The Big Pause

Credit: JC

By Snow

It has been over five months since I last posted here on Beloved Walks. I’ve had a number of wonderful things happen in my life since then, yet other aspects have been stagnant. I should focus on the blessings. I try to do that, but I often fail. Instead, I think about the stagnation. Hearing from God on just about every topic except the ones that are most important. He has shown JC and me a beautiful destination, but barely a glance at the path actually to get there. It almost feels cruel, yet I know our God is not cruel.

I have journaled with pencil and paper a number of times, but even that I begin to drift away from. The more I sense the stagnation, the less I want to write. I have no desire over and over to keep writing, “It is another day. I prayed for wisdom into X and Y. I have heard nothing. Maybe tomorrow.” It ultimately serves no purpose.

This frustration carries over to my writing in general. I find that I don’t want to write here. I don’t want to share my story anymore, because there’s nothing worth sharing. Just stagnation.

Perhaps God is freezing me out because of some unconfessed sin? Yet, as mentioned, I hear from Him on other topics – just not the biggest ones. We fasted a couple months ago. It seemed promising at first with insights into the destination, but ultimately, unfruitful because there were none about the path. I don’t even like reading my journal from that time because it begins full of bright hope and ends in dark discouragement 40 days later.

I still feel that way. God owes me nothing, yet I feel let down. That is the honest truth. We are fasting again now, but my heart isn’t really in it. Last time, I dutifully kept a daily fasting journal to capture all of the insights. This time, I haven’t journaled at all. “Why bother?” I think. “It is just going to chronicle yet another failure.”

I’m tired of failure. I’m tired of the way things are, that I’m not good enough, that I’m not strong enough, that I’m not smart enough to accomplish much of anything. I am blessed to have JC in my life, but outside of her, I often feel alone. I look at the news, and so-called Christian churches are doing idiotic and harmful things in His name. They have allowed Earthly politics to infect them. I see no answers there.

Any answers will come from God and His Word. I still believe that, despite my discouragement.

Tomorrow, I face another day of sameness. Doing a job that I am blessed to have but, in my heart of hearts, hate. It chips away at me little by little. In many ways, I am inherently lazy, so that is probably why God leaves me there to rot. I deserve it until I can prove otherwise.

And yet, I don’t feel like proving otherwise. I don’t feel like pretending anymore – pretending that I care about projects that mean nothing to me. Oh, I know all the quotes about how I am actually working for God.

“Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.”
Colossians 3:23

I try to do this, but I just can’t see it. Does God really want me to do such meaningless work?

Apparently, He does, for He hasn’t whispered any other paths forward into existence for me. He has only shown me a destination, so perhaps I should walk by faith and not by sight?

“So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight.”
2 Corinthians 5:6-7

Maybe He is expecting me to take action instead of waiting on Him? Perhaps I should quit my job and have faith that He will provide?

Yet, taking matters into our own hands is not always the answer, either. When Abraham and Sarah took that approach, they named the result “Ishmael.” So, maybe that is not the way to go.

Instead, I wait. But for what?

What if the answer never comes? What if He has no intention of showing me how to proceed? At what point do I just take a step?

Beyond the job considerations, there are also housing considerations. The lease on my apartment is almost up. This has been a wonderful place to heal, but I tire of it and the area. I want to live elsewhere, but, again, what move can I make without hearing from Him on such an important decision?

I guess the default answer is to stay in place until hearing otherwise from Him. In other words, more stagnation.

How do I break this pattern?

I am an indecisive person, but adding in this wait to hear from God into every major decision is just taking what was already a slow process and bringing it to an apparent halt. Before, I could at least, eventually, after much thought and analysis, decide something. Except maybe for jobs. I was never great about deciding to leave those on my own. I tend to fall from one job I dislike to another. I stay at a place until the job is literally gone, sometimes for 8 or 10 or more years of misery. Then I take the very next one offered to me. Oh, I yodel about how this time will be different, and I will finally find a job that means something to me, that I love. Then the next corporate job comes along and I take it and the misery that comes with it. Bills must be paid.

