Sunday, February 26, 2017

Eat Dessert First

Before my feet hit the floor my mind is ususally racing, thinking of all the things on my “to-do list”.  In silence I cry out, “ Lord, let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable to you O Lord, my Strength and my Redeemer”.  I am reminded that this prayer is a gift from Him to me. He knows full well that without Him, my anxious thoughts would overtake me. 

The day ahead will be busy and the thousands of thoughts that pass through my mind will overwhelm me if I do not adjust the course and turn to Him. A thousand times a day I cry out to Him.  The world around me is changing. The hatred, the anger, the negatively all seem to overwhelm me then I sense His presence reminding me that He is near. I hear my voice softly cry out, “ I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; from where shall my help come? My help comes from the Lord”.

Once again, I adjust my course; I fix my eyes on Him, the author and perfector of my faith. He lifts me above my circumstances. He lifts me up and reminds me that I am His and that I am loved. He draws me in and my heart craves more of Him.

He reminds me of His love. He reminds me to read His Love Letters, The Written Word of God.  I am reminded to “lighten up” and stop letting the winds of change blow me off course. I re-adjust my course and fix my eyes on Him.

“Lighten up”, it is not in my nature. Or is it? I am reminded that He has given me a sensitive spirit for His purpose but not for my purpose.  I was blessed to spend almost five years as confidant and prayer partner with my beloved Jackie.  We shed many tears and lots of laughter.  We trusted the Lord to do what was right in His eyes yet praying His will would be to heal her of ovarian cancer. 

We cried together and our conversations were at times a little twisted. We would abrupt into crazy laughter.  Then one of us would say, “Why are we laughing, that is not funny.” Jackie needed me and counted on me to pray with her. But I needed Jackie too. She taught me that no matter what the circumstances you are experiencing in life, if you have Jesus you have all you need. Jackie also taught me that life is short and time goes quickly so remember to always “eat the dessert first”. On February 26, 2016, Jackie joined the heavenly choir and today she is well, she is enjoying dessert and most likely has made her way around the streets of gold telling everyone how much she loves Jesus.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Kisses from Heaven

It had been a wonderful weekend of ministry and I was on my way home. As I drove north on " Alligator Alley “from Fort Lauderdale back to St. Petersburg, my mind raced with all the wonderful things that had occurred that weekend. I was excited over the personal encounters and new opportunities for ministry.

Alone in the car, I began to sing and pray at the same time. My heart was full and there were no cars close by so I sang praises to the Lord as if He was sitting in the passenger seat next to me. My heart was overflowing with love and gratitude. Then in a split second I was reminded how often I let the Lord down. I cried out and asked Him how He could continue to forgive me and love me when time and time again I let Him down. In quietness, on that long road I could almost hear his voice assuring me his love for me is deeper than any ocean, higher than any mountain, wider than the East is from the West and longer than forever.

But with such hunger for more assurance as if his death on the cross was not enough, I cried out once again, "Lord I know you love me. I know you don't have to show me a sign. I know I shouldn't even ask you for a sign, and Lord you don't have to show me a sign but it would be so awesome if you could once in a while send me a special message that would be like a Kiss from Heaven. Something that would remind me when life gets hard or I get too distracted that you are still there and you want me to know that you love me so much that you are sending me a Kiss from Heaven." In my boldness, I even suggested, " You know, like if you show me a daffodil, I would be reminded that you are sending me a Kiss from Heaven". The minute I suggested the daffodil I tried to take it back, I thought no wait that is a seasonal flower. I need something else that is not seasonal, something that comes more often.  But in my battle with myself I thought no, this is perfect because when I see a daffodil whether it is a fresh flower, on a t-shirt, in a painting or in any other form I know it is a Kiss from Heaven."

In all my immaturity the Lord gave me peace over my choice of a daffodil.  Just as I arrived the rain began to come down. My time with the Lord had been such a blessing and I was not about to let the rain stop me. I had promised the Lord I would come home in time to go to the prayer vigil for Terri Schiavo.  I parked my car and grabbed my umbrella and I made my way to stand united in prayer for this young woman who was caught in a tug of war between life and death.

As I left the prayer vigil, I knew I would not have time to go home before going to the church for the Growth in Faith annual retreat.  As a volunteer leader for the retreat, I could not be late so I pulled one of my nice outfits out of my suitcase in the trunk of my car. My hair was obeying the call of the rain and I tried my best to put myself together in the Burger King bathroom before heading to the church. My hair and dress were not as put together as I would have liked but it was ok because my heart was full from the blessings of the day.  I entered the sanctuary and could not believe my eyes. The entire front of the church stage was filled with daffodils!  My heart could not contain it and my cheeks were suddenly overtaken with liquid joy flowing down.  My amazing Lord was sending me Kisses from Heaven.

