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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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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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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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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1 Corinthians 10:13 (from several versions of the Bible)
“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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Some people, sometimes including me, feel impatient or even doubtful about whether or not Jesus has heard our prayers and, even more important to us, if He is going to answer them or not. We might even think “why would He even bother to answer my prayers? He has so many to answer, mine probably will get lost in the shuffle.” When we think this way, we are limiting God. He is infinite in how many prayers and questions He can answer. Unlike humans, He does not only answer one prayer here or another there, and ignore the rest because he has a limited supply of time or energy to do so. No, He just sometimes has us wait. Often, His answers are not denied, just delayed, in our way of thinking. We get impatient, even I, who have more patience than some, will feel impatient, like, didn’t You hear me? Why haven’t You answered? Have You answered in some other way and just not told me? I will ask. (remember, I believe in asking Jesus; I ask Him often about one thing or another; not just my stuff, but for others, too.) I’m not disciplined enough to do my prayer work at a certain place or time, but my prayers get in. Better fitting them in somewhere than not at all.

I prayed a lot over this past week. Prayers seemed not to be answered, plus, obstacle after obstacle tried to stop me from attending the TobyMac concert in Portland last night. My funds were lower than I had planned (doesn’t that happen often?), my iPhone and all of my cards had been stolen and were not returned. All I had was the fact that I had to go back to the DMV to get a temporary of a temporary ID. Although they were quick (what? DMV quick?) they had me get another total replacement. I didn’t have the funds so I borrowed from three different people. Our director here was angry with me about that. He is young, brash and totally impatient with me for all the snags I seem to get into and it isn’t even his life! What about my going through them? I have more patience than he does. I realize most things are not life and death and he doesn’t get that one yet. And he’s a pastor. Well, I’ve given him occasion after occasion to be kind, patient, and helpful, and he keeps blowing those opportunities.

So, Jesus, where is my iPhone? Where are my cards, like, all of them? What about that ID I paid for a couple weeks ago. Oh yeah, when the mail came Friday, just after I got home from the DMV, you guessed it, the card was there! So it felt to me like all of that rigamerole I went through was totally unnecessary.

Then there was the diarrhea. Then only $15 in my billfold. Then Ticket Master couldn’t find my TobyMac ticket order because I absolutely *had* to know the last four digits of the card I used. I’ve had so many temporary cards lately that I could not remember all of the four-digit sequences on them. I guesses several, but none were correct. Soooo, as badly as I wanted to go, I purchased a second ticket, still not knowing if I would really be able to go to Portland.

The hotels were quite booked. I chose Marriott because they have a restaurant and they had availability but I feared I really did not have the funds to pay for that room.

So I prepared to get on the train and the lift wouldn’t lift. Was this the continuation of my not being able to go that Jesus was trying to tell me, or just another stumbling block? I really did not know, as they pumped the lift up by hand and I tried not to get fear of heights. I asked if the thing could crash but they didn’t think so.

At the Marriott, I was told, rudely and loudly, in front of many people, that my stay was being denied. My temporary card did not have my name on it and there was no funding on it. When I explained that I had cash, he acted totally insulted, like cash was disgusting to him. We tried several hotels with no good results since many have these same rules. I hoped that given my circumstances of the stealing, that he would make an exception. No. My prayers were many but not answered, that I could tell.

I didn’t have a cell phone because my new sim card hadn’t come yet, for the IPhone SE I still have. I had so hoped and prayed that it would. So I got a track phone to tide me over. Good thing; I needed it quite a bit. All those years I didn’t have a cell phone and didn’t miss it; how we are changed by our culture. That was an expense I hadn’t planned. I was quite anxious about whether I would really have enough money to get home, and, if not, what would I do? I prayed about this probably more than anything.

Then I asked about Denny’s and there was one that was open all night. I took a cab to the concert and the guy, who had English as not his first language, dropped me off in the boonies of the four-door arena. An older gentleman, a retired minister, saw my plight and wheeled me in to the box office. Security wheeled me to the accessible seating and a lady next to me helped me get snacks. So after the absolutely great concert, I headed to Dennys and spent the night there. It turns out I couldn’t have afforded Marriott, and Jesus knew it. So He did answer my prayer to attend the concert and a way to wait for my ride back home. I chose to come home early, on a bus rather than the train, it this was actually cheaper and got me home in good time for a really good dinner here And the chance to sleep this afternoon. He also saved me in the nick of time from having my fingers smashed in the door as the driver slammed it as my fingers brushed the opening and I pulled away faster than I knew I could.

So many of my prayers over that entire trip seemed not to be answered, yet, in the long run, they were. I came home with thirty-some dollars, had a decent cab driver from a company I knew nothing about, and he was actually helpful!

Jesus knows I have trust issues. I think these things happen to give me ample opportunities to trust Him. I still have difficulty, and diarrhea, over that. I prayed and prayed not to be anxious about whether everything would work out or not. Now I feel blessed that I was able to see TobyMac again and have quite an interesting and successful adventure.

