all. They have simple eyes which can only differentiate dark from light; they cannot form an image.

Butterflies have compound eyes and simple eyes. These eyes are made up of many hexagonal lens/corneas which focus light from each part of the insect’s field of view onto something similar to our retina.

An optic nerve then carries this information to the insect’s brain. They see very differently from us; they can see ultraviolet rays which are invisible to us.

Both Ezekiel and John had visions in which they saw creatures with “eyes all around.” These creatures could see everywhere!

Having been visually challenged from a young age and even more so in recent years, I know the longing to see more.

I enjoy every bit of what The Lord allows me to see, but I am always imagining what it would be like to experience even more. What an amazing thought to have eyes all around!

And I am sure if that were true, The Lord would give us whatever would be needed to process and enjoy what we saw.

After Jesus got His Resurrected Body, He apparently was able to walk through walls, go from place to place effortlessly and even rise up into the clouds!

John said, “Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when He appears we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him as He is.”
1 John 3:2

For now, we can only imagine!

Preventing Violence

We are delighted when the seeds we plant spring up as beautiful flowers. But we are shocked when evil pops up in the world.

Evil acts are the result of seeds planted also … Seeds of fear, bitterness, anger and powerlessness … Seeds watered and nurtured over a period of time.

Jesus warned us of a dangerous world.

… “In fact, the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God” …
John 16:2

Why would someone ever think like that? Jesus answered in the following verse.

“They will do such things because they have not known The Father or Me.”
John 16:3

If the problem is that they have not known Them, then The Solution is that we come to know Them and we spread The Word to everyone we can.

Somewhere at this moment, seeds are growing in one who may one day be called a terrorist, because they never knew The Lord.

We should care for the victims of evil. But we should also care about preventing evil by planting Good Seeds everywhere we can.

What can you do to help bring Peace to the world?

Be still.

Know that He is God.

Ask Him to let you know Him even more than you know Him right now.

Ask Him to show you where to plant His Good Seeds!

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus …

When I was a teenager attending a small church in a small town, we had a revival.

One of the members of our church was Jack Phillips.  Jack did crop dusting.  He owned a small plane.

Jack met another airplane enthusiast and a minister in Florida.  His name was Bob Shelley.  Jack was so impressed with Bob’s preaching that he asked him to come preach a revival in our church.

He told him if he would do it, he would fly him back and forth.  Bob agreed.

I was brought up in a Christian home by two very devoted Christian parents.  So I already felt close to The Lord before the revival.  However, there was something that happened during that week that took me to a deeper level.

Bob insisted we come for a morning and evening service for all seven days of the revival.  At the beginning of each service, he led the singing of the hymn, Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus.

By the end of that revival, those words were imprinted in my mind, heart and spirit.  I never saw Bob Shelley again, but he left a lasting impression, as did Jack, who found Bob and brought him to us.

Many times over the years, in good and bad times, I would find myself singing that song.  It was the most solid advice for life.

Many years later, when I was in my early 60s, Jay and I joined a Sunday School class of people, who were all over 80 years of age.  

They had well established traditions.  One of them was to begin each class with the singing of Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus.

When I became the song leader, they allowed me some flexibility in song selection, but they made it clear that their song would always be sung first.

The Lord gave me a special gift in already preparing me ahead of time.  I knew all the words by heart.  And when I got to look into the faces of those living saints singing that song, it was truly a preview of Heaven.

As the class aged, each experienced health issues.  Those of us still able to attend class kept singing.  I also went to where the others were in nursing homes and hospitals and sang with and to them there.

It was a steady reminder that wherever we were, we were still joined in heart.  We were all seeing Jesus together.

When I was enjoying a peaceful time at the Memorial Gardens today, I felt led to sing that song again.  

As I sang, I thought of the wonderful people with whom I had sung that song.  I felt connected in the warm embrace of Jesus, Who was bringing those of us in both earth and heaven together again.

I thought of Bob Shelley and wondered if I could find out where he is today.  If I could, I was going to contact him and tell him the story that began with him.

I did find out where he is.  He probably heard my song this morning.  He is one of the fairly new arrivals in Heaven, having just been promoted in April!

Here is the link to information about the wonderful adventures he had after flying in a crop dusting plane from Florida to a small South Carolina church in the 1960s.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, The Author and Perfecter of our faith, Who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Hebrews 13:1-2

Remembering Jim Criswell

On June 27, 2022, Heaven welcomed another earth traveler Home.  After a long assignment of 99 years, Jim Criswell was promoted to Heaven.