For almost ten years I have been blessed with a surprise daffodil at just the right moment.

Today, as I sat in church, I witnessed a Kiss from Heaven but it was not a daffodil. It was not my Kiss from Heaven. It was an assurance from the Lord to me that he is sending Kisses from Heaven to my friend and prayer partner Jackie.  Just like Terri Schiavo, Jackie is under the care of Hospice. She too has been in a tug of war for her life.  She has proudly worn the color Teal in hopes of educating others of the importance of getting routine medical exams to detect ovarian cancer early.  Jackie’s faith has never waivered; in her last days she is at peace that she will soon join the Heavenly choir.  As she sleeps and waits for the Lord to take her home, her Kisses from Heaven came today hundreds of miles away from where she is. Make no mistake they were her Kisses from Heaven but the Lord sent them to me to remind me that His love for her is deeper than any ocean, higher than any mountain, wider than the East is from the West and longer than forever.

As I sat in church, I once again had liquid joy flowing down my cheeks as I heard the choir dressed in Teal sing, “ My faith has found a resting place”.  Did they plan this for Jackie?  No, they had no idea. This was all the Lord.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Unexpected Prayer Partner

I had worked with Sue and she had been intrigued by my faith in God. She had often come into my office to spur me to talk about God. Sue also shared with me that she wished that she had the same faith. She shared with me how her Dad had survived being a Jewish prisoner in a concentration camp. She expressed her desire to have faith in God like I did. She had been amazed when God had answered my prayers and my Dad’s cancer had gone into remission against all odds. She was excited to see God work yet still afraid to trust Him totally. On more than one occasion, she had mentioned her friend Nancy. She said I should meet Nancy sometime.

After transferring to a new position, I didn’t see Sue. But the Lord brought her to mind often and it brought me comfort to know that Sue still had her friend Nancy to show her the way to Jesus.

One day, I received a telephone call from Sue. This was surprising because we had never socialized outside of work. Sue and I had had many conversations about my faith but she had never accepted him as her Lord and Savior.

Being a good friend, Sue reached out to find help for a friend in need. As I listened Sue explained that Nancy’s dad had been diagnosed with cancer. She said, “I just know if you call and pray with her, her dad will get better just like your dad.” Sue recognized her limitation of reaching God’s throne room and so she turned to me. She asked, “Ginger, will you call Nancy?” She had written my name on a post-it and had told her friend Nancy to expect a call from me.

When I called Nancy, I learned that she was a strong believer in Jesus and we bonded immediately.
God touched my heart the first time I spoke to Nancy. He filled my heart with love and compassion far beyond my own ability to love. As I prayed with this new friend, my sister in the Lord, we trusted God to do what was right. We were expecting a miracle.

Over the next three months we cried, laughed, poured our hearts out to each other and to God. We praised Him for bringing us together. Nancy and I spoke often and prayed with each other over the telephone. She became one of the closest prayer partners that I have ever had.

One day Nancy called and said, “What’s going on? Why haven’t you called?” I had dreaded talking to her. I didn’t want to discourage her. My dad’s cancer had returned. Once again we cried and prayed asking the Lord to heal both of our dads.
However, it soon became evident that it wasn’t God’s plan to heal Nancy’s dad, at least not on this side of eternity. My heart grieved for her and I held her up before the Lord constantly. I thanked God for the privilege of being God’s human touch to Nancy during this difficult time.

During the last few days of her father’s life, Nancy although a strong believer was not able to pray on her own. I read the word of God to her and prayed with her. I could not offer any words of encouragement of my own but I did have the Living Word of God to read to her.

When the Lord decided to take Nancy’s dad home, I knew that I would go to her dad’s memorial service. As I spoke to Nancy, it dawned on me that I did not know what she looked like. The Lord had brought us together yet we had never met in person. Nancy said, “Ginger, you’ll know me when you see me. I am tall and I have blond hair.” As I walked into the funeral home and looked around, I spotted a short petite brunette. I walked up to her and said, “You are Nancy.” She smiled and said, “Ginger.” We embraced. It was only two months later when the Lord used Nancy to minister to me when He took my Dad home also. Sometimes when the hurt is so deep that we cannot pray and our eyes hurt from crying so much that we cannot read the Word of God, it is then that we allow the Lord to minister to us through another believer.

Only three short months earlier even though I felt I’d known Nancy all of my life, we had spoken for the first time As I hung up the telephone, Nancy’s words played back over in my mind. “Ginger, you started out being just a name on a post-it and now you are in my book permanently.” I understood so well what she meant and I loved it!