Miguel tended to the kitties. They were asleep on my bed when I got home. That was another answered prayer.

Ken suggested the Y for next time. I plan to attend another concert in March. We’ll see how that goes.

I share my own examples because those are the ones I know best. They are proof that Jesus does hear our prayers and He does answer them. I write about this quite often because it is an issue several people have brought up to me and one I can answer. Some questions people have for me, especially about what it says in the Bible about this or that, I am not God’s-Word-educated enough to answer them. However, I do ask those who do have answers, or look them up, so that I can get back to the person about whatever their question was. I sure don’t always have the answers–only Jesus does–in His own time and in His own way. We are not denied answers to prayer, only sometimes delayed. Let us be patient awaiting His working out of our issues, no matter what they are. He may not create happily-ever-after here on earth, but He promises that for us in Heaven, when we have been saved.

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1 Corinthians 13 ►

New Living Translation
Love Is the Greatest
1If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. 3If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it;a but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.
4Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
… 13Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.


And now, the contrast:

tough love:promotion of a person’s welfare, especially that of an addict, child, or criminal, by enforcing certain constraints on them, or requiring them to take responsibility.
enabler:a person or thing that makes something possible.
•a person who encourages or enables negative or self-destructive behavior in another.
1:feelings of pity and sorrow for someone else’s misfortune.
synonyms: compassion, caring, concern, solicitude, empathy; More
commiseration, pity, condolence, comfort, solace, support, encouragement;
consideration, kindness
2. understanding between people; common feeling.
synonyms: rapport, fellow feeling, affinity, empathy, harmony, accord, compatibility
Both tough love and not becoming an enabler can be helpful under certain circumstances. However, neither one is appropriate toward one person.

A blood relative will not help their family member financially, even though they have the means. Their reasons/excuses:
1:”I would be an enabler.” This might be true if the person were losing money down the drain due to addictions such as alcoholism or gambling. However, the main reason the person’s funds disappear quickly is due to their constant attempt to keep up with medical bills. Most families help a family member who is experiencing chronic medical conditions over the years. I don’t know how many times social workers and medical staff ask this person “Where is your family? Why aren’t they helping you?” I tell them that God only knows. And He does. He knows when someone needs help and isn’t getting it from the ones who could be helping. So the person is left to flounder. This is not love.
2:”I’m practicing tough love. I do not have any sympathy for you.” If the person were a teenager, if they were a drug or alcohol or gambling addict, there might be a little something to it. However, once again, I relay the message that their financial difficulties have been, over the years, due to horrendous medical bills that do not quit. Probably the bills will not quit until they do. And what is this about having no sympathy? The person said that, for real! I think they are confused between sympathy and pity. Certainly, pity would be inappropriate. However, sympathy has many better descriptions, as seen above. Sympathy and empathy are part of love, as far as I know. So this person is left to flounder. This, too, is not love.

Interestingly, at this writing, my phone just rang, and someone in the medical field wants payment and they want it today.
So I can relate directly.

In contrast:synchronizing with the Bible verses above:Imagine my total, complete surprise four years ago when Jesus led me from a nonBiblical situation, led me to a physical cure and the surgery to correct it, led me to a Bible-based church and loving, kind people, and to a living situation where people were genuinely glad to have me back. This is what love is.

I thought that since it is Valentine’s Day, and about love, I would point out what love is and what it is not, in my experience.
Happy Valentine’s Day!

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GOT TO GET YOU INTO MY LIFE (as the Beatles sang)

GOT TO GET YOU INTO MY LIFE (as the Beatles sang)

Full Chapter | Other Translations

Psalm 144:2
“He is my loving ally and my fortress, my tower of safety, my rescuer. He is my shield, and I take refuge in Him.” NLT

Some people deny the existence of Jesus altogether. Others resist Him being a part of their life. Been there, done that, still working on it. We are afraid to surrender to Him for many reasons. Maybe we secretly think He is our enemy. Maybe we think He is not related to science, even though He created science. Maybe we think that allowing His Presence, love and support means we are being sissies and not being self-reliant enough. Perhaps the thought of Jesus just never occurs to us because we don’t know any better.

Maybe we think about Him on Sundays when we go to church and then forget about Him the rest of the week. Maybe we even attend church once or twice a year and forget about Him the rest of the time. Maybe we don’t forget about Him but push Him out; Or we only allow Him at the doorstep, not all the way in to our lives.

We do not understand that we do not need to be so resistant. We don’t need to be on guard with Jesus. Even when other humans have not been all that trustworthy, Jesus is. Some of us have such huge trust issues that we compare Him to humans without understanding that He has never done anything to deserve our lack of trust in Him. Allowing Him into our lives is a good thing, however, we won’t know unless we do it.

Maybe you could just let Him in for a visit and see how it goes. Then more visits, and then always.

Actually, Jesus is already with you, but we need to consciously let Him be near to us. He is not going to force Himself on us, as I’ve said before. As someone put it “Jesus is a gentleman.” He isn’t the “You let me in or else I’ll blow your house down” type, like the big bad wolf.

