Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Painted Puppy

Typically, I am a colorful character, but when I paint, I am more colorful than ever — and I mean that literally. A few months ago, while painting at the dining room table, I somehow managed to knock over the water can that all my brushes had been cleaned in, so there I was with a huge wet mess soaking into my jeans and into my carpet faster than the speed of light.

Knowing what a klutz I can sometimes be, it would have been wise to have thrown down a tarp or something, but I had somehow managed to convince myself that I would not make a mess. I’m not even going to splatter any paint on myself this time, I said, with an optimistic bit of denial. Looking back, I can’t even imagine why I would have ever entertained such an unrealistic notion. Had I been honest with myself in the first place, I could’ve saved myself a lot of trouble.

What to do about that bright green spot? My first thoughts were OH NO! We’re going to have to replace the carpeting! I despise stains on the carpet, yet I suppose I could live with a small, inconspicuous spot here-and-there, given that our home is well lived-in. Even so, there is simply no way that I could live with a large field of bright green in the midst of my tan carpet, despite the fact that green is my favorite color.

Then again,  I could have just splattered some white pedal shapes onto the green, then painted on some stems so that I could forever enjoy a nice field of poppies right there in my dining room (no, I’m not serious). Instead, I immediately grabbed my Bissell® Carpet Cleaner and started cleaning. I am happy to inform you that it worked! My green spot disappeared completely and my carpet returned to normal.¹

Had I waited very long, though, the stain would have set in and I would have had to devise a clever way to cover the unsightly stain since replacing the carpets would not have been financially possible at the time. Most likely, had I not gotten the stain out, I would have covered the area with a large, decorative rug. I would know what lay hidden beneath, but hopefully no one else would be the wiser.

Dear reader, you probably know where I am heading with this true, colorful tale, for it is a rather good analogy of sin.

Most of the time, we sin because we are not honest with ourselves and we convince ourselves that whatever we are getting ready to do won’t create us any problem at all. Of course, that type of thinking always gets us into trouble. And when it does, we have a big mess on our hands. We then have to make a decision to either deal with the sin immediately through repentance, thus allowing the Lord to wash our sin away, or to let the sin stay and soak in deeper. Just remember, if we choose the latter, the stain will set-in, leaving a permanent, painful mark on our souls, leaving us no choice then but to cover it up and hope no one ever gets a peek at what we have so carefully hidden.

Friends, we are at the beginning of a new year; what better time to examine our hearts and lives so that we can start this new year free from the burden of sin, giving our whole self completely to the Lord “That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word….” (Ephesians 5:26) That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish (vs 27).

As for the people in  your life, remember the old adage: You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.

When it comes to the Lord God, your Creator, you can not fool Him any of the time!

Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. (Hebrews 4:13)

¹note: I was painting with acrylics, which clean-up easily with water.  Oil paints are not so easily cleaned.

pencil lady

⇒Disclaimer: My apologies for the following advertisement, if applicable. I would like this site to be an advertisement-free site, but I have to pay a fee for this. I plan to do so in future, but for now, please know that I have nothing to do with advertisements &/or advertisement selection.

Businessman holding a paper with a prisoner behind the bars on i
Some prisons are invisible! I know because, although I have never committed a crime, nor have I ever been incarcerated, I have most assuredly felt the suffocating bondage of being imprisoned just the same.

In fact, my step-father even used the term “home prison” to describe an extended, and overly harsh, punishment for a minor violation of household rules which I committed at the ripe-old age of fifteen. For about six months I was not allowed to use the telephone, go anywhere by myself (not even outdoors for fresh air) nor visit with friends ˗not that I had any back then anyway. If that sounds like overkill to you, trust me, this kind of thing was fairly typical in my broken family.

