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REUNION

 

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This past Christmas, we celebrated the birth of Jesus with a big family reunion. There were 26 of us gathered together at our small home, including a few friends. The next day, the entire family embarked on a 5+ hour drive to Yosemite National Park, where we stayed for a few days in a beautiful 6-bedroom, 4 bath house in the Redwoods. We played games, joked, laughed, cooked, ate, prayed, relaxed, did some hiking, viewed God’s awesome creation, and shared some of our life experiences with one another. There was a lot of love. It was a wonderful time, and we hated to see it end. This was one of the best family reunions I had ever experienced. The times we had together were precious. And even though almost two months have passed since then, the fond memories are etched deeply in my heart.

I wondered, what made this reunion so special? We had had other great reunions before, but this was the first family reunion in which a sibling was missing. An empty chair and plate were at the family table this time. Our dear brother Tommy Joe has been gone over six years now. So this reunion became more dear to my heart because I am further realizing the brevity of life. The bible says, “Whereas you do not know what [will happen] tomorrow. For what [is] your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. James 4:14. This made me appreciate our time together even more.

From birth, our families are the first social circle we have. My heart contains a priceless treasure chest full of family memories and times spent together. Not all the memories are happy, but most are. The good and the bad, the happy and sad; all combine to make us who we are. Reunion; every heart longs for it. We experience reunions on a daily basis. We leave our homes. Some go to school, some to work, some to play. We return to one another in the evening; content that all the family is together again and safe.

There is another reunion coming where a trumpet will sound, and we who are in Christ will rise up to be reunited with family, loved ones and best of all, with Jesus. There will be no more sorrow or pain. And God shall wipe all our tears away. Scripture confirms it. Many songs have been composed about it. My heart longs for it. What a glorious day that will be!

But I would not have you to be ignorant brethren concerning them which are asleep that you sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.
For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.  For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.  For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:  Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
Wherefore comfort one another with these words. I Thessalonians 4:13-18

 

 

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MALACHI!

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LAST WEEK, OUR FIRST GRANDCHILD, MALACHI, TURNED EIGHT YEARS OLD.  IT’S HARD TO BELIEVE THAT SO MUCH TIME HAS PASSED SINCE HE MADE HIS ENTRANCE INTO OUR WORLD AND CHANGED IT FOREVER.  GOD HAS BLESSED US WITH THIS SPECIAL YOUNG BOY, WHO IS AN ENTHUSIASTIC BUNDLE OF BOUNDLESS ENERGY AND ZEST FOR LIFE.

MALACHI IS 95% HAPPY MOST OF THE TIME.  I RARELY SEE HIM IN A BAD MOOD.  HE’S FULL OF CURIOUSITY, COUPLED WITH MISCHIEF, AND A BRAIN ON HYPERSPEED.  HE’S VERY INTELLIGENT AND IS LIKE A SPONGE THAT SOAKS UP EVERYTHING AROUND HIM.  BUT HE’S ALSO VERY FRIENDLY, AFFECTIONATE AND LOVEABLE AND LOVES TO HUG AND KISS HIS SIBLINGS, PARENTS, GRANDPARENTS, AND HIS FRIENDS AND TEACHERS.  THERE’S NOT A BIT OF INHIBITION OR SELF-CONSCIOUSNESS IN HIM.  HE WILL SPEAK HIS MIND WITH NO RESERVATION.  HE EVEN TELLS ON HIMSELF IF HE DOES SOMETHING HE KNOWS IS WRONG.   ALTHOUGH HE KEEPS US ALL ON OUR TOES AND HAS STRETCHED OUR PATIENCE WITH HIS ANTICS AND SHENANIGANS, HE’S A GREAT JOY TO HAVE AROUND.  AND I HAVE DISCOVERED THAT HIS YOUNG SOUL HAS BECOME FIRMLY KNIT TO THE FABRIC OF THIS GRANDMOTHER’S HEART.

 

 


 

THE HAND OF GOD

imageAs we reflect on 2017, we can say with grateful hearts that the Hand of God was truly with us and has taken us on an incredible journey. It all began on the morning of January 31. While sleeping, Mike dreamt a beautiful song was playing. He heard the words “All is well, All is Well”. When he awoke and pondered the dream, he believed God was preparing him for a future trial.

