Where Are We Pitching Our Tents?

Have you ever gone camping in a tent? Then, you know how important it is to pitch your tent in the perfect spot, knowing that its location is vital to safety. In the Old Testament, there are also examples of pitching tents.    

God had blessed Abraham and his nephew, Lot, with an abundance so great they couldn’t occupy the same land any longer. Abraham told Lot to choose whether to go to the land on the left or right, and Abraham would go the opposite way. Lot looked east to the plain of Jordan and saw that it was the best land; well-watered and like a garden and he desired to live there. So, Lot pitched his tent (dwelling) near Sodom.

Lot knew the sin of Sodom. Leviticus 20:13 If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. Yet, Lot was willing to pitch his tent or make his home close by. Why? He ignored the sin to have the desire of his eyes.

In fact, when God sent the two angels to save Lot, they found him sitting at the gate of Sodom, a city of sin. In those days, important business took place at a city’s gate. Those who sat at the gate were people of significant influence. When God destroyed Sodom, Lot was saved because of ABRAHAM, not because of anything Lot had done to find favor with God. Genesis 19:29 “When God destroyed the cities of the plains, God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow.”  

Lot knew what was happening in Sodom was sin because when the men of the city came to his tent and demanded he deliver the two angels to them, (the Bible refers to the angels as men), that they might have sex with them, Lot begged the men of Sodom not to do it. Prior to this, there is no record of Lot being bothered by their sinful behavior. Lot had ignored the sin and allowed himself to sit at the city’s gate.

Where have we pitched our tent? Do we find ourselves sitting at the gate, ignoring the sin or at the very least, not speaking out against it? If that is the case, then we should ask, do we have a relative like Abraham that will compel God to save us? Because God will not tolerate the sin forever.

Today, sexual sin comes in many forms and is accepted by most. Casual sex is defined as the norm and even several Christians think it’s okay for a man and woman to live together before marriage. People dress provocatively, disregarding the priceless beauty God gave each of us.

Many are in same-sex relationships and others pervert the act of intimacy in numerous ways, doing that which is not ordained by God. Some people think they know better than their creator what gender they should be and seek to surgically change themselves.

Romans 1:24-27 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature. And likewise, also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly,

Sin abounds around us while we sit at the gate. What will our heavenly Father say when we stand face-to-face and answer for what we’ve done or not done for Him. Will Jesus save us? Only if we have asked Him to be our Lord and Savior, accepting His free gift of salvation. But if we have accepted salvation, what are we doing sitting at the gate? We should be proclaiming the Word of God lovingly so that all may hear and know what is God’s will.

But proclaiming Truth lovingly—what does that look like? Let us first remember we have all sinned and look at Jesus’ example toward sinners. He loved us and died for us, knowing about our sins. He showed mercy in that he came not to condemn the world but that the world through Him might be saved. Jesus didn’t hide the truth because it is the power of God unto salvation. You can read more about proclaiming the Word lovingly at Think Eternity https://thinke.org/blog/how-did-jesus-act-toward-sinners.

Don’t be like Adam and Eve who didn’t recognize their enemy as he slithered through the garden. Identify your enemy and don’t let Satan win. Ephesians 5:17 Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” That’s from James, my favorite book in the Bible, chapter 4. It is a good chapter to read if we’re not sure where to pitch our tent. 

His Perfect Timing

J. Carol Nemeth, a fellow Winged Publications author, knows a thing or two about waiting on the Lord. With a natural love of literature, she uses her experiences as a park aid for the National Park Service and as a soldier in the United States Army to write page turning romantic mystery and suspense, both historical and contemporary. Nemeth is a multi-published author with ten books and six short stories. She is an Amazon #1 bestselling author and a member of American Christian Fiction Writers suspense. Today, Carol shares her journey to publication with us:  

His Perfect Timing

by J. Carol Nemeth

As an author who began writing as a teen, I was confident I would get published early too. After all, my love of writing was as heartfelt and important as any other author’s. Right? No doubt true, my love of writing certainly didn’t guarantee publication. Far from it. Not until our second child’s birth did I finish a novel and attempt publication. That journey was fraught with disappointment, rejection and self-reflection. My first novel, Yorkshire Lass, was rejected time and again, leaving me to wonder if writing was God’s will for my life. Or had I pushed my plans ahead of His?

