Christmas-Renewed Hope

We had gone to visit our daughter and her family for Thanksgiving. Yup, we were one of those couples who flew across country on Thanksgiving Day! What were we thinking?? Ha, this grandma was thinking, “I’ll fly on any day to see those grandbabies who are growing up faster than I’d like”.
 
So now we have transitioned from the season of Thanksgiving into Christmas. I usually put my Christmas decorations and tree up the weekend of Thanksgiving. Since we were gone, I have been a little slow in getting everything done.
 
 
Christmas is such a mixed bag of emotions, isn’t it? At least for me it is, how about you?
 
For many people Christmas is a happy time with family, friends, fellowship, holiday foods and gift giving. Most Christians observe this as a time of celebration and thanksgiving for the greatest gift ever given, the Lord Jesus Christ, “God with us” (Matthew 1:23).
 
But for others, Christmas is just the exact opposite. It can be a reminder of lost loved ones or no close family to celebrate with. Many are going through hard times and tough situations. Instead of feeling joy, many people feel sad, anxious and depressed. Christmas can potentially be a time of hopelessness and loneliness.
 
I was at the hospital yesterday with a mom who is 29 weeks pregnant and fighting to keep her little baby girl alive. She feels hopeless.
 
A pastor’s wife who has been hurt from church members leaving the church and she sees the church dwindling. She’s trying to stand on the promises of God, but the battle is hard.
 
A store owner who is seeing a dream die as she closes her shop. She wonders why this is all happening.
 
A woman who is fighting cancer trying to hold on to life.
 
Another mom who finds herself a single mom trying to provide for her children.
 
A wife who feels she’s in a loveless, hopeless marriage.
 
The list could go on of people I have talked with trying to share the hope and love of Christ.
 
It makes my heart so sad when I hear the despair and hopelessness in one’s voice. I remind them how much the Lord loves them and how He is near to the brokenhearted. But I can’t do this for them. None of us can do what only the Spirit of God can do. They have to know in their heart of hearts that the God of Hope is for them and these difficult times are but a moment in time. God is perfecting His character in each of us. I’ve lived long enough to know that this only comes through trials and the struggles of living this life.

Romans 5:1-5 tells us: “We can rejoice, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.”

 
In Scripture hope means a strong and confident expectation. “But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.” (Romans 8:25). We believe in God’s promises and confidently hope for the results in our lives.
 
Hope is tied to faith—believing that, no matter what, God is going to take care of us. No matter how bleak things in this life can become, we have to believe that we will get through it. God is giving us every opportunity to grow and overcome, so we can handle the responsibilities He intends us to have in His Kingdom.
 
God is developing us and preparing us for His purpose.
 
Christmas should be a time of renewed hope—hope in Jesus Christ; hope that, despite all our tangled messes, God will bring order out of chaos.
 
I love this verse in Romans 4:18… “Even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept hoping—believing that he would become the father of many nations. For God had said to him, “That’s how many descendants you will have!”
 
Abraham believed God, he had hope and so can you. No matter what level your hope indicator is at, this Christmas season may you be like Abraham and keep hoping.
 
This Christmas season rejoice that Jesus came to give you something better than the disappointments of life on planet earth. And when by faith you embrace Him and all that He promised, you can have a hope that is not a fingers-crossed wish that you harbor in your heart, but rather a confident, courageous optimism that is rooted in the certainty of His Word.
 
I cannot promise that you’ll be healed, or your upside-down world will be turned right-side up. But I can promise that this hope we have in Christ will not disappoint.
 
“Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls.” Hebrews 6:17-19
 
Jesus—Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, King of Kings and Lord of Lords is for you. He loves you.

Merry Christmas to you, my friend. May you be filled with renewed hope as we celebrate the birth of Christ—Emmanuel—God with us.
 
Peace & love,
Jeannine

 

 



Superheroes Are All Around Us

Superheroes Are All Around Us. We Just need to open our eyes and see them.

 
As I opened the door the other night, I was surrounded by superheroes of all of shapes and sizes. I saw Captain America; standing next to him was the hulk. Peering behind the Hulk was Wonder Woman with Supergirl by her side. Coming up the walk was Batgirl and Spiderman. No, they had not all come to rescue me; they had come because they were hoping I had some really yummy candy to hand out. It was Halloween*.
 
