Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Blessed Beyond Measure

We are so blessed.

It’s a phrase we hear so often, but recently I’ve been wondering…

Do we really believe it?

Think with me a moment.

When was the last time you watched one of your own family members die before your very eyes, because they proclaimed they believe in Jesus? Or can you look around your cozy living room and see the ones you love all safe?

When was the last time you didn’t know where your next meal was coming from? Or do you have a pantry and fridges stocked full of delicious things to eat, and money to buy more if you run out?

When was the last time you heard the roar of an army plane and franticly ran for the nearest bomb shelter, and fearfully listened to the barrage of explosives as their sound cut through the air? Or can you peacefully walk outside, spread your arms wide and breath in deep the fresh air, and feel the sun gently warming your cheeks?

When was the last time you wrapped your tattered coat around you in a vain attempt to stay warm, and wondered where you would sleep that night? Or do you have a soft, comfortable bed, in which you can rest without any worries?

When was the last time you went to church and heard about Jesus’s love for you, or when did you last read your Bible and think about the wondrous gift of salvation you have received? Thousands die without even hearing the name of Jesus or of the salvation He offers. And yet, you have heard, and have eternal life.

We are so blessed.

Do I really believe this?

Honestly, my problems are so minute when compared with some things. Seriously, I’m fussing because I might be gluten intolerant? Or I’m upset because I don’t have aaannnyythiiing to wear? (When in reality, I have a closet full of clothes…) Or because brother finished the coffee off and now I must make a new pot? Really, I have no reason whatsoever to complain…

…and yet, I do.

Why?

Do you realize you blessed you really are?

Because, we have so much that the majority does not.

Are you truly thankful?

Take a moment right now and just praise the Lord for the gifts He’s given you. Don’t let your problems become bigger than your God, whatever they may be. And whatever you do...

…keep being thankful.

For really, you are blessed beyond measure.  

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Glorify Thy Name

[Warning to you, the reader! :) I probably could have made this article much shorter, but when I first wrote this, I added in all the little details and things for me, an avid Bible Bee-er. So, you may or may not appriciate them all, depending on if you are part of the NBB or not. So please, bear with me, and I hope you enjoy the third and final installment my 2015 BB series. :) ]

I squeezed my hands together in anticipation. The moment had come! I watched another young lady walking down the aisle to receive her medal. I was next to go up, and how excited I was! I glanced up at the stage, where a group of Senior Bible Bee contestants were already forming on the stairs. I couldn’t wait to join them!

Lights were flashing and the entire crowd was clapping. I took a deep breath and glanced over at the person in charge, waiting for the signal. Next thing I knew, she smiled at me and pointed down the aisle. “Go ahead, Congratulations!”
National Bible Bee 2015 - Senior Qualifiers!

A big smile formed on my face. Amidst the exciting cheering of the crowd, I took one step forward, then another, and another, continuing to walk towards the brightly lit stage. I treasured each step in my heart, because I knew this was my final time walking this aisle to receive my final Bible Bee medal. So many thoughts were going through my head. All those months studying were completely worth it for this moment! I’m so excited! Thank You, Jesus! Oh, the camera is on me, I’m on the big screen! I wonder if I will make the top 15 and go to semis? Thank you so much, Father, for allowing me to be here! I’m so happy!

I neared the end of the long aisle, and paused until Mr. Zwyane motioned for me to come forward. My stomach fluttered in excitement as the red and gold medal was placed around my neck and I shook his hand. The weight of my new Bible Bee medal rested against my chest and I happily smiled for the camera.

I joined the other Senior contestants on the stage, and began to clap and cheer for the others. Everyone had done such a wonderful job studying and memorizing God’s Word that summer and fall, and I was so proud for all the wonderful young people who stood on the stage with me. My happiness increased as I realize I was standing beside one of my dear friends. We smiled at each other and looked at each other’s medals. Tears welled up in my eyes as I cherished the moment. The bright lights shone on my wet eyelids and I could hardly make out the crowd we were in front of.


I watched as other contestants, including many of my friends, walk up to also receive their medal and join us on stage. I had memorized over a thousand verses to get to this moment, and I was hoping and praying I would be one of the top fifteen contestants who would qualify for the semi-final round.

Before I knew it, each one of the one hundred and twenty Senior Bible Bee contestants had joined us on the stage, each with a brand new, shiny medal around their neck. Waves of energized cheering met my ears and everyone clapped, even though our hands were getting numb. I had been smiling for so long my cheeks were beginning to hurt, but I couldn’t stop smiling. I looked over at my friend and we laughed for joy. Everyone smiled again as group pictures of the contestants were snapped, and then, a voice broke through the electrifying cheers.

