Thursday, April 28, 2022

Five Basic Elements of Unconditional Love

merry go round

Life has thrown some pretty big challenges at Steve and I. I'm sure you have plenty of your own. We are thankful the carousel stopped before the dizziness got to our stomach. The constant ups and downs of the ride churned our beings. We hung on for dear life. When Steve and I married, 36 years ago, he planned to take care of me. I was the one born with a congenital birth defect. He nor I, never, for one minute, considered my health would ever be better than his. My perpetual limp, coupled with my basic need for prostethics for both feet, was quickly overshadowed by Steve's need for a double lung transplant in 2020. Life, in general, for everyone, necessitates the five basic elements of unconditional love. Love is what makes our worlds go round. 

Before his transplant, I watched Steve struggle to fit in with his new requirement for oxygen, unable to walk 10-20 feet without stopping for air. People stared at him and his tank. I've almost overcome the stares from curious people, although, some days I'm off my game. I wish Steve never endured the breathlessness of a chronic lung disease or felt inadequate. God grew both of us through his illness and transplant recovery. Praise the Lord Steve is back now! We've come full circle. I'm the one trying to keep up with him again. 

Everyone wants unconditional love. These are the five basic elements of unconditional love we embrace and practice: 
  • Different is good. Diversity was cool in our home before it became a popular buzzword. 
  • Compassion not pity.  Compassion and pity are synonyms but aren't the same. Both convey sympathetic feelings for others, but pity creates cause for regret or disappointment. Pity comes across as sadness or misfortune. Advseristy encourages strength, adaptation and courage. Those valuable charcter traits desire compassion not pity.
  • Wear a smile. A smile is so much more comforting than that furrowed brow frown; no sad faces allowed. Caring is revealed with a happy face. Show your love for ohters by greeting them with a warm smile. 
  • Do not stare, gawk or crane. When I share my story with groups, I laugh at myself. I've become so used to people staring at me, I get offended when they don't. I wonder what's wrong with these people? LOOK at me! (That is a joke, of course.) I really don't enjoy being stared at for the wrong reasons. 
  • Take time for all. Individuals are put into our lives for various reasons. We will learn and grow from every person we meet if we invest wisely. Understanding people is a full-time job.  Friends are a blessing to cherish.
Faith is unconditional love. Our faith sees inner beauty. Our value lives on the inside. Grace and mercy are always unconditional.. Paul, a popular disciple, struggled with his problems until he found Jesus. His attitude changed completely. He accepted his physical plight. Paul wrote the following scripture. I think he began to practice the five basic elements of unconditional love. 
2 Corinthians 12:8-10. "For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.


Monday, April 25, 2022

Faith and Pickles


Summertime means pickling and canning season for a lot of gardeners. Harvests are preserved for wintertime feasting using many different methods. I'm not a big pickle eater although they appear appetizing in a jar. Sealing of the jar is probably the most important step of canning. If you've ever canned, you're familiar with the "pop" the lid makes when the jar is sealed. I remember canning with my mom as a kid. My favorite part was counting the sounds as I heard the comforting pops as the jars sealed. Sealing preserves pickles to be eaten later, months later. If the jar doesn't seal, the food isn't preserved for later and will spoil if not eaten quickly.

Are you beginning to notice Jesus in the details of your life? I'm not sure if it's a gift or simply from meditation and seeking that I find God everywhere, in everything. He inspires me! As I ate a pickle from a jar the other day, Ephesians 4:30 came to me, "And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.

The similarities of faith and pickles are: 
  • Pickles start in a raw perishable state. We are born into a perishable state.
  • Pickles need someone to perserve them. We need a Savior to preserve us.
  • Pickles take time to obtain their unique flavor. We take time to obtain robust faith.
  • Pickles are "ready"-to-eat. We are "ready"-to-go.
  • Pickles must be thrown out if not properly sealed. We will hear "Depart" if not sealed by Jesus.
We are like pickles; a simple cucumber transformed by salt and sealing! Jesus is the only perservative that can keep our faith "in a pickle"!


Friday, April 22, 2022

How to Use Your Faith to Find Something You Lost


Do you allow God to help you in your life every single day? Do you ask him for help? I've heard eye-rolling comments such as "I don't want to bother him", "He's got more important things to do than fool with me" or "He's busy enough, I don't want to add to his list". Are you serious right now? YOU are God's number one priority! God loves to help us. He cannot wait to help us. The "key" to receiving help from The Almighty is to simply ask. I want to share our story of "The Lost Keys" to illustrate how powerful prayer is and how to use your faith to find something you lost...instantly. 

Our family was vacationing in Mexico Beach, Florida. We drove seperately but stayed together. My daughter, Sydnee lost her keys in the house. Losing her keys is not an unusual event for Sydnee, so the rest of us didn't get too excited. Her Dad, Sydnee and I looked for the key for at least an hour. My first line of action for anything, especially problems, is to pray and ask Jesus for help. I began my half-hearted, frustrated praying about five minutes into our search because honestly, I didn't want to be bothered looking for the keys. They were not MY keys. I didn't misplace them. 

Sound familiar? You may be better at being human than me. I'd be all in if I'd lost my keys, But, I didn't lose my keys. Sydnee did.  Humans always jump to blame others, me included. Humans also think others should pay for their shortcomings, me included. My human heart didn't care if she sweated a little over the ordeal. On the other hand, my momma heart began to get worried the longer the search . went on. We looked the house over. The sparsely decorated house should have coughed up the key easily. But it didn't. NOW, I'm concerned...
too hard for God
I've always taught my daughters to trust God, rely on God, ask God for ALL things! "Use your faith" I enourage them. The best way to increase your faith in God is to ask for his help with small things like finding your keys. Jesus loves working in the details of your life. He will blow your mind with his knowledge. Your faith and trust in Jesus will build with the small things. Your faith will increase to believe God can do the unimaginable, the insurmountable, the IMPOSSIBLE! That sentence gives me chills because he's done the impossible for our family. 

The keys are still lost. I got serious with my prayer. I went into the bedroom alone and closed the door. I got humble. I began my prayer with thankfulness. I praised God for being the all-knowing, omnipotent Creator. Please tell me where the keys are. Is there anything too hard for you? I got my answer immediately. I didn't question him saying, "Are you serious? No. That key can't be there." I walked directly to the WASHING MACHINE, opened the door, rummaged through the unwashed clothes and there they were, Sydnee's car keys! Thank you Jesus! The sight of those keys made my heart skip a couple of beats! My heart raced at the magnificence of God. He speaks to little 'ol me! Jesus, the son of God, talks to me. I am all heart eyes! My friends, that is how to use your faith to find something you lost. 

I began to think about what might be too hard for God. Here's what I came up with :


Not One Thing is too hard for God!


Thursday, April 21, 2022

His Fault


His Fault
by Tammy P. Stafford

It's not our Creator's fault his creatures abuse, refuse and cry.
It's our fault we reject, have no affect and despise.
The Creator didn't create murderers, jealousy or greed, 
deception, bankruptcy or aborting his seed.

It's not our Creator's fault his creatures are unkind, rude and dry.
It's our fault we mock, ridicule and act unwise.
The Creator didn't create sickness, lies, cancer or death,
corruption, brokenness or meth.

It's not our Creator's fault his creatures want, live reckless and pry.
It's our fault we bicker, blame and wear a disguise.
The Creator didn't create divorce, alcoholics or fatherless children,
malice, chaos or poor economic trending.

My Creator God is responsible for
The miracle of birth and loving me first
Helping me walk to my husband who does not gawk.
Gives me a song and causes doctor's prognoses to be wrong
Took my place, saved me by his grace.
Hung between thieves on a tree
Defeated death and took the keys
Died for me and rose on the third day free
He gave me life, eternally.

This is his fault...

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Faith like Andrew


Five loaves of bread and two fishes is a well-known miracle of the Bible. Jesus fed a multitude with five loaves and two fishes. This miracle is relatable. If you've ever fed a crowd, you know how much food is required. Honestly, couldn't two people eat five small loaves of bread and two fishes? So, we get the picture of just  how huge a miracle it was to feed more than 5000 people with a meager amount. You know I'm all about faith. I want to look at faith like Andrew in this story.

Most of Jesus' disciples spoke out negatively about the plan to feed 5000. They were sure they didn't have the money to do it. They didn't see any available food. But there was Andrew, the believing disciple. The faithful disciple. Andrew told Jesus he saw a young boy in the crowd carrying five loaves and two fishes. Jesus said "Bring him to me."  