 
These little superheroes turned and left as quickly as they came, leaving with big grins on their faces, sacks filled with candy and ready for the next adventure
 
 
As I watched them walk down the driveway my mind drifted to the word superheroes. I realized we have superheroes all around us. We each have them in our lives. I hope, anyway, you have at least one superhero who will come to your rescue when you call.
 
I knew I had people I could call on when I needed something. However, it came very apparent how many superheroes I really had in my life while going through cancer.
 
As soon as I had been diagnosed with cancer, my superheroes rose to action.
 
Jeff, my husband, began to research what steps we needed to take next. He called the elders of the church and anyone who wanted to participate in prayer at our house. He was very proactive to make sure I had the right supplements to take and healing foods to eat. We had made the prayerful decision to go through the chemo treatments because the cancer was growing rapidly and was aggressive. In order to help combat the damage the chemo was doing to my body we wanted to strengthen and ward off as much damage and side effects we could holistically.
 
Peggy, my friend whom we’ve done life together for over 30 years, each week updated our church body with a prayer letter updating everyone on what was happening with me. She gave prayer request as well as praise reports. We knew it was important to give thanks to the Lord for what He was doing and to acknowledge that. Peg is a registered nurse, who was quite vigilant to make sure no one came in contact with me who was sick! If I was able to come to church that weekend, she made sure anyone who had the slightest sniffle either stayed home or away from me! She would make everyone use hand sanitizer before they entered the building. We went through a lot of hand sanitizer!
 
Our son Adam encouraged me to follow through on attending a conference I had already committed to go to before I was diagnosed. The conference was held in Orlando, where he lives. He and our daughter-in-love, Jennifer, made a point to come and see me at the convention hotel and encouraged me to stay. I was beginning to lose my hair quite quickly and all I wanted to do was go home. I had just begun the chemo treatments and one of the medications made me very unsure, emotional and just not myself! But I knew if I left the enemy would have won a battle. It was good to see two loving encouraging faces that I could cling to if only for a couple of hours. It helped me to stay and their reassuring words that I had made the right decision to even come to the conference helped me finish out the week.
 
Our daughter, Jenna, flew in from Maryland where they were living at the time. She was the one when I came home from the conference cut and shaved the rest of my hair off. The oncologist had encouraged me to cut my shoulder length hair short, which I did cut, in anticipation of losing my hair.  But I was not truly prepared for a baldhead. That was a hard day.  She had women from church telling her they would shave their heads too in support of me. I said NO—no one was shaving their head!! I love my girls but I’m not so sure I’d shave my head for them! Just being honest, here.
 
Instead of shaved heads, Jenna came up with the idea of bracelets. So she ordered green bracelets (for lymphoma) for anyone who wanted to wear them in support of me. What a sweet blessing to see these bands on people’s writs.
 
Our grandson, Elliot wore one everyday. I was so touched when I saw a picture of a school function he was at and I spotted the bracelet on his wrist. In my mind it was easy for the girls to wear them: our daughter, daughter-in-love, our oldest granddaughter; but to see  our fourteen year old (at the time) grandson wearing it made this grandma’s heart melt.
 
I had people sending me cards and letters with such encouraging words. Some sent me books to read. I knew I had people holding me up in prayer. On days I was to weak to get out of bed I would get a text or card in the mail with words that were refreshing to this weary soul.
 
I would have people ask to come and sit with me while I went through chemo treatments. This was a full day commitment on their part. I appreicated that they came to sit with me. It made the time go by much quicker. These were people who had busy lives… an ER doctor, an attorney I worked with, family…they took time out of their day to sit with me.
 
Each one is a superhero. No they don’t bend steel with their hands. The breath coming out of their mouth can’t freeze you in your tracks or create a wall of ice. Their eyes don’t stream out beams of fire. None have a rope of truth or bracelets that bullets bounce off of.
 
They all have something much greater, much more powerful than any Marvel or DC comic superhero could ever have.
 
His name is Jesus. He gave each of us who have called on His name the Holy Spirit. Holy Spirit gives each one of us exactly what we need, when we need it.
 
Each one of us can be a super hero to those around us.
 
We can be that strength of steel when someone has been beaten down by life. We can be like a fresh spring breeze with words of comfort for someone who is grieving. We can speak truth in love when one can’t see for themselves, has taken a wrong turn or gotten off the path. Like a glass of cold water on a hot, humid day we can— just. be. there.  No words to say, no scripture to tell them…just be there for whatever they may need. Sometimes we just need to know we have someone in our corner.
 