This is a useless and negative post. I imagine the three people who read this blog are like, “Finally, a new post!” and then are disappointed to find this. It is simply how I feel.

Maybe tomorrow.

The chump at the pump

By Snow

JC lives near me, and one of the ways I enjoy serving her is fueling her car with gas when I can. To facilitate her excursions this weekend, I wake up early on Saturday and brave the cold to fill her car as a surprise.

For the longest time, I wouldn’t drive anyone else’s car due to my anxiety. However, JC’s car and I get along just fine. Speaking of anxiety-inducing situations, her car prefers gas from a perpetually-crowded filling station/convenience store near us that we’ll call “Lala.” One of the reasons I like to fill up her car prior to 6:30 AM is Lala’s multiple pumps almost always have lines if you go much later than that.

There are also these signs at each pump proclaiming, “Please free this position when finished fueling. Thank you. –The Customer Behind You.” Lala is a high pressure environment for someone with anxiety! I am the same way with self-checkout at grocery stores. I won’t do self-checkout if there is a line to get to them. (Actually, I wouldn’t do self-checkout at all if stores would stop relying on them and fully staff their cash registers with actual human beings.)

Anyway, Lala is starting to get busy, but I get there early enough where I find a free pump. I check the little arrow on the gas gauge to remind me that her car’s gas hatch is on the driver side rather than the passenger side like mine. I pull in, maybe a bit far from the pump, but not too bad, and otherwise line it up as best I can. I turn off the car, put the keys in my coat pocket, and get out to fuel.

Whew, is it cold! Sometimes, Lala’s pumps are persnickety with credit/debit cards, but it accepts mine just fine this time. I open the gas hatch, insert the nozzle from the pump, and begin fueling. It only needs about half a tank, so it doesn’t take long before the pump automatically shuts off. I give it one more squeeze to make sure and put it back on the pump. I shut the gas hatch. On the pump screen, I decline to take a receipt. I then wait to ensure the transaction fully clears out.

I pull out the car key from my pants pocket and climb back in the vehicle. I shut and lock the doors. I look in the rear view mirror. No one behind me. Good.

I start to put the key into the ignition. The car’s dashboard lights up, but the key will not fully go in. I pull it back out and try again. Same thing.

I remember JC saying something about the car not always fully going into the correct gear. Maybe it isn’t in Park. However, when inserting the key, the “P” lights up. As far as I can tell, it is in Park.

I then start turning the steering wheel. On my car, I remember my key getting stuck in the ignition when the wheel didn’t lock properly. Maybe something similar is happening in reverse. I freely turn the wheel back and forth.

No effect.

My heart rate begins increasing.

I look in the rear view mirror again. Still no one there waiting for me to free the position.

I look at the convenience store. Would an attendant come out and yell at me about blocking a pump for too long?

I don’t know what to do, so I call on help.

From Google.

On my iPhone, I type a description of my situation in the search. If there’s one thing I know, it’s that anything that happens to me in a car, it’s already happened to others and been written about on the web and cataloged on Google.

However, all of the Google search results are about how to get a stuck key out of an ignition. None about how to get a resistant key into an ignition. No help.

I try the key again. No go.

Panic.

Maybe I have the wrong key. I grabbed my own car keys this morning as well. I look at the key fob and see a scripture key ring I bought a few months ago. Yes, right keys.

More panic.

I try once again. Car dashboard lights up, but key won’t fully insert.

I don’t dare check the rear view mirror. I imagine having to push the car out of the position so the customer behind me can fuel.

Finally, I decide to call JC. I wake her up and explain the situation. She is thankful for me fueling her car, but she has not encountered this key scenario before. She asks if I am using the right key. “Yes, I already checked that,” I say.

I look at the key again anyway. I see a Chevrolet emblem on the back of the fob. It is my car’s key. Not the key for JC’s Ford. I reach in my coat pocket and pull out JC’s key, which has a different scripture key ring, and start the car. As I drive away from Lala, freeing the position for the (possibly non-existent) customer behind me, I sheepishly apologize to JC for waking her up.

Why am I telling you this story? To illustrate a couple of my mistakes.

