Thanking a hero

We are thanking the men and women of the military for being our heroes today and I was reminded of something. I had been in the grocery store and was heading toward my van, as I approached it I saw that the car next to me had the hood up, there was a man standing there hooking up the cables to jump the battery but there was no car close to which he could hook them. There was a lady pacing back and forth hoping someone would answer the number she was calling. As I walked by I said, “Hello, you need a jump?” (Obvious question I know) “Oh yes,” he was eager to answer, then to his wife, “You can hang up, I have someone who wants to help!” His wife hurried around to where I was loading my groceries into the side of the van and began to help me unload them. I got into the van and pulled the hood latch, he began hooking the cables to my battery, when he got it all connected I started my engine. The first time the lady turned the key over, it gave a little scratch but didn’t start, at that point I put my foot down on the gas and she tried again, SUCCESS! I waited for him to unhook his cables and slam the hood down before looking over my shoulder to begin backing out, as I did a little tap on my window made me stop and turn to see the man standing there. I rolled down the window, he stuck his hand out and said, “What is your name?” at that point I looked at him and saw what I had not seen until that very moment, my mouth fell open and I answered “Harolene, I write a daily devotional and today my article was “Are you someone’s hero?” and all day I have been asking people if they could be someone’s hero…”

Before I could finish my sentence he said “You are my hero today.” What had surprised me was that this man’s black T-shirt had white lettering across the front; it said “I BELIEVE IN HEROES“. I could not believe my eyes and tears began to roll across my cheek. We smiled at each other, he turned around to show me the back of his shirt, it said “Wounded Warrior Project” Wow… there are no words to tell you how I felt. I came to the conclusion that to do a good deed does more good for the “doer” than for the “receiver”!

Luke 6:38 “Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, and criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. Don’t condemn those who are down; that hardness can boomerang. Be easy on people; you’ll find life a lot easier. Give away your life; you’ll find life given back, but not merely given back—given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity.”

It’s not always the things or money you give but pieces of yourself that means the most. Jesus gave us His life; John 15:13 “Greater love hath no man than this that a man lay down his life for his brother.”

Be someone’s hero today!

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Thank you!

Every one of us has guardian angels of the heavenly variety, but did you realize that we have angels in the form of soldiers, policemen and firemen that watch out for us? There may be some that are not worthy of their titles but there are also bad preachers, some terrible lying politicians and bad neighbors. Each one has to be judged on his or her own merit, right? Now for the rest of the story…

I stopped at the deli to have some Boar’s Head sandwich meat cut, it was taking forever because the normal lady was training a new girl to do it, going step by step over and over and I remarked out loud to no one in particular that it seemed to be taking forever when a man behind me standing a little too close to my comfort zone spoke to me. He said, “I am a former policeman, I have been shot three times and left for dead, once in the head and twice in the back.” I looked at his large brown eyes and then I noticed the scar across his shaved head. He continued, “When you have come that close to death so many times you are glad to just be standing in a line waiting for something, no matter what it is or how long it takes, because you are alive to be standing and waiting.” He didn’t say it in a manner that I took offensive it was just a fact. Then he held out his hand and introduced himself, “My name is Joe G____, (it was a beautiful Italian name) I am a native New Yorker that was always loud and boisterous, raised with seven brothers who are all policeman and fireman we were all like that. I am a single father and last year I was coaching my son’s baseball team and got thrown out of the game. My son threw off his hat and yelled at the umpire and told him he couldn’t do that to his dad! It was like somebody threw a switch and I realized I didn’t want to raise my son to yell at an authority, I just wanted peace.” He leaned back against the cart and said, “Yes I am just happy to wait.” I was a little stunned and realized that his speech was a little halting and wondered if that was an effect of the gunshot to the head, again noticing the large erratic scar winding over his skull, I told him how much I appreciated his service to me as a citizen, wished him a blessed day and then stepped aside to give him my place in line.

I was reminded of how truly blessed I am to have guardian angels watching over me, whether it is a policeman, a fireman, men and women in the military or one of the heavenly host.