Today, I encourage you to go out and be someone’s superhero. We all need a superhero in our life.
 
Who’s your superhero? Look around; they are there. You just need to open your eyes and see them.
 
Love you my friend,
Jeannine
 
*I can see some eyebrows rising on the whole Halloween deal. I’m not going to get into the debate of Halloween. I will just say when I open my door to these kids (and their parents), I show love and grace—not judgment. I choose to be light in the darkness—light dispels the darkness. Most of these people are my neighbors. I choose to show them love—not condemn them for celebrating a pagan holiday.


Happy Fall Y’all!

While parts of the country are enjoying the fall season, here in Florida we are happy to be out of the record breaking 90’s and the Panhandle is working on recovering from the devastation of Hurricane Michael.
 
It has been a busy fall so far. Some of you may know that back at the beginning of September, my husband, Jeff had a bout with kidney stones that sent him to the ER. That was actually a blessing in disguise! He had a follow up with our primary doctor who asked him a simple question. “So Jeff, is there anything else going on?” the doctor asked. Jeff replies, “well, I’ve been having a little trouble with my chest.” The doctor knowing the family and their history immediately said he would schedule Jeff for a stress test.
 
Jeff never made it through the stress test! The nurse stops the test and tells Jeff she see’s something on the sonogram and doesn’t want to proceed. He is immediately set up with a cardiologist—that hour!
 
The cardiologist tell us there is an area of the heart that looks like it’s not functioning properly. Jeff is set up for a heart catheterization within 72 hours.
 
It took longer to wait for Jeff to have the heart cath then the actual procedure! The doctor came out less than thirty minutes of Jeff going back for the procedure. He tells us that Jeff needs to have quadruple by-pass surgery. Wait…what!? That was a bit of a shock. We were expecting he would probably need to have a stint or two, but not this. The good news was that the heart was in good condition and there was no damage done to the heart.
 
The day of surgery comes and I wait in the surgical area with our son and daughter. We know we have many people covering Jeff in prayer. The surgery took 3 1/2 hours and Jeff had a five by-pass surgery. Wow!
 
The medical staff was amazing from the surgeons and everyone in between. We are fortunate to live in an area where we have one of the top 10 heart hospitals in the country.
 
We could see the hand of God upon Jeff. The medical staff was amazed at Jeff’s recovery. He was out of the hospital by day four. Those of you who know Jeff, know he was trying to get out on day two! He thought he was ready to go home.
 
 
It was challenging to say the least that first week he came home. It’s a miracle I wasn’t wearing an orange jumpsuit by week’s end! Just an f.y.i… that’s what people wear here in Florida who get incarcerated. My husband has never had any major surgery…ever! For him to have to sit and recuperate was very difficult for him. At times I felt like I was a mom of a toddler again. “Please don’t do that, sit down, no you can’t do that, no you can’t have that!”
I’m not sure that first week who was more wore out!
 
While he was in the hospital, our daughter and I went and bought him a recliner so it would be easy for him to rest in. Those first few days, I had thought about getting some restrains and sewing them on the arms and leg rest to keep Jeff in the chair!
 
I am happy to report we did survive that first week and each day he was getting stronger and better. When he went for his follow-up appointments to the cardiologist and surgeon, both were amazed at his progress. They both released him and gave him the clearance to go back to work. He was back at work by week four and out walking every day!
 
 
 
What a journey these past few weeks have been. We’ve had opportunities to pray for medical staff and others where we have crossed paths with. The outpouring of prayers and  monetarily support has been incredible. A testament to the body of Christ coming together, coming along side and helping each other. Truly a blessing.
 
I have not been on social media much or sat down to write much as my priority has been to see that Jeff recovers well from surgery.
 
And that’s an update from me! I’d love to hear how you are doing this fall season.
 
I pray this over you today: “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.” Numbers 6:24-26
 
 
Blessings to you my friend,
Jeannine
 
 


Broken~yet Beautiful

Broken…yet beautiful

We were having so much fun, my five-year-old granddaughter and I, walking along the beach on a bright summer day looking for shells. It was a beautiful day at the beach. Of course, for me, I’ve never really had a bad day at the beach! It is a favorite place of mine. I like to call it my therapy time. It does this momma good when I get to spend time at the beach with my kids and grandkids.
 