The Second Commandment tell us:

“You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea. You must not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods. I lay the sins of the parents upon their children; the entire family is affected—even children in the third and fourth generations of those who reject me. But I lavish unfailing love for a thousand generations on those who love me and obey my commands.”
Exodus 20:4-6

I thought this was one of the “easy” commandments. Obviously, I only worship the Lord. Only fools worship idols.

Yet, where did I first turn when I needed help? Not to God. But to Google. As with all false idols, Google provided no real answers.

Despite my shortcomings, God still tried to help me. That scripture on my key ring? It is the verse that JC used in 2018 to help me significantly lessen my anxiety, including while driving:

“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
Psalm 46:10

When JC gave me her spare car keys, the verse key ring I chose for them was Romans 8:28, a mantra for us both.

I saw a scripture key ring attached to the fob that wouldn’t work and assumed it was the correct one. Oh, if only I had a taken a second actually to read the verse! It would have 1) calmed me and 2) made me realize they were the keys to my car and not JC’s car.

God was trying to talk to me and help me, but I was not listening. This time, I realized it later. I wonder how often it happens and I remain oblivious to it?

I ponder, why didn’t I turn to God when the car wouldn’t start? God had even helped me in almost that exact situation before! Back in 2019, my car was having a mechanical issue. At another gas station, I fueled up my car but couldn’t get the engine to start. That time, I was smart enough to pray to God for help. Immediately, an attendant named Al came out. He recognized the sound my engine was making when failing to start and patiently told me the exact steps to start the car. The car started right up. God is much better than Google. JC and I still pray for Al whenever we pass that gas station.

So, why did I go to Google first this time and not God? I honestly don’t know. Not as an excuse, but I have been struggling at work lately, particularly last week. I was still off kilter going into this weekend. I am doing better now, and I want to thank JC, Mark, and others for their prayers.

So, again I don’t have the answer, other than, I obviously need to pray more about my relationship with God. And stop breaking commandments!

Thank you for reading, friends. May Jesus bless you.

Credit: Snow

The cog who blogged in a fog

By Snow

I continue to struggle. I’m not sure what’s wrong with me. I still can’t focus, especially at work. It all seems meaningless. I want to be doing other things, things that actually matter, or I want simply to be relaxing. When I am whining to her about my job, JC often reminds me that I actually work for Jesus and refers me to verses like:

“Work with enthusiasm, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.”
Ephesians 6:7

Paul was referring to ancient slavery, but I accept that his words apply to the modern workplace as well. I can’t say I live up to them. This is, perhaps, my biggest failing since I was saved. In fact, my enthusiasm for work declined around the same time I met Jesus. Before that, I would pull 60+ hour weeks because it seemed important.

But it all seems meaningless now. I am supposed to keep in mind that I am working for Jesus, but does Jesus really care which of 8,000 data fields are ported over from one system to another? For that matter, does anyone? I sure don’t. I feel like a cog in a meaningless machine that ultimately produces nothing.

I had to postpone a “critical” meeting at the last minute today because I was not prepared. I was not prepared because I waited until an hour before the meeting to begin my preparations. I am a procrastinator by nature. My biggest failing is that my procrastination usually works out just fine – often more than fine. I shove a ton of effort into minimal time and receive praise for it by people who assume I spent 20 times as much time on it. Today, it caught up with me. The meeting will now take place next week. In between a dozen other meetings for 8 other projects I don’t care about, I will attempt to prepare. I will attempt to pretend I care.

I don’t even have energy to write this post. This is not even a real post. Just mindless writing. The origin of “blog” is “web log” – an online journal. So, I guess you are just getting my raw thoughts today. Dear Diary, I am a worn down Christian. I am lazy. I am ungrateful.

Outside of blogging, to the extent that counts, I actually don’t journal very often anymore. I find it draining in its imperfection. While it is neat to look back on them sometimes, I usually can’t force myself to make the effort. I find it impossible to journal proper details on a consistent schedule, so I don’t bother. I suppose I pray most of my internal whinings to God instead now. I also whine to poor JC, as I mentioned.

