Archives

Where’s Christmas . . .???

The other day I set out to find a small manger for a Christmas craft project I was working on. It could have been anything, an ornament, a Christmas card, even a figurine.

First I went to the Dollar Store. I found nothing Christian but two sets of Christmas cards with no manger scene on them. Next I went to Walmart (good luck there.) Nada. Then I walked through Home Depot – absolutely nothing Christian at all, but I could have purchased a red and green six foot dragon . . . what that has to do with Christmas I’ve yet to figure out.

A few days later I traveled to two shopping centers in another town. I checked out Michael’s craft store. The sweet girl acknowledged they used to carry them . . . but searching together, neither of us could find them anywhere. Neither did World Bazaar, J.C. Penny or T.J. Maxx.

Undoubtedly, I thought, Christian-run Hobby Lobby would carry a small manger scene, even if it was on a postcard! Yet once again, found nothing. I’m praying they were only sold out.

Finally I found a Lifeway Christian bookstore. Aha! I thought, of course I’ll find a manger scene here! And yes I did! It was on a box of spiced apple cider. Desperate to find anything that might work, I purchased the over-priced drink mix and cut out the cardboard manger scene on the front and pasted it on my craft project. (At least we’ll enjoy the beverage sometime during these cold winter months.)

Halfway through this hectic quest I felt like Charlie Brown, frustratingly asking where was Christmas??? I could find a plethora of Santa’s, sleighs, reindeer antlers, elf hats, chipmunks, cute bears and Grinch’s, but no Christ in Christmas!

Then I thought, I can certainly find Christmas at church.  Absolutely I’ll find Peace on Earth here during this Joyous Season. Instead I found a church member fussing in public, running around fuming, complaining, blaming others because they felt unappreciated in their position. (Hey, if your position is primarily to please people and not our Lord, get your priorities straight!)

Then yesterday, as my husband and I were finalizing the Christmas gifts and food for four community families in need; getting ready to drop off our many  congregation’s generous donations, I found it. Eureka!

THIS IS WHAT CHRISTMAS IS ALL ABOUT:  Christmas is about blessing others, not ourselves. Bringing smiles and true Joy to others!

As Jesus left his heavenly home, to be born in Bethlehem, living as a man among us, he understood that completely. He beheld some petty frustrations of his friends, as well as the slings and arrows of the Pharisees. He experienced the same feelings, joys, frustrations, challenges and laughter that we do.  He gave of himself, unselfishly. He sacrificed EVERYTHING, his very life for our pettiness, grumpiness, busyness and selfish behavior. That was the best GIFT he could ever give.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”   (John 3:16)

Christmas is all about giving unselfishly from one’s heart, as Jesus did as well.  Merry Christmas everyone – Always Remember the Reason for the Season.

 

Advertisements

Water, The Great Equalizer

As I watch the devastation of Hurricane Harvey and the heartbreak of those who have lost so much, my heart goes out to them. Through no fault of theirs the Houston and additional Texas areas are enduring trials I can’t imagine.

Expectedly the hurricane with its torrential rain turned north after striking Corpus Christi, hitting the beautiful area of Houston hardest with still-rising flood waters. Leaving their beloved home, memories and animals behind, residents called out for safety.

Floods demonstrate how water is the great equalizer. It didn’t matter if one owned a shack or a multi-million dollar estate; water devastated each one. It didn’t matter if someone was a field laborer or CEO, water took away their livelihood. When we come before God, keep in mind that it won’t matter if we are janitors or celebrities because no one can purchase Heaven with fame or money. Salvation by Faith is a free gift and will be the only fact that determines eternity.

I wonder how many of them thought of the Scripture in Matthew, Chapter 24. Jesus told his followers; as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it will be when Christ returns to rescue his Believers. For a hundred years Noah urged his friends to renew their lives through faith in God. But some, believing they had all the time in the world, mocked his warnings. Failing to heed God’s Saving Grace, they perished. Water became the great equalizer. Many today believe they have plenty of time to accept Christ. Until then, God is mocked and other idols replace our Lord.