As we were strolling along the beach, Addie would bring me shells and tell me to hold them for her. She had brought me a few that were broken and I said to her, “honey, these are broken, lets find some that aren’t so broken.” And she replied, “but grandma, they are so beautiful.” 
 
Out of the mouth of babes! I was instantly reminded of the song Broken and Beautiful by Brian Doerksen. It is a song we use at church for communion—a reminder of what Jesus did for us, you and me, on the cross. I love these words from the song:
 
Broken and beautiful 
Extravagant love
Prodigal grace
God’s perfect justice
Mercies embraced
 
It also reminds me of the fact I, too, was once broken…but from sin. Jesus has taken my life that was broken from poor choices, heartaches, and disappointments and made my life beautiful. That’s why Jesus came. He takes what has been broken and makes something beautiful.
 
If you are feeling like the broken seashells, may I remind you that the Lord can take that brokenness and turn it into something beautiful.
 
Psalms 34:18 says, “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” 
 
I like what Psalms 34:18 in the Message translation say, “If your heart is broken, you’ll find God right there; if you’re kicked in the gut, he’ll help you catch your breath.”
 
It’s so comforting to know that the Lord knows everything that is going on with us and He is right there to comfort and help us. Our part is to allow Him to do just that. Give Him your brokenness and allow Him to bring healing, wholeness and beauty out of it all.
 
Today, I pray that the fragments of brokenness are laid at the feet of Jesus and you allow His extravagant love to wash over you. He sees you beautiful.
 
This is the way You’ve choses to say
This is the way You make all things new
Broken and beautiful 
Extravagant love
Prodigal grace
God’s perfect justice
Mercies embraced

Praying for you today, sweet friend.
Jeannine

 



The Lazy Days of Summer

The “lazy days of summer” have been anything but that around here!

A few weeks ago, my mom fell and broke her hip. She had fallen on the bathroom floor. We tried to move her but she winced in such pain, we knew we had to call 911. EMT came and assessed the situation and determined she needed to be taken to the hospital. After waiting for what seemed like forever, we were finally able to go back and see her. X-rays confirmed she had broken her left hip. Up to this point she has been physically healthy—no walkers, no canes, no broken bones!
 
After her hospital stay, she went to rehab and was there for nineteen days! About 3 ½ years ago she was diagnosed with vascular dementia, which really compounds her situation as she doesn’t answer questions accurately or come to a right conclusion at times. I needed to be there every day to make sure she was being properly cared for. I knew that the next few weeks could be challenging!
 
She was home about a week and half when one afternoon she began throwing up! I’ll spare you the details, but it went on for longer than we felt it should. She had no flu-like symptoms, nor eaten anything to cause the nausea she was feeling. In her condition, she couldn’t be transported to the hospital by car, so we called 911.
 
Another trip to the ER. This time it was at 11 p.m. It was somewhat quiet for the ER . However, most people know a trip to the ER is never a quick trip. Finally, after a CT scan it was determined she had a blocked bile duct. She was admitted to the hospital. At this point it was 5 a.m. and I was exhausted. Two more hours and I would’ve been up for 24 hrs. I don’t need a lot of sleep, but I do like it, if you know what I mean!
 
The doctor came into see us (yes, I was back at the hospital by 9!) and let us know she would have to have the duct cleaned out and then her gall bladder would be removed because there was an abundance of stones in there. These are two separate procedures.  
 
Again sparing all the details, like the doctor had never seen so many stones in a bile duct and the fact her gall bladder was ready to rupture, she came through both procedures well.
 
During all this, I had my 2-year scan. I’m happy to report the scan came back clean. In fact, the doctor said it was a perfect scan, there was nothing to even see. Thank you, Jesus.
 
The doctor did tell me my lab work came back revealing I was anemic! He asks, “have you been feeling tired?” My first thought was, “I’m not crazy, it’s not in my head, I have a reason for being so blasted tired!” I said, “well, I have had a lot going on!”

He said I needed to come in for 2 Iron IV treatments.

By now, our daughter and her family came home for a visit. I truly enjoy having them here. Routines are on hold, good eating goes by the wayside, stayed up late, did over 20,000 steps at the Magic Kingdom in 1 day! The day they left a dear friend came to stay for a long weekend and teach at our church service…needless to say—Yes, I’m tired!
 
So where exactly are these “lazy days of summer” at? Not my house!
 
