God’s Faithfulness on Display

She stepped forward, pausing momentarily to set aside the music stand before flawlessly performing her entire flute solo from memory. With the air of a seasoned professional, she brought the mouthpiece to her lips. The audience watched silently, eyes glued on the teen whose body flowed in harmony with the melody she performed. Few among them knew her backstory, which is a profound testimony of God’s faithfulness.

More than a decade ago, her grandmother adopted her from parents who were heavily addicted to drugs. Taking custody cost every financial resource her single, working grandmother could muster, including her retirement savings. Moreover, with health issues stemming from prenatal exposure to drugs, this girl endured years of physical and emotional disorders. At times, it seemed an impossible task. Her grandmother consistently demonstrated that trusting in the Lord is the answer to overcoming every obstacle.

This pair have faced more than the average share of trials. Her grandmother had to find a way to work full time while managing her granddaughter’s homeschool education. They took on side jobs that allowed them to work together as a way to make ends meet. True, many friends came alongside them throughout the years to provide childcare, help with occasional meals, and run errands. But, as the grandmother attests, it is the prayers that God has faithfully answered with outcomes that awed and thrilled all who have participated in this journey. 

There is much to learn here about God’s faithfulness:

  • Pray – Make prayer a priority. Often, people call on the Lord as a last resort. This story is an example of what can happen when we call on God first, and trust him to provide the best, if not always the easiest, answer to our requests. It serves as a reminder to make your needs known to the Father, who gives generously to all who ask.
  • Persevere – I doubt anyone would have faulted this grandmother had she held back on providing the best possible education and musical instruction for her granddaughter. Her choices required countless personal sacrifices that she willingly made. This is a reminder that whatever is happening in life right now, “don’t quit” doing what is right. 
  • Participate – It takes a lot of humility to admit a need in a culture that praises successful individuals. But, God calls Christians to live in community and to share our ongoing needs with trustworthy friends. We all need help at some time along life’s journey. Your willingness to run an errand, bring a meal, or babysit for a few hours might seem insignificant. In reality, you may be doing the exact thing that is needed in the moment. Better yet, step up and offer to help before a request is made. 

Many friends who stood by this young lady and her grandmother through the years were present to watch her recital, blessed to experience the joy that resulted from God’s answer to their prayers and support. It’s a reminder to this writer that our Father rewards those who persevere under trials and to be thankful for all he has given. Gratitude is the word. 

When we pray, remember to begin with worship to God for who he is and thank him for all he has done for us. Trust that he understands our needs better than we do ourselves. The Lord will reveal his plans for our lives at the perfect time. That’s when we see his faithfulness on display.

“Let us not become weary in doing good,

for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

Galatians 6:9

It Says In Romans …

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:20).

One of the first knee-jerk responses to being wronged is a desire to take revenge. When someone attacks us, either physically or emotionally, the human urge is to settle the score, to redeem our reputation, or to literally throw a punch. By contrast, God admonishes us to take a different approach. 

Rather than strike back, we are told to stand down and allow the Lord to handle the situation. Why would God command us to respond in this way? The answer is right there in Romans 12, plain as day. In a military context, to stand down is to stop the action and allow a rapidly escalating situation to cool down. Taking a confrontive approach only fuels an already volatile situation, sometimes to a point that causes irreparable harm.

One of the most famous examples of interpersonal relations gone wrong is a feud between the Hatfields and McCoys. What began as bickering escalated to murder and continued for some 30 years until so many lives were lost that the U. S. Supreme Court became involved. To this day, there is still uncertainty about how the feud even began.

There are great lessons to be learned from the Hatfields and McCoys about the way we respond to wrongdoings. If we repay evil for evil, we not only damage our reputation, we prolong the downward spiral of destruction. As Christians, we dishonor our Heavenly Father. But when we repay evil with good, we display the same kind of compassion that was shown to us by our Lord Jesus. That’s enough reason to bite your tongue and unclench your fist.

When Christ sacrificed his life for us as the sinless Lamb of God, he did what none other could do: He offered salvation to everyone who would put their faith in Him. Our job as believers is to act in a way that draws others to the same saving grace of God. It’s akin to helping a lost soul find safe passage out of a burning inferno.

Speaking of burning, those coals mentioned in Romans are about humility. It’s a necessary part of the saving grace that Christ offers: acknowledging that he is God and we are not, that we are powerless on our own to save ourselves from the wrath of God. So the next time you find yourself confronted with any kind of evil, stand down and call out to Jesus. He’s got this.