Unexpected disaster can occur at any moment in our lives, even death. Some seem apathetic to death as well. “I’m young!” They say, “I have plenty of time, couldn’t happen to me!” But “Now is the time of Salvation!” (1 Corinthians 6:2)

Some will blame God for their circumstance; failing to understand that God originally created all things, “Good.” Remember it was man’s choice to mess everything up. Mankind became so evil that God sent a worldwide flood to reclaim and renew His original Creation. But in His Mercy and Love He didn’t destroy all but rescued eight faithful people and began again.

As residents evacuated, many had to leave their beloved pets behind, praying they would be saved eventually. When Christ comes to rescue his Believers, some loved ones will be left behind. Do everything you can to ensure they are saved!

Baptism by water immersion represents a rebirth and dedication to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. If one confesses sin and turns from their old ways, Baptism washes it all away. God will never forsake us and offers us a safe place of refuge. Find refuge with Him.

Accepting Christ makes one new through a newly-created attitude and mindset. Some experts say it will take years to rebuild Houston but accepting Christ and becoming a New Creation only takes a moment. God is giving you a way out of your despair, accept Him today!

“No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13) NASB

A Tribute to Our Little Walking Buddy

I’ve been putting off this post for weeks because of my broken heart.  Our beloved Lhasa was only 10 years old when she unexpectedly developed bladder stones last month and had to be put down. Our other two Lhasa Apso’s lived 16 1/2 years and we had no reason to expect she wouldn’t live as long. It was with a heavy heart we made that decision rather than have her endure an intricate painful operation which  provided only a 50% chance of survival at best.

For many years she was my little walking buddy. She kept me on my toes literally. Our two mile walk in Arizona was one I wrote of frequently. She rode shotgun beside me on the passenger seat while I drove the 2500 mile drive from Arizona to Ohio.

I used illustrations I saw in her and our beautiful 14 year old Cocker Spaniel’s behavior many times in my blogs.  It became easy to relate canine behavior to our relationship with God and health. She inspired me to write about trust, discipline and eating habits among other topics which can be found via my search engine on my webpage.

When she was a puppy she was so sweet and affectionate! She would climb upon my chest, wrap her little paws around me and give me an actual hug.  She was a favorite at the dog park at the RV resort we lived in at the time.

Then something happened after we moved into our new home. In most Arizona communities, people went to work, drove home, entered their enclosed garage and sat out on their private patio afterwards, enclosed behind a 6 foot high fence. We failed to keep her socialized and she became over-protective and sadly mean-spirited with strangers.

This was a terrible mistake on our part but we learn from our mistakes. Dog owners aren’t perfect, neither are parents or individuals. I needed to forgive myself and instill necessary changes. So I vowed last year after our beautiful Cocker Spaniel passed, that we would absolutely socialize our transitional pup, “Mr. No-no.” Happily he has become the most loving of pets.

Five years ago when I began this blog, I had no idea what God had in store for me – that He’d ask me to become a pastor’s wife 3 years ago. (You want me to do what God?) I never expected His leading to take me down this pathway. But I began to listen to my Master’s Voice, trust HIm and grew in a closer relationship with my Lord.  Throughout the decision some tough choices had to be made. Now here I am in northeast Ohio surrounded by family and friends, being more blessed than I ever imagined.

It takes an enormous amount of faith to trust God, even through sorrow, knowing that He only has our best interests at heart. Life is messy, hurtful, unfair at times. She was my last tie to my daughter and for that I will be forever grateful for having her in my life.

Someday I’ll know why God’s pathway has lead me to where He wants me to be now, even amidst sorrow. For I’d rather have memories of my little Lhasa buddy than to never have had her in my life at all.  Until then, He has His arms around me, soothing me with comforting Words. All I need to do is trust and learn not pull on my leash. Trust – it’s a liberating word.

“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)

 

 

 

Sage Advice From a 100-Year-Young Friend

“Wisdom is with the aged, and understanding in length of days.”  (Job 12:12)

Everyone desires to live a productive and happy life. Few achieve it. My dear friend Judy exemplifies it!

