Tag Archive | Christian

The Best Present Ever

the-christ-child-birth“He it is who remembered us in our lowly circumstances, for his gracious love is everlasting—” (Psalm 136:23)

When I was a child we didn’t have a lot of material items. We lived in a dilapidated old farm house with no indoor plumbing. Until our father installed a bathroom and plumbing, we had to use a pump to draw water and use the outhouse. But choosing to remember the good, it did have a charming pot belly stove in the dining room and a fireplace in the living room.

One day, just before Christmas, the fireplace caught fire and we lost most if not all our presents that year. We were grateful our home didn’t burn to the ground but what did survive smelled like smoke.

One night as we were returning home, there was a note attached to our front door. It told us to walk around to the side of our house and lift up the storm door. There, lo and behold, we found it filled with gifts of warm clothes, quilts, food, stuffed animals and other toys! I can’t remember who gave us those gifts but decades later, it was the memory of finding those precious gifts that meant the most to me.

At that time, we could have sent the presents back, but did we? No, wouldn’t we be fools to do so? So we embraced those gifts as a true love offering from someone who cared and wanted to brighten up our holiday, allowing us to forget the sorrow of our past.

I am not poor anymore and have accumulated much over my lifetime. But sometimes I wonder how many materialistic items do I need in life? In the year 2000, after deciding to become fulltime RV’ers, we sold almost everything we owned. I looked over all those items and thought, it’s just stuff. (Basically the only items we kept were memories in a 5×7 storage unit.)

How much “stuff” do you need? Most items will fade or be given away and all this eventually will turn to dust. But memories should last forever. That memory warmed my soul and turned a tragedy into a kindness I never forgot.

This Christmas Season I urge you to enjoy all the true Joy which God wants us to possess. But please don’t get so caught up in the frivolity of the gift-giving and “who got what” that we forget the True Meaning of the Season.

“”For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”  (John 3:16)

God gave us the best present of all; one which will never fade away. He gave His Only Son that we may believe and accept God’s Gift of Eternal Life. But not all will accept and believe. Some will be foolish, rejecting a very special gift which is far greater than any we received after our chimney fire. I look forward to an eternity thanking God for the Best Gift of All! Accept God’s Precious Gift today and experience True Joy.

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A Choice Between Nebuchadnezzar and Jezebel – Oh Goodie

Tomorrow is Election Day. Soon this painfully long spiteful political season will be over. Can I hear an “Amen?”

It seems we only have two possibilities even if several lesser candidates would be a better choice. With 322 million residents in the United States, many are wondering, is this the best we can do? Oh how the public is fretting over this election!

Wake up America! I don’t place my trust in government, I place it in my LORD and Savior. No matter what, God is in control! In Him I will place my trust! As it states in Psalm 118:6, “The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” and as Paul stated, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21) Although I’d unafraid of dying, I’d rather not nebuchadnezzarbecome Soylent Green. (It’s a futuristic movie where old people become food because the economy fails.)

No matter who wins, every one of our candidates is a flawed one. (Same as us, so let’s not get too judgmental.)

One candidate acts like Nebuchadnezzar and the other as King Ahab’s wife, Jezebel. Don’t know who these people are? Never heard of them? Check out Daniel 4 in the Bible and 1 Kings 16:31; 18:4-19; 19:1, 2; 21:5-25.

In Daniel 4: 28-37, we find Nebuchadnezzar, the pompous King of Assyria who conquered the Israelites. Now he had a huuuuggge ego. One day as he gazed out over his vast kingdom, he pompously proclaimed how impressed he was with this Empire which he had built. Due to Nebuchadnezzar’s incredible arrogance, God immediately drove him from his kingdom. He lived  in madness outside his beautiful Babylonian city living literally as a beast in the field for seven years, until he humbled himself and gave God the glory. God restored him when he gave honor and worship to the One True God. God is in control!

King Ahab’s wicked wife Queen Jezebel on the other hand, let nothing get in her way while winning thejezebels-death crown. Diabolical, she ruled over her weak husband and recklessly destroyed anyone who got in her way, including family members. She lusted after control and would do anything to achieve it. She was determined to destroy all God’s prophets to retain it and worship idols. Power was her idol. In 2 Kings 9: 30-37, she met a gruesome death when members of her own court threw her out of a window and her flesh was eaten by dogs. Again God is in control!

Remember the saying, anyone who doesn’t remember the past is doomed to repeat it? Well here we go again. We should always respect the office and authority but only have one God. These are dark days but I know who rules the future and it is no candidate.

