30 Days of Gratitude – Day 7

Today I found myself blessed with the reuniting of a dear friend and her family.  She is blessed with a wonderful husband and the sweetest 16 year old daughter I’ve met in a long time.

I’m so grateful to God for bringing us back together again after two decades of being apart.  God is so good!  I’m also grateful for Facebook for being able to find her in it.

Since we’ve found each other we both have been through a lot and it was so good getting to catch up in person today!

Never take friends for granted they are also so very important.  May I encourage you to keep in contact with your friends from your youth.  This friend was from back in college and that makes her so special because she knows my history and my family and that is just something that can’t be replaced by anything else.  So if there is someone you have been wondering about may I suggest that if your involved with someone but the person your thinking about is a same sex friend look them up and let your loved one know if you find them.  Share how they are a part of your life with your loved one and include them in it.

I’m fortunate enough that my loved one was a part of my girlfriend and my’s past in college.  We were all a part of a group called Zeta Chi.  My it was so good hearing those words again today.  It’s been years since I’ve heard those words and I miss all those special people that were a part of that college group.

My prayer is that God will reunite me with some of the other women of that group in the future.  We shared things in the past that are special and I care about those girlfriends very much and have a fond place in my heart for them.

Lord bless all my friends those I’m in touch with and those I may be reunited with  and those that I may have to wait until I’m with You in heaven.

Joy – A Fellow Sojourner & A Woman After God’s Own Heart!

30 Days of Gratitude – Day 6

Today I am still grateful for God’s creation but in a more intimate way.  I have a little Chihuahua Schitzu mix.  Other then my Lord and boyfriend she, Tessa is the love of my life and cheers me on a daily basis.

Last December the Lord directed me to her at the shelter and I have been blessed by her calm nature for a Chihuahua and rare barks.  The above photo is when I first got her.

She does love to kiss, which I am attempting to curb.  I don’t care for her tongue in my mouth which happens far too often than it should have.  She loves to cuddle whether it be mommy, daddy or a new friend.

She delights me and it is a blessing from God to watch her each day and her antics and the fun personalities that she shows me.  She loves to play.  One of her favorite games is what daddy calls rabbit.

He uses two fingers as ears that are attacking her.  She absolutely loves playing with her daddy and I love watching them play together.  They are so cute.

She likes to perch on her tower.

I’m so grateful to God that He had the creativity to create dogs they are, other than God and other human’s, man’s best friend or third or second if you don’t know God best friend.  Sorry to be so serious but I believe that even in enjoying God’s creation we must keep our priorities straight.  Even though animals are wonderful we mustn’t let them take the rightful places of God and human companionship.  But even so I would not want to be without the blessing of my dear Tessa of whom I’m so grateful God directed me to.

Joy – A Fellow Sojourner & A Woman After God’s Own Heart!

30 Days of Gratitude – Day 5

Today I’m grateful for my old pastor Pastor Gary Richmond.  He came back to speak to us last night at evening chapel and as always it was wonderful!

“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.”  –  Romans 1:20

He showed how throughout nature and God’s creation all sorts of different animals and insects, birds and fish, that there is not really a difference in us emotionally, socially, governing, & intellectually it is only in a matter of degrees between us and them.

Two bobcats showing love.

The mothering instinct.

I learned that as for mazes the dolphin does far better than us.

As the scripture says, all of creation show God’s divine power and nature.  All we have to do is be observant.  What a blessing from God to open up all this to us.

He made the point that the arabian horse must be one of God’s favorites because in Revelation it talks about Christ’s return on a white horse and he figures that could very well mean a white arabian has the honor.

“I looked, and there before me was a white horse! Its rider held a bow, and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest.”  – Revelation 6:2

“11I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True.  With justice he judges and makes war.  12His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns.  He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself.  13He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God.  14The armies of heaven were following him, on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean.  15Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations.  ‘He will rule them with an iron scepter.’  He treads the winepress of the fury o the wrath of  God Almighty.  16On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:

KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS”

–  Revelation 19:11-16

Whatever horse gets the honor of charging our Lord in the second coming that too is something to look forward to with gratitude.

I love when God peaks through to show His power in the storm and darkness.  All through nature there are so many lessons to be learned.  Thank You Lord.

Joy – A Fellow Sojourner & A Woman After God’s Own Heart!

30 Days of Gratitude Day 4

“In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”  –  1 Thessalonians 5:18 NKJV

Today I’m grateful to God for…”Living By Faith Blog” and his post “Are You Misdiagnosing Your Sin?” By Steve Fuller.  He helped me to realize that what I thought was an issue of laziness when it came to reading the Word of God was actually a sin of unbelief.