This wasn’t my first “prison” though. Even as a child, I lived in great bondage: one of fear, doubt, humiliation and abuse. By the age of two, I was already, “damaged goods,” or so I was told. The more time passed, the more damaged I became until my only means of “escape” was to shut myself off from the rest of the world, both physically and emotionally. Of course I went to school, but that was just another prison ˗ different type, much larger. Children have a way of identifying, then assailing any other child who is weak and wounded, thus I was trapped -emotionally imprisoned- by their ridicule and torment day-after-day.

Many years later I had a miraculous encounter with my Savior, Jesus Christ [You can read about that here: His Invisible Hand] and I was truly free for a while. Even so, I would experience an entirely different kind of “prison” just a few years later, despite being a Christian.

Sitting in church one evening, long ago, my pastor made one of those sweeping comments from the pulpit that no one had ever experienced prison before and didn’t know what it was like to be locked-up, having no freedom. My body language told him I did, in fact, know that feeling; and he acknowledged my silent declaration with his own expression and slight head-shake. Clearly, he assumed I had been incarcerated in a literal prison, but as I stated previously, some prisons are invisible. Little did he know that, because of the repeated personal attacks against me and my family right there, in his cherished little church, I felt the pangs of bondage afresh; I felt imprisoned yet again, and my family had to flee from there. Thank the Lord we did! I am only sharing this because I feel someone needs to hear it. Some of you have likewise experienced hurt and bondage in the church and you need to know that you are not alone.

Before you start thinking I am slamming the church, however, let me assure you that I am not. Not every church is godly and not every person in them is a true Christian. (See this week’s Polished Pearls post). People can be deeply hurt in those flawed churches (even the good ones, for that matter), but even those kinds of wounds can be healed.

What I am proclaiming is this: God is still on the throne and He still SETS THE CAPTIVE FREE! It doesn’t matter what type your (invisible) prison is, our King has made a way of escape! (see postscript)

I have told many people over the years that if they could have seen the person I was before I came to know Jesus Christ as my Savior and compare that to the person I am now, they certainly would believe in God! Even a professed atheist would have to admit that the transformation in me was nothing short of a divine, miraculous intervention.

If only time allowed, I could share numerous testimonies of God’s miraculous intervention in the lives of others as well. I know of people who have, just this week, been healed of terminal illnesses, delivered from drugs, received much-needed funds, food and shelter, and the list goes on-and-on.

Every one of those situations was, for the person experiencing them, an invisible prison. Some never thought they would escape, but Jesus Christ showed-up and SET THE CAPTIVE FREE!

Dear friend, I don’t know what you are experiencing this week, nor do I know what challenges await you in future, but I do know there is an answer –His name is Jesus! Whether you steadfastly pray, or whether you have never prayed one single prayer in your life, I want to encourage you to call upon Jesus. He still answers prayers, and He is still performs miracles!

Finally, I want to share one more thing, because, again, I feel that someone needs to hear it. Several years after having accepted Jesus as my Savior I prayed and asked that all-too-familiar question: WHY? Why had He allowed me to suffer so much pain and trauma in my life. He never answered my question, but He did speak clearly: “I cried every tear with you.”

Dear reader, like me, you may never understand why certain things happened in your life; why God allowed you to go through certain difficulties, but you can be sure of this, you weren’t alone. The important question is not why certain things happened, but rather, are you willing accept God’s working in your life and trust Him no matter what. I truly hope you will.

“There is nothing a man can do to liberate himself if his time of divine liberation has not come. But when the time comes, nothing can stop it.” -B. Olurotimi

 

postscript:  This author is, in no way, suggesting that the Lord God  will miraculously release someone from a lawful incarceration.  Obviously He could (and did in times past for certain innocent Christians who were locked-up for no other reason than their faith in Jesus Christ), but God is as just as He is merciful, requiring mankind to be accountable for their actions.  If someone is incarcerated for their crimes, they should, and will, serve their sentence.  However, if they place their trust in Jesus Christ, and repent of their sins, He can give them a peace which passes all understanding, no matter how long they are incarcerated.  Moreover, Jesus can save, heal, and deliver from all emotional bondage any time, any place, even prison.