In God’s mystery and providence, He has chosen Sue to bring Nancy and I together. Nancy and I continue to pray for our friend Sue and we trust her to the Lord to complete the story.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Ruby Slippers and Something Pink in the Dryer

Ruby Slippers and Something Pink in the Dryer

My schedule had been crazy and out of control. For some time now I had over committed my life and had taken on too much responsibility. It had been a long day and I was tired. Tomorrow was my birthday and I didn't want to wake up still feeling tired and looking old My body wanted to go home, change into my comfy clothes and just slow down. But on this night, my heart won and my tired body followed.

A couple of weeks earlier I had accepted an invitation to a friend's home for a "Pamper Melanie" party.

I had met Melanie a few years earlier and quickly learned to love her dearly. We had worked together in a Christian women's ministry, planning retreats. Melanie had impressed me from the first time I met her. I had often teased her and told her that she looked just like a Barbie doll. But her beauty was much deeper than that. She was fully sold out to living her life for the Lord and serving others. She especially poured her love into the lives of her husband and five little boys. So tired or not, I knew that not going to the "Pamper Melanie" party was not an option.

As I entered Carolyn's home she greeted me with warmth and hospitality. I could see that she had spent a lot of time preparing for this special night. Carolyn's spiritual gift of hospitality was something to be be envied. But the Holy Spirit quickly reminded me that envy was a sin. He reminded me that He freely gives us gifts according to His plan and purpose.

The home was full of precious women who had come to "Pamper Melanie". After dinner Carolyn shared how not only her love for Melanie also her love for Melanie's mom Barb had caused her to plan this special night. As I listened, I couldn't help but think that Barb must be smiling as she looked down from heaven.

As Carolyn continued to speak, she shared how she had asked Melanie if she could give her a baby shower. But when Melanie gave birth to her fifth son they both knew she didn't need a baby shower. She had more than enough for a little boy.

Then one day, Melanie said, "I would just love something pink in my dryer". That is when the "Pampered Melanie" party was inspired.

We each took turns affirming Melanie and presenting her with our pink gifts. Christ had clothed her in His righteousness and we were clothing her with pink gifts of love. We were all moved as we watched Ruby present her gift. What ever it was we all knew it would be a treasure to Melanie. Ruby's physical body was challenged with Parkinson's disease yet she was the strongest and most faithful prayer warrior in the room. As Melanie opened the box and lifted out house slippers she cried as she said, "Ruby Slippers". We all smiled .Carolyn invited me to help massage Melanie's hands as Bethany massaged her shoulders . Suddenly I found myself knelling and massaging Melanie's feet as she cried in humility. She whispered, "I did take a shower and even shaved my legs today." We laughed and the tears continued to fall down not only Melanie's face but many of our faces.

Before getting back up, I looked at the beautiful feet of this precious young mother of five little boys. I was reminded that the Lord says, "how beautiful are the feet of those who bring the good news of Jesus Christ". As I slipped the Ruby Slippers on Melanie's feet I knew they would be a constant remind that each of us was praying for her as brings her sons up in the knowledge of the Lord.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

No More Walls

“Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty! Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee.”

As we sang the words to this beautiful hymn this morning in church it brought back sweet memories of growing up and attending Vacation Bible School.

Times were different then and we only had two white churches in our very small rural town in middle Georgia. I feel confident that there were Negro churches but that was something that I was not aware of at the time. There were no “Black” churches because that word was not used to describe the Negro race at that time. I did hear another word but I knew it was not a nice word.

Each summer both the Baptist and Methodist churches would host Vacation Bible School during the same week. This was a very special time to learn Bible verses, songs, and stories about Jesus and learn to love others and obey our parents. We had great snacks and made crafts that we were so proud to share. It was a fun week and something we all looked forward to.

At the end of the week a program was held to show our parents and the other adults what we had learned. This was the only time that the Baptist and Methodist churches came together. A combined program took place in the church whose turn it was to host the program.

As we marched in separately we had a special hymn that we sang as we entered. The Methodist marched to “Onward Christian Soldiers” and the Baptist marched to “Holy, Holy, Holy”. To this day when ever I hear either of these songs it touches my heart in a very special way.
Many years later my husband who was raised in the Catholic Church asked me if the Baptist were prejudiced against the Catholics when I was growing up. I smiled and answered very quickly, “No, we didn’t have any Catholics in our small town so we weren’t prejudiced against them. We were prejudiced against the Methodist because they sprinkle instead of dunk them into the water”.

I smiled and laughed when I spoke these words but I knew in my heart that there was some truth to what I had just said.

There is always a risk when we revisit times past but often there are some very wonderful things that we will forever treasure.

