Sunday! Sunday! Sunday!

By Snow

Sundays have meant different things to me at different times of my life. As a kid, the day began with Sunday breakfast. Mom, often with help from me and my little sister, would prepare a big meal for our family of six. Some weeks she made pancakes, some weeks she made French toast. I can also remember other weeks just standing at the toaster making a huge plate of toast to go with whatever else we were having. Toast specifically made for my father had to have the little adjustment lever all the way to the far right, resulting in a charred brick no one else would eat.

Bread of some sort was always involved in Mom’s Sunday breakfasts. To complement the main course of starchiness, there would be delicacies like bacon, sausage, eggs, and grits.

Oh yes, grits. To eat grits right requires stirring in at least a teaspoon of sugar to your bowl (we used three teaspoons when I was growing up, but I have scaled back), adding a pat of butter until it starts melting, and then splashing in just a drop or two of milk so it mixes up with the melted butter. Break apart a piece of toast, and add it to the mix if you are ready to take your grits to the next level (optional – for advanced connoisseurs of grits only).

Sunday breakfast would normally hold us until an early dinner, which was often big, too – though the specific courses weren’t as consistent. While Sunday breakfast was always at the big round dinner table, dinner was sometimes allowed in front of the TV in the living room. I can remember watching a movie called Shenandoah, one of my father’s favorites, one Sunday afternoon while eating pork chops and jelly biscuits.

Now, that’s not to say we avoided the occasional nod to healthy eating in our house. For instance, we quite often ate a salad – iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, onions, deli ham and Kraft American cheese cut into little squares – doused in French dressing prior to the main course of a huge plate of angel hair spaghetti covered in Prego sauce with added ground beef. On the side, plenty of warm French or Italian bread on which butter would quickly melt away into nothingness. For drink, you had your choice between a pitcher of sweet iced tea or ice cold Coca-Cola.

Okay, maybe I was stretching it a bit with the “healthy eating” claim. But there was a salad buried somewhere in there. And we did, for a time, substitute Diet Coke for the real thing.

By middle school, I had grown an appreciation for football, so Sunday afternoons during that season consisted of sitting in the living room while my father and brother screamed at the TV in attempts to motivate our team. Their combined yelling apparently catapulted the team to multiple Super Bowl wins, for the team began a perennial losing streak soon after my father left the scene that continues to this day nearly three decades later.

As middle school wore on and then on into high school, Sunday nights became a time of anxiety for me. It wasn’t so much that I didn’t do any of my homework (though often true), it was the knowledge that I had to face another full week at that place – dealing with people, not being myself, and other assorted problems.

My first job was at an amusement park, so Sunday then became a key working day for me as I entered adulthood. No more big breakfasts or football games. This lasted a couple of years before I moved on to more typical Monday through Friday work – though, admittedly, never quite as fun as the park.

Sunday night anxiety became a fixture, except the dread of the forthcoming school week was soon replaced with the dread of the forthcoming work week. During my marriage, I went through a long period of time where my inner dialogue often consisted of statements like, “I wish I was dead. I wish I was dead. I wish I was dead.” Sunday nights into Monday mornings were the peak for these kinds of thoughts. By Monday mornings, my stomach was ripped to pieces. But this post is about Sundays. Fortunately for you.

Sundays during my marriage consisted of a blaring TV. Actually, so did all of the other days of my marriage, but on Sundays, it would specifically blare either football games or NASCAR races – both of which I had lost interest in by the time I was married, oddly enough. Sometimes I would sit there with my former spouse and endure this audio and video assault. Other times, I would go hide in my office to try to have a moment to just think, knowing full well I would be guilt tripped later for my retreat.

I find it difficult to concentrate when a TV is blaring all the time, and my former spouse required the TV to be on at all times – even while sleeping. My only opportunities for audio peace were those few times she wasn’t home. Anyway, I am getting off track here. We can dissect my marriage some other time.

