Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Unique Christian Writers Retreat

October 4, 2018

0503180628_HDRWithout knowing anyone who was going last spring, I registered and attended the Blue Lake Christian Writers Retreat, which was a life-changer for me. I learned my writing craft more deeply, made great connections, and met people who would soon become my dear friends and support team.

I now say without hesitation, sign up now for this unique, small-setting writers’ retreat on beautiful Blue Lake in Andalusia, AL. Space is limited, and now is the time to register with the Early Bird discount, before the holidays.

I discovered it was a beautiful lakefront camp-type setting, and I opted for my own room. I’m such a wuss when it comes to comfort, so I brought along my foam mattress topper and pillow, which proved to provide “happy as a clam” sweet sleep.

Marilyn Turk, the retreat coordinator, greeted me at the front door, which impressed me beyond measure. “With all she’s got to do,” I thought, “she’s here, greeting me at the door?” Yes, it was a foretaste of things to come.

One of the teachers, Susan Neal, greeted me at the opening meeting and asked me about what I was working on. She asked for my one-sheet, something I had learned about from the retreat’s preparation blog posts, and I sheepishly handed my first one-sheet attempt to her. She gave me encouraging comments about it, and I felt … well, like I was where I belonged. When I found out she was one of the award-winning teachers at the retreat, I was humbled … and thankful.

And so it went throughout the entire retreat. I dined and spoke with authors, publishers, agents … and budding writers like me. I even met Jennifer Hallmark, who invited me to write for her blog, Inspired Prompt.

Best of all, I discovered something I had been long seeking–a Christian writers’ critique group. Because of the connections and friends I made at the Blue Lake retreat, I am now a member of Word Weavers of Destin, FL, where I attend every month and get help and inspiration for my upcoming gratitude journal and devotional.

I always place a priority on having FUN while learning, and the teachers at the retreat did not disappoint. They were fun-loving, extremely informative, and eager to pour out their life experience to help us succeed in achieving our dreams.

What can I say? Great heart, great learning, sweet fellowship, and encouragement. You know you have a story to tell, a message to deliver. Learn your craft of writing more perfectly … in a peaceful, beautiful, and personal setting. Register now.

 

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Easy Fermented Hot Peppers

September 29, 2018

jalapenos fermentedI used to be afraid of fermenting my own foods, but as with anything, practice builds confidence. I now have about a half dozen each of fresh jalapeno and hot banana pepper plants flourishing in my garden, providing lots of opportunities to make easy, probiotic-rich sliced peppers and hot sauce! A couple spoonfuls of fermented peppers or hot sauce go well with just about any meal, and have many benefits, as explained by Dr. Mercola at drmercola.com:

“Traditionally fermented foods like grass-fed cheese, kefir, miso, natto, olives, pickles, sauerkraut, tempeh, and yogurt are some of the oldest and healthiest foods on the planet. The term “fermented” may sound unpalatable but this ancient preparation and preservation method — which involves breaking down carbohydrates and proteins using microorganisms such as bacteria, molds, and yeast — produces delicious food.

More importantly, these “functional foods,” contain probiotics that can be beneficial to your overall health. Beneficial bacteria in fermented foods help boost your overall nutrition, support digestion, and increase B vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, digestive enzymes, lactase, and lactic acid.”

Easy Lacto-Fermented Jalapenos or Hot Pepper Sauce

Makes one 16-oz. mason jar of peppers.

Ingredients & Supplies:

  • 1 ¾ cup washed and sliced jalapenos (for less heat, remove some of the seeds after slicing, or use banana peppers; don’t slice peppers too thin – just a little less than ¼” thick for jalapenos, or up to ½” for banana peppers. (Use heavy kitchen gloves when slicing jalapenos, or double up on the disposable gloves!)
  • 1 large clove garlic, sliced
  • 2 ½ teaspoons unrefined, coarse salt (like celtic sea salt or kosher salt)
  • filtered water
  • one washed and rinsed 16-oz. mason jar with lid and band
  • zip-lock snack baggie
  • Extra brine for snack baggie: Put 1 ¼ tsp. of coarse salt into ½ cup filtered water and stir till dissolved. Set aside. (For larger quantities of peppers, mix 2 ½ tsp. coarse salt per 1 cup of filtered water. Set aside.)