 

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Get the facts before you judge

Sometimes things are not as they seem, that is the reason we are told by Jesus that we should not judge anyone and if we do then that judgment will turn around and come back upon us!

Wasn’t that a high and lofty way to begin this blog? Now do you want the back-story? Well you’re going to get it!

This morning at 6 AM I walked through the upstairs office to take our aging mixed lab Ruby out to do her morning chores. When I walked in the room I heard the sound of mighty, rushing waters and quickly looked outside to see the torrential rain that must be falling and to my surprise it was dry! I panicked! I looked at the refrigerator to see if it was leaking and looked at the floor expecting to see it flooded. When it was dry in there I walked out on the upper deck and heard the water gushing even stronger, my heart nearly stopped as I walked down the stairs, barefoot I might add, to see water pouring out of the side of my house right under the office window. I was going to get a closer look but the water was falling so hard I was about to be soaked to the skin, my hair was already getting wet from the fallout. I went in and started texting people I thought could help me, yeah that time of the morning on a Saturday not many people are awake, finally finding someone that lives in Canton who said he would come but it was going to take a while to get here. In my mind instead of seeing water flowing from my house I was seeing dollars, and imagining that the house would have to be opened up to find the pipe that had burst and then repaired, I was planning an email to my ex-husband to explain the need I was going to have for extra money!

Where am I going with this?

The plumber called and said he was about to be on his way when I decided to walk back out there and see the damage, expecting to see the cedar siding beginning to fall off the house and to my surprise the water was no longer gushing from the house, the tail of the Polaris, which sweeps the pool, was shooting water straight up into the air with great force. When I had seen it earlier it was still pretty dark out there and I couldn’t see the water coming from the Polaris in the pool I just saw it bouncing off the house with such force I thought it was actually coming through the wall! I quickly called the plumber and tried to explain the situation but I was laughing so hard I am still not sure if he understood exactly why I had suddenly canceled the appointment so urgently made a few moments before! As I got down on my knees to untangle the troublesome piece of equipment I did pray and thank God that my day was not going to be spent trying to figure out how I was going to get the dinner I am planning for my sister’s birthday cooked without water!

Next time I will get all the facts before I call the plumber

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You are so beautiful

Peeling back the layers from me of dedicated mother, doting grandmother, sister, cousin and niece, you will find that underneath all those things there is still a fragment of a girl left deep down inside of me. When I was young I read all the magazines and tried all the make-up tricks trying to look beautiful. As the years passed and the styles changed I kept up pretty good and I still use all the eye make-up, liquid eye-liner and all that I got so fond of back in the sixties, I don’t like lipstick also a throw back to those days, and I can’t lose my “teasing brush” as hard as I might try. Our society is obsessed with our appearance and the way people perceive us has everything to do with how we present ourselves. People get face-lifts, tummy tucks, breast augmentation, Botox in all possible cracks and crevices in our face and neck; diet to lose fat, gain muscle, look younger, or simply to wear a smaller size jeans.

What is all the falderal about? What possible difference does it make in the larger picture of life?

I look at photos of children starving, every bone in their body showing through a layer of skin that has no cushion of fat in it. They are worried about where their next meal will come from not counting calories. I have seen a woman who was so scarred on her face and neck from being burned she was beyond any recognition of her former self, yet when she looked at you with her kind eyes and sweet spirit, her loving attitude so soothing to her loved ones that you forgot her scars and only saw her soul. There have been both women and men that had a pleasant outward appearance and you thought them attractive until they opened their mouth and their sour, self absorbed attitude so prevailed that you no longer saw them as attractive but as the hateful human being they really were. My mother always answered my question of how I looked with, “Pretty is as pretty does!”