Romans 12:20 plays a pivotal role in Stormy Encounters, my teen/YA fiction book scheduled to release March 14, 2023. It’s the kind of message parents and grandparents want younger generations to read. Watch for it on Amazon.

One Good Thing about 9/11

Prayer Focus

The entire nation was shocked when two planes piloted by Islamic Jihadists demolished the Twin Towers in New York City on September 11, 2001. Our collective sense of security was shattered. Repercussions rippled across our nation and around the world as the horror of the attack sank in. The act of terrorism did, however, serve to unite American citizens under the principles of freedom that are the foundation of our government. 

American flags appeared on homes throughout neighborhoods, non-church goers attended worship services, and the airwaves were bombarded with stories of near misses, survivors, and heroes who experienced the atrocity first hand. That unity crossed the boundaries of religion, ethnicity, and political ideology. Patriotism soared. “Never Forget” became the rallying cry. 

Sadly, within weeks people began to retreat from their united front. Flags flew less frequently and churches were no longer filled as the impact of 9/11 waned. Freedoms previously experienced by travelers were forfeited in the name of safety. Many of our grandchildren who  were infants or not yet born in 2001 have no recollections of airports without security screening or schools without metal detectors. 

Now, 21 years after that horrific act, some school systems are altering references to the event of that day from their curriculums. We are told it is to counter prejudice against people of certain ethnic and religious groups. With a spirit of love for all mankind, we are instructed to teach accurate historical truths to the generations that follow.

Do we need another foreign assault to bring us together? Hopefully not. The next assault against Christians is likely to come from within a nation that has forgotten the laws set down by our Creator God. The battles we face are in our homes, schools, and communities. As members of the army of God, our duty is to pass along God’s Truth to our children’s children.

“ And what other nation is so great as to have such righteous decrees and laws
as this body of laws I am setting before you today?

Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely
so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen
or let them fade from your heart as long as you live.
Teach them to your children and to their children after them.”
(Deuteronomy 4:8-9)

As it relates to God’s Word, “never forget” is the cry every Christian grandparent needs to exclaim. Our grandchildren are depending on us. If there is any good lesson to learn from 9/11, it is the call for Christians to stand in unison and profess the Word of God to all nations.

Photo by Jonathan Meyer on Unsplash.

A Gem of an Idea

Creative Pursuits

It started with a broken bracelet. Then came the YouTube video tutorials followed by an in-person class, where I made my first pair of earrings. Jewelry making has turned into one of my favorite hobbies. I turned out many gifts and custom-made items for special outfits of my own. It also provided a natural opportunity to have conversations with grandkids and others, both boys and girls, while teaching them how to create their own gifts and personal accessories.

Girls adore the necklaces and bracelets they make themselves; more is better seems to be the rule. I think it’s the freedom to choose the exact components they put in it. Even my grandson occasionally accent his camouflage tee shirt with the masculine bracelet he made from black and silver beads with charcoal gray stones. He also has made necklaces for his mother and sister using their favorite colors and charms. These reportedly get lots of hugs when he presents them to their recipients.

It might be because I started this hobby from a repair perspective that I often hunt through yard sales and flea markets for broken or out of fashion jewelry with interesting beads. I like to pair these finds with store-bought beads, stones, and leaded crystals in one-of-a-kind patterns. For me, the most enjoyable part of the process is seeing how individual components work together in different combinations to create something that is better than the sum of its parts. It’s a lot like observing how we, as uniquely created people, can work together and end our time feeling more upbeat than when we began. 

Making jewelry together, or for that matter, sharing any hobby together, opens the doors to talk about deeper concerns of life. At times, children who are working on a jewelry item with me will drift into a conversation about something that is troubling them or one of their future hopes. It’s an organic way to drill down to the crux of the matter without pressure or pretense. We may end up sharing a prayer of thanks or a petition for intervention to God.

Give it a try. We all need time to refresh our minds and renew our souls. Allow yourself the simple pleasure of engaging in a favorite activity or hobby. It could be anything from fishing with a grandchild or teaching kids how to make bracelets to, well, you fill in the blank. Relax, enjoy the time, and ask the Holy Spirit to guide your thoughts and conversations.

Then drop me a note and tell me about your hobby.