Directions:

  1. Place garlic, jalapenos (or any other hot peppers), and salt in a 16-oz. washed and rinsed mason jar (no need to sterilize with boiling method).
  2. Fill with filtered water, leaving about 1 inch of space at the top. Put on lid and band, and shake to dissolve salt. Open and pack down peppers under water.
  3. Place a small zip-lock snack baggie over the top of the peppers, and pour the extra brine into the bag, enough to fill to the top of the jar. Close the baggie, expressing the air. Close the lid, making sure the peppers and garlic are completely submerged. (The brine in the baggie is in case the bag leaks, so it won’t ruin your peppers.)
  4. Cover tightly with lid, then leave on the counter (away from direct sunlight) for 4 days, with a dish underneath, in case some liquid leaks. (If lid bulges too much, loosen to let it vent for a second, then tighten lid again, but it shouldn’t be necessary.)
  5. After 4 days, open lid over sink (because of pressure inside jar). Replace lid and place in refrigerator. (If you won’t be eating the peppers yet, keep the baggie in the top of the jar, to keep everything submerged.) Fermentation will be slowed down a lot with refrigeration, so the peppers will be good for quite a while. The hotness will mellow after sitting in the refrigerator for a while.
  6. Enjoy probiotic-rich fermented peppers with any meal! If you prefer, put peppers and the liquid in a blender to make a nice hot pepper sauce to go with meals.

After sliced peppers have been eaten, put probiotic-rich liquid in a squeeze bottle to pour over food as desired!

Reconciliation After Divorce

April 28, 2018

SCAN0541 bOnly God could heal my broken heart and restore my life, my marriage, and my family.

Steve and I were married 28 years when we decided to separate and eventually divorce.

We both made mistakes, and I grew more and more disheartened. My 50th birthday hit me like a ton of bricks, sending me spiraling deeply into depression. Studies have shown that women who were abused in their youth are at higher risk for depression leading up to and during menopause, and I had been physically abused throughout my childhood and teenage years.

Back then, all I could do was numb the pain. God delivered me from a world of drugs and dark despair at the age of 20 when I turned my life over to Him. I learned to forgive my parents, but I believe I still had lingering bitterness which I brought into my marriage.

Bitterness is a poison-tipped arrow piercing your own heart. It eats you alive from the inside out, even causing sickness and disease in the body. I believe I was projecting past hurt and bitterness onto my husband, and my health – mentally, physically and emotionally – declined. According to Hebrews 12:15, a root of bitterness springing up will cause trouble and defile many. When you’re bitter, everyone around you is impacted negatively, and in my case, it tore apart our marriage and family.

While separated and divorced, I discovered the grass was not greener on the other side, but brown and brittle. I was still depressed and filled with anxiety. I couldn’t sleep for weeks and months, feeling like I was losing my mind. I had lost self-confidence, and was filled with fear, which does indeed have torment (1 John 4:18). I still read my Bible and prayed, but felt like I was hanging on by a thread. I clung to God’s promise in Psalms 147:3, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” I knew He would heal my broken heart … but how long would it take? I had seen countless miracles of healing and deliverance in my life, and I knew He would deliver me yet again.

In the summer of 2014, a friend texted me a link to a teaching and healing ministry. I clicked on it and listened with voracious hunger. The old proverb, “When the student is ready, the teacher appears,” came to life as I began to devour teachings every possible waking moment, flooding my mind with the light of God’s Word. I was coming to life again, as God restored my soul.

Bitterness

The miracle came unexpectedly. I started listening to a family series which turned out to be about marriage – something I wanted nothing to do with. In the middle of a teaching, God gave me revelation. In a moment of time, He showed me how destructive my divorce was – to my life, to Steve’s, to our marriage, our family, our extended families, our church, and even our local community. He showed me the things for which I had so much difficulty forgiving Steve were just mistakes he made … and they were forgivable.

In that moment, I genuinely forgave Steve, and God healed my broken heart. When God showed me the plank in my own eye (Matthew 7:3), I couldn’t even see the speck in Steve’s. I was filled with remorse and repentance for what I had done. When God gives repentance (2 Timothy 2:25), He also gives you an action to take, like “first be reconciled to your brother” in Matthew 5:24. I was suddenly filled with a sense of urgency to call Steve, tell him I repented, and ask his forgiveness. We hadn’t spoken for months, but I called and asked to have lunch with him.

