Hope is Here!

December 17th, 2013

It’s not how hard the work is, or how dreary the circumstances may be that cause one to lose heart, fall into depression, or simply call it quits. In my experiences, I have found that we lose heart in the absence of hope, when there doesn’t appear to be a light at the end of the tunnel, when the outcome is unpredictable, or when there’s no indication that conditions will improve.

In regards to hope, Proverbs 13:12 tells us that delayed hope makes the heart sick. Many sincere Christians feel overlooked, wondering when their difficult season will pass.

This Christmas season, some may find themselves in less-than-perfect situations, wondering where they are going and why they should keep trying.

Hope is the nucleus and foundation of what Christmas is all about. Christmas is about hope to all who need it—hope for imperfect situations, for imperfect people in an imperfect world.

There is hope in life, and there is hope in physical death as we look forward to receiving the fullness of God’s precious promise of eternal life. There is hope for the struggling, and hope for the secure.

We have hope while it is today, and Lord willing, we will have it tomorrow.

Christ Jesus who was born in a manger, lived as the working class, died with criminals, and returned to heaven as the Lord of all! In doing so, He left a gift for us—the gift of hope. He took the weight of humanity’s moral disease and became hope personified to God’s priceless creation.

Because of Jesus, we have a hope that will never fade, and cannot be taken away!

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”  Romans 15:13 (NIV)

I’ll Never Wash My Hand Again!

November 12th, 2013

An usher had just shown me to my seat in the Starlight Theater in Branson, Missouri. It was the opening night of Toy Shoppe. The producer of the musical was country music legend Kenny Rogers. As I waited for the show to begin, I made small talk with two ladies on my row.

One lady seated beside me was overly ecstatic because she had talked her 84 year-old friend Emma into coming with her. Emma looked quite healthy. She was dressed neatly, and had a gorgeous smile. Emma shared with us that after she and her husband celebrated 65 years together, he had passed away. Afterwards, she decided her fun times were over and she would never go out again.

However, tonight, Emma’s friend persuaded her to get out of the house, and here they were! Our conversation was cut short when we were asked, “Excuse me ladies, would you like to move up closer?” Leaning over the seat in front of us, the theater manager offered us seats that were located on one of the first several rows. The seats had been blocked off for Kenny Rogers and the cast members’ families.

We were elated, but as we celebrated our good fortune, another­­­­ usher leaned over our row and said, “Excuse me ladies, but we will need to move you. The family needs these seats.” The theater manager on the opposite side urged us to move out more quickly—offering apologies and free popcorn. We crowded into the aisle and stopped…unsure of what to do next.

Kenny Rogers BransonWhile we fought to maintain our dignity after being asked to get up and move, the unexpected happened. We all looked up to discover we were blocking the aisle for Kenny Rogers himself! Out of our group, I was the first to maneuver out of the aisle. I smiled and slid past Kenny on my way back to our lovely, (now second-rate) row.

I stood and waited for Emma and her friend to take their seats beside me. Emma’s friend consoled us with a reminder of free popcorn. All Emma could say was, “I’ll never wash my hand again!” Kenny Rogers had taken the time to greet Emma, and patted her gently on the arm before going on stage.

As Emma returned with her popcorn during intermission, I couldn’t help but ask “Did you wash your hands before eating your popcorn?” She simply smiled and shook her head “no.” There was a new sparkle in her eye that looked like a fresh hope for living.

I respect Kenny Rogers for his kindness, and I honor the friend who encouraged Emma to take that first step out of the house and attend the event with her.

We can’t all be celebrities, but we can all be encouragers and befriend someone else. Be assured that your acts of kindness will bring new life and fresh hope to someone.

“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” Proverbs 17:17 (NIV)

Moses and the Cat

November 8th, 2013

Moses and the Cat 40It was almost dark as my car rounded the last curve and its lights shined on the doors of home. I had left before the crack of dawn and was so glad to be back. I was eagerly pushing one foot out of the car by the time the engine quit running, but a sound—more like a cat being tortured than a meow—begged me to stop and help.

It ran to me immediately. White and yellow, hide and hair, stretched over a body of bones with the face of a cat attached. Its mouth was wide open and screeching incessantly. One eye was either matted shut or entirely gone. One thing for sure—it was hungry, alone, and hurting. I could not refuse such desperation! Even my great and notable princess, Amira Cat, who hates all other animals, had softened her heart enough to let this cat approach. I could not do less.

Forgetting how tired I was, I raided the fridge to feed this little one. The not-yet-weaned stray cat meowed and growled as it attempted to gulp milk and devour dry cat food all at the same time. I entered the house an hour later than I had planned, and decided to wait until morning to name the cat just in case it died.

