THE YELLOW BALLOON

ACCEPTING THE YELLOW BALLOON
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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WITH JESUS

WITH JESUS
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:
transition:

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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PAIN

PAIN IS SUCH A PAIN
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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TO LAUGH OR NOT TO LAUGH

TO LAUGH OR NOT TO LAUGH
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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I GIVE UP!–OH NO I DON’T!

I GIVE UP!–OH NO i DON’T
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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WHAT CLOSET?

WHAT CLOSET?
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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THE ARROGANCE OF IT ALL

THE ARROGANCE OF IT ALL
I was raised mainline Christian. When I attended the university where I discovered more and more non-Christian thinking and behaving, I thought they were wrong. When I came back to the University several years later, for my Master’s degree, I ate up what I was being taught, moving further away from religion of any kind. I remember fellow students saying they were still Christians and I realized I was skeptical, cynnical and doubtful. I did not even realize at the time that though I had a well-rounded package of courses, there was one missing. Even though many, if not most, of our clients would profess to be Christian, we had absolutely no training in spiritual matters, not one at all! Today, I feel horrified that I did not even notice this lack in my training.

I went into New Age and then Unitarian Universalism and back to New Age. I became close to God in that metaphysical setting, in the sense of the Holy Spirit being omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient. (everywhere present; all powerful and all knowing). I was into pantheism with Jesus relegated to “a way-shower; a great teacher.”

I decided somewhere along the line that Jesus freaks were not very intelligent; they believed whatever they were told without questioning; They were judgmental and narrow-minded. They were against progress. And, most of all, they were not like Jesus at all, from what little I had read during Sunday School when I was young. I thought that most of the Bible was boring.

Now I feel sad that I missed out on Jesus as that holy Presence I had experienced. That “universal Presence” had a name beyond being born in a manger in Bethlehem and growing up to be a teacher. I didn’t relate to His divinity.

The arrogance of it all!

Now the least arrogant thing I have ever done was to listen to one who directed me back to Jesus and my willingness to be led to my personal relationship with Him. I realize that with all my background, I could have resisted and stayed stuck where I was. I could have said “no way!” “I’m not going to get sucked into that stuff.” It took more humility than I realized I possessed to let Jesus into my life and to share everything with Him, day and night.

Are you believing anything like I mentioned above? Do you feel lost? Do you feel alone? Do you feel separate from Jesus? Do you feel somewhere between sad and disgusted about the whole Jesus thing? You have a choice that you may not realize you have. You could choose to stay in the status quo or you could drop the arrogance, drop the cynnicism, drop the skepticism, drop anything that is creating a wall between you and Jesus and let Him in. He is knocking. He loves you and wants you to love Him. Instead of never reading the Bible or being caught with it in public, turn to one of the four gospels (or wherever else you want) to read and pray.

You don’t want to be caught praying? People pray about things all the time:about the weather, about the party they’re holding on Saturday, about their team winning, about getting the job promotion, about getting that tax return check in the mail, about their kids getting decent grades, about their runaway child coming back home, about their mom’s cancer, about what they’re going to have for dinner and whether they have enough money to buy the ingredients for the meal–they may not call it praying, but people do it all the time. All that needs to be done is to put the focus on Jesus to air their concerns.

If you believe that Christians are of lower IQ, spend time in an apostolic church setting and your belief will be shown to be false. I don’t know how some of them know the Bible as well as they do or how they understand it so well. Some say the Bible is easy to read; well, I find it difficult quite often and need someone to explain passages to me. Master’s Shmaster’s, I don’t know nearly as much as I thought I did. I didn’t learn what was really important for me to know. One good quality I have though is that I am a questioner, so I am learning now by asking a lot.

I have now met Christians who are not particularly judgmental; who certainly have high standards, however, they do no longer appear to me to be so narrow-minded.

The Christians I am knowing now are loving and helpful, friendly and humorous, and above all, love Jesus with a love that was never discussed in my social work training.

I can cry and be full of regret for the years I missed out on Jesus or I can be extremely grateful that He rescued me from several simultaneous messes. There is still difficult and painful stuff in my life but I am much less likely to let that stuff get me down now because I am not alone and He tells us to cast our burdens on Him and He’ll fix it. He can fix it for you, too, if you let Him. You think you don’t have a choice–oh yes, you do!

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REMEMBERING BILLY GRAHAM

REMEMBERING BILLY GRAHAM
When I was young and when evangelist Billy Graham made his crusades across the country, my Mom always had them playing on the tv. I was raised a mainline Christian but I did not feel very close to Jesus. When people would come down to the altar, during the hymn “Just as I am”, I would feel glad for them, but sad for me.

I perked up when they did the hymn “immortal, invisible, God only wise.” For some reason, I really resonated with that hymn and it is still a favorite of mine.

When people gave their testimonies, I wished I had one. I would listen to him off in another room, like I didn’t want anyone knowing I was listening. I liked the music and the messages.

When they were over, no one in my family said anything about the crusades, but I would think about something he said. I cringed at his talking about Jesus on the cross and how He suffered. Part of me didn’t want to know. But the Resurrection was something I was interested in.

Then I went quite far away from Christianity, although I continued attending church and singing in the choir. I loved music, so that went well with me.

When Jesus rescued me, one of the people I thought of immediately was Billy Graham. He connected so many people with Jesus. He gave me that spark of remembrance and holiness that I think helped me allow Jesus to rescue me four years ago in March. I remembered not having a testimony back then and now I do! Thank You, Jesus! Billy Graham wil continue to have a special place in my heart. And now he is with Jesus.