We met the next day, and I explained what God showed me. I told him I repented and asked if he would forgive me. He said, “Yes.” When we got up to leave, something blurted out of my mouth which I hadn’t planned at all, “If you ever want to consider reconciliation, let me know.” We both stood there in silent shock at what I had said. He answered, “I’ll need to think about it.”

A few weeks later, Steve called and said he’d be willing to start dating again. We proceeded cautiously, with the help of a Christian counselor, learning to communicate openly with each other. The following spring we were married in the mountains of northeast Alabama, the setting of our first honeymoon over 31 years earlier.

We are now communicating on a deeper level than we ever thought possible, and have come to realize we are soul mates and best friends. It’s as if God helped us hit the “reset” button, with all things new in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). Is our marriage perfect? Well, if you bring two flawed people together, a perfect marriage it does not make. However, we can both attest our marriage is better than it ever was. Picture a triangle, with two imperfect people at each bottom corner, moving upward each side toward a perfect God. As each of them draws closer to God, they become more Christ-like, and draw closer to one another.

I now keep a gratitude journal and write in it every day. I have found this is a great key to happiness, eliminating any sense of victimhood or entitlement. I was once bitter and unthankful, blaming others for my discontent, but now understand I am the only one who can determine my own happiness – by remaining thankful. “Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ …” (2 Corinthians 2:14).Steve Judy wedding family

Reprinted from Go! Magazine Fall 2017

 

Scripture Valentines

February 13, 2018

Let Us Love One AnotherValentine’s Day back in grade school was often bittersweet. The kids with parents who cared and had the means were showered with enough tiny valentines and envelopes for the entire class. Others were able to bring in a handful to pass out to a few friends. Merciful teachers bought extra valentines to hand out to those who had none. As a result, popular kids were lavished with valentines, while the introverts shielded an obviously miniscule trove with their hands.

For the past few years I’ve passed out scripture valentines I made to anyone I encountered around Valentine’s Day. I can’t tell you how tickled I get with the reactions. I’ve never met anyone who didn’t at least let a small smile emerge. Others couldn’t thank me enough. Even those not familiar with the scriptures are happy to receive a valentine, no matter what it says. For some, I wonder if it’s the only valentine they’ll receive.

There are many free, printable valentines online, and I’d like to add mine to the mix. If you’re so inclined, feel free to print them up, cut them out, hand them to strangers … and enjoy the many reactions. For many who are exposed to so much negativity and criticism in this world every day, it’s comforting and encouraging to receive a gift … with a good word.

Have fun being a light in the darkness to those you encounter … and Happy Valentine’s Day!  Scripture Valentines 1  Scripture Valentines 2  Scripture Valentines Envelopes

Why Does God Allow Bad Things To Happen?

October 2, 2017

automatic weaponAt this writing, 58 are dead and over 500 wounded after the Las Vegas strip massacre. We pray for the grieving families and friends of those lost, and for the wounded fighting for their lives, which will never be the same.

Questions fill our hearts and the airwaves. How can we be safe going to any event? How was a man able to load his hotel room with heavy guns and ammunition? Wasn’t anyone aware of the descent of the gunman’s heart into darkness and evil?

Some will shake their fists at the heavens and cry, “What kind of God would allow this to happen?” “Why did He allow my husband / wife / mother / father / brother / sister / dear friend to die such a horrid death?” “Who wants a God like that?”

Sorrow and anger over such senseless violence are justified. However, before you lay fault at the feet of the Almighty God, know this – He is a God of love and light, in whom there is no darkness at all (1 John 1:5; 4:16). When He created mankind, He gave us the greatest gift – freedom. Freedom to choose to love Him. Freedom to focus on what is virtuous. Freedom to choose to hate him. Freedom to entertain evil imaginations. Freedom to yield ourselves to the god of this world, the prince of darkness, the father of lies, God’s arch-enemy, the devil, who holds the power of death (Hebrews 2:14).