I feel sure The Lord welcomed him as a good and faithful servant.

We met Jim through The Trinity Cokesbury Sunday School class at Centenary United Methodist Church.  The class was a group of living saints, who were all well over 80 years old.

Jim was a leader and a true shepherd.  Trying to herd the class members together for a simple potluck was no small task.  Everyone had their own ideas of when to stop talking and begin serious eating!

However, when they heard Jim’s soft voice, praying a blessing, all stopped and turned their eyes on Jesus.  Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus was not just their theme song.  It was their way of life.

Jim was a model of gentleness and kindness.  He made everyone welcome, including adopting us “youngsters”, who barely squeaked in, being in our early 60s.

He talked to everyone, remembering details of their life and asking about them.  He always inquired about our daughter, Jennifer, by name, even though he had never met her.

He was wise, both in the things of the world, and also in the things of The Spirit.  He actively participated in every class, asking questions and adding comments, that opened up whole new worlds of thought.  I wish I had recorded every one, because having a Jim Criswell commentary would have been a treasure.

He loved his family.  Even when he was a bit unsteady, he gave it his all to steady his wife, Barbara.  They held hands and looked at each other with the same sparks as young teenagers.

They talked of their daughter often, with pride and joy.  It was obvious they carried LeeAnn in their hearts, wherever they went.  I am sure that has not changed.

Jim graciously made various transitions in life, as he aged.  One by one, the precious members of The Trinity Cokesbury class have been promoted to Heaven.  Jim was one of the longest serving his tour of duty on earth.

I was the song leader for class.  As much as they valued their long held traditions, they were open to new ideas that more fully expressed their hearts’ desires.

At the end of every potluck, we all held hands and sang the hymn, Bless Be The Tie That Binds.  Somehow the last verse just did not fit them.  The original writer wrote

 “When we asunder part, 
It gives us inward pain; 
But we shall still be joined in heart, 
And hope to meet again.”

I changed it to

 “When we asunder part, 
We surely will feel no pain; 
For we shall still be joined in heart, 
And know we will meet again!”

And Jim said with delight, “Amen!”

One Sunday I took a picture of Jim teaching his “young” student, Jay.  It is one of my favorites.  The sun coming through the windows of the chapel revealed The True Light of The World!

Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of Peace will be with you!

Philippians 4:9

https://www.legacy.com/us/obituaries/kentucky/name/james-criswell-obituary?id=35452789

Receiving God’s Comfort

There are so many who need comforting. Often while we desire to comfort others, we don’t know what to say or do.

Sometimes people say things that really don’t help. Sometimes people try to talk about something else they are comfortable with in an effort to distract those who are suffering. When those approaches don’t work, sadly people walk away and leave the suffering ones to suffer alone.

There is one crucial step to be able to comfort others. We must receive comfort from God for ourselves. We cannot give that which we have never received.

Jeremiah 31:15 speaks of grief that cut so deeply that the mothers “refused to be comforted.” Are there things that have wounded you so deeply that you refuse to let God comfort you?

Why would we refuse comfort? Often it is because we no longer trust God. Satan is quick to remind us God could have at least prevented that which caused us such great pain. The questions linger of why He would allow us to suffer.

Questions cascade into fear. If God allowed this deep wound, what else would He allow in the future?

God spoke to the questioning Job, simply reminding him that He was God.

God spoke, promising when (not if), we go through the deep waters, we will not drown. When we go through the fire, we will not get burned.

God spoke, telling us He will never leave us or forsake us.

God spoke, telling us He loves us with an everlasting Love.

God spoke through David telling us He is our Shepherd and we have everything we need. His Goodness and Mercy will follow us all the days of our life.

God spoke, telling us He knows The Plans He has for us and they are Good Plans.

To be comforted is to believe Him and trust Him, no matter how fiercely the storm rages, no matter how deep the waters, no matter how hot the fire and no matter that we see no good in the plans that seem to be unfolding.

Take a few moments and consider whether there is any place in your life where you have refused to be comforted. Do you trust God? Settle the matter with God now.

Receive His Comfort so you can be at Peace and comfort others with His Peace!

Hoarding God’s Word

As we have gone further into our home clean up project, we have learned much about ourselves.

It has been interesting to see what each of us is willing to give up, and what we aren’t.
We have been forced to consider whether we are hoarders or guardians of precious treasures.