“At this moment, we are going to announce our 2015 Senior Semi-finalists.”

My heart skipped a beat and then began to beat rapidly, faster and louder. This was the moment. The moment I had dreamed about, prayed about, and hoped for. Would my name be called, making my dreams a reality? A hush spread across the room. Everyone was literally on the edge of their seats. Or, in my case, on the edge of the step I was standing on.

The first name pounded in my ears. It wasn’t mine. A shout of excitement went up from the contestants and crowd, and a young man made his way to the front. It died down again to silence and everyone held their breath for the next name.
The joy and exciting for each other is so thrilling! ^_^

My eyes grew moist as I heard the next name. The pressure was too great! Again, it wasn’t mine. With baited breath, we all listened as each name was called. Many of the names were those belonging to very dear friends of mine, and I was so very excited for them! Happy tears sprang to my eyes when I heard the name of my friend who was standing next to me. Her face was priceless, and although unable to, I wanted to wrap my arms around her in a congratulatory hug. She had made semi-finals! Hooray!

As the final name of those who qualified for semi-finals was called, the cheers again continued and grew louder. I wiped my eyes and glanced up at the flashing lights. The full reality that my name was not called began to sink in as I watched the fifteen below hug each other for joy, and then line up again for more pictures. I’m not a semi-finalist. My Bible Bee journey is over for…ever. I am now…an alumni. My heart both pounded excitedly for my dear friends who had qualified for semis, but also felt heavy with disappointment. I smiled with the other contestants for a few more pictures.

“Congratulations to all of you!” Mr. Zwyane’s voice cut through the clapping. “May the semi-finalists please remain standing, and the rest of you re-join your families. God bless you all.” He nodded happily and began to clap again.

The remaining one hundred and five contestants, including myself, descended the stairs, and I found myself locked in a tight embrace from one of my dear friends. She had known my desire for semis, and was sad I had not advanced with her. We reluctantly released each other and I walked back to my seat, where my dad and sister were. They congratulated and comforted me. I knew they were also disappointed I had not made it, but were supportive of me nonetheless.

We watched as the top fifteen lined the stairs for more pictures. Watching their happiness was a thrill and joy to me, but my heart also felt like lead. I couldn’t hold back the torrents that tempted to flow any longer, so I quickly grabbed a tissue from my bag and wiped my eyes. All the momentum and adrenaline from the past several hours was wearing on me, and now the climax which had crumbled down was too much.

These fifteen amazing young people inspire me so much! 
The fifteen contestants descended the stairs and returned to their own seats. Mr Upton, the Bible Bee chairman, walked out onto the stage and began to speak to us. I don’t remember everything he shared, because I was fighting a battle…an inward battle.

Why? Why did it have to end this way? God, please help me. You know what my heart’s desire was and You know how I asked You to make this dream a reality in my life. But why did You say no? I twisted the tissue in my hands as if I was squeezing the life out of it. I asked You to give me strength and You did, but why did You not allow me to make semis? Oh Jesus, help me! Why?
And even as I asked these questions, a quiet voice spoke to my heart.

Didn’t you want to glorify me?   

My mind flew back to that morning, when I was reading my Bible and praying before I went downstairs to take my tests. One of the verses I had read was John 12:28, which had this phrase in it.

“Father, glorify Thy name.”

I prayed those words to Jesus, asking that whatever would happen that day; during the testing, the Opening Ceremony, and the outcome of it, that I would glorify Him and His name would be lifted up.

Now was my chance to do just that.

I wiped my eyes again. Again, the question was whispered in my heart. Are you going to glorify Me?

God, You want me to glorify you with this competition. So I’m going to thank You. I thank You for the amazing Bible Bee year I’ve had, and for allowing me to qualify for Nationals and memorize all these verses perfectly. I praise You for working out all the details so we could travel to San Antonio and be here for the amazing event. Thank you for being with me during the testing today and letting me get almost 94% on the test. And in oral rounds, I don’t know of any mistakes I made. Thank you. You are the one who gave me strength for this race.

I could feel the weight in my chest lifting and even more joy than had been there before was taking its place.

You are good, Father. You know best. Help me to rest in Your love and not feel depressed about not making the semi-finals as I had dreamed. Instead, let me rejoice with the others that made it and be a source of encouragement to them. Thank you, dear Jesus, for everything. Just help me to glorify You.