This god of insatiable evil enslaves in darkness anyone who will let him. He makes them pawns to do his dark bidding. We may call it depression, psychosis, going off meds, despair or whatever, but underlying it all is the one who holds the power of death. He is relentless in deceiving people into falling for his damnable lies, blaming others for our misfortunes, and justifying evil acts of violence.

The true God of light who created us grieves greatly with us in our time of sorrow. This was not His will, and He did not “take” anyone. It is the devil who takes people in untimely death, and not the God and Father of the resurrected living Lord Jesus – who went around healing people and raising people from the dead. If it was ever God’s will to make someone suffer or to “take” them in a horrible, untimely death, then Jesus went around undoing the will of God.

It is time for men and women of God to take a stand for truth. Stop blaming God for everything that happens. Yes, He is sovereign, but don’t pervert the definition of sovereignty to mean that He is in control of everything and that nothing happens without His permission. That is a damnable lie, contrary to the scriptures – the Word of God.

Bad things happen, but it is because of the choices people make with the blessed freedom God gave to each of us – to honor Him with our liberty, or to choose evil imaginations, hatred, and the enslaving lies of Satan.

Jesus said in prayer about the scriptures, “Thy Word is truth” (John 17:17). There was a time in my life I didn’t believe in Jesus or the Bible at all. As far I was concerned, he was just a profound philosopher, and the scriptures were filled with allegories and fairy tales. But when I sat down to read the Bible, the God of this universe beckoned to my heart. He gave me a choice, whether or not to believe the claims his Son made. And I used my freedom to choose to believe.

Everyone has that choice. You are free to believe, or not to believe. I challenge you to read about Jesus in the Bible, and then decide. At least you’ll then be making an informed decision, and not a cowardly ignorant one.

God did not “allow” this to happen. He gave a man the freedom to choose, and that man chose murder, mayhem, and suicide. The devil celebrates this victory of darkness, and God grieves more than we can know. He grieves with the families and friends of those lost, and He stretches out His hand of healing to those wounded. Jesus is alive. He’s the healer of broken hearts and broken bodies. Healing is here. Choose healing … choose him.

Resurrection Power

September 28, 2017

angel army

While pondering Ephesians 1:20 recently, the little word “when” set off fireworks in my mind.

Ephesians 1:19  And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power,

20  Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,

21  Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come:

This jarred my mind. Jesus had a lot of power when he walked the earth. He did even more extraordinary things after his resurrection, though, like changing his appearance, appearing and disappearing, etc.

God wants us to know “what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead … ”

God energized (“wrought” – put into operation) His mighty power in Christ when he raised him from the dead and set him at His own right hand in the heavenlies.

Yes, I thought (and still do think) that Jesus had a LOT of power during his earthly ministry. But now his heavenly ministry goes far beyond that. Instead of just being at one place at a time on the earth, he can now work within each of his saints via the Holy Spirit of Christ within. He ever lives to make intercession for each one of us. He gives gifts to the church — apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. He’s the mediator between God and man, and our advocate with the Father. All things are under his feet, and he presides over all the affairs of his Church.

It’s difficult to fathom the exceeding greatness of God’s power to usward who believe. I want to say, “Well, I have Christ’s power, but I don’t have his authority.” Yet, I can indeed walk with and in his authority, with the spirit working within. God is at work within me, both to will and to do of His good pleasure. He wants me to operate this exceeding great power which He energized in Christ in the resurrection.

Can this possibly be what Jesus was talking about when he said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do …” (John 14:12)?

Why?

” … because I go unto my Father.” That happened when God “raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenlies” (Eph. 1:20).

The term “resurrection power” has an entirely new meaning for me. I don’t fully comprehend it, but now I can begin to appreciate why Paul — who walked with extraordinary power — wrote in Philippians 3:10, “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection … ” As much as Paul already knew, and as much power as he walked with, he still strove to know the Lord Jesus more deeply. He still wanted to know more deeply the power of his resurrection.

Just thinking about it … I am undone!

Dear Heavenly Father, please enlighten the eyes of our understanding that we may know Christ’s resurrection power in our lives!

Happy Resurrection … every day!

We Are At War

June 13, 2016

soldierThere’s a new kind of war going on in this world. The battleground for this new warfare isn’t somewhere the military ships you off to. No, the battlefield has come to us – into our living rooms, offices, and schools – via instruments of communication, the news media and the Internet.

