The Greatest Man I’ve Ever Known and Loved

 

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With the passing of my beloved father eleven days ago, I’ve been going through his belongings and came across the following letter that I wrote for him at Christmas in 1999; nearly 20 years ago.

“Things remembered…

I could write an endless list of things that I have remembered over the last 30+ years. I’ve been blessed with a memory that can take me back to when I was not much more than a toddler.  It is with heartfelt joy and remembrance that I share these with you, Daddy…

  • A metal lunchbox with a note left on the kitchen table stating that it was “in the fridge”…
  • A Christmas tree that had to stand outside for a couple of days to “fall”, while I waited as patiently as I could until the day we could bring it in the house and decorate it, albeit, with “clumps of tinsel”…
  • Our first summer family vacation at Alton Bay, taken in the middle of “March”, or so it seemed, even though it was June.  The weather cold and rainy and an almost 5-year-old insisting that she had to go swimming.  The musty smell of the cabin, and Steve losing his fishing pole at the bottom of the lake and the man who was scuba diving found it and returned it to him…
  • Standing behind an overstuffed chair, combing your dark brown hair, but only for a few minutes, as a six year old can unselfishly commit to…
  • Hearing your footsteps on the back porch after you’d been working all day and seeing you come through the back door, pink-cheeked and smiling.  Happy to be home after a long day…
  • A trip to Mac’s Farm when I was eight years old; a wild ride from the lower pasture when the pony I was riding decided to hightail it back to the barn, and tossed me on my behind.  Big tears and scared out of my wits, I was adamant that I didn’t want to get back on.  A kind, but firm insistence on your part, you encouraged me to get back on that pony, lest I’d never ride again.  So I did…and later on (when I was fifteen), it cost you, big time, when you bought me my own horse on the day of your and Mom’s 23rd wedding anniversary!…
  • “Tess… could you come in here for a minute? “, and I walked into the living room, wearing my strapless mint green prom dress.  The Mills Brothers’ eight track tape paused on the stereo.  You hit the play button, took me in your arms, and we danced as they sang in perfect harmony, “Daddy’s Little Girl”.  I remember crying, and you were trying so hard not to, but you did anyway.  I thanked you by leaving make-up stains on the shoulder of your shirt…
  • Sitting in the back of the church as my soon-to-be-husband anxiously awaited my arrival down the not-so-long and narrow aisle.  Hearing the organist begin to play the “Bridal March”, and you taking my hand and me slipping my arm through yours as we walked down the aisle.  And when the minister asked, “who gives this woman…” hearing you and Mom answer, in slightly quavering voices, “we do”…
  • Finally beginning to comprehend what you and Mom went through when you lost Stephen, as you looked at your firstborn grandson, and knowing that our relationship would change somehow from that moment on because I was now a “parent”…
  • Watching  you with your youngest granddaughter, calling her “Papa’s little girl”, and being uncertain that she knew exactly what it meant and just how special it is to be your “little girl”.

Merry Christmas, Daddy.  I love you more than you’ll ever know.”

I knew the day would come when we’d have to say, “so long, for now”, but I also knew that I’d never be “ready”.  Some have said, “Well, he was ninety…he had a long life…he had a good life”; true, but that also means that I had him for a really long time, making it that much more difficult to let him go.  I am blessed…my family and his friends are blessed to have had him in our lives for as long as we did, no doubt, but as I sit here in his chair at his kitchen table, in the only childhood home I’ve ever known, the memories come flooding back, washing over me like a tidal wave.

The days, weeks, months and years to follow will bring tears of sorrow, smiles and laughter in remembering him for the nearly perfect husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather and friend that he was.  I know I’m biased, but I’ve never known anyone who met him to think that he wasn’t the greatest guy…ever.

He was humble, thoughtful, kind, generous and most importantly, loving.  I never doubted for a millisecond how much he loved me, and I take great comfort in knowing that he was fully aware of how much I loved him and what he meant to me.

The night before he passed away, my sister and I were with him at home as he was transitioning.  Sometimes he was “here” with us, and sometimes he was “there”, smiling and waving to loved ones that were waiting for him.  During a quiet moment, as I was stroking his hair, I rested my face in the crook of my other arm and began to sob.  In a very lucid moment, he reached up and touched my arm and said, “You don’t need to do that…you’re much stronger than you think.”  A moment that carried me through the days following his passing…through his wake, the funeral procession to the church and all the way up through the very last line of his eulogy when I squeaked out, “Anchors aweigh, Daddy…rest in peace”.  He was a Navy Veteran and very proud of it.

