John 14:16 NLT
16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you.

(for my friend, R.F. who is experiencing loneliness)

There is a difference between being alone and being lonely. Sometimes those factors can be blurred. One can be alone but not lonely. One can be lonely but not alone.

When I was young, even though my sister and I had each other for companionship, I would really miss my friends during vacations from school. As a teenager and in my early twenties, I kept hoping for some guy to pay attention to me. I didn’t want to be an “old maid” as they called it back in the day.

Even at the university, though I didn’t consciously let myself think about it much, I often felt lonely. I would try to be part of conversations I heard. I would just show up at someone’s dorm room. I would spend time in the “common room” where we listened to music and talked.

I was convinced not only that having a husband and children would alleviate the loneliness, but also that I was not worth much without a guy. I did not regard myself as a person in my own right until later in life in widowhood.

Through the years, I have often been excluded from social activities outside of school and home. This included church. Although I knew that the main reason for attending church was God, there was a part of me who hoped for companionship there. (Interestingly enough, my second husband and I met in church choir when our respective choirs merged for a Thanksgiving special.)

I sometimes felt like an outcast. I like to get together and have fun with people so I tried inviting people to various activities but usually the only people who showed up were other blind people. I longed to belong.

If I were young now, I would feel very uncomfortable with people texting quietly while supposedly spending time with me. I would wonder how I could ever have a guy friend or become married to him and not to the phone. They wouldn’t really be there with me. They might even think I wouldn’t know, since I couldn’t see them texting. But guess what? Texting has a sound; not a very loud one, but a sound nevertheless.

Not long ago, I had someone cleaning for me who sat one day doing nothing, so I thought, until I moved closer to her and I heard that familiar tapping. That was her last day of work for me.

If someone constantly texted back and forth, called others or answered calls during what was supposed to be our time together, I would feel neglected. I would feel like their time with me was not important; that the phone was more important than me.

I don’t know how people really, honestly, communicate with each other now in any truly meaningful way.

I remember one time years ago when we were visiting our parents and I had a headset on, listening to music or reading an audiobook. At one point mom said “Aren’t you going to join our conversation? You won’t be here very long and we want to see you. You can listen to your headphones at home.” I felt somewhat ticked at first but then I realized it was a compliment. My parents really wanted special time with me and how could they if I was disconnected from them?

The same goes for God. How can we have much of a meaningful connection with Him if we are on the phone, or, as I am guilty of, being on the computer sometimes for hours?

How do people hear and participate in the worship service if they are back there texting to each other and to friends who are not even there at church?

Jesus is a gentleman. He is not going to force Himself on us though He does give us opportunities to be closer to Him. He is patiently waiting for us to want to communicate with Him.

I am not, as some Christians are, against smart phones, computers, and the Internet. As a blind person, these inventions have actually been a Godsend to me. I have much more access to information now. It is much easier for me to do my writing on the computer where I can add, delete, copy, paste, and otherwise rewrite which was not possible before the advent of the computer.

I used to write my first draft in braille. I often tore the pages apart to put paragraphs in the proper sequence. I also used note cards to put the text in order. I would write the final draft in braille and then type it on the typewriter. Later on, by the time I was in college, I would read my braille copy onto a cassette tape and type my print copy from the tape. This was an improvement. I did not feel lonely or alone when I was working on writing projects.

For me, included in my computer time is the ability to stream Christian music, sermons, and read the Bible itself online. Therefore, I am giving Jesus His time, to some extent, on both my laptop and my iPhone.

I remember as a young adult really disliking the whole apartment concept or even having a home of my own. I really preferred dorm life and wished there was a way to be in, not necessarily a commune, but some cooperative living arrangement where I was not alone.

Having a husband, a daughter and cats helped me a great deal, however, at times I still felt lonely and separated from my family. When Jim and I were married (my second husband) he was often in the hospital so I was left alone. Thank goodness, I was with the cats.

Now that I am a widow and I have moved quite often, starting anew with strangers, people will rather often ask me “don’t you feel lonely? What do you do to combat loneliness?” Their questions surprise me somewhat because I really no longer feel alone. I have Jesus constantly with me, which changes everything.

I have my cats who are PURRfect company and I usually have Christian music playing in the background at home. I have my table mates and we have grown quite fond of each other without there being anything romantic going on. I actually feel relieved that I am not dating or married to some guy with issues or bothering a guy with my issues, for we all have them. I no longer think I am less of a person without a man.

I feel more of a person with the love and grace of God. I say this not to brag. I say it hoping it will encourage someone out there who is still feeling great loneliness. I think it is important for people of all ages, to be aware that the loneliness factor has a cure. That cure is Jesus.