In general, I saw Sunday as a lesser version of Saturday. Lesser because Saturday morning was full of promise with the entire weekend ahead, while Sunday was an inevitable march into Monday, collapsing hopes that the new week would never come.

Credit: JC

In June 2018, JC led me to Jesus and, as evidenced by just about every post I’ve ever made on this blog, my entire life changed. Including, of course, Sundays.

At that time, for various reasons, I began attending my local church through streaming. Combined with the daily quiet time of reading and prayer that JC instilled into me right from the start, I began to learn and absorb so much about Jesus, God, and myself. Over time, Jesus and JC helped me with my anxiety. While I still have my anxious moments from time-to-time, they are nothing like the prison I had built and constantly refined for myself before I knew Jesus.

As my marriage disintegrated, I began attending the church in person. Outside of JC and a couple of her friends, I never did become fully comfortable there, though. While I was learning, the environment never felt quite right. The mostly monochromatic parishioners left me cold, for one thing. Everyone looked like me, which wasn’t what I wanted. And there were other issues.

JC and I did a few times drive about 70 miles to a small church that I absolutely love (another long story). Locally, we began trying to find a more diverse church. This proved a bigger challenge than anticipated.

Then, COVID-19 hit. My Sundays changed again, as did everyone else’s on the planet – no matter their belief system. At first, it felt like I had come full circle. I was streaming the local church again, but that church just wasn’t for me anymore.

Instead, I began to seek out other streaming alternatives to hear the Word. Dr. Tony Evans and Pastor T.D. Jakes have really risen to the challenge of these times, and I have felt so enriched experiencing their web sermons. The little church 70 miles down the road even added video sermons, which allowed me to stay spiritually in touch with them as well.

Whereas Sundays had become about dutifully going to a church for an hour where I never quite belonged, it has evolved in COVID times for me into a day of worship, learning, reflection, and writing. My three most recent Sundays began with reading, prayer, a big breakfast (in honor of Mom, though never quite as big as those days gone by), followed by whichever video sermon I am led to watch, followed by lunch, blogging, another video sermon, some reading, dinner, and blogging again. And some praise music mixed up in all of that, too.

Oh, and I would be remiss if I didn’t admit I usually sneak a nap or two in there as well. After all, it is supposed to be a day of rest, right?

I just noticed the time. My heart still sinks when I realize Sunday is almost over. Anxiety is always on the other side of the door, waiting to come in. No. This time, I won’t open that door. Jesus will hold it closed for me.

Thank you for reading these rambles. May Jesus bless you.


“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.”
Isaiah 41:10

How to avoid losing to a defeated enemy

Credit: JC

By Snow

We know that Jesus has already won the war against Satan, the enemy (John 16:33). We, therefore, fight from victory against that enemy.

Though Jesus has won the war, we can still lose individual battles against the enemy. Jesus provides His followers with many blessings, including joy (John 15:11) and a life abundant (John‬ ‭10:10‬). Only we can give up these blessings by letting the enemy infiltrate our heads and control our thoughts. Never give up the blessings of Jesus to the enemy.

How do we combat the enemy so we don’t lose these individual battles?

Your first and foremost weapon is prayer. Call on Jesus, call on the Father, call on the Holy Spirit. If you are a follower of Jesus, you literally have the power of the Holy Spirit within you. The same power that raised Jesus from the dead. The same power that has already defeated the enemy. Trust and call upon this eternal energy.

What is better than you praying? Two people praying. Enlist another Christian or two to assist you. In turn, you can assist them with their personal battles against the enemy as well. There is a power in two or three. I have seen it time and again over the last two years since I was saved.

“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

What other weapons do you have? Another formidable piece of your arsenal is God’s Holy Word, what Ephesians 6:17 calls, “the sword of the Spirit”! Are you reading the Bible every day? God’s Word is not something to be glanced at for an hour on Sundays, but to be read and absorbed each day of your life.

Remember, Satan is an expert on Scripture (Luke 4:9-11; Matthew 4:5-6). How will you defeat his twisting of truth if you never read the Bible on your own? Read it. Study it. Learn about it. Experience it as a living document.