Sometime during the night I was awakened to the sound of rain hitting the bedroom windows. I rushed to the front porch to see if the cat was still there. Not only was it there, but it was alive and bounding towards me—falling all over itself—arms and paws uplifted, and meowing with a scratchy voice. 

I fed it again and rearranged some porch decorations into a makeshift house. A wooden pumpkin became a wall, and a scarecrow pillow from the porch swing became a cuddle buddy.

I decided to name the cat Moses from the story in the Bible. Exodus records the time when a cruel Pharaoh ordered Jewish baby boys to be drowned in the Nile River. During this period of time, a woman named Jocabed gave birth to a baby boy. When she couldn’t keep him hidden, she crafted a tiny boat made out of a basket. Jacobed lowered her baby in the basket and placed it among the reeds of the Nile. That evening, the Pharaoh’s daughter came to the river to bath, and heard a baby crying.  Her heart went out to the child and she ordered her attendants to get the baby out of the water. The Pharoah’s daughter adopted the baby and named him Moses (meaning drawn out of the water). In that moment, Moses went from no Mama, to two Mamas, and in the same fashion, Moses Cat went from being homeless to finding a forever home.

In many ways, my name is also Moses. I have known the love of many friends, and I have a Savior. Like a stray cat, or like a helpless baby destined to die by a million evil foes, Christ helped me. Just like that—from no help to having a constant Helper by my side.

You, too, can have help—there is hope. Call out to your friends and to Christ. Be willing to step out of your comfort zone and pray for creative ideas. Like the cat and Jocabed, don’t ever give up; someone’s heart will show you favor. I’m sure one day your name will be Moses and you’ll be drawn out.

“Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” Jer 33:3 (NASB)

Update on Moses… only 10 days after rescue!

Look at me Now!

Look at me Now!

Update on Moses Cat: This is Moses Cat 10 days after his rescue from starvation and neglect. He does have an eye. He can now eat without screeching or gulping food and is able to purr. Today–for the very first time–he chased his tail and played like a kitten should. Sometimes it doesn’t take that long to get better…. if you leave the abusive situation behind and get with a safe group who loves you. Just saying. These are facts to remember.

It’s Not Normal

September 23rd, 2013

 Hunger made me search for food and thatched umbrellas, shading a cluster of tables on the sidewalk, helped me choose a Bistro café.  A gentle breeze and warm sunshine lulled me to slow my pace and enjoy a sandwich while observing people coming and going.  The noon hour brought a mix of young professional women in cute shoes and men in creased khakis, who mannerly held the door open for them. Some ate inside, some grabbed a bite to go, and some joined me to savor the weather and dream on the sidewalk.  The conversations mingled and overlapped into a melody with high pitched laughs, baritone voices, and the click, click rhythm of footsteps on smooth concrete.

The picture-perfect scene didn’t last long.  I began to hear a child’s voice rising above the hum. At first I couldn’t make out the words.  But the fervor and pitch made it very clear this child was passionately desperate about something.  I soon glimpsed a cute baby girl, possibly 2 or 3 years old, holding the hand of her mom near the door. The child was half crying now and the words were heartrending.  Each time the mom tried to lead her little girl into the café; she would pull back and say, “It’s not normal. It’s not normal!”  The mom would stop to explain that it was perfectly normal to go inside and eat. And yet the daughter was never convinced.  The mom had to physically lift the child into the store.  Even as the door was closing behind them the child continued to say, “No, it’s not normal!”

I love children and am always amazed at their perception of the world around them.  It was easy to see she was really saying that it wasn’t what she wanted. Normal and want had gotten confused in her vocabulary and understanding.

Smiling, I returned to the thoughts that had been going over in my mind before the distraction. It was quite shocking to find that many challenges I was fighting against was because I was saying, “It’s not normal.” I too was struggling over things I didn’t want or like. Perhaps I too had become confused on what was normal.

Just yesterday I prayed for a friend’s mom to live. By evening she had passed.  Once again I wanted to say, “It’s not normal.”  But death is a normal occurrence on earth and even a sure appointment.  Life is filled with many seasons of both sunshine and rain. Yet I so often embrace good times and pull back from discomfort.  I say that life isn’t normal when it isn’t what I want. Then God, like a good parent, somewhere in the midst of my complaints gently lifts me over the present threshold of fear and quiets me with His love.  If I should stop to listen to His wisdom, I’m pretty sure I would hear Him say, “Yes, it is earth’s normal. It is just something you don’t like.  Come on, I will take care of you.” 

I think I may always struggle and argue with earth’s definition of normal.  But I do believe that heaven is a place where what I like and normal always mean the same.

Stop the Thunk!