1 Samuel 16:7 But GOD told Samuel, “Looks aren’t everything. Don’t be impressed with his looks and stature. I’ve already eliminated him. GOD judges persons differently than humans do. Men and women look at the face GOD looks into the heart.”  The forty-nine times in the Bible that “beauty” is referenced, it is most often speaking of the “beauty of holiness“. Psalm 29:2 Give unto the LORD the glory due to His name; Worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness. What I love most is to hear the honest, joyful laugh of a child, or the sudden tears that spring from happy eyes, and I love to be the one that caused that laugh or did something that brought those happy tears. If I can do that I will consider myself beautiful by anyone’s measure. God loves beauty, you can see it when the trees are changing colors, in the graceful Magnolia tree with her giant glossy leaves and soft white flowers, or in the eyes of a baby where you see the eternal God looking back at you.

From Psalm 8, “Oh Lord, my Lord, how excellent is your name in all the earth, what is man that you are mindful of him” I agree!

 

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What’s next?

When a big event is over, whether it is a big wedding, finally getting your degree, or just a big summer party we begin looking for the next “big thing”!  We look forward to the Braves ballgames and pray we can get to the World Series again and then start thinking about the Falcons and hoping they can put a good season together. The next big thing we look forward to are the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays and when the last of the New Years Eve parties are over and the mess is all cleaned up from our parties, we begin to think about the things we need to get done in this coming year, some call these things resolutions!

Having done that we sit back and depression begins to wind its way into our mind like the kudzu vine, which takes over when it is left untended. If we don’t check the depression and the let down that happens it starts a process in us that can become, what I refer to as a broken mind. It can happen when you let yourself become so stressed over things at hand that you begin to block out the things that hurt too bad to try to resolve.

We should observe 1 Peter 5:7 “Casting all your care on Him for He cares for you.” I have heard of people who had a “broken heart”, I have even heard it said that a person “died of a broken heart”, that must be a terrible sadness. We “give our heart to the Lord”, the “heart of the King is in the hand of the Lord”, it is said that the “heart is desperately wicked who can know it?” Jeremiah 17:9, the Psalmist said, “Try my reigns (heart) and see if there be any wicked way in me” Psalm 139:24, you get a “heart ache”.

How closely does this relate to the mind?

The heart of a matter is our emotional reaction, the mind, however, is the calculator, the part of us that thinks and decides whether we will or will not serve the Lord, if we will try to do His perfect will.  It is said that if you give a person an inch, they will take a mile. Whoever said that must have been referring to Satan himself. 1Peter 5:8 “Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”

Proverbs 23:7 “As he thinks in his heart, so is he.”

We know that our heart doesn’t think, so we are talking about the mind. You have to keep your mind fresh, washed in the Word! Whether you have a broken heart or a broken mind, we know that He is the great physician and can make us brand new!
Summer unofficially starts with the Memorial Day holiday and you will be doing a lot of things all summer long, just remember to take time to have a “Sabbath”; even God took a day to rest! The most important thing to remember is you need to wash your mind in the Word!

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Do you have a dream?

When you were a child, what did you “pretend” to be? Did you become the thing you aspired to be?

I had wanted to be a school teacher, it didn’t happened, but I encouraged my children to take up education that didn’t happen either, however my son is a Chiropractor and his wife is an elementary school teacher, my daughter is an amazing wife and mother of two, married to a wonderful man who works for a law firm. When her son, 16, was diagnosed with Juvenile Diabetes she became acquainted with every facet of the disease and keeps him adjusted so well that he is in excellent health, and her daughter is a beautiful, hard working 24 year old who works as a dental assistant. So, I’m not a teacher in a school but I must have done something or taught something right to have raised two such wonderful children. I envisioned being a wife with a husband that came through the front door, like Ricky and Lucy, or Warren and June Cleaver, and said “Honey I’m home, what’s for dinner?” That dream ended in divorce. Then there’s the part of me that wants to feed the world, to teach an amazing, eye opening, revelation revealing Bible study, or lead a prayer group that can change the world, yes you are right, I had a lot of lofty dreams. The biggest one through everything else was that I wanted to write a book full of wonderful stories or maybe one great epic novel. Maybe it’s just that I never settled on one subject that was important enough to me to explore and make it come to pass.