 
 
I am reminded of the verse in Matthew 11:28-30 Come to me, all who are weary!

“Are you weary…then come to me. I will refresh your life, for I am your oasis. You will find refreshment and rest in me.”(The Passion Translation)

Now that my mon’s health is settling down, the excitement of family and friends being here is gone and I got the first of two iron IV treatments—I sit and rest.
 
I sit here writing this listening to worship music, reflecting on all that has transpired in the last few weeks of this quickly fading summer.
 
I am grateful that my mom didn’t hurt herself more than breaking her hip. Because of the way it broke, they did a partial hip replacement, which allowed her to heal much quicker. The gallbladder issues were discovered and resolved. She is doing well.
 
I am very thankful for the memories made this summer with both our kids, spouses and grandkids. All together for a short period, which does this momma good. I love time spent with our kids.
 
I am grateful the scan can back clean. No more scans, just bloodwork in six months.  
 
I have not had any of those lazy summer days.  Yet, as I sit in the sweet presence of Jesus the weariness fades because HE refreshes my soul and renews my spirit.
 
Whew! Hope you aren’t worn out just by reading this! I’d love to hear how your summer is going. Maybe you’ve had opportunity to have some lazy summer days. If so, that is wonderful. There are still a few weeks left, so I may get in a lazy day or two!
 
No matter what your days are like, I pray you find time to sit in the presence of Jesus and allow HIM to refresh and renew you.
 
Blessings to you my friend,
Jeannine


Finding Joy When We Feel Discouraged


Finding Joy When We feel Discouraged

 

Life can be so disappointing, can’t it? Life can throw some real curve balls we we’re never expecting. Like many of you, I experience times of discouragement. How do we deal with it? I have found eating that whole bag of potato chips was not a good idea! Or spending money on new “stuff” that I didn’t need. Sitting around and having a pity-party with me, myself and I is not a great idea either—makes for lousy company!

I really like this definition of discouragement from William Ward.

“Discouragement is dissatisfaction with the past, distaste for the present, and distrust of the future. It is ingratitude for the blessings of yesterday, indifference to the opportunities of today, and insecurity regarding strength for tomorrow. It is unawareness of the presence of beauty, unconcern for the needs of our fellowman, and unbelief in the promises of old. It is impatience with time, immaturity of thought, and impoliteness to God”.

That definition right there should cause us to “snap out of it!” When I read that definition, I thought “wow… Lord, forgive me for being so ungrateful for all you’ve done, are doing and will do for me.

During these times, I fight it by engaging in self-talk. I like this version of Psalm 42:5-6a from the Message translation:  “Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul? Why are you crying the blues? Fix my eyes on God—soon I’ll be praising again. He puts a smile on my face. He’s my God. When my soul is in the dumps, I rehearse everything I know of you…”

Then I read these words from Titus 3. 

But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.(Titus 3:5-7)

What encouragement these verses are.

This is the redemptive power of God’s good news. When we receive good news it should make us happy. If the Gospel doesn’t make us happy, perhaps what we’ve accepted isn’t good news (and is therefore not the Gospel), but a burdensome bad-news religion. Or maybe we haven’t truly embraced it and experienced its implications in our hearts. We need to daily remind ourselves of what the gospel means, and cheer ourselves daily with God’s good news that should never get old for us.

Few of us will experience in our lifetimes as much utter desolation as Jeremiah faced. In a book written at a time in Israel’s history so sad that it is called Lamentations, there is still a transcendent happiness:

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22-23)

This defies explanation. It is a joy that flows from being immersed in who God is and what He has done for us. It’s the new, fresh, daily experience and contemplation of the unceasing steadfast love of God, and His great faithfulness to us. What else can this do but make us happy and give us strength for the day ahead?

Don’t let the enemy rob you of the joy of the day. He would love nothing more than for you to have a down in the dumps day, week, month. It’s easy to slide down that slop and go from discouragement to depression.

I hope and pray that this has encouraged you today! Try and remember to do some self-talk to yourself. It really does help. Remind yourself of what God has done for you in the past. Meditate on verses that lift you up. Listen to worship music. When you worship, it’s kinda hard to stay discouraged!

I’d love to hear from you and what you do to encourage yourself when discouragment comes your way.  I am praying for you as we journey together on this road of life.

