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The Goodbye Letters

2 Timothy 1:4 (The Message)

I miss you a lot, especially when I remember that last tearful good-bye, and I look forward to a joy-packed reunion.

I had an unusual dream last night. I was walking somewhere with someone (details of some dreams are fuzzy), and we happened upon this underground tunnel. The tunnel was a large open space with many rooms carved out along the way. The people who had created the tunnel discovered a valuable substance. I don’t recall if it was gold or diamonds or what. It was unfortunate that the few of us had stumbled upon the find. In an effort to conceal the location, people decided to blow up the tunnel with us trapped inside.
I pleaded with the main lady to at least allow me to write goodbye letters to my husband and children. She agreed. Interestingly, in my mind, I felt perhaps writing letters would buy enough time for us to be discovered before she destroyed us. But, as my dream morphed, it became more about writing these letters then survival. I had so many people that I wanted to know I was thinking of them. I didn’t want to leave anyone out. I needed to tell each person what they meant to me, and how I wished we had more time.
My writing tablet morphed into a Bible, and I would flip through page after page and write short notes to each person, or groups of people for lack of time: my husband, my children, my parents, my sister, my sisters in law, my nieces and nephews, my dear long-distance friends, my church ladies, my gym partners, my church as a whole. It seemed the more I wrote, the more the Lord would drop someone else in my mind to leave an encouraging word. The funny thing is at the end of my letter writing, I wrote “My only regret is that I never learned to dance.” Thank you Dancing with the Stars. Lol 😂

I woke up today thankful for the reminder of how fortunate I am to have friends and loved ones. I’m not ready to leave this wworld in a diabolical tunnel explosion because there are people with whom I want to spend quality time. There are special occasions I don’t want to miss. I want to write my letters of appreciation while I’m still thriving!

Tell those special to you that you love them today!!

No Problem, Man!

2 Corinthians 6:10b

We own nothing, and yet we have everything.

We recently had a vacation day in Jamaica. We rode a tour bus for an hour to reach our destination. Along the way, our guide instructed us with how to speak some local phrases.

“Ya man,” (pronounced môn) lets another know you are in agreement or have understanding.

“Irie man,” means you are feeling good and things couldn’t be better.

“No problem, man,” means the situation is under control. I specifically use the word “situation” because our guide also told us, “In Jamaica, there are no problems, only situations, and situations can be resolved.”

The laid-back atmosphere is perfect for vacation. Would it be possible to adopt that same attitude towards our problems in every day real life? I believe the Lord would encourage us to, as well.

Jonathan Cahn writes in his book, The Book of Mysteries,

In the Hebrew of scripture, there’s no true verb for ‘to have’.

We can get so caught up in our earthly possessions and the cares of this life that we forget how temporary all this is. The apostle Paul tells the young Timothy that we brought nothing into this world, and we can take nothing out. (1 Timothy 6:7)

When we consider physical items that we can touch and see, we understand the simplicity of it temporal state. However, when we are faced with health issues, financial crisis, or family heart ache, we must recognize these are temporary, as well.

Jonathan Cahn continues,

… and if you don’t have, then you can’t have any problems…or worries. They may be out there, but you don’t have them. They’re not yours. You can’t be burdened down by the weight of your own life…because you don’t have life… or it’s burdens.

(Day 30, The Book of Mysteries)

God is in control. He knows all things, and he is a way maker in impossible situations. With God there are no problems.

Seek Him today. Recognize He alone is all we need. Let the Lord into your life and see Him lighten your burdens. The only thing you can truly have in this life is a relationship with Jesus.

YOU + JESUS = ETERNITY

Before & After

Revelations 21:5

And he that sat upon the throne said, behold, I make all things new….

Encourage you to make time to get alone with God today. Read revelations chapter 21 and 22! Get excited about heaven and the wondrous eternity God has planned for us.

Have you ever had something new?A new outfit? A new car? A new home? There really isn’t anything quite like new. I’ve only ever live in a new home twice in my lifetime (as far as I can remember). My parents built a new house when I was eight years old. I was excited to observe the building process! We actually lived in an RV in the front yard as the house was being built. Sharing a room with my little sister was not a problem. Our room seemed gigantic compared to the RV.