Praying and reading will tremendously help, but the enemy can and will still attack you. This is why you must be mindful of your thoughts (2 Corinthians 10:5). When you feel yourself going negative, stop. Just stop. Breathe. Capture the thoughts and dispose of them, using the powerful name of Jesus.

If you are being pulled into sin, put the brakes on. Pray. Text a friend. Read a verse. Whatever it takes.

And if you do sin, don’t give up. All is not lost. Don’t plummet into even more sin. Instead, go to God and ask forgiveness. Repent. He forgives you. His Son died such that all of your sins would be forgiven. Begin anew with a blank slate (Psalm 51:7-8).

Yes, the enemy fights from defeat. However, the enemy wants to make you as miserable as possible – by either keeping you away from Jesus altogether or stealing the joy and other gifts Jesus provides you.

The enemy is cunning, but can only defeat you if you let him. You have Jesus on your side – the mightiest spiritual warrior there ever was – and the full strength of Heaven’s Armies.


The above is all well and good for those who are saved, but what if you don’t yet know Jesus? Then make today the day you come to him. What is holding you back?

Do you have to be perfect to know Jesus? No, certainly not. I sure wasn’t perfect, as has been well documented here.

Jesus accepts you for who you are. Right now. This very instant. He died to save the very worst version of you.

No matter your past, Jesus will walk with you – but you have to take the first step.

Will you be perfect after you know Jesus? Alas, no. I can report that I and all other believers still stumble, make mistakes, and sin every day. However, when you truly let Jesus into your heart, your life will forever be different as He shares His blessings with you.

In many ways, your life will begin anew when you accept Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). You will see with new eyes. Experience life with new feelings. The enemy doesn’t want you to know Jesus. What better reason to run to Jesus right now and accept His gifts of salvation and eternal life?

If you don’t yet know Jesus but feel ready to do so, why not take a moment to surrender your heart to Him?

Pray with me:

Heavenly Father,

Please forgive my sins. I accept Your Son, Jesus, into my heart as my Lord and Savior. He came to Earth as a human and died on the cross such that my sins could be forgiven, and I would have eternal life. Your power resurrected Him and has already defeated the enemy. Thank You for giving that same power to me. Please lead and guide me to a new life of abundance, full of Joy and Peace.

In the blessed name of Jesus I pray.

Amen

These are words and whether you use these or your own variation, repeating them is not some kind of magic incantation that grants you eternal salvation.

No, you must believe and live the words. Breathe the words. When you do accept Christ, be forewarned the spiritual battles have only just begun. Seek out fellow believers for help growing in the faith. Don’t know anyone to help? Then contact JC and me. We are here for you.


Be sure to check out our sister blog, Wounded Butterflies, and JC’s latest post, “When You Forgive and God Punishes,” in which she explains why it is so important for us to forgive others.

Thank you for reading. May Jesus bless you as He has blessed me.


“Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.”
Ephesians 6:11-18

The healing time

By Snow

Not long after my last, brief post here, I started obsessing over “completing” my apartment. I moved here in July 2019. After recently extending my lease another 14 months, I decided to rev up my efforts to meet my goal of unpacking everything within a year of moving in.

Oh, I started really well last year. I unpacked everything that I initially brought here and then slowly started bringing additional boxes from a storage unit. Then… that slow process trickled down to nothing because I had about 6 tons of paperwork to go through (seemingly almost every piece of postal mail I had received since 1995).

One of my weaknesses is procrastination. So, it was easy to sit back and arrange my life around those unpacked boxes of paperwork. Not to mention the remaining boxes in the storage unit, which were out of sight, out of mind.

I even briefly put a blanket over the paperwork boxes so they would not be an eyesore when I wanted to use my living room for dancing.

Finally, though, late last month, I decided enough was enough. Now, the main weapon I have against my procrastination is my tendency towards obsession. So, I began to obsess over finishing my apartment. I spent just about every free hour working on it. Multiple trips to empty out the storage unit. Many memories to relive. Many more items to place.