I’ll never be able to thank him enough for the wonderful, blessed and loving life that he gave me (to all of his family).  No stone unturned…no regrets…no doubts.  Love was the greatest gift he ever gave me and it is eternal.

~Nehemiah 8:10 – “Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

~1 Corinthians 13 – “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

~Let Love Lead The Way~ TP

 

 

 

 

 

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Whaddya mean, you want me to *SERVE*?!?

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Photo Cred:  Illinois Baptist State Association 

After I joined my local bible-based Christian Church, Granite United, I kept hearing chatter about “serving”.  Being new to the church, I was unclear as to what that meant.  As I continued attending service each week, the notion of “serving” began to unfold and before I knew what I was doing, I had filled out a “Connection Card” checking off the box for “Kids Ministry”.  Wait a second…”Kids Ministry”?  What could I, as a new Christian, possibly “teach” these kids about Jesus?  They probably know way more about Him than I do.  They’ll probably teach me a thing or two.  But okay… I committed to doing it…and so it began.

Easter Service…my first time in KM.  These little bright and shining faces looking at me like I knew what I was doing (I was as nervous as a tortoise trying to cross Route 93), but I just “went with it”.  I mean, these are “just kids” after all, right?

We played some games and did a lesson followed by an Easter Egg hunt.  I watched as one of the sweetest little girls on the planet handed over the “golden” Easter Egg that she had found to a boy who happens to be blind.  As I watched this transaction transpire, the waterworks came on and I was sobbing like a baby.  I had just witnessed a four year old angelic-looking girl gladly, graciously and lovingly give up the coveted golden Easter Egg to a boy who, although he couldn’t see it, knew it was a “big deal”.  He squealed in overjoyed delight, jumping up and down with a smile on his face that went from ear-to-ear.  I stood there placing my hand on the little girl’s shoulder and bending down to her level, told her how “very proud I was of her for giving him the golden egg and that was such an unselfish thing to do.”  Looking up at me with her big, beautiful blue eyes and an ever-present smile, she beamed, “I know!”  Being such a little girl, this was, in no way, a self-serving or self-aggrandizing statement.  It was “matter of fact”, as if she simply knew that what she had done was a “good” and “kind” thing.  :::I was still crying at this point, but reined it in a little so as not to alarm them:::

As we wrapped up the Easter Egg hunt, service had concluded and parents were arriving to pick up their kids.  Hugs all around and heartfelt “good-byes” ensued.  For those that know me well, know that sometimes I’m overcome by emotion and this day was no exception.  I got in my car and as I drove the 15 minutes to get home, my heart was so full of love and happiness over these kids, I continued to cry, barely being able to see where I was going.

So I’m a few rounds into KM and let me share with you how it’s changed me and what I’ve learned.  I’ve “taught” a couple of lessons… Noah’s Ark & God’s Rainbow and the Last Supper & Communion.  I’ve watched these kids be engaging, kind, selfless and loving.  I always used to jokingly say that I could never “run a daycare” because by the end of the day, when the parents would arrive to pick up their kids, they’d either find them hanging from the ceiling fan or duct-taped to the wall, suggesting that I’d never have the patience or wherewithal to “deal” with kids.  All joking aside, how wrong I was!  I am so thankful to be involved in Kids Ministry and knowing that it’s a committed process to teach children about Jesus in a fun and loving way; without it being too overwhelming for them.

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Photo cred:  Kids Matter Kids Ministry

Kids Ministry has taught me patience, to be able to see Jesus through the wonder-filled eyes of children.  It’s taught me about giving my time, willingly and lovingly, to assist these kids in learning about and coming to know Jesus.  After all, I’m a “Baby Christian”, so I’m learning right along with them.

Since kids can sometimes be unpredictable, there have been a few moments where things were going a little “sideways”, but through the loving hand of Jesus Christ, I found myself de-escalating a situation that otherwise may have ended with a ceiling fan or duct tape.  (Just kidding!)

In all seriousness, I never, in a million years, would’ve thought that I would be where I am today…completely devoted and ever-faithful in following Christ and serving in Kids Ministry.  These kids have impressed upon me their desire and willingness to know the Lord, and by His mercy and grace I will humbly do my best to help them on their journey.  I’ll hold their hands and take this walk with them, knowing that if either of us stumble, Jesus will be there to pick us up and help us continue on our way.

If you’re a part of the Granite United family and haven’t yet served in Kids Ministry, I urge you to do so.  Not only will you be helping kids learn about Jesus, you will be rewarded in ways you never could’ve imagined!