The soldiers who take up arms in this conflict are commanded by generals and officers utilizing these communication systems for their own twisted ends. They are depraved individuals who have lost their humanity. They enlist hurt people, because they know that hurt people will certainly hurt people.

These wicked leaders don’t even need to know who their followers are. All they have to do is exploit modern communications to spread their sick ideology. They know their words are seeds which will be planted and grown in the hearts of hurt people … until they bear horrific fruit.

As I write tonight, dozens of Orlando people are fighting to survive and recover after becoming victims of a foot soldier in this new war. Some of them may be scarred and debilitated for life. Hundreds of people throughout our nation mourn the loss of family and loved ones who were killed today. Millions throughout the world are shocked and horrified in the wake of hate’s destruction.

Then again, I can’t help but wonder if we’re becoming numbed and hardened by all the bloodshed of this new conflict buzzing on sound waves and binary digits. Maybe that’s part of the generals’ strategy. Keep shocking us, and let the airwaves take care of keeping us distracted enough so we’ll be lulled into inaction … until we too, lose our humanity. It’s far easier to take command and control of a bunch of ignorant, distracted animals than it is to overtake sound-minded people of wisdom.

Animals react. Sound-minded thinking individuals take action.

So what are we to do? Answer in kind, like an animal? Or take the higher road of the Golden Rule? For younger readers, I apologize on behalf of our nation that we haven’t been teaching you this invaluable life principle. Too many of you have been coddled or neglected by your parents who never learned the golden rule. In school you’re told that everything you do is great. Too often you are not held up to a high standard of excellence, character, and accountability. Shame on us.

So here’s the Golden Rule: “Treat others like you want to be treated.” Not like they treat you. That’s reactionary living, and you have enough brains in your head to be able to live on a higher level than the animals. It’s not easy to follow this rule all the time, because sometimes people do such stupid things you just want to slap them. Well, if you wouldn’t want someone to slap you, then don’t slap anyone else. Living by this rule would sure solve a lot of this world’s problems, don’t you think?

Like I said, it’s not easy to follow the Golden Rule. We all fail miserably from time to time while trying to adhere to it. Yet it takes failing, picking ourselves up, and learning from our failures so we won’t repeat them. This is called building character.

People with character are determined and strong individuals, because they strive to do unto others as they would have others do unto them. Every time they fail at this, they recognize their wrong, try to make amends, learn from the ordeal, and become stronger. They won’t listen to the garbage propounded by twisted morons who want to do unto others what was done unto them … and convince other reactionary, animalistic people to do the same. Instead, they will become a part of the solution. They will rise up and become warriors of character and strength in this new battle of the air waves.

All it takes is action upon this principle of truth. Treat others like you want to be treated. Keep trying, failing, and learning, and you will be in the ranks of soldiers fighting for all that is good, against all that is evil.

The Integrity of the Word

March 9, 2016

contractorWe’ve been doing some remodeling, and have been amazed by the difference between what some builders say they will do, and what they actually do. They might say they’ll be here in ten minutes, when in reality it turns out being ten minutes … times four. “First thing in the morning” winds up being any time before noon. A two-week job becomes two months … and counting. When you can’t count on what someone says, words become meaningless.

We recently attended a business conference where a couple speakers did a presentation based on the book, The One Thing, by Gary Keller. One of the overhead slides was jarring. It showed a bouncing ball, with a quote from the book:

“Work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. The other four balls – family, health, friends, integrity – are made of glass. If you drop one of these, it will be irrevocably scuffed, nicked, perhaps even shattered.”

How many people do you know who regard their integrity with the fragility of glass? These are the individuals who say what they mean, and mean what they say. They show up when they say they will, and they do what they say they will do. Their word is their bond. If they know they’re running late, or something comes up, they call to let you know when they’ll arrive, or to reschedule. They place value on you and your time … and on the integrity of their word. They know that a person can only be trusted as much as you can trust their word.

Unfortunately, too many people are used to being lied to, too many times. Words lose their meaning in daily communications, and we find ourselves being amazed when someone actually comes through on their word. We have succumbed to a subpar way of living, in my opinion. Why trust in words that have no meaning?