I went from a 2,400 square foot house to a 660 square foot apartment. I want to be clear about something. That is not a complaint. I love my apartment. It feels like a home, far more than my house ever did. My apartment continues to be a part of my healing process as I become who God created me to be, and I am so grateful to Jesus for providing it to me.

The reduction in space has actually been helpful. Since another goal of mine was not to leave items in storage (because, really, what is the point of having something if it is locked away all the time?), it has forced me to prioritize. I have reduced my media collection (books, music, movies) by at least 75%. I do have to keep my “collecting” mentality in check, for there is a fine and rather blurry line between collecting and hoarding. I was married to a hoarder and even took on some of those tendencies myself in an attempt to fill spiritual holes. No. Never again. I have Jesus now.

Many items I realized I was keeping just to have. In case I might want to read or watch them again one day. In the modern age, though, if I really was intent to re-read a non-favorite book or re-watch a non-favorite movie, that would certainly be easy enough to accomplish without having to hang onto hundreds of them for years on end for the odd chance that I might decide to revisit one or two of them at some unknown point in the future.

It is freeing to let go. To donate items so that others may make use of them. After all, a book is to be read, not to decorate a shelf. I even had some brand new books that I planned to read “one day.” In some cases, over a decade later, I still had not started them. Better to let someone else have them. Let them be what they were designed to be.

“Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal.”
Matthew 6:19-20

Credit: JC

Meanwhile, as I was obsessing over my apartment, JC was cranking out one blog post after another. She has really become quite the writer, and I am sorry that I got behind in posting them. I can hear her now reacting, though: “Don’t be sorry. It is all God’s timing.” I have finally posted one of the backlog of posts over on the new Wounded Butterflies site: “23 Pieces of Advice from a Mom to Her Kids.” Be sure to check it out, as her advice is applicable to all of us. Besides, we are all somebody’s kid. Remember, since Wounded Butterflies lives on a separate server, you will need to sign up to receive emails about new posts there even if you are already signed up over here on Beloved Walks.

I am proud to say, I met my goal. By the time I hit the one year anniversary of moving in, I had finished unpacking. I still unfortunately have a few things in boxes, simply due to lack of storage, but they have all been examined and prioritized. All of my stuff is now gone from the storage unit.

After this stunning achievement, I decided to keep going. I had never decorated the walls of my apartment (I was afraid to hammer that first tack into the virgin walls), so artwork was one of the last things I brought over from the unit. I am happy to report that I have started putting up select pieces, old and new. After driving in that first tack and “ruining” the walls, it became a lot easier. While I was already happy with the place, it does feel even more like me now.

July 22 marked a year since the day of monumental blessings where I lost my job, signed away my house, and saw my former spouse for the last time. This July 22 was much less eventful. I did venture out of the apartment to go to the dentist, though, where everything checked out fine other than learning that I chipped a tooth at some point. My dentist is analytical, so she immediately went into root cause analysis to determine why I have been chipping my teeth (about the third time in the last decade). I eat way too much popcorn, it seems. Those un-popped kernels (“old maids”) will get you every time. So now, I have to sift out those old maids – since giving up popcorn is obviously not an option!

So, it has been a year of healing for me. Not only have I grown closer to Him, made my apartment into a place of calm and peace, found a new, less-stressful job, and reduced the burden of owning so much “stuff,” I have even made huge strides in bringing down the mountain of debt I accumulated during my marriage. No, my life isn’t perfect, but all is well.

I am so grateful to Jesus for being with me every step of the way and picking me up when I fall. I am also grateful to JC for being on this journey with me. Thank You, God, for such blessings.

Thank you for reading. May Jesus bless you.

Introducing Wounded Butterflies

By Snow

I know I haven’t posted in awhile, folks, and I promise to do so soon. However, I’m excited today to announce the debut of our new sister site, WoundedButterflies.com.