I want faith like Andrew. The other disciples were overtaken by unbelief. Andrew was hopeful. He stepped up to exercise his faith in Jesus. The other disciples thought the task was too monumental for Jesus to perform. It is no mistake Andrew was the disciple who saw the young boy with the food in the crowd. God knew Andrew was the one who would assist Jesus with this miracle. God needed someone who would use the resources at hand to get the job done. If it weren't for faith like Andrew's, everyone would be hungry and noone would have witnessed a miracle!

I also want to be like the young boy who freely gave Jesus his five loaves and two fishes. He gave all he had to Jesus. Imagine how the scene might have played out differently if Andrew had spotted an adult with five loaves and two fishes. I'm suspecting talking an adult out of dinner may have proved very difficult. The Bible tells us we must come as a child to Jesus. This story is the perfect example of how children (the boy) respond to Jesus versus how adults (his disciples) respond to Jesus. The lesson we also see is the boy gave a little and received a lot. 

How can we apply this to every day life? 
  • Believe God can do what his Word says
  • Exercise our Faith by stepping up and out
  • Give when prompted by Jesus
Have you ever hosted a dinner where more guests came than expected? I have gotten very nervous I wouldn't have enough food for everyone. My faith reminded me of this miracle. I used the framework of this miracle to ask God to help me feed my guests. He increased food and decreased appetites. Jesus wants to be in the details of our every day lives. He does the work. Our job is to have faith like Andrew to believe he can.


Tuesday, April 19, 2022

My Kitchen Cabinets Reminded Me


My kitchen cabinets are white. Do they look like they need cleaning in the photo? Not really, but, YES, yes they need cleaning badly! I'm ashamed to say I spot clean my cabinets. Dirt is easy to see on white. Every time I look at them, I spot clean a bit, make myself feel better about their cleanliness and move on. I hope my family or anyone else doesn't look close enough to see my cabinets need a deep smack-down with a wet cloth and a bottle of Clorox spray. A good cleaning takes time and energy that I'm not willing to dedicate to my cabinets. They look good enough to me.

How often do you clean your kitchen cabinets? I had several ladies confess to me that, like me, they don't clean their cabinets enough. They spot clean! God spoke to my heart while my kitchen cabinets reminded me, I spot cleaning my heart too. Ouch! Here are some similarities God pointed out to me:
  • My heart has spots (sin) that I have not repented. I know they are there but I hope everyone else can't see them.
  • Spots can't be seen on black, unsaved hearts. My white, redeemed heart shows spots so clearly.
  • Clean my heart? Shew! It just takes too much time and energy to get down on my knees to do some old-fashioned repenting. 
  • Oh wait, I know what I'll do. I will repent half-heartedly, feel a little better and move on aka spot clean my heart.
Do I have enough time to dedicate to cleaning my heart? For the slightest second, God allowed me to feel the pleasure of clean cabinets, to step back and look at my pleasing work. I know the feeling. The elation inside of me when I finish a project with my own hands. The freedom I feel knowing that doesn't have to be done again for at least two years! I can't wait to show someone what I accomplished. Say Amen if you know what I'm talking about. God reminded me repentance and a good confession of sin brings about that same great feeling of forgiveness and freedom AND it should last longer than two years!

I'm thankful Jesus is in the details, even kitchen cabinets. I praise Jesus for showing me my flaws and forgiving them. I'm amazed he can use things I understand, like cleaning kitchen cabinets, to speak to my soul.  I'm glad my kitchen chabinets reminded me that I allow my heart to get spots when I hold on to sin.  I try my best to justify my sin. I'm like a miserable kid screaming "It's my sin Jesus and you can't have it!"

I repent to Jesus. I ask forgiveness of my spots. I allow God to deep clean my heart. I feel so free. I love this old hymn Search Me, O God. The hymn speaks for my heart completely! Will my heart get spotted again? Probably. But, I hope it takes two years!


And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 

I'm so thankful I have the power of Jesus in my life! Are you?

Monday, April 18, 2022

5 Steps to Increase Every Day Faith

Do you feel like you're being eaten alive? Daniel may have thought the same thing when he found himself thrown into a lion's den. Do you feel like you're drowning? Moses may have thought the same thing just before the Red Sea parted. Are you burned out asking what's the use? The three Hebrew children may have considered eating meat to get out of the flames. Instead of caving to unbelief, Daniel, Moses and Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego exercised their faith. They confidently waited on God to deliver them. We can do the same when we exercise faith in our every day life. 

Hopefully, we won't face hungry lions, nor a sea with an raging army behind us or even get thrown into a fiery furnace. Life overwhelms big sometimes leaving us desperate, scared and begging for help. What if you could face life with confidence relying on your faith to dispel your fears? Would you do it? I've listed 5 steps to increase every day faith to help you depend more on God. These steps should free you up to live more and worry less. You've got to apply them. Practice them every day. 

1. Meditate on God when you first wake. I find communication is best with God first thing with a clear, renewed mind, without all the demands of the day pulling at me. I thank God for who he is and what he's done for me. I thank God for the day. I ask God to guide my day. Think about his goodness. Things he has done you. Request some things from him. Then, listen...

2. Listen for God to speak. My believing friend shocked me when she asked me "How do you know God speaks to you?". I know God is speaking to me when I have a "new elevated" thought. Something I would never think of on my own. It's kind of like letting God do your thinking for you, allowing him to guide you through the day. There's so many ways God speaks. If you'd like more, let me know in the comments.

3. Learn to Recognize God is speaking. I always recognize God speaking to me in my thoughts. We carry many conversations, because I'm continually asking him for advice or answers or something. My seeking heart is always open to recognize him. He may confirm what he spoke through someone else's conversation with me. The Sunday Sermon might cover my questions for the week. I may read my answer. The other day on my way to lunch with a friend, God popped an idea into my head. I thought about turning a project into an Air B&B rental. I'd never had that thought before. During lunch my friend said, "Why don't you turn your house into an Air B&B rental?". Coincidence? Not at all. God spoke and confirmed quickly!

4. Take Action. I remind myself all the time, faith is an action word. The Bible says faith without works is dead. We need faith action in our every day life to keep our faith building and strong. My definition of the word "works" in that scripture is simply a response to my faith.  There are spiritual "works" responses and physical "works" responses. 

Spiritual example: God asks me to believe. If I choose not to believe, my faith is dead. Belief is the works or action required from me. 

Physical example: God asks me to bake my neighbor a cake. If I choose not to bake it, my faith is dead. If my faith were alive, I'd bake the cake and deliver it, recognizing God will accomplish his work with the cake. Another physical example. Will I turn that project into an Air B&B rental?

5. Ask, Believe, Receive. Do this exercise every day to increase your faith. Ask God for something small, very specific and personal. Ask for something tangible so you know God answered your prayer. Ask for:

  • a friend to call or text you today
  • your empty gas tank to make it to the station
  • to find something you've misplaced
  • to understand a scripture you've struggled with
  • to curb your appetite (this is a favorite of mine)
Ask God for it. Believe him to do it. Receive it. If you practice this simple technique every day, your faith will increase. Trust God for the little things and before long, HE will be trusting you with the BIG things. Matthew 25:23  His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou has been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.

My goal is to help you see Jesus in the details. 5 Steps to Increase Every Day Faith is just the beginning. Please comment your simple prayer below and let me know how God answered it. 


Wednesday, April 6, 2022

The Chest or the Bosom


When Steve lovingly slid Milisende’s stuffed zebra, Zebby, inside his jacket, I was jelly! His chest is still tender from his double lung transplant. You’d know the top of my face/head hits Steve perfectly centered on his scar. We hug gently not to hurt him.
I wondered what the draw is to laying your head in someone’s bosom that is so comforting. The bosom position also makes you feel safe, protected and loved. Arms don’t even need to complete the hug as long as your head rests on the bosom of another!
Then I remembered Abraham’s bosom from the Bible. I’d equate it to heaven before Jesus came, for people who died in faith believing. Ah! I suddenly understood the security of the physical bosom. It is a place of rest. God designed the space between our neck and stomach long and wide enough for a baby-size head to an adult-size head to fit. Wow!
Steve received new lungs inside his bosom. The heart is inside the bosom. God breathed life into our bosoms. Blood is disturbed from the bosom throughout the entire body. Life-giving milk comes from mom’s bosom. A lot of things happen in the bosom. I don’t know if your mind works like mine, but I’m thankful God can take a one-word thought and totally blow me away!
John 13:23
Now there was leaning on Jesus' bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved.

In his bosom365,