Thanks to his blog I have repented of that sin and pray that the Holy Spirit work in my heart.  I also have started praying along with him …over Scriptures showing God as my Treasure and the Word as the way to experience Him.”  The scriptures I’ve started praying over are; “God promises to provide the Spirit as we hear His Word with faith (Gal 3:5John 7:38).” and “So I prayed over Scriptures like Psalm 4:6-7Psalm 16:11Psalm 19:10Psalm 119:722Cor 4:6Phil 3:8-9.”  My prayer is like his heart mine will change.

It may take time.  But I’m grateful to be made aware of the sin so that I can do something about it and become more of the woman of God that He wants me to be.  So even if it is a painful lesson, I think of it as a blessing because I want to be all that my Lord wants of me.

Joy – A Fellow Sojourner & A Woman After God’s Own Heart!

30 Days of Gratitude Days 1 – 3

Hi there! I know it’s been quite a while since I last posted a new post, but here is my own challenge for the month of Thanksgiving. To post at least one post each day and that post be a post of gratitude.

As you may notice I’m 3 days into the month so I’m going to give you three different things that I’m grateful for.

Starting with what I was grateful for on the 1st was that our community made a good showing for the meet and greet for our new property manager and the caretakers of the property. In the past for forming community meetings this has not been the case and it was so nice getting to know new neighbors better or at all. It was also great how the management was interested in getting to know us and our concerns for the property. I really am blessed to be living where I live.

The thing that I’m grateful for for the 2nd day of the month is that as much as I needed to get done I was still open to the stirrings of the Holy Spirit when urged to visit with an old friend. I was able to be there with information the friend needed at just the right time. Obviously, God’s doing and I’m just grateful that what was a nice visit was also an opportunity to be a blessing to another. God is so good that way, as long as we stay open to His leading.

The thing that I’m grateful for today the 3rd day of the month is: That is is another beautiful fall day in Southern California and for my very dear and wonderfully hard working boyfriend. Who loves me more than I deserve but I love him all the more for it.  I’m so blessed by God that He brought Ron into my life and I pray that I never take that blessing for granted.

Joy – A Fellow Sojourner & A Woman After God’s Own Heart.

Happy 4th of July

The 4th of July is a time of picnics and BBQs and fireworks.  A time with family and/or friends.  A time of hamburgers and hot dogs, potato salad, watermelon, corn on the cob, chips and dips and a host of desserts.

The 4th of July is also a time of gratitude.  To be grateful for the freedoms we have.  To be grateful for those who fight for our freedom.  And to be grateful to God for placing us in this country.

We could have been born in some third world country.

Even most of our poor are considerably more rich than most of the worlds population.

So as your enjoying your vacations or just relaxing in yours or someone else’s home be grateful for all the many blessings we have.  Food in our kitchen, a roof over our heads, a car or some sort of transportation to get us around.  Most of all for loved ones and for that greatest loved One of all time our Lord Jesus Christ!

Have the happiest of fourth’s and thank God that you are blessed with all her faults to live in this wonderful country.

May God bless you celebrating richly.

A Woman After God’s Own Heart!

Lora’s Lesson – A Short Story – Part 1

If you had asked Lora she would have told you that there was nothing wrong with her. In her eyes she was perfectly alright and in no need of change. But if you asked those close to her they might have said, “She can be cold and prickly.” Or “Sometimes she seems rather hard.” Only one person really might have understood her. One who had been so close at one time that instead of calling each other friends they referred to one another as sisters. But Lynn had been out of the picture for over four years now.

Lora was a conscientious employee and worked very hard for nine years but in the past four years she had become more and more cantankerous, and critical, often blowing up over minor mistakes by fellow employees. In fact lately the other employees had started to avoid her. She’s noticed that she was spending more lunches alone. Puzzled by this, she couldn’t put her finger on the reason why. She had always seen herself as gregarious and outgoing and a lot of fun, all of which were true as long as you didn’t cross her. It was sometimes very tricky to pinpoint what she’s had done. She was very charismatic and cut you with humor while smiling all the time. While you’re left wondering what just happened?

Lora didn’t always abuse her charisma. In fact it is was what attracted Lynn to her in the first place, as well as her humor, playfulness, compassion, loyalty and empathy. Lynn’s heart broke when the friendship fell apart. She has been hoping that they could find a way to reconcile. Her nightly prayer was; “Lord, I know what I did was wrong and I have asked Your forgiveness, which I thank You for giving me. Father, I have tried to speak to Lora to apologize and ask her forgiveness but she won’t take my calls; she returns my mail and refuses to open the door when I go to her house. Lord, please soften her heart that she would be willing to accept my apology and that our friendship would be restored. I so miss the old Lora.”