Matthew 18:2-4 [2]”And calling to Him a child, He put him in the midst of them and said, ‘Truly I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. [4]Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven’.”

~Let Love Lead The Way~ TP

 

 

 

 

Eternity DOES hang in the balance! Where do you think YOU’RE going?

 

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Photo cred:  Indian in the Machine

All of my life I’ve never wavered in thinking that after we “die physically” we still continue to exist.  In being raised Catholic, I was taught about heaven and hell, but always believed that if I were a “good person”, heaven awaits!!  My bag’s been packed for years, not that I’ll need much in heaven; after all it IS heaven, but just to be on the safe side, my bag includes my Keurig machine, my favorite “Dog Lover” coffee mug, a never-ending supply of Peet’s Major Dickason K-Cups, Hershey’s Chocolate and Caramel creamer, as well as my iPad and wireless keyboard…after all, I’ll HAVE to blog about heaven when I get there!  As I trudged along in my humble worldly life, I truly thought that I was “good to go”…landing in heaven for all eternity because I believed in it and I certainly didn’t want to go to hell.   I mean, isn’t being a kind, humble, caring, selfless person enough?  Nope.

John 14:6 ~ Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

I always thought the aforementioned verse meant that as long as I “believed” in Jesus, I was all set…Red-carpet-roll-out upon MY arrival into heaven!  Whoop whoop!  Ummmm… “no”…that’s not what it means.  :::Insert ‘deer-in-the-headlights’ look here:::

Luke 16:19-30 tells the story of the “Rich Man and Lazarus”.  The rich man was just that in his worldly life…rich… he had every worldly possession his heart desired, but refused to repent and turn his life over to God.  The poor man, Lazarus, covered in sores, [21]who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores.  [22]The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried, [23]and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side.  [24]And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ [25]But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. [26]And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us. [27]And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house— [28]for I have five brothers—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ [29]But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ [30]And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ [31]He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’”

EVERYONE needs to know that there is a heaven to gain, but there is also a hell to shun!  Poet Willam Arthur Tell wrote a thought-provoking poem about this; well worth the read.

At service yesterday, our Lead Pastor reminded us that “Good people don’t go to heaven…FORGIVEN people DO!”  Asking Jesus to forgive us of our sins and to be our Lord and Savior means we ARE forgiven.  This is a life-changing commitment; the difference between spending eternity in heaven vs. hell.

I know that for many years I thought I was all set and that heaven awaits me when my time on this earth ends.  I was pretty confident in that belief; I didn’t know anything to the contrary.  I never opened a bible when I attended Mass; it was something that the Priest opened up and read the gospel from.  I thought, “I’ll never understand or be able to comprehend it.  Does the Word really pertain to ‘me’?”  Oh, “yes”, it does!  I’m in His Word EVERY day.  The Bible is a living document, directing me where I need to be EVERY time I open it.  He knows… it’s by his mercy, grace and favor that I humbly live.  Jesus IS the truth, the way and the life and you can bet your bottom dollar I’ve grabbed ahold of his hand and I’m NEVER letting go!

I’m not special, not in the least.  But I am FORGIVEN and I am SAVED.  That’s all fine and good, but what about those that aren’t?  Don’t they deserve to know that their eternity hangs in the balance?  “Leave no man behind”.  Seek and find; bring those you love (and even those you don’t) to Jesus.

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The good news is, is that HEAVEN is FOREVER, but we must not forget that so is HELL.  There’s no bargaining your way out of hell.  There’s no begging for forgiveness then… it’ll be too late.  There is NO WAY out of HELL…EVER.

There are people in my life whom I desperately want to turn to Jesus.  Deep-rooted in the back of my mind (until now) has been the haunting thought that, “They’ll never do it.  They’ll never repent and be forgiven and saved.”  Shame on me.  My Pastor said yesterday, “Don’t answer somebody’s “No” for them.”  AMEN!  Who am I to assume they can’t or they won’t?  It may seem like an impossible task for ME, but nothing is impossible for God and with His love, faithfulness and guidance, I will continue to ask them, I will continue to pray for them, and I will continue to let them see Jesus in me.

Romans 10:9-10 ~ “[9]because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. [10]For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.”

~Let Love Lead The Way~ TP

 

 

 

Love my enemies? You’re kidding me, right?!

IMG_0055.PNGPhoto cred:  Bloor Landsdowne Christian Fellowship

 

Old Me:  “Shut up, Matthew!”