As I reflect on my memory of marching into Vacation Bible School singing “Holy, Holy, Holy” I will always be grateful to my parents who took me to church as a small child and introduced me to Jesus Christ Who eventually became my LORD and Savior. Although I do not recall who they are, I am thankful for the Vacation Bible School teachers who gave their time to make a difference in my life.

Today, I still attend a Baptist Church but find such joy in knowing that my LORD is the LORD of all who call upon His Name in Faith. He is no respecter of persons whether they are Baptist, Methodist, Catholic, White, Negro, or any other name. He invites all who will to come to Him. I rejoice that through Christ my boundaries have been extended and the walls have come down.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Crystal's Christmas Dove

For years I had promised myself that I would finish my Christmas shopping early but once again I had broken my promise. It seemed no matter how many times I told myself to avoid the Christmas rush and stress I always had a few last minute items to shop for.
As I pulled into the mall parking lot I could see that parking was going to be a challenge. I glanced to the left where I always parked. It was full so I turned right to continue my search for a place to park. My stress level increased as I drove and thought of Crystal.
It had only been six months since my youngest sister Crystal had died of cancer. I missed her terribly. It was the Christmas season and Crystal and I had had a tradition of meeting at the mall to shop together. I drove through the busy, over crowded parking lot fighting the tears with Crystal on my mind.
When I finally found a parking place it was at the far end of the mall. I didn’t mind the walk because it knew it would help me to regain my composure and walk off some frustration and emotion.
The minute I walked in I saw the most beautiful Christmas tree and it was full of beautiful white doves. I was drawn to this tree only to discover that it was the Hospice Christmas Tree. With a small donation you could purchase a dove with a card to place on the tree in memory of a loved one that had died. I was so thrilled to have this opportunity. Hospice had been wonderful to Crystal so this would not only give me an opportunity to give back to them but to do something for Crystal for Christmas. I carefully filled out the card, “ To my Beautiful Sister Crystal, I Love you and Miss You, Ginger” I was determined not to cry and mess up my makeup but the tears began to fill my eyes. I quickly dapped them so they wouldn’t run down my face. After carefully placing the dove on the tree I started through the mall feeling so much better.
All day people kept commenting on my Christmas spirit. I thought to myself, I must have really been glowing with God’s peace and the love I feel for God and the blessing of finding the Hospice Tree. This made me smile even more.
A few hours later, as I was washing my hands in the ladies room I looked in the mirror and began to laugh. I had really been glowing! I had not realized that I had glitter all over my face. The Hospice dove had had glitter on it and I had dapped the glitter all over my face when I tried to keep the tears from falling. I did something that I had not done for a while, I laughed out loud.
That day was a gift from the Lord to me when I needed a special touch from Him. This gift has grown into my own personal Christmas tradition. This year will be the eighteenth year of putting a dove on the Hospice Christmas Tree.

Please feel free to share this story with anyone who is hurting this Christmas because they miss their love one. I pray that it is a comfort to someone.This story is one of many published in the new book "Celebrating Christmas with Memories, Poetry,and Good Foof"

May I be the first to say, "Merry Christmas"?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Surrendering to a Life of Love and Encouragement

As I sat in church, I glanced across the aisle and saw Jeannette sitting with her family. As usual her countenance was cheerful and friendly.Although I have known her for years we have never been close friends. Even so, I have known Jeannette to be a woman of noble character, a woman after God’s own heart.

Every time I see her, my mind flashes back to a time when I asked her to critique one of my Christian talks. She was someone whose life reflected the love of God so I valued her input.
In her usual loving, kind and respectful way, she let me know that she could not offer her critique. As someone who had traveled with the Dale Carnegie Organization years earlier she had applied the principle of encouragement to her life. She was not comfortable being a critic even if it was solicited.

She seemed so sincere but I wondered if my message was lousy and she wasn’t comfortable telling me. As we continued to talk I realized it wasn’t about me. She truly could not offer a critique that would discourage anyone.

God’s Word says, “Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.” (Colossians 4:6)

Years later, I can’t recall hearing Jeannette speak an unkind word to anyone or about anyone. Although the Dale Carnegie Organization is a reputable organization I know that it is not this company’s principles that have caused Jeannette to live her life set apart as an encourager.

As a follower of Christ, Jeannette’s life reflects the love and grace the Lord pours into a life whose heart is fully committed to Him. The Lord changes our lives from the inside out when we surrender our life into the Lord’s hands.

In 1907 Adelaide Pollard pinned the words to the old hymn, “Have Thine Own Way, Lord”. The words from the first verse, “Thou art the Potter, I am the clay. Mold me and make me after Thy will, While I an waiting, yielded and still,” resonated in my mind.

Jeannette’s beauty was a reflection of the Lord’s love flowing from a woman yielded to the Lord. Her words of love and encouragement revealed what was in her heart.