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.

Now, what about you? What are the dreams and visions for your future? Have they come to pass, or have they flushed along with all the other waste in your life?

Don’t give up on your dreams, they can still come true!

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Peaceful easy feeling, yeah

I was talking with someone who is of “my generation” and the line from this old song came up, “I’ve got a peaceful, easy feeling and I know you won’t let me down“. The words before and after that don’t matter in this context, the point was that those words caught at my heart. How many times do you go to bed and wake up un-easy, worried and sometimes you don’t even really know “what” you are worried about? A psychiatrist would say that is called “floating anxiety” or being anxious without knowing why. Philippians 4:6 Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. Read this verse and digest it, let it nourish your soul and spirit the way your body digests the food you eat. Your body assimilates the food using the vitamins and minerals that are in it for its benefit. Did you digest that? Ok, now read this: 1Peter 5:7 So be content with who you are, and don’t put on airs. God’s strong hand is on you; he’ll promote you at the right time. Live carefree before God; he is most careful with you.

Now, what were you worried about? I bet you can’t even remember! Nehemiah 8:10 And Nehemiah continued, “Go and celebrate with a feast of rich foods and sweet drinks, and share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared. This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the LORD is your strength!” 

I just realized something; you know how people use the “Bible” to prove anything they want? Well, now I can prove that we are instructed to “celebrate with a feast of rich foods and sweet drinks!” Rejoice! Be happy and don’t worry!

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Pull up those Armored drawers

What happens when you feel that you have done everything you are supposed to do, like paying your tithe and giving offerings, volunteering to feed the poor and take meals on wheels, work in the nursery on Sunday morning when you would rather be sitting in the service, and then you pray and feel that you have hit the wall, no answer? I talked with someone today to which that scenario applies. This person is kind and gentle and good, gives generously of their income and volunteers to help the “old folk” and anyone that is down on their luck, it is at times like that I would give everything in me to be rich enough to solve the problem at hand. What do you say? The truth is so simple that it sounds cliché’, it is that “when you are doing good it is the devil’s job to try you at every level, to see if you will turn aside from your faith so that he can devour you, soul and body”.

When Job was tried, he suffered the loss of his family and his properties, plus he was covered with boils! He sat on a dung heap and scraped them with a broken piece of pottery, just trying to make himself feel better, but he went from bad to worse when his wife capped it all off by asking him why he didn’t just “curse God and die”!

Job was faithful in the face of losing everything and endured all his well meaning friends, commonly referred to as “Job’s comforters”, telling him that he must have lived in sin or displeased God in some way or this would not be happening to him. It wasn’t until Job, feeling lower than a snake’s belly, began to pray for those “friends” and that is when God put a halt to all that Satan had brought on him. From that point his fortune began to rebuild, he had more children, he regained all of his properties, and seven times more! Satan had thrown it up to God that He had protected Job, and said “Does Job serve God for nothing? You have put a hedge around him!” That is when God gave Satan permission to try Job in whatever way he wanted, except he could not take his life.

I am sure there have been times that you, like Job, have wished you could just die to get out of all your troubles. But consider this, have you armed yourself against this enemy of your soul? Read Ephesians 6: 12-13  For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand

Are YOU having a hard time? Does it feel like your prayers are hitting the ceiling and falling back in your face? Arm yourself then pull up those armed drawers and fight!

 

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Had an AHA moment?