New Me:  “Okay, I get it, but this is NOT gonna be easy!  Just sayin’…”

I’m in the Bible every day.  I know that the greatest second commandment is, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” ~Matthew 22:38

Ugh.  I keep reminding myself that I’m only human.  That when someone is against me, slighting me, undermining me, the “old me” rears its ugly head and the venomous feelings of revenge surface, and I know exactly who’s behind it.  The enemy.  I momentarily entertain the “old feelings”… of who and what I used to be and when I reflect back on the times I would’ve gladly engaged in a WWE smackdown, taking pleasure in “giving someone what they had coming”, I’m so ashamed.  Embarrassed, too.

That was me… really?  Yes, it was, right up until I turned my heart and life over to Jesus.  Not gonna lie… this is the one that I struggle with the most.  REALLY struggle with. Not that I was, by any stretch, a bad person, but if someone intentionally hurt me, I was all over them like “white on rice”.   There was NO way I was going to “let someone hurt me, and get away with it.”  Since becoming a Christian, I feel as though I’ve been “turning the other cheek” so often that I’ve got whiplash.  True story.

I’ve always considered myself to be humble, kind and thoughtful…UNTIL someone came at me.  Then it was “game on”.  The humble, kind and thoughtful me went out the window and was replaced with the “Terminator”.  Yuck.  It pains me to even acknowledge it and write it “out loud”.

Each day I pray for God’s mercy, wisdom, grace and favor.  I ask Him for His strength and guidance in my Christian Walk.  I pray for those who are suffering, who are less fortunate, for those who don’t know Jesus and “yes”, I pray for my enemies.  By the time I “get to them” in my prayers, it’s more like a “footnote”; a perfunctory recognition of their existence.  Oopsies!

I realize now that when I pray for my enemies I need to do so in a truly loving and forgiving way.  Praying for those against me initially was contrary to everything I felt and believed… it’s not easy… not in the least, but it’s what I NEED to do… it’s the RIGHT thing to do.  I recently shared the following post on FB by Pastor Joel Osteen:

  • Bless Your Enemies… Jesus said in Luke 6:27-28 “Bless those that curse you, do good to those that hurt you, pray for those that mistreat you.”  One test we all have to pass is being good to people that have not been good to us.  It won’t make sense in your mind, everything in you will will say, “Hold a grudge, talk bad about them, look for ways to get even.”  Your job is not to pay people back.  Your job is to bless your enemies.

Challenge accepted, Pastor Osteen.

To my enemies, ga’head “bring it”.  I’ll be waiting for you, with a heart full of forgiveness and prayers for your well-being.  Because at the end of the day, I’m living my life as Jesus did, to the very best of my ability, and, quite frankly, the simple reminder to myself is, “What would Jesus do?”  He’d bless them, forgive them and love them.  He’s so awesome.  I thank Him every day for blessing me, forgiving me and loving me.  I’m a sinner; not unlike my enemies.  If He can forgive me, I can certainly forgive them.

~Matthew 5:44 – “But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.”

Okay, Matthew… message received loud and clear and I’m sorry that the “old me” told you to “shut up”.  The “new me” will keep reminding myself of this message every day, until I no longer have to “think” about it; that praying for and loving my enemies will come as second nature to me and I’ll do it willingly, gladly and with nothing in my heart but love.  Consider me a “work in progress.”

~Matthew 6:14-15 – [14]For if you forgive others their trespasses, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you.  [15]but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

~Let Love Lead The Way~ TP

The blessings DO come!

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In the beginning of my Christian walk, I didn’t fully understand what “the blessings come after the surrender” meant…  I had a pretty good idea but I was of the mindset that I’d probably have to “see it” to “believe it”.  My intent was innocent enough in that I didn’t want to blatantly “test God” and he knew it (because He knows everything!), it was simply because I was in the infancy stages of my new life in Christ that He most likely wanted to do me a solid, letting me know and encouraging me in my new found faith in Him.

As I faithfully was in the Bible every day, journaling, attending worship and service each week, willingly and gladly dropping my offering in the “bucket”, serving in Kids Ministry and spreading the Good News, not only with my mouth but via my social media accounts, I watched my new life unfold, like a flower in a garden blossoming under the warmth of the sun, the blessings – big and small – started to come.

At first, and although I don’t believe in coincidences, I did just that…. I thought that perhaps the first few blessings were merely coincidences.  How wrong I was!  His faithfulness is endless.  As our Lead Pastor has said many times, “He’ll meet you wherever you are, but He loves you too much to leave you there.”  Jesus reached down and saved me… doing for me, what I couldn’t do for myself.  God loves and protects me, laying His ever-powerful hand upon my shoulder, gently guiding and moving me forward in my faith.

