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It’s funny… but not like funny ha-ha. Funny like the cheese smells funny. I have no problem with the virgin birth; or the resurrection of Christ; the parting of the Red Sea; or the universal flood. I do however wonder about a reoccurring theme throughout Scripture.

When an old religious guy with questions on his mind met with Jesus one night, he led with a compliment. He called Jesus “Rabbi” and expressed his belief that Jesus had been sent to teach. He acknowledged His miraculous signs and went so far as to say that apparently God was with Him. Quickly Jesus brought him to the fact that he was loved by God. In fact, Jesus assured him that God loves the whole world. It seemed more important than anything else old Nic wanted to talk about.

It’s a good word. But to break that down and receive it personally is hard for me.

I mean, how CAN He?

He knows where I’ve been. He hears my thoughts.

An unexpected storm tosses us about and causes me to toss my cookies into the bait bucket. Immediately I cry, “LORD! Don’t you care?”

With Peter I warm myself by the enemy’s fire and swear I don’t know Him.

Yet He loves ME?

I really find that hard to believe.

Like broken hearted Peter, I go back to doing the only thing I know. The Lord of the universe has risen from the dead, but so what?

I have really messed up. Surely He’s done with me. Obviously I can’t be trusted.

Then in the distance, I see a little smoke rising. A small fire burns and a Man calls out a greeting. When I get there, He’s cooked breakfast of all things: Grilled salmon and hot buttered biscuits. My tummy growls but worse than that my soul hurts. My best Friend is standing there serving up my favorite meal though He knows I betrayed Him.

I’ll never understand it. But it’s true.

He loves me.

“Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean He no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted or hungry, or destitute, or in danger or threatened with death? As the Scriptures say, ‘For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.’ No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ who loved us!

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death, nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow, not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below- indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” –Romans 8:35-39NLT

Jesus loves ME and there is not a thing I can do to change that!

Hallelujah and pass the biscuits!

To hear the conversation between Jesus and Nic, find John 3:1-21; For more on being in a storm while Jesus takes a nap, read Mark 4:35-41; To warm up by a fire and watch Peter deny his Friend see Luke 22: 54-65; For breakfast by the sea with Jesus read John 21:1-14.

By the way…

Photo credit: Seabert Pittman, my daddy

He loves you too and there’s not a thing you can do about it either!

 

What Joy is Mine!

David’s mother was born on Christmas day and loved the holiday with all her heart. The first year I was part of the family I was struck with wonder at all the decorations… as in I wondered where in the world she kept all that stuff. It was like Santa had thrown up. Every shelf, door knob, corner, and countertop had something festive on it. The toilet lid had Santa with mittens over his eyes. Even the family dog sported a jingle bell collar. My beloved mom-in-law adored all things Christmas.

I hate to sound like Scrooge, but unlike Nina, decorating for me is a chore. I mean, why turn the whole house upside down for a month just when every long lost cousin on the planet will be dropping by?

Bah stinkin’ humbug.

Getting merry at my house involves taking the summer wreath off the door and hanging something green. If it has a splash of red, then call me jolly.

This year, I got kind of festive. We gathered our three local grandchildren who are all five, and decorated a twenty dollar tree from Big Lots. Since I love seashells and have them scattered throughout the house, we turned them into ornaments. The kids painted pinecones white while we figured out how to hang corks on the tree to add to our nautical theme. I have no idea where all those corks came from. Anyway, the tree turned out beautiful. Every time I look at it I get this crazy feeling inside. It feels like… joy. Nina would be proud.

This will be our first year celebrating Christmas without her. We lost sweet Nina in May to cancer. Her things were divided amongst the family. There was plenty to share with the “thundering herd” as she used to refer to us when we piled in for Sunday lunch. Her beautiful collection of handmade ceramic décor was enough to fill the homes of her three off-spring, their kids, grandkids, great-grands, and five great-great grands.

That’s a lot of Christmas.

But it won’t be the same.

Nina is not with us.

The joyous holiday was not about the beautiful things. It was about the beautiful person.

