the four candles…

The Four Candles burned slowly. Their ambiance was so soft you could hear them speak…

The first candle said, “I Am Peace, but these days, nobody wants to keep me lit.” Then Peace’s flame slowly diminishes and goes out completely.

The second candle says, “I Am Faith, but these days, I am no longer indispensable.” Then Faith’s flame slowly diminishes and goes out completely.

Sadly the third candle spoke, “I Am Love and I haven’t the strength to stay lit any longer.” “People put me aside and don’t understand my importance. They even forget to love those who are nearest to them.” And waiting no longer, Love goes out completely.

Suddenly a child enters the room and sees the three candles no longer burning. The child begins to cry, “Why are you not burning? You are supposed to stay lit until the end.”

Then the Fourth Candle spoke gently to the little boy, “Don’t be afraid, for I Am Hope, and while I still burn, we can re-light the other candles.”

With shining eyes the child took the candle of Hope and lit the other three candles.

With the candle of Hope we can bring Peace, Faith, and Love back in our lives.

-Author Unknown

my mixed bag of emotions on mothers day…

Mothers Day isn’t all warm and fuzzy for me.  Oh, sure, I WANT it to be!  But life is funny…..with my baby gone,  it has lost a little of it’s sparkle.

YES, I still celebrate the fact that my oldest son, Bret, survived the USMC.  He survived serving in Iraq and is now living here in Phoenix and working for my husband.  He is my joy!  He is not only handsome, but has a wonderful sense of humor (where did that come from, I suppose?) and can always make me laugh.  I love him with all my heart!

But, on Mothers Day, May 12, 2003….I got up early to go check on Clay who was in the ICU at Phoenix Childrens Hospital.  He was in for pneumonia and was 15 1/2 years old…..and still my BABY.  They had taken him off the respirator because he seemed to be doing better!  When I went into his room  (when he was in ICU I didn’t spend the nights) he was facing the doorway.  He was blind, but it looked as though he was looking straight at me.

I walked in, smiling because he was off the ventilator and only had on an oxygen mask.  I walked to his bedside and pulled the mask away for just a moment so I could give him a kiss on those delicious little lips.  When I pulled it away, he said, “mama.”

Clay only had a vocabulary of two words.  One was, “mama” and the other was “bubba”.  I don’t know why he could only say these words and no other….but God knows.  He knew that those two words would give Bret and I strength for those 15 years.  God is good.

I leaned down, wondering how he knew it was me that pulled the mask off, and gave him a kiss.  He looked so beautiful and had the most beautiful blue eyes and long lashes.  I was so very happy to see and hear him on this Mothers Day.  He seemed to be turning the corner with his pneumonia.

I did not know that it would be my last few hours with my baby.  Clay died the following morning.

God is still good.  He took Clay because it was time.  No more seizures.  No more pneumonia.  No more pain.  But for me….no more baby.  I won’t lie….it  was   is hard …  but God is good.

So Mothers Day is a mixed bag of emotions for me.  On the one hand, God gave me a beautiful child for 15 years and an incredible older son that loved his brother more than you can imagine.  And on the other hand…my arms are empty and a piece of my heart went away.  But God is good.

My sweet mother-in-law, Mary Alice Nieto, also passed away 2 years ago, leaving behind a 40 year old Down Syndrome daughter, who lives with her dad….who is 75.  Can you imagine the work left for him?  She is unable to live on her own and yet, is such a delight to the entire family.  I miss Mary Alice, not only because she was precious to me, but also because she welcomed me and my boys with open arms, 20 years ago.  The first time she saw Clay, she told me that he was an angel.  I said, “I know.”

MY MOTHER, on the other hand, is still alive!  My mother has been such an incredible inspiration to me and has lived out faith, hope and love for me.  She has grace and she has class.  She loved my little Clay so very much and was not only with me when he was born, but was also with me on the day that he died.  God did that.  God knew that I would need my mama.  God is good.

She always made sure that we went to church.  She always made sure that we wore the most current styles, had the best  manners and always made sure we wore “church” clothes when we went to the doctor.  I still laugh about that today when I go to the doctors office.  No, I don’t wear “church” clothes, but I still dress up!!

I have learned to mimic  her grace and dignity whenever major obstacles come our way.  I hope that this day gives her the respect and dignity that she deserves because she was my role model!  She taught me all I know!  (and all I don’t know….like math).  And I celebrate HER.  MY MAMA…

So, Mothers Day is different for me.  I think of the things I have and I think of the things I have lost.

And, by the grace of God, I can still smile.

heavenly sunshine….

You know….I just cannot say enough about prayer.  Prayer has been so very important in my life, especially when I was up all night caring for my son.  Prayer has also changed my attitude more times than I can count!!!!

Prayer has been my comfort.  God has been my comforter.  HE is where my life starts…and where it will end.  Many, many times I found myself saying, “God, I don’t know what is going on here; I don’t truly understand it…but I will place my trust in You and I will continue to praise You with all my heart.”  And then the peace comes, wrapping around me like a warm hug.