Please vote with a Spiritual lens and trust the Lord.

“But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”  (Joshua 24:15)

 

 

Peace and Contentment

thAK4MS6ZZWhen I was a young child and asked my mother what she wanted for Christmas, she would always reply, “Peace and contentment.”  Okay, I wondered in my childlike mind, how do I package that?

Well, as I grew, I learned that peace and contentment isn’t a thing to be wrapped, it’s an attitude. It can’t be bought, it just is. Love comes from our hearts, minds and spirits . . . and the best love is always given away.

How do you believe God would answer that question if we asked Him what gift He would like from us this Christmas? Wouldn’t it  be the same? For the best gift is something we give of ourselves with the express goal of making another happy. Perhaps that’s why I’ve always thought the best presents were handmade because they were created from the heart.

God doesn’t need presents. Let’s face it, He could write a check for anything He wanted. Speak and it would Be. What He needs and desires is an attitude of love. He loved US enough, even in our most despicable, selfish self, to give the most glorious gift of all, the gift of Salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ.

“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)

As you unwrap all those material presents this year, remember the real reason for the season amidst all that clutter. Those gifts will deteriorate and pass away but the gift of Salvation lasts for eternity. Accept the most important Gift God offers to us, an eternity of peace and contentment.

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

Merry Christmas to all and I pray our attitudes continually express peace and contentment,  for we have been very blessed indeed.

 

 

So A Funny Thing Happened On Our Way to Florida . . .

So Goodbye Arizona:

At our age, it seemed no one wanted an enthusiastic but older couple who simply wanted to follow God’s leading into ministry. With 27 years of schooling, a Seminary Master’s degree and two photo of Dave and Ellie 2Doctorate’s, who wouldn’t want my husband as a teaching pastor?  However, sending out resumes and receiving countless rejection letters became discouraging. News Flash: If you’re on a search committee, please don’t send a rejection letter stating you’ve decided to go in a “different direction.”  As Christians, Dave and I are going in the right direction, where is your church going???

So we then contemplated moving to The Villages in Florida, complacent to teaching adult Sunday School.  You know . . .  somewhere, hot , sunny and warm. Nearer our children.

I’m sure you’ve heard the expression,  “Man plans . . .  God laughs?”

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”  (Jeremiah 29:11)

“Out of the blue,” we received a call. A small town church in Ohio was looking for a compassionate pastor who would take the helm and grow their church.  After much prayer, many conference calls and a personal visit, we fell in love with the warmth of the congregation, (which more than substituted for the warmth of Florida.)

Arizona is a snow bird location but sadly the economy here hasn’t risen as other areas have. Everyone told us the prospect of selling our home quickly was remote, usually taking an average of eight months to sell. However we had a secret weapon: the Will of God! Faith believes that if God wants a mountain to move, it will move.

“There is no coincidence with God.” 

I’m hardly ever out in my front yard (everyone lives in their gravel-based backyards in Arizona)  but 7:30 that morning I was out sweeping off my walkway, preparing for a large realtor tour in a couple of hours. A man coincidentally drives up to our sign out front and picks up a flyer. He glances over at me and asks enthusiastically if I am the owner? When I confirmed I was, he wondered why his realtor hadn’t shown him this beauty before? Of course I joked it was even prettier inside.

His name was Bob from New Jersey. He was on a mission, here for only three days, searching for a home for his wife and him in a warmer climate. Would it be possible on short notice to view our home? He came by with his realtor immediately after the tour and within three hours we accepted his cash offer. He generously offered to purchase some of our furniture which he didn’t know, I had been praying to sell anyway.

Another coincidence was, that very morning at 6am, (9am Ohio time) we had been notified that our offer on the home we desired in Ohio had been accepted!  And the street name of the new home?  It happened to be my sister’s name who lived 75 miles away.  Who says God doesn’t have a sense of humor?

So goodbye my beloved Arizona, goodbye cowboy hat and hello new adventure as we follow God’s chosen pathway for us. I want to  especially thank Pastor Sebastian Weaver,  Pastor Joe Quatrone and Storyad for their continuing, encouraging prayers for God’s Will to be done in our lives and the acceptance of whatever that might be!

 “For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.”  (Ruth 1:16)

 

 

 

Praising Pathways – Wherever They Lead!

Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”

Little did I know, as a teenager, when my mother wrote those precious words in my first Bible, where those pathways would lead.Dave and Ellie Marrandette

Sometimes the paths were winding:

In college, this guy walks into my classroom as I was leaving, and a friend introduced us. He said his name was David, handed me his newspaper and mentioned he had a gerbil named Gina Lollogerbil. I just thought he was the cutest thing on campus. Three days later he asked me to marry him.  But I was stubborn. I had no interest in marriage, I was having too much fun and anyway, another guy had already proposed the day I met Dave. Well, I held out for three weeks.  Next month we celebrate our 45th wedding anniversary. Where did those years go? (I still feel thirty although my bones tell me differently.)

Headed to Australia for a new job, we had Visa’s, passports, shots, airline tickets . . . when life took an abrupt “drafty” turn. “Uncle Sam wants you,” his country declared!  So our path took us down 20 years of military service, with its 12 moves including California, Washington D.C. and Germany. Then it was Dave’s call to seminary which lead to a teaching position at a small Christian school. A tiny $500 per month salary was tough, so he was lured away into the golf industry. More exciting diversity ensued, as well as several more moves. Then it was fulltime motor-homing for 6 years with more adventures while cultivating friendships along the way.

Occasionally the paths became rocky:

One can’t be married without some impediments along the pathways. But with God as our GPS system, He steered us through the rough patches, restoring, growing and refining our love for each other. Believing that marriage is a 50-50 proposition is a myth. Sometimes Dave needed me 70% and sometimes I needed him more. Spouses also get on each other’s nerves and sometimes even being married can be a lonely situation. But through it all, the Lord is faithful and I praise God for always having Him as our solid marital foundation.

Gloriously, there were smooth paths:

When a decision is God’s Will, it has a way of working out. That is what Faith is all about. When we were out of God’s Will, challenges arose, but when He called us out of the desert, (quite literally since we live in the Arizona desert)  we answered that call. As we discover when reading and study Scriptures, it is unwise to rebel against God’s Will. (Jonah, anyone?)

Even if it meant sacrifice, such as giving up a family celebration, we learned to obey and trust Him. The world doesn’t understand and looks at any Christian who must choose between God and family and criticizes that choice, no matter how heartbreaking it was to make.

My husband has answered the call to be a pastor at a loving, praying, small church in Ohio. Although I prayed we would eventually return to the Myrtle Beach or Charleston, SC area, God had other plans. (Good thing I never gave away my winter coat!) Perhaps I always knew in my heart that to make a decision to follow Christ wouldn’t be easy, but it is certainly worth the sacrifice for our LORD who gave up all for me.

So we are moving this week! My next post will confirm that this was the miraculous “coincidental” pathway God wanted us to follow all along! Please stay tuned!

Diabetes and Your Diet

While working with doctors in the ’90s, I specialized in diabetic care. “Joe,” a 55-year-old overweight patient was a Type 1 Diabetic. He had been injecting insulin shots for over 40 years. Joes’ obesity didn’t thBCI8XUYSallow insulin to reach his insulin-responsive muscles and was in danger of losing a limb. Through a better diet and daily exercise, he lost 75 pounds in 14 months. His blood sugar levels stabilized and I was extremely proud of his dedication to healthy habits.

One day in my office, he asked, “Ellie, can I tell you something?”

Immediately I thought, “Oh great, he’s decided to stop coming in.” What he said was even worse.

“I took myself off insulin two weeks ago,” he quietly stated.

For a Type 1 Diabetic, this was unheard of! I surmised that his body must have been delivering some insulin or perhaps he had been misdiagnosed 40 years ago. (I do not recommend any diabetic discontinuing insulin without a doctor’s approval!) Still two years later, he was still maintaining his weight loss and insulin stability.

In the twenty years since, diabetes has increased to epidemic proportions in this country. More children than ever have this disease. Why?

For one thing, we have become a Fast-Food-Nation with all its fatty selections. Surprisingly, fat is more detrimental to the diabetic than sugar. Fat clogs the arteries which stresses the body, which raises insulin. There are basically only three food groups: Carbohydrates, Proteins and Fats. Since carbs produce glucose, most diabetics avoid carbs but reach for sugar-free items which are loaded with fat.  A practical diabetic diet should consist of 50% complex carbohydrates, 25% good lean protein and 25% beneficial fats like olive or canola oil, avocados, fatty fish and nuts. Avoid any chemically processed food. Make lean pork, sirloin, chicken, eggs, turkey and fish your preferred meat options.