This subject is near and dear to my heart because I was traumatized in early childhood by untrustworthy adults, and that lack of trust has affected my relationship with Jesus. I cried, argued, insulted and otherwise disobeyed and disregarded the help that some adults tried to give me in my younger days. Some of them did not have my best interest at heart, even when they said they did. So I assumed (don’t do that) that Jesus was the same way–He had His own agenda with me not in a good place in it.

I have experienced so many people having low expectations of me due to their perceptions about blindness, to where they exclude me from what is going on that I automatically think Jesus would do the same. Not true. I feel sad about this and even envy people who are willing and able to just let go.

Although I have accepted Him into my life,and will not totally lock Him out, I still sometimes push Him to the doorstep. This is rude, unkind, and certainly not loving toward Him.

He is the greatest love of my life, trustworthy, on my side, approves of me, loves me, has answers for me, fixes things in my life, and I could go on. He is not like limited humans and this has been a huge lesson for me to learn and keep improving upon.

There are some people who are lost. Then there are those who know better but do not “let go and let God” as some put it. We need to learn that it is okay to surrender to Jesus, to abandon resistance, to submit to His will. This does not mean becoming a helpless puppet. It does not mean that we live the rest of our lives in a bubble; it just means to stop pushing Him away and to trust Him.

So now let us rejoice for the relief and release in submitting to Jesus! Worship Him and thank Him for helping us let Him into our lives where He belongs.

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“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. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” KJV

Most of us are unable to love Jesus to the extent that He asks us to. Some of us try, but we fall short. I think it is important for us to love Him as much as we possibly can, rather than to say “well, my love for Him isn’t good enough so I’m not even going to try.” I’ve heard some people say “trying is lying,” however, I disagree. I think that trying to love Jesus the best we can, under whatever circumstances we are experiencing, is the best thing to do. Right now, my left knee, which I must have sprained without even realizing it, hurts greatly. It actually hurts more than the broken ankle, same leg, of ten years ago. Whenever I see the doctor, or end up in the ER, they always ask me where my pain level is on a scale from 1 to 10. I never know how to answer that one. It is like the “what do you think things will be like five years from now question? Like, who knows!” so I just throw out a number. When I am lying or sitting, I’m fine. But walk on that thing and it feels like more than a 10. “but I love You anyway, Jesus!” I nearly scream. The doctor says “take tylenol.” Yeah, right. That’s like a placebo; doesn’t do a thing. She won’t prescribe that addictive stuff, which is good, in the long run, though I’d like to yell at her about it. So the best “pill” is Jesus. Loving Him really does take some of that pain away, or at least down to a lower level.

Reminding myself that Jesus, Himself, experienced the worst pain of all helps me realize that I am not alone in this–He can and does relate.

And sometimes we “get to” do things we never thought we could. I was at a seminar with the National Federation of the Blind today and I needed to pay for my meal right away or possibly miss out. Food motivates me. I struggled with my wheelchair because I am not the best driver around, being totally blind. But you know what, I got up to the front of the room, paid and got back to my place at the table. It took me a while. I met a few obstacles, including a few human ones, on the way. Some of us laughed about it. A couple people who could see some gave me contradictory directions, which was hillarious. But now I knew that if I really needed to get out of that room, I could. There wasn’t any of that “watch out! watch out!” stuff we often hear. There wasn’t any “You can’t do that. You’re going to hurt yourself or someone else.” My blind friends let me do what I could do but helped if I got into big, deep doodoo. I expected deep doodoo and didn’t get into it. So if this stupid twisted knee hadn’t happened, I say, somewhat cringing, I might never have realized that I could get from point A to point B away from home in a wheelchair, without someone pushing me.

When Jesus asks us to love our neighbor as ourselves, we may not love our neighbor with the unconditional love that Jesus has for us. If, through abuse or other early trauma, we learn to dislike, maybe even despise ourselves, then it is difficult to love our neighbor in a good and reasonable way. So most of us fall way short of following this commandment. Other than allowing ourselves to feel totally overwhelmed about how poorly we are loving our neighbor, (glass half empty), we can strive each day to do this lovingness better and more each day (glass half full). Improving on what we have done in the love realm is important.

We can follow the example of Jesus, Himself, and His unconditional love for us. Cats, too, have unconditional love for us, unless they have been terribly abused. The unconditional love of my cats has helped me through the years until I began to understand, even on an infinitessimal level, the perfect love Jesus has for us, for me (everyone say, “for me.” Even though we know that our amount and type of loving isn’t the greatest, it is better to offer what we can in our loving Jesus, loving Him, everyone say “Loving Him.” .

Valentine’s Day is looming ahead. Yeah, I know, most of it is worldly crazy-making. Maybe we can improve on what’s out there by making a special, conscious effort of loving our neighbor as unconditionally as we possibly can. Some people give up stuff for Lent. Maybe we could say or do something special this Valentine’s Day for our neighbor.

Now Toby, my now eldest kitty, is being somewhat less than unconditional in his love for me by saying “I’m your neighbor, gimme food.” I knew that was coming.

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