Barking enraged shepherd dog outdoors

Our outdoor dog raised quite a ruckus at about two o’clock this morning. Clearly, someone (or something), was in the yard because she was loudly sounding her full-out intruder alert; ready to attack. As three of us hurried outside to confront this unseen foe, I couldn’t help but think how foolish a person would have to be to jump a fence and prowl around a yard that housed a German Shepherd –and yes, there are guard dog signs up to warn any would-be intruders.

Oddly, our girl kept running in and out of the pool yard in full-attack mode, but she didn’t tear into anyone. Clearly she wasn’t after a coon or a possum because she has a distinctly different bark for those. Her bark is also different when alerting us to people on the road just outside our property. No, this was different —more vicious— but it didn’t seem that anyone was in the yard after all.

At first I was puzzled. Then I saw it, MOVEMENT! And to be honest, I chuckled. Had our dog been as tall as me, she might have figured out what the movement was; but she is only half my height, so the top of the (above ground) pool is way above her head. From the porch she could see the pool float moving about in the current, but she could only see the pillow portion, and that on the dark side of the pool.

Normally we don’t leave floats or toys in the pool so the sight, more specifically the movement, would certainly have been alarming for our ever-vigilant watch dog. Had I taken the float out, as per our custom, I might have spared our household, and probably three others, from being disturbed in the middle of the night, but I’ll just chalk it off as a lesson learned and hope the neighbors didn’t mind the urgent barking too much —better safe than sorry, after all.

After loving on our girl for awhile, I patted her on the head and told her what a good job she was doing then came inside to wind down before going back to bed. As I sat in my chair, this scripture came to mind:

Abstain from all appearance of evil. I Thessalonians 5:22

Our dog doesn’t really avoid every appearance of “evil,” She attacks it head-on. To her way of thinking, any creature, two-legged or four, that enters her yard, is an enemy to be slain.

If only God’s children would have kept that attitude in regards to compromise, I thought, this country might still be a Christian nation. But sadly, we have let too many evils creep in —into our churches, our society, our culture—because we didn’t recognize those evils for what they truly were. We also made too many compromises with many of the more subtle evils in our attempt to reach the unchurched with the Gospel. Sure, we meant well, but rather than succeeding in pulling people up, we slowly, but surely, allowed our own standards of holiness to be lowered, both in our churches and in our nation.

I have, over the course of time, asked several pastors the following question: Does the end (higher church attendance) ever justify the means (seeker-friendly gimmicks) if the means violates God’s instruction? I have yet to hear a pastor answer no. “Yes,” they say. “So long as we are getting people into the church, God will understand.” I DISAGREE! Why? Our god told us to abstain from the very appearance of evil. He tells us from cover-to-cover in our Bibles that we are absolutely forbidden from mixing the holy with the profane. If our church services look more like worldly concerts or pep rallies, we must ask ourselves if we are being obedient to God’s word. There are other examples I could use as well, but you get the point.

Where do we draw the line? You may ask. Well, if we don’t know the answer to that question, perhaps it is time for us to pray until we do. Meanwhile, it would be in our best interest to be on full-out intruder alert when it comes to even the appearance of evil. True, we may sometimes bark at something that isn’t truly a danger, but again, it is better to be safe than sorry. If we, God’s people, don’t stand up for what is right, who will? Friends, when it comes to sin and evil, let us learn a lesson from our canine protectors and attack them head-on!

As I always say, the people who care the most are they who care enough to speak the truth; in love, of course.

pencil lady

⇒Disclaimer: My apologies for the following advertisement, if applicable. I would like this site to be an advertisement-free site, but I have to pay a fee for this. I plan to do so in future, but for now, please know that I have nothing to do with advertisements &/or advertisement selection.

caring hands cropped

A Stroke of Providence

One-hundred-fifty years ago or so, Charles Spurgeon penned the following words: “I would go to the deeps a hundred times to cheer a downcast spirit. It is good for me to have been afflicted, that I might know how to speak a word in season to one that is weary.” Heaven knows I have been afflicted more times than I can even recall, yet little did I know when I posted Spurgeon’s words one month ago that  they would be somewhat prophetic for what was soon to come; a mild stroke was on the horizon.