When our minds dwell on Jesus, it opens curtains of our souls and lets heavenly sunshine pour in!  Our joy shouldn’t depend on the events that surround us, but on the hope that’s within us.  Our lives are hidden with Christ in God.

Colossians 3:1-4 “Since then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.  Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.  For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.  When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”

It isn’t our external situation, but our internal Savior that determines our attitude in life.  Praise isn’t something we just fall into, but an attitude that we choose to reveal.  Some people believe that praise happens when everything gets to a certain level of emotional intensity and then we experience a kind of explosion in our spirit.

But what do you do when things go wrong?  Or what do we do when we don’t understand the problems we are facing?  THIS is were we offer praise and thanksgiving to our Lord as an act of obedience.  We make the decision (amidst difficulty) that no matter what happens, we will praise God and walk in the sunshine.  This will allow the peace and joy to come to our spirit.

When we trust God with the unexplained…sunshine will flood our minds and our souls….and our faces.


what easter really, really, really means….

FIRST WATCH THIS….AND THEN READ…..

                                                                                           

It’s not just another holiday….
You see, Christ’s resurrection is more than just a cause for celebration or a special season
in the church calendar. It is the very foundation of our faith!

If Jesus does not live today, then we have not been saved and we will not have eternal life.

In 1 Corinthians 15:14 and 19, Paul put it this way:

“and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain . . . If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.”

But Jesus did rise from the dead, He is alive, and His resurrection makes all the difference in the world for you today, and for all eternity!

Because Jesus Christ rose from the dead, you can be confident that:

God is real. Because He lives, we have the proof we need that the One we serve is God —unlike all the other deities in all the dead religions of the world.

Your sins are forgiven. Think about this: in most religions, forgiveness depends on your good works. But as a Christian, you are forgiven the moment you accept Him as your Savior, because He conquered death and paid the penalty for your sin.

He is at work in your life. The Bible teaches very clearly that Jesus is seated at the Father’s right hand, interceding on our behalf. He is a living God who answers our prayers, and He has sent His Holy Spirit to teach and guide us until He returns.

Your body will be resurrected. When you die, you won’t simply be a shapeless, faceless spirit. You will have a recognizable body just as Christ did when He rose again. In Philippians 3:20-21 we are told:

“For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.”

To be resurrected into “conformity with the body of His glory” means that your body will be of the same substance as His risen body. You’ll be visible. You’ll be able to eat, walk and move from one place to another—yet in a way that is not limited by space and time.

• You will have a home in heaven. In John 14:3, Jesus tells us that “I go to prepare a place for you . . . that where I am you may be also.”

Forgiveness of sins, a relationship with a living Lord, a new home in heaven—it’s no wonder that we celebrate Easter!

(adapted from Charles Stanley)

faithfulness…

“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  Against such things there is no law.”  Galatians 5:22 (NIV)

While we might not be able to see the outcome of what God is doing in our life or where He’s taking you…but always know that God will never lead you astray.  He has our best interest at heart.

I am so very thankful that God has given us the faith to believe His truth.  I am thankful that God is faithful and trustworthy.

Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV) “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.”

We simply need to have faith in God and trust Him IMPLICITLY!!  Do we have honesty and integrity in our actions?  Are we being reliable in our commitments and responsibilities?  We should be acting faithfully and know that our actions, our thoughts and our motives are under the constant observation of our Heavenly Father.

Revelation 17:14, ” ..for He is the Lord of lords and King of kings; and those who are with Him are called, chosen and faithful.” (NKJ)

That’s who I want to be…..called, chosen and faithful….

streams in the desert…

How fitting!  I want to give a quote from “Streams in the Desert” devotional book by L.B. Cowen..

“Faith grows during storms.  These are just four little words, but what significance they have to someone who has endured life-threatening storms!

Faith is that God given ability that, when exercised, brings the unseen into plain view.  It deals with the supernatural and makes impossible things possible.  And yes, it rows during storms–that is, it grows through disturbances in the spiritual atmosphere.  Storms are caused by conflicts between physical elements, and the storms of the spiritual world are conflicts with supernatural, hostile elements.  And it is in this atmosphere of conflict that faith finds its most fertile soil and grows most rapidly to maturity.

The strongest trees are found not in the thick shelter of the forest but out in the open, where winds from every direction bear down upon them.  The fierce winds bend and twist them until they become giant in stature.  These are the trees that tool-makers seek for handles for their tools, because of the wood’s great strength.

It is the same in the spiritual world.  Remember, when you see a person of great spiritual stature, the road you must travel to walk with him is not one where the sun always shines and wildflowers always bloom.  Instead, the way is a steep, rocky, and narrow path, where the winds of hell will try to knock you off your feet, and where sharp rocks will cut you, prickly thorns will scratch your face, and poisonous snakes with slither and hiss all around you.

The path of faith is one of sorrow and joy, suffering and healing comfort, tears and smiles, trials and victories, conflicts and triumphss, and also hardships, dangers, beatings, persecutions, misunderstanding, trouble, and distress.  Yet “in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:37)”

I love these words. If you are going through “something” today….stand strong.  He is with you and He loves you and He wants you to accept His sacrifice and mercy.  I am talking to YOU.