Project Love – Goodbye (So long?)

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Well readers when I started this project I thought that being loving would require acts of sacrifice on a daily base, but as of today that is not the case. Yesterday was the last day I would be seeing a very dear friend for a long time. She’s moving to take care of her mother-in-law (why has that word by made into a dirty word? Most every mother becomes a mother-in-law they can’t all be bad!). Knowing that she was going to a much colder climate than where we live and being I make scarves I made her three. I have also written two short stories one is on this site Lora’s Lesson and the other I don’t believe I have shared with you as of yet.  Anyway, I also gave her both of the two short stories and a testimonial that you can find on this site titled “Jesus Loves Me”.

There is a large group of us that are going to miss her and we were celebrating her yesterday. Showering her with gifts, well wishes, Mimosa, goodies, tears,embraces, and love. Love came so easy, so did the flowing tears from everyone.

Yes it hurts to have her leave and I don’t want her to go but that is self-seeking. I Cor. 13:4-5 “Love…it is not self-seeking,…” I know that this new adventure will be challenging, rewarding, difficult, a blessing and at times be emotionally stressful. So although this feels like goodbye and hurts terribly I’m going to retrain myself to see it as it is so long. She promised she would be visiting once things got settled. 

When we love someone it is difficult to see them go or even to let them go. To not do the “natural thing” be self-seeking is not easy. However when you think of all of the advantages that they we be experiencing more time with a loved one, new opportunities, obeying God or if you prefer being faithful to Him. It is far easier to take yourself out of the equation and be excited for them and with them. Thank you PaPa for this lesson in love. I use the expression PaPa with all the respect of Father or Abba Daddy. If you haven’t read the book or seen the movie “The Shack” I got the expression from them. It suits my relationship with my Heavenly Father. He is my PaPa, my Abba Daddy, my Father, my Lord and my God. I would never think of doing anything to disrespect Him! For I love Him dearly! It is because I love Him that I can love anyone else.

I’m learning that when someone leaves the area it is important not to let them drop off the face of the earth! I now know that part of this project will be getting reacquainted with beloved friends that have moved away. I know that I must contact them and let them know that I still love them and think of them although I have been delinquent in keeping in touch with them.

I hope this encourages you.

Joy – A Fellow Sojourner In Christ!

 

Happy 4th of July

The 4th of July is a time of picnics and BBQs and fireworks.  A time with family and/or friends.  A time of hamburgers and hot dogs, potato salad, watermelon, corn on the cob, chips and dips and a host of desserts.

The 4th of July is also a time of gratitude.  To be grateful for the freedoms we have.  To be grateful for those who fight for our freedom.  And to be grateful to God for placing us in this country.

We could have been born in some third world country.

Even most of our poor are considerably more rich than most of the worlds population.

So as your enjoying your vacations or just relaxing in yours or someone else’s home be grateful for all the many blessings we have.  Food in our kitchen, a roof over our heads, a car or some sort of transportation to get us around.  Most of all for loved ones and for that greatest loved One of all time our Lord Jesus Christ!

Have the happiest of fourth’s and thank God that you are blessed with all her faults to live in this wonderful country.

May God bless you celebrating richly.

A Woman After God’s Own Heart!

Resting in the Lord

Today was a day of rest in the Lord with my boyfriend and my dog Tessa and I at the beach.

For Tessa things were not so restful, she barked at people passing by, the birds and squirrels.  Basically anything that moved that was new to her.  But she was enjoying herself as she jumped from me to my boyfriend for attention and love.  Of which there was plenty to go around.

She lays now quite content on a pillow watching me write this blog.  She is well worn out from the days activities.

My boyfriend and I had a more relaxing and refreshing time resting in the Lord.  Ron very wisely suggested that we take turns stating things that we could praise God for.  We praised Him for the beauty around us.  For work and the faithfulness of God to always provide.  We thanked Him for the fact that Tessa is still with us because by all accounts she should be dead because of many of my pills she got into, but God was merciful to me and her and kept her from dying.  I thanked Him that he brought Ron back into my life and Ron did likewise about me.  I thanked Him for my apartment, a gift from God.  The gratitude just kept going and going and it felt so good to be praising the Father together.

Ron then suggested that we pray about anything that came to mind.  First we were praying with our eyes closed and then Ron suggested to look out on the beauty of the ocean and not miss that as we were praying.  We prayed for our families, for work, for individuals we care about that have needs and individuals we struggle with that their hurting would come to an end and they might find God.  We were honest with God about where we stood with things and since God already knew it, I’m sure he honored it.

