When You’ve Lost It All

I noticed her immediately, seated alone in the breakfast area of the hotel we were staying in. She was a beautiful woman talking on her iPhone, her voice was smooth a silk, her blonde corkscrew hair spouted like gorgeous wheat from her head. This beauty wore cute zebra print leggings and a loose sweatshirt. Michael and I were visiting the Nashville area last weekend for a wedding and stayed in Murfreesboro. We started eating our breakfast at the small table beside hers and after she finished her phone conversation, I struck up one with her.

“So are you from around here or are you just visiting,” I asked.

“No, I’m actually from Atlanta. We’ve moved up here recently for work.” She continued, “But just last week there was a fire at our apartment and we lost everything. So we are lodging here temporarily ”

“Oh, my!” I responded.

She continued. “When they told us there was a fire three doors down, we didn’t think it was going to be such a big thing but the fire ran across the attic and they didn’t realize it until the roof went up in flames. People were yelling, ‘there’s a fire get out!’ We never got to go back in.  The only thing we have left is what we walked out with.  Luckily, I grabbed my car keys!”

While she was describing the event of losing it all, I couldn’t help but notice her countenance.  She wasn’t troubled, defeated, depressed or even angry. She spoke  a bit about her son’s recent birthday. He had valuable gift cards in his wallet.  “Gone!” She continued, “Everything will need to be replaced, but I don’t even know what all we had! So I’ve been on the phone asking people who have been to our apartment to send me pictures they’ve taken. I’ve asked them, ‘Remember the time you took that picture and posted it on  Facebook…Can you send it to me? I’ll need to see the things in the background so I can have them replaced one day through my insurance.'”

Then she recalled this request from her kids, when they first moved to Tennessee, she chuckled and told me they’d asked, “Hey, Mama can we get new beds?”

I told them, “Maybe one day.”

Then she lowered her chin, looked me in the eye with the sparkle she had in hers, tilted her head and said through laughter, “Well, now we’re all getting new beds!”

Screen Shot 2017-05-05 at 10.12.38 AM

(Photo Credit: Tyler Armstrong)

I remember she calmly testified about God’s goodness and people’s tangible care:

  • Folks from the church they had just begun to attend gave them helpful cash gifts.
  • The same group from her church, gave them a Walmart gift card.
  • The Red Cross were the first responders and took care of  all the members of the apartment complex so well.

Even when she spoke about losing everything, she kept repeating, “BUT God’s good!’ What struck me was she would say it when she mentioned the loss and when mentioning  any care, generosity, or provision. You see, it’s because God is good all the time.

This woman had nothing to testify other than,”God is good!” I asked if I could pray for her and we immediately bowed in prayer there in our breakfast seats. I thanked God for her life, her safety, her family and spoke His favor over her and declared how His goodness and mercy would follow her all the days of her life.

I sat and reflected on how she lost everything! Everything? No, not everything. You see, she had NOT lost her great attitude or her thankful heart. That could not be taken, stolen or even burned away. She is a beautiful, grateful woman who testifies to God’s goodness in the midst of hard things. She spoke only of God’s goodness in the hard things which truly ministered to me. I asked her if I could blog about her story and she said, “Sure!”

The following morning we saw one another again. We both milled around the breakfast area. It was bustling with multiple morning travelers, long-term dwellers and even a sports team all dressed in jerseys ready for their upcoming morning competition.  We smiled at one another then struck up a brief conversation. She mentioned , “My children are excited to read your blog.”

I darted to my car, quickly snatched a copy of  my book Lily Pads- Stories of God on Display and dashed back inside the hotel before she vanished. As I handed it to her I thanked her for telling me of the ways she had seen God on display in her own life.  I quickly sat back down, “I want to dedicate this book to you, will you please spell your name for me?” I asked.

Sure, It’s Ulanda, U L A N D A, Ulanda!” She declared.  I wrote a dedication and signed it quickly.

She smiled, “Thank you so much.” she said.

When I think of Ulanda I will think about how she is a beautiful woman who lives out one of my favorite verses. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NLT.  “Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”

Ulanda lives this out, even when she seemed to lose everything, she didn’t loose her good attitude, joyful heart, the willingness to pray nor her ability to be thankful in all circumstances.  Let’s all pray for these displaced people and live out the above verse, what have we got to lose?

Screen Shot 2017-05-05 at 10.11.03 AM

*photos from the article in the paper about the apartment complex fire in Murfreesboro.

What’s God not doing?

She was dressed for summer in an icy blue, vertically striped shirt and a pair of white pants. Her familiar smile lit up her face and mine. She greeted me with a sweet hug that enveloped me, “Hi friend!” then blurted out, “I have to run to the bathroom quickly. Be right back!”

When she returned, we ordered our drinks, grabbed a seat and caught up. “It’s been months since we last met? When was that?” we wondered. Many work transitions and family health trials have entered her life since we’d last met. I sat. I listened. She’s reading the book of Daniel now and we thought through each situation from Daniel’s lens and his prayer of praise in Scripture.*

IMG_3898

She asked me…”So, what’s going on with you?” I reported about some of the fun and beautiful things going on in my life and what God’s been teaching me, about me. I also shared a few updates related to my husband, ministry, plus a quick update on my empty nest and my grown children.

We marveled at all that had taken place in our lives while, it seemed, other things hadn’t changed at all. We both have difficult situations where, since we last spoke, it seems there has been no change. You know what I mean where it appears God is not doing anything related to an issue. I got to thinking about that wacky perspective of concentrating on what God’s not doing and how off that really is.

So, I told her. “You know, the other day, I thought of it this way… I can only imagine what my response would be, if I had throughly cleaned my house-vacuumed all the carpeted rooms, dusted the entire place, scrubbed every toilet, mopped all the floors, washed every dish and put them all away, only to hear my husband comment when he returned home, “You left the mail on the counter!” I’d be so disheartened thinking, WHAT? Don’t you see all the things I’ve done? 

“It is kind of like that.” I said. “God is doing SO many wonderful things all around me and I resolve not to be the brat kid who stomps her foot at the Father and accuses Him of inactivity. But, but, but you haven’t done…this yet, God!”

 She said, “Wow! I’ve never thought of it like that. Good point.”