My husband and I have lived in seven houses and moved eight times in our 29 years (we lived in one house twice). Only one of those homes was brand new! I remember the pride we felt creating our own blueprints, designing each space, and selecting colors and elements that were specifically our taste. One special memory, as we were wallpapering a nook in our son’s room, our two-year-old daughter walked in and said, “where is my some of that?” Of course, we went out and bought her a beautiful, extra-wide border with bunny rabbits on it. I loved every detail of that house because I had created it!

Older homes are a bit more difficult to tackle. Regardless of how many new coats of paint, sometimes it still does it feel new. However, we recently stripped our master bathroom down to the plywood floor and re-created a masterpiece. As I look around the room, I scarcely can remember the outdated wallpaper, broken fixtures, and dirty carpet that was once there. Through the skilled laborers of many, behold, I have a new room.

Lately, I’ve been thinking of a song that my husband used to sing called My Heart is Like a House. The lyrics referred to our hearts having many rooms, in particular, a secret, dirty room where we won’t let anyone enter.

When I have guests over, I never would invite them to use my old bathroom. Now, I need to work on keeping my bedroom clean, so everyone can walk through to see my new place!

The song lyrics continue, “…one day I let the Savior in… And when I think of that room now, I’m not ashamed anymore because I know that hidden sin no longer hides behind that door….”

Jesus is the master craftsman. He was there when you were created, and if you open up the door to your heart, He will come in and re-create you. He has the power to make all things new, especially you!

When others look at you they’ll scarcely remember the one you were before and they will only see the masterpiece that you are after the Savior has visited.

Them bones, them bones 🎶

Ezekiel 37:4 (NLT)

Dry bones listen to the word of the Lord!

Last night in church, I took prayer requests and prayed, as is my Wednesday night custom, but during my prayer this Bible story came to my remembrance: the valley of the dry bones. I feel like the Lord told me, “This is how powerful I am! These requests are answerable. Cancer is no match for My power.” I specifically felt like this was a call of faith for anyone facing cancer! My God is able to heal cancer. My God will re-create your cells and rebuild what was once dead!

I believe God wants you to speak to your infirmity and command it to go just as Ezekiel spoke to the dry bones. Please take time to read Ezekiel 37: 1-14. Receive this message and apply it to whatever life circumstance you are currently facing.

(1) Take time today in the presence of the Lord.

Vs. 1 Ezekiel was carried away by the spirit of the Lord…

Ezekiel had to be in God’s presence. Can you find a few minutes alone with God today? Yes, you can. Get creative if you have to: a bathroom stall, your parked car, the corner of your closet, etc. Get alone and invite God to meet you.

(2) Listen for his direction.

Vs. 3 He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones become living people again?”

God spoke to Ezekiel, and He will speak to you. Are you listening? I always laugh at Ezekiel’s reply, “Lord, only knows!” (I paraphrase.) We do not know the answers, but God does, and it’s OK to be honest with Him.

(3) Do whatever He tells you even if it seems ridiculous.

Vs. 4 Speak a prophetic message to these bones….

I’m sure Ezekial thought this is fruitless. Why waste a prophecy on something dead? Because we serve a God of the impossible!!! Oh! I am excited, now! Read verse seven:

Suddenly as I spoke, there was a rattling noise all across the valley….

(4) Look for the results.

Vs. 10 …They all came to life and stood upon their feet- a great army.

Wow, y’all! This is the stuff mummy movies are made of! Those bones came together, grew muscles, covered in skin, and breathed a breath of life again! Verse 11 tells us that the people of Israel said, “…all hope is gone….”

…The Sovereign Lord says, O my people, I will…cause you to rise again….”

If you are feeling defeated today and lost all hope, it’s not too late! Call upon the Lord, hear His voice, obey Him, and see your life renewed!

What you do not expect when you’re expecting…

I remember it well even though 26 years have passed. At the experienced, or not so experienced, age of 22, my list of traumatic events included teenage heart ache and abstract algebra. Little did I know the happiest moment of my life would soon become the most frightening.

August 1, 1992

overflowed with excitement. The day began celebrating my niece, Sabrina’s, seventh birthday. My parents hosted a swim party and all of our family attended. Following the swim party, my elementary school teachers threw me a baby shower. The generosity and kindnesses were overwhelming. Such a wonderful day!