Tomorrow marks her 100th birthday. Yes, she moves a little slower but her mind is still sharp. She resides in a lovely assisted living facility but never misses a Sunday service if she can. With so much energy, I can’t help but think she must have been somethin’ in her prime!

Now imagine all she has seen since 1917; how the world has transposed amidst industrial growth, space flights, world wars, technical advances and changes in society which have occurred over a century.

I interviewed her recently to unearth how she accomplished what so many seek but never find; peace and contentment.

Ellie: Judy, you are one of the most gracious people I know. I never hear you complain about aches, pains or grumble as so many older people do. What’s your secret to being so youthful?

Judy, without a moment’s hesitation deadpanned, “Good genes!” (A great sense of humor is also a wonderful age-resister: Proverbs 15:13.)

E: And that’s certainly part of it. You still look and act young-at-heart. But I also know you’ve gone through challenging times. What has given you such a positive outlook on life?

J:  (pausing) I guess my mother was the greatest influence in my life. When I was a teenager, she wouldn’t allow me to  complain when others had so little compared to us. She always told me to count my blessings.

E:  This was during the Great Depression?

J: Yes, we weren’t rich but we weren’t poor either. My mother was always sharing what we had with those less fortunate than us. Her generosity was a good example to follow.

“I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread.”   (Psalm 37:25)

E:  So what was the most important piece of advice your mother ever gave you?

J: She taught me that if you don’t give – you won’t receive. Help others as best you can. Give from the heart but be genuine about it.

E: What’s your secret to aging gracefully? You certainly don’t act 100. I know they feed you well here.

J:  In here, one eats what they put in front of you. (smiling) Well . . . there’s always an activity to occupy our time if we want and I’m happy being here near friends. My mother told me there is always someone who is better off or has less than me so I try to live my best life. Until I see Jesus, this is the life I’m given and I am content.

E: Is that another of your many secrets? So many who live in Assisted Living Facilities miss their previous home and lifestyle, but I’ve never heard you complain.

J: I think I’ve never minded change. I’ve lived a long time and have seen this world change a great deal. Look at how technology has grown. I’m able to watch TV, talk on my cell phone and have friends drive me to church.

E: With that being said, what words of wisdom would you give today’s generation?

J: I’m sorry so many seem to have lost the Godly values my generation had and I’d like to see more kindness.  Young people used to stand aside to allow older people to enter a building. Few do today.

E:  You don’t seem to live in the past as so many do.

J:  I remember my past but I don’t live in it.

Judy epitomizes what being young-at-heart is all about. To be truly content one must be grateful for God’s blessings in one’s life, remain mentally and physically active while being surrounded by loving, supportive friends. Those are the keys to a Joyous Life.

She has truly exemplified Philippians 4:11, “Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have.”

 

Godly and Nutritional Lessons Learned from the Super Bowl

“For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:10)

tom-bradyHow many of you are on a weight loss plan and struggling? Did you expect to lose that weight without a strong mindset, a strategy and proper education? It takes all that to reach a goal. But it’s the third quarter and it seems you’re on a path of failure. You’re stagnating. You think, here we go again, I’m going to fail and everyone will make me a laughing stock!

Do you care more about what others think than what you should? So what’s your solution? Do you give up, laugh it off or cave into a false belief that a goal isn’t worth fighting for?

I watched the Super Bowl and wondered where my beloved Patriots had gone? During the first half, what was going through their minds? Being defeated was a real option for Tom Brady. Sports anchors mentioned repeatedly that no team had ever come back from a 10 point deficit so how could a team overcome a 25 point one?

Well they didn’t know Tom Brady!!! Disciplined, confident and competent, he showed them all! He inspired his team with those personal traits. I admire all those, don’t you? Tom Brady never admitted defeat! He knew his strengths, believed in himself and never gave up!