I don’t know that any of this really helps, though. At the end of the day, I still have to go back to a job that I really don’t care about. I can put on a positive smile and pretend I am all happy and grateful to be working, but I am really dying inside. Little by little.

There is no answer. All I can do is pretend. It feels all too familiar, though. I used to pretend my way through my first marriage:

  • “Everything is fine.”
  • “It is supposed to be like this.”
  • “It will get better.”
  • Etc. Etc. Etc.

It wasn’t fine. It wasn’t supposed to be like that. But it did get better, when we divorced. Once that marriage was out of my life, it was indeed better. Much better.

So, this is perhaps the worst post I have ever published here. Rather than submit any reader that has made it this far any further to these useless ramblings, I will just sign off for now.

I don’t have any answers. All I can do is give all of this to God.

Thank you for reading. May Jesus bless you.

Credit: JC

Disrupting chaos

Credit: JC

By Snow

Life can be so overwhelming sometimes. Even without a global pandemic. Even without bizarre weather patterns. Without political disinformation and manipulation campaigns. Without the fabric of society seemingly being ripped apart.

Even in times of “average” trials in your family, career, and church, it can all start to be too much. Not just out in the world, but right at home. The stress. The hurt. The expectations.

What can you do when you are overwhelmed?

It only takes a moment to pray. Even if you can’t spare a minute (and, most likely, you can, if you take a step back), you can pray to yourself in the midst of whatever is happening. God always hears you.

Prayer is how we connect to Him, how we forge a personal relationship with Him. God created you for this.

Ask Him to let you feel Him, hear Him, and see Him in your life.

Find at least a couple of minutes a day to read the Bible. Keep a copy handy wherever you might have a spare moment. Yes, even in the bathroom if that is what it takes. Download YouVersion’s Bible app to your smart phone for free and you will always have the Bible with you – in multiple translations and languages.

It is imperative that you speak to Him every day and immerse yourself in His Word and His love.

You may do all of this and still feel overwhelmed. It is okay. Breathe.

Ask someone to pray for you. Family. Friend. Neighbor. Whoever. You don’t even necessarily have to tell the person your business. Just enlist her or him to pray for you to have peace or to hear from Him or to have focus or something of that nature. Or just ask, simply, “pray for me.” In two, we are more powerful:

“I also tell you this: If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you. For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.”
Matthew 18:19-20

Be sure to ask how to pray for your fellow warrior as well, and do it right then. JC and I ask each other this question at least daily. Her prayers and love have helped me through many situations that may otherwise have overwhelmed me.

If you don’t have someone you are comfortable asking, then JC and I are happy to pray for you. Reach out to us.

Find the blessings. Yes, it may seem like utter chaos and negativity is swirling around you right now, but close your eyes and think of all of the wonderful things in your life, too. Focus on those. At the top of that list, Jesus loves you. Focus on the good to invite more.

Thank God for every good thing in your life. The enemy wants you to see only the negative. The enemy wants you to lose hope. The enemy wants you to feel isolated. The enemy wants you to feel alone. The enemy wants you to give up. Fight.

Remember, you are a child of God (1 John 3:1-2)! You fight from victory (John 16:33).

God is all-knowing. All-powerful. All-present. All-loving. We are not. That is why you must give your cares to God.

Whatever is bothering you. No matter how long the list. He can take anything you hurl at Him. No matter how small or large the concern. If you care about it, He cares about it. Give it all to Him. Trust Him.

I have mentioned quite a few times here that I suffered from massive anxiety before JC led me to Jesus. I have found these verses to be a particular comfort. Perhaps they will help you, too:

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 4:6-7

If you have tried all of this and are still overwhelmed, it is time more aggressively to seek Him. You need to find a place of peace where you can better hear Him. It may be the beach. The park. That bathroom again. Whatever you can use for your prayer closet (Matthew 6:6). Listen for Him. He is there. He always has been. He loves you.

If you are saved, feel the Holy Spirit within you. Let Him guide you.

If you do not yet know Jesus, then make today the day. Accept Him into your heart as Your Lord and Savior. Jesus is pursuing you.

Turn around. Open your arms. Jesus is right there.

Thank you for reading. May Jesus bless you.

The battle

Part 1
By Snow

A chapter of the Bible I turn to often is Romans 8. Perhaps it is because this is the chapter JC instructed me to read and re-read after she first led me to Jesus nearly three years ago. The final 12 verses of the chapter represent some of the most powerful words ever written in human history, and I find them uplifting whenever life seems a mess.

Becoming a follower of Jesus is not a magic elixir to fix all of your woes. Bad things happen to Christians every day. What it does change, or at least what it should change, is your perspective on dealing with those situations. In 2019, I faced an onslaught of events that no doubt would have emotionally and spiritually crippled me had it not been for my personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I was fired from my job, signed away my house, and saw my ex-spouse for the last time. And that was just one day out of that year.

Through it all, I did my best to stay focused on Jesus. I trusted Him and He gave me hope. He surrounded me with love, including by sending JC to me. A verse that we both turn to when facing challenging events is:

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”
Romans 8:28

As humans we are, of course, incapable of comprehending God’s Plan in its full nature. Our minds can only grasp bits and pieces of it. One of the amazing and exhilarating aspects of being a Christian is occasionally seeing God put Romans 8:28 into practice.

When I lost my job, for example, He also provided for me. I was able to take the time to really heal from an emotionally and financially abusive marriage. I was able to take the time to really learn to trust Him. Would such depths of discovery have been possible while I was still pulling 50 or more hours a week at a toxic organization? These are just a few ways that He used losing my job for good. I could name several more.

I should be clear, we won’t always see how God uses apparent negative events for good. We may never see the connections this side of Heaven. But when we do, wow. We are seeing God’s fingerprints.

While I read the Bible in full about twice a year, I don’t separately refer to Romans 7 nearly as often as I do Romans 8. So, this next excerpt only recently jumped out at me.

“Sin used what was good to bring about my condemnation to death. So we can see how terrible sin really is. It uses God’s good commands for its own evil purposes.”
from Romans 7:13

In many ways, this verse represents the opposite of Romans 8:28. While Romans 8:28 reassures us that God will use everything, including evil, for good, Romans 7:13 tells us that sin can use good for evil.

For me, this is a reminder of how humans corrupt everything – even when we begin with good intentions. It is unfortunately part of our sinful nature.

We ultimately know that we fight from victory. Not because of any strengths we bring to the battle, but because we are part of God’s Army. Our Father is all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-loving. While sin may be able temporarily to bring about evil, God indeed is able to use even that as part of His Plan.

“But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.”
1 John 4:4

“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33

Credit: JC

Part 2
By JC

Sin might attack us even when we did nothing to invite those circumstances. Romans 8:28 is God protecting us from those attacks. Even when we do sin, however, He still uses the consequences for good.

Romans 7:13 represents a full-on attack. Evil is using God’s commands to come at us. It is a warning to be on guard and fight temptation.

Sin mocks God because:

  1. Satan hates him
  2. Sin cannot create
  3. It is easier to lure humans with the slightly twisted rather than the completely outlandish

It is like the serpent with Eve. Compare what God actually said about the tree to what the serpent claims He said and to what Eve thinks He said.

“The LORD God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and watch over it. But the LORD God warned him, ‘You may freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden—except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die.'”
Genesis 2:15-17

“The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the LORD God had made. One day he asked the woman, ‘Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?'”
Genesis 3:1

“‘It’s only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God said, “You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.”‘ ‘You won’t die!’ the serpent replied to the woman. ‘God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.'”
Genesis 3:3-5

Satan knows Scripture. He even quotes it to Jesus.

“Then the devil took him to the holy city, Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, and said, ‘If you are the Son of God, jump off! For the Scriptures say, “He will order his angels to protect you. And they will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.”‘ Jesus responded, ‘The Scriptures also say, “You must not test the LORD your God.”‘”
Matthew 4:5-7

In that vein, evil can literally use the Bible as the map to attack us. That is why we must know the Word of God and wield it as Jesus did.

Romans 7:13 shows us that evil knows the Bible. How much more should believers know it?