IMG_0052.JPGPhoto Cred:  “The Hand of God” by Artist Yongsung Kim

As I witnessed the blessings, at first unsure if they were truly blessings from Him, I “Let Go and Let God” and I put my faith and trust in Him.  After I truly surrendered, I could see His love, guidance and direction for me.  Quite frankly, I was in awe… I was truly amazed and I thought, “He truly IS in my life.  He truly IS leading my steps; Psalms 119:105 – “Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”

I had suffered an annual financial loss that I thought would ruin my family.  I envisioned all sorts of loss and devastation, uncertain as to how we could possibly make “ends meet”.  This financial loss came at the beginning of this year and I was so afraid as to what the future would hold.  Three weeks later, I turned my life and heart over to Jesus… putting my faith and trust in Him.  And then it began…

I started to build my relationship with Jesus, never looking back, turning back or going back to my old life.  At first, my Christian Walk was in baby steps, after all, I was a “baby Christian”.  As I toddled my way through, before I knew it, I was walking and only falling down occasionally, then I progressed to walking confidently, without a care or thought of falling, unless I clumsily tripped over something!  The next thing I knew, I was running, full-tilt, into his loving and awaiting arms… always keeping my eyes on Him, above and beyond everything else.

I found myself, contrary to what I had anticipated, managing to pay our bills each month without truly struggling.  Why do I have this extra money in my paycheck this pay period?  Oh…that would be an unexpected, one-time discretionary bonus to thank me for my contributions the previous year.  Hmmm…. all of a sudden, the LAST payment for my car loan was coming up… there’s a savings every month that had escaped me in my financial planning/budgetary process.  Oh, look… I just finished making the last payment on a credit card.  All of my blessings have not only been monetary in nature (although gladly welcomed!).  As I’ve continued to be faithful in living through Jesus, I’ve noticed a positive change in some of the people around me.  Although some may not be ready to commit their lives to Him, they’re seeing Jesus in me and it’s affecting them in what I believe is a very positive way.  I love how all of this “works”.  The bottom line is all I needed to do was ask Jesus to forgive me and to be my Lord and Savior and truly commit my life to Him and “Voila!”, the blessings started to come — big and small.  To quote my campus pastor, “I’ll NEVER get over what Jesus did for me!”  Neither will, I pastor… neither will I!

So today’s blessing was that I woke up at 7:20 and thought, “Oh, good grief… I’ve woken up late… I’ve got less than an hour to get ready for work.”  As I lay there, playing out in my head everything I needed to get done in the next 40 minutes, I heard this faint voice say, “Relax…it’s SUNDAY!”  Wha…What…WHAT?!  Yes… YES… Y E S !!!  This was followed by me jumping up and making my coffee and knowing that today was “blog” day… thanking and praising Him through every sip and back-spaced typo!

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~Psalms 23:1-3 – “[1]The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.  [2]He makes me lie down in green pastures.  He leads me beside still waters.  [3]He restores my soul.  He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

And the blessings keep coming!

~Let Love Lead The Way~ TP

 

 

I’ll NEVER Get Over What Jesus Did For Me!

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In being a “baby Christian” (as my fellow bible study ladies lovingly refer to me as), this IS all new to me.  I’m like a sponge… I’m in the Word every day, sometimes multiple times per day.  I believes it’s a living document, directing me where I need to be each day.  I’ve poured over John 3:16 more times than I can count.  When I was baptized last month, my testimony ended with, “I AM a ‘Whosoever’!”

In being raised Catholic, I memorized what was said during every Mass.  I was taught that “Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary and became man… He suffered, died and was buried… and on the third day He rose again in fulfillment of the scriptures.”

Did I ever really understand what all of that meant?  DID I?  Not really, much to my embarrassment.  It wasn’t until I turned my life over to Christ and got into the Word daily, that I began to fully understand His sacrifice.

The title of this blog, although I mean it with every fiber of my being, isn’t original to me.  The wonderful woman that directs our bible study (she got me through Genesis!), shared with us that this is something she had heard our young Campus Pastor say, and it resonated with me.  It made me stop and REALLY think about what Jesus DID for the world.