The emergency room doctor seemed very nonchalant about the whole thing. In all fairness, however, the waiting rooms were packed, and the good doctor did look like he had already been worn clean smooth, as they say in the south. A few questions and the compulsory, “Be sure to follow-up with your physician,” and off he went.

My physician seemed equally indifferent. Stroke damage is irreparable, he explained. When one has a stroke, that part of the brain that was damaged doesn’t ever come back to life. He also explained the probability for a future occurrence (which I don’t accept), prescribed a drug that “might” help lessen the odds, and sent me on my way.

Irreparable, my foot, I said to myself as I exited the building; I will come out on-top of this thing —watch me!

The damage was certainly noticeable, but not nearly as bad as it could have been. For a period of two weeks or so, I sounded like Porky the Pig. By way of explanation for international readers, Porky is a cartoon character who st-st-st-stutters. My thoughts were somewhat intact, but I couldn’t get my words to come out clearly for the life of me. What frustrated me the most, aside from not being able to clearly communicate, was that my left arm, which throbbed most of the time, lost all strength and tended to draw-up on me. There were other problems too, like migraines and repeated face numbness, but I kept reminding myself that God was still on His throne and that “this [challenge] too shall pass.”

I’m not taking the drug. As providence would have it, my family has been, for years, under the care of one of the best alternative wellness providers in the nation, a man who also happens to be one of the most godly men I know. He was, and is, working closely with me to find the root cause so that this doesn’t happen again. [Thanks again, Dr. Ben, I greatly appreciate you.]

I am also doing my part to expedite my healing. I reminded my body that I am more than a conqueror through Christ, my Lord (Romans 8:37) and I let my body know in no uncertain terms that I was going to call the shots, and not the other way around.

Day after day, I fumbled through tongue-twisters and other recitations, in order to force my thoughts and speech to connect. I also forced my arm to move, and work, even when it didn’t want to. It wasn’t always easy. I knocked a lot of things over, and spilled a lot, but still I persisted.

There is much more that I could say about this whole ordeal, but for time’s sake, I will jump to the good news; then share a few additional thoughts.

It has been just shy of one month since I had the stroke and I am currently feeling pretty good, almost back to normal. My speech may still have a few glitches in it, but I sound like myself again. My arm almost has full range of motion again, doesn’t throb and is regaining its strength, and the headaches are diminishing. God is faithful and He has acted on my behalf! I realize I still have a way to go, but I also know that He will continue to see me through. He who has begun a good work will be faithful to complete it.

And now, I want to share something interesting. In that first week or so following my trip to the emergency room, while I was st-str-struggling to get most words out, I could recite Scripture verses almost flawlessly. I marvel that the Word of God is more a part of me, than the very blood coursing through my veins.

I shared with my husband, through broken words, what was happening and how awesome I thought it was that my inner-spirit was not affected the way my body was. On the contrary, at a time when I could have easily been downcast, my faith effortlessly rose-up  in leaps and bounds.

My precious Lord showed me so many times, and in so many ways, through all of this that He was right there with me, communing with me, strengthening me. I had trouble remembering simple things, yet I easily remembered a great many verses to those old, beautiful hymns —verses that I hadn’t heard in many years. The Lord spoke to me, through those old hymns, especially. Song after song played through my mind effortlessly, as though I had  heard them only yesterday.

My theme song for those first few weeks was selected for me by my Heavenly Father. Time after time, I found myself singing or humming, Great is Thy Faithfulness.¹

“Great is Thy faithfulness!” “Great is Thy faithfulness!”
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—
“Great is Thy faithfulness,” Lord, unto me!