September 10th, 2013

 I wish I could tell an armadillo about the value of change.  I’m saddened each time I see a ten pound, brownish-gray, nocturnal animal lying dead along the highway. I don’t even really like armadillos.  They dig holes in the yard and then I have to deal with a bumpy ride each time I mow the lawn. But I do hate to see failure just because of refusal to change. I am told that armadillos have a sure-fire way to ward off intruders. An armadillo will stand its ground until the opponent gets close.  Then it flexes and jumps straight into the air.  This scare tactic worked for centuries. But then along came the invention of the automobile. And when a big, big animal, with headlights for eyes, topped the hill the armadillo did what had always worked. The armadillo stood its ground, waited for the car to get really close, then flexed and jumped straight into the air.  Thunk was the outcome!  Thunk is the only sound and word to describe a once sure-fire method that had suddenly ceased to work.

Do you ever feel like you’re beating your head against a wall?  Does the same old method, that used to bring good results, now bring you failures? If so, it might be time for a change of tactics.

I have no idea how to save an armadillo from jumping into cars.  I can’t tell you how to easily cross the roads of life. But I do know that God promised that He would give us wisdom if we just ask. Being willing to honestly assess situations and seek wisdom, on the right method of response, is vital to stay cutting edge—and alive.  I can change even though it goes against my genetic predisposition.    

Renew your mind daily through prayer and ask God for wisdom in every situation.  Don’t second guess yourself or God’s ability to know the road ahead.  Trust in Him. Stop the thunk.

“If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.” James 1:5 (NLT)

Let It Go

January 21st, 2013

Let it Go

The difference between great success and failure may be as simple as knowing what – and when – to let go.

I heard a story about how hunters in Africa catch monkeys. Monkeys are very smart and difficult to trap. So the hunters build a container with an opening large enough for the monkey to put its hand into, yet it’s too small for a clenched fist to be removed. Hunters then place tempting trinkets or food into the container. The monkey reaches in, grips the treasures, and is trapped by its own fist. It’s hard to believe that a monkey will stay trapped until the hunter returns and captures it – when all that was needed to be free was for it to let go.

We’re more intelligent than a monkey. Yet no matter how much we know, there are times when we struggle to just let go.

Do you want to know three words to make your life more successful?  “Let it go.”  Three simple words will make your life more successful. We must evaluate often those things that we are holding onto and understand why we might want to cling to them. Things that have fulfilled their job or no longer pulling us forward have to be released to make room for the new and relevant. It is a waste of precious time and energy to keep hammering away at issues that we are powerless to change. We can gain tremendous peace just by letting go of past hurts, bitterness, or things we just never could quite figure out. Relationships also have to be evaluated. People that I pull into my inner circle will either lift me up or pull me back. I must evaluate my circle of friends and choose to stay in close contact with those who value what I have to say, encourage new ideas, and share some goals in common. You, too, should let go of friends who merely tolerate you. This will make each day an uplifting celebration.

It may not be easy to let some things go. That time, relationship, or plan in your life became part of you.  It is normal to feel some temporary sadness when you let it go. That’s OK.

Push past the disappointments. Open your hand and release. There are new people, places, and experiences ahead for you. Move forward into the great plans God has for you.  Just let it go.

“I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” Phil 3:13,14 NLT

No More Detours

January 12th, 2013

The count is definitely in, and everyone I know is glad for the past year to go. I too welcomed a new year because I wanted a fresh start.  But this New Year is now into its second week and life is throwing me some pretty fierce distractions to deal with. I wonder if what I did last week was done any differently than this time last year.

Distractions don’t go away. They must be dealt with. I can’t drive down the main street of our small town or log onto my computer without the possibility of getting sidetracked. But I can become stronger and make wiser choices.

Our paths are strewn not only with distractions but also opportunities. So the question to ask ourselves when things pop into our world is, “Is this a distraction or an opportunity?” When distraction comes and opportunity knocks, we have the power to choose which one to answer and entertain and when to just stay focused on our present path.

If you plan ahead what you would like to accomplish in your day and upcoming year, it will make right choices clearer.

Decide where each new “unexpected” will lead your day. Distracted days add up to months, and soon another year has come and gone. We do have the core strength to do things differently. Be courageous and push pass that first uncomfortable moment of taking charge of your life – choose opportunity over distraction.

Give yourself an internal boost of energy by taking some time upfront to define your goals clearly, rid your path of proven distractions, and quiet your mind each morning.

Know that if you follow distractions, you will take a detour yet again this year.  But if you face the ongoing distractions, choose to stay the course, and keep going forward, you will enjoy great success in the coming year.