I’m thankful I had a father who taught me the meaning of integrity, of saying what you mean, and doing what you say you will do, to the best of your ability. And when you fall short, you accept responsibility without placing blame, and do whatever you can to make it right.

I have been a student of biblical research for nearly 40 years, and have found it unfortunate how many people read the distrust of their own words into the Bible, which I believe is the Word of God. They regard the scriptures with little deference, as if God didn’t say what He meant, or mean what He said. His words become meaningless, in the plethora of opinions and speculation.

I’ve heard it said that God has a purpose for everything He says in the scriptures  – where He says it, why He says it, how He says it, to whom He says it, and when He says it. Just imagine a world where people actually had a specific purpose for everything they said – where they said it, why they said it, how they said it, to whom they said it, and when they said it. What’s more, imagine a world where people stood behind their word, and backed it up with their actions, to the best of their ability. And when they fell short, they’d own up to it, and do their best to make it right.

Perhaps I’m a dreamer, but I’m dreaming of a world where people place value on their words, and live with integrity. I’m dreaming of a world where people read their own integrity into the Word of God … a world where people count on God to be their Provision in all things, including healing in their bodies, minds, hearts, and spirits.

I’ve seen too many times in my own life where God can be counted on … where His Word has integrity. He’s a solid rock, a sure foundation.

I encourage all to read His Word, the Bible, expecting Him to come through on His promises. He will not disappoint.

Covered with the Fingerprints of God

December 24, 2015

I just received a Christmas letter that begs to be shared. So, with my friend’s permission, here is …

fingerprint

Covered with the Fingerprints of God

by Theresa Roby

God’s greatest blessings to you in the power-packed name of Jesus Christ! As I look back over the past year, I am filled with gratitude because I have been abundantly blessed. There have been some trials and some tough times but, all in all, it has been a great year. I am also thankful for my friends and family who have blessed me in many, many ways. Every person who receives this letter is special to me and brings a smile to my face. I thank my God upon every remembrance of you.

No two people bless me in the same way. God has put unique gifts, talents, strengths, and abilities in each person. God has gifted each and every person ever born with individual attributes that are completely different from any other person. We all share some characteristics with each other but, no two people have the same unique combination of God-given abilities. Our own particular history, ways of thinking, experiences all contribute to that uniqueness. Every person is different and beautifully put together.

We know that outwardly every person has characteristics that are exclusive only to them. Each individual has their own distinctive set of fingerprints, footprints and tongue prints. (Yes, tongue prints!) Identical twins have similar patterns but their prints are not entirely identical. Even in the shared womb these babies have different experiences which are shaping them physically and emotionally. If one’s hand is resting on the other’s leg, they are both experiencing something different.

The iris, the ring around the pupil of every human eye is absolutely unique, exhibiting a distinctive pattern. These complex, random iris patterns can provide positive identification of a person beyond a shadow of doubt with no two patterns repeating. We can be assured that every one of us is something special because God has given us these external proofs that each of us is absolutely one of a kind.

I believe our insides have been formed just as individually. I am sure we are as unique and distinctive on the insides as we are on the outsides of our bodies. We each have a heart and brain and those parts that help us function on a physical level but, what if each person’s physical heart is as unique and different as our finger prints? The doctors know a lot about how the heart functions in a general sense but they do not know the subtle (and not so subtle) differences of each individual person which is why, if they are wise, they consider the patient’s account of what they are feeling. This is also why healing is such an individualized thing. What works for one does not always work for another.

We know that every person’s DNA is different. The individual genetic blueprint that programs every cell of every person’s body is varied and diverse. Thousands and thousands of bits of information are encoded in every strand of DNA and none are exactly alike. DNA programs everything from hair and eye color to a predisposition for diabetes or cancer. Our height and the shape of our toes are decided by how those genetic codes have implanted in our bodies. This programming begins at the very moment of conception. Identical siblings which come from a single, fertilized human egg cell, have a lot of similar genetic markings. Even so, there are subtle differences which are not duplicated in each sibling. Brothers and sisters that are not identical share some common patterns but differ vastly in the combination of genes from child to child.