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

I am not sharing all of this with you, dear reader, to boast of my spirituality —God forbid! No, I am sharing this with you to remind each and every one of you of God’s faithfulness. In fact, the song above was penned by Thomas Obediah Chisholm, a man whose health was so fragile that he was often confined to bed for long periods of time. The greatest hymns, it seems, were often penned by those who daily relied on God’s faithfulness to see them through great struggles and challenges.

Finally, dear reader, may I say that I do not believe that it is the Lord’s desire that His children suffer. I do, however, believe that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28). I also believe that God can help us to draw upon our own experiences of suffering and trials in such a way that we can, in turn, be a blessing to others. Charles Spurgeon certainly understood that through our own afflictions, we gain the empathy to speak a word in season to another that is weary. May we follow in his footsteps.

¹Great is Thy Faithfulness. Words by Thomas Obediah Chisholm. 1923

fear not

flood

Where have I been for the last few months, you might ask? Truthfully, I have been battling a rather serious health issue; one that has knocked me down more than once, but rest assured, I’m not down for the count. In fact, I plan to resume blogging now, despite my weakened condition. But first, I want to share a post from my archives because it seemed very appropriate amid the physical and emotional storms that so many are facing. I will share this post both here, and on my Polished Pearls page, but check back soon because no matter what, God’s mercies are too great to keep silent and I will, Lord willing, be adding new posts to both sites very soon.

Today, as I gazed upon the brightest, most beautiful sky that I have seen in weeks, I couldn’t help but think of those living in flood-ravaged areas; and right now, there are plenty of those. I also wept for a few dear friends who are going through some very devastating storms in their personal lives. It seems that so many of us are going through heavy storms of one type or another. Don’t give up, friends, even when those storms seem to come against you………..

LIKE A FLOOD

Sometimes God calms the storm. Sometimes He lets the storm rage and calms His child.

This past weekend, the weather here was horrendous. We were hit with the whole gamut of storm threats, including tornadoes, hail and flooding. In fact the hail stone pictured –or should I say hail boulder- was one of many that pounded this region. There was quite a bit of property loss in our area, but praise the LORD, there were no serious injuries.

hail

I thought of the second half of Isaiah 59:19: When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him. However, the ancient Hebrew texts did not have commas, or paragraphs for that matter, so instead of reading:

When the enemy shall come in like a flood —the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him

the verse could just as easily read

When the enemy shall come in —like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him.

What’s the difference? The difference is where you place the emphasis. Dear reader, when you are bombarded with the storms of life, do you focus more on the storm, or on the one who can calm it?

It is only natural to feel completely overwhelmed at times. Undoubtedly, many of the folks here that lost their homes in the tornadoes felt that way. I’m sure they could relate to the words of King David  when he penned the following:

My heart is in anguish within me;
the terrors of death have fallen on me.
Fear and trembling have beset me;
horror has overwhelmed me.
I said, “Oh, that I had the wings of a dove!
I would fly away and be at rest.
I would hurry to my place of shelter,
far from the tempest and storm.
Psalm 55:4-8 NIV

But David didn’t stop there, allowing his situation to flood him with despair. Instead, he confidently proclaimed, “As for me, I will call upon God; and the LORD shall save me” (verse 16).

Dear reader, I leave you with these encouraging words from the same Psalm; may they flood you with peace during your roughest storms.

“Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved (verse 22).

(Like a Flood originally posted April 2012)

cardinal snowglobe

Can you guess which Super Bowl team I’m rooting for? Sorry, that was a trick question, because I don’t care for football in the least. I have come to appreciate the sport more in the last few months, though, because few things put me to sleep faster. My husband can watch his game and I can snooze away; that’s what I call a win-win.

However, Super Bowl Sunday does have one thing going for it. This is my oldest daughter’s birthday. I guess that’s why she exudes enough football enthusiasm for the both of us.

Each year, she has at least three birthday wishes: First, for a Dairy Queen ice cream cake, second that the Denver Broncos win the game, and third that it snow. The Broncos aren’t playing this year, but she likes the Seattle Seahawks, so hopefully she won’t be too disappointed –go Seattle!