I prayed, If it’s not Your will for me to continue writing and pursue publication, then, Lord, please take away this love and desire to write. It never went away as I continued praying and submitting my manuscript. More rejections followed. One publisher gave me hope as they made manuscript suggestions with the idea they might take it. They didn’t. Disappointment again filled me. I kept praying, but God was silent. Even in His silence, the fact remained my desire to write and to publish my novel showed me He hadn’t said no. He was telling me to wait. Like most of God’s children, I struggled with waiting for His perfect timing.

Our daughter was born in 1990, and I began Yorkshire Lass soon after. It was finally published March of 2016, nearly twenty years after it was finished. I may never know all the reasons my Abba Father led me on that disappointment-fraught journey to publication, but He taught me some things.

His timing is always perfect, and I must trust His timing. The details of my life are better left in His hands to work out the proper time for them to happen. Psalm 27:14 says “Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.”

I discovered God has our best interests at heart. Jeremiah 29:11 says “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” He didn’t withhold publication from me because He was angry or being mean. Whatever His reasons, He chose 2016 to publish my first novel. Since then, I’ve published nine more books, six short stories, with another novella in the edit stage before publication, and I’m writing another full-length novel. He’s blessed me in ways I never expected. To God be the glory!

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Did You Know?

Photo by: Joshua Earle

               Can you name the ten commandments? I always have to look them up in Exodus 20:3. Riddle me this: What’s the one commandment Christians break most without even realizing it? Just a clue—it’s not lie, steal, or adultery. It’s the one that we Christians break the most and suspect it the least. Another clue – Jesus was asked what was the most important commandment. He said in Matthew 22:37, To love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. I think He knew this would be a trap so camouflaged, we’d all step into it. 

The answer: the very first one! “Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Yep. Now, I don’t have studies or research numbers to support my claim. It is only my opinion, based on a few known facts. As we go about living our Christian lives, sending our kids to Christian school, attending church, doing good, and appearing “holier than thou” on the outside, and perhaps believing it on the inside, there are several carrots Satan dangles before us to which we can so gullibly fall prey. Money, beauty, desires or lusts, ambitions, sports, prestige, academics, and placing value on the things of this world, just to name a few.

The love of money is the root of all evil. (1 Timothy 6:10) Life is driven by money. We work for a paycheck. That check pays our mortgage, buys groceries, nice clothes, cars, etc. We think of it as a necessity. We worry if we don’t have enough to do…whatever we desire at the time. But, be careful that gaining it or having it doesn’t become more important to us than God.

Beauty is vain, but a woman (or man) who fears the Lord shall be praised. (Proverbs 31:30) We all want to look our best. We can diet, have a workout routine, get tan, go to the beauty parlor, and take advantage of many other resources to attain a more perfect appearance. But we can get so caught up in trying to improve our looks, that it can easily become more important than putting God first.

When we think we don’t struggle with desire or lust, we are wrong. “Each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” (James 1:14-15) Pornography in many packages and sexual immorality attracts Christians like flies to fly paper, but it is not the only form of desire or lust. We can have strong desires for things that on the outside seem to be good but have the potential to become all-consuming. Things like attaining more education, landing that all coveted promotion at work, being your best at a sport, making sure you get that particular scholarship, etc., can become so important to us that we lose sight of God and His will for our lives. When we give in to that temptation, we love that desire or lust more than God and place it before Him in our lives.

Which leads me straight into my next point. Some might say ambition is good and indeed it can be when it is according to God’s will. We “ought to say, if the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.” (James 4:15) But when we become so driven by our ambitions that we no longer seek God’s direction, those ambitions can come between us and God.