Okay, yeah, it may be tempting to think he is not at work. I’ve been there. So whenever I’m tempted to focus on what God is seemingly NOT doing, I say, yeah, sure, God is not doing some things. Here are a few of the things God is NOT DOING:

  • He’s not scratching his head wondering, Oh, boy what do I do now?”  Or “How will  I help?”

fullsizeoutput_b583

  • He’s not out of the office or unaware.
  • He’s not working against me. He is FOR me.
  • He’s not surprised or shocked.

fullsizeoutput_b588

  • He’s not wringing his hands.
  • No, He is not biting his nails bewildered, wondering, “How do I respond in this difficult situation?”

fullsizeoutput_b584

  • He’s not confused and doesn’t need to call in a committee to help with decisions.

fullsizeoutput_b586

NO he is not because…HE’S GOD! And He is good!

I truly believe God is doing so much, in and around me, all the time! Jesus is quoted in the book of John saying, “My father is always working.” So, yes, for now… I will live in the mystery of all He is doing. I am thankful and I praise Him and I’m thankful for the things he is NOT doing as well.

When our time drew to a close, we discussed a next time to meet and said our good byes.

*Here is the praise passage from Daniel 2:19-23

“During the night the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision. Then Daniel praised the God of heaven and said: “Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his. He changes times and seasons; he deposes kings and raises up others. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness and light dwells with him. I thank and praise you, God of my ancestors: You have given me wisdom and power, you have made known to me what we asked of you, you have made known to us the dream of the king.”
‭‭‬‬

fullsizeoutput_b587

 

 

Do You See It?

Michelangelo saw within a marble slab the beautiful form he wanted to create. Similarly, a culture of honor calls out the beauty within people. This culture sees the amazing things in a person and draws them out the way Jesus commanded, “Lazarus! Come forth!” A culture of honor may even bring dead things within an individual back to life. The calling out the gold or culture of honor are things that I’ve been more aware of and privileged to experience lately.

Surrounded by some truly amazing men and women who practice calling out the gold in others has been a thrill and I stand amazed at the results I’ve witnessed. It’s not that these people can’t see or recognize a flaw, wart, dirty spot, mistakes, or weaknesses in another, but it’s just not a big deal.

The result of this culture of honor, I’m noticing, is allowing people to be authentic and vulnerable with one another. I’ve watched them open up the way a rose opens to the sun above. Some have offered to lead, shared personal poems aloud or sing original pieces of music still in draft form. Willingly, each has shared because honoring others in the group fosters safety. Plus, one of our group members quickly reminds us all, “Do it afraid!”

Calling out the gold is exactly what God did when he called Gideon, who was scared to death and chicken as all get out. BUT God came to him and said, “The LORD is with you, O mighty man of valor.” AND then later Gideon says, “Please, Lord, how can I save Israel? Behold, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.And the Lord said to him, “But I will be with you and you shall strike the Midianites as one man.” (Judges 6:12b 15, 16) Now that is calling out the gold! God says to a scardy cat, “I am with you mighty man of valor.

Or how ’bout when others would have noticed and been critical about Moses being “slow of speech,”  one who stutters, while God saw a deliverer of a nation.

Or when David was teased by his brothers because he was a young shepherd boy, but God saw in him the giant killer and future king.

It’s like when:

  • A home buyer sees the potential in a house and says, “Ah, it has such good bones!” and then renovates the place with breathtaking results.
  • A decorator gathers all furnishings and accessories into one room, without purchasing anything new, redistributes items with a trained eye and transforms the rooms and creates beautiful ambience.
  • A hairstylist takes into account the shape of the clients face, then cuts and styles the hair in a fresh and sassy way.
  • A seamstress removes inches of unneeded fabric and alters the length of a future bride’s wedding dress making the beaded bodice draw one’s eye to the bride rather than an overly ornate dress.

There is a unique purpose and a reason for each life and I know God wants us to step into all He has for each of us. I love this quote by Kris Vallotton, “Surround yourself with people who throw gas on the fire of your passions and water on the fire of your fears.”

Lately, it seems, everyone and their dog is so negative! I think we have to watch out. So many are nasty and critical of others. Looking to find the junk instead of the gold. Is this the way a follower of Jesus is to be? No, in fact quite the opposite.

We are to follow Jesus in the triumphal procession He leads us in and spread the fragrance of Him everywhere. But thank God! He has made us his captives and continues to lead us along in Christ’s triumphal procession. Now He uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume. (2 Corinthians 2:14)

I resolve to see the best in those around me, rather than point out every single one of their faults.

I don’t know who said this or I’d give them credit, but I’ve heard it from a friend, “Many men live lives of quiet desperation and die with a song in their heart.” This quote gives me a lump in my throat and a fire in my belly. I find it sad. I want to be a catalyst of encouragement. I desire to live in a culture of honor and call out the gold in others. I’m thrilled to watch people soar!

If you are discouraged right now about your purpose or your value remember you are God’s masterpiece and those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength; they will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31) If you are a believer you have the same power that raised Jesus from the dead in you and you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you. You are amazing!

So go find someone you can encourage. See the gold in them and draw it out. Since the creator of the universe sings over us at night, never sleeps or slumbers, is watching over us and calls us the apple of his eye, then we must continue to develop a culture of honor and call out the gold in the people around us.

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. 1Thessalonians 5:11

 

A storm, pregnant with worry, was looming.

Have you heard the phrase, “trust your gut?” Have you experienced a time when, even though you couldn’t quite put your finger on it, you just knew –Something’s not right? A few days ago I had an uneasiness in my gut/ my spirit/ my heart. A situation felt off, so my thoughts began to swirl in a negative direction. A storm, pregnant with worry and anxiety, was looming. This kind of storm requires prayer while standing in the gap for another. “Something’s just not right!” Yes, discernment was needed and prayer was required.

I had an alarm buzzing and a doozy of a discernment storm brewing that day. I knew I was going to have to engage in an intense time of prayer. I sensed I might need to call in reinforcements.  So I texted a friend:

fullsizeoutput_b2e6

She responded to my text right away, this was of God. She heard concern in my voice so she asked, “What are you doing right now?– Where are you?”

“I’m home,” I answered, “I’m just sitting here in my chair.”

“I’m on my way over! Bye!” She said and hung up.

She arrived with a Bible, her purse and a thin, white box. She emptied the items and mentioned, “Here’s what I’ve got: chocolate and these teabags,” she lifted a plastic zip lock to show me. “Smell these!” she gleefully instructed. “What do they smell like?” She asked.

“Cinnamon?” I replied.