As for the snow, there wasn’t enough to stick, but at least we got some. Last year there wasn’t so much as a flake, yet my husband and I made sure that my daughter had snow for her birthday. Seeing that it was her twenty-first, we wanted it to be very special for her.

We sprayed the windows and doors with artificial snow and wrote a unique message in the middle of it all. She was delighted! In fact, the snow and the Dairy Queen ice cream cake would have been enough to keep her happy meter overflowing for a few days, but it was her gift that brought the most joy. Why, because it was a gift from the heart –one that was very carefully thought-out and very personal.

After much searching, we finally found the perfect snow globe; an ornate, musical globe that featured a cardinal, which my daughter also loves. We had the following words engraved on the base:

For our beautiful Rachel, that you may always have snow on your birthday.

She cried tears of joy!

Today, as I carried her ice cream cake through the snow, I couldn’t help but smile at the thought that my daughter is having another lovely birthday. She is celebrating with friends at present, but soon she will be home enjoying her cake while chattering on about her day, and I will cherish every moment, for some day she will be married and have children of her own and I won’t always get to see her on her special day.

That is another reason her daddy and I wanted to give her a very special keepsake for her twenty-first birthday; so she would have a little piece of our heart with her every year and always remember how very treasured she is, and how blessed we are to have such a beautiful daughter. In fact, my husband and I have been blessed with four precious gifts from Heaven, and we are so proud of each and every one of them.

Today, while millions of people are gathering around their television sets to cheer on their favorite teams, I am thankful to have given birth on Super Bowl Sunday all those years ago, and I am mindful that the most important teams in life are those whom God has given us, whether they be family or friends. Bearing that in mind, I called my mother and chatted with her for a while.

What about you dear reader? Whether you cheered on a Super Bowl team, or snuggled up next to your sweetheart on the couch and snoozed, did you take time today to really root for your home team –and by home team I don’t mean football?

When is the last time you looked a loved one in the eyes and told them point-blank, I love you, and I appreciate you? There’s no better time than the present. Well, it is Super Bowl Sunday, so I guess you could wait till half-time if they’re watching the game (if you’re reading this now, you probably aren’t), but whenever you take the time to do so, I guarantee you, it will be a win-win!

pencil lady

⇒Disclaimer: My apologies for the following advertisement, if applicable. I would like this site to be an advertisement-free site, but I have to pay a fee for this. I plan to do so in future, but for now, please know that I have nothing to do with advertisements &/or advertisement selection.

In loving tribute to my dear friend, Barbara “Hugs” Hammond, who crossed into eternity January 7, 2015

barbara.11

Everyone needs to have some “hugs” in their life. I am so grateful that Barbara was mine for so many years. 

*******************

fried worms 3

Years ago, while I was still single, I served as an assistant manager for a rather large truck stop restaurant. One particular evening, while the place was unusually noisy and crowded, a rather weary family arrived.

One look at the parents’ faces told me that the day had already been very taxing for them and chaos was the last thing they needed. while I couldn’t do much about that at the time, I determined to ease the situation any way I could. Although it took some effort, I seated them more quickly than they had expected.

“I’ll go ahead and take your order,” I offered. “As you can see, all of our waitresses are swamped and I don’t want you to have to wait too long; you look exhausted.”

“Bless you,” the mother exhaled as she melted onto her chair. “We have been driving all day and to be honest, the whole trip has been one big nightmare! All we want to do is eat a good hot meal and then get home as quickly as possible so we can sleep in our own beds.”

After hurriedly scanning the menu, she asked her youngest son if he knew what he would like to eat. “FRIED WORMS!” he insisted. That was cute enough the first time but after the fourth time his parents were irate and very close to applying the board of education to the seat of learning right there in that dining room.

“Just bring us all a cheeseburger and fries please.”

I certainly didn’t know what it was like to deal with an obstinate child like that. But his mother’s face said it all, and I was determined to help her out just a bit. Did I mention that I was somewhat prankish when I was younger?