I’ve saved the biggest for last. In all honesty, loving pleasures more than loving God may be the one Satan-dangling carrot I struggle with most. I have been examining my life, and there may be times when I place my love of pleasure (or fun) before God. Who doesn’t like to have fun, right? God wants us to have fun, relax, and laugh, but not more than we love Him. I do not want to be guilty of any of these things. “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come. For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God. (2 Timothy 3:1-4) God wants us to love Him before all things, and when we don’t, He is hurt and jealous because He loves us so much.

Thanks to the promise made in 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” There is a reason why Jesus summed up the law with two commandments. “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37) Next, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:39) That’s a lot of loving and we know that our spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23-24

Always Making a Way


God—always forgiving; always making a way. Since the beginning of time, man was always sinning and God’s faithfulness always found a way for man to be reconciled to the Father, but it came with a price. After God parted the Red Sea and delivered his people from Egypt, the people forgot and began grumbling against their deliverer, despite His deity. It was then that God sent fiery serpents among them with deadly consequences. After many died, the Hebrews repented and asked Moses to pray to God for them.

The Almighty instructed Moses exactly what to do. “So, Moses made a bronze serpent and put it on a pole, and so it was if a serpent had bitten anyone when he looked at the bronze serpent, he lived.” Numbers 21:9. And it was thus, God made a way for them to live, but they must look upon God and His solution for their life.

I was eleven when my sins confronted me. I had gone to bed for the night and, with my head resting on my pillow, I stared out the window to the sky above. I had never seen one quite like it. The stars shone brighter, the moon beamed, and the sky glowed with, what I realize now was, the Glory of God. The majesty of His creation pierced my heart, and instantly, I knew I was a sinner. I desperately needed to repent and ask forgiveness. I felt His presence and called out to Him, and in a heartbeat, I was changed. The price for my wickedness had been paid two thousand years ago and I had just accepted the free gift of eternal life that Jesus paid for with a precious price.

John 3:14-15 tells us “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.”

It’s at Easter that we remember the road that Jesus walked and the cross He bore for our (my) sins. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever (me) believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Some people don’t want to think about the price of sin, but His Word reminds us of the mission of Jesus. “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” John 3:17

What if I had ignored the sky, ignored my feelings of shame, and refused to call upon Jesus for forgiveness? The answer to that is in the next verse, John 3:18 “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”

What if I thought that maybe I could do enough or be good enough to go to heaven? In case I had any doubt, Jesus explains in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

So, this Easter Sunday, I am thankful that God made a way for me by sending His Son to die in my place. I am thankful that on a starry night I could receive forgiveness and life when I looked up to Jesus and repented.

With all my love, may the blessed hope we have in Jesus be yours this Easter.

A Time To Die

Ecclesiastes 3:1-2 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven. A time to be born, and a time to die, a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted

That scripture became a song, one of my favorites. Recorded by the Byrds, “Turn, Turn, Turn” became quite popular. Those verses and the ones following in Ecclesiastes are proof that God did not promise us life would always be rosy. Indeed, there will be difficult times.

Rick and I arrived at our home in Florida on January 3rd this year. The next day, I picked up the phone and called Audrey, my eighty-eight-year-old sister who has Parkinson’s. There were seven of us children. She’s the oldest girl and I am the youngest. Still, we have been close siblings since forever, and now, only she and I remain of all of Mom’s kids.

Audrey told me her husband, Mike, wasn’t feeling well, saying it was the same cold he gets every year about this time. My advice – you need to be tested for possible Covid. The next day, he tested positive, but she was negative. Both were doing okay. Since they only live a couple of miles from us, Rick and I visited them.

In the beginning, all was fine. Mike slept in another room since he was Covid positive and she was negative, but Audrey sometimes needs help through the night. I offered to stay, but with both of them being independent and proud, she declined at first. Later that evening, she called and said maybe she’d better take me up on my offer.

I packed a bag and thanked God we had already had this dreaded virus. Soon, Audrey came down with Covid, too. I’m not a nurse, but I had talked with their doctor’s office and they instructed me in what to do. I found myself charting temps, blood pressures, heart rates, and oxygen levels.