“Right! They smell like Christmas! Who doesn’t like Christmas? So I’ve got chocolates– teabags– God’s word and prayer with me. Nothin’ better than that!  I know it’s kinda hot outside, but we are going to have a cup of tea anyway!” she laughed.

I filled my tea kettle with water and lit the fire. When I brought her tea, she set it beside her and promptly said, “Thank you!”

Next, she presented the white, cardboard box before me. Her eyes sparkled and she explained, “These chocolates have this folded paper code.” She handed it to me. It had a photo along with a description about the chocolates. “So select the ones that sound the best to you.”

She reminded me of who I am. She reminded me of whose I am and the truth from God’s word.  She said, “This is what we are going to do. The enemy wants to rattle, frighten, and charge you all up with anxiety.” (Yep, I thought, he’s trying to create quite a storm for me!) “But we are going to sit right here with Christmas tea and eat chocolates and say…” she took her mug of tea and raised it, like making a toast, then she took a bite of her chocolate and calmly inserted, “Here’s our response to him!” She took another bite, smiled, sat back in the chair, crossed her legs, as cool as a cucumber like nothing could ever rattle her.  After we enjoyed our tea and chocolates, she said, “Now we will pray!”

We prayed, pleaded for God’s’ mercy, we thanked Him, we declared and we commanded in Jesus name. We walked around the upper loft area as we prayed about the pressing issue which had so troubled my spirit. This has never happened to me before, but there was this wave of silence that washed over me. The way wind blows across trees and you see the branches sway. I couldn’t pray another single word! Even though I could think about more things to pray, I couldn’t speak. Utter silence had arrived. Peace landed in the loft like a helicopter hovers and alights. Tears flowed from my eyes. I was washed in His peace. Hushed in beautiful silence.

It was quite an encounter, this profound peace had arrived on the premises. A wall of silence, it calmed me in the raging storm. Perfect calmness. We just stood! I have no idea for how long. I opened my tear-filled eyes to see my friend standing, her arms out stretched in front of her, feet shoulder-width apart, just standing immoveable.

I swayed back and forth, a bit like a baby being rocked with an ever calming motion like the waves were being calmed and stilled then silenced. (when I close my eyes now I can still sense it)  The waters of my storm had completely calmed down to glassy waters, utter and profound silence, sweet peace!

This section of scripture now comes to my mind:

Matthew 8:23-27 Jesus Calms the Storm

Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord save us! We are going to drown!”

He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and waves obey him!” (emphasis mine )

I don’t know it you’ve got a sense that something isn’t right in your own life or someone elses. Trust your gut. Here’s my advice. Pray!  Is there a storm starting to swirl around you? Is one raging in your life right now? Perhaps it is satan trying to rattle you.  Or maybe it is the Holy Spirit prompting you to pray on behalf of another person and stand in the gap.

 

This is the text message I received the next day from my friend.

fullsizeoutput_b2e7

 

Yes, waves of trouble, concern, worry come in different sizes as do the storms of life. Let me encourage you, be discerning, trust your gut and answer the “swirl or storm of worry” with prayer. Pray to the only one who brings peace and calms the storms: Jesus. He is the Prince of Peace. If you’d like, gather a friend to pray alongside you.  I’m sure glad mine came over to pray with me.

 

fullsizeoutput_b2e8

 

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

(And for when your mind swirls out of control.)

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable– If anything is excellent or praiseworthy– think about such things.  Philippians 4: 6-8

He says, “Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. Psalm 46:10

 

After my encounter with silence and profound peace from the Prince of Peace, I just want to remain in that place of peace. So, let’s be discerning. When the storms happen, let’s make the enemy angry. Let’s light a fire of faith and a fire for some cinnamon tea, grab a piece of chocolate, and PRAY! Who knows we may move from a storm swirling to utter silence instead as we experience His profound peace.

Blisters, Wandering Women and Wild Phlox.

Drawn into any activity because of relationship, I agreed to walk the trails at a county park yesterday with two precious friends.  We had a wonderful time chatting, so the three miles seemed as if it were only three feet. Because of the desire to exercise more regularly, we set an early morning walking encore.  As I rushed out the door this morning, I felt the slight burn from a blister on my right heel. It’s probably just a bit irritated from yesterday’s walk but I’ll be fine!  I reassured myself. Because I was already five minutes late, I didn’t stop to grab a Band-Aid.

We met at Shanthini’s house then hopped into Jill’s car. The destination was one I had never been to and I was excited and grateful to try a new path, be with friends and begin our walking adventure. Wanting to get credit for the miles, I immediately pulled out my iPhone to activate my Nike app so I would track my trek. The automated voice stated, “Beginning work out!” 

The canopy of trees overhead shielded the sun a bit, the dark brown mulch of the trail beneath was welcomed padding as we descended the first big decline. My friend said,”Now just remember we’ll have to climb back up this at the end.” This was making reference to a hill at the end of yesterday’s trail we walked. The one Jill referred to as the ” buns of steel” hill.

IMG_3568

We walked a short distance on the trail then crossed through some foliage and tall grasses to begin our walk on the “Bug Trail” which is a paved bike path.

We covered these topics and more:

  • My tardiness and road construction
  • Thoughtful children and birth order
  • Avid bikers with biking paraphernalia
  • Summer schedules for our group’s prayer time

After about two miles we spied a boardwalk and decided to see where it lead. We realized we had walked into a subdivision and we’re no longer on the trail. We thought maybe a little further on there might be an entrance back so we continued.

We got a little lost, wandered around awhile, but enjoyed walking through the tall grasses. The welcomed coolness on my feet came from the moisture of the morning’s dew. It began to soak into our shoes and I noticed the squishy sound we were making.  “Hey, If we get lost, I have enough water in my shoes we could all stay hydrated!” I commented.

 

fullsizeoutput_b28d

 

fullsizeoutput_b289

 

We saw one path and walked along it for awhile,  but soon realized we may have just been walking through one homeowner’s private field. We exited through another backyard and made our way to the street back to our original exit spot. Rather than chart a new way through the neighborhood, we backtracked to get on Bugs Trail.

I was thankful that I had my iphone because the blister on my foot was beginning to hurt. So instead of focusing on the pain I decided to focus on some wild phlox and used my camera to capture it.  Often it is a matter focus, isn’t it?