I had watched “The Passion of The Christ” a few years ago… struggling a little with what it all meant (as I had never read the bible), and the graphic nature of how Jesus suffered and was crucified was quite disturbing.  After becoming a Christ follower in January of this year, as Easter approached (and since I had been in the bible every day), I decided it would be a pivotal time to watch it again.  I did cry the first time, but the second time, I was a blubbering, snot-sobbing mess.  As I watched it the second time, I was like, “I know this!” and “I know that!” and “I know him!” and “I know her!”  It’s like I finally knew what the heck was going on!  The second time I watched it, I didn’t look away like I did the first time… not once, as I felt like I was there, witnessing in person what had been prophesied.  As Jesus hung on that cross, broken, bleeding and dying for all of our sins, the magnitude of His suffering was almost too much to bear.  The words that I had simply memorized growing up became real, tangible, living and breathing as I finally realized ALL HE HAD DONE for us; for me.

Our Lead Pastor has told us many, many times that Jesus isn’t “mad at you”; he’s “mad ABOUT you!”  He didn’t come here to teach us about “religion”; He came to save us…to rescue us… He came to do what we couldn’t do for ourselves.  The coolest thing about Jesus is that He’ll meet you “wherever you are”.  No matter where you are in your life, no matter what you’ve believed or done in the past, He’s waiting for you with His arms wide open.  God knows each and every one of us, even before creating us in our mother’s womb.  He knows everything about us before we even know.  He has a plan for each of us.  He is our greatest defender and protector.  All we need to do is ask Jesus to forgive us of our sins and to be our Lord and Savior.  So very simple but more importantly, it’s soul-saving!  Heaven vs. Hell?  I know where I want to be and I DO BELIEVE that all of my treasures await me in Heaven.

And I want everyone to be saved.  I want everyone I know and love (and even those I don’t know!) to experience the love, joy, peace and salvation through Jesus Christ.  I am fully aware that not everyone “thinks” they “need Jesus”.  All I can do is keep doing what I’M doing, and they’ll see Jesus in me!  When you see someone who is happy, fulfilled, joyful, and peaceful, I would think that you’d want to have what they have.

The Lord’s Supper, is MUCH more meaningful to me now.  The countless times I received communion over the last several decades, although touching at times, was not as powerful and impactful as it is now.  I’m not sure what other Christian churches do when it comes to Communion, but my church only does it every few months.  Because it’s not an every week occurrence, when my church announces that Communion is “coming up”, I wait with the anticipation of a five year old on Christmas Eve for Christmas morning to arrive!  Now, when I receive His “body” and His “blood”, I thank Him with my whole heart and soul, and “yes”, I cry.  I cry not only for WHAT HE DID, I cry because He did for me what I couldn’t do for myself.  I am forgiven…I’m saved, and I’m on fire for Jesus!

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

I AM a “Whosoever”!

~Let Love Lead The Way~ TP

My Bible Has A Heartbeat

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Since I turned my life over to Jesus Christ about six months ago, I’ve been in the Word on a daily basis (sometimes multiple times within a day) and I’ve had the suspicion that the Bible is a “living” document.  I have monthly Bible Reading Challenge journals that direct me to “somewhere” in the bible each day to read, and then journal about it.

On way more than one occasion (actually, nearly always), wherever I was directed to in the Bible, it unequivocally related to what was happening in my life – either it pertained to the very day before, but most times it pertained to that very day!  Seriously?!  Of course!  God knows everything, about everyone, before they even know it.  It amazes me how he directs and guides me each day and, in being a relatively new Christ Follower, I didn’t put the puzzle pieces together as quickly as someone else who’s further along in their Christian walk might’ve.

I have been struggling lately with being able to fully forgive and forget, to not be resentful, to “let go and let God”.  This morning, before reading my daily Bible Challenge, I prayed to the Heavenly Father about it… hard.  I then turned to my challenge for the day and it directed me to Colossians 3:12-17 ~ “12-Since God chose you to be the holy people whom he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tender-hearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 13-You must make allowance for each other’s faults and forgive the person who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. 14-and the most important piece of clothing you must wear is love. Love is what binds us all together in Perfect Harmony. 15-and let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are all called to live in peace. And always be thankful. 16-let the words of Christ, and all their richness, live in your hearts and make you wise. Use his words to teach and consulate others. Sing Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful Hearts. 17-and whatever you do or say, let it be as a representative of the Lord Jesus, all the  while giving thanks through him to God the Father.”

I’m not one of those people that has to be hit over the head with a two-by-four to “get it”!  Message heard loud and clear, Lord!  The fact that He always directs me to where I need to be in the Bible at the precise moment to understand, learn a lesson, and to be humbled, never ceases to amaze me.  Quite frankly, God amazes me every, single day.  The fact that He faithfully and lovingly will meet anyone, anywhere, any time, any place… right where they are.  As my Pastor has said on more than one occasion, “God isn’t mad at you…He’s mad ‘about’ you!”, i.e., “He’s crazy about you… He loves you… He wants to turn your ‘messes’ into ‘messages’!”