The two women had been friends since that first day of first grade. They met on the play ground when bullies were taunting Lynn a spunky and feisty Lora came to her rescue. This sealed their friendship. Not that Lynn needed defending but even at that tender age Lora had a tender heart coupled with a take charge streak.

Time went on, and when the girls reached high school they blossomed into beautiful, popular, young women. They were both on the girls varsity volleyball team. Lora was of course the team captain. They were also very involved in the drama department. This is where Lynn shone. She got the lead in nearly every production, and Lora was always there to cheer her on.

In her junior year, Lynn fell madly in love with Curtis Madding the varsity quarterback. They started dating in November and things started getting serious by Christmas. She started feeling pressured to go all the way. Curtis had big plans for New Year’s Eve. When he let Lynn in on the scheme she felt half exhilarated but mostly terrified. She had visions of how the night would go; dinner at a fancy restaurant, going dancing afterwards, and then a romantic intimate encounter in the hotel room. Things were going just as Lynn had imagined. They had a lovely dinner at “Pierre’s” the most expensive restaurant in town. Curtis had arranged for fake ID’s for them and Lora and her date Tom. So after dinner the four of them met at the “Club Venice”. Lynn was apprehensive about this because she had seen Curtis overdue on alcohol before and really didn’t want to be around him when he was drunk. As she suspected the first thing Curtis did at the club was to order a beer and chasers. She went to Lora and said, “I’m getting scared, Curtis keeps drinking and he is getting more and more aggressive, and demanding. I tried to get him to stop but he pinned me against the wall. Can you and Tom please give me a ride home?” Lora was distracted by the party atmosphere had no desire to leave so she replied, “Oh, Lynn don’t be such a baby. It’ll be okay. He’ll probably just pass out and sleep it off.” Lynn asked, “Do you have your cell phone so I could call a ride home or some change for the phone?” Lora responded, “No I didn’t bring a purse with me I knew Tom would be taking care of everything. Buck up everything will be okay, your such a worry wort.” Lynn walked away feeling deflated and abandoned. She then realized that she had no money to call her mom and dad and left her cell phone charging; she realized Curtis was her only way home, perhaps she could reason with him. Deciding to numb her fears she ordered a rum and coke. She was still nursing it when midnight hit and Curtis pulled her toward him and gave her a sloppy French kiss then said, “Come on baby it’s time to go.” He grabbed Lynn’s arm hard and dragging her out of there, much to her dismay. Before she knew it she was in his truck on the way to the room. All the way she kept telling Curtis, “Please, no! I don’t want to anymore! I’ve changed my mind! Curtis, please take me home! Oh, please, please, no!” Curtis replied only once, “Look you stop being such a tease! I’ll take you home when the evening is over and it’s not over yet you bitch!”

Resting in the Lord

Today was a day of rest in the Lord with my boyfriend and my dog Tessa and I at the beach.

For Tessa things were not so restful, she barked at people passing by, the birds and squirrels.  Basically anything that moved that was new to her.  But she was enjoying herself as she jumped from me to my boyfriend for attention and love.  Of which there was plenty to go around.

She lays now quite content on a pillow watching me write this blog.  She is well worn out from the days activities.

My boyfriend and I had a more relaxing and refreshing time resting in the Lord.  Ron very wisely suggested that we take turns stating things that we could praise God for.  We praised Him for the beauty around us.  For work and the faithfulness of God to always provide.  We thanked Him for the fact that Tessa is still with us because by all accounts she should be dead because of many of my pills she got into, but God was merciful to me and her and kept her from dying.  I thanked Him that he brought Ron back into my life and Ron did likewise about me.  I thanked Him for my apartment, a gift from God.  The gratitude just kept going and going and it felt so good to be praising the Father together.

Ron then suggested that we pray about anything that came to mind.  First we were praying with our eyes closed and then Ron suggested to look out on the beauty of the ocean and not miss that as we were praying.  We prayed for our families, for work, for individuals we care about that have needs and individuals we struggle with that their hurting would come to an end and they might find God.  We were honest with God about where we stood with things and since God already knew it, I’m sure he honored it.

We ended the day watching the sunset.  It was beautiful and a glorious way to end a day with ones you care about and the most important One to care about.  It felt as though the day had been blessed by God.