The Gift of Freedom

My grandson and I sat in our folding chairs, watching as the carnies dismantled the festival rides beneath a sky bursting with 4th of July fireworks. It was the first time I viewed fireworks from this perspective, in the middle of a basketball court with a few other family groups gathered nearby doing the same. We chose this location because it avoided the hordes of onlookers that descended on the city’s lakefront where the pyrotechnics were launched.

As crews worked at removing a ferris wheel, merry-go-round, and other rides from their positions and loading them piece-by-piece into semi trailers, my thoughts landed on the reasons we celebrate Independence Day.

A huge, sparkling aerial display above the carnival grounds recalled the many battles that had been fought to defend our freedom. It’s the same message that appears on a t-shirt I sometimes wear with the message “Freedom is Not Free” atop an image of the American flag. It seems many in our nation have forgotten this reality. My grandson and I spent a few minutes talking about the sacrifices military personnel have made to ensure our freedom.

The chatter from the work crew prompted my grandson to comment that they were having fun at work. During my younger years, I might have thoroughly enjoyed traveling around the country bringing summertime entertainment to different communities. There are seasons in life for us to utilize the various talents and abilities that have been bestowed upon us by God. We are blessed in our nation with opportunities to use and develop our individual gifts.

After the fireworks’ finale, we folded up our chairs and walked back to our car under the dim light of a few streetlamps. As a woman, it is my habit to take note of my surroundings; I felt safe here. That is not true everywhere, including some places in the metropolitan area where we reside. I silently thanked the police officers who watch over our community and respond to calls for help. I appreciate their willingness to head into dangerous situations to protect me should the need ever arise.

None of us have a choice of where or when we enter this world, or the circumstances. We don’t get to decide when we will leave it. But we have been given freedom to choose how we will live out our time and where we will be once that time on earth has ended. When we put our faith in Christ as our Savior, we are assured of eternal life with Him in heaven. 

“For by grace you have been saved through faith.
And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,
not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
Ephesians 2:8-9

Christ has already paid the price for our freedom. I am happy to say both my grandson and I, along with many other family members, have chosen His gift. This free gift is available to everyone who asks with a sincere heart. May freedom ring in your heart forever.

Showers of April Blessings

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5

One of the most popular verses in the Bible, found on coffee mugs, wall hangings, or bookmarks is Proverbs 3:5.

I suspect this is because we find comfort in knowing God looks out for us. When life is going according to our plan, it is a lighthearted reminder. And, when we face the inevitable difficulties of life, this verse becomes a spiritual lifesaver, especially when it is accompanied by the next verse, Proverbs 3:6, that reads “In all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight”. 

God never fails to deliver on his promises.

When my grandson was less than one week old, I asked him to give me the opportunity to teach him about Jesus. God’s faithful response throughout the decade that followed made it clear that he wants me to follow up on my commitment. Whenever my path seemed to be heading to a dead end, an opportunity opened up to continue with biblical training. 

What the Lord has done for me, he can do for you. Your testimony is uniquely your own, however, the command to bring your faith to light with grandchildren is common to all believers. It begins with your request for favor over your grandchild, and your unique style of sharing your faith in God. 

You can always count on God. I know God will care for you. Trust Him when…

Compare Notes

Photo courtesy of Alvaro Serrano on Unsplash

Admit it, the world we live in doesn’t always make sense. A quick glance at the news reminds us that our country is undergoing a long season of trepidation and rebellion. Given the conflicting deluge of messages thrust upon us daily, it’s nearly impossible to know what to believe. Thankfully, there is one source of information we can rely upon for absolute truth: the Bible. Eternal wisdom flows from its pages.  

“Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God,
keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations
of those who love him and keep his commandments.”
Deuteronomy 7:9

We probably all have concerns for our grandchildren’s physical and spiritual well being. Having many decades of experience, we’re reminiscent of the Farmers Insurance ad tagline, “We know a thing or two because we’ve seen a thing or two.” Our perspectives and collective wisdom are vital for these young ones. That old cliche’ reminding us “it takes a village to raise a child” hits home here. Please, allow God to be at the center of it all. 

It is a blessing to have friends that share the same concerns for their grandchildren as I do for my grandson. We support one another with prayer, encouragement, and advice, much as mothers of young children do amongst themselves. Think of it as comparing notes with other people whose ultimate goal aligns with yours: to spend eternity with our grandchildren and other believers in heaven. Be sure to bring a notebook the next time you meet.

 “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances;
for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

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