No, I am not living happily ever after here on earth. I definitely have my trials, especially by way of medical issues. The difference between then and now is that When I am not around my cats or other people, and I start to feel separation anxiety, I have occasionally heard myself ask “Jesus, where are you?” as if He isn’t here. The separation anxiety dissipates almost immediately when I realize I am mistaken in feeling anxious about being alone. I have even laughed at my rather absurd question.

The loneliness factor is mostly based on our perception of whether we are, or are not, in fact, truly alone. If we focus on being alone or lonely, that is what we will notice. If we focus on not being alone or lonely, that is what we will notice. Jesus is with us constantly, but it is up to us to allow ourselves to notice His Presence or not. Sometimes we are so distracted by worldly stuff going on in our lives that we lose focus and then the feelings of loneliness flood into our attention. When we remember to call on Jesus He is there.

After years of not feeling very close to God, coupled with (pun intended) feeling cut off, afraid I would never find a mate, I no longer feel that horrible anxiety of my earlier days. Back when I convinced myself that I was less of a person or less fortunate if I did not find a mate, the anxiety and occasional depression would mount. I would sometimes become convinced that I wasn’t good enough for any guy; that I was a failure if I didn’t have a guy.

You have no idea how relieved I am now that the fact of the matter for me now is that I am glad I don’t have a guy to distract me from Jesus. If He were to bring the right guy into my life, sure, I would accept it. But I can honestly say that I am just fine without one.

When I hear of all the struggles married and sometimes not married couples are having, I am glad I’m not dealing with that stuff anymore. The tears, the anguish, the misunderstandings, sometimes not knowing what to say or not say, feeling like I was walking on eggshells, or treading on thin ice–all of this is so stressful and frustrating.

When people talk about being older as “the golden age,” I’m not convinced of that, given all of the physical issues I’ve dealt with. However, the guy thing being absent in my life really seems like a blessing to me now. I’ve been there, done that, and that’s it!

I have guys around in my life and I enjoy that but I feel free not to be tied down by getting romantically involved with any of them. They are my brothers and friends, and I actually value that more now than I ever thought I would.

Those who knew me when I was young, the girl who always had a boyfriend in tow; The girl who was popular with the boys at the school for the blind; the girl who was destined to get married someday and have a family; I really am glad I experienced it all. The tears were sad. The arguments were scary. The love letters were great–both writing and sending them and receiving them.
The affection was great. Being watched all the time by the adults was embarrassing. Long-distance relationships did not work well for me. Writing poetry or songs about a current guy was fun and creative.

When the first marriage ended I vowed never to have a relationship with a guy again and I remember my pastor saying “Never say never.” And then in five years, Jim came along, totally unexpected. This was a quieter relationship and very good, in spite of medical issues mostly on his part.

When I broke my ankle and was hospitalized when Jim was slowing down; and when Jim passed away in the hospital two days after I came home, I thought my life was at an end. I had no idea Jesus was waiting in the wings for my attention. I didn’t know He would rescue me and bring me into a relationship totally different from the human ones I’d known. I realize now that if I were all caught up in the soap opera of a human love relationship, I might not give Jesus the time of day. Being free to be in that relationship, unencumbered by the guy thing has surprised me greatly, for I would not have predicted it. I assumed that I would be both alone and lonely as a widow. This is simply not true for me. I thank Jesus for His gift of helping me be aware of His Presence and focusing on the reality of my not being alone. I absolutely am not lonely or alone. I wish for that for you, too. In Jesus’ name!

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1 Corinthians 13 King James Version (KJV)

13 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.

2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.

3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,

5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;

6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;

7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

8 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.

9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.

10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.

11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

King James version

We all have characteristics of both and they are not the same thing. some of the differences are:

childish:petulent, tantrum; I want what I want, impatience, self-obsession. not taking responsibility, not willing to get help when they need it, blaming others, staying angry, stubborn, not flexible, think they’re better than others, not listening, lashing out, not taking care of themselves or others, stealing, snatching/grabbing, whining, scolding, finding fault, a victim, all about me. number one. interrupting,
jealousy, spiritual “milk not solid food”, narrow thinking, yell at others to grow up, pout, “I didn’t do it”, only partial knowing but think they know it all, “I know!”. not open to differences in others, refusal or inability to walk in someone else’s shoes, only do something if it is easy, comfortable and convenient, terrible two’s when an adult, easily angry, unforgiving, gossip, wanting to be first, wanting the largest package, grabbing shiniest toy, what they’re going to get for Christmas, not waiting for someone who is slow, into fads, worldly entertainment, unkind, not care if someone else is hurt, wanting to hurt someone, carrying a grudge, resentment, no understanding or wisdom, not teachable/coachable, not make it through teens, bullying, wanting to have more material things than someone else and bragging about what they have, showing off, grabbing attention, impulsive, compulsive, sometimes repulsive, rebellious, disobedient, defiant, oppositional, in a hurry, want it now, inability to wait, stingy, not wanting to take turns, fear, unwillingness to change, want everybody to like them, juvenile, youthful, controling others, immature, inappropriate silliness, giggling, reject or not open to Jesus.

Definition of childish for English Language Learners. : of a child or typical of a child; especially : having or showing the unpleasant qualities (such as silliness or lack of maturity) that children often have.
2. Childish, infantile, childlike refer to characteristics or qualities of childhood. The ending -ish often has unfavorable connotations; childish therefore refers to characteristics that are undesirable and unpleasant: childish selfishness, outbursts of temper.

childlike:(I’m not clear on which characteristics are that of childlikeness and which are characteristic of adults):wisdom, able to grow up, youthful, don’t insist on being totally age-appropriate, informal, think open-mindedly, willing and able to be silly and have a sense of humor, laughing, reason, patience, what they’re going to give for Christmas, realizing and accepting that we’re not all alike, tolerating imperfections in themselves and others, nonjudgmental, unconditional love, innocence, adventuresome, loves and is good to animals, willing to take chances, accepts win and loss, loyalty, willing and able to learn, teachable/coachable, put childish ways behind them, understand they’re not fully arrived, that there is learning and improvement to do, that they don’t know everything, “I don’t know”, “I’m not sure but I’ll find the answer”, glad for the successes of others, able/willing to wait, trusting, careful not to hurt someone else, willing to change, not concerned about the future, in the now, self-control rather than other-control, mature but not overly so, not that worried about what others think, giving/sharing, wanting to help others, sweet, winsome, reflects the face of God, the wonder of life. curiosity, open to discovery and learning, natural, wholesome, creative, not set in their ways, good listener, care about the feelings of others, capable of loving and being loved, willing and able to allow themselves and others to know Jesus.
Childlike | Definition of Childlike by Merriam-Webster
resembling, suggesting, appropriate to a child or childhood, trust and genuineness.

There isn’t much to say after that. I am probably biased because some of the “adults” in my upbringing were childish and I vowed not to be like them, therefore, I admire childlikeness where some adults might not. Childish behavior is expected of children but inappropriate for adults. Childlikeness is expected of children and revered in adults. Childishness has quite negative connotations where childlikeness is admired by some.

Spiritually speaking, if you move the space in the word nowhere (childish) you get now here (childlike.

In the long run, only Jesus truly knows where we stand on the scale from childishness to childlikeness.

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This is one of my main pet peeves–I have several. I was in a church for quite a number of, (too many) years where they were into positivity at all costs. I felt uncomfortable with that. I think we need a balance of both the negative and positive aspects of our lives or there is no balance. That’s like two kids going to their favorite end of the teeter-totter, the same end, and the other end, no one sitting there to balance things out. They can’t even ride it then. It’s like someone building a house, noticing cracks in the floor and holes in the walls and running out of nails so just using a few here and there, but going on and on about how great the place is and how perfect it will be for someone, etc, etc. Someone moves in, only knowing the positivity of the place and all you-know-what breaks loose because the builder didn’t deal with the negative issues as they presented themselves. I knew a lady who cleaned the cat box every few hours. Now that is positivity! But the cats never learned to bury their stuff. So it still smelled in her home. If they’d had a messy cat box now and then, they’d have learned to dig around and bury it. The other day, when I went to the doctor, if she had spaced off my concern about my left ear “Oh you’re doing great!” she would have missed the infection in my left ear. If she had focused only on that ear, she would have missed the wellness of my right ear. It made sense for her to check both ears and respond to what was there in each ear. Even in the Bible, there is Heaven, but there’s the other place, too, which gets totally ignored in some churches. I could go on. Manic depressive illness presents both extremes. When one is manic, on the positivity end, actually, some people can become quite irritable because they are just too up there where they can’t stand it. If they get stuck there, it can be as bad as being stuck on the depressive end. We hear lots more about depression than we do about the manic side of things. The “positive” side isn’t always so positive and someone stuck in that state can drive you and themselves pretty nuts. A balance is what is sought in administering medication, not just lifting them up into the clouds somewhere. Maybe I am aware of this because I am a libra. We are all about balance. That doesn’t mean that both kids sit in the middle of the teeter-totter; it means, that one sits on either end, hopefully being about the same size. I don’t personally always do the balance thing all that well, but I work at it. I am more up than down and prefer to be that way, so positivity, even for me, wins out, but not without giving attention to the tougher things of life. Like tonight, it was “positively” too hot in here! It was “negatively” too cold in here this morning with the windows open. This morning it was beautiful out and just right in here. (I’m sounding like Goldilocks.) On a positive note, I had another sore on my leg, fearing having to have home healthcare come out again. But today it is not leaking and is smoothing over. Yea! That is really good news! So, in the long run, though I place myself more on the positive end of the spectrum, I am for “bothivity,” because that is what we’re gonna get in life. Thinking about Jesus–that’s the best though!

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by Lauren Merryfield

McCarthy is gone
He taught me how to write these
When Jim was around

I still miss my Jim
But he might not understand
My love for Jesus

Just four years ago
I was feeling very ill
Holiday party

I was in Oakland
Blind people I did not know
They gave me some snacks

And then suddenly
I went as white as a sheet
Off to the bathroom

I could barely move
I was sweating all over
I thought I might die

Stood in front of steps
I had no strength to go up
One step at a time

It took me much time
Then a man I did not know
Took me to his car

He let me sit there
Until my taxi arrived
Went to train station

Asked if I was drunk
The man said that I was sick
Somehow I got there

I regained some strength
As I walked to the counter
Not nauseous now

The ride home seemed long
I had been in a strange place
Avoided ER

If I had gone there
To a “foreign” hospital
Would have been scary

Could have been stuck there
Not well enough to go home
Someone guided me

So when I got home
In total, abject despair
I cried out to Him

I could not do this
Becoming so very ill
Never knowing when

Never knowing where
In unfamiliar places
That was just too much

Just within a month
Bowel obstruction info
Was that the problem?

I thought people died
And it only happened once
Can be episodes

Armed with this knowledge
From Social Security
Doctor did a scan

Sure enough he found
A twisted bowel in me
Surgery came next

Online I had asked
On NFB music group
Hold harmonica?

Joshua answered
He referred me to a guy
But then he asked me

“Are you a Christian?”
Quite automatically
I said that I was

Asked about my church
It was metaphysical
Jesus, great teacher

“Is it Biblical?”
I had not considered that
And my stomach lurched

“No,” I said, in shock
“My church is not Bible-based”
Joshua knew that

He asked me to try
A Pentecostal center
Right there in Fairfield

I said I would go
He said “You’ll like the music
And the Word of God”

I was wearing pants
I wore flashy jewelry
And my hair was short

I listened clearly
But it would be a long time
Before I would change

Me be Born Again?
Now that was quite unlikely
Not exactly pure

Then I realized
Jesus was rescuing me
In spite of it all

I could not believe
That He would do all that for me
One of His lost sheep

I repented my sins
Addressing Him by email
Sev’ral weeks later.

Yet I was afraid
Of getting the Holy Ghost
It might startle me

Apostolic, me?
But I saw it coming now
It was happening

I began to sing
I was holding Maryah
And she was purring

Quite out of the blue
In a language I knew not–
The Holy Ghost came

I felt His Presence
And there was light all around
In spite of blindness

I was overjoyed
I knew it was my Jesus
Who visited me

And He never left
He is with me to this day
He will not leave me

The very next week
A life-changing thing happened
And I was ready

Sandy helped me change
Into a long, special robe
Then we went outside

I touched the horse trough
The water inside was warm
Jared baptized me

I sat myself down
Under water buried me
Rose up with Jesus

I sang in tongues then
Much like the song from before
All in Jesus’ name

The very next day
I was sent to the ER
By a new doctor

In no time at all
I had bowel surgery
Things were corrected

Jesus had done it
He had saved my life both ways
And I was aware

Physical healing
And also spiritual
Emotional, too

I am Jesus’ hands,
The words that come from my mouth
And my feet are His

One who does not know
I might be the first person
Representing Him

When someone meets me
They might just behold Jesus
Just for the first time

My being with Him
May save someone else’s life
Because of Jesus

Two thousand fourteen
On Sunday, March thirtieth
I was Born Again!

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This morning I was at breakfast, half awake. I was sitting there grateful that I had a meal coming and that I could sit with my table mates another time.

But I was tired. I kept telling Jesus how tired I was, like He didn’t already know.
I did not feel up to this day. I figured I’d go have a cat nap after breakfast.

Suddenly an older woman approached me and asked “Would you like a balloon?” I thought “what?” in surprise. I decided that would be fun but I was too tired for a balloon. I asked her if I could see it and she handed me the yellow balloon with most of its air gone out. I told her I would take it because it felt like a tired balloon–tired like me.

The lady laughed. Then she said “I have wanted to give you something but didn’t have anything to give you. When I saw the abandoned birthday balloon on the floor I thought a happy person ought to have it and I thought of you.”

I thanked her and explained that the reason I was happy was because of Jesus. I asked her if she knew Him. She said “I don’t think I kknow Jesus very well, but I can understand that you do. You make people think twice about things. You get around here by yourself when you can’t see, and some of us can’t do that when we can see. You laugh about things that some of us get angry about, or even cry about. That is why I wanted to give you this balloon. I knew you wouldn’t think it was leftover garbage, that you would find something about it that you would like, and you did. The balloon does look tired and so do you, but after breakfast you can rest with a happy yellow ballloon in your home.” And I will go read my Bible to get more of what you have. That Jesus feller is good fer us isn’t He?” And then she was gone.

Back in my apartment, I was not sure what I would do with the balloon. Balloons and cats are not a good mix. I could hang it up high somewhere but Toby probably would find it. I could pass it on to someone else but probably no one else would want the rather dilapidated balloon. So I hung it on my shower head. When I take my shower later today or tomorrow, I can enjoy its sunny presence there with a smile and a laugh, because I enjoy the Presence of Jesus in my home and everywhere else.

If that yellow balloon brings that woman closer to Jesus then that is the best happening of the day. My ordinary tired morning with a sudden burst of yellow probably made that woman’s day in a way she will never forget. Neither will I. Thank You, Jesus, for the tired, yellow balloon. Its sunny spot on a stormy morning reminding me of Your Presence, made my day. I am so glad I accepted that balloon today. In a way, I accepted more of You. Thank You, Jesus!

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by Lauren Merryfield

(note:I’ve written Christmas poems but not a Resurrection Day poem. So here goes)

Part 1:

I started out at Christmas time,
With Jesus.
He was a little baby boy,
With Jesus.

In Sunday School I read the Word,
With Jesus.
I loved to sing the Christian songs,
With Jesus.

When He grew up, then so did I,
With Jesus.
I followed Him throughout my life,
With Jesus.

Part 2:

Oh, this is not entirely true.
Dear Jesus, I withdrew from You.
I thought, what better things I knew.
But then I was rescued by You.

A Christmas party, feeling illl.
I did not have a get-well pill.

Was getting green around the gil
I went home sick and tired, still.

And then I did surprise myself,
I found my Bible there on a shelf.
I timidly, and with some stealth
Began to ask for Your great wealth.

Part 3

I cried and cried into my hands,
With Jesus.
I did not know if He would hear,
With Jesus.

But I was desperate and lost,
With Jesus.
Because I did not know I was
With Jesus.

He made me welll through surgery,
With Jesus.
He led me to a different church,
With Jesus.

In baptism was buried there,
With Jesus.
When I emerged, arose to life
With Jesus.

A follower I did become,
With Jesus.
And finally I knew I was
With Jesus.

It’s Resurrection Sunday now
With Jesus.
We worship and rejoice this day,
With Jesus.

Let me never stray but stay,
With Jesus.
Where I’ll be forevermore
With Jesus.

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Psalm 48:6 NLT
6 They were gripped with terror and writhed in pain like a woman in labor.

Psalm 69:29 NLT
29 I am suffering and in pain. Rescue me, O God, by your saving power.

Hebrews 13:3 NLT
3 Remember those in prison, as if you were there yourself. Remember also those being mistreated, as if you felt their pain in your own bodies.

1 Peter 4:1 NLT
1 So then, since Christ suffered physical pain, you must arm yourselves with the same attitude he had, and be ready to suffer, too. For if you have suffered physically for Christ, you have finished with sin.

Revelation 21:4 NLT
4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”

It pains me some to write this lesson on pain. I do so because I am thinking about the pain each of us suffers at one time or another. More important, I am thinking about the unfathomable pain Jesus experienced at His crucifixion. Good Friday is coming up so some people are thinking about this briefly once a year and then on with their lives they go. I hope you are not one of those but someone who can relate, any time of year, to what our Jesus went through at the cross.

We would rather not have pain to the extent that some people are on addictive medication to mask their pain. We want comfort for any price.

I am having pain from several teeth that are infected and abscessed. I will have them extracted later this morning. I do not like going to the dentist and I do not like anticipating more pain. However, I think the pain of extraction will be less than what I feel now.

I am wanting out of this pain. Part of me wishes I had those powerful painkillers. I have laid down to rest much of the time the last few days, just to alleviate the pain.

I do not understand very well yet that we have pain for a reason. Pain can signal something going wrong in our bodies.  Pain can be telling us to do something different. Pain can be reminding us to pray for the healing that Jesus can do for us. Some people believe “what goes around comes around” and we are getting our comeuppance for past misdeeds. Some people believe just that “pain happens.” 

I read about a young girl who had no sense of touch who was always hurting herself because of not being able to feel pain. She wished she could feel pain like the rest of us.

If we did not feel pain we would probably not feel pleasure either but be in this limbo where nothing good or bad occurred.

So let us think twice about the pain we and others are experiencing. It is normal. It can help us get help. It can help us relate to Jesus and what He went through for us before the Resurrection; that He took our sins away, if we have repented, been baptized in Jesus’ Name and received the baptism of the Holy Ghost. If you haven’t done this yet, now is a good time. You could truly celebrate and rejoice on Easter Sunday coming up in a few days. There is the joy of Jesus beyond any pain we have felt, are feeling now and will feel in the future. Let us look to Jesus for help in every need. Let us be thankful that we can feel pain so that we can do something about it, as well as possible. Let us relate to Jesus and feel His pain on Good Friday.

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Thumbs down on laughter:
Ecclesiastes 2:2 NLT
2 So I said, “Laughter is silly. What good does it do to seek pleasure?”

Ecclesiastes 7:3 NLT
3 Sorrow is better than laughter, for sadness has a refining influence on us.

Ecclesiastes 7:6 NLT
6 A fool’s laughter is quickly gone, like thorns crackling in a fire. This also is meaningless.
Thumbs up on laughter:
Genesis 21:6 NLT
6 And Sarah declared, “God has brought me laughter. All who hear about this will laugh with me.

Job 8:21 NLT
21 He will once again fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy.

Psalm 126:2 NLT
2 We were filled with laughter, and we sang for joy. And the other nations said, “What amazing things the LORD has done for them.”

I have read in the Bible that Jesus wept, however, to my knowledge, it does not say “And Jesus laughed.” I wish it had for laughter, for some of us, is the best antedote. It can reduce the tension when talking to someone we do not know. It can ease situations in which we are dealing with difficult information. My dad laughed in the hospital when he had cancer and was about to call it quits. He could have yelled and screamed and thrown a fit, but that was not my dad. In my case, as a blind person, it can let people know not to be so afraid of me. In many cases, my cats make me laugh and this is such a joy. And some of us just have a funnybone; we either like humor, create it or both.

The other day I found one passage against laughter in the Bible. So I was worried about what else I would find. I was afraid I would be admonished for my frequent laughter. I expected zip, nada, zilch, zero, nothing. The Bible can surprise those of us who are just learning about what all God has to say in those pages.

As you can observe from above, (I don’t mean Heaven; I mean the beginning of this article, haha), God did not pick sides; He gave us both pros and cons of laughter, depending on the context in which the accounts were written. I am very relieved to know this. There is a time to laugh and a time not to laugh, as far as I know and I am glad my opinion is aligned with what the Bible says. I did not want Jesus to tel me to quit laughing. That would have been even more awkward for me than being told “big girls don’t cry,” found in a worldly song but which is not in the Bible.

When I was in eighth grade, our class had to stay after school to write 300 times, “I will not laugh when the teacher is out of the room.” I asked our very strict teacher how she knew we had laughed when she was gone. She said she could hear us down the hall. That brought on more laughter. We would stop and then someone would snicker. There went the laughter again. So we laughed even while we were writing that we would not laugh, which was also funny to us. We were still laughing about it at dinner and afterwards, every now and then. And here I am, years later, laughing about it again as I write this. There are memories we would do well to just release after a while, however, the pleasant ones, the funny ones, are good to remember. Norman Cousins said, “Laughter is the best medicine.” He claimed that laughter cured him from cancer. I’m sure the laughter helped, but I think Jesus cured him.

Some people expect kids to laugh but they think adults ought to outgrow it. I don’t think so. I think that if we can manage to get through teenhood, we ought to rejoice and laugh at the top of our voices. I am certainly glad that we don’t have to do teenhood more than once. It seems to me that being a teenager right now, in this world the way it is, would be extremely stressful and even frightening. I hope that if there are any teenagers reading this, that you will know that it is okay to laugh; it even says so in the Bible. Thank You, jesus!

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Hebrews 10:25 NIV
“25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

I remember way back in school when a fellow student would start to work on her homework and, after ten minutes or so, she would slam her papers down, stomp on the floor and yell out:”I quit! I quit! This is just too hard.” That seemed to be her mantra for life about many things, so she just barely graduated from high school. She was smart enough to have done above average work; we could tell that outside of class. She was unusually good at acting so she had various parts in school plays and I never heard her say “I quit!” when she was learning her parts.

Years ago, I tried to teach a young person how to pick out melodies on the piano. She was so impatient that I told her I couldn’t teach her if she was going to let herself be unteachable. My sister, on the other hand, was very patient about learning music from me because she was a good learner; open to instruction; open to correction; open to sharing music with me and others.

And then there was me. In first grade I had the worst time in my life-long battle with math, or, as we called it back then, arithmetic. I called it “arithmet ICK” as “Ick” and “icky” were popular kid terms back then. I was often in tears. On occasion I had to stay after school and when my classmates left–all of them–I felt so punished. My teacher did not have skills in helping struggling kids. She did not talk to me kindly and patiently or have me work on just a few problems at a time, so I felt totally overwhelmed and like I was no good.

In my freshman year in high school, I took refresher math because I had continued to do poorly in math all the way through school.

My senior year, imagine the surprise of all of us involved when I not only liked, but did quite well in geometry! There was some artistry in geometry, so my sense of creativity aided me. I also had a new teacher–new for me–and although he occasionally yelled at other students, he was patient with me. I think he was so surprised at my catching on that he decided to be encouraging, for a change. I sure wish I had been encouraged earlier in my life when it came to numbers.

I’ve been trying to do Skype with someone in the UK; a young person. He tries for a few minutes and then emails me about how I’ll have to get someone else to help me figure out Skype. Since he is able to do Skype, I am wondering why *he* can’t be the one to help me instead of giving up so easily.

Then we tried to send an Amazon code through email and the codes were only good for ten minutes. Again, we tried this only twice and he gave up, saying there was too much of a time factor.

I did ask him why we couldn’t text each other or call on the phone. The phone? What is that? he acted like. He didn’t want to be bothered calling and talking to an older lady and maybe figuring things out; no, it was easier just to give up.

I know some people give up too easily when first learning to pray or in reading the Bible. If something seems one bit difficult, they snap the Bible shut and slap it down on the table and that’s it. It’s like some people think “I don’t get it, so it doesn’t matter.” That seems to me to be quite defeatist.

There have been times when I, as a blind person with multiple disabilities, have wanted to throw in the towel. However, I am way too stubborn for that. I don’t like it when someone thinks I can’t do something, so I will not give up easily when a challenge presents itself.

I wanted to learn the braille slate when I was in second grade. We had learned to use braille writers, where you can punch several keys at a time for the letters, numbers and punctuation. On the slate, you punch one dot at a time which seems a little tedious in comparison, but the slate and stylus are much easier to carry around with you.

So my second grade teacher, the same one I had in kindergarten, who was an excellent teacher, did not say no. She said I could stay after school when the fourth-graders came in for their lesson and if I could keep up with them, I could stay in the class. So I did!

In fifth grade, we made story books and we could not get the covers of our books into the braille writer to braille the title. We needed a braille slate. So guess who helped her classmates, only one of whom had learned the slate and stylus. This was because she came from a different school for the blind where they taught it to all the braille students.

I don’t know how many times in my adulthood I’ve been told I couldn’t do a thing when I knew good and well that I could. All I needed were the opportunity to do it, and the interesting process of brainstorming with a cooperative person to do it. I learned crochet this way. My mom held her crochet hook a certain way that sighted crocheters do. I was having difficulty dropping stitches and not finding loops I wanted to hook into. The idea of giving up did not occur to either of us. Eventually I started holding my crochet hook “the wrong way” as a lady told me once. However, now I could feel what I was doing with the yarn and I could follow my work with my fingers. No longer was I just thrusting the hook out there, hoping it would go where I wanted and often did not. Now I could manage crocheting just fine.

Before my freshman year at the university, when my mom and I met with my college advisors, we talked about which classes I would take my first year. Then, before I knew it, the two men went into the next room where they thought my mom and I couldn’t hear them. We both were dumbfounded when we heard one advisor say to the other “Let her take whatever she wants. Let her have her year.” I wanted to flaunt my Phi Beta Kappa key in front of them several years later, but I refrained.

During my years at the university and in my employment as a reservation agent, I noticed tremendous turnover. So many people, when faced with difficulties, just gave up and quit.

I am glad I chose to hang in there on many situations in my life. Some call it stubbornness; some call it determination.

Then there is Jesus. Some say He makes it easy to communicate with. Some say He tells them exactly what to do. That’s nice. I haven’t found our relationship all that easy at times. He answers my prayers when He wants to and gives me direction when he wants to and sometimes I just have to wait. Some people give up on Him. Not me! I am determined to see Him through. So He’s on a different schedule from me. Sometimes He has had to wait for me to come around about things, and He has been patient. He had to wait for many years, in fact, before I was willing and ready to be Born Again.

He has never given up on me. He wouldn’t rescue me to give up on me. I am so glad for His example of not giving up. This is such encouragement for me.

The same can be for you. If you have felt like giving up on Jesus, just hang in there with Him. There can be such a rewarding, joyful, peaceful, loving relationship that one could miss if they gave up too easily. So, as we used to say in the 1960’s, “keep on keeping on!” I want to say that giving up is not an option;not for me anyway. I hope you are determined not to give up too easily, missing out on what is waiting for you when you persist.