IMG_3566

We can focus on:

  • Pain
  • Duration
  • Desired destination

Or we can choose to focus on:

  • Relationship
  • Surprises
  • The adventure along the way

Walking along in shared relationship was sweet. Shanthini teased Jill, speaking about her in third person, “We only got lost because Jill wanted to take the board walk to see where it would lead us!” She joked. We were surprised on a few occasions by a deer that was frolicking through the brush. It was very close to us and shocked me a tad because it jumped past as we startled it. Another deer we spotted from a distance. The adventures along the way of our wanderings brought red winged blackbirds resting on cattails, beautifully intense yellow wild flowers, with a few friendly joggers and speedy bikers mixed in.

Topics of conversation along the route back included:

  • Gardening and sales around town on annuals
  • Doctors appointments and second opinions
  • Speaking engagements and retreat topics

 

Noticing a park bench up ahead, Shanthini asked to stop there to tie her shoelace. I considered taking my shoe and wet sock off to look at my heel, but decided against it. We pressed on and tried to remember which path would lead us back.

Jill mentioned, “Yeah, I remember passing these waters on both sides.” At last, we found the entrance point we had originally taken to get on the path.” As the hike concluded, a thought struck me…You haven’t written in awhile, Rachel, you need to write a blog post when you get home.  “Let’s stop for a selfie here on this bench, I pointed, I’m sure I can get one! I think I going to blog about our hike!” I exclaimed.

“No! Let’s stand up.” Shanthini quickly retorted. “We’ve walked all this way and I don’t want to be seated on a park bench looking like I’ve done nothing.”

I chuckled, “Okay, let me take a picture.” SNAP. SNAP!

Jill said, “Wait!  Wait! Take another one, my hair probably looked funny.” I assured her I would use the last photo I took.

“Will I need you guys to sign a waiver?” I asked jokingly. “May I use your photo in my blog post?”

fullsizeoutput_b28c

 

OUCH! My heel did hurt as we made our way back to the car with our soaking feet and smiling faces. I bet I have a blister on my heel and my feet are going to be shriveled up, so my toes will probably look like raisins! Yet even with an unwelcome blister the adventures with these wandering women and wild phlox were a welcomed part of my morning.

I reminded myself and I’ll remind you too its not about the pain, but the precious relationships. It’s not about the duration, but the surprises along the way. It’s not even about the desired destination being reached or miles logged, but the adventure of the unknowns that can be enjoyed.

 

Yes, when I reached my home I did have shriveled feet and yes, my toes did indeed looked like raisins.

IMG_3579

 

Yes, I did have a blister on my right heel.

fullsizeoutput_b292

 

BUT  when my feet touched the cool tile of my home’s entry, it reminded me of the coolness of the wet fields we had traversed together earlier.

IMG_3582

 

Now,  I have a huge grin on my face, a sense of accomplishment in my day, a blog idea, 5 miles logged on the NIKE app…OOPS!  (12 miles because I forgot to turn it off so it counted the car ride traveling back.) Silly me! I also have warmth and joy in my heart because of these treasured relationships. And presently, my shoes and socks are on the front porch set in the sunshine to dry.

IMG_3584

You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forever more. Psalm 16:11 ESV

She’s About Much More Than Red, Raspberry Jelly and Rings!

YIKES! Perhaps this should’ve been included in my book Lily Pads. Oh, well, the good news is I remembered writing it awhile back, tried to locate it today and finally found it! PHEW! Yes, it was composed a few years ago, but  I’ve tweaked it some and wanted to post it today because Mother’s Day soon appraoches. Dear reader, it’s a bit long, longer than a typical blog post, I hope you don’t mind. I wanted to dedicate this to my mom because she’s the best! (I hope it will encourage you about your mother as well.)

…Today is a day of celebration and joy, yet it is a hard day too… I was in my friend’s home, she was seated in the living room corner, her laptop open, as she worked to write her mother’s eulogy. What a special and precious gift a mother is. Oh, boy! How difficult it is for a daughter to put into  brief words the impact a mother has made. I thought.

“You had such a special mother, you know?” I commented. Immediately I thought of my own mother. She has always gone by her middle name, Lorraine.  I watched as my friend typed the eulogy and struggled with the desired brevity. What would I say to an audience standing before me about my mom? The question played in my mind over and over, as if I pressed a repeat button. So what would I say about my mom? Well, my mom is still very much alive and I’m truly thankful. This is not a eulogy, rather a sweet remembrance of my mama and my growing up years.

fullsizeoutput_ae81

Hmm? Think Rachel. What over arching thing is true of Lorraine?  Easy.  My mom, Lorraine loves! Oh, maybe it is not so easy to pinpoint because my mom serves too!  I thought. It’s like a chicken and egg thing for me. She loves and she serves. She serves as a way to show her love.

My Mom, Lorraine loves her family. She has loved us through her servant’s heart consistently. I never really put it altogether or fully appreciated her when I was young. But as a mom, I now know how important it is to love and care for your family in simple, ordinary and practical ways. My mother did all the cooking, baking, cleaning, shopping, ironing, laundry, washing of dishes -because we never owned a dishwasher, she even sewed many of my clothes as a young girl. (see below)IMG_3297

IMG_3298

She made matching outfits for all of us. My three older sisters Barb, Sharon, Joyce and me. I have this, humdinger of a photograph, of my mother and all four of her girls modeling our newly sewn, matching dresses. (It may have been for Easter). The dresses were all the same pattern and fabric, light baby blue with polkadots. (Black and white does NOT do this baby justice!)  We all posed beside her in descending height and birth order. (I’m the baby on the end. I’m naturally distracted AND it is clearly too bright for my sister Joyce’s liking!) My mom smiled proudly in her new dress. She was probably wearing high heels to top it off. Man, she was stylin’! And… she loves.

IMG_3299

Lorraine loves! She loves flowers and has beautifully colorful gardens on every side of the house. Plus, for decades she also tended a large, vegetable garden. I recall stooping down between the rows of lush, green leaves, feet carefully positioned on the soil, to pick the green beans or sugar snap peas with her. Her hands were skillful and quick, mine rather small and clumsy. Raspberry bushes lined our backyard’s perimeter.

These red, raspberries have been the fruit for hundreds of jars of my mom’s homemade jelly and jam, each jar as sweet as she.  The hands that have selected which red, ripe berries to pick, have also rinsed, mashed, boiled, stirred and strained them through a screen. Her servant’s hands have also boiled the canning jars, extracted each hot, dripping jar carefully with tongs, placed them upside down on a tea towel to dry, melted paraffin wax and filled each jar first with the mouth-watering liquid’s, fruity delight.