Returning from the kitchen a short time later, I walked over and placed a heaping plate of chewy little treats before the annoying little worm lover. His insolence quickly changed to anxiety. “Wha – what is that?”

“Fried worms,” I answered slyly. “That’s what you asked for, and we always try to make our customers happy.”

Even his parents looked a little nervous, they didn’t have a clue what I was up to but they could tell from my impish grin that they should just play along, and so they did. “You ordered those.” his father said sternly, “Now you eat them- all of them!” The boy didn’t move, though, because his body was rigid with disbelief and probably nausea at the thought of eating fried worms for real.

“Are those really worms?” his older brother asked hesitantly.

“Of course,” I answered. “And they’re pretty tasty; you should try one.”

He was a bit skeptical, though obviously a tad more daring. He slowly raised one to his mouth and ever so gingerly bit the end off of the critter. All eyes were fixed on him as a smile gradually overtook him. “Hey- these are good!” His father agreed.

Little Mr.” I want fried worms!” was not convinced, but after a bit of parental persuasion he finally braved his first bite. His eyes grew wide again, this time from surprise; he actually liked the worms very much. By this time everyone was munching on them and they polished off the whole basket-full in no time.

As the family was leaving, the boy’s mother hung back and quietly asked me what I had fed her family; she honestly didn’t have a clue. “I know they weren’t real worms,” she confessed, “but they really looked like they were.”

The stress that this woman had upon arrival had long since melted away, and she and I both shared a good laugh when I explained that her son had just tasted his first deep-fried clam strips. “Well, you sure taught him a lesson,” she said with great satisfaction. Then, with every ounce of motherly appreciation she could muster, she thanked me and left to rejoin her husband and children, who were hopefully better behaved for the remainder of their journey.

Interestingly, I was really trying to teach that little boy a lesson, yet I learned an important lesson as well. That incident helped me to realize that I was a lot like that boy. There were so many times I had wanted something so badly that I pitched a fit till I got it, only to find in the end it wasn’t really what I wanted after all. And the opposite was true also. There were times when I could not see what wonderful blessings were right there in front of me.

One such example was my friend whom I  lovingly called “Hugs.” I had only known this woman a short time before she felt inclined to give me a big ole’ bear hug. “You needed that,” she informed me. I really wanted to respond with “No, I didn’t, but you need this – SMACK!” Back then I still had a lot of emotional healing to do and I was not at all comfortable being hugged by someone I barely knew. I’ve changed a lot, though. I’m a lot more outgoing now, and hugs are just fine.

As time passed, I got to know “Hugs” better, yet  I still couldn’t help but think at first, “This woman really irritates me. Friendship, no thank you, I pass.” However, I had prejudged her just as the boy had with his fried worms. God had placed this woman in my life knowing what a blessing she would be, but I let my opinions get in the way and nearly rejected this precious gift.

Hugs and I were friends for nearly twenty years and she was always  there for me through the good times and bad. Her friendship was the real deal —one of those once-in-a-lifetime friendships— and I thank God that He knew what I needed even when I didn’t.

One of the most important things I have finally learned in life is that the decisions I make on my own are almost always the wrong ones. Without God’s help I often desire the things that are not in my best interest and fail to recognize those that are. But, when I pray and seek direction from my Heavenly Father through prayer and through Scripture, I can be confident that I am headed in the right direction and everything will work together for my good for the remainder of my journey.

God is greater than our heart, and knows all things.
I John 3:20

*** Postscript: I believe there are certain things which are not to be eaten, as instructed in God’s Holy Word. Clams are one of those items. This event, however, happened nearly twenty-five years ago before I came to this understanding. I thought I would clarify this for those of you who know me personally and may have wondered what on earth I was doing feeding clams to a child. I now have much better food to feed those I encounter; the Bread of Life, but I do not in any way judge or condemn anyone who has a different understanding and eats those chewy little critters.

%d bloggers like this: