Tag Archive | love

Kindness Matters

JoyForTheJourney

We live in a broken world, don’t we?

Politics are a mess … the media doesn’t always tell the truth … people are mistreated … the laws need changing … entertainment is warped … the list could go on and on and on.

We live in a broken world.

Do you want to know what I believe?

I believe that the reason God placed YOU in this world is because it is broken and it needed someone just like you to heal its brokenness.

We all know what John 3:16 days, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”

That’s a “WOW!” Scripture of the very best kind!  God loved … He gave … we believe … we live!

However – do you know what John 3:17 says?

“For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.”

Jesus didn’t come to judge us … He came to save us!

He came to save us from sin, from politics, from opinions, from waywardness, from confusion, from pain, from hatred, from war, from anger, from sickness and from death.

I also know that often He needs to save me from myself.  Isn’t that the truth?!

He came to save us and to give us a new way of living … of thinking … and of processing life!

You see, when we partner with Him in loving this broken world … miracles happen!

 

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The world doesn’t need another Christian with an opinion – it needs a Christian who will be kind.

The world doesn’t need another religious person to judge it – it needs a gentle word and a loving smile that will serve as a source of encouragement.

This doesn’t mean that we accept the sin and gloss over the compromise – what it means is that we are kind in spite of it.

Your opinions will never change this world – but your joy might change it!

Your judgment will never revolutionize this world – but your heartfelt goodness might do the job!

Your negativity will never deliver this world – but your kindness might make an impact!

Can I tell you a story?

I’ll try to make it short and I really don’t mean to glorify anything that I have done … I just want to remind you that kindness matters.  It matters very, very much.

It was the summer of 1996 and our family home was on a busy street in a small town in North Carolina.  I would often sit on the porch while my boys played basketball in the driveway and while my little girls decorated the sidewalk with all kinds of amazing chalk designs.

One day while we were outside enjoying an August afternoon, I noticed two young men walking up our driveway. I immediately recognized them as Mormons because of the way they were dressed and due to their clean-cut appearance.

I judged them before they even opened up their mouths.

They chatted with my boys for a while about Michael Jordan and about who was going to have the better team that year – UNC or Duke – and then they marveled over my daughters’ sidewalk masterpieces.

I knew that I was next.

As they paused on the front steps, I pondered what to say to these two boys whose belief system was so very different from mine.

They smiled and introduced themselves and asked if they could have a minute of my time.

Being the softie that I am, I said, “Sure! Join me on the porch.”

While they were settling themselves, I went into the house and brought ice-cold lemonade out for my five children and for these two young men.

It also gave me a minute to pray.

After I came out with red plastic cups and with store-bought cookies, I settled myself back on the porch swing and let them take a gulp or two of the refreshing beverage.

I chatted with them for a few minutes about where they were staying, where they were from and how hot it was in North Carolina in the summer time.

I then took a deep breath and then said, “Look – I know that you are Mormons and that you have come to talk to me about your faith and to try to convince me to believe like you do.  But I never will.  I believe that Jesus Christ is the only Son of God and the Savior of the world.  I believe that He died on the cross to forgive me from my sins and that it was a complete work.

I really don’t want to argue or debate with you but I know that you are far away from your moms and I am a mom.  So – if you need anything while you are here – let me know. If you need to do laundry, or need advice or just want to hang out with a rowdy family – you are welcome here.”

One of the boys looked at me and sheepishly said, “Can you give us the name of a dentist? I have a really bad toothache and don’t know what to do about it.”

I got up from the porch and called our family dentist who was also a believer and made an appointment for the young man who was far away from home. I also told the dentist what my strategy was and told him to bill us for the appointment.  My sweet dentist said, “Carol – you can’t afford to do that.  The first appointment will be on me and then we will see what we can work out.”

The young men left that afternoon after shooting a few hoops with my boys and I assured them that they were always welcome to just stop by.

After that afternoon, I often saw them on their bikes, in the grocery store and just around town. They would engage with my children and would always chat for a minute or two with their North Carolina mom.

Then Hurricane Fran hit my small town during the first week of September.

We were without power for over a week while other parts of the community didn’t regain power for nearly a month. My town looked like a war zone with trees scattered all over streets, houses and cars.

One day, shortly after our power came back on, my two young friends from Utah came walking up our driveway.  They looked hot and bedraggled.  When they told me that they still didn’t have power and wondered if they could do a load of laundry, we welcomed them into the cool of our delicious air-conditioned home.

They did their laundry, took showers in the kids’ bathroom and then I fed them dinner right along with our kids.  We didn’t talk about religion or about differences but they told us about their younger brothers and sisters. We laughed and talked and ended the evening with a rousing game of Uno.

Several days later these boys appeared at my front door again with notes from their moms thanking me for being kind to their boys.

I never saw them again. But I was honored to love these boys who were so very different from me.  It was the plan of God for me to be kind to these young men whose worldview was in direct contrast to mine.

I don’t know if they ever came to Christ or not but what I do know is that their world was touched by the love and compassion of a believer.

Oh – I could have argued with them!  I could have put them in their place theologically but I felt called to love them in spite of our differences. Sometimes words are cheap but actions will always be priceless.

This world may seem broken to you and to me but it becomes a place of miracles and of wonder when we respond like Jesus would respond.

 

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So – rather than spew opinions on Facebook this week … just be kind.

Rather than judge your neighbors … be good to them.

Rather than criticize the media … pray for them.

Restore the wonder to this broken world!  It is, after all, what Jesus would do and it is why you are here!

We live in a wonderful world simply because you and Jesus are in it!

Thanks for listening to my heart this week.  As you know by now, my heart is truly not a perfect heart but it is a heart that is filled to overflowing with gratitude for the life I have been given and for the people who walk with me.  And, it continues to be a heart that is relentlessly chasing after God and all that He is!

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This is the Time

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The days pass by so quickly, don’t they?  Just like that … there goes another one!

It seems like just yesterday that it was Christmas … and today we stand on the brink of sunshine, dandelions and Popsicle weather!

In my life, it seems as if the seasons have passed more quickly than the speed of light – have yours?

Surely I was just an enthusiastic teen-ager last month … a homesick college freshman perhaps a fortnight ago … a young bride last week … and certainly it was only yesterday morning that I was enjoying a quiver full of children in my home!

Today, my nest is empty, I have been married for 4 glorious decades and my delightful grandchildren are scattered from coast to coast.

The nerve of those children of mine … growing up and leaving me!

However … let me let you in on a little secret … my heart still feels like it is barely 26 … or maybe 28 … or at the very oldest … 32.

The date on my birth certificate somehow doesn’t match the grains of sand that have fallen through the sandglass of my heart.

When I look in the mirror – I still don’t see wrinkles even though they are there.  I continue to see potential.

When I get up in the morning … my joints might be a little slower to respond to life than they used to be … but after a few minutes of stretching there remains a spring in my step and purpose in my gait.

When I face another birthday … I don’t dread the coming year but I am just so thankful to be alive!

 

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Time … I must admit that I endure a “love-hate” relationship with you!

There is something about the measuring cup of “time” that seems to empty far too quickly for my liking.

How can my measuring cup of time already be more than half empty?! Where did it all go?

I think that the reason that this entity known as “time” is such a conundrum to human beings is because we weren’t made for time – we were made for eternity.

“Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.” – Ecclesiastes 3:11 – NIV

The world that we live in is our temporary home not our permanent destination.

The outer shell that we call our “body” wasn’t made to last forever – it was made to last for several decades but not for forever.

However, our hearts were fashioned for eternity!

The deepest, most precious part of our temporary life was made for eternity! What joy there is in that particular piece of knowledge!

No wonder there is a dis-connect between me and time … between life and time … between the memories that I have made and the commodity known as time!

I was made for eternity and for all the glory that it offers.

I wasn’t made for time but time was made for me by the God of eternity!

God has given me the majestic gift of time as a tasty hors d’oeuvres that only precedes all of eternity.

God, the Father, delivered the asset known as “time” to His creation in order to bequeath us with the priceless opportunity of choosing Him before we get to eternity.

Of serving Him! Of knowing Him! Of loving Him! Of worshiping Him!

 

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Time was meant to prepare me for eternity … and so I must spend every day, as the hourglass quickly sifts through its allotted amount of sand, in pursuit of eternity!

In pursuit of Him!

“But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” – II Peter 3:8

I believe that as I involve myself in eternal pursuits that the Lord will grant me 1,000 years of impact in just a 24-hour period!

I believe that I am not a captive of time but that I have been made in the very image of the God of eternity!

No wonder I don’t “get” time … I was never meant to understand it or embrace it.

Time might say that I have been living over 6 decades … but God says that I ain’t seen nothin’ yet!

God says that I have only just begun to splash in His joy … dive into His hope … and taste His abundance!

There is definitely more of life ahead of me than behind me! So let’s get on with it … let’s get on with the business of tasting eternity this side of heaven.

Thanks for listening to my heart this week.  As you know by now, my heart is truly not a perfect heart but it is a heart that is filled to overflowing with gratitude for the life I have been given and for the people who walk with me.  And, it continues to be a heart that is relentlessly chasing after God and all that He is!

Just One Thing…

Just One Thing blog pic 1Is it just me?  Or have you noticed a particular trend on social media?

5 Foods Never to Eat after the Age of 45

9 Things Extremely Successful People Do After Work

20 Things every Twenty-something Should Know How to do

7 Things You Totes Need to Stop Saying If You’re Over 30

5 Things Super Successful People do Before 8 AM

 Are you overwhelmed yet?  Would you read ANY of these lists and actually believe that the insight could change your life in any significant way?!

What other lists are out there with the guarantee to change some aspect of your obviously less than perfect life?  How about these …

 37 Things You’ll Regret When You’re Old

 10 Things Successful People Do on Monday Mornings

 23 Signs You Are Secretly An Introvert

 36 Things That Are Going to Make You Feel Ancient

 18 Things Everyone Should Start Making Time for Again

 It’s true … I spotted all of these condescending, brilliant, too-good-to-be true lists on Facebook in a 24-hour period.

I timed myself.

When I realized that I saw this hysterical trend developing, I decided to make my own lists of lists.

There I sat … paralyzed by the glow from my computer screen with a pen and piece of notebook paper beside me.  Every time a new list popped up, I read and documented said list.

For 24 hours I made my own list of the epidemic lists that I saw posted on social media.  And what you have read today is the kind of stuff that my desperate friends were posting.  Oh … but I’m not done yet …

 10 Reasons I Keep My House Clean

 5 Ways to Be Unsatisfied with Your Church

 10 Marriage Tips Every Wife Needs to Hear

 20 Things My Mom Was Right About

 6 Harsh Truths That Will Make You A Better Person

You are either highly frustrated right now … feel like a miserable failure knowing that you will never amount to anything at all … or … like me … you are laughing hysterically!!

Can you do it … can you read just a few more of the titles of lists that I discovered on social media?  And then I will get to my point … I promise!

Top 10 Mistakes Christian Parents of Teens Make

32 Cheap and Easy Backyard Ideas that are Borderline Genius

10 Things Successful People Do Differently To Reach Their Dreams

But I have saved the very best for last:

2014 Is Going To Be My Year Now That I Know These 89 Genius Solutions to Simple Problems

Stop gagging RIGHT NOW … because I have one significant thing to say to you!

All you really need is Jesus.  All you really need is more of Him and more of His presence. 

For me, this has never been and will never be a get-rich quick scheme or a religious platitude.  It is not a spiritual band-aid nor is it a condescending panacea.

Knowing Jesus gives me a life bigger than life.  Spending time in His dear presence is all I need to battle any giant … move any mountain … or discover any wisdom or truth.

Spending my life knowing Him … loving Him … giving to Him … talking to Him … listening to Him … is better than any diet, any idea, any worldly solution or any regret that I will encounter this side of eternity.

“One thing have I asked of the Lord and that shall I seek; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord and to meditate in His temple.” – Psalm 27:4

If you want me to make it practical for you … let me put it this way …

In 2014, whether you are a teen-ager or just one breath away from eternity, open your Bible and enjoy His presence, His power and His wisdom.

Whether you are the mother of 19 kids and counting … or are experiencing the lonely pain of an empty nest … or are walking through the wilderness of infertility … what you need to help you get through these days is the joy that is found in the Word of God.

Whether you make a six-figure income or are standing in line for your next unemployment check, your validation in life will come from knowing Him and not from what you do or do not earn.

In 2014, whether you are married or single … divorced or planning the wedding of your dreams … a widow or on your honeymoon … what you need to feel unconditionally loved,  is to know His love that surpasses all others.

If we are going to number anything at all, the Bible tells us to number our days and apply our hearts to wisdom.

“So teach us to number our days that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” – Psalm 90:12

What does it mean in to “number our days”?  The Hebrew word for “number” is the word “manah” and it means to “count, number assign, prepare or tell”.

Rather than reading the noxious lists on Facebook or Twitter, why don’t we spend our days numbering our days?

Buy a calendar for the new year … and begin to fill its pages with what God has shown you … what you have planned … what you long to accomplish with your life … scriptures to memorize … people who need encouragement … books to read … books to write … the lyrics of songs that have touched you.  The possibilities are endless!

When the calendar year then turns to 2015, you will have a diary of all that happened of significance in your life during 2014.  You will look back and see the hand of God and hear His voice every day of the calendar year.  You will have numbered your days in the very best way possible!

I have always loved eavesdropping on conversations that Jesus had with those He loved while He was on planet earth.  One afternoon, He had a teaching moment with 2 women by the name of Martha and Mary.  They were sisters but oh!  So completely different from one another … as sisters often are!

Martha was the type-A girl … she got the job done!  There was no mountain of laundry she couldn’t tackle, no crowd of men she couldn’t feed and no person whom she wouldn’t boss around.  She was one take-charge, intimidating glob of estrogen!

Mary was the quieter sister … perhaps an introvert … who had found great meaning and sustenance by simply sitting at the feet of Jesus.  It might not have seemed like she accomplished very much …  but perhaps, in reality, she had learned the secret of numbering her days.

But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part which shall not be taken away from her.” – Luke 10:41 & 42

My prayer for you in 2014 is that you will number your days not read lists.  I pray that you will choose the one thing that will make your life count for eternity.  I pray that you will know the One to Whom everyone and everything else will someday bow.

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Going the Distance

Carol Wedding 1Sunday afternoon, July 31, 1977.

Alabama United Methodist Church.  Alabama, NY.

8 bridesmaids in 8 different colors.  Gardenias in their hair and parasols in their hands.

8 groomsmen in white tuxedos with colorful vests and bow ties that matched the popsicle colors of the bridesmaids.

My girlhood dreams were about to come true.  I had met my prince charming with sparkling blue eyes, a southern accent and a call to ministry.  My life was complete.

I’ll never forget walking down the aisle on that 90 degree summer afternoon.  There was no air conditioning in our colonial church building and the sweat was running down the back of my perfect dress.

I looked at my dad’s face and he had a single tear rolling down his handsome cheek.

He gave me to the man who would protect me, provide for me, love me, encourage me and sacrifice for me.

Craig and I had just graduated from Christian college; we had the stability of being raised in loving, Christian homes and now were about to Carol Engagement picembark upon our own adventure.

Little did we know that life would not be perfect … our love would be challenged but it would endure … and that our faith in the God of our parents would be enough.  Our faith would always be more than enough.

On that day, July 31, 1977, there was no possible way that Craig and I could comprehend the devastation of losing 5 babies … the financial challenges that would bring us to our knees … a depression that paralyzed me for nearly a decade … and the gut-wrenching, painful challenges of ministry.

On that day, July 31, 1977, there was no possible way that Craig and I could comprehend the unspeakable joy of raising 5 healthy children for the Kingdom of God … that we would see the provision of God time after time after time … that the power of the Word of God would deliver this wife from a deep and dark depression into the joy of His presence … and that the genuine call to ministry at this moment in history made life worth living.

What have I learned in 36 years of marriage?  Lessons that could fill at least one book and probably more!  However, in honor of our 36th anniversary, I’ve decided to limit my list to the 36 top lessons that I have learned.

These are the lessons would I like to share with all of the brides of 2013 … and anyone else who would care to listen.

36 Lessons from a Marriage that Is Going the Distance

1 – It really is more fun to forgive.  The first one to forgive always wins.  Always.

2 – Marriage is the greatest lesson in dying to self that you will ever encounter.

3 – He wasn’t made for you … you weren’t made for him … but you were both made for Christ.

4 – Laugh together.  Tease one another. love

5 – Marriage does not make you happy.  Only Jesus can make you happy.

6 – Kindness is the greatest gift you can give your spouse.  Kind words, kind actions, kind heart attitudes are the most valuable commodities in building a relationship that will go the distance.

7 – Be faithful not only in your actions but also in your words and thoughts.  Never use the words “divorce” or “separation”.  Never think to yourself in a fit of anger, “Well, I’m just going to leave him.”  Faithfulness begins in your mind and is out-sourced to your words and actions.

8 – If you want to build a great marriage, be a servant.  Never underestimate the power of serving your spouse day after day … week after week … year after year.

9 – You can’t afford NOT to go on dates.  Go out for coffee.  Switch baby-sitting duties with another young couple who can’t afford a babysitter.  Play tennis.  Go for a walk.  Go to the library and read magazines together. Pack a picnic lunch and take a ride through the country.  Dates don’t have to be expensive to be valuable.

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10 – Never talk about your spouse in a negative manner in front of your friends, your children or your parents.  Always say positive, encouraging things about your spouse in his presence and behind his back.

11 – Find an older couple who can mentor you through life’s issues.  Invite them into your home for dinner.  Ask them questions.  Ask them to speak into your life and into your marriage.  Imitate their strengths. couple

12 – Don’t complain and whine … that’s what toddlers do.  If there is an issue with which you need to speak to your spouse, do it in a kind, respectful manner.

13 – Choose a song that is “your” song.  Ours is, “Through the Years” by Kenny Rogers.  Every time I hear it, my heart melts all over again.

14 – Pray together.  Pray about your finances and your children.  Pray about your destiny and your health.  Pray that your minds would stay sharp and alert in all the years to come.  There is power when a couple who is committed to Christ is also committed to the power of heartfelt prayer.  Mountains will move and hell will shake as you and your spouse hold hands and agree in Jesus’ Name!

15 – Celebrate life!  Don’t be so serious that you become a kill-joy.  Plan a family picnic and play patriotic music on the Fourth of July.  Make a list of blessings and talk about them the entire month of November.  Write him a poem for Valentine’s Day.  Have the entire family participate in a March Madness Bracket and give an annual prize to the winner.

16 – Create a budget, prayer over it and stay on it.  This will eliminate so much stress in the years to come.

17 – Hold hands.

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18 – Do something special every year on your anniversary.  Don’t let it pass by unnoticed.  Go out to dinner.  Look at your wedding album.  Call the people who were in your wedding and reminisce together.

19 – Read at least one book together every year and talk about it.

20 – Tell your children what you appreciate about their mom or dad.

21 – Choose a scripture that is “your” scripture.  Ours is – “One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord and to meditate in His temple.” – Psalm 27:4

We first read that Scripture over breakfast one morning in the college cafeteria while we were dating.  That scripture was on our wedding invitation and continues to give us focus as to the purpose of our life on earth.

22 – Turn nothing into something.  Make a special meal “just because”.  Serve him breakfast in bed for no reason at all.  Linger over a cup of coffee and listen intently to the cares of his heart.

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23 – Turn something into nothing.  When he is driving you crazy, minimize it.  When he hurts your feelings, bless him abundantly!

24 – Buy him a gift for Christmas.  Craig and I went many, many years without buying one another Christmas gifts because we were so focused on our children.  How I regret it!  You don’t have to spend a lot to make it meaningful.  Buy him a gift card to his favorite coffee shop.  Buy him a t-shirt with his favorite team’s logo on it.  Buy him tickets to the new movie that just came out.

25 – Say “I’m sorry,” even when you don’t think that it is your fault.  When those 2 sincere words come out of your mouth, it diffuses the tension and erases the guilt in the atmosphere.

26 – Say “I’m sorry,” when it is your fault.  Say it quickly and humbly.

27 – When you are frustrated with your spouse for a minor offense, remind yourself of something that you are thankful for in his or her life.  Don’t rehearse and marinate in the daily little frustrations but spend more time being thankful for who they are.

28 – Tell your children the story of how you met and why you feel in love with their dad.

29 – Remind yourself that God has entrusted you with this human being’s self-esteem, the peace of their days, their home life and their heart.  God trusts you enough to allow you to partner with another human being in this treasure called “life”.

30 – Never, never, never, never give your spouse the silent treatment.  It’s cruel.

31 – Read the Bible together and separately.  Share with your spouse what you read in your quiet time that morning.  Read the Bible together as often as you can.  The Word of God truly works a miracle in marriage.

32 – Listen more than you talk.  Ask your spouse probing and interesting questions to draw him or her out.

33 – Never make fun of your spouse in public or in private.  It’s humiliating.

34 – Never correct your spouse in public.  It’s humiliating.

35 – Do something in ministry together.  Go on a missions trip.  Teach Sunday School.  Go to the nursing home and visit the patients.  Volunteer to clean the church together.  Have a missionary family in your home.  Go to the City Mission on a holiday and serve meals.  The possibilities of ministry are endless!

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36 – Say, “I love you” every single day.  Say it when you are frustrated and mad.  Say it at night and in the morning.  Send your spouse an e-mail with the words, “I love you,” in it.  Send him a text message with the words, “I love you,” in it.

Craig … just wanted to let you know how thankful I am for the man and husband that you are!  Let’s do 36 more years together!!

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36 LESSONS FOR A MARRIAGE THAT GOES THE DISTANCE!

Living to Inspire

A while back, I was stopped at a red light waiting to pull out of Wal-Mart. I noticed a homeless man in front of me holding a bucket and a sign that read, “Please help.” As I sat there those couple of minutes, I began to think about this man.

I wondered why on earth wouldn’t he just get some sort of job. He looked strong and healthy enough to work, but instead, he stood there all day asking others for help.  After awhile, I concluded that this man was simply lazy and wanted others to take care of him.

While thinking these critical thoughts about this poor man, I watched the gentleman in front of me roll down his window, smile and drop some money in the man’s bucket. When I saw this, something in me changed. Compassion welled up inside of me. Before I knew it, I too, was rolling down my window, smiling and putting money in the man’s bucket.

I no longer cared what this man had done or not done. I just wanted to be kind to this stranger. Why?  Because I was inspired by someone else’s act of kindness.  Their actions changed my outlook and my attitude. This is a simple illustration with a profound truth – we all have the ability to motivate others to do good things.

Hebrews 10:24 tells us, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” As a Texan, I know what spurs do. They are those uncomfortable nudges that cause us to move in the right direction.

God has positioned us as women to help move each other and those around us in the right direction. We are wives, moms, co-workers, friends and sisters, and our lives have incredible influence to those in our world. In doing so, it’s important to remember that it’s not all in what we say, but it’s in what we do day in and day out that makes the greatest impact.

It’s how we treat our husbands and care for our kids. It’s in how we encourage our friends and reach out to those in need.  It’s how we choose to do the right things when we feel like doing something else. It’s how we stay committed and faithful to the people and place God has called us.

Today, let me remind you of this: every day we are spurring someone on to become a better person.  If we’ll seek to motivate others, we’ll be amazed at what our right actions will produce and inspire in the lives of those in our world.

 

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Tamara Graff

Victoria, TX
Faith Family Church

http://www.faithfamilyvictoria.org

Two 4-Letter Words for Elections…

My Love/Hate Relationship with Presidential Elections

It’s an election year.  I have a love-hate relationship with presidential elections.

I love it that I live in a country where we get to vote for our next leader.  I absolutely love it!

I hate it that politics has become so ugly and divisive.  I thoroughly hate it.

I love it that I live in a country that has built an entire way of life upon the tenet of freedom of speech.  Freedom of speech is precious to me.  I am a communicator; freedom of speech affords me the privilege of writing about my convictions, talking about my belief system and holding high the Word of God.

I hate it when freedom of speech becomes nothing more than the excess of pontificating opinions birthed in half-truths and absent values.  It makes me gag.

I love it that all of America pays attention to presidential elections through the communication magic of television, the internet and radio.

I hate it that all of America is subject to the opinions spouted by the often-biased media through the relentless voices of television, the internet and radio.