After 60 years of marriage, the two of them were very protective of each other. That next morning, Mike went into her room, took her hand, and asked her how she was doing. Then he sat down and they talked. I gave them their privacy and had visions of their 50th wedding anniversary when they danced together with eyes for only each other. Even though she wasn’t as agile as in her younger days, you could tell they both saw an earlier version of each other. 

The next morning, after a busy night with Audrey, I joined an ailing Mike at the dining room table as he completed a crossword puzzle, a usual practice of his. He didn’t look good. Even though he was wearing his oxygen machine, the pulse oximeter on his finger indicated a low oxygen reading, and his heart raced.

“Maybe I should go to the hospital,” he said.

“I think that’s not a bad idea,” I agreed. Rick arrived soon and Mike prepared to leave.

My sister didn’t say it, but I saw in her eyes that she knew how serious this could be. She cupped his face in her hands, “You do as they tell you,” she told him. He pulled her close and held her. They kissed and told each other goodbye, fearing they might not see one another again.

Audrey had a pretty good day, but that night when I checked on her, her temperature raged and her oxygen had fallen into the 80’s. I woke her, placed a cool rag on her forehead, gave her some Tylenol, and called 9-1-1. As the paramedics wheeled her out of the condo, our eyes were fixed on each other. I told her I loved her and burned the image of Audrey smiling at me while on the stretcher into my memory, also fearing I might not see her again.

When they admitted her to the hospital, they actually placed her in Mike’s room and all seemed to be only a matter of being treated and getting well. Of course, the hospital accepted no visitors, and I only got to talk to them if they answered their cell phones.

The hospital communicated with their oldest sons and soon, they notified us that both required more intensive treatment and oxygen, but that they wouldn’t be placed on a ventilator because of the DNR orders. The treatment required them to be in separate rooms. One day we thought all was okay, the next we were told to expect the worst. Ten days later, before the hospital released a weakened and weary Audrey to a rehab center, they took her to Mike’s room to once again say goodbye. It was the last time she saw him.

Although, he continued to deteriorate, everyday he asked about Audrey. She apparently wasn’t able to use her phone because for the longest time, we didn’t hear from her. Finally, the two of them were able to converse by phone. Then, the family was called in to say goodbye to Mike, but he fought hard to stay here for Audrey.

Several days later, when he could no longer fight, he requested for his sons to take him home. He had spent over a month in a windowless room, without visitors, struggling to breathe. He deserved to die in a familiar room with a window and sunlight. His sons sat by his side and they conversed some. Each told the other of their love and they talked about old times. Once he got to talk to Audrey briefly over the phone, but she had no idea how bad he was. The boys prayed and read scripture over him as he slipped from this earth into the arms of God.

This morning, I went with the boys to tell their mother that the love of her life had left for paradise. We had requested the rehab center allow us to give her this news in person, and miraculously, they arranged it. We had prayed for God to give her strength, prepare her, and encourage her for her future. She took the news just as we had asked, crying only a couple of times. She helped us with funeral arrangements and other decisions.

“I want to be at the funeral,” she said as her lower lip quivered. Barely able to sit in her wheelchair, she looked from one of us to the other. “Life is never going to be the same,” she declared.

Her sons made the decision at that point to bring her home and care for her there. The boys live in Illinois, but knew that she couldn’t make that trip in her condition and the cold. They plan to make changes gradually. Tomorrow, I will be there when she enters her condo to begin the first chapter of the rest of her life. 

Ecclesiastes 3:1-2 “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” “Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord.” Psalm 150:6

My Personal Christmas Romance

At the age of fourteen, my dad left, with me practically chasing him down the sidewalk. My heart shattered as Dad had chosen a life that didn’t include Mother and me. The first time I heard Wayne Newton sing “Daddy Don’t You Walk So Fast,” I cried because it reminded me of that day.

I watched mother struggle to work, earning only minimum wage, and knew I needed to help out. When I was seventeen and a junior in high school, I had already been a member of the workforce for three years. I loved to read anything historically accurate and especially romantic fiction, but my heart was broken. Mom and I worked together as a team, but jobs separated me from my classmates and life was often gloomy. I found myself anxiously waiting for my dreams to come true.     

Several hundred miles away, in places that would become significant later in my life, Disney World held its first candlelight procession, and in Columbia, Missouri, KMIZ channel 17 aired its first broadcast. At a time when “Play Misty for Me” ran in theaters and radios aired melodious songs like Melanie’s “Brand New Key” and Three Dog Night’s “Old Fashioned Love Song,” snow flurries graced the skies of Hurst, Texas, glistening on the trees and turning the ground white, drifting to unusual depths for the Dallas/Fort Worth area. It was a magical December. Little did I know that God was about to answer my prayers.

From the first moment I met him, it was as if we had always known each other. Rick had just returned from Viet Nam and looked so handsome in his army uniform. We became best friends, and I fell in love with my sweetheart. A true Christmas romance with me as the princess. We played in the snow and he made me laugh. He maneuvered his metallic blue Plymouth, turning exhilarating donuts in the deserted, snow-covered parking lots. I giggled and glowed. Just being together thrilled me.

We held hands, locked arms, kissed in the moonlight and our love kept me warm. He brushed my long, blonde hair behind my ear and held me close, making me feel safe and righting my world.

Rick had escaped the war unscathed, both physically and mentally. Although serving in a combat zone, he was fortunate enough to be assigned to a communications command under General Davidson. Once stateside, the Army sent him to Bell Helicopter, the plant right across the street from where Mom and I lived in a low-rent apartment complex. He had leased an apartment facing ours.

Mom and I shared one car, an old clunker, but Rick taught me to drag race and gave me the possession of his brand new, modified Plymouth Duster. When I pulled into the school parking lot, driving his souped-up hotrod, with a 318 under the hood, four on the floor, and a Holly 750 double-pumper carburetor, all the heads turned. The engine rumbled, the paint shone, the wheels sparkled, and I sat behind the wheel. I couldn’t have felt more elated or prouder, except for that day only four months later, when I stood beside him, hand in hand, and said, “I will” for the rest of my life.

God started us on our journey together which included love, three children, and later grandchildren. Things were not always perfect, but we grew closer to God through our trials and learned the importance of putting Him first.

You Are Chosen

Today is National Farmers’ Day. So, to farmers all around the globe, we are so thankful for your hard work as we enjoy the fruits of your labor. In cultivating your crops, you model for us an important lesson. You plant the seeds that sprout and burst forth from the ground. New stems require care, rain, sun, and nutrients in order to stretch and grow and bud, blossoming into life-giving food.   

Just like a seed, when you accept Jesus, He gives you a measure of faith and you burst into new life.  But more is required for you to stretch, grow, and blossom into a life-giving vessel. If you starve yourself of nutrients, your growth and ability to blossom is stunted.

Just as Moses was chosen to free the Hebrew slaves, Elijah was chosen to call down fire from heaven at Mount Carmel, and John the Baptist was chosen to cry out in the wilderness “make way for the Lord,” YOU TOO have been CHOSEN. Always remember, many are called, but few are chosen.  

Many have told me they are too shy to share Jesus, saying they can read the Bible and go to church, but beyond that, they don’t have what it takes. According to 2 Peter 1:5-8, if you are diligent to add to your faith virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love you will not be barren or unfruitful. So, the formula for being a life-giving vessel for Jesus Christ and His kingdom is: faith+virtue+knowledge+self-control+perseverance+godliness+brotherly kindness+love. But, what does that look like and how do you go about doing it?

First, add virtue, or moral behavior, to your new faith in Jesus. Examine how you behave. Is there any behavior that needs to change? Next is knowledge. How do you attain the kind of knowledge to which this verse refers? You must spend time in God’s word and meditate on it. You can do that on your own, but you also need to sit under the teaching of those more knowledgeable, such as in church or elders in your family.

Self-control might be one of the hardest things to add to the formula for fruitfulness, but it’s necessary. Webster says it is the restraint exercised over one’s own impulses, emotions, or desires. You’re probably getting the idea. The formula is not complete without perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will blossom into the beautiful vessel your Lord and Savior chose YOU to be.

GOD and Romance

GOD AND ROMANCE

I dedicate this blog post to my recently married daughter April and her new husband, Justin. My heart overflows with joy for them. May their future be bright and blessed by God.

Today in many countries, certain cultures arrange marriages. Sometimes romantic gestures and moments accompany those arrangements and sometimes not. As a Christian romance novelist, I questioned the real importance of romance to God. Is romance a man-created, frivolous, nonsensical, and unnecessary thing in the eyes of the Lord? I researched and gave this some thought.

“When [Rebekah] saw Isaac, she lighted off the camel.” Genesis 24:64 KJV. It might indicate she felt an attraction to him from first sight. Also, in Genesis, Jacob’s love for Rachel was so strong that he was willing to work and wait for seven years in order to marry her. After he was tricked, he had to wait another seven years, but his love for Rachel burned strong within him. Sampson, Ruth, and Esther are all examples of passion, devotion, and attraction. Ruth and Esther have their own books named after them in the Old Testament, and God used an element of romance to bring about His will.

I found that romantic desire is included in God’s word. If you don’t agree, then take a little time and read Song of Solomon, passages that are often used by pastors and counselors alike to revive the embers of a once flaming love of couples requiring marital counseling. In chapter 1, verse 2, it says “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth—for your love is better than wine,” and verse 10, “Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away,” or even verse 16, “My beloved is mine, and I am his…” verse 17, “Until the day breaks and the shadows flee away…”

Falling in love, walking down the aisle and saying “I do” is the easy part. Making a life together as a family is often hard and requires work. Two keys to being successful in obtaining a joy-filled marriage is making God the head of your home and remembering to romance your spouse. Whether it be date night or a normal day, esteem your spouse higher than yourself as you serve one another.  

I make no apologies for writing Christian romance and hope my novels bring honor to God by presenting a Christian worldview of putting Him first and others above yourself. This doesn’t mean we don’t make mistakes along the way. Everyone does, but it’s the way we handle them that matters.

In Melissa’s Fate, Phil and Beth begin with deception, but a miracle from the Almighty unites them in the trial of their lives that helps them find God and their love for one another. In Impossible Fate, David, a devout Christian, falls in love with Aliyah, an observant Jew. At first, all they understand is the love they feel for each other, but when they try to stay together, the difference in their beliefs almost make it impossible. For Aliyah, Christ is a symbol of Hitler, until she comes face-to-face with David’s faith.

My first two books are the true story of my mother. The theme for Pathways of the Heart is Psalm 119:9 “How can a young man keep his ways pure, by living according to your word.” God blessed Clella, my mother, and Kenneth with love, but as the Great Depression made primitive life even harder, Kenneth turns to drinking, gambling, and other women. Clella endeavors to be a Proverbs 31 woman, but her desire for romantic love and the temptation of a younger man eventually leads her into a better understanding of her God and All That Matters.

I’m Listening!

blog listening

Today, as usual, I opened God’s word and thoughtfully and prayerfully read. Many times, God gives me something specifically for me but not always. I suspect when He does not, it’s because I’m acting routinely. Today was not routine!

During this COVID-19 crisis, while people are sick, quarantined, and unemployed, as I read, I considered how blessed I am for I am none of those things. I prayed and thanked God for my many gifts and remembered every good gift is from above. I am not rich by any means and do not have all that I want, but I have a home, food, family, friends, and all that I need. I thought about countries where people live in shacks, starve, and lack proper clothing and medical attention. I asked God, why me? Why was I born here and not there? Should I only be THANKFUL that God put me here instead of there? Just count my lucky stars, as some would say?

That’s when I heard it—the word from Him that was meant for me. Luke 12:48b “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required.” KJV That verse is talking about being a faithful and wise steward of what God has given you. He has blessed me abundantly and expects much from me. Please Lord, show me how I can use what you have given me according to your will. Several places in scripture, Jesus instructs people to sell all they have, give it to the poor, and follow Him. He tells us we are to lay up for ourselves heavenly treasures.

People in our world are hurting. I am not a young person, and the older I become, I realize my time for making a difference is limited. I have trusted Jesus as my Savior and have the promise of eternal life, but I want to share Him with everyone. While I’m instructed to do that, I’m also told to do even more. There is a song that my daughter use to sing: “Don’t tell them Jesus loves them till you’re ready to love them too, till your heart breaks from their sorrow and the pain they’re going through.” If I cannot look at the plight of my fellow man and be moved to compassion, what good am I? I often pray for God to break my heart for what breaks His, but am I really ready for that? Am I ready to share all that I have with those that need it? I should be.

Sometimes I think there are so many needs that my meager sustenance couldn’t possibly make a difference. Truth is—every little bit counts. I must show the love of God to those He places in my path. I must not miss opportunities to give. Thank you, God, for entrusting me with what I have. Help me to use it for your honor and glory. Amen.

Our Humble Home

Don’t miss the present at the end of the story.

OurHumbleHome

The year was 1960 and I was only six-years-old. My family had left Fort Worth, Texas, destitute. Dad needed work and we moved to a small town in the Missouri Ozarks where my grandparents lived.  Dad, Mom, Larry, and I settled into a little house in town. They called it a Cracker Jack box. It was so small that Larry and I, didn’t have a bedroom, but we didn’t mind. We slept on pallets in the living room. Dad drove a truck and delivered car batteries all over southern Missouri.

I noticed Mom didn’t cook Dad’s favorite for dinner anymore. Now, she mostly served yummy beans and cornbread or delicious chicken and dumplings. Sometimes, the electricity wouldn’t work and she cooked on the gas stove by candlelight until Dad paid the bill.

I saw snow for the first time right before Christmas. It transformed the countryside from a gloomy, gray-brown into a bright, hopeful white as it covered the ground and frosted the trees and rooftops. With gloves and galoshes, Larry and I frolicked in the white powder, rolling and forming a snowman complete with buttons, which Mom gave us, and an old hat of Grandpa’s.

My older brother, Buck, visited for the holidays. We hadn’t seen Buck since before he got married. When he drove his two-tone ‘56 Pontiac into the driveway on Christmas Eve, the merriment started. He ran around the car to open the door for Virginia, his new wife. She was beautiful, tall and slender with green eyes and light brown hair. He grinned from ear to ear as he hugged Mother.

“Hi, Mommy,” he laughed teasingly with Buck’s usual mischievous twinkle in his eyes. He stood straight and proud as he introduced Virginia.

That evening as Daddy played the guitar, Buck and Larry joined him with their harmonicas. We all sang songs and carols and laughed. It felt good. Even though our house was small, we didn’t care. Mom and Dad pulled the mattress off their bed. Buck and Virginia slept on the mattress, Dad and Mom on the box springs. Larry and I fell asleep on Christmas Eve in front of the Christmas tree. Shiny glass ornaments, silver tinsel, and brightly-colored lights made it the most beautiful tree ever.

I loved Christmas; even if we didn’t get many presents, it was still my favorite time of all. Mom made Christmas fun, but I think Dad enjoyed it more than any of the other adults. Larry and I had hung our stockings above the fireplace, but when we awoke, they had multiplied. Stockings hung there for all of us, regardless of age, filled with our favorite things: fruit, candy, and other little trinkets.

Laughter filled our tiny home as we gathered around our kitchen table for Christmas dinner. Smiles lit up the faces around me and I realized the God-given joy of Christmas and family.

(A story from my childhood as told in All That Matters, published by W&B Publishers)

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. Luke 2:11-14 KJV

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“Melissa’s Fate”

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