As JC explains in her introductory post, “Wounded Butterflies is focused on how we can navigate the ups and downs of life with a focus on Jesus. Life is tough. Jesus promised us trials (Romans 5:3), but, most importantly, He promised us His peace (Philippians 4:7).”

To find out more, finish reading “Finding Peace in Trials” over on Wounded Butterflies.

Thank you, and have a blessed day!

Credit: JC

A prayer to end spiritual distancing

Credit: Snow

By Snow

Heavenly Father,

We thank You for Jesus. We thank You for love. We thank You for spring. We thank You for this beautiful world that You created for us and that we handed over to the enemy.

Father, they shut down our schools. They shut down our workplaces. They shut down our flights. They shut down our hotel stays. They shut down our supply lines. They shut down our sports arenas. They shut down our movie theaters. They shut down our beaches. They shut down our playgrounds. They shut down access to our loved ones in the hospital.

They even shut down our churches.

But they couldn’t shut You down. You are still here with us, still bringing hope. Still healing. Still working miracles.

We lift up the medical personnel on the front lines, the grocery store workers, the delivery truck drivers, the postal carriers, the restaurant employees, the police officers, the firefighters, those that have lost loved ones, those that have lost their jobs, those that have lost their retirement funds. We lift all of them up to You, Lord.

We are all affected in some way. We lift all of us up to You, Lord – where we should have been all along.

Please carry us all through this time, Lord. Please light the way to cures, not only for this virus but for the distance that we created between humans long before anyone had heard of COVID-19. Yes, and a cure for the distance we have placed between us and You, our loving God. Please use this tragic time for good. Bring us back to You and Your Word.

We need You now more than ever.

In the precious name of Jesus we pray.

Amen

Credit: JC

“Show me the right path, O LORD; point out the road for me to follow. Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you. Remember, O LORD, your compassion and unfailing love, which you have shown from long ages past.”
Psalm 25:4-6

The walk of faith

By Snow

For my 7th birthday way back in 1982, gifts from my family included a baseball bat, glove, and ball. I was thrilled to begin learning how to play, for I had watched my older brother play in a school or recreational league in the late 1970s. I soon learned that catching and hitting a baseball was not nearly as easy as he and his friends had made it look.

In the backyard with both my brother and father, I struggled as they tried patiently (and sometimes impatiently) to teach me the basics.

I can still hear them, saying each time I swung and missed or failed to make a catch: “Keep your eyes on the ball,” as if that was the secret of the whole thing.

While the advice was confusing at first, it eventually resonated, and sure enough, with some practice, I learned how to catch and hit.

There’s a Bible story that provides similar advice to what my family gave, but about life rather than baseball. When the apostles are alone on a boat on rough seas in the early morning hours, they observe Jesus walking on the water. They are so shocked, they at first think He is a ghost, but Jesus tells them not to be afraid.

“Peter, suddenly bold, said, ‘Master, if it’s really you, call me to come to you on the water.’ He said, ‘Come ahead.’ Jumping out of the boat, Peter walked on the water to Jesus. But when he looked down at the waves churning beneath his feet, he lost his nerve and started to sink. He cried, ‘Master, save me!’ Jesus didn’t hesitate. He reached down and grabbed his hand.”
from Matthew 14:28-31

As a new believer reading through the entire Bible for the first time a couple years ago, I was not surprised that Jesus could walk on water. I had first heard this portion of the story when I was a child.

No, the surprising aspect of this story for me was that Peter walked on the water, too. Peter, who really wasn’t so different than you or me.

His faith allowed Peter to walk on the water towards Jesus, but why did he sink?

He didn’t keep his eyes on Jesus.

Instead, Peter allowed himself to be distracted by the waves and wind – by fear.

We are living in bizarre times. Fear in the form of panic is spreading much faster than the coronavirus possibly could. Fear is a weapon of the enemy, and there are those who use fear for their own means. For ratings. As power grabs. To control.

I know what it’s like to live in fear. I used to let fear control my every action. I was afraid to drive. I was afraid to speak to people. I was afraid to go places alone. I was often afraid to leave the house at all.

All of that has changed since I accepted Jesus into my life as my Lord and Savior. What Jesus didn’t immediately lift away, JC, my true love, has helped me overcome.

Virus or no virus, I will not lock myself away again. I lived too long like that. I refuse to let anxiety and fear control my life any longer. I will not give the enemy a stronghold again.

To be clear, I am not recommending being foolish. Everyone should take common sense precautions. To do otherwise would be to test God.

“You must not test the LORD your God.”
from Deuteronomy 6:16

No, what I am saying is remain calm and rational. While chaos churns around you, keep your eyes on Jesus. That really is the secret of the whole thing.

For those of us who are saved, death is not something to fear. If Jesus wants me to die of the coronavirus, then I will die of the coronavirus. Panic won’t change that either way.

I would prefer to continue living, though, for JC and I still have much to accomplish for Jesus before we go to the Perfect Place. We have only just begun – until Jesus says otherwise. He has the perfect plan, executed with perfect timing.

“Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the LORD: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him. For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease. He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection. Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night, nor the arrow that flies in the day. Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness, nor the disaster that strikes at midday. […] The LORD says, ‘I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name. When they call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honor them. I will reward them with a long life and give them my salvation.'”
from Psalm 91

Credit: Snow

While I did learn to catch and hit, I unfortunately wasn’t destined to play on any teams. I still love watching baseball in person, though, or, oddly enough, in movies like Field of Dreams.

As much as I’d like to throw the ball around with someone, I don’t have anyone to do that with these days. I think my brother has gotten too old! He never takes me up on the offer.

My glove’s ready, though. When that time comes and my number gets called, I’ll remember to keep my eyes on the ball and, most importantly, on Jesus.


Heavenly Father,

We lift up all those affected by sickness. May You heal them and bring them comfort. May You calm any hearts stricken by fear and panic. May You fill leaders at every level with wisdom and compassion; lead them to salvation or on a closer walk with You; for those who will not accept You, use them for good anyway. Please help all of us keep our eyes on Jesus.

In the blessed name of Jesus we pray.

Amen

Grateful leaps

By Snow

Something about Leap Day has always fascinated me. Perhaps it’s the uniqueness of it. No other day disappears from the calendar for three out of four years.

[Trivia Interlude: Did you know that the birthday of legendary comic book superhero Superman is often celebrated on February 29? There have actually been quite a few dates used to represent Superman’s birthday over the years, but I’ve known about this particular date since I was in high school. The reason for choosing February 29 dawned on me the other day.

Remember, according to the classic George Reeves Adventures of Superman television series and earlier sources, Superman is “faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound!”

Leap Day.

Get it?

They can’t put one past me. At least not for more than three decades. Perhaps for my next trick, I’ll figure out why Pi Day is celebrated on March 14.

I happen to know JC dislikes puns, so she won’t enjoy this portion of the post. I’d better move this along.]

Credit: JC

Every day is a blessing from God. As an “extra” day, we should use February 29 to give extra thanks to God. I have been spending Leap Day listening to gospel music, mostly Mahalia Jackson. What a gift from God she was. She passed away before I was born, yet the gift of Mahalia lives on for all of us thanks to her recordings.

Though I, of course, had heard of her long before then, I first started exploring her music three weeks ago when I was looking for a traditional version of a hymn. Her amazing voice blew me away. I’m now working my way through some of her early recordings, during her years with the Apollo label (1946-1954).

For those of you who have dropped by for the first time and are wondering what this place is all about, JC and I also today published a new page:

About Beloved Walks

Or maybe you’ve been here for awhile and are still trying to figure this place out. You can access it through the link above or clicking “About” on the main menu.

Let’s see, it’s been over a month since I’ve checked in with a post here. I had that little stretch where I was writing a post almost every day in January. That seems so long ago now.

I am enjoying and becoming more comfortable in my new job, a true blessing from Him. I am so grateful to Jesus for all of the wonderful aspects of my life.

Heavenly Father,

Thank You for the many blessings You have placed in my life. Special people, like my best friend and true love, JC. My family, even if they drive me crazy. My friends, even if I drive them crazy.

Thank You for my home, plentiful food, warm clothes, and all of Your other provisions. Thank You for love. For Your love, unconditional and eternal.

Thank You for forgiveness. For loving me despite my many faults. For helping me to trust You. For forgiving me when I don’t. For counting every tear.

Thank You for everyone that has ever visited this little blog. May they find what they seek.

In the Holy name of Jesus I pray.

Amen


“What blessings await you when people hate you and exclude you and mock you and curse you as evil because you follow the Son of Man. When that happens, be happy! Yes, leap for joy! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, their ancestors treated the ancient prophets that same way.”
Luke 6:22-23


Thank you for reading. May Jesus bless you today and every day.

I gotta close with some Mahalia this time. Bask in her light.

 Credit: Taddypoe (YouTube)

Listen to a sermon by Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr.

By Snow

Civil rights leader Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr., would have turned 91 on January 15. Today, the United States observes this hero’s birthday with a national holiday (third Monday of January). I was thinking about him today, and I thought it’d be interesting to hear a complete sermon of his. This is one I found over at the Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute at Stanford University.

Reverend King delivered this sermon on February 4, 1968, in Atlanta, Georgia – two months to the day before he was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee. Known as the “Drum Major Instinct” sermon, it took place at Ebenezer Baptist Church, the church where Reverend King was co-pastor with his father.

The sermon, which I recommend hearing in full, covers a wide variety of topics still very applicable nearly 52 years later. As its core, Reverend King uses Mark 10:35-44. James and John ask Jesus if they can sit at His right and left hands in His Kingdom. Ultimately, Jesus tells them it is not up to Him, but to His Father. When the other apostles complain about James and John’s question, Jesus also notes that the true leaders among them will serve everyone else.

As Reverend King notes in his sermon, “[W]e have some of the same James and John qualities. And there is deep down within all of us an instinct. It’s a kind of drum major instinct—a desire to be out front, a desire to lead the parade, a desire to be first. And it is something that runs the whole gamut of life.”

The sermon is only about 38 minutes, yet covers:

  • Human ego
  • Advertising
  • Compulsive-buying/keeping up with the Joneses
  • Finances
  • Crime
  • Classism
  • Church
  • Racism
  • War
  • Service
  • Jesus’ life
  • Death

As I mentioned, Reverend King was assassinated two months later. Eerily, he concludes this sermon with how he would like to be eulogized at his funeral. This would prove to be his last sermon at his home church. [Read his actual eulogy by Dr. Benjamin Mays.]

Credit: JC

I want to close out today with a couple of verses chosen by JC in Reverend King’s honor that speak to the kind of harmony that everyone should be fighting to achieve here on Earth:

“After this I saw a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb.”
from Revelation 7:9

“And I saw another angel flying through the sky, carrying the eternal Good News to proclaim to the people who belong to this world—to every nation, tribe, language, and people.”
Revelation 14:6

Thank you for reading. May Jesus bless you.

On introversion and recharging

By Snow

In yesterday’s post, I briefly mentioned introversion. I want to clarify that being an introvert is not a bad thing. For introverts like me, it is simply part of how God created us – like having brown eyes or blue eyes. The same goes for extroverts, for that matter.

I once had an extremely extroverted manager at work who seemed to view my introversion as a kind of sickness, but I completely disagree with that view. Oddly enough, we actually worked well together because our polar opposite personality types allowed us to fill the gaps of the other.

I don’t know if there are truly more extroverts in this world or if it just seems that way because they have the loudest voices. I think some natural introverts act in an extroverted fashion as their coping mechanisms, so that would also tend to increase the apparent number.

What exactly is an introvert anyway?