I am not going to tell you how to vote. It is up to God and your conscience to advise you on which candidate deserves your vote in 2012.

However … I am going to throw two 4-letter words at you that will tell you how I really feel about this election of 2012.

PRAY!!  We must pray for our nation.  I believe that praying is more important than voting.  If Christians vote and forget to pray … we are putting all of our hope and trust in a broken system.  We must pray for America and for our leaders.  We must pray for righteous men and women to arise and to lead us.  We must pray for the media.  The media needs revival.  We must pray for young Christian men and women to infiltrate the world of media as never before.  We must pray that God would raise up a Moses … a Joshua … a Daniel at this time in America’s history.

VOTE!!  You must vote!!  Voting for our next president is a God-given privilege and honor.  If you don’t vote, you are placing the future of America in the hands of those who are not being led by a righteous and holy God.  If you don’t vote, you are throwing away the future of this nation.  If you have not registered to vote yet … do it today!  Get up off the couch and register to vote!  The deadlines are looming (generally mid-October) for voter registration for this election.  Call 1-800-FOR-VOTE.

And now … let’s pray for America.

“Lord Jesus, we love America.  We are so grateful that you have allowed us to live in this free nation at this time in history.

We pray for Mitt and Ann Romney and for Barack and Michelle Obama.  We pray that the man of your choosing would live at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for the next 4 years.  We pray that You would speak to Mr. Romney and Mr. Obama.  Wake them up in the night hours Lord and speak to their hearts!!

Lord, send a revival to this land.  Send your Spirit upon this nation as never before …” from the mountains … to the valleys … to the oceans white with foam!  Bless this nation, Lord because it is our home, sweet home.”

Love 365 Days a Year

Valentine’s Day … some folks love it … some folks tolerate it … while others dread it!

Remember those Valentine Boxes we used to make in Elementary School? We would carefully decorate them with shades of pink and red in the days leading up to February 14. We would painstakingly print our names in bold letters across the top … hoping for a Valentine from at least a few friends in our classrooms.

As the years went by, and we realized that Valentine’s Day was not really about how many cheap cards were placed in a shoebox but in our ability to love and be loved.  When that realization took hold, the holiday either took on greater significance or was kicked to the corner of our heart.

Whether you are 16 or 86 … here is my advice for you today:

If you are happily married … wholeheartedly love your husband today. Live with no regrets. Treat him extra special. This doesn’t take a lot of money but it does take a lot of attention. Fix his favorite meal … watch his favorite movie with him … find a copy of “your song” and play it for him first thing in the morning. Get up early and make coffee for him … leave him a note on the dashboard of the car … choose not to nag, criticize or complain for 24 entire hours!

If you are still waiting for your prince charming … allow yourself to find fulfillment in the heart of the One Who knows you best and loves you the most. Even after you are married, Jesus should still be your First Love! Wait well … while you are in the days or years of waiting … purpose in your heart to serve others and to become the best “you” that you can be. Go on missions’ trips! Teach Sunday School! Invite others over for dinner! Baby-sit for free! Prepare to run a marathon! Take an extra class at college or at church! Tell the pastor that you are available to serve your local church! Women who wait well seldom wait long for fulfillment because they find satisfaction not in being loved but in loving well!

If you have found yourself “suddenly single” due to rejection or divorce … know that you serve a God Who will never leave you or forsake you. Do not build a wall around your broken heart but allow God to heal those broken places inside of you. Pray with other single women and spend time with a mentor. Join a Bible Study and allow your soul to flourish in the fertilization of the power of the Word of God. Reject bitterness and embrace His power and His joy.

If you are a widow … it’s o.k. to enjoy a sweet memory or two … but then choose to give to someone else today. Perhaps you could babysit for a young couple so they could go out to dinner. If you are not able to do that … slip a young couple a $10 or $20 bill so they can go out and enjoy the days they have been given.

I don’t believe that celebrating love should merely be confined to Valentine’s Day … but we should love others well all of the other 364 days of the year! God has placed us here at this time in history to reveal His fruits to the world in which we live.

“But now, faith, hope and love abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.” – ICorinthians 13:13.

I love each one of you!
-Carol