Psalm 139:4 – I WILL PRAISE THEE; FOR I AM FEARFULLY AND WONDERFULLY MADE. The human body is a wonder of magnificence. It would take a lot more time and space than I have to write of just how marvelous this body is. God has put so much more into us than an amazing shell in which to house us. I am always astounded at people who say they don’t believe in God because even a cursory glance at how the body functions points to an intelligent and purposely designed creation.

God has given us the capacity to love Him and to love each other which cannot be explained as simple animal instincts. There is a complexity in human relationships that makes it seem almost impossible for any two people to ever be able to communicate or interact. These complicated interactions of hearts and lives are what make life worth living. God has designed us to be able to take care of each other by our unique abilities and giftings. Each person has something special to give to others that is unlike what anyone else has to offer.

In addition to our individual physical characteristics inside and out, God has filled each of us with a godly DNA. We have been endowed with unique gifts, talents, strengths, abilities and giftings by the creator of the universe. God has programmed each and every person that ever has lived or will live with a greatness, an ability to succeed, believer and non-believer alike. Not everyone will receive or embrace the gift of life offered freely to all. Some will reject it, deny it, abuse it or turn it to evil, but the free gift was given because of the great love our Father has towards us.

We were created in the image of an exceedingly wonderful and beautiful God. That makes us exceedingly wonderful and beautiful because it’s in our “genetic” code. He has made each of us an incredible masterpiece with tremendous worth. We’ve all heard stories of some forgotten work of art stowed in someone’s attic and then given to Goodwill to be sold in a heap for a few dollars. When examined closer, it is discovered to be a priceless masterpiece with many clamoring to own it or just see its magnificence.

YOU are a masterpiece! The Great Sculptor has crafted only one you. Don’t hold back your gifts but let your light shine. You do not have to be like anyone else. You only have to be what your Father has made you to be. You are good enough. You are of great worth to the Father and to me.

This is the time of year when our thoughts turn to the greatest gift every given, the Lord Jesus Christ. All that was accomplished through his birth, life, death and resurrection have made you completely complete, lacking nothing. The full price has been paid for the masterpiece which is you. Sometimes we may not feel like we are worth much but, the full price was paid for us even when we were at our worst.

The treasure of you is wonderful in itself but, the treasure of you shining forth the Christ inside you is beyond comprehension. Remember the children’s song, “This little light of mine?” Maybe it’s time to let your heart sing that song again. Sing to a world that is hurting and dying. Sing to yourself. Sing to your magnificent creator. And let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

I sure do love you and I thank God for your life.

Theresa

So …

October 6, 2013

monkey with coconutSo … (I just learned that “so” is a good substitute for “uh”or “um,” to help you sound a little more intelligent.)

So … My daughter is on the World Race, serving as a Christian missionary in 11 countries … in 11 months.  She’s on a team of 7 twenty-somethings, in a squad of 45 mostly twenty-somethings.  I’m proud as heck of her, but the mother instincts are kicking in.

“So,” I say to her, “I read on your blog that your team fasted and made a kajillion peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to hand out to people … in … I don’t know, wherever you are in Nicaragua.”

“Yeah!” she exclaims as only a twenty-something can.

“So … do you want the word to get out that there are some rich American kids in town handing out freebies?”

“Oh, we’re not there anymore.”

“So … where are you staying?  Not in another tree fort with monkeys, I hope?”

“No, we’re at a hostel.”

“So … are you eating well?”

“Well, we didn’t have any food when we were in the tree fort, so … we were hungry.”

“Weren’t there any coconuts?”

“We didn’t think of that.”

“All you have to do is watch the monkeys.  They aren’t hungry.”

“Yeah …”

The Skype screen goes dead.  A few attempts to reconnect, then we go to audio on Viber.

“So,” I say, “I’m concerned for your safety, dear.  Are you in dangerous parts of the country?”

“No, we don’t go into any dangerous places.”

“Are you sure?”

“Mom, I’m being sarcastic.”

“Oh, that’s comforting.”

“So … I need to go. We’re going out exploring.”

“At this hour of the night?”

“Yeah, gotta go.”

“I love you, Sweetie.”

“Love you, too.”

The Viber call blips off.  Lord, set your angel round about them.

So … now I’ve got to figure out how I’m going to get some sleep.  Somehow, I’ll manage.  I was once a twenty-something missionary myself.  Now I know how I drove my mother to her knees in prayer.

So … all is well.


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