Burning popcorn

By Snow

I love popcorn. I have researched techniques and assembled ingredients to make it taste as close to a classic movie theater experience as possible. It actually tastes better than most of the theater popcorn I have tried in the last few years.

Being a movie fan, however, I do miss the cinema in this age of COVID-19. It seems theaters are open again, but I’m not quite ready to go back. I no longer have an actual television, but I stream some movies and TV series on my computer – which is hooked into my stereo. I also play DVDs on it. It is not exactly a movie theater experience, but, hey, the popcorn’s good! Before I was saved, I was living a wasteful life, so I am very grateful for what I now have. Simple is better.

Yesterday, I was making a batch of popcorn with my Whirley Pop – a specialized pot with a hand crank for swishing around the kernels. It normally turns out delicious. This time, it turned out burnt.

Why? Because I lost focus.

If you don’t turn the crank often enough or take the pot off the heat at the right time, you get scorched popcorn. Let me tell you, no amount of toppings can help it at that point.

Focus is important. I have been praying for focus throughout 2021. It has been a struggle for me, and not just with popcorn.

It is February 7, and this is my first post of the year. I have struggled to focus on writing. Oh, the things that I can find around here to do in order to avoid writing. If I get my apartment looking sharp, it is normally because I am procrastinating on something else – often writing.

Due to a medical condition, I am supposed to lose a certain amount of weight, but I have struggled to focus on being mindful of my food. Prior to the issue coming up, I was actually in the process of losing weight anyway. Since then, I have instead gained weight. I have also failed to consistently focus on exercise. The steps tracked by my Apple Watch document my erratic behavior. 2,329 steps on one day, but 18,701 steps on another.

One year into my new job, and I am struggling to focus there as well. Projects are piling up, and I can’t seem to get the inspiration to attack them with the same determination that I once had. To paraphrase Apollo Creed, I’ve lost the eye of the tiger when it comes to work.

I still pray and read the Bible every day, even on the days I don’t feel like it. Especially on the days I don’t feel like it. I want to focus more on His Kingdom, but I struggle there as well.

Focus is everything. If I focus on Jesus above all else, I believe the other areas will fall into place. That’s His design.

Like you, friend, I was created to do more. He expects more of me. He has more confidence in me than I do. He loves me more than anyone ever could. I can’t let Him down.

It is time to do more. It is time to focus. On Jesus. On His Kingdom. On who He created me to be.

We are allotted only a limited number of days here on this Earth. None of us know how many we get. I may have less than a day left or fifty-plus years to go.

Each day needs to mean something. In her Wounded Butterflies post today, JC quoted from Matthew 22:37-39: “‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'”

I’ve read those words at least a dozen times before, but they really spoke to me today. As someone who has been struggling to focus, I see in those words exactly what I need to do.

Jesus has spelled it all out for us right there. It is all about love. God is love (1 John 4:16), and we must fully and completely love God. He loves us unconditionally. Despite our sins, He died for us. We still sin, and He still loves us!

He also commands us to love our neighbors as ourselves. That is an interesting turn of phrase, for it is also how husbands are commanded to love our wives:

“Husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man who loves his wife actually shows love for himself.”
from Ephesians 5:28

Ultimately, the greatest commandment is love. That will be my focus.

Thank you for reading. I want to close with a brief prayer.


Father in Heaven,

Thank You for Jesus. Thank You for my beloved JC. Thank You for true love. Thank You for these words.

I lift up all of those who need to focus, Lord, including myself. Help us to focus on You, focus on our neighbors, and focus on love.

May Your will be done in all things, with the glory to Your Kingdom.

In the blessed name of Jesus.

Amen

Credit: JC

Baking with the past

By Snow

Well, another Christmas has come and gone. My siblings, nieces, and extended family members spent a few hours together at my brother’s house on Christmas Day – as socially distanced as possible in this year of COVID-19.

I am usually the last one to arrive, but I knew someone else was still missing. I kept looking around, trying to figure out who it was, waiting for that last family member to show up.

Then, I realized who was missing.

Mom.

This was the second Christmas since she passed away. While I was blessed to feel her very briefly a couple of times during the event, Christmas and other family gatherings are not the same without Mom’s physical presence.