Each jar she then topped with the hot wax, metal seal secured with a tightened ring. Finally, every lid is then crowned with a paper label, written with her personal script and taped to the top. I have grown to love the labels too. They are personal, handwritten, not mass-produced.  The same hands that made the jelly, hand delivered each jar with love.  Yep! She loves!

IMG_3286

The grateful recipients of these jars of jelly are her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and friends. We all love my mom’s delicious jelly and are spoiled because of it.  None of us likes store-bought jelly. I only buy it when the supply of “Grandma’s homemade jelly” runs out. When this had occurred, I’d hear something like this exclaimed from our kitchen. One or any of my children, whose head was first deeply inserted inside the refrigerator glancing, then frantically searching, was lastly flung outside the refrigerator, with hand still on its handle. “What? Are we all out of Grandma’s yummy jelly? Mom, do we have any more in the cabinet or downstairs?” they’d ask. I’m positive the appreciation for the jelly will never equal the love that goes into each jar’s contents. She loves!

IMG_3292

I remember learning how to do many things while living under my parent’s roof, but most of my needs were met until I left home. Because my mom did so much! My mom not only cooked, cleaned, cared for her beautiful flowers and vegetable gardens, but she was my chief taxi driver too. She ran me all over town both places near and far.  She’d be the taxi for my guitar lessons in the neighborhood, she’d drop off and pick up. Then came winter basketball practices and spring track practices at the junior high. YEP! Drop off and pick up. She’d pick me up at friends’ houses for other gatherings, parties and after sleepovers.  Drop off and pick up. My mom would debrief with me as we rode home. She was a practical servant. She loves and she serves!

I fondly recall “Heggen family nights,” during which we made homemade pizzas. I’d helped knead the dough or topped pizzas with ingredients. I liked to place on the green olives. Even now, over forty years later, I can still picture the yellow box of Chef Boy Ardee dough mix on the grocery store’s shelf and in the cupboard at home, it is fondly familiar. One other sweet memory which snaps me back to my formative years included how easily our aluminum, rectangular cookie sheets were transformed each Friday night into portable trays offering piping hot homemade pizzas, accompanied by chilled RC Cola drunk from glass bottles. We would get to eat pizza in the basement and watch TV together, it was delightful!

We’d sit on home-made furniture, designed by my dad, with foam cushioned seats sewn by my mother, eating, drinking and watching TV. The Brady Bunch being my personal  Friday night favorite.  A bit later in the evening mom would deliver hot popcorn in the round metal, roaster pan, topped with salt. We’d drink Kool-Aid from plastic multi-colored Tupperware tumblers, served atop a, now an antique, green floral tin tray. She loves and she serves.

I picture my mom mostly in the kitchen. When I walked home from elementary school, she’d either stand, with the door opened to greet me or be found there. I feel really blessed to write that. I loved knowing she was there for me and always present. We would talk casually about the day’s happenings as she stirred batter, wiped her hands on her apron, or stood at her mixer adding things to its big glass bowl while I rapidly rattled on and on about who knows what. I’m sure she was mixing her famous flat, golden brown, homemade chocolate chip cookies or blonde brownies. If not those, then chewy cinnamon snicker doodles or monster cookies, ALL of them my favorites. Golly! I still love cookies!  

Lorraine worked magic when she baked homemade cinnamon rolls with caramel topping that was buttery, sticky and perfectly chewy, a wonderful memory of my winter Iowa mornings.  As a young girl, I remember often my mother would make a meal and take it to a family in need. She knew who was unable to leave home and who couldn’t come to church activities.  So she would bring folks a meal and I would be in the car as she dropped them off. What an excellent example of servant hood my mother has been.  She loves and she serves!

I also remember my mom hosting “circle.”  What that means I don’t really know. Women from the church would come to our home and sit in a circle, I guess? From time to time she’d host it. The women would pray together or do a Bible study and eat. Mom served yummy, grownup dessert and had a large punchbowl with glass cups that suspended from it. She also had rectangular glass dishes that she used for “circle” meetings, family gatherings or special events held at our house, like bridal and baby showers. My mother has given each of us four girls part of her set to use as our own.

IMG_3305

I had a group of my friends from Bible study over to my house, so I used my mom’s plates. A few of the women commented, “Oh, Rachel these are so lovely! Of course you would have these beautiful dishes to use. Some were sort of teasing me for having fancy stuff. I just chuckled because my mom used them often, not just for special occasions. She used them, the way we use disposable dishes. I didn’t let the ribbing bother me, I was excited to pull them from my lower cabinet, wash and dry them because they brought back a vivid memory of my mom’s true hospitality, because she cared for other people in a way to make them feel special. She serves! She loves!

As a young girl, I remember my mom praying over me often. In multiple circumstances and situations.  She’d always pray after placing a cool, moist, folded washcloth on my brow when fever consumed my body.  I recall her gentle touch as she would rub my tiny, bony chest with Vicks VapoRub to relieve my terrible croupy cough or chest cold. She would haul a portable steamer into my room at night.  She’d bring warm, wet wash cloths for me early in the morning when I had eye boogers that mattered so that the lids were sealed completely shut. Perhaps it was pink eye? These are some tender memories of my servant mom. Serving and loving me. She would bring me to Jesus while being Jesus to me.  He came not to be served, but to serve. She followed His example. I hope I follow them both.

IMG_3307

I know I take after my mom in this.  I observed my mom changing her clothes frequently for all sorts of reasons and occasions throughout the day. I do too. For example, I wear only work out clothes and tennis shoes when I’m going on a walk or exercising.  However, I do not wear the same outfit to the grocery store. Instead, I will change my clothes before going to the store. I will wear something different if I’m going to lunch with ladies or if I’m headed to church. My mom changed often too.

I vividly remember her in the garden wearing culottes which is like a one piece suit including combination of both top and shorts that are like a skort. She’d wear those while gardening but change into something different for running errands. She would change into beautiful skirts with high heels when she headed out the door for church.