Then, my water broke. It was too soon. My due date wasn’t for 5 to 6 more weeks! Nervously, we called the doctor, and sure enough, we had to drive the hour long journey to Tyler.

My personal doctor was not on call this Saturday evening, and my insecurities increased as I visited with the doctor on call. She said she believed my baby’s lungs were not developed enough, so I needed to transfer to a Dallas hospital for delivery. She explained I would be care-flighted to Methodist Hospital. Your dad would not be permitted to ride in the helicopter with me. I imagined being alone, and my anxiety grew. I refused the helicopter ride and opted for an ambulance ride where your dad rode shotgun. It was on the two hour ambulance ride that my contractions began. I was indeed in labor.

Mama Mc and Grandmother rode in the car with Big Mc. He followed swiftly behind the ambulance, so they arrived at the hospital alongside us. Uncle Paul and Aunt Debbie came, too. It seemed that Sabrina might get her birthday wish of a new cousin on her birthday! I wish she wished she had never made after a few years of joint parties! LOL!

I long and painful night ensued. Labor is called labor for good reason. I’ll save the details of all that and sum it up like this:

When you get to the point where you are certain you are about to die, that’s when you have the baby. And, at 5:33 AM, August 2, 1992, you were born.

Our little miracle baby. All of our questions as to why you came early were answered when the young doctor announced your umbilical cord was in a complete knot. She actually asked if she could keep it. Ha! She explained that if you had grown to full-term your supply would have been cut off, and you probably would have died. Praise the Lord for breaking my water!

You scared your daddy upon birth, too. Your head pointed more than normal due to passing through the birth canal early. His first thought upon seeing you: “We are going to be on Geraldo for cone headed babies!” He almost passed out. The nurse reassured him that your head would return to normal shape.

I barely saw your face, and they swept you away to the NICU. As soon as allowed, I went to see you. You were so tiny and frail. Disheartened I gazed at your preemie body hooked up to so many machines. Worried your lungs were under developed, they kept you in the incubator.

Within hours they discovered your lungs just had fluid on them but were developed. The NICU nurse finally wrapped you in a blanket and handed you to me. You felt so small. Nervously I wrapped my arms around you, and I never wanted to let you go. Every time we walked away from the NICU, I cried.

I was released from the hospital the next day, but I would not leave. Dad and I took all of our bags and camped in the waiting room. One of the nurses noticed and offered us a night in a transition room because we thought you were going to graduate from the NICU. Disappointment flooded in when we discovered you indeed were moved to a new bed but could not stay with us because you were jaundiced and required to stay under a blue light. Seeing the small blindfold taped to your cheeks to cover your eyes brought me to tears again. We spent another lonely night away from you, but setting our alarm every three hours we would come hold you and feed you.

The third day another family needed the transition room, so Dad and I moved our things back to the waiting room. As often as we were allowed, we visited you. Another nurse discovered our plans to sleep in the waiting room, and the hospital offered us a room in the old section where traveling nurses stayed. Thankfully we had beds to sleep in free of charge and still in the hospital, so we regularly visited you for feedings.

All the while, we stood upon the scripture Psalm 138:8:

The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me….”

The word “perfect” means bring to full maturity. Over and over we sang the chorus of James Payne’s song, “I’m Persuaded”, which we later learned Steven and Camilla Charles wrote.

I’m persuaded

He is able

He’s able to do exceedingly

More than all I ask

Or even think is possible

According to the power

That’s in me.

This became our testimony song concerning you because on day four, straight out of the hospital nursery, they released you to come home. Filled with joy and thanksgiving, Dad and I brought you home from the hospital.

Aunt Jill and Aunt Debbie had prepared the way by cleaning the house, putting the cradle and changing table together, and buying groceries. You were so early, I just was not prepared. Mama Mc came and stayed the first week with us (One of the best weeks of my life ☺️), cooked for us, did laundry, and helped with everything.

You fought jaundice for another couple of weeks. We took you for heel pricks seven days in a row. It was terrible. Your little feet were tender and bruised. We laid you in front of the window in only a diaper to let the sun shine on you. I feared you being admitted into the hospital again. Fortunately, you improved.

Through the years, you’ve brought such joy into our lives. Certainly, we’ve had our moments. You are a lot like me, you know. I know I expected perfection for you. Many times I determined my will power to be stronger than yours. I was young and idealic. I look back and see somethings could have been different, however, I look at you today and believe I did something right.