“For I can do everything through Christ,* who gives me strength.” James 4:18 NLT

A Fresh Start

December 30th, 2012

on the WINGS

uplift for your world

Yesterday, at a get together in our home, after most of the guests had said their goodbyes, we three girls gathered around the bar to chat.  We three girls were those closest to me, one ahead and one following on the road of life – Mom, me, and my daughter.  After sipping yet another flavor of coffee, and tasting just one more bite of cherry pie, we talked about life.  Mom wished she knew what she knew now when she was my daughter’s age.  My daughter thought this wonderful concept could be achieved if mom’s wealth of wisdom was just downloaded to her immediately. It was a great idea of how becoming wise as an elder while still being young, could indeed be accomplished.  We laughed knowing that wisdom principals can be taught, but each person must then know when and how to apply those principals in his/her daily life.  Each path has different twists and turns that have to be personally walked out.

I have sometimes thought that if I could start over I would do things differently.  But after starting over, after many bummer days, I’ve found that it wasn’t just a second chance that was needed, but wisdom. Sometimes the wisdom ingredient to success was additional planning. After not being on time or prepared yet again, it became evident that I must avoid the trap of procrastination on a daily basis, to be wise.

I also had to let go of the myth that today’s fresh-start-path would somehow be easier than yesterday. Sometimes life is hard whatever the path. But hard is not always bad. Sometimes our greatest victories and highest joys are only realized by pushing past our comfort zones.

To totally embrace a fresh start, make peace with things in your past that cannot be relived or redone. Forgive, let go, and untie negative people and circumstances of yesterday.

Write down your goals, dreams, and ambitions and keep them before you. Surround yourself with people you would be happy to become more like.

Today is the day for a fresh start, whether it is your second or hundredth chance to live how you would — if you could — do it over.  Be diligent to live by wisdom principals that will bring the results you want in your life.  Learn something new each day, love well, and enjoy those before, beside, and behind you on the path of life.

Would you like a fresh start in any area of your life?  If so, then I pray today that you will commit to searching for wisdom, going past your comfort zones, and planning ahead.  May the God of all wisdom be your guide as you spend time in reflective silence before Him today.

By Reba Wilson (c)2012

“Wisdom is the principal thing; Therefore get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding.” Pro 4:7 NKJV

I need you – you need me – and we all need God

October 18th, 2011

In times of trouble, in times of great need, there is but one place where my heart is secure and my thoughts are understood. There is only one power that can quiet my busy mind and soothe my desperate soul.  When my faith is shaken, I must know there is a safe place above — called heaven — where life’s pieces actually come together in a land of perfect peace.

Today, I walk below the celestial sky.  I live on earth’s imperfect soil where both good and bad intermingle along the path.  I seek to connect with the creator of heaven and earth to make sense of the now and receive courage for tomorrow.

I find a refuge — in prayer to the God who understands a language of tears and sighs. I open the Bible and personalize promises that were given to me when I accepted Christ as my Savior…. The Lord is a very present help in my time of need.  Jesus has said that He will never leave me or forsake me.  God will make a way in my every trial so that I will not be crushed entirely beneath the weight of devastation.  When I don’t know what to do, I will ask God for wisdom and the Holy Spirit will give me direction.

Dear friend, if ever I should be too weak to cry out would you please say a prayer – for me.  In the middle of grief and loss each kind word, plate of food, and act of kindness gives me strength to keep on standing.  Please don’t stay away because you don’t have any words to say- for at times the greatest energy came when you said- nothing at all.  What mattered most… was that you were there.

“Amicu certus in re incerta cernitur.” (Quintus Ennius – 3rd Century BC) This quote translates from the Latin as ‘a sure friend is known when in difficulty’.

See the big picture

October 5th, 2011

It’s important how we view single events during our day.  If we only see the small clip of what’s happening just during a specific moment then our picture is lacking and way too small.  We could be tempted to believe everything we’ve ever done is horrible if we dwell on a single negative word about us during the day.  Dwelling on, rehearsing, and replaying this single phrase can soon become what we think we accomplished for the entire day.

Look at each day at least as an episode.  Factor in the great things accomplished, the good comments and not just that one miniscule sound bite.

Something done or said wrong can be used to learn new and better ways of living.  Learn by mistakes and then move forward quickly.  There are great reasons that a person gets back on a horse after being thrown or drives soon after being rear ended.

Fear, exaggerated thinking, undue stress and excessive pain can be stopped by looking at the big picture, readjusting and then getting back into the game right away.

Life is more than just one misspoken word or bad day. Life is meant to be a beautiful journey. It’s so true that woven into the tapestry of our days there are knots and gray shadings from time to time.  These brief snubs were only mean to be indicative of normal weaving and not deemed as a flawed or castaway life.

Now, smile, and go ahead living the God life!