We ended the day watching the sunset.  It was beautiful and a glorious way to end a day with ones you care about and the most important One to care about.  It felt as though the day had been blessed by God.

We had started the day praying that it would be glorifying and honoring to God and that He would keep us.  I must say looking back, resting in God as we did made the day become just what we had prayed for.

My prayer is that you find the time and person to share such a blessed day with.

Joy – A Woman After God’s Own Heart!

The Gift of Gratitude – A Short Story Part 5

Gab appeared in the hallway and stayed in the shadows where he observed as, Jack went on to first tell her how he had managed to not only loose the house in the fire but because of his ill temper as he put it he had managed to loose the business as well. How he had met Gab that night the last night of the business and all that they had done together.

Janet’s response surprised Jack. She seemed pleased that they had shared the food and his encounter with the homeless rather than being furious about loosing their livelihood. He went on to tell of Esther how peculiar she seemed in the light of that place and how her story had got him thinking. “Do you think that this Christ could truly do what this Esther woman claims He did for her?” he asked Janet. “What do you think?” Jack replied, “Janet if you could just see how Esther truly had nothing, not even most of her teeth anymore but the joy that she had seemed genuine enough. I can hardly believe that I’m finding myself envying a woman that has nothing but this Savior she speaks so lovingly about. I also need to tell you that I realize that I’ve been perfectly awful to you and Julie. I don’t understand how you could stand living with me. It’s like my eyes have been opened up to the man I’ve been and I can’t say that I like him very much, to be honest I very ashamed of the husband and father that I’ve been to you and Julie. I wouldn’t blame either one of you if you wouldn’t want to have anything to do with me. I felt that way coming here. I was hoping you would be asleep and I could just be near you with my thoughts. I was too ashamed to hope that you would want any part of me. I was bad enough when our life was perfect but since the fire I’ve avoided you and Julie when you both needed me the most.” At this Jack stopped he heard something he wasn’t sure his ears were serving him well, it sounded like tears and laughter. This is definitely not the response that he was expecting. Jack questioned, “Are you crying or laughing at me?” Janet softly responded, “Oh, Jack, don’t you know that this is what Julie and I have been longing for, even before the fire? The tears are tears of joy and relief that our life together might be all that I’ve been hoping and praying for, please forgive the laughter but it just hits me as funny that now that you’re becoming the man I’ve always loved, you think that now I would turn my back on you. Heaven’s no! God is finally granting the desires of my heart.” Jack was shocked, “How could I be married to you for so many years and not know that you were one of them, a Christian? You weren’t when we met and married were you?”Janet lovingly responded, “No, Jack, I did not deceive you when we were dating and got married into thinking you were marrying something other than what I was.

Not long after our marriage I got lonely. You were so distant and busy with the business. It seemed the only time you needed or wanted me was to parade me around and use me as a show piece at various events other than that you were content to have me stay at home and be a dutiful wife. You gave me everything but what I longed for most, you. Then a neighbor invited me to some teas at her church and at one of them I finally realized the emptiness in my heart could never be filled by anyone but God. So I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. It wasn’t that I was trying to keep it from you; I desperately wanted to share it with you. The problem being we never really talked and you were always so busy that this has been our first real conversation since my conversion decades ago. I asked my Christian sisters how best to approach you with my faith. They suggested that I do as the Bible says for wives to be submissive to their husbands and to always be loving to you and that through my actions not my words an opportunity to speak might present itself. Since the restaurant kept you so busy it was easy to fellowship at church with you never even knowing I wasn’t home because you were always at work. Then when Julie was born my sisters in Christ helped me to train her up in the Lord. At every meal she prays that her daddy might love her like her Heavenly Father. She will be so pleased to know that your heart has changed.

The Gift of Gratitude – A Short Story Part 4

“One day I questioned my friend Mary as to where all these bizarre qualities were coming from. She responded, “Do you listen to the pastor speak before the meals at the shelter?” I admitted that I had zoned out during such times. She then invited me to a meeting that night, which would serve my purpose of getting out of the cold and her purpose of introducing me to her Best Friend. So I went not expecting much but my friends must have been praying for me because for the first time I heard about the love of Jesus Christ. About all the suffering He had done for me, even when I still hated Him. This was a man well acquainted with suffering yet He gladly bore it so that I might be saved. I listened to all the preacher had to say and when the alter call was given I went down. I was ready to accept this free gift of eternal life. You see that is what you see in my eyes it is what Christ has done for me. That is the song I sing of joy and thanksgiving. That He has saved me. As the Apostle Paul said, ‘I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.’ That is Philippians 4:12b-13. I have not have the privilege with this new life of learning to be content in living in plenty, as I once lived. But I would not go back to that old empty life for anything. I would only go back to wealth if I could take Jesus with me. I imagine you are having a hard time with all of this Jack, aren’t you?” Jack nodded thoughtfully. “I understand that,” continued Esther, “it was not easy for me to put my head and especially my heart around it when I first heard it. I’ve kept you a long time should you like to talk to me again we can meet here any day at the same time.” Jack agreed that he had a lot to think about and told Esther he would like to meet with her again. With that he and Gab left while Jack’s head was spinning with thoughts.

It was definitely too late for visiting hours at the hospital, but for some reason that was the only place Jack wanted to be with his thoughts. He bid Gab goodbye and walked on to the hospital deep in thought. Could this Christ that Esther spoke so lovingly about do the same for him as He had done for her? He wasn’t so sure; he thought that truly he was different than other people even if Esther and he had come from such similar back grounds. As he entered the hospital he noticed that it was dark, he reasoned that it must be to help the patients sleep. It then occurred to him that in all the time his family had been here the few times that he had visited, he never came other than visiting hours. For some reason he realized he suddenly felt a pang of guilt. He realized that he had been absent when his wife and daughter needed him most. His heart started changing. He no longer felt as concerned with their appearance as he was with their need for him. The thought entered his mind, “How could I have been so uncaring, so shallow.” Then almost immediately came the thought, “Because that is what has always been my way – Oh, what a wretched man am I that I have cared more about appearances than, than, than loving – that’s what has been missing in my life.” Suddenly he felt utterly worthless. How could he be so vile of a man? He had always thought of himself as a good man or at the very least a decent man, but now he was beginning to see himself for who he truly was and it was breaking his heart. What had been so hard was crumbling within him. As he reached his wife’s room he wanted so much to talk to her and at the same time felt so unworthy of her. His beautiful Janet who had been so gracious about his egotism and callousness, how could he disrupt her sleep, with thoughts of his own need to talk to her about all that he had heard and been pondering? He slipped into her room as quietly as possible and yet she stirred and murmured, “Nurse?” “No, it’s me Jack. Do you need me to get you a nurse?” He asked. “No,” she responded, “I just didn’t think it was anyone but a nurse.” “I didn’t mean to wake you. You go back to sleep. I just wanted to be near you.” Said Jack. “Is Julie okay?” “Yes she is fine. I have heard nothing from the doctors to think otherwise.” At this Janet responded, “What has happened to you Jack? You’re not acting like yourself.” “I don’t quite know where to start. So much has happened. I haven’t shared with you anything that has happened since the fire.” “It has been your way not to share anything with me a lot longer than that, Jack. I’m stronger than you know and I care more than I think you trust, won’t you please share your heart with me. This is something I’ve been praying for, for a long time.” “Are you sure you wouldn’t rather rest and sleep?” “Please, Jack, there is a reason you are here and I’ve rested all day and am quite awake. I promise if I need to rest I’ll let you know. Now do we have a deal?” “Yes, we have a deal, but this may take quite a bit of time.” Janet’s eyes twinkled as she  responded, “You have my undivided attention.”

The Gift of Gratitude – A Short Story Part 3

Jack looked around the room and his gaze fell upon a women that appeared mostly toothless, with a weather beaten face and straggly matted grey hair. In his world this woman would have been one of the most unwanted and unaccepted or even unnoticed because until just recently he did his best to make these people invisible to him. With all of her grotesqueness she had something more that attracted her to him. First there was a sound. The harder he listened the more he realized that she was singing a happy song. Then it was that toothless smile that not only light up her face but radiated all around her. The last thing that drew him to her were her eyes. They shone as bright as the sun and twinkled like stars in the heavens and danced like a youth 1/10 her age. They drew him in to her in awe and wonderment. Never had he seen eyes like hers. He walked to her purposefully and quickly as not to miss her for fear she may leave before he could ask his questions. He introduced himself and asked her what her name was, she replied, “My name is Esther. Is there something on your mind Jack?” Well, that was easy he thought this fascinating woman seemed also able to see into his soul and know that there was something on his heart. “Yes there is something I want,” started Jack “I’ve been noticing how happy you are I might even use the word grateful, yet as near as I can tell you have nothing. How can that be? What is it that fills you with this joy that I so plainly see on you?” “Oh, Jack,” Esther replied, “this indeed is a worthy question. I would be most honored to tell you of the joy I’ve found. But first I must know are you pressed for time?” At this he wasn’t sure, he had no idea of his companions plans for there evening together. He looked quizzically at Gab and he smiled back and nodded. “No,” replied Jack, “I’m not pressed for time. I’m all yours Esther.” “I’m glad to know that,” said Esther, “it’s been a long path and it takes a while to tell.”

“You know I wasn’t always the woman that you see. I had a grand house with upstairs and downstairs servants. I had grounds men for the gardens and the pool and tennis courts and a chauffeur to drive me and one for my husband and they did all the upkeep on the many cars we had. With all of that Jack I lacked the most important thing I lacked gratitude for what I had and I had no joy. My heart was empty and cold. When my husband was jailed for embezzling from his own company I lost it all in a matter of days. When I lost my wealth I lost what friends I thought I had. They were there for the good times but when the bad times hit they were nowhere to be found. The hard heart that I had so cautiously crafted and built at first became even harder when I started blaming all of my losses on my husband. In an attempt to distance myself from him and the losses I listened to some ill advice and divorced him. While in prison and with nothing to look forward to since now I had turned my back on him and not stayed true to my vows of for better or worse he killed himself. The news of this was the beginning of my undoing and a massive change began to take place in my heart. I hurt for the first time at what I had done to my husband and how I had abandoned him. With no where to go and no friends I soon found myself on the streets. This was a truly humbling experience considering where I had come from and how far I had fallen. I had no one, nothing or so I thought. I soon learned that there was a community of hurting people feeling much the way I was feeling here. In the shelters I quickly learned the ones to ask questions of for help with survival skills. So I survived at first with a bitter heart at all I had lost. But as I began to look around me I noticed that there were those that were as equally as bad off as I was that were doing more than surviving. This made me very curious. How could anyone in our circumstances do anything other than merely survive? I wanted to know, as I suspect you want to know, how anyone could find joy in such a place? Am I right?” Jack nodded. Esther smiled her eyes dancing all the more, “This is a true mystery. One I’m honored to share with you. I finally asked my new friends how they could be what appeared to be joyful in such lowly circumstances. Their first answer was but one word – gratitude. All I could think as I left them is what do they have to be grateful for? What do any of us here have to be grateful for? This answer at first angered me more than comforted me. I walked away with an even harder heart than I had had before. I thought these people are truly nuts. I’ve wasted my breathe on a bunch of lunatics! I stayed away from them for a while and soon found myself in the company of some lost souls that really were truly out of their right mind. This got me thinking. If my former friends really were not lunatics they must have had something with this “gratitude” thing. But I was still at a loss as to how to possess it. So I eventually returned to my friends and they welcomed me back with open arms. Which made me realize that they had something more than gratitude they also had acceptance, what I would later discover was love. These were qualities that my friends of the grand old days didn’t truly possess. I became more and more attracted to them. But where was all this coming from in the midst of poverty and utter despair?

The Gift of Gratitude – A Series of Short Story Part 2

That evening as he returned to the restaurant to welcome the dinner crowd a black darkness clothed him. This was not a night to be employed at his restaurant. Although he was his charming self to the clients possibly even more charming than usual. He was even more cruel than usual to his staff. It would appear that there was nothing that they could do to please him and that they were all a bunch of bumbling buffoons. Even the chief who usually was spared his tirades was included in them this night; no, this was not the night to have Jack as a boss.

As the days progressed it appeared much to the doctors’ amazement that his wife and daughter would both pull through this horrific tragedy. They still didn’t show much hope for reconstructive surgery. Jack was pleased that their lives had been spared but he couldn’t help question what kind of lives had been left to them? Left to them all?

As the days grew into weeks his disposition at work grew even worse. The employees could barely handle coming in to work, including the chief who was beginning to think of options he may have else where. Should this happen Jack’s business world would crumble before him. His livelihood rested on the chief and keeping him happy and Jack no longer was even pretending to make an attempt at this. He had also lost the ability he had always had to fool the patrons with his charm and fanais.