We had started the day praying that it would be glorifying and honoring to God and that He would keep us.  I must say looking back, resting in God as we did made the day become just what we had prayed for.

My prayer is that you find the time and person to share such a blessed day with.

Joy – A Woman After God’s Own Heart!

The Gift of Gratitude – A Short Story Part 6

Jack what are you going to do with what God has shown you today?” Stunned, “Janet, I’m not so sure I know what to do. You have been a very good wife to me and I’ve been I lousy husband and father to Julie. I just don’t know if what you have found is for me.” “Why? Do you think you are any worse than any other sinner on Earth that He died for? If you do think that you are too bad to be redeemed, let me point out that you are allowing your pride to get in your way and stopping you from receiving the most precious gift that was ever given to man” responded Janet. Jack replied, “How can I be sure that Christ could care for even me?” “Jack, it says in Romans 5:8 ‘But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.’ That is how you can be sure that he cares for even you. The question is what are you going to do with this most precious gift? Are you going to reject it and in the process reject eternal life and all the blessings that go with it? Or are you going to accept this wonderful gift? With the acceptance of this gift comes blessings galore; love, joy, peace, gratitude for all that He has done for you and given you no matter how much that is. Jack you’ve lived a life of anger and bitterness and emptiness long enough don’t you want something better for yourself?” Jack’s heart ached worst than ever, “Janet, when you made your decision did your heart ache?” Janet responded tenderly, “Yes, Jack worst than it ever had in my life like it was crying out to God. That is when I knew I had to take the step to open my hearts door to the knocking of the Savior. Is that what you are feeling now?” “Yes,” said Jack, “I can hardly stand it.” Janet’s own heart beat with joy, “Then may I suggest you confess your sins and ask Jesus to become the Lord of your life. Thank Him for the gift of salvation that He gave you and promise to be obedient to His word.” “Lord,” said Jack, “I’ve never come to you before and I realize the folly of that. God I am so full of sins I hardly know where to start. Please forgive me for my cruelty to my family and employees and my pride, arrogance, materialism and ungratefulness. Thank you for sending your Son to die on the Cross for me and pay the price of my sins. I accept that gift and ask You to become the Lord of my life. I realize now I’m no good at running my own life. I need You. I promise to be obedient to Your word and will. Thank You for this evening Lord, for bringing Gab and Esther into my life and for giving me my family that I had taken for granted. Thank you for Janet’s sweet spirit all these years. Help me to be the husband she deserves. Make me into the father that Julie longs for. Amen.” “Oh, Jack, I can’t express how happy you have made me. I know that you have a lot on your mind. I also know that the two or rather the three of us can face anything with God. My sweet Jack, I’m so grateful that God took everything from us and used it to bring you to Him! I’d rather start all over again with all of us knowing Him than having everything and not having Him.”

A thought occurred to Jack, “What about the fire and you and Julie? Are you grateful for that as well? How could you be grateful for that?” Disbelief and anger were surfacing in Jack at the thought of this. Janet tried to calm him, “Jack, I won’t deny that it was awful and has been terrible painful and I wish with all my heart that it had only been me that had been burned and not Julie. But I trust God and His wisdom I know that even in this He has a plan that will work to good. If this is what it had to take to get your attention I gladly pay the price and although I wish Julie wasn’t affected by this I know her heart for you well enough to know that she would gladly go through anything to have the family she now has. Please Jack see the good in this, if the fire had not happened you may have not lost the business which in turn brought you to God and to me and Julie. In this we can be grateful for all that has happened because the end product has brought wholeness to our family. Jack, don’t beat yourself up over this. I beg you to do your best to see the master plan in all this – we have the family Julie and I have been praying for continually.” With tears in his eyes, “Are you sure that you and Julie won’t hate me for the rest of our days for the consequences of my hard heart?” “Never!” responded Janet with her own tears, “We love you! Apart from God you are the love of our lives! Plus we wouldn’t be living His word if we didn’t forgive you. For in Matthew 6:14-15 Jesus says, ‘For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, you Father will not forgive your sins.’ Plus my joy is too great at having the husband I have been longing for.” “You can truly be grateful for this?” asked Jack. “Yes, my love, God has given me the gift of gratitude. I pray that you find that same gift.” Responded Janet her eyes shining in the dawning sun. “It’s a lot to take in” he admitted, “but I am getting there. I can say I’m grateful for you, Julie and the wholeness I feel in my heart, I’m grateful for your forgiveness. Hum! I guess I could say that I too have found the gift of gratitude. I love you so much Janet thank you for being so patient with me and for praying all those years that this night would one day come.” “It has been my pleasure and the joy of my heart to pray for this night. God is so good and I’m so grateful!”