I also remember my mother’s beautiful beehive hairdo. She would go to the beauty parlor to get her hair done every couple of weeks. Anyway, she would return with this huge stack of teased or ratted hair piled high upon the top of her head, the beehive. To lengthen the duration of the trends beauty, and preserve its style she would wrap her entire head in toilet paper every night before bedtime. I guess laying her head directly on the pillow would be a disaster and ruin her investment. So she wrapped it just like a mummy. She also had little pieces of pink semi-sticky tape that was made specifically for taping down side curls to her cheekbone area. That was long ago. Now she is crowned with a head full of wisdom and white/grey hair.

img_3283.jpg

I love jewelry!  I remember loving to look at my mom’s necklaces as they hung inside her bedroom doorway or the rings that she had in her small jewelry box. To this day I love to adorn myself with jewelry and bling. As I leave the house I don’t feel dressed if I’m not making some jingling noise.  I feel naked without jewelry.  If I am on my way to a meeting or an event and I look down and don’t have rings or bracelets or earrings on. My family laughs at me because I’ve often gasped, “Oh, no! I forgot earrings!” No worries, I now keep an emergency set in my purse, a neutral silver necklace and earrings just in case. RINGS! Bring them on!  At least three on my right hand.

Jeremiah 2:32 “Does a young woman forget her jewelry, a bride her wedding ornaments?” ( NO, I cry!) “Yet my people have forgotten me, days without number.” 

fullsizeoutput_ae90

I vividly remember my mom’s topaz large ring that she wore often. The setting is so artistic, chunky, lovely. My mom and I both have topaz as our birthstones, born in November. I’ve always liked having my birthday month be the same as my mom’s. Even when I got married, my mom would visit around both of our November birthdays to celebrate together.

Okay, back to rings: I remember that my mother used to speak to people on the telephone, at the conclusion of her conversation she would usually say,” Okay, sure, yeah. I will give you a ring later. Bye” My mom is a very honest and righteous woman, but as a little kid I remember being disturbed at the end of these calls. It bugged me because I never ever witnessed her give anyone a ring. Sometimes I would wonder if my mom was giving people rings, but not when I was around.  I remember thinking, I’ve never seen my mom give that woman a ring? Took me a while to understand that means a telephone call…she would “ring” their number!fullsizeoutput_ae91

My mother, Lorraine was a great example of a woman who understood hospitality, she cared for her family and her neighbors as well. I recall going to visit neighbors or bringing food items to them. We’d often go to Mary’s house, she lived next door as we grew up. Mary died when my kid’s were young, but even with them along we would go visit, Mary.  Mary had four kids also and had MS. Her later years made it difficult for her to get around.  Her house had a big front deck that had a wrap around ramp exit so she could leave in her wheelchair if needed. We would go visit Mary and chat with her. Sometimes by ourselves when my kids were young sometimes with my mom too because she loves and she serves.

My mom has tried so hard to keep things fair for all four of her girls. I’ve chuckled thinking why did she do this? For example, while growing up she would say something like this, “Joyce got to go on a ski trip to Minnesota, so you get to have guitar lessons this year. I never understood those comments or why she made them. Until years later, she told me a story about when I was very young. Earlier that day she had been shopping and had purchased my sisters all shoes.

Apparently, that evening as she was putting me to bed and tucking me in, I looked up at her with my  sorrowful brown eyes and asked or made this comment, “ I didn’t get any little red shoes!”  That must’ve pierced my mother’s heart because to this day she tries so desperately to be fair and equitable.

In all of my years I have never truly felt neglected slighted or disadvantaged in any way shape or form. My mother has loved me fully. My mother has loved Barb, Sharon and Joyce also.  The only way I can think that it has NOT been fair is that she has tailored her love in the way that we have each needed it. I think that is truly the sign of a great mother. Precious Lorraine has been my encourager, she has been my prayer warrior, she has been my companion and she has been my example. I am so grateful for her in my life. She is a good and perfect gift from God.

Another vivid memory I have is my mother praying and writing in spiral notebooks. Even still when she comes to visit here in Milwaukee, she will have these spiral binders along with her. These binders contain all of her notes of the things that she prays about and all the people for whom she prays. These are personal things about me, my husband, my children, all of my sisters, their kids, plus information about missionaries from around the world, people at church, and people whom my parents support financially and through prayer all over the world.

These prayer binders no longer have crisp covers, but are well-worn from use and are held together and wrapped with brown rubber bands. She has prayed and prayed to the only God who hears and answers. This life long example has been a huge testimony to me. She loves, she serves and she prays.  She is a good and perfect gift to me!

My mom has also been an example of a very submissive and caring wife. She is from the generation who totally serves her husband. My mom waits on my dad like he is a customer in the local diner. If he wants a plate, she gets it. If he wants toast with peanut butter spread on it, she gets it.  If he wants a little bit of hot cocoa only half a cup in a ceramic mug, she gets it. If my dad requests a little bit of margarine and some peanuts with a salt shaker, she’d gather all of those items and set them before him and calmly say. “Here you go Richard.” Until my father retired, which was many years ago now, I don’t think he knew where any food items or plates, bowls, pans or cooking utensil were located. She delights to be his helpmate.

Other memories:  not in any particular order:

  • my mom singing at church- she loves to lift her voice to her Savior and King, Jesus!
  • getting into it-tapping her hand on the pew in front of her in worship.
  • her high-pitched ,sorprano voice, joyfully exclaiming from memory hymns like: Bringing in the Sheaves, Showers of Blessing, Trust and Obey, When the Roll is Called Up Yonder and He Lives.

 

IMG_3308

Proverbs 31:28 Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her. Well, that is me. I had to stand to type these last sentences because I am proudly, willingly and with great honor standing up for my sweet mom, Joyce Lorraine, I rise and call you blessed!

James 1:17  Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

I’m grateful for the good and perfect gift of my mom, Lorraine Heggen, who loves and serves and prays. She’s about so much more than red, raspberry jelly and rings!

IMG_3285

fullsizeoutput_ae80

 

 

Dear reader…What is a sweet memory you have of your mother? Share one or two with us. Whether your mother is still living or not, I’d suggest you thank God for her and for the memeories you have of time spent together. Such a gift – a good a perfect gift!

I noticed her immediately, seated alone in the breakfast area of the hotel we were staying in. She was a beautiful woman talking on her iPhone, her voice was smooth a silk, her blonde corkscrew afro spouted like gorgeous wheat from her head. This beauty wore cute zebra print leggings and a loose sweatshirt. Michael […]

via When You’ve Lost It All — rachel inouye

Watch your mouth!