I flipped on the Voices of Lee and listened to them sing, “There’s a sweet, sweet spirit in this place and I know that it’s the Spirit of the Lord“, I said, “God, I am broken, I need help.” He spoke to my heart, “Everyone is broken in one way or another, and you only see your own chips and cracks. Your favorite coffee mug has a bad chip in it yet you continue to use it every day. Quit feeling sorry for yourself!” As I thought on that thought, the Voices of Lee began to sing “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross on which the Prince of Glory died, My richest gain I count but loss and pour contempt on all my pride.” Oh thank you God for speaking to me, then I had an AHA moment! I’m not talking about suddenly realizing that Smart Balance taste as good as butter, even if it doesn’t cook as well, or the Chick Fil A chicken sandwich is better than the Martin’s, or you’d rather drive a Van than a sports car, I am talking about real life changing AHA moments here. Adam and Eve had one in the Garden when, after eating the fruit, they heard God, out for His evening stroll, calling them and realizing they were naked, tried to cover themselves. This changed life for them, and us. Look at Isaac: Genesis 27:33 Isaac started to tremble, shaking violently. He said, “Then who hunted game and brought it to me? I finished the meal just now, before you walked in. And I blessed him—he’s blessed for good!” He had blessed the wrong son and now could do nothing to change it, too late. Samson’s moment: Judges 16:20-21 Then she said, “The Philistines are on you, Samson!” He woke up, thinking, “I’ll go out, like always, and shake free.” He didn’t realize that God had abandoned him! The Philistines grabbed him, gouged out his eyes, and took him down to Gaza. David’s moment: 2 Samuel 12:11-13 This is what the Lord says: Because of what you have done, I will cause your own household to rebel against you…Then David confessed to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” Nathan replied, “Yes, but the Lord has forgiven you, and you won’t die for this sin. Judas betrayed Jesus, and when he had his Aha moment, he couldn’t bear his sin, he hanged himself. What about the Apostle Peter? He denied Jesus three times, but the Lord knew his heart and asks him; John 21:17-19 “Do you love me?” so he answered, “Master, you know everything there is to know. You’ve got to know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. I have had Aha moments about myself that shook me down to my repentant knees, and some that ended relationships. It’s like being in a completely dark room, hands outstretched trying to find the wall or piece of furniture, when the light suddenly turns on, The light may then go out, but the image of what you have seen in the room is burned in your mind and you can find your way out. God gives us these revelations so that we can make positive changes in our lives. Heed these Aha moments; know that God helps us if we only ask! Psalms 139:23 “Search me, O God,and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

May you have peace and productive AHA moments yourself!

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Throw out the garbage!

Every day we make decisions that affect our whole life, you may not realize it but I think of seeing a large design of dominoes all standing like little soldiers in a row until the first one in the row falls over and then the little tiles tumble one at a time until they are all laying down with the little white dots facing the ceiling. Can you think of an action that has caused a string of reactions? Yeah and so can I. Sometimes it is just a word that can change the course of everything and try as you might you can never take it back. We might try to get rid of the garbage from our lives and we think it is safely disposed of and (as an old friend of mine used to say) “Up pops the devil!”  It’s seems the temptation hunts you down and runs you over and when you think you have it conquered there is always a willing “friend” to help you find your way back into it! In my world that would amount to being so good and strict on a diet and my kids bringing in a chocolate cheesecake or pistachio almond fudge ice cream for me!

1 Corinthians 10:13 “No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it.”

Yesterday I looked in the refrigerator and saw I needed to clean out the old food to make way for groceries so I set the casserole dish with the left over broccoli casserole in it out on the cabinet to be dealt with when I finished doing some other chores. I came back into the kitchen before long, the dish was gone but when I opened the fridge door there it was back on the shelf. I didn’t think much about it and just set it out again but again it got put back in its place in the fridge. Last night I set it out again and again was deterred in disposing of it in a way that wouldn’t attract all the possums, raccoons and possible coyote that my yard and porch attract. I forgot about it in getting ready for bed. Fast-forward to this morning and see me talking on the phone to my son and opening the refrigerator door for my eggs and when I opened that door there it was the BROCCOLI CASSEROLE back in the refrigerator! I thought of all the times that something gets thrown away that I meant to keep and here this was something I was trying to get rid of that someone was taking the time to put back in the fridge thinking it was a mistake that it was sitting out!

Next time just go ahead and throw the garbage and that temptation out instead of leaving it on the cabinet, which is an open invitation to just put it right back in the fridge!

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