That same day, Mike was informed there would be layoffs, and he would be impacted. That weekend, a medical condition surfaced which resulted in a diagnosis of prostate cancer. Fear and uncertainty filled our hearts. But God was our helper and support. Mike and I began to pray and seek God’s help finding the right doctor for the surgery he needed. Little did we know that the answer to our prayers would lead us on an amazing adventure across the country. God led Mike to Dr. David Samadi, one of the best urologic surgeons in the U.S. Dr. Samadi is the Chair of Urology & Chief of Robotic Surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York. He is a renowned physician and is recognized as one of America’s most compassionate doctors. He is also of Persian Jewish lineage; a descendent of Abraham. God blessed and used Dr. Samadi’s skilled hands to perform his surgery successfully. Since then, Mike has had a clean bill of health. And we remember those words, “All is well”, and humbly thank God for the gifted hands he has given Dr. Samadi.
There is another doctor we know. He is the Great Physician, and His name is Jesus. Because of His hands, All is Well! And we are reminded at Christmas that though the tiny “Hands” of the babe in Bethlehem belonged to a King, they would never hold a royal scepter or wear a royal ring. His Hands were reserved for a Roman cross instead, to purchase our salvation. The word became flesh to fulfill redemption’s plan. And when it was completed, He said “It is finished’. ALL IS WELL….

PRECIOUS LAMB OF GOD
Rest tiny Hands, though you belong to a King.
You will hold no royal scepter or wear a royal ring.
For your Hands are reserved for a Roman cross instead.
Loving Hands to heal the sick and raise the dead.
Sleep tiny heart, for time will come when you will break.
As on a lonely cross you’ll die, and men’s rejection you will take.
But as you close your eyes, you will be carried home at last.
And there you’ll find rest this time in your Father’s arms.

You are the precious Lamb of God.
You are the precious Lamb of God.
The Word became flesh to fulfill redemption’s plan.
Jesus, you are the precious Lamb of God. L. Wolfe

Home life ought to be pointing your children to God, not the world.  – Wade Bass

If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.  Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.  For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.  Colossians 3:1-3

 

 

 

Last month our dear Mommy turned 78!   We celebrated with a tea party at LInde Lane Tea Room in Dixon, CA  I love the Victorian era decor at this charming, and lovely place.   Our group of 8 were seated in the Teddy Bear Room.  Very apropo since our Mom likes Teddy bears.  I brought some hats and fascinators for us to wear.

Most of us ordered the Royal Tea lunch.  This course began with a small scoop of sorbet.  Then we were served a most delicious chicken soup that contained gnocchi, a potato dumpling, as well as some mouth-watering Italian spices.  After that,  a few 3-tiered etageres were brought to our table.  Laden with tiny sandwiches, scones with clotted cream, and dainty cookies and pastries, we truly enjoyed this sumptuous fare.  Of course we each had a cup of tea.  They offered a wide variety of favors.  I chose the licorice mint tea, which was refreshing.   A good time was had by all.   Happy Birthday dearest Mommy!  We love you bunches!

One of the definitions of the word “filter” is: “any substance, such as cloth, paper, porous porcelain, or a layer of charcoal or sand, through which liquid or gas is passed to remove suspended impurities or to recover solids.”

In our human bodies, we have several filters; organs, whose main purpose is to filter out impurities in our blood. Here are some vital filters:

The Kidneys are two bean-shaped organs, each about the size of a fist. They are located just below the rib cage, one on each side of the spine.
Every day, the two kidneys filter about 120 to 150 quarts of blood to produce about 1 to 2 quarts of urine, composed of wastes and extra fluid.
The kidneys are important because they keep the composition, or makeup, of the blood stable, which lets the body function.
Each kidney is made up of about a million filtering units called nephrons. The nephron includes a filter, called the glomerulus, and a tubule.
The nephrons work through a two-step process. The glomerulus lets fluid and waste products pass through it; however, it prevents blood cells and large molecules, mostly proteins, from passing. The filtered fluid then passes through the tubule, which sends needed minerals back to the bloodstream and removes wastes.
The Liver is a large, meaty organ that sits on the right side of the belly. Weighing about 3 pounds, the liver is reddish-brown in color and feels rubbery to the touch. Normally you can’t feel the liver, because it’s protected by the rib cage.

The liver’s main job is to filter the blood coming from the digestive tract, before passing it to the rest of the body. The liver also detoxifies chemicals and metabolizes drugs. As it does so, the liver secretes bile that ends up back in the intestines. The liver also makes proteins important for blood clotting and other functions.

The Spleen is an organ in the upper far left part of the abdomen, to the left of the stomach. The spleen varies in size and shape between people, but it’s commonly fist-shaped, purple, and about 4 inches long. Because the spleen is protected by the rib cage, you can’t easily feel it unless it’s abnormally enlarged.

The spleen plays multiple supporting roles in the body. It acts as a filter for blood as part of the immune system. Old red blood cells are recycled in the spleen, and platelets and white blood cells are stored there. The spleen also helps fight certain kinds of bacteria that cause pneumonia and meningitis.