I am proud of the man you are. The circumstances surrounding your birth fell short of the expectant mother’s handbook, but who you are today has far exceeded my expectations. You are exceedingly, abundantly more than I could have asked for.

Happy Birthday Jacob❣️

Resist the temptation to be like everyone else…

Read Judges 1:19-36

And it came to pass, when Israel was strong, that they put the Canaanites to tribute, and did not utterly drive them out. (vs 28)

Now read Judges 2 – how sad.

…but ye have not obeyed my voice: why have you done this? (Judges 2:2b)

Sheep on a hillside in Israel. We are “like sheep”.

Ancient stairs in Jerusalem

Consider the promises of God & how wonderful they are. All we have to do, like the children of Israel, is follow God and possess the promise. Easy enough?!? Yet, they could not do it and neither do we.

It is imperative that we keep our eyes on Jesus and not ourselves. Verse 19 of chapter 2 tells us, “…they ceased not from their own doings, nor from their stubborn way.” When we allow ourselves to be enticed by self-gratification and pleasure for a moment, we are not concerned with God’s blessings. We must open our eyes and wake up!

The promises of God are eternal! Look at the big picture. Look at the end of an action before taking that action. Are we settling for a temporary “fix”, or are we laying up our treasures in heavenly places for an eternal blessing?

Read Judges 2:4. The people wept. Repentance is more than just being sorry for our actions. We must cease to do the things that cause the sorrow as well. Confess those things and turn from doing them.

God has given us promises today, in the 21st-century. We have been empowered by God to go and possess whatever He has promised. But we cannot allow ourselves to be enticed by the enemy so that our standards slack. We cannot alter our belief system based upon the trends of the times, but we must rather be steadfast and unmovable concerning the commands and promises of God.

What trends in today’s society seem to sway your convictions and beliefs? What can you do?

Ask God to equip you to be strong and resist the temptation to “fit” the mold society is providing.

Shine for Jesus

Acts 7:57 (NLT)

Then they put their hands over their ears and began shouting….

ears

The story of Stephen has always been one of my favorites. Beginning with Acts 6:5, we meet “Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Ghost.” (KJV) Stephen had been going about preaching the Good News of Jesus and performing miracles. This brought about the attention of the temple rulers. Men began to debate with Stephen; but none could match Stephen’s wisdom, so they decided to spread rumors against him. Stephen was arrested.

As he was brought before the council and questioned, Stephen boldly responded. I find Stephen’s response compelling (Acts 7:2-53). The Bible says Stephen’s face shone like an angel (Acts 6:15).  Stephen began with a history story upon which everyone could agree. He started his defense with the story of Moses. He reminded the leaders of Moses receiving the law on Mt. Sinai, a law which they all upheld and believed. However, Stephen also reminded them of the shamefulness in their history, “But our ancestors refused to listen to Moses. They rejected him and wanted to return to Egypt.” (vs. 39) They all stood by and intently listened to all Stephen had to say, even agreeing with his every word. Until verse 51, Stephen says, “Must you forever resist the Holy Spirit? That’s what your ancestors did, and so do you!” Stephen called them murderers of Jesus, the Messiah.

Have you ever talked with children, and when they didn’t like what you had to say, they put their hands over their ears? Perhaps once you were that child! It’s high time we listen! Sometimes the truth hurts. We can be quick to judge others and understand the judgment of those in the history books. As an onlooker, we see the foolishness and arrogance that leads to destruction. But, looking in the mirror, oftentimes puts us on the defensive. We do not want to see our mistakes, admit wrong doing, or change.

mirror

These leaders of the temple could not stand to hear Stephen’s accusations because they were guilty. The King James Version says they “gnashed” on him with their teeth (vs. 54). Can you imagine grown men biting another grown man? They were chaotic in their charge against the righteous man, Stephen. As they stoned him to death, he had a vision of Jesus and forgave them as he died (vs. 56-59)

Do you find yourself just going through the motions of Christianity? Do you find yourself quick to judge others and hanging on every line of the law simply to accuse them of failure?

Find a relationship with Jesus today.  Certainly He wants you to serve Him, but He wants you to serve from a heart of love.  Spread the Good News to others in a fashion, so they will actually believe that Jesus is Good! Let others see Jesus shining forth from you.