Love you my friend,

Jeannine



It’s the little things ~ They’re really BIG

Today I went on my first walk away from the house since I had cancer. Gosh, even saying “since I had cancer” still seams so surreal to me. I walked 3 miles. It’s the same route my daughter, Jenna, and I use to take when we were homeschooling. I loved those walks. Today was no different. 
 
Image result for walking
I was reminded of how much the Lord has blessed my family and me. I am so thankful that I am feeling back to my “old self”. And yet, I don’t want to be like my “old self”. Some where along the cancer journey, more of me died…which is a good thing!
I am not thankful for having cancer, but what I am thankful for is all that it taught me and what I have learned! You can be taught something but that doesn’t mean you truly have learned it. So I am applying what I have learned. 
 
I’m learning more than I realized that the little things really are the BIG things. I know we’ve all heard that before. But do we really comprehend that?
 
As I walked today, I was thanking the Lord for the ability to get out and walk. I have been so apprehensive to walk alone to far from the house in case I couldn’t make it back! I’ve done walking with my family, but someone has always been with me. Today I was reminded of those who could not get out and walk and  I prayed for them.  I prayed for those who are still suffering with the dreaded disease of cancer and other debilitating diseases.
 
It was wonderful to feel the sun on my face and the breeze refreshing me. I could hear the birds singing in one ear and Casting Crowns in the other! Interesting combination. 
 
Now don’t get me wrong, I have been walking on a treadmill and doing various exercises to help build up my bones and muscles from all the damage done by chemotherapy. But there’s something about getting outside and walking in the splendor of what our amazing God has created, minus the sound of roofers hammering away or the lawn guys mowing! 
 
This week the Lord has answered some amazing prayers. Prayers that may seem little to someone else but are BIG to this mothers heart. 
 
God is into the little things—He KNOWS they are really the BIG things!
 
I want to encourage you today to remember the little things really are the BIG things. God is all around us doing amazing wonders, if we will only look and listen. 
 
I find myself pursuing the Lord more than I have in a really long time. I am finding as I pursue Him, He is right there to meet me. He loves me and He sees value in me and He sees worth in me. He loves me.
 
Here’s the deal my friend… He loves you, He sees value in you, He sees worth in you. Purse Him today and He will be right there with you. 
 
It’s a little thing that turns into a really BIG thing. 
 
Blessings my friend,
Jeannine
 
 


I’m Dying

This past week I’ve really tried to ignore it, or hoping it would go away. But the stark reality is if I want to continue to press on in my relationship with Jesus, I must die…to self.
 
Someone really blasted me this past week, it was really directed towards my husband, Jeff, but I got the first blow. Pent up frustration that had unrealistic expectations finally erupted… all over me!
 
If you are anything like me, someone can “dis” me, but “dis” my husband, my kids or grandkids—well, that’s a different story. As a wife and mom I am pretty protective of my family. Yeah, I know the bible verses about not taking up an offense for someone else; so don’t send me any emails telling me what I need to do! That is the whole point of trying to work this all out this past week. I KNOW what I’m supposed to do.
 
I have a right to be offended, to have a “how dare they” opinion. I can sulk, be depressed and have a bad attitude. I have feelings too. Right? I say, Right? Especially, where there has been no apology for their actions and attitudes.
 
This is where the dying to self-part comes in.
 
Truth be told, no I don’t have the right to be offended, have a bad attitude and hold this against another. The Bible in 1Corinthians chapter 13 talks all about that. In fact I have that verse hanging on my living room wall (thanks to a dear friend). I normally enjoy looking at the sign. It really is quite lovely. However, this past week, I try ignoring that sign every time I walked into the living room. It was like that verse was haunting me, “hey, read me; this is what you’re suppose to be doing.”
 
One morning as I was reading in my quiet time. Yeah, try that with all these attitudes, feelings and thoughts going on in the heart and brain! I began to have this conversation with the Lord that went something like this: “Lord, I don’t know how you stood before your accusers and said nothing. I’m not like you Lord, I just can’t forgive like you.”
 
I have Henry Blackaby’s Experiencing God Devotional and wouldn’t you know it the devotional for that day was….drumroll—Forgiveness! Yup, it was. Oh my! Think the Lord was answering me? Yes, He was. I sat and pondered what I had read and what I know to be true. I’ve taught, spoken on being in a prison of unforgiveness, wrong attitudes, etc., etc.! I did not want to be held hostage to my own selfish self.
 