Jack’s clientèle was dwindling under his harsh nature. One and a half months after the fire the chief gave notice he was moving to a competitor. Jack scrambled at attempting to save his business but word had already gotten out what it was like to work for him. There was not a single chief that wanted to leave their restaurant. He tried the chief schools but word about him had already reached the schools and no amount of finagling could lure a chief to his business. The rest of the employees were leaving by the droves and by the chief’s last night it was Jack and the chief alone there. Usually this would have been an impossible night to try to get everything accomplished but the business was already dead they had but three patrons the whole night, a couple from out of town that knew nothing of the restaurants recent reputation, and an odd man with a twinkle in his eye. The couple where oblivious to their surroundings, fully engaged in one another and said nothing to Jack other than to order and compliment him on the wonderful meal before they left. The odd man sitting alone asked Jack, “Are you grateful for all you have?” This was the straw that broke the camels back. “Am I grateful, grateful for what? Should I be grateful that this is the last night of my business, my livelihood? Or should I be grateful that my house burnt to the ground with all my possessions and the only things that escaped the fire my wife and daughter are now horribly disfigured from it and in constant pain and there is nothing I can do for them? What may I ask you is there to be grateful for?” At this more than rage filled Jack’s heart which had so consumed him these many weeks, but tears began to fill his eyes. The carefully constructed wall had started to crumble and feelings, something very new to Jack began to penetrate through. The gentleman gently said, “Are you going to visit your family after you close the restaurant?” Jack was taken aback from his words. He realized that this was the first conversation he had had about them outside of the phone call with the policeman and the doctors. “I hadn’t really thought about what I was going to do after closing.” He admitted honestly. “Well, if you don’t mind I’d like to stay with you as you close and figure it all out” said the gentleman. A feeling of resignation swept over him, he replied, “Sure, do whatever you like.”

As Jack continued on with the chores of closing up for the last time, the man prayed, “Lord, continue to guide me in how to minister to him. He is hurting even more than I believe he knows. Guide my words and give me tact. Use me as your instrument of love to this bleeding soul. Grant me Your wisdom and discernment. And give me stamina I believe this is going to be a long night. Amen.”

Jack approached the man and said, “Well I’m done here. By the way if we are going to spend this evening together I’d like to know your name.” The man replied, “My name is Gabriel, but my friends call me Gab. You can call me Gab.” Jack was amazed, “I don’t have any friends” he admitted, “and you’re going to let me call you Gab?” “Yep” said Gab, “Now where do you want to go?” Jack wasn’t sure they had closed the restaurant early it was just 8pm but that meant it was after visiting hours at the hospital and most likely by now his wife and daughter would be asleep. “I really haven’t anywhere to go” he honestly assessed. Gab asked, “Do you have any left-over food from tonight’s specials?” “Yes I do I was just going to through it away. The new owners sure won’t need it.” Replied Jack. Gab thought that he’d take it a step further, “Was all the food in the restaurant included in the sale?” Jack explained that the food was not a part of the deal and he had wondered what he was going to do with it. Gab had an idea, “Do you have a van or truck that we can transport the food in” Jack assured him he did. “Great” said Gab, “I have the perfect plan for tonight. Let’s load up all the food and take it to the local mission for the homeless. We can reheat this evenings meals and leave the rest for them to use as they need.” This seemed like as good as any idea to Jack, surely better than throwing all that food away. They packed everything up and went on down to the shelter, a place Jack had never been to.

He saw something on each face as they served up the reheated specials that reminded him of what another man had told him in passing it seemed a lifetime ago. Gab saw the change taking place in Jack’s eyes and slowly beginning to creep to his heart. It was a long, icy journey with many a road block but Gab felt sure that this new friend was capable of completing the journey begun so many weeks before. Gab inquired, “You’re thinking something or remembering something aren’t you Jack?” “Yes, these people who are receiving this food all have an expression on their face that reminds me of what a stranger said to me once a long time ago, ‘Gratitude is the blessing of a humble heart.’” “You don’t say,” said Gab, “what does that mean to you?” Jack pondered he hadn’t taken his musings that far yet. “Well,” answered Jack, “these people have nothing no home, no job, no family and yet they seem so grateful for this food. They are I suppose of the humblest of means I’ve ever met yet they have found something to be grateful for. It’s hard to understand why they aren’t angry, mad and bitter.” “Like you?” Gab asked. “Yes, to my shame like me.” Jack replied. “How can they have even less than I have and have gratitude?” “That’s a good question.” Gab responded, “Why don’t you ask one of them.” “Do you think they will be offended by my question?” Jack asked. Gab answered back, “Seek out the one that has most of what you seek.”