Everything seems off. The amount of drinking has gone way up, for instance. This would not have happened in front of Mom. She almost never drank alcohol. Following her example, I don’t drink at all. I never have, and I don’t like being around it.

At the same time, I realize alcohol is how some people deal with pain. Some of my family members still seem to be in a lot of pain when it comes to losing Mom. While I certainly miss her – especially on Christmas, her favorite holiday – I know where she is. I also know she is free now, free of the earthly body that held her back in the last decades of her life.

I am blessed to have Jesus. I am blessed to have the Holy Spirit. I am blessed to have a personal relationship with God. Yes, life can be painful at times, but they help me through it by bringing me peace, filling me with joy, and blessing me with love. Yes, I experience perfect love through Jesus, and I experience true love through my beloved JC. I am so grateful.

Yes, I know where Mom is. She is with Jesus now. I have not really lost her. Rather, she is simply ahead of me on our eternal journey and interacting with me in different ways than before.

When Mom passed away, I was blessed to inherit a number of her personal items. The ones that mean the most to me are her Bible, her recipes, and her 45 RPM vinyl records.

Throughout the lives of me and my siblings, Mom baked special cookies at Christmas. Mom’s cookies were an indelible part of Christmas for us. Since I have her recipes, I have picked up the mantle of baking her cookies over the last two Christmases to continue her legacy.

Her 45s date back to the 1950s. She played and danced to them so much over the years that they can’t really be played anymore. Instead, I made an iTunes playlist of the same songs. I play her songs whenever I bake her cookies.

My apartment has memories of Mom everywhere, especially my kitchen – which includes elements of her kitchens past. In that kitchen, surrounded by memories of Mom, playing her music, using her cookie recipe, I baked seven sheets of Mom’s cookies on Christmas Eve. I say, “I” baked them, but really, I truly believe I was just being Mom’s hands through much of the process. I could feel her with me, almost the entire time.

It is hard to describe, but I feel her most often as small bursts of joy – about where she used to rub or scratch my upper back when I was a youngster. I can also “hear” her in my head at times – though usually more like a thought or a feeling than a direct voice. For instance, I knew she wanted me to give some of her cookies to JC’s mom this year. That is exactly what she would have done were she still physically here.

Mom loved Christmas and would decorate all over the house, including the bathroom. That is how I know if someone is truly dedicated to decorating for Christmas, if the bathroom is included. In the living room, Mom used to put out large, plastic figurines of an elf riding Rudolph, mice playing on a Christmas present, and a Santa Claus sleigh. There was also a Santa doll and a Santa mug. There were many other decorations over the years as well, but those are the ones I remember most from my childhood.

Credit: JC

Last month, I was thrilled to find a Santa mug at Hobby Lobby that was reminiscent of the one Mom used to display. Larger than the one Mom had, I realized these mugs would make the perfect containers to give my siblings Mom’s cookies this year. To better accommodate the mug, I made a few of the sheets of cookies in “bite size” portions – half of the size that Mom normally made.

When I pulled the mugs out on Christmas Day, my siblings immediately connected them with Mom’s mug. They also voiced hope they contained Mom’s cookies.

The cookies ended up being hits in their new bite-sized configurations. I was told they tasted like Mom made them.

That’s because she did make them.

Thanks to Jesus, Mom lives forever, and so will I. The Son of God suffered on the cross to save us from eternal death in Hell.

2020 has been . . . a year. None of us could have predicated how swiftly the entire world would change. My advice continues to be, look for the blessings and keep your eyes on Jesus.

Thank you for reading our little blog. Know that JC and I are praying for you.

May Jesus bless you with a wonderful, active, and healthy New Year!


“Adam, the first man, was made from the dust of the earth, while Christ, the second man, came from heaven. Earthly people are like the earthly man, and heavenly people are like the heavenly man. Just as we are now like the earthly man, we will someday be like the heavenly man. What I am saying, dear brothers and sisters, is that our physical bodies cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. These dying bodies cannot inherit what will last forever. But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed. For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies.”
1 Corinthians 15:47-53