I’m so very thankful and blessed that my Bible has a heartbeat!

~John 20:23 “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”

~Let LoveLead The Way~ TP ❤️

 

Born Again Christians and Pit Bulls

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I’ve come to realize that both get a bad rap.  Not that many years ago, I believed all the hype…a “Born Again Christian?” :::insert eye roll here:::!  My thoughts were, “Oh, good grief… they’re all Jesus-freaks in bible-thumping cults… they better not come banging on my door and stuffing their craziness down MY throat!” Pit Bulls?  “Fahgedaboudit!  They’re vicious…can’t be trusted…they’ll ‘turn on you one day’!”  Wow… I’m really ashamed of myself at how ill-informed I was on both counts.  I bought it all, just like wares from a snake oil salesman.  I bought it, alright — hook, line and sinker!  At that time in my life you could’ve sold me oceanfront property in Kansas…I’d have bought it.

Fast-forward to December of 2012… I already had two dogs… an Australian Shepherd and a Chihuhua.  I’ve always been a dog lover and owner, but unfortunately, I had lost two of my beloved dogs earlier that year.  All of a sudden, I found myself on PetFinder seeking to adopt a Pit Bull.   I have no idea where that came from but I was “on a mission”!  To make a very long story short, I found a four year old Pittie that needed a home.  When I went into the description for him, I noticed a little green heart that meant he was a “special needs” dog.  He was blind.  I didn’t care… I wanted to meet him.  I did so by attending an adoption event which he was at.  It was love at first sight… we adopted him.  He was the BEST dog ever!  We lost our beloved Poet a short seven months later very unexpectedly.  He changed our lives forever and we have since adopted the exquisite Sir William Poet, pictured above.

Being raised Catholic, I went through the motion of attending church on and off throughout the years.  I had been searching for “something different”… looking to connect with and having a relationship with Jesus Christ but I just didn’t know how.  On January 28th of this year I found a local, bible-based church through a Facebook acquaintance.  Stepping out of my Catholic comfort zone, I attended a service.  And there it was… all that I had been searching for, for years!  Turning my life over to Christ was a no-brainer…. He was waiting for me, all that time, with arms wide open.  Asking Him to forgive me of my sins and to be my Lord and Savior was as easy as loving-up on a Pit Bull!

I thank God for opening my eyes to the love and joy of owning Pit Bulls and of loving and living in Jesus.  I look at the world much differently now…. just like Planet Fitness, I’m a “judgment-free zone”.  Now that I know what I know about Pit Bulls and Born Again Christians, again, I’m ashamed that I bought into all the hype.

Today is a very special day for me… I’m taking the next step into obedience and I’m being baptized… publicly committing my heart and life to Jesus!  My very best friend from high school has joined my church and is doing the same!  We were somewhat hooligans in high school…. not bad kids, but we bucked the system every now and again… a couple of loud-mouthed, hard-laughing, life-of-the-party kinda gals.  Although our shenanigans have become somewhat tamed over the last three-plus decades, with marriage, kids, etc., we’re forever soul sisters and best friends on fire for Jesus!  I told our Pastor that they should pre-emptively hire a general contractor because we are gonna blow the roof off of our church TODAY!

People can negatively think what they want about Born Again Christians and Pit Bulls, but I’m so thankful that I opened my eyes, heart and mind to both.  I’m gonna wrap this up so I can go hang out with my dogs, especially the big, loveable blockhead who stole my heart and brings me as much joy and love as Jesus does.

Acts 3:19 – “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing come from the Lord.”

~Let Love Lead The Way~ TP

 

 

I am Forgiven!

When Jesus was nailed to the cross, broken and bleeding, willingly dying to take away the sin of the world, I paused on Good Friday to truly reflect on the immeasurable suffering He endured and my heart was heavy.   Knowing that “For God so loved the world He gave his only Son and that whosoever believes in Him will not perish and will have eternal life.” ~John 3:16… how truly blessed I am to be a “whosoever”.  Jesus not only “saved” me, he “rescued” me, so I was no longer held captive by the enemy….I was no longer hidden away in a dark cave.

In being raised Catholic, I knew that “He suffered, died and was buried and on the third day, He rose again in fulfillment of the scriptures.”  I’m embarrassed to say that until now, those were simply memorized words that I recited when I attended Mass.