Today God and I had a conversation about whether I was hoarding His Word. Ironically on the same day we were getting ready to contribute to an organization that gives Bibles, I cleaned out the bookcase in our family room.

I cheerfully loaded up a box with books to go to the library. The box did not include the various Bibles I had collected over the years.

I felt God’s nudge.

“What about My Word?” He said.

I smiled, being sure He would be proud of me for taking such good care of The Bibles. I pointed out how I had put them right back on the shelf.

There seemed to be a Holy Silence, followed by a deep Celestial Sigh.

“I thought you wanted to share My Word.”

“I do. We’re contributing to that Bible group today.”

“What about those Bibles on the shelf? Are you going to share them?”

I explained how I had received each of them on special occasions. I reminded Him that most had my comments written in them.

He asked, “So, let Me understand this. You have multiple copies of My Truth, along with Truths I have revealed to you. And you plan to keep them closed up and on display here?”

It was my turn to sigh. Oh … 😳

I added The Bibles to the box. I am making a donation tomorrow. It has given me Joy tonight to contemplate who might be surprised to receive a Bible with “Carolyn’s Commentary” written in the margins!

Perhaps you might also want to send out God’s Words. You may never know where they will go, but you can trust God will see they get delivered to the right person at the right time!

As recorded in Isaiah 55:11, God said, “My Word … shall not return to Me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve The Purpose for which I sent it!”

Praying Into The Future

Recently we had a first time guest in our home. I told him the story, as I tell all first time visitors of how I prayed for him long ago.

When we had our house built in 1994, I sat on the floor of the second story before there was even a roof. I looked out across the court. And I prayed for all who would one day come to our home.

I did not know them all, but I knew God did. And He knew the exact moment our lives would intersect.

When people arrive, I let them know they were expected and are welcomed.

Paul tells us God knew the exact places we would live and when we would live there.

God began by making one man, and from him he made all the different people who live everywhere in the world. He decided exactly when and where they would live.
Acts17:26

Today, as I was looking out the window and enjoying the view of our back yard, I thought of all the various people we have welcomed here. And I heard God in my spirit.

He said, “I knew you were coming here long before you came. I prepared this place for you. I intended for you to live here in joy and peace.

And whatever you do here, know that you are working with Me to prepare this place for the ones who will live here one day.

Remember this is One of My Homes. Even now I am preparing your next home for you. When it is ready, I will come and take you there Myself. I already know the exact time you will arrive.”

Jesus said, “In My Father’s House are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also!”
John 14:2

In anticipation of our time here, we had a scripture cut into stone and bricked in by our front door. We now offer it as a blessing upon all who come.

So if you have not been here yet, know when you arrive, you were prayed for long ago and you are welcome!

Walking With God

When I was little, I apparently had very klutzy dolls, because I was always bandaging up their “boo boos.”

When anyone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I said, without hesitation, I wanted to be a nurse.

I entered nursing school in the fall of 1966.

I had visions of floating into each injured or sick person’s life and doing something magical (that “something” I expected to learn about in nursing school) that would fix everything.

However, right away I discovered that there were some illnesses far worse than the ones I knew about. There were pains that went beyond agony and did not stop.

There were people who died, some not peacefully.

I almost quit in my first year. I was making good grades, but my heart was being broken over and over again.

I remembered giving an impassioned speech in my senior high school career class. I ended with the statement, “To be a nurse is to walk with God!” I wondered where He was.

I did stay in college for four years and graduated on June 4, 1970 with a BSN. This picture was taken on that day.

I had not learned anything magical about how to fix people, but I had learned a tremendous amount about God’s Presence in the midst of suffering. I had learned how some people were able to suffer and still be witnesses of God’s Love.

And I had seen the nurses who never quit. They never gave up. They stayed in the trenches, so some could get out.

Graduation Day was only the beginning of the nursing journey. Life after that day took me to many places as a nurse. I would have to write a book to share it all (and who knows, maybe I will!).

The one thing that sums it all up is still “to be a nurse is to walk with God.” But remember God goes all kinds of places you might not choose.

I taught nursing after a long career of working in hospitals. A student asked me if I had it to do over again, if I would still want to be a nurse.

I had to do some serious thinking before I answered.

My answer is yes. When God taps you to go on a Mission with Him, it’s an honor. Accept it with humility.

Happy Memories to the 1970 Nursing Class of Medical University of South Carolina!