When I read about these organs and their miraculous role in filtering our blood and keeping us in good health, I can truly say, along with the Psalmist, “I will praise You, for I am fearfully [and] wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And [that] my soul knows very well.” Psalms 139:14 (NKJV)

Just as our bodies need filters to protect our blood, organs, and ultimately, our lives, so we need a spiritual filter to sift out the impurities from our souls; impurities that come from the world (1John 2:15), the devil (1 Peter 5:8), and yes, even our own selves. Jeremiah 17:9 (KJV) The heart [is] deceitful above all [things], and desperately wicked: who can know it. One of the most vital filters that God has provided to us is His word (The Holy Bible).

Consider the following scriptures:

Psalm 12:6 (KJV) 6 The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.

Proverbs 30:5 (KJV)
Every word of God [is] pure: he [is] a shield unto them that put their trust in him.

The word pure in this verse is the Hebrew word Tsaraph, which means:
to smelt, refine, test
(Qal)
to smelt, refine
to test
to test (and prove true)
smelter, refiner, goldsmith (participle)
(Niphal) to be refined
(Piel) to be a refiner
refiner (participle)

If we filter our choices through the word of God, we will prosper. The Lord has provided this navigation for us. “Thy word [is] a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” Psalm 119:105. If we do not filter our decisions through the Word of God, they will chip away at our Christianity. Decisions and choices which may seem trite and harmless can have devastating ramifications if they are not in alignment with God’s will. How imperative it is to guard our hearts and minds with the Word of God. It is the revealed will of God, and a proven tool for filtering out lies and exposing the truth.

Proverbs 4:23 says, ‘Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it [spring] the issues of life.”

Ephesians 5:26-27 (KJV)
That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

 

Perfect Through Suffering

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The age-old query of suffering and hardship has surely been pondered by most of mankind.  But often it’s in suffering that we see the ways of God more clearly.  If we never had tribulation, we would take everything good we have for granted.  The devotional I read this morning, is a perfect illustration of why hardship is sometimes necessary, yea, even vital, to our survival.  It’s up to us whether we will allow hardships to embitter us or to better us.

For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.  Romans 8:18

I once kept a bottle-shaped cocoon of an emperor moth for nearly one year. The cocoon was very strange in its construction. The neck of the “bottle” had a narrow opening through which the mature insect forces its way. Therefore the abandoned cocoon is as perfect as one still inhabited, with no tearing of the interwoven fibers having taken place. The great disparity between the size of the opening and the size of the imprisoned insect makes a person wonder how the moth ever exits at all. Of course, it is never accomplished without great labor and difficulty. It is believed the pressure to which the moth’s body is subjected when passing through such a narrow opening is nature’s way of forcing fluids into the wings, since they are less developed at the time of emerging from the cocoon than in other insects.

I happened to witness the first efforts of my imprisoned moth to escape from its long confinement. All morning I watched it patiently striving and struggling to be free. It never seemed able to get beyond a certain point, and at last my patience was exhausted. The confining fibers were probably drier and less elastic than if the cocoon had been left all winter in its native habitat, as nature meant it to be. In any case, I thought I was wiser and more compassionate than its Maker, so I resolved to give it a helping hand. With the point of my scissors, I snipped the confining threads to make the exit just a little easier. Immediately and with perfect ease, my moth crawled out, dragging a huge swollen body and little shriveled wings! I watched in vain to see the marvelous process of expansion in which these wings would silently and swiftly develop before my eyes. As I examined the delicately beautiful spots and markings of various colors that were all there in miniature, I longed to see them assume their ultimate size. I looked for my moth, one of the loveliest of its kind, to appear in all its perfect beauty. But I looked in vain. My misplaced tenderness had proved to be its ruin. The moth suffered an aborted life, crawling painfully through its brief existence instead of flying through the air on rainbow wings.

I have thought of my moth often, especially when watching with tearful eyes those who were struggling with sorrow, suffering, and distress. My tendency would be to quickly alleviate the discipline and bring deliverance. O shortsighted person that I am! How do I know that one of these pains or groans should be relieved? The farsighted, perfect love that seeks the perfection of its object does not weakly shrink away from present, momentary suffering. Our Father’s love is too steadfast to be weak. Because He loves His children, He “disciplines us . . . that we may share in his holiness” (Heb 12:10). With this glorious purpose in sight, He does not relieve our crying. Made perfect through suffering, as our Elder Brother was, we children of God are disciplined to make us obedient, and brought to glory through much tribulation. From a tract.

Hebrews 2:18 (KJV)
For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.