My tissue made its way to my eyes once more. I continued to ask the Lord to help me to not be selfish or jealous, but to be completely excited for the semi-finalists.

I looked up toward the stage, where Mr Upton was making his closing remarks; a smile spreading across my face, I fingered the tissue which was now quite worn out.

It was worth it. No, I didn’t make semis, but I’m okay. It was so, so worth it. And I’m happy…look at all my dear friends and their joy! I can’t wait to congratulate them.”

I glanced back over my shoulder and looked at a friend who was sitting with her family.  Happiness was written all over her face. I was so proud of her for making semis. I turned my attention back to the stage, where Mr. E.Z. was asking the audience to bow their heads for closing prayer. 

After the Amen and dismissal, I stood up and immediately found myself in another huge hug from my friend. We found another group of our good friends and I remember congratulating them all. But I didn’t get far in doing so, for they all begin to console me, because they knew my dream had been shattered. My eyes grew wet again as each of them wrapped their arms around me in turn. These were some of my dearest friends…we shared our hopes and goals with each other. The unity of spirit between us was something I have not found in many other friends. We had a beautiful time visiting after the Opening Ceremony, sharing what God had done that evening, and playing games.

It had to have been past 11 pm when I finally made my way back up to our hotel room. I pulled my journal out and scribbled down what had happened that day. So many things had taken place it was hard to summarize it. Near the end of the entry, I penned these words.

“I believe God was glorified!”

And looking back, all I can say is this. To God be the Glory, great things He has done! Yes, He did marvelous things and His power was shown that week. He had higher plans and thoughts for me, and it was still so beautiful. That week was one of the best weeks of my life…the unity of Jesus among the contestants was encouraging, and the Lord was magnified through the competition. Friendships were deepened and goodbyes were hard. And even though I didn't make semis, that wasn't what mattered. What truly mattered was that my relationship with Jesus deepened and because I studied His Word, I was a winner, even though I did not rank in the top 15 or top 5. I can still say with all my heart, that yes...
                                                                  …It was completely worth it.



Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Whatever the Test, Trust in Him

“Rachel, you’re next!”

My turn had come. The moment I had been preparing for the past four months was here. My heart pounded and my mouth felt as if I hadn’t had a drink for 24 hours. I followed the man who had called my name to the door of the testing room.
One of the testing rooms for Bible Bee Oral Rounds 


“Do your best!” he smiled as I entered the room. My mind was whirling. I felt cold. I was both very excited and very nervous. As I walked up to the front of the room, I looked around for my Dad. Our eyes met and he gave me thumbs up and an encouraging look. I got to the front of the room and stood in front of the table as I had been instructed. My judges, a man and woman, sat behind the table. The woman smiled and handed me the headset. I took it and put it on, adjusting the microphone so it was in the correct position.

She began to give me my instructions for the oral test. “You have up to 5 minutes to quote up to 3 passages. Don’t feel like you need to rush because you will have plenty of time.”

“Yes,” I thought to myself. “Do. Not. Rush!” I let out a slight nervous sigh as she finished giving me 
my instructions.

“When you’re ready, just state your name and the Bible version you will be using.”

I sent up one more prayer for strength and focus. I had to quote these three passages of scripture with as few mistakes as possible, with about thirty people listening to me! I didn’t know what three passages I would be reciting…only that they would be 3 out of the 205 passages I had memorized for the 2015 National Bible Bee. These 205 passages totaled up to over 800 individual verses and the passages all varied in length from 1 verse to 22 verses! And while I had worked diligently to memorize and perfect these verses the last 3 months, I still had those passages I struggled with. I hoped I would not receive one of those passages, but I knew all I could do was my best in God’s
Bethany, Emily, Bella, and I: waiting for testing to begin
strength. And here I was, ready to take my oral test at Nationals 2015.

Somehow, I found my voice.  

“Rachel Crosswhite, King James Version.”

Ready or not, here I go!

The woman gave me my first reference and started the timer. “Please recite: Romans five, one through eleven.”

Taking a deep breath, I shut my eyes and began, in a shaky voice, to recite the given passage. “Romans five, one through eleven. Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. By whom also…”

I quoted the passage, not too fast, but not too slow either…thinking about each word. God showed Himself strong! Just before my oral round, I had a practice session in our room with Daddy, quoting verses and warming up so my mind was “in motion”. During that practice session, I had quoted this passage, and had a brain freeze - forgetting how the passage continued at one point in the middle of it. Because of that, I had gone over this passage several times. Now, I was quoting that same passage, which was fresh in my mind, and I didn’t blank! Praise God!

“…we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement. Romans five, one through eleven.”

One down, two to go!

“John twenty, twenty-four through thirty one”, was the next passage I was given to recite.

I swallowed hard. This was one of those passages I had struggled with. But a couple weeks before Nationals, I had found a pattern to the saids and saiths that had confused me, and added hand motions. That helped tremendously. If I focused and used my motions, I could quote it right most of the time. I practiced it often. And here I was: needing to quote this passage for my oral recitation. I knew it was possible, but I must really focus under the pressure. “Lord, help me,” I silently prayed.

“John twenty, twenty-four through thirty-one. But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails…”
Waiting for Opening Ceremony to begin the first evening.
So much fun! ^_^

I was here to do my best. As I quoted the passage, I used my hand motions, careful thinking about each word before I pronounced it. I came to the last two verses, which were especially good ones…

“And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, and that believing ye might have life through His name. John twenty, twenty-four through thirty-one.”

I breathed a sigh of relief, for as far as I knew at that point, I felt like I had kept it all straight! Praise the Lord! Two passages down, one to go.

The woman gave me my final passage. “Please recite: Psalm sixteen.”

 “Psalm sixteen. Preserve me, O God, for in Thee do I put my trust. O my soul, thou hast said unto the Lord, Thou art my Lord…”

This passage was a favorite, and I knew it well. Like Romans 5:1-11, I had quoted this prior in my warm up session with my Dad. God allowed me to have one last run-through of the Psalm.  I also remember, that day, walking down the hallway to go somewhere, and I held a portion of my verse cards in my hand, reading this Psalm. I had reviewed it then, too!

I emphasized the familiar words…

“…Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in Thy presence is fullness of joy; at Thy right hand there are pleasures forevermore. Psalm Sixteen.”

I took a deep breath. I opened my eyes. I was done. As I removed the headset with shaking hands, the woman congratulated me and said I may go sit down. My eyes welled up with tears of happiness and relief, and through the applause of the crowd, I made my way back to where Daddy was sitting. He gave me a hug.

I sat there and sent up a prayer of thanksgiving to my Heavenly Father. God had girded me with strength, and had made my way perfect. I had quoted all three of my passages with no passes, no word prompts, and no tongue twist-ups. Glory to HIS name!  I had trusted Him to help me, and He did!

Closing Ceremony evening. Here's the annual "winner!"
picture of 2015! Congratulations, Delie! 
At that point, I didn’t know how many points I received, or if I made any mistakes, but six weeks later, I found out my total score of both written and oral recitation tests.

By God's grace, I received a perfect score! Praise the Lord! All during the study season, I had prayed that He would bless me with a perfect oral score, and I placed my trust in Him for strength. Without Him, I knew I could not have memorized 880 verses word perfectly in three and a half months. I just had to give it over to Him, and trust Him completely for the results. It was totally worth it.

So now, I’m going to give you a dare, but it’s a good dare. I dare you…whatever you are facing in life, maybe with an upcoming test, a trip or an event you’re worried about, or any difficulty; you fill in that blank…Trust fully in God. He promises to never leave you, or forsake you. He is our refuge and strength and a very present help in trouble. Ask Him for strength. Fully rely on Him. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. He shall direct your path!

As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the Lord is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him. For who is God save the Lord? or who is a rock save our God? It is God that girdeth me with strength, and maketh my way perfect. He maketh my feet like hinds' feet, and setteth me upon my high places. 
{Psalm 18:30-33} 

Friday, January 6, 2017

Six Days Away


Today, I begin a three part series sharing a peek into my 2015 National Bible Bee Journey. If you've never heard of the Bible Bee, I encourage you to go HERE to find out more! I competed for five years, and my life was t.o.t.a.l.l.y changed through the Bible Bee and study of His Word. 
The Bible Bee is something very near and dear to my heart, and so some of the things I will share are extremely special to me. Studying and competing in the 2015 NBB was one of the best experiences of my life, and the Lord taught me many beautiful things during that six month period. 

Stay tuned for all three parts! 
Six Days Away (You're reading this!)
No Matter What May Be the Test
Glorify Thy Name

~*~*~*~*~

It was November 11th, 2015. Another day of studying for the Bible Bee was over, and Nationals was one day closer. The house was quiet as everyone else had gone to sleep. I sat on the edge of my bed, preparing to turn the light out. Many thoughts were running through my head, the main one being that Nationals was only 6 days away. That thought overwhelmed me. I felt so unprepared. Yes, I knew all my 879 memory verses, and I knew every little detail contained in John 7 through 12 by heart, and that long list of 100 or so Greek words, but I still felt inadequate. That upcoming test with 200 questions in it scared me. Really scared me. I had no earthly clue what that test would hold. Would the questions be easy? Hard? Beyond hard? I didn’t know. I did know, though, I wanted to do well on it. There were so many things I could still study…I just hoped they wouldn’t ask that on the test.

I rested my chin on my folded hands, and closed my eyes. “Dear Lord, I’m so nervous. This test is coming up, and I don’t feel ready. I’m sure the other contestants are doing something to be better prepared than I am. I don’t want to flunk! I want to do my best to Your glory. Lord, I have no idea what this test will hold. What if those 200 questions are so reworded I won’t understand what they are asking?!” I opened my eyes and stared at the carpet, thinking about how the questions may be. I told myself I didn’t need to worry about it, because all the other contestants would be taking the same exact test, but my effort to console myself didn’t help much.

Even though my brain was tired from reviewing my piles of verse cards and study notes, the worries which flashed through my head wouldn’t give it a break. I decided to pick up the hymnbook next to my bed and see if I could find any encouragement within its pages.

I passed familiar hymns such as It is Well with my Soul, and also some I didn’t know, slowly scanning the worn pages. Lord, please give me peace about this test. I’m over worrying about it, but I can’t help but be nervous!

Suddenly, a phrase jumped off the paper into my blue eyes.

“No matter what may be the test…”

What? I glanced up at the title, which I found familiar.

God Will Take Care Of You.

Oh, yes, I knew this song! But this time, this verse took on a whole new and deeper meaning to me as I read them.

            No matter what may be the test, God will take care of you;
            Lean, weary one, upon His breast, God will take care of you.


Peace flooded around the nervousness in my heart as I read these words. My eyes dropped down to the refrain.

             God will take care of you, Through every day, over all the way; He will take care of you, God will take care of you.

“Thank you, Jesus! No matter what may be the test, You will take care of me!” It was such a special moment…God giving me that hymn just when I needed it. Almost like He gave me a hug and whispered into my ear “Daughter, trust Me. I’ve got this.”

I proceeded to read the surrounding verses, and the hymn became even richer as I meditated on the words.

            Be not dismayed whate’er betide, God will take care of you. Beneath His wings of love abide, God will take care of you.           “I don’t need to be dismayed or worried. God’s going to help me.”


            All you may need He will provide, God will take care of you; Nothing you ask will be denied, God will take care of you.

“Yes, of course, He can provide me with the answers. If I am to pass this test, it will be by His power. And look at what He’s provided to me so far. He’s given me the strength to study for the past six months, memorize all these verses, and given me insights into my study of John one through twelve…and He’s going to provide me with strength for the test.”

Oh, what encouragement I felt now. I grabbed my journal and opened its black and white flowery cover, flipping to the next blank page. Even though it was late, I just had to jot down what God had shown me that evening.

Was I still nervous? Oh yes. But did I need to fear? No. Because God would be with me, no matter the test. In Hebrews, He promised to never leave me or forsake me. And I know He keeps His word.

I flipped the light out and pulled the covers up to my chin. It was a bit chilly, it being November. Tomorrow was going to be another day to prepare for this test. Another day closer to Nationals. But I had a song on my lips for when I was nervous. And a God that was bigger than this mountainous test which loomed before me. He would take care of me.   

Friday, December 30, 2016

You Never Change - Part Two

A few days after the funeral, Jesse arrived home from work. Walking into the kitchen where Emily was making homemade pizza, he sat down at the table. Emily’s gaze met Jesse’s as he leaned on the table with folded hands. She immediately sensed something was amiss.

“Jesse,” she swallowed. “What’s the matter?”

Jesse’s eyes dropped and he studied his fingernails nervously.

Quickly rinsing her hands of the cheese and drying them, she sat down across from him. “Now, tell me, dear. What happened?”

“Oh, Emily,” he began. “I hate having to tell you this. But,” He clinked the salt and pepper shakers together, not sure how to continue. Looking up into her cerulean blue eyes, he went on. “The company I’m employed with has asked me to relocate from where we are now in Virginia to North Carolina.”

Emily gasped, looking at her husband incredulously.

Jesse nodded. “That means we either have to move and sell this place, or stay here. But that also means I lose my job.”

It took a moment for what Jesse had told her to actually hit her.

Her heart picked up a faster rhythm and her forehead puckered. Emily questioned in a concerned whisper, “What are we going to do?”