As a young girl, I loved Karen Carpenter. Her warm, smooth, contralto voice was incredible! I thought she was such a beauty with her chocolate chip colored eyes and long brown hair! I owned the Carpenter’s album, or one of my older sisters did, and I have memories of staring at the cover. Their song “We’ve Only Just Begun,” I’ve sung many times decades ago for weddings.  I also fondly hold dear the song “Close to You.” But by far “Rainy Days and Mondays” I recollect best and it has come to mind most recently because of the rain.

Right now it is a bit cloudy, it makes for an excellent blogging day. Boy, we’ve sure had some “rainy days” in the past fortnight! Go figure, it’s April. Do you recall this short rhyme, April showers bring May flowers? It is funny because a few of these wet, dark, gloomy days have been, wait for it… Mondays. While I stood in my kitchen one particularly gloomy Monday morning, I stirred my almond milk chai and sang, “Rainy days and Mondays always get me down!”

Here’s a portion of those lyrics:

Talkin’ to myself and feelin’ old
Sometimes I’d like to quit                                            
Nothin’ ever seems to fit
Hangin’ around
Nothin’ to do but frown
Rainy days and Mondays always get me down                                    

What I’ve got they used to call the blues
Nothin’ is really wrong
Feelin’ like I don’t belong
Walkin’ around
Some kind of lonely clown
Rainy days and Mondays always get me down

What I feel has come and gone before… *

Yes, the song continues, but on purpose I’m not going to continue.

fullsizeoutput_aa9e

You see, I realized after I had sung the line Rainy days and Mondays always get me down, it clearly affected me. (I had set the course of my day with my own words. I mean, it was more than weather related.) I didn’t feel invigorated for the day, quite the opposite. I felt discouraged and low. DUH! I had just informed myself, through song, with my own lips, Rainy days and Mondays always get me down. I began to believe the words and proceeded in a downward spiral. I grabbed a tissue, was teary eyed and felt depressed. I began to text the same song lyric to a friend who says jokingly, “Im allergic to Mondays!” But I stopped rapidly and thought for a moment. What am I doing? (the song prophesies, I feel old, I’d like to quit, I don’t fit, I don’t belong, nothin’ to do but frown, I’m lonely, I’m blue, AND Rainy Days and Mondays always get me down? Is that truly the message I want to send a friend?)

Stop! Rachel…“Watch your mouth!”

The Psalmist gives, instead, a spoonful of truth over ANY day with quite a different prescription for declaration. Psalm 118 starts: Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!  Psalm 118:24 says This is the day the LORD has made I will rejoice and be glad in it. (Wow! Now, there’s a great example to speaking a prophetic word over yourself, your day and your life.)

I’ve reminded myself, and now you, it’s really crucial to observe the words that we declare! I mean it, watch your mouth! The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit. Proverbs 18:21 NIV. We must beware of what we declare and prophesy over ourselves and others because there’s a big difference between life and death, right?

Scripture says that King David, when he was greatly distress encouraged himself in the LORD his God. (see 1 Samuel 30:6) David calls things to mind. So he brought things that are in the back of his mind and called them forward. He strengthened himself in the LORD his God.

It’s really vital that we mind our minds also because we often say what we’ve thought. This Biblical author writes, Yet this I called to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD’s great love we are  not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:21.

The apostle Paul penned this in one of his letters, Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 Words can surely build up. So, watch your mouth!  Wonderful things can be declared over ourselves, our future, our children, each other, every situation and our troubles.  Let’s be ready to declare those things. We are told that we can speak to the mountains and they’ll be moved. (Mark 11:23)

We may never be perfect in our speech, but its clear according to scripture that we set the course of our lives with our words.  Indeed, we all make mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way. We can make a large horse go where ever we want by means of a small bit in its mouth. And a small rudder makes a huge ship turned wherever the pilot chooses to go, even though the winds are strong. In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. James 3: 2-5 NLT  

Here are a few declarations to try, say them aloud over yourself, with the power of LIFE in the tongue:

  • Today is a good day I will rejoice!                            (see Psalm 118:24)
  • I prosper in relationships, just like Jesus.               (see Luke 2:52)
  • I am love by God forever!                                           (see Psalm 118:29)
  • God supplies my every need.                                      (see Philippians 4:19)
  • I am not anxious about anything.                              (see Philippians 4:6)
  • God’s peace will guard my heart and mind when I present Him my requests with thanksgiving.                                                                  (see Philippians 4:7)
  • I’m dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.     ( see Romans 6:11)
  • I say peace be still to any raging waters in my life, body, family, mind or emotions.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          (see Mark 4:39)

Okay, now from the song “Rainy Days and Mondays” Let’s reflect on one truth that can be applied and declared from the chorus.

Funny, but it seems I always wind up here with you
Nice to know somebody loves me
Funny, but it seems that it’s the only thing to do
Run and find the one who loves me (the one who loves me)

So let me encourage you to run and find the one who loves you. His name is Jesus.  If you are a believer it’s not a difficult task to run and find him because He lives in you by His Spirit.  Here’s another good word to declare over yourself today. God is good. God loves me. So it’s all good. So let’s remember to think this, watch your mouth and see what happens when we speak life.

IMG_2749

*Song: Written by Paul H. Williams, Roger S. Nichols • Copyright © Universal Music Publishing Group

Get your hopes up!

Spending time with my honey is one of my favorite things to do. Yesterday Michael had the day off  and he had scheduled a morning meeting. “Bye, Babe!” I cried. I waved as he pulled away on his motorcycle. Okay, get moving!  I decided to take my walk alone to maximize our time together later. I donned my exercise clothes leggings, long sleeve shirt and jacket, next a black puffy vest, bright pink walking shoes, complete with a winter hat and mittens. Yes, mittens in April! You see, I have one fear, the fear of being cold. I mean I hate to be cold. It makes my bones ache. I giggled because most people I passed on my walk were wearing shorts and a T-shirts. I finished my walk, closed the walking app on my phone, “Work out complete!” the automated voice kindly informed me of the elapse duration and distance. Phew! that felt good.