Jeff, my husband, has been preparing for Palm Sunday and Resurrection Sunday services. He says to me, “ hey, I want to watch this video and tell me what you think.” The video is entitled, The Sounds of the Cross. As I sat there and watched with tears streaming down my face, unable to speak when Jeff asks me, “what do you think—should I show it?” The reality of what Christ did for ME, how he forgave ME, how he went to the cross for ME; could I do any less?
 
I was also reminded of the parable Jesus taught in the book of Matthew chapter 18. Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?” “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven! Then Jesus tells a story about a man who had been forgiven a huge debt. Then the king called in the man he had forgiven and said, ‘you evil servant! I forgave you that tremendous debt because you pleaded with me. Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?’ Then the angry king sent the man to prison to be tortured until he had paid his entire debt. Jesus said, “That’s what my heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters from your heart.”
 
I have chosen to forgive this person, even without any apology. Not my responsibility if they don’t see how hurt or offended I was or the need to apologize. I have to let it go and allow the Lord to deal with it all.
 
Dying to self… that’s what I’ve done this past week. This is good news and bad news. Why? Because I know it won’t be the last time I will have to die to self. The Apostle Paul says, we are to die to self daily. Some days are easier than others! It is a choice that has to be made daily.
 
Thanks for letting me share my heart, be real and authentic here. The struggles are real. It is how we handle them that count. I have learned that My God is bigger than any struggle I may have. He will help me and He loves me enough not to let me stay in any prison. He has the keys to let me out.
 
He loves you too! If you are having the same kind of struggle, take it from me as hard as it seems to die to our own selfish ways, just look to the cross. Hear the sounds of the cross? The agony Jesus bore as he was being beaten; the pounding of the nails in his hands and feet. His crying out to God… IT IS FINISHED.
 
He did that for you and me, my sweet friend. Since Jesus died for us, surely, we can die to ourselves and live for HIM as He intended us to live.
 
 
Blessings,
Jeannine


Living In The Dash

Went to a funeral this week and have another one this weekend. As a Christian we like to call them “A Celebration of Life.” And it is. When we have lived our life in Christ, for Christ, it is a life well lived. Like Billy Graham use to say, “ I’m not going to be dead, I will have just changed my address.”  That is true for one who dies in Christ. Romans 6:8 says, “if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him.”

On the headstone or grave marker there is the name with date of birth — date of death. There is a dash between them. Unless it is the death of a baby or someone young there is much that happens between birth and death. 
 
We call it life.
 
 
Even as a Christian death is bittersweet. We rejoice that our loved one or friend is in heaven with Christ, perhaps no longer in pain or suffering, but we who are still here grieve the loss. Our heart hurts. We have memories. We miss the physical touch of the hugs and kisses, hearing the laughter and even the cries. We chuckle at stories we remember.
 
Why… because we remember the — (dash) the life of our loved one or friend.
 
For me, in my early years I thought I was living life. It wasn’t happy at times, even chaotic and very dysfunctional most all of the time.  Circumstances happen, bad situations take place and adjustments are made. But I thought this was how life was led. You go through the motions, do what you think you’re supposed to do and keep on going, doing the best you can do until the end!
 
It wasn’t until I became a Christian that I began to live life. Accepting Christ and turning my life over to Him was the best decision I have ever made. I realized that I was now truly living.
 
At this celebration of life, we heard of a life lived for Christ. A man who left a legacy of faithfulness to his wife, an example to his children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, extended family members and friends. He enjoyed life; even when there were difficult times he understood real living came from Christ. Living in the ability to choose to love, forgive often; hold no wrong accounts towards another, being salt and light as the Word of God tells us we are to be. He received wisdom and counsel on how to live life from the One who gave us life–JESUS.
 
When it comes time to have a celebration of my life, I want people to be full of joy knowing that I lived life to the fullest. I want to leave a legacy to my children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, other family and friends of a life lived in Christ and for Christ. I want them to be able to say they saw Christ in me, our hope of our glory as Colossians 1:27 says.
 
While going through cancer I decided then that I was not going to live in the land of regret—no matter the outcome. I packed up and moved from that neighborhood! I don’t want to come to the end of this life, as we know it and be regretful that I didn’t do (or did do) something I should have.  
 