Not everyone was a fan of the Patriots. Believe it or not there are some who won’t want you to succeed ether. Some might place mental roadblocks or temptations in your way. If you’re successful they might lose your friendship, they believe. Will you stop meeting them at the bakery anymore?  True friends want the best for you and will cheer you on.

When on a weight loss plan, there are times when it’s difficult to continue, when the thought of giving up might enter your mind. When that occurs find your own support team, friends who will fire you up and inspire you. You can also accomplish your goal if you make God your Coach! Don’t believe the devil’s taunts and mind-games! Rather trust in the positive Word of God (Philippians 4:13) which declares you’re strong enough!

However we are all weak at times. We all have good and bad days, accept that. Know yourself, your limits and what you can accomplish. Your ultimate goal is to strive for excellence. Don’t believe your own publicity, good or bad. Brady himself recognized he wasn’t presenting his best during the first half. With that, he determined that even if they lost, they’d begin to employ their best once again.

Have you ever noticed how people who are disciplined sometimes aren’t as popular? Is it insecurity, jealousy? As long as you are doing what God wants, stand firm! God wants you as healthy as you can be – not necessarily a size 2. Eat anything in moderation and enjoy nutritionally healthy food..

Throughout 4 1/2 years of blogging, I am fortunate to have very few nasty comments about why their diet is better than simply eating for nutrients as God intended. However when someone attempts to deride God’s concrete solutions to man’s weight loss problems, I’ll stand firm!

What do you believe? Are you confident that striving for a healthier lifestyle is right? Victory is certainly better than defeat, right? God created each of us uniquely – we all can’t all be Hall of Fame quarterbacks but we all can strive for excellence. Let nothing defeat you, especially mentally. Become confident, as a Christian remember you are a child of the King.

10 Successful Habits for Abundant Health!

 “For it is written, You must be holy, because I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:16)

We are commanded to honor God with our bodies and let’s face it, no one desires to fail on a “diet” plan. But every time we get exasperated, wanting to quit, the devil taunts: see I told you couldn’t do it! Don’t believe it! The Lord knows you are more powerful than Satan so tap into God’s power! (1 John 4:4)victory-on-mountaintop

To ensure weight loss success, establish your defenses against Satan’s lies.

1. Winners know who they are.  Accept your need for self acceptance. You are unique, revel in that. Build your worth around your personality, love for God, others and family. Real beauty comes from within. (1 Samuel 16:7) There are some very attractive but mean-spirited people you’d prefer not to be around, agree?

2. Become conscious of how you react to food. Are you really hungry or just provoked by a feeling? Do you eat healthy foods or do you bring tempting junk into your home? Do you eat quickly or dine leisurely with friends and family?  It takes 20 minutes for your brain to know your tummy is full, so relax and enjoy your food.

3.  Build a support system for accountability/encouragement. God declared that it wasn’t good for man to be alone.  Your friends and family care if you’re unhealthy. Love yourself enough to change for their feelings as well as your own.

4. Successful people are committed to reaching goals. They don’t allow set-backs to deter them. Sometimes you’ll be ten steps forward and then four steps back, but remember, you’re still going forward! As a Christian, is there anything that would entice you to return to a decadent lifestyle? Hope not! Realize that God doesn’t expect perfection from you, only obedience –  so don’t expect it from yourself.

5Successful people develop strategies. They have created strategies to overcome temptations before they arise. Outside influences don’t control them. They know honoring God is more important than   establishing a fattening treat as their idol.

6. They find pleasure in other actions besides eating! Develop a hobby, write, paint, exercise, read a favorite novel, garden, learn a new skill. You do so much for others, now spend time on yourself. It’s not selfish to find satisfaction in a well-rounded lifestyle! Food then won’t be the highlight of your life.

7.  Motivated people use visualization skills.  Try visualizing yourself covered in beef fat. Visualize eating raw chicken skin, mmm . . . or bacon grease coursing throughout your veins.  Not very attractive. Think of your heart as a separate entity, faithfully working day and night to keep you alive. Your heart deserves better!