I looked around, no motorcycle in the driveway. Hmm? Michael’s not home yet. I decided to begin a little of the yard work. I grabbed some gardening gloves from a tote they’d been hidden in during the winter and a small green handled clipper, which was too flimsy for what I needed, but I used it anyway. I cut away the dead sedum plants making way for the new green leaves that had emerged from the ground in clusters. I also pulled out multiple flat, yellow, stringy, dead leaves and was pleased to find multiple hosta heads, pointing to the sky, at attention, as they erupted from the earth… Rebirth! I didn’t clear every fall leaf or dead piece on purpose. Something about the juxtaposition of death and life brought hope.

fullsizeoutput_aa60

IMG_2684

IMG_2697

I plopped my fanny down in the grass as I cleared away dead plant debris, pushed around the rocks and made way for the plants which announced their arrival. I picked up twigs and tossed them in a round bucket. Then at one point a thorny branch from bush we have poked through my gloves. Wow! That hurt like a son of a gun! I quickly whipped off my glove tried to find the thorn in the tender piece of skin between my thumb and forefinger. Man! That tiny thing hurts like the dickens. I saw the spot that was poked, shoved it in my mouth and sucked on it for little while. The pain or a hot flash, I’m not sure which, caused me to feel like I was burning up. I sensed abrupt action must be taken. I immediately ripped my winter hat from my head and threw it, I peeled off my black vest, and quickly stood to get more air circulating around me. Well, finally I’m hot!   I glanced down at my hand and decided I didn’t need a Band-Aid so I put my gloves back on and continued.

IMG_2696

Multiple neighbors walked by with dogs on leashes, others waved at me with children in strollers. The hum of an electric sander, coming from the garage of a neighbor working on a refinishing project overpowered the music I was listening to so I pressed my ear buds in and I turned up the volume a bit. I listened over and over to become familiar with the music for Easter’s worship service at my church. The more I listened to get my part secure the more I worshiped and the hope of God filled my heart.

Rachel, just few short weeks ago there was snow on the ground, but now trees are beginning to bud, plants are poking through, some flowers are blooming and the grass has turned green. Spring has sprung! I heard a preacher say God works in both “the gradual process” and in the “and suddenly.” I believe it and I see it manifested in my yard and my life. The God of hope is working in me as he fills me with His joy and peace. I am so thankful for the hope that He gives. Hope is all around me in creation, in people of promise and in my heart. Yes, I’m still waiting for the “and suddenly” in some areas of my life, but I know they will occur, it’s called HOPE.

 

IMG_2693

 

IMG_2685

Even as I write I can hear doubt want to wiggle its ugly head in because we’ve all heard people say, “Yeah, but don’t get your hopes up.” It’s said to cushion the blow if something bad were to happen or in case we face disappointment. I just don’t think that’s the best way to think.  I’m called to be a believer not a doubter.  If God is for us who can be against us. It says in the book of Romans chapter eight, who hopes for what he already has? If we already had it, it wouldn’t be hope. It would be reality. I think we are supposed to get our hopes up. We are to believe Jesus who says, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” Matthew 19:26  

Let me ask, what are you hoping for right now? Is it:

  • a new job
  • the change in a health condition
  • a restored relationship
  • a financial turnaround
  • some peace and quiet in your day
  • a deeper walk with the LORD
  • courage
  • a lift in your spirit
  • the salvation of a spouse
  • the change in diet and exercise to reap rewards
  • the words to be given you
  • direction and guidance

I say, get your hopes up! May you be filled with hope. This verse has been my mantra for the last few years as I’ve gone through hope’s “gradual process” and still await the “and suddenly!” May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. Romans 15:13  I believe something good is coming because God is good and he works on our behalf. May you be encouraged today with spring in the air, with the resurrection of the Lord Jesus as our focus this Easter and may we all get our hopes up!

fullsizeoutput_aa36

 

 

As long As It Is Called “Today,”

A vivid picture of five ladies seated around a cozy fire-side cabin’s room flooded my mind as I awoke this morning. This past November, I was privileged to retreat with and speak to these amazing women! As I opened my eyes, I saw each seated in their chairs around the familiar room. I knew God was impressing on me… Rachel, send an email of encouragement. A brief download of what to say to each person entered my mind. I wondered, should I grab a piece of paper and quickly scribble down what I heard God say? Not fully awake, I lay in my bed instead and just reviewed what the email should say.

My own agenda included to write this blog today so I was a bit confused. But I knew I needed to get the email written and sent. God wanted me to encourage few women. So in my heart I said, Okay God, I will write it. I just need to accomplish these things first.

Before I wrote and sent the email I did these things:

  • Read my Bible
  • Snarfed down a bowl of cereal
  • Wrote in my journal
  • Warmed my coffee
  • Listened to a voicemail of a friend’s encouragement
  • Started a laundry load of darks
  • Posted on Instagram
  • Dressed for a walk
  • Decided not to take a walk
  • Ate a no bake cookie
  • Stopped by the Cobbler’s Bench to pick up my boots requiring heel replacements
  • Ran to the post office to mail a package
  • Warmed my coffee again
  • Ate another no bake cookie
  • Fiddled around on Instagram
  • Sat down to write the email God had impressed upon me earlier

Yes, I wrote the email. Phew! SENT

But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.  Hebrews 3:13  Who can you encourage today?  Hurry up, it is still “Today.” 

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.  1 Thessalonians 5:11

I find it interesting that in the middle of writing this blog regarding encouragement, I received a call from a buddy who plans to pick me up in a few hours. She wanted to confirm the timeframe then said, “Hey, while I have you on the phone I want to encourage you…I understand what you were saying last night… I’m here for you!”

Too funny! As I was praying about the blog post I received the encouraging voicemail. I was also encouraged from what I read in my Bible from Hebrews 13:20-21. Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. Next, while posting I got the phone call of encouragement. Plus my entire day began when God impressed upon me… write to encourage those beautiful ladies!

So as long as it is called “Today” let me encourage you now reader:

  • God is a God of peace.
  • He will equip you to do things that you are called to do today according to his will.
  • God is a God of the impossible and raised Jesus from the dead.
  • God is for you he’s not against you.
  • Greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world.
  • God’s name is Emmanuel which means God with us – so whatever you’re facing today you do not face alone.
  • God has good plans for his kids… His plans are not for harm or for calamity, but to give you a future and hope.

Who can you encourage today? Hurry up,
it says as it is still called “Today.” 

I gotta go I need another no-bake cookie as long as it is still called,” Today!”

Recipe: I never measure so these are the rough ingredient amounts:

  • 1 1/2 cups toasted oatmealFullSizeRender 2
  • 1/2 cup toasted slivered almonds
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/3 cup honey, maple syrup, or  agave nectar
  • 4 Tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

(*If it’s too dry or not goopy enough add either more butter or more honey… If it’s too goopy add some more oatmeal! )