Easter Service for me this year (my first in my bible-based Christian Church-Granite United), was AMAZING!  My fellow church-goers (myself included) take this “Jesus-thing” pretty seriously!  There were hundreds of names on each of my church’s campuses Prayer Walls…HUNDREDS of souls that were prayed for leading up to the celebration of Easter!  Hundreds of people that had not previously attended (this) church walked through the doors and many were saved… it was awesome!

I don’t think I can ever thank Him enough… but I can, and do, put my trust and faith in Him… he is so, so good… so loving and faithful!

I AM a “whosoever”… I AM forgiven. He’s given me a brand new heart and a fresh start!  I’m not special in anyway… He does this for EVERYONE who calls upon Him.  Ga’head… call Him whenever you’re ready… He’ll always be waiting for you!

~Let love lead the way~ TP

I’m NOT a violent person, but the “Bunny” MUST die!

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For real.  Long before I began my Christian Walk (I was raised Catholic), I never understood the concept of the Easter Bunny…filling baskets with fake grass, chocolates, Peeps, candy eggs, etc.  I was quite happy as a child to receive an “Easter Basket” filled with goodies, and I was equally as happy to see that the Easter Bunny had consumed the carrots that I left for him, along with a glass of milk (and he always left me a “note”, just like Santa Claus did, encouraging me to “be a good girl”).  I’m not gonna lie…I did the EXACT same thing for my children when they were little.  That’s all I knew, so that’s what I did.  I raised my children in the Catholic church to the best of my ability, but I was always searching for another way to connect with God… to praise Jesus Christ who died for my sins, thus, I joined a bible-based Christian church and I’ve never looked back.

But as far as the Easter Bunny thing goes…long before I became a Christian, I’ve been somewhat offended (and I’m not easily offended) that the holiest of holy days has been made a mockery of via a “Bunny”.

I was curious enough to Google the origin of the Easter Bunny and here’s what I found (info cred:  Historydotcom):

“The Bible makes no mention of a long-eared, short-tailed creature who delivers decorated eggs to well-behaved children on Easter Sunday; nevertheless, the Easter bunny has become a prominent symbol of Christianity’s most important holiday. The exact origins of this mythical mammal are unclear, but rabbits, known to be prolific procreators, are an ancient symbol of fertility and new life. According to some sources, the Easter bunny first arrived in America in the 1700s with German immigrants who settled in Pennsylvania and transported their tradition of an egg-laying hare called “Osterhase” or “Oschter Haws.” Their children made nests in which this creature could lay its colored eggs. Eventually, the custom spread across the U.S. and the fabled rabbit’s Easter morning deliveries expanded to include chocolate and other types of candy and gifts, while decorated baskets replaced nests. Additionally, children often left out carrots for the bunny in case he got hungry from all his hopping.”

Sheesh.

I continued my Google research, which brought me back again to Historydotcom to find the meaning of Easter in Christianity:

“Easter is really an entire season of the Christian church year, as opposed to a single-day observance. Lent, the 40-day period leading up to Easter Sunday, is a time of reflection and penance and represents the 40 days that Jesus spent alone in the wilderness before starting his ministry, a time in which Christians believe he survived various temptations by the devil. The day before Lent, known as Mardi Gras or “Fat Tuesday” (<-I can relate!), is a last hurrah of food and fun before the fasting begins. The week preceding Easter is called Holy Week and includes “Maundy Thursday”, which commemorates Jesus’ last supper with his disciples; Good Friday, which honors the day of his crucifixion; and Holy Saturday, which focuses on the transition between the crucifixion and resurrection. The 50-day period following Easter Sunday is called Eastertide and includes a celebration of Jesus’ ascension into heaven.”

I’m down with that.

I guess I really don’t want the Bunny to die.  That wouldn’t be very Christian of me and I believe I’ve made my point.  Knowing that my young nieces, grandnieces and grandnephew are delighted when they get their Easter Baskets will continue to be a treasured memory of their innocence until the time comes when their innocence is gone and they know that there’s no such thing as Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, etc., and it’s replaced with the reality of what really “is” and “isn’t”.

I will hold Easter as the most sacred of holy days in my heart, because I know what it truly means.  Some people feel that I’m “taking this ‘Jesus thing’ way too seriously”.  Hmmm… last time I checked, I think Jesus took me VERY seriously when he was nailed to a cross and died for my sins.

  • 1 Corinthians 6:14 – And God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by his own power.

~Let love lead the way~ TP