Despite perceptions to the contrary, we generally don’t want to lock ourselves permanently away from society in a log cabin in the mountains somewhere to write poetry or whatever – though there may be times where we feel like doing just that.

We don’t hate people. No more than any other group unfortunately does, anyway.

We don’t think we’re better than others are, though our quiet tendencies can sometimes be misinterpreted as aloofness.

We don’t feel the need to fill every moment of silence with talk, especially small talk. There is such a thing as comfortable silence. That is one way God manifests His presence among two or more people. It is hard to hear Him (or anyone) if you are always talking. The best way to listen is by being quiet.

The clearest explanation I have heard about introversion and extroversion went something like this:

  • An extrovert’s energy is drained by being alone. To recharge, she or he must be around people.
  • An introvert’s energy is drained by being around people. To recharge, she or he must be alone.
  • Both extroverts and introverts can flex as needed to various situations.

As an introvert, I am not always able to be alone when I need to recharge. For example, in the middle of a busy workday. If I see those situations coming, I try to mentally prepare myself for them. Essentially, I try to get an extra charge so that my energy (and tolerance) lasts a little longer. Beforehand, I do a lot of praying, reading of scripture, or listening to praise music.

In the middle of the situation, I also have similar mechanisms to get mini-charges until I can be alone. It only takes a few seconds to say a quick prayer in your head: “Thank You, Jesus” or even “Help me, Jesus” or one of my favorites, “Please make them stop talking, Jesus.”

You can also keep a favorite verse somewhere you can easily see it – on your phone or a notepad, for instance. If you can’t do that, then memorize one and repeat it in your head.

When JC was helping me overcome the anxiety that used to control nearly every facet of my life, she suggested I repeat “Be still and know that I am God!” in my head as soon as I began to feel anxious (from Psalm 46:10). This often calmed me.

Again, this is not to say introversion needs to be overcome, like anxiety. Far from it. Introversion can actually be a superpower when used wisely. However, introverts do have to learn to function around people without letting their batteries go completely dead.

So, find a verse or two that speaks to you and spiritually charges you, and try using them in the midst of a draining situation. Here are a few potential examples:

“Those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.”
Isaiah 40:31

“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.”
Isaiah 41:10

“When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.”
Isaiah 43:2

“Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice!”
Philippians 4:4

“He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will never be shaken.”
Psalm 62:2

“Search for the LORD and for his strength; continually seek him.”
1 Chronicles 16:11

“For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”
2 Corinthians 3:17

“For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.”
Romans 8:14

“No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Romans 8:39

Finally, here is an external article about coping with being an introvert in an extroverted world that I recommend.

May Jesus bless you. Thank you for reading.

Credit: Snow

Smile

By Snow

I don’t have an idea yet for today’s post. I guess we’ll see where things go.

I am traditionally a very introverted person. I have to make myself talk to people, rather than relying on my instinct of slinking past them and hoping they don’t see me. I have become better at talking to people since I was saved, though. That’s not to say I am some kind of expert, simply that I have improved.

One thing I have noticed is that smiling and saying “hello” to random people can often produce a smile in return. I see it as a small way of putting a little more joy into our world. The other aspect of it is the acknowledgement of “Yes, you are there, I see you.” We all too often ignore each other.

Credit: JC

Something else I have gotten into the habit of doing is saying, “Have a blessed day” instead of the more routine “Have a nice day.” I find this particularly effective when interacting with over-stressed people who work in retail or food service industries. This brings a smile 99% of the time, followed by an enthusiastic, “Thank you, you too!” Similar to above, it is a way of saying, “Yes, you are here. What you do is appreciated.”

My third example of ways to make people smile actually appeals more to my introverted side. When people do something for me or do an exceptionally good job for me, I give them handwritten thank you notes. Some of them have been pleasantly shocked by this. I also use these opportunities to include a verse of scripture. In fact, I try not to send any card without including scripture.

Thank you for reading. May Jesus bless you.


“So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”
John 13:34-35