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SHORTENING MY VOWS

SHORTENING MY VOWS
Matthew 22:37-38 KJV
“Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment”

New Living Translation (NLT)
“37 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment.”

Shortly before or after my baptism by immersion, in Jesus’ name, I made some vows to Him. This was not at the same time as my repentance.

So I have messed up on some of them. I will have good intentions, start something, and not follow through. Jesus wants me not only to Follow Him, but Follow Through on what I have said I would do for/with Him. I will often feel totally overwhelmed by all I think I need to do, especially when I am not feeling well.

… There’s always something …

I redid my vows a couple times in the past almost four years since Jesus rescued me, including just a week or so ago. He is probably either disgusted or laughing. I wrote them on the computer and then put them on 3-by-5 cards in braille. My vows took up twelve cards! Now wait a minute! Yes, braille takes up more room than print, however, still … how wordy could I get? There’s no way I could do all of what I wrote down. Sure it would be nice, but I bit off more than I could chew and He knows it. I could take one thing at a time and work on it and then other items would be short-changed. I could prioritize them and work on the most important one, whichever that one is. I could go to Twitter and tweet a 140-character version …

I mulled over my list, praying about it, taking quite a lot of time and effort really intent on figuring out what to do; how to find one thing that would cover everything I wrote. and the answer I got was “Just love me.” That made me cry.

Just because I wrote a lot of term papers in school, doing a lot of research and stuff (which I didn’t really like doing) doesn’t mean I need to treat Jesus as one to write a term paper on. He doesn’t expect me to be so thorough and still not get to the main point. Yes, loving Him was in there, but in the middle of everything else. Doing His will was in there too. I mean, there are good points for me to pray about, and I did pray about shortening what I had written. However, I never got it anywhere near one short sentence “Just love me.”

How many people claim to be Christians and they don’t even really love Jesus. They admire Him. They respect Him. They might know something about Him. But love?

I wouldn’t have been rebaptized if I didn’t love Him. Of course I love Him–a lot! However, not only have I let a lot of worldly stuff take focus, like getting the right chair and the right hospital bed and trying to stay off of my left knee–my prayers have even been on that stuff instead of just telling Him that I love Him, and meaning it.

“Jesus, I do love You. I want other people to love You, too. I want them to know that they don’t need to just not get around to committing themselves to You because they’d have to do this, and not do that, and make things really complicated like I have done. All that busy work! I realize that all they need to do is to love You, and go from there. I hope and pray that I can be a better example of just loving You, and not writing out a book about it.

“Just love me!” “Yes, I do! And, my friends, so can you!”

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MORE THAN YOU CAN HANDLE

MORE THAN YOU CAN HANDLE
1 Corinthians 10:13 (from several versions of the Bible)
NLT
“The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.”

NMB(New Matthew Bible)
“No trial has taken you but such as follows the nature of man. But God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tried above your
strength, but will in the midst of the trial make a way to escape out.”

“God never gives you more than you can handle.” We’ve all heard that expression. Some believe it and claim that it comes straight out of the Bible. others simply do not believe it. The most familiar versions of the Bible clearly tell us that we are not tempted or tested beyond our means, however, some of the lesser-known versions of the Bible use the term “trial” rather than “temptation.” I had started this piece assuming (never do that) that the Bible did not go along with the popular expression “God never gives you more than you can handle.” Now I am not so sure.

When I was young, I felt totally overwhelmed by some experiences and I feared that my mind would crash and I would lose my mind. I catastrophized many things, therefore I often felt overwhelmed, not realizing that I could think differently about the situations. The changes in my perceptions over the years does not change what has happened to me in my lifetime, just how I think about them.
After years of life experience, the passing of my second husband in particular, I began to realize, most of the time, that many things are not life-and-death circumstances or experiences. With Jesus, the feeling of being overwhelmed is even less for me now.

If it is true that God never gives us anything we can’t handle, this does not mean that we, ourselves do not give ourselves more than we can handle, by the way we think about or perceive an experience. We need to consider that we tell ourselves things that might not be in our own best interest. We may say “I can’t handle this,” or “This is beyond me,” or “God isn’t protecting me. He didn’t protect so-and-so either,” and so forth. We did not get those ideas from the Bible; we got them from our upbringing, others we have been in contact with through the years, life events, our physical bodily experiences and conditions, the level of pain we experience at given times in our lives, what our culture dictates, what we’ve read, what we’ve seen on tv, what we’ve told ourselves since childhood, I mean, the list is probably inexhaustive.

I am the age I am, the size I am, with medical conditions that are not going away unless Jesus heals them. I cannot go back and redo my life. It is progressing whether I like it or not. Thank goodness, what I think today is quite different from what I thought when I was a little kid or I’d be totally, uselessly overwhelmed now. I’ve been influenced by way more than the Bible, to my detriment, however, when Jesus rescued me, He gave me new ways of thinking.

Jesus is dependable and the only reliable One we could go to whenever we feel overwhelmed. He will never tell us something that is inappropriate or unhelpful. We need to learn to discern what thinking is ours and what is Jesus communicating with us. Lots of prayer can help, plus actually reading the Bible. Rather than listening to ourselves or some of what others are telling us, we can ask Jesus for clarification. God always knows. He knows what all of us are talking about and thinking and He knows how to sort it all out. What we believe we cannot handle, He can and does. Then, perhaps, we can handle things we thought we couldn’t; things we might not have handled earlier in life, but can handle now. We can seek the wisdom from God that He has to impart to us.

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