And God Said

And God Said….

I said, “God, I hurt.”
And God said, I know.”

I said, “God, I cry a lot.”
And God said, “That is why I gave you tears.”

I said, “God, I am so depressed.”
And God said, “That is why I gave you Sunshine.”

I said, “God, life is so hard.”
And God said, “That is why I gave you loved ones.”

I said, “God, my loved one died.”
And God said, “So did mine.”

I said, “God, it is such a loss.”
And God said, I saw mine nailed to a cross.”

I said, “God, but your loved one lives.”
And God said, “So does yours.”

I said, “God, where are they now?”
And God said, “Mine is on My right and yours is in the Light.”

I said, “God, it hurts.”
And God said, I know.”

No Talking During the Test!

So many times many of us have suffered in silent. Praying and waiting faithfully and sometimes in anguish and pain yet we are silent.

We adopt the slogan “God turned my test into a testimony” (slogan because it is not in the Bible) yet we carry on the lesson of No talking During the Test while we are going through it. How Biblical in principle is this. The Bible instructs us to be a comfort, counsel and help to one another. Yet how can I do this if you sit next to me consistently in silence? You are doing a disservice not only to yourself by shutting out a potential blessing, but you may infact be doing unjust harm to me in my charge to serve you.

Not to mention we all praise once we have come out of the other side however sometimes the hardship is the story I can relate to, the pain I might understand. Frustration, struggle all of it might be where I am and what I need might be the answers that you are putting on your test. As Christians sometimes I think what we need to have is an open book open forum type test more so that the silent. download

So as to save myself from being a hypocrite, over the next few days I am going to try and be as transparent (this is gonna be tough, let me change that REAL TOOUGH) as I can. Starting with admitting this will be a challenge for me. I like to help others I am passionate about it, it makes me happy and gives me a feeling of worth. However I am awful at telling you what is going in my life. When I need help, when I’m frustrated and more importantly if it doesn’t involve crimes against women or children when I am angry.

However right now I am going through some things that I am sure some of you will be on the other side of, some of you will be going through and some of you might be at the beginning of. I ask as you read that you pray for me and share your thoughts.

Be Blessed,

Thought for the Day: Let Your Yes Be Yes

There are many times when talking with another person we tell them, “Yes we will do…” and times when we say “No, we will not do…”. However, how many times do you find yourself reneging on your word? Sometimes we do it unintentionally yet other times we make it point to do exactly the opposite of what we have agreed. We try to justify it by saying well this person told me x,y and z and did the opposite so I am getting them back. That might be well and good but you should also be aware that not only are you telling a lie but that you are also going against God’s word.

The Bible states in James 5:12 12Above all, my brothers, do not swear—not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. Let your “Yes” be yes, and your “No,” no, or you will be condemned. When you enter into an agreement with a person you are not only entering into an agreement with them but God. So if in your heart you have no intention of honoring the agreements with which you have entered, you would be better off not to enter them at all. There is no out for “well I never promised” or “we didn’t have a written contract” as the world would have you think. The agreement is simply the yes or no that you speak.

It is true that there are times when the other party might make you really want to break your word however God judges us each by our own words, hearts and actions. At the end of the day this is what I strive for…May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer. Psalm 19:14

Humbly Submitted,

Thought For The Day: God On My Mind and Being Prepared

Last night I had an interesting rest. While I slept well, thoughts that I had that evening made their way into my dreams. Now I am a person who dreams often and feel that I have begun to be able to discern when my dreams are messages vs. thoughts that manifest themselves into dreams. These were thoughts into dreams.

With that being said this morning when I woke I determined that I wasn’t going to go back to bed. I got my coffee and sat at my computer to begin to search for information to post on Fellowship. I thought for a while about ideas I could write about and then my morning went in another direction. I opened up my Facebook page and Twitter account and began to post the following to friends and family: “Good Morning and God Bless. Have a beautiful day and when obstacles come to distract you, smile and know God’s got it!” The more I copied and pasted the short inspiration the more my spirit spoke to me and said, “God is in you! This morning put yourself into God”. As I did the more at peace I began to feel. My spirits were lifted and I felt stronger.

As the morning progressed I looked at a friends FB Page only to find out that a college friend had passed. Monroe Brown had died at 41 years old. He had been on the Penn State Basketball Team when I was in school and led the team at one of their Highest Points. Wow, was not expecting to read that. As soon as I left from reading that news the next post I read was about another college friend who had died this weekend as well. James Reynold Thompson 44, the nice guy who never had a harsh word for anyone. He had been on FB Sunday talking about the Oprah/Bobbi Kristina Interview and now he too is gone. In addition to the fact that my mother just called yesterday to announce the passing of our church organist, Edgar was around my age and a Fraternity Brother. He had played at church on Sunday and his roommate found him Monday morning. The last time I saw him was when he played while I sang at my Grandmother’s funeral. Who knew it would be the last time.

I say all of this in some what a state of shock and disbelief. I know I am not as young as I was few years ago but I also don’t feel that my friends and I are at the age where we are having to say goodbye in such rapid succession. However more importantly I say this to say, God prepares us for life and death. I thank God for urging me to seek his face with such vigor this morning. To allow His peace to have already rested on me before reading about my friends. While stunned I am able to Thank Him for his wonderful works for He knows and understands what we simply can’t comprehend.

I learned a valuable lesson today that I want to share. So many times we wait for the storm to arise, we wait to be knee deep in the mess and then we run to God for help. However what I realized this morning is that God will not only rescue or assist us for life. If we are always seeking His face, fearfully worshiping Him, talking to Him, He will also prepare us before the storm. Nothing like already having an umbrella on a stormy day!

Seek the LORD and his strength, seek his face continually.
— 1 Chronicles 16:11

To my friends, while your journeys on earth have ended. I pray that your everlasting life with God has just begun. God’s peace and comfort to your families.

Be Blessed,

Thought For The Day: Mighty Man/Woman Of God

Often times I hear people speak of their Pastors/Apostles/Bishops etc. and say, “He/She is a mighty person of God”. They then go on to tell of the wonderful things that he/she has done. As if this person has performed these miracles and wonders of their own power. When doing so do not let the praise and wonder rest on them as if God granted them the ability to be God on earth. Last time I checked the only person sent here to be God in human form was Jesus (Even He gave praises to His Father). So when we speak of our church leaders, keep this in mind.

We serve a jealous God! He does not like it when our praises stop on Man! He has equipped these people to do the things He wants them to do and will equip you to perform your own miracles and wonders when you position yourself to be in His will!
Exodus 20:3-6
3“You shall have no other gods before me.
4“You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6but showing love to a thousand [generations] of those who love me and keep my commandments.

1 John 2:2-27
26I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray. 27As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him.

2 Timothy 2:20-21
20In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble. 21If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.

If you want to stop being disappointed and hurt when leaders sin and show their human nature, stop raising them up praising them up to God’s level. Keep in mind while you say they are Mighty it is still followed by Man/Woman. Remember, they are held to a higher standard and some should just plain know better. However some would not be able to get away with their wrongdoings if we stopped using our carnal minds to elevate them and started holding them to the higher standard of accountability that is written.

1 Timothy 3:1-7
1 Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task. 2 Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4 He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect. 5 (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) 6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. 7 He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap.

Finally just because you go to a church with a well learned, annointed, spirit-filled (Fill in your adjective) leader does not absolve you of the responsibility to study and be diligent in your work and action. When we are well studied and know the Living Word for ourselves our ability to discern right from wrong is heightened and we become less vulnerable to the wolves that are out there. Bottom line is regardless of who your church leader is their work can not get you into Heaven and idolizing them might just get you locked out at the gates.

2 Timothy 3:10-16
10You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, 11persecutions, sufferings—what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. 12In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13while evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Humbly Submitted,

You Don’t Have To Fight! You Don’t Have To Fight!

Thank God for letting me see this today! Not that I am in a fighting mood or anything, It just served as a good reminder that we really don’t have to fight.

It seems that so many times our first reaction is to react to whatever force is opposing us. However, is this the solution? Be it arguing, being contentious, worrying, getting stressed, frustrated, depressed or whatever. In that moment, in that instance are we saying: God, I don’t trust you?

For me, what I have noticed over the past few years is that anger, fighting, stubbornness can be the simplest tool the devil can use against us. It by definition can cause those of us who are supposed to be together to separate to become combative with one another and be the most unproductive. However, what if we went into our differences understanding that God has a plan for us and no matter what you do to me, you will not get me off track for what God has for me. In knowing understanding this I know understand that God also wants me to give more than receive, to serve more than be served, to sometimes even suffer as Jesus suffered. So no I don’t have to fight you, I just have to do what I know understand is scriptural and correct.

Don’t get me wrong, I know there are times when we all get angry or feel the need to fight instead of flight. But that instinct comes from the premise of self preservation, survival of the fittest, yet the Bible tells us in Luke 9 23And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. 24“For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it. 25“For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself? 26“For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory, and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. 27“But I say to you truthfully, there are some of those standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.”

I by no way am professing to have the answers. I am seeking to better understanding why when there is chaos around me I feel better when I don’t fight. Why anger and frustration almost feel like a sickness when I experience them. Why I feel better once I have prayed and asked God to guide my tongue and worse when He directs me to be quiet and still and I don’t listen and fight my own battles. I know, there are many instances in the Bible where people fought, but they weren’t always fighting for their own gain nor were they guiding their own footsteps. When they did, it did not always work in their favor, for example David’s slaying of Uriah 2 Samuel 12 1The Lord sent Nathan to David. When he came to him, he said, “There were two men in a certain town, one rich and the other poor. 2The rich man had a very large number of sheep and cattle, 3but the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb he had bought. He raised it, and it grew up with him and his children. It shared his food, drank from his cup and even slept in his arms. It was like a daughter to him.

4“Now a traveler came to the rich man, but the rich man refrained from taking one of his own sheep or cattle to prepare a meal for the traveler who had come to him. Instead, he took the ewe lamb that belonged to the poor man and prepared it for the one who had come to him.”

5David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, “As surely as the Lord lives, the man who did this deserves to die! 6He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity.”

7Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. 8I gave your master’s house to you, and your master’s wives into your arms. I gave you the house of Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more. 9Why did you despise the word of the Lord by doing what is evil in his eyes? You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own. You killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. 10Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own.’

11“This is what the Lord says: ‘Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity upon you. Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, and he will lie with your wives in broad daylight. 12You did it in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight before all Israel.’”

13Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.”

Nathan replied, “The Lord has taken away your sin. You are not going to die. 14But because by doing this you have made the enemies of the Lord show utter contempt,a the son born to you will die.” While what David experienced was not necessarily a fight against another person, his own internal struggle for what he wanted/to get his way vs. what God commanded inevitably caused him to sin and to be punished by God. What would have been different if he had surrendered the battle of his flesh unto the Lord? Did David being so favored by God go to his head give him a sense of entitlement that made him go too far?

Lord today and forever help me to bridle my tongue. Thank You for the promise to fight my battles for they are too great and too many for me to handle alone. Help me to be still and to allow You to work and move on my behalf. Lord help me to understand that right to the world is so insignificant in comparison to being right with You. Keep Your love and peace with me and grant me the strength to know the difference between my wants and Your plans. Thank You for being strong in my weakness and imperfections. Let Your presence in my life be so great that any force in opposition to Your will in my life be removed. Finally Lord thank You for the increase and expansion of peace in my life and the life of those that I Love.

Humbly written,

Question of the Day: Do You Know the Origins of Ash Wednesday

Tomorrow is the day that most of us know as Ash Wednesday. However while many of us know what the day is called, and that it marks the beginning of the Lenten Season. where did this custom come from?

Last night I was doing a little resaerch to get the proper answer to this very question. I wanted to know because my intention was to put up an Ash Wednesday post for the children, however after dong just a little research I thought it be best for me to have a deeper understanding first. So I ask you, do you know why many people have ashes put on their heads? Where the custom came from and if it is or is not Biblical in nature?

Here are two pieces of information that I found.

Piece Number 1: From bibleinfo.com a Seventh Day Adventist site

No. Ash Wednesday is actually of pagan origin and was admitted into the church beliefs of the Catholic Church a few hundred years after Christ. This was the era when Constantine was attempting to weld pagans and Christians into a unit within the Roman kingdom.

Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent and always falls forty-six days before Easter. Roman Catholic churches of the Latin Rite use this service to prepare church members to better appreciate the death and resurrection of Christ through self-examination, repentance, prayer, fasting, and self-denial. Ashes from the burned palms of the preceding year’s Palm Sunday are blessed. With these ashes, the priest marks a cross on the foreheads of worshipers, saying, “Remember, man, that dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return” (Genesis 3:19 KJV). From Biblical times, sprinkling oneself with ashes has been a mark of sorrow for sin. Besides showing their sorrow for their sins, those who honor Ash Wednesday add to this meaning of penance a second point; the need to prepare for a holy death.

Although Ash Wednesday is not a day of holy obligation, Roman Catholics attend Mass on this day in order to mark the beginning of the Lenten season.

The churches of the Anglican Communion, as well as some other Protestant churches observe Ash Wednesday. Eastern Rite churches do not. Their Lent begins on the preceding Monday.

Piece Number 2: Although Ash Wednesday is not a Catholic holy day of obligation, it is an important part of the season of Lent. The first clear evidence of Ash Wednesday is around 960, and in the 12th century people began using palm branches from the previous Palm Sunday for ashes.
Ash Wednesday
Ashes in the Bible

The origin of the custom of using ashes in religious ritual is lost in the mists of pre-history, but we find references to the practice in our own religious tradition in the Old Testament. The prophet Jeremiah, for example, calls for repentance this way: “O daughter of my people, gird on sackcloth, roll in the ashes” (Jer 6:26).

The prophet Isaiah, on the other hand, critiques the use of sackcloth and ashes as inadequate to please God, but in the process he indicates that this practice was well-known in Israel: “Is this the manner of fasting I wish, of keeping a day of penance: that a man bow his head like a reed, and lie in sackcloth and ashes? Do you call this a fast, a day acceptable to the Lord?” (Is 58:5).

The prophet Daniel pleaded for God to rescue Israel with sackcloth and ashes as a sign of Israel’s repentance: “I turned to the Lord God, pleading in earnest prayer, with fasting, sackcloth and ashes” (Dn 9:3).

Perhaps the best known example of repentance in the Old Testament also involves sackcloth and ashes. When the prophet Jonah finally obeyed God’s command and preached in the great city of Nineveh, his preaching was amazingly effective. Word of his message was carried to the king of Nineveh. “When the news reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, laid aside his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in the ashes” (Jon 3:6).

In the book of Judith, we find acts of repentance that specify that the ashes were put on people’s heads: “And all the Israelite men, women and children who lived in Jerusalem prostrated themselves in front of the temple building, with ashes strewn on their heads, displaying their sackcloth covering before the Lord” (Jdt 4:11; see also 4:15 and 9:1).

Just prior to the New Testament period, the rebels fighting for Jewish independence, the Maccabees, prepared for battle using ashes: “That day they fasted and wore sackcloth; they sprinkled ashes on their heads and tore their clothes” (1 Mc 3:47; see also 4:39).

In the New Testament, Jesus refers to the use of sackcloth and ashes as signs of repentance: “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty deeds done in your midst had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would long ago have repented in sackcloth and ashes” (Mt 11:21, Lk 10:13).

Ashes in the History of the Church

Despite all these references in Scripture, the use of ashes in the Church left only a few records in the first millennium of Church history. Thomas Talley, an expert on the history of the liturgical year, says that the first clearly datable liturgy for Ash Wednesday that provides for sprinkling ashes is in the Romano-Germanic pontifical of 960. Before that time, ashes had been used as a sign of admission to the Order of Penitents. As early as the sixth century, the Spanish Mozarabic rite calls for signing the forehead with ashes when admitting a gravely ill person to the Order of Penitents. At the beginning of the 11th century, Abbot Aelfric notes that it was customary for all the faithful to take part in a ceremony on the Wednesday before Lent that included the imposition of ashes. Near the end of that century, Pope Urban II called for the general use of ashes on that day. Only later did this day come to be called Ash Wednesday.

At first, clerics and men had ashes sprinkled on their heads, while women had the sign of the cross made with ashes on their foreheads. Eventually, of course, the ritual used with women came to be used for men as well.

In the 12th century the rule developed that the ashes were to be created by burning palm branches from the previous Palm Sunday. Many parishes today invite parishioners to bring such palms to church before Lent begins and have a ritual burning of the palms after Mass
Our Shifting Understanding of Lent

Those who work with liturgy in parishes know that some of the largest crowds in the year will show up to receive ashes on Ash Wednesday. Though this is not a holy day of obligation in our tradition, many people would not think of letting Ash Wednesday go by without a trip to church to be marked with an ashen cross on their foreheads. Even people who seldom come to Church for the rest of the year may make a concerted effort to come for ashes.

How did this practice become such an important part of the lives of so many believers? Who came up with the idea for this rather odd ritual? How do we explain the popularity of smudging our foreheads with ashes and then walking around all day with dirty faces? Those who do not share our customs often make a point of telling us that we have something on our foreheads, assuming we would want to wash it off, but many Catholics wear that smudge faithfully all day.
From Ashes to the Font

The call to continuing conversion reflected in these readings is also the message of the ashes. We move through Lent from ashes to the baptismal font. We dirty our faces on Ash Wednesday and are cleansed in the waters of the font. More profoundly, we embrace the need to die to sin and selfishness at the beginning of Lent so that we can come to fuller life in the Risen One at Easter.

When we receive ashes on our foreheads, we remember who we are. We remember that we are creatures of the earth (“Remember that you are dust”). We remember that we are mortal beings (“and to dust you will return”). We remember that we are baptized. We remember that we are people on a journey of conversion (“Turn away from sin and be faithful to the gospel”). We remember that we are members of the body of Christ (and that smudge on our foreheads will proclaim that identity to others, too).

Renewing our sense of who we really are before God is the core of the Lenten experience. It is so easy to forget, and thus we fall into habits of sin, ways of thinking and living that are contrary to God’s will. In this we are like the Ninevites in the story of Jonah. It was “their wickedness” that caused God to send Jonah to preach to them. Jonah resisted that mission and found himself in deep water. Rescued by a large fish, Jonah finally did God’s bidding and began to preach in Nineveh. His preaching obviously fell on open ears and hearts, for in one day he prompted the conversion of the whole city.

From the very beginning of Lent, God’s word calls us to conversion. If we open our ears and hearts to that word, we will be like the Ninevites not only in their sinfulness but also in their conversion to the Lord. That, simply put, is the point of Ash Wednesday! From American Catholic

So there is a little more information for those who like me, had heard of Ash Wednesday but were unsure of its origins and what it stood for. So what does the above information do for you? Does it change your views, does it make you question if we should or should not participate? Do you have a different understanding, meaning or origin of Ash Wednesday?

Can’t wait to read your thoughts!

Be Blessed,

A Boy, A Blanket and A Gift

By RiverAngel42
This story is about a little boy named Nigel.  Nigel lives in a small town with his Parents, Grandparents and other siblings. He is the youngest of his siblings and is often said to be “high spirited”. While he has a good heart and knows right from wrong sometimes he gets a little excited and finds himself in a tad bit of trouble (of course you wouldn’t know what that was like).
One Christmas, as Nigel and his family were opening their presents, he noticed a package wrapped in brown paper stuffed way behind the tree.  The present had his name on it, however he did not know who the present was from.  So Nigel gave the package a shake, no sound.  He gave the package a squeeze, it was lumpy. Now he was totally confused as he had already received all the toys and clothes he could dream of.  The only thing that gave him a clue was a note that read, “Take me with you at all times, and I will be your comfort.” Love G.
Being curious Nigel ripped open the bag and there he found a green fleece blanket.  “A Blanket” Nigel thought, “I’m a big boy, why on earth would I carry around a blanket.”  However there was something about this blanket and as the day progressed he found that not only was he following the instructions on the blanket but that he really never wanted to go anywhere without it. So as time went on he began to carry the blanket with him every where he went.  To the market, the blanket; the Doctor’s office, the Blanket;  school, the blanket. When he was happy he had the blanket and when he was sad he had the blanket.
Nigel was very good at soccer and it seemed that he always had a game.  So his family took turns going  to the games so there was always someone there to show their support.  Well one day it was his mother’s turn to show at his game.  This was Nigel’s best game ever. He scored goal after goal and after every goal he would look to the stands to see if his mother was there but she was not.  After the game ended she still was not there.  Nigel disappointed and scared wrapped himself up in his blanket and waited.  The coach watched from a distance and continued packing up until she arrived.  When she got there she apologized and explained to him that she had a flat tire.  She asked if he was ok and he replied “Yes Mommy, G was with me.”  She asked him, “Who is G?” He told her with a big grin, “my blanket”, as he hopped off the bench and ran to the car.
As time went on Nigel left his town and his family to go off and be a grown up. He left behind his parents, grandparents, siblings and blanket. He used to call all the time but the longer he was away the less he called, it was like he forgot about them and the blanket.  They all missed him and wondered where he was and how he was doing.
I had only heard of Nigel through stories in my town, everyone called him the boy with the blanket.  They told of stories of how they could see danger around the little boy and how it seemed as though the blanket always kept him safe.  Well one day as I was on  my way to drop somethings off at the Salvation Army, I saw a homeless man standing on the street.  It was Christmas time and he looked so sad and alone, not to mention cold.   I pulled over and said to him, “I don’t have much but what I was going to give to the Salvation Army, I would love to give to you instead.”  He came over and I handed him a pile of things. On the top of the pile was a green fleece blanket, the man looked at the blanket and then looked at me as if he didn’t know what to say.  I was thinking boy he must really be cold.  So I took the blanket wrapped it around him and said “I know it’s not much but perhaps if you take this blanket with you at all times it will give you some comfort” He wept. I said to him, “No need to cry, it’s Christmas time everyone should get something, it’s not that big of a deal.” I asked him what his name was and he replied, “Nigel. Thank you for this gift. While it’s nothing to you it gave me the comfort and strength I needed to go home.”
As Nigel walked away from me he had memories of when he was a child. Happy memories of him and G being close. How he always felt safe and protected when G was with him.  When he left home, he thought he left G behind but somehow he found him and he was sure glad he did.  As a child he thought that the blanket had magical powers as an adult he knew that the blanket wasn’t his strength at all but that his trusted friend was God and he was happy and willing to accept Him back into his life. As he walked and cried God whispered to him, “I was right here with you waiting to comfort you all along, now let’s go home.”
Merry Christmas and may we all share and receive the best gift we can this holiday season, the gift of God’s love.
Hebrews 13:5 “…God has said, “I will never leave you or forsake you.”

Question of the Day: Again I Ask, Why Shouldn't My Children Sit With Me In Church?

Ok so recent on goings in the media have me re-visiting a topic that I broached earlier in the year. That was the idea of Churches urging parents, and some demanding, that children be separated from their families during church services.
Well with the death of 3 yr. old Serenity and the sexual abuse several young children suffered at the hands of a person (allegedly Jerry Sandusky) with whom they should have been safe . I want to bring the subject up again. The sad truth of the matter is that there are very few places and very few people that you can actually leave your children around.
Sad to say it but the Church is full of broken people seeking restoration. I say this as a word of caution. While your children might not sit still and you might have to tiptoe out of service for a little while, BE CAREFUL WHO YOU LEAVE YOUR CHILDREN WITH. The three year old girl was not beaten to death by strangers when she urinated on the floor. They were people that the mother thought could be trusted. Jerry Sandusky wasn’t an old bum who looked like the boogeyman and smelled like him too. He was a well respected football coach. I am a former Penn State Student and worked for the Athletic Department. I know some of these men. I know children who were in the Second Mile Program and it could have been them. I say that to say this. Any one of these people could have been in the church. Any one of them could have been the Youth Director or the Sunday Daycare person.
I believe that things have gotten so far gone that it is now time that we take more preventative measures when it comes to ensuring the safety of God’s Children.
Churches if you have any type of Childcare, please for the safety of the children do the following:
Please make sure that background checks have been conducted on each hire or volunteer.
Put in place a plan on how young children are to get to the Bathroom.
Stop ignoring the fact that there are damaged parishioners at your church and if you know they have suffered sexual abuse in their lifetime, PLEASE get them help.
Be Open enough for your congregants (young and old) to come to you for help.
Put brochures out or information on your websites for other organizations to help in the event that you are not equipped.
Talk to your children about appropriate vs inappropriate touch and stranger/not so stranger danger.
Let them know that just because a person is not a total stranger, does not mean they should trust them.
I by no means claim to be an expert on this topic. I would love to get some feedback from you. What measures have you taken at your churches childcare to ensure the safety of your little one’s?
Be Blessed and I look forward to hearing from you!

A Letter To My Grandmother (Lessons on being a Christian Woman)

This Sunday the church I grew up in is honoring my Grandmother for almost 50 years of service. My Grandfather was the Pastor until his passing, and at 83 years old this is the first time they have honored her is such a way. I couldn’t be there with her but I sent this letter to her. Thought I would share it with the world. “Like” this letter if you have/had a Gramma like this! If you did and can do so, please tell her. I’m sure it will mean a lot to her!

Dear Gramma:

I wish that the family and I could be there to share with you your moment of appreciation. However since we could not, I wanted to share with you a few words from my heart.

I want to say thank you for showing me what the heart of a Christian woman should look like.
Many people will tell you how you should act and what you should do, but very few actually live a way that you can watch them as a living example.
From a child, even until now, you have never failed me nor have you ever turned your back on me. No matter what I needed from prayer to pocket change I could always count on you. The prayers were always answered and if it was cash that I needed it always showed up.
However there have been more important lessons that you have taught me.
You taught me the true meaning of giving. As a child whenever you had a drink or food you always shared with me. I never paid attention to it then, but I have watched you do the same with my daughters. What I noticed by watching from afar is that you always give to them first. You say it is because you don’t want them eating behind you. However I can see it is much more than that. You don’t just give them a part but you let them eat or drink until they don’t want anymore. Even if it is right after they just finished eating and you haven’t had a bite all day. You will let them nibble and sip until the very last bit is gone. Meaning you are willing to go without to make sure they don’t. Not many people give in that way.
You taught me that a Prayer Closet isn’t just used for prayers. I remember as a child sometimes walking in on you sitting in your quiet space, not necessarily in prayer. But in deep thought with tears streaming down your face because someone had hurt you. This taught me that I don’t have to lash out in anger because someone hurt me. I didn’t even have to go to them at all, but that I can find a quiet place and sit and meditate and deal with my hurt in a more private and appropriate way. I do that now and understand that in those quiet times you can talk with God and more importantly allow God to talk to you and heal a pain someone might not even know they inflicted. I also go there when I don’t have answers or see a way out of a situation and wait for an answer.
You taught me how to forgive. I have watched you get angry with people, hurt by people, let down by people and just outright disgusted with people and still love and forgive them. This is one of the more powerful lessons that I learned watching you in action. I am so blessed that I was able to not only witness this but was able to apply it to my life. So many people harbor harsh feelings and will not forgive each other and I have watched it poison their whole lives and pollute their families. It is such a Blessing to be able to forgive even when a person doesn’t ask for it. I am so happy that I don’t carry the burden of not being able to forgive. Forgiveness has made me a better mother, friend and woman. I learned that right from you.
I could go on and on because you have taught my so many things. However I will leave it with this final lesson that I learned from you. I learned from you that being a Christian woman is much more than going to church on Sundays and wearing pretty hats. It’s getting up in the middle of the night and making Green Beans and Potatoes because someone doesn’t have any food. It is praying with a heart that believes that your prayers do not fall on deaf ears. It is showing up to a church for over 40 years and refusing to leave when the going gets tough. It is in loving your family in a way that does not expect much but gives everything (I’m still working on that one). It’s being quiet in spirit when you want to scream, it’s staying in the background when you want the spotlight. It is having not only a heart for God but sharing that heart with strangers, friends, family and everyone you meet. It’s in being kind and always striving to do the right thing. It’s in rebuking those you love but always with a, “Now you know I love you” first. It’s in working hard even when you hurt. It’s in so many of the things that I am fortunate enough to watch you do.
So Gramma even though I couldn’t be there I couldn’t let this chance pass me without letting you know that Zion Progress might appreciate the work that you have done but I appreciate the woman that your love has helped me to become.
I love you
Be Blessed