“Father, another humbled and grateful heart.” says Gab, as he goes down the hospital hall and disappears.

By Joy Dara Stephenson

The Gift of Gratitude – A Short Story Part 3

Jack looked around the room and his gaze fell upon a women that appeared mostly toothless, with a weather beaten face and straggly matted grey hair. In his world this woman would have been one of the most unwanted and unaccepted or even unnoticed because until just recently he did his best to make these people invisible to him. With all of her grotesqueness she had something more that attracted her to him. First there was a sound. The harder he listened the more he realized that she was singing a happy song. Then it was that toothless smile that not only light up her face but radiated all around her. The last thing that drew him to her were her eyes. They shone as bright as the sun and twinkled like stars in the heavens and danced like a youth 1/10 her age. They drew him in to her in awe and wonderment. Never had he seen eyes like hers. He walked to her purposefully and quickly as not to miss her for fear she may leave before he could ask his questions. He introduced himself and asked her what her name was, she replied, “My name is Esther. Is there something on your mind Jack?” Well, that was easy he thought this fascinating woman seemed also able to see into his soul and know that there was something on his heart. “Yes there is something I want,” started Jack “I’ve been noticing how happy you are I might even use the word grateful, yet as near as I can tell you have nothing. How can that be? What is it that fills you with this joy that I so plainly see on you?” “Oh, Jack,” Esther replied, “this indeed is a worthy question. I would be most honored to tell you of the joy I’ve found. But first I must know are you pressed for time?” At this he wasn’t sure, he had no idea of his companions plans for there evening together. He looked quizzically at Gab and he smiled back and nodded. “No,” replied Jack, “I’m not pressed for time. I’m all yours Esther.” “I’m glad to know that,” said Esther, “it’s been a long path and it takes a while to tell.”

“You know I wasn’t always the woman that you see. I had a grand house with upstairs and downstairs servants. I had grounds men for the gardens and the pool and tennis courts and a chauffeur to drive me and one for my husband and they did all the upkeep on the many cars we had. With all of that Jack I lacked the most important thing I lacked gratitude for what I had and I had no joy. My heart was empty and cold. When my husband was jailed for embezzling from his own company I lost it all in a matter of days. When I lost my wealth I lost what friends I thought I had. They were there for the good times but when the bad times hit they were nowhere to be found. The hard heart that I had so cautiously crafted and built at first became even harder when I started blaming all of my losses on my husband. In an attempt to distance myself from him and the losses I listened to some ill advice and divorced him. While in prison and with nothing to look forward to since now I had turned my back on him and not stayed true to my vows of for better or worse he killed himself. The news of this was the beginning of my undoing and a massive change began to take place in my heart. I hurt for the first time at what I had done to my husband and how I had abandoned him. With no where to go and no friends I soon found myself on the streets. This was a truly humbling experience considering where I had come from and how far I had fallen. I had no one, nothing or so I thought. I soon learned that there was a community of hurting people feeling much the way I was feeling here. In the shelters I quickly learned the ones to ask questions of for help with survival skills. So I survived at first with a bitter heart at all I had lost. But as I began to look around me I noticed that there were those that were as equally as bad off as I was that were doing more than surviving. This made me very curious. How could anyone in our circumstances do anything other than merely survive? I wanted to know, as I suspect you want to know, how anyone could find joy in such a place? Am I right?” Jack nodded. Esther smiled her eyes dancing all the more, “This is a true mystery. One I’m honored to share with you. I finally asked my new friends how they could be what appeared to be joyful in such lowly circumstances. Their first answer was but one word – gratitude. All I could think as I left them is what do they have to be grateful for? What do any of us here have to be grateful for? This answer at first angered me more than comforted me. I walked away with an even harder heart than I had had before. I thought these people are truly nuts. I’ve wasted my breathe on a bunch of lunatics! I stayed away from them for a while and soon found myself in the company of some lost souls that really were truly out of their right mind. This got me thinking. If my former friends really were not lunatics they must have had something with this “gratitude” thing. But I was still at a loss as to how to possess it. So I eventually returned to my friends and they welcomed me back with open arms. Which made me realize that they had something more than gratitude they also had acceptance, what I would later discover was love. These were qualities that my friends of the grand old days didn’t truly possess. I became more and more attracted to them. But where was all this coming from in the midst of poverty and utter despair?