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Jesus knows me. He has known me before I was even born. He knew me as an unusually frightened little girl. Everything negative was life-and-death to me then, and I felt alone in it. I think this is related to why I loved my Maryah kitty so much. She came to us a frightened feral, and I did what few did for me–I worked with her daily for months on end, perhaps years, until she decided to be tame. I was there to help, but the decision/choice was hers.

Jesus has seen what has sometimes been a battle in two camps:On one hand, those who have lower expectations of me and act like I’ve been hidden in a closet all my life because I am blind. Never mind my other disabilities.

On the other hand, what about my normal life experiences and accomplishments? some of those working with the blind and many other blind people have regarded me as an equal, accepting no less from me to the point of expecting maybe too much in the way of perfection. I do not have to prove myself to the latter, however, to the former, I am sometimes on instant alert to show that as a blind person, I am okay. I am not a mistake. I have not been locked up in a closet all of my life. I have been out in the same world as everyone else.

Add to that the confusion around my other disabilities and the tendency to blame everything on blindness. Constantly, I am told “I would fall easily (or lose my balance easily) if I were blind.” “I understand that you need to walk slowly. Take your time. I would walk slowly, too, if I couldn’t see.” “Watch out! watch out! you’re going to run into that …” “I understand why you are tired. You are under so much more stress than the rest of us because you are blind. I would feel stressed out, too, if I couldn’t see.” “I would have trouble learning things if I couldn’t see. No wonder you haven’t had much education.” (What? Someone actually said that to me.)

It does matter to me when someone sees only what they perceive about me, assuming they are right about it and treating me accordingly. Some aspect of me wants to straighten them out–and sometimes I do.

Someone referred to my life situation a while back by stating “You’re on the other end of your life now.” I did not feel that at the time. However, now I realize I probably will not be here a long time and there are things I really want to do and be before I kick the bucket.

I want to follow Jesus’ will for me in the ministry. I want to know my grandson and for him to know me. I want the music and writing I’ve done to be a legacy here in the world after I am gone, in a way that someone will appreciate and value it. I want to continue helping others in their relationships, whether that be with Jesus or with the neighbor they can’t stand. I want to live the life I want and have someone realize that I have done just that. The someone who does know this, of course, is Jesus.

He made me the curious, questioning person who allowed me to be a good student of life. He made me creative, perhaps to the point of my being right-brain-dominant. He made me a person with strong opinions based on life wisdom plus my formal education.

Jesus did not just let me walk into all of that easily. I have dealt with physical pain, emotional pain and spiritual pain. I had the experience of losing the small amount of vision I had; (I am thankful to remember colors.) I have known being totally misunderstood. I have known rejection and being left out. I have known some who have totally disliked me, even when claiming to love me. I have experienced the ravages and mean and misinformed comments around food addiction. I have known utter disappointment in myself and in some others in my life. I have known verbal abuse with no appology. I have felt reeeeeeeally bad during earlier times in my life.
I have known feeling so beaten down by life stuff that I thought I was a victim. That was my wrong assumption. (“I would feel like a victim, too, if I couldn’t see,” Yeah, I can hear that one coming.)

But you know what? that “closet” that some people assumed I lived in is now my prayer “closet,” where I can be separated out and set aside with Jesus. I can understand some of what He went through when He was here in man form. His crucifixion makes me cry. His resurrection makes me worship Him with joy! I am still working on being thankful for all of my life experiences thus far. Like most, I tend to like the positive ones the best. I tend to like the positive aspects of Jesus, too, however, I remember my pastor in Fairfield saying, during one of his sermons:”Jesus is not a declawed lion.” I am absolutely certain that catly comment was said for my benefit.

I love the lovey-dovey side of Jesus. But He is also a judge, and there are things I have said and done that have not pleased Him. Still, the joy of His being with me, guiding me, loving me and allowing me to love Him overrides all of that because He has forgiven me time and time again when I haven’t deserved it. He sees the potential in me as none other does, and this is the cat’s meow to my sense of self-esteem, which had been so broken.

The angry “Now what?” of the past is a new adventure for me. I have stated that I rarely become bored due to having so many adventures. Some are more like misadventures, but even those, after a while, can make me laugh. After losing my second husband, most other things just are not life-and-death.

I could not have known the tornado rushing above the house, knocking a large limb 6 inches from my daughter’s room or the silver lining of neighbors chain sawing us out, after the storm, if i had indeed been kept in a closet all these years. I could say I’ve been let out of there, but I was never in there. Now, it is a place to go for the joy and travail with just Him. It is not a place of supposed captivity; it is a place of freedom!–with the One who knows me.

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