The best habit diabetics can incorporate into their daily routine is routine. A diabetic needs to live a disciplined life. Eat systematically to keep blood sugar levels stable, meaning same time each day, every day: 8am, 10am snack, noon, 2pm snack, 6pm and always incorporate a small protein rich snack before bedtime. th5XPXWPBM

Moderate exercise is essential on a routine basis to avoid nerve damage and establish ways to release life’s stresses which raises insulin levels. The hormone epinephrine, created for the human “fight or flight” reaction, increases fatty acid production while shutting off insulin while under stress. Constant stress upsets pancreatic balance and solicits diabetes.

Certain foods regulate insulin:

Chromium. Chromium is like the doorknob which allows insulin to flow slowly into your system. Some foods containing this are mushrooms, corn, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, beets, turkey, shellfish, garlic, apples and basil.  Add garlic to as many foods as you can; pasta sauces, pork loin, chicken, breads,

The antioxidant lipoic acid, contained in spinach, potatoes, broccoli, liver and red meat, fights premature aging of the arteries (aging arteries makes the heart pump harder, increasing stress.)

Cinnamon allows your fat cells to recognize and respond to insulin more efficiently. Put it in cereals, over whole grain toast and fruit. Along with a half teaspoon of cinnamon, I place about a quarter teaspoon of turmeric in my coffee as well. Makes the smoothest cup of coffee I’ve ever tasted!

The best foods for a diabetic contain fiber. Fiber allows insulin to be dispensed more slowly into the blood stream. Diabetics however should avoid fruit salads since it’s too much sugar at one time. Fibrous foods mean fresh fruits with skin, vegetables, whole grains, cereals with 5 grams of fiber, nuts, seeds and herbs. Eat sensibly, your health depends on it!

 “Worship the LORD your God, and his blessing will be on your food and water. I will take away sickness from among you,” Exodus 23: 25

 

 

Be Your Own Best Friend and Also God’s!

Are we truly a friend of God’s, exemplifying peace, joy and kindness in the world? If I claim to be a Christian, it’s important for me to ‘walk the walk,’ otherwise I am a stumbling block for those who are watching me and this grieves the Holy Spirit. When I was young, I expected perfection from myself. Over the years I took steps to be more realistic, but it wasn’t easy. Change isn’t instantaneous. For me it was usually five steps forward, two steps back. If that’s you too, remember we’re still moving forward!

It’s amazing how the mind can be one’s most motivational cheerleader and friend one moment and in a blink of an eye, be its worst enemy. It can build up but also break down a person so emotionally that they hide their subconscious thoughts behind closed lady looking in a mirrordoors in a far-off corner of the mind. It is simply too painful to unlock the memories to view them honestly.

It’s the same with our nutritional health. It’s never easy to admit our part in failure. Occasionally a dieter blames failure on heredity. Genes do play an important role in one’s bone structure, ability to lose and how one ends up with the body shape they have. But so does self-destructive eating, pride, unconscious eating, people pleasing, peer pressure and even revenge.

One diabetic patient insisted there was absolutely nothing to be done about her weight gain due to it “being in her genes.” Possibly, I thought. Some are predisposed to genetic challenges.  But then later that month I saw the small family pet at the vet clinic, overweight by 20 lbs. and wondered sadly what genes the dog had? Clearly personal lifestyle habits factored in and this patient was in denial.

Unfortunately many, such as my patient above, deny reality, preferring to bury truth deep inside the recesses of the mind and find excuses. The fantasy land they desire is better than the factual one they live in.

Awareness is the first step in anyone’s recovery.  Until one knows why he/she acts in a particular way, they won’t change. This only masks the problem.

“The integrity of the upright guides them, but the crookedness of the treacherous destroys them.” (Proverbs 1:3)

Think back. Every overweight person had only five pounds to lose at first. Then it became ten, then twenty and on and on. Why?  What occurred originally to make them self-destruct? Was it abuse, rebellion, overwhelming problems with seemingly no way out?  At that time reach outward instead of withdrawing within, find a trusted friend, pastor or organization such as Against Abuse to confide in. Just because someone you see wears a smile, doesn’t mean they haven’t experienced deep pain. In fact, it usually means they are survivors and learned how to cope. Don’t you want to know how they overcame challenges so you can too?

Reaching out to another person isn’t weakness! It takes a strong individual to humble themselves and ask for help. Even Jesus cried out for help in the Garden. But then he resolved within himself to find the strength to continue his mission for our souls. He went boldly toward Calvary. Praise God he didn’t give up on us! How can we then justify giving up and not present our best temple of the Holy Spirit to Him? Strive to discover that best friend within that God knows you are, because He resides in you! Utilize His strength!

“We are careful to be honorable before the Lord, but we also want everyone else to see that we are honorable.”  (2 Corinthians 8:21)