8Winners are confident people! Aren’t you drawn to confident leaders? Just think how mentally strong you become, because no one else can lose your weight but you!! If you can lose weight you can do anything, so walk like a winner!

9. Winners become educated. They understand why they eat, where the temptations are. They control their daily fat intake and rarely eat junk food which greatly ages the body. They exercise because it’s beneficial. They’ve learned how the body works. What a fascinating machine God gave us!

10. Feeling great is their everyday routine. Healthy people smile more, enjoying life! Being healthy improves one’s looks, energy level, longevity, self-esteem and is a testimony to how God gloriously rules in our lives.

Walk with God’s Strength, it’s something winners strive for.

“For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.” (Isaiah 41:13)

Thank you for the “Sisterhood of the World” Award

How wonderful to discover while on vacation that I’ve been nominated by a lovely new follower, Fashionable Librarian for the Sisterhood of the World Award.  I am honored and thank her so much for thinking of me.  Please check out her fabulous “fashionista” blog at   sisterhood[1] http://conciergelibrarian.com/2015/09/26/sisterhood-of-the-world-bloggers-award/

I find these type of awards a wonderful way to discover more about our blogging friends. Only wish I could nominate many more. Have fun with this one!

Here are the simple rules for participating:

1. Thank the blogger who nominated you, linking back to their site.
2. Put the award logo on your blog.
3. Answer the ten questions sent to you.
4. Make up ten new questions for your nominees to answer.
5. Nominate ten blogs, notify them.

Questions I had to answer:

What is your ideal vacation spot?  

Where do I start? Possibly the coast of Spain, the Highlands of Scotland? The Rhine River of Germany? No, I think my favorite place is a small area high above Innsbrook, Austria called Pertisau. An absolutely breathtaking, peaceful village surrounded by mountains. My husband and I loved cross-country skiing there. Enjoyed stopping at local eateries for gluwein and brats as we progressed.

Where are you from?

Having lived in 14 States, moved over 20 times in my life as a girl, while in the military, golf and on God’s ministry, I’m from “everywhere.” Educated up north, raised mostly in the south.  Best of both worlds!

What is the national dish of your country?

Probably Bar-B-que, wouldn’t you think, USA?

Dark or milk chocolate?

Definitely dark!!! Nutrients you know.

Coffee or tea?

Always preferred coffee until we moved to Ohio where the winters are freezing and spiced teas warm us up!

Do you have a pet?

Had a skunk, raccoon, calf, cats, duck, (until he went to duckie “heaven” my mom said. Can’t eat duck to this day) Now we own two crazy dogs, a Cocker and Lhasa who frequently get mentioned in this blog.

If so how did you decide on a name?

They fit the names they already had, couldn’t change ’em.  Too stubborn . . .  dogs that is, not us.

Reggae or Hip Hop?

I guess Reggae because of it’s happy Caribbean beat, but love all types of music from Jazz to Country.

If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?

Mmm, any place near the ocean. Mykonos, Greece sounds good.

Why would you want to live there?

The warmth of the people, the freedom to write.

Here are my questions:

  1. Would you rather win an Oscar, Pulitzer, Nobel or other award? Why?
  2. What would be your dream job?
  3. What characteristics describe your ideal husband?
  4. What’s your favorite place to vacation?
  5. What’s your greatest skill?
  6. What was your first car?
  7. What were you like in high school?
  8. Have you met a celebrity? Who?
  9. Have you been on television?
  10. What historical person would you invite to dinner?

Have fun!  Here are my Nominees:

  1. https://storyland4.wordpress.com
  2. http://dgkayewriter.comhttp://faithpondering.com
  3. https://saminaiqbal27.wordpress.com
  4. http://lorriebowden.com
  5. http://stormiesteele.com
  6. http://fromtrextotigress.com
  7. https://harmonyspearls.wordpress.com
  8. https://mothergrowfitter.wordpress.com
  9. https://courtingmadness.wordpress.com
  10. http://amydavisart.com

“I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus,”  (1 Corinthians 1:4)