“I don’t know yet.” Jesse replied, squeezing her hand. “What do you think we should do, honey?”

His wife shook her head. “Well, Jesse, I don’t know either. All this change...” Emily propped her chin in her free hand, giving a half sigh.

The two conversed for the next few minutes about their dilemma. When baby Ian’s cries came from the bedroom, announcing his nap was over, Jesse and Emily stood up. Jesse went to Ian and brought him out to the highchair for a snack of Cheerios.

Jesse was unusually quiet that evening. He had a lot on his mind. After supper and play time, Rosie and Ian were laid down for the night. Jesse and Emily sat together in the living room, enjoying the quiet, books, and their mugs of hot chamomile tea. They also talked about the decision that was facing them: discussing the pros and cons of the two options they had.
After a bit, Emily laid aside the book she was reading, I Dare You, and leaned forward in her tan easy chair. “I think I’m heading to bed. Are you coming?” She asked as she stood up.

“In a little,” Jesse responded, looking up at his wife. “Were you enjoying your book?” He inquired, scratching his nose.

“Oh yes!” Emily answered enthusiastically as she undid her braid and shook out her hair. “Even though I just started it not too long ago, it’s already made me think about how I am living my life, and what lies are out there the devil wants me to believe. I can’t wait to read the rest!”

Jesse nodded with a tired smile on his face. “That’s great! Maybe if you like it that much I’ll read it someday.”
“Are you okay, Jesse?” Emily knew the climax and activities of the past several days were wearing Jesse’s nervous system out. “You need your rest. Please come to bed soon.”

He agreed, telling Emily, “I will, honey. I just…want to do some thinking…” Jesse’s voice trailed off.
Resting her palms on the arm of the recliner, Emily stooped and gave her husband a goodnight kiss.

“Love you, Ems!” Jesse called out gently as she opened the bedroom door, not wanting to wake little Ian sleeping in the room.

Emily looked back over her shoulder and winked, throwing a kiss. He waved back with a faint smile on his face.
The door closed, and Jesse leaned back. He tried to focus on his book again, but the thoughts running through his mind made it basically impossible. Finally, he laid it aside and bent forward in his chair. He squeezed his green eyes shut and ran his fingers through his slightly curly brown hair.

How— I mean, why…why is all this happening? All these changes...I don’t understand. And it hurts. It seems to be just one thing after another!

Jesse propped his elbows on his knees and rested his chin on his folded hands. He took a deep breath.

First it was Mama…so unexpectedly. I still can’t believe it. His eyes grew wet, but he hurriedly wiped them with the back of his hand.

And also there are all the changes in this world. It’s down to Hillary and Trump in the elections, and…and all the issues with abortion and gay marriage…it’s changing so fast and our country is drifting further from God all the time.

Jesse slowly rocked back and forth. Pausing, he noticed a piece of lint on his pant leg and flicked it onto the floor. His thoughts went on.

Then…then it is my job. I don’t know what we’re going to do about this! Are we going to move, or lose our income? Lord, please show me what to do, and please give me peace in these changes!

He felt a prompting to pick up his Bible. Grasping the worn leather cover, he let the pages fall open and quietly flipped through.

Lord, give me a verse. Give me something from You to guide me.

He skimmed the pages and kept praying. Lord, something! I feel so lost in all these changes!

And there it was.

The other verses surrounding this one seemed to fade to the background, as Jesse fixed his eyes on the special words.

For I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed. 
                                                                               ~Malachi 3:6
His eyes welled up with tears again. Although this time, they were not tears of sorrow, but of rejoicing. Jesse read the verse over and over. Gladness filled his heart.

I am the Lord, I change not... He doesn’t change! Yes, Jesus, You never change! You are true to Your Word and promise to never leave me! How could I have forgotten that?!
Jesse clasped the Bible to his chest and bowed his head in thankfulness. Heavenly Father…thank You for that reminder. Thank You that You never change…You never lie. You are always the same yesterday, today, and forever! Thank You that I can trust in You, because You are faithful. You are the Solid Rock I can stand on…ALL other ground is sinking sand! I know my life is completely crazy right now, and I have some pretty major decisions to make in the midst of my grief. But You are so kind, so faithful to meet me in this storm. I’m so grateful that you NEVER change, and I can count on You, even when all around me is failing. Because You are my Solid Rock, I will not be consumed. I love You, Jesus…
Quietly, Jesse laid his Bible on the coffee table. He stretched, yawned, and stood up. The troubled spirit that had haunted him minutes before had all vanished—he was resting in the confidence of his Savior. Jesse went in the bathroom and picked up his orange toothbrush. He moved the bristles back and forth, back and forth, making toothpaste foam that came and decorated his lips. He was still thinking.

He never changes. Wow. That doesn’t mean the world around me will not change, but it does mean I have a foundation to stand firm on. Of course, yeah, I’m still worried about my job and everything, but I can know my God doesn’t change and He is on my side!

Jesse rinsed his mouth out and dried his face on the towel. He studied his face in the mirror for a moment, and suddenly flashed a silly grin at himself.
“Thank You, Jesus.” He whispered to himself. “Thank You that You never change.”

-The End-


PS: My apologies for not posting in nearly six weeks! Life has been very busy with trips, holidays, and company. I hope to consistently blog in 2017. Happy New Year, readers! 

Monday, November 7, 2016

You Never Change - Part One

Nothing seemed to be going right. At that moment, Jesse thought that his whole life was upside down.

My life is a tornado! I just don’t understand. Nothing will ever be the same!

Jesse sat in the bleak hospital family room with one main question on his heart. 

Why?

His green eyes were bloodshot and their usual sparkle was nowhere to be seen. He stared at the ugly blue vase on the table before him, trying to piece the jumble of the past few days together.

Heaving a sigh, Jesse slowly leaned over and buried his face in his hands. Emily, his wife, wiped a tear from her cheek. She put her arm around him and comfortingly stroked her husband’s shoulder. 

Emily felt a deep weight in her heart as well. She whispered something in Jesse’s ear, and he reached over and grasped her hand tightly. The two sat thus for several minutes.

The sound of stiff fabric rustling together and footsteps caused Jesse and Emily to glance up. It was the doctor entering the room. 

Jesse straightened up quickly and stood, studying the doctor’s face. “Doctor, do you have any news?”

Doctor Wallace examined the two in front of him, taking in their current state of emotions. Jesse, with his sagging shoulders and tousled hair…and Emily, with tearful eyes full of concern and questions.

“Please be honest with us, Doctor Wallace.” Emily hoarsely whispered. 

“Well,” the doctor began, swallowing hard. “Your mother came through the surgery fine, and is resting now…But—“ Doctor Wallace paused, not sure how to go on. Placing a hand on Jesse’s shoulder, he continued. “But I’m afraid the infection was there long enough to spread throughout her body, and it’s...causing her system to begin shutting down. I tried everything.” His voice broke as he consoled the couple. “I’m so very sorry.”

Jesse could feel the lump in his throat growing larger and his eyes were stinging. He managed to choke out, “How long does she have?”

“I am afraid Michelle has 48 hours or less.”

The last cord broke within Jesse’s heart and tears ran down his flushed cheeks. “My mother…my mama…” He cried, sinking into his seat.

Emily wept hot tears and hugged her sorrowing husband.

The doctor pitifully watched them a moment before turning and exiting the room, letting them have their much needed privacy. 

That really is the least favorite part of my job. Doctor Wallace thought to himself as he walked down the tiled floor, back to his patient. I just hate being the one to break the news of a dying loved one.

“It’s just not fair.” Jesse moaned. “She was fine a few days ago! Still the same sweet mama we love and—“ The words caught in his throat and he wiped his wet cheeks before continuing. “And then she had that fall, and wasn’t doing well, and after going to the hospital we found out her gallbladder had ruptured and now this sudden surgery and—.” The distressed words tumbled out of his mouth. 
“Now…now she’s going. She’s leaving us. Why? Why does this change have to happen to us? Mama…” 

Emily reached out and pulled several tissues from the box on the table next to them. She handed some to Jesse, and blew her own nose. “Honey, I love you. And it’s going to be alright.” She made an attempt to speak. “Keep praying about it. God loves you, too.” 

Jesse sniffled and planted a kiss on her damp cheek. Standing, he hurried from the room to go to his dying mother’s bedside in the ICU.

Emily sat limply in her chair for a moment, staring at the floor in deep thought. Lord, give us Your strength. A sigh escaped her lips. Keep shining Your love on us. Emily reached into her pocket for her iPhone, and punched in her password. 1:34 am. I didn’t realize it was so late. She proceeded to group text Jesse’s two brothers and his sister, who were traveling as quickly as possible to get to their mother and the hospital. Jesus, help them to get here in time. 

Over the course of the next several hours, the siblings arrived, and the foursome stood together by the bedside of their dear parent. Many tears were shed and prayers offered. Even though Mama was in a state of unconsciousness, they spoke loving words to her, held her hand, and tried to make her comfortable. 

Then, the call came. 

Fifty-two hours after the doctor broke the heartbreaking news; Michelle passed onto glory…and was joyfully greeted by her Savior. 

A private family burial was what she had wanted. Michelle…Mama…was laid to rest beside her husband who had gone before. She was lovingly cherished and remembered at her memorial service. 

Many caring friends brought flowers, meals, and comforting hugs and words to Jesse, Emily and their family.

And then…normal life resumed; or rather, the “new normal”.  Jesse found it extremely difficult coming home in the evenings from work, to find his mother’s room vacant. She will never be there again…I can never speak to her ever again! His heart yearned for her to return. It wasn’t easy to repeatedly answer the question of “Where’s Gramma?” that his three year old daughter, Rosie, asked; while he himself coped with the change.

Change. 

The changes weren’t over yet.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

This week is the 2016 Presidential Election. So much around us seems so uncertain, like it was for Jesse and his family. Will Clinton or Trump win, and how will that effect our country? Stay tuned next week for part two, in which we will be reminded of a beautiful promise pertinent for us today!


Monday, October 31, 2016

Will you trust me?

Fingers tightened around the object in her palm, blue eyes glistening near the fountains.

“But...I love it.” The words came out hoarsely, matching the reluctance that showed in the eyes. “I love it so much. I don’t want to give it to you. It’s mine. It’s my favorite.” Droplet landed, making a dark spot on the young girl’s skirt.

“I know, dearest.” Kindness was evident in the deep voice that spoke. “I know you love it. But I want you to give it to me.” One soft and wrinkled hand grasped the likewise soft but smooth hand of the other; a loving squeeze was passed from the worn. “But loves, you need to trust me, open your hand, and give it to me. Please?”

But in response; the fingers clutched harder, the lip quivered more. “Why, grandpa? Why do you ask this of me?”

His eyes, so caring, searched into the ones owned by his granddaughter. “Because I love you.

She spun, blonde waves unintentionally tossed over the shoulder and arms folded in defiance. Another tear fell and made a new dot on the denim, making the two look almost as a mini snowman. I can’t do it. She turned her hand over, fingers slowly relaxed. Taking a peak at the object, but quickly clutched it again. No, I can’t. I love it so much, it’s one of my favorite treasures! Again hand released the tight gasp, and she studied the object of her distress.

It was a beautiful little ring.

Yes, it was a lovely one. The band was a bit tarnished from being worn so often, but the gem still sparkled. Probably a gift given to her by mother or father. Indeed, it was treasure very special for a little girl as she.

A hand, her grandpa’s, was felt on her shoulder. “Sweetheart.”

Shoulders stiffened.

“Sweetheart, will you trust me?”

She squeezed the ring so hard it dug into her palm. She pinched her eyes shut to block out the tears. She couldn’t.

Or could she?

Words echoed in her mind. Will you trust me? Will you trust me? Will you trust me?

Hadn’t she always been able to trust her Grandpa? Never had he wronged her. He always was so kind. So why could not she hand her treasure over to him? Oh, but it hurt. But yes, she could trust him. What was the reason he wanted her to give him the ring, she tired to remember. Yes, that was it. Because he loved her.

Biting her lip, she slowly turned around, and gave a faint yet beautiful smile to the face of her Grandpa.

Chin dropped, eyes looked at the clutched fist.

Glancing back up, a whisper came forth. “I’m going to trust you.”

A smile appeared on his face. He gently folded her in his arms. “I love you.” A kiss was softly planted on her cheek.

She stepped back, swallowing hard. Slowly opened her fist, the ring was given to her dear grandpa. A sigh escaped her lips, watching her precious ring being put in her grandpa’s checkered front pocket.

But what is this? In its place, he pulled something out and grasping her hand, slid it onto the finger that moments before graced the other ring.

She gasped. It was a gorgeous large diamond set upon a shiny gold band. Compared to her other ring, this one far outweighed it.

“Ohhh…” words came out in a breath. Arms tightened around the grandfather’s neck, the tears fell again. “Now I understand.”

She was fondled to his heart. A smile spread across the face of the old man, he spoke. “I love you, dear. Yes, now you understand.” Drawing her to his knee, he grasped the hand baring the little ring.

“It’s beautiful.”

Reaching into his pocket, he drew out the old ring and handed it back to her. Questioning eyes were lifted to his, and he explained.


“I was not planning to keep it, little one. I just wanted you to trust me.”  Gently, he squeezed her soft hand, as she gazed admiringly at her new ring.