I want to be salt and light wherever I go to others. I want people to see Jesus in me. Yes, that is hard to do sometimes—sometimes I want to lay hands on somebody suddenly… you know what I’m talkin’about!  But, that only means I get to choose how I will respond, how I will live my life. The Bible says there is LIFE and death in the tongue. Another words, what we say WILL impact not only our life, but also those around us.
 
Let’s choose to live life!
 
Tell those around us we love them, often. Compliment others when we see something worth complimenting.  Smile at one who needs a smile. Hold our tongue when we want to give a harsh word. Help someone when you can be of assistance.
 
So I want to leave you with this thought today… are you really living life or just merely existing?
 
We don’t know how long we have that choice to fully live life. Our days here on this earth are not known to us; each day is a gift. Because you are reading this, you have been given another day, my friend…
 
choose to live in between the —(dash)!
 
Blessings to you,
 
Jeannine


A simple question

 
How may I pray for you? It is a simple question and yet can be so complex. Sometimes when we ask to pray for someone, we can a myriad of answers. One person may so, “oh well, just pray for my friend, she really needs prayer.” Or how about the statement, ” I’m ok, really. I’ll get by.” And I love the answer of ” Oh, I don’t need prayer, I’m ok, everything is fine.”  Really?  I often think when I get that answer, hmmmm she must have been in that pageant Queen of Denial and won the crown!  Life could be going fine in the sense of nothing earth-shattering, no one died. But in all honesty we all can use prayer. None of us have “arrived” to the place where we are perfect. If that were the case, I pretty sure they call that death and now living in heaven, where yes, we are made perfect! Until that time… we are all gonna need some prayer! 
 
I have found that for some it is difficult to ask for prayer or even admit they need prayer.
 
Why is that? I have a couple reasons that I have been pondering this week and just want to share them with you in hopes that if you are on the asking end you may understand the response you may get and dig a little deeper. OR if you are on the receiving end of that question that you will allow prayers to be said on your behave. 
 
I think perhaps one reason is people are afraid to be vulnerable. Let’s face it, when we say we need prayer, we are sharing the “stuff” that is going on in our lives. Being vulnerable takes stepping out of our comfort zone and actually being REAL with someone else. 
 
We are afraid of being judged. Not that any of us have ever done that before! We don’t really want people to know what we are going through or dealing with because we are afraid we will be thought of as “less than Christ-like” because we are struggling.
 
I have found that after talking with someone who needs prayer and responds to the answer I spoke of previously these two reasons seem to be the most prevalent. 
 
We don’t want to be hurt by being vulnerable and we certainly don’t want to be judged. 
 
I’m not saying we just share everything with everyone. We need people in our lives who we can trust and who can pray for us. 
 
There is a community of believers that truly do care for one another and truly do prayer for each other.  I pray for you weekly. I may not know each of your struggles, but God does. 
 
This has just really been on my heart this week. There are so many who struggle in secret. That does not have to be. That is such a lie from the pit of hell…”don’t tell anyone you are struggling. What will they think of you?”  The enemy of our soul does not want us to walk in the freedom that Christ has for each one of us. 
 
Today, my prayer is that the next time you are asked “how may I pray for you?” you will answer with “thank you, today I need prayer for…” and fill in the blank.
 
On the flip side of this there are many times I ask someone how I may pray for them and they truly do share what is going on. Why? Because they know I will pray for them, right there on the spot, in that moment. And here is one of the biggest reasons. They know they can trust me. I’m not going to use this as a “prayer request” to others and then begin to gossip about the situation. Yes, that does happen. 
 
So here’s the challenge for you this week! Ask someone how you may pray for them. Then DO IT!  Be sincere, be trustworthy. Then follow up with them and see how they are doing.
 
And if you get asked how someone may pray for you. Tell them! If it is someone who you may not know real well, give them something “simple” to pray for and test the waters, if you will.  I know that many of us who have been a christian for any length of time have been burned by being vulnerable and being judged and not being able to trust. I get it, believe me, I get it! Been there, done that. I have people often whom I don’t know well enough (especially when I was going through cancer) say to me “how can I pray for you?” I found a truthful answer by saying, “pray I keep my eyes focused on Jesus.”  Now that is a prayer every one of us can use! If our eyes are on Jesus, we will have all that we need and  because Jesus will give us the peace, wisdom, discernment  to handle the “stuff” that we are dealing with. 
 
So…. my question to you today is, how may I pray for you?  I’d love to hear from you. 
 
Blessings my friend.