As usual, I will keep decorating to a minimum. The hand painted ceramic manger scene that Nina made for me years ago will be brought out. The wise men and camels will be placed at a distance in order to symbolize that they were on their way and didn’t arrive until baby Jesus had moved to a house.

I’m Biblical like that.

But this year I feel more inclined to focus on the joy. What joy Nina brought to her family for so many years! What fun it was to have our grandchildren over to make homemade ornaments. For the first time in a quite a while, I have the strength to enjoy family and friends.

And at the risk of sounding over spiritual, I must say that going through cancer this past year has taught me to have an abundant joy in the Lord. When I was so low that I begged Him to take me home, He graciously declined my request. With Him by my side, holding me up, I have lived to see another Christmas.

And I’ve learned. Christmas is not about the beautiful things. It’s about the beautiful One.

What joy is mine!

Hey Gang!

And I mean that in the nicest possible way…

Thank YOU for all the love and support last night! Your comments and purchases of my new book were so encouraging. Of course it is still available if you didn’t get a chance to order it yet. PLEASE be sure to tell me what you think of it by leaving a review. You help me to be a better writer!

My goal when I began writing was to represent the Lord in a new and creative way. That continues to be my prayer. I really appreciate your help!

I don’t know how many books sold last night, but I received a lot of positive feedback. I think it takes a while for Amazon to tally best seller status, maybe a month or so. But any news I receive I’ll be sure to pass on.

Again, thank you! May the Lord sweetly bless each of you!

It’s Time!

Hello Sweet Readers! It’s time! Go now and pull up my book on Amazon:

Too Far Gone, the journey of a good man who lost it all.

Get ready to click the button and buy at 7pm Eastern.

Thank you for your support and kind comments along the way! Much love from Clarkville!Product Details

 

 

New Book

 

 

 

My new book titled Too Far Gone is available on Amazon. BUT I’d love for you to wait to order it on Cyber Monday, November 27th at 7pm eastern time. If everyone orders at the same time [all seven of us 😉 ] I might hit the best seller list. Below is a little video, only five minutes and 37 seconds, with a little preview of the book. Sure hope the book brings you joy. Thank you sweet readers! Much love from Clarkville!

 

I’m So Thankful!

September 29th, 2016 was my last big chemo treatment… the kind that makes a person instantly old. After that came the “lesser” chemo every three weeks; surgery to remove a cancerous tumor and eleven lymph nodes; then thirty radiation treatments. All that was completed this past June followed up by hormone therapy. Hopefully those drugs will keep the devilish disease from returning.

Praise God I lived to tell about it! Now I have sense enough to really be thankful for things I missed while going through treatment; Simple things like sleep. I rest so well now that I’m back to snoring loud enough to rattle the windows. In fact, I’m so loud that I may be responsible for the zombie movement since I surely wake the dead.

I’m thankful for food that I used to love but couldn’t stand the taste of while taking chemo. Things like coffee, chocolate and fried chicken that David makes in his mom’s old electric frying pan. Oh how wonderful. He skins it then soaks it in milk, rolls it in flour and the crust is to die for! I even love the wonderful aroma of it cooking. Last year I would hurl at the thought. David literally lost twenty pounds while I was sick because he tried not to eat in front of me. Well, that and a boatload of worry when I prayed stupid stuff like, “Lord Jesus! Just take me home!”

Bless his heart.

I’m thankful for friends and family. Though I loved these folks before, something about a friend stopping by with a new nightgown she happened upon at Marshall’s’; brown sugar bagels from Panera’s; a new hat and a funny story… it felt a lot like love. One day I found a bright red picnic basket outside the door filled with lotion, lip balm, a funny coffee mug, garden clogs and flip flops. Just thinking about being strong enough to walk outside and have a picnic or work in the yard felt a lot like hope.

I’m thankful most of all for so many prayers and messages telling me often that folks were praying for me. In a time when I couldn’t process the words of Scripture, though I knew they were true, others lifted me up. A pastor friend stopped by and I told him of my struggles. Having been with many folks going through chemo he related that one of them said his brain was so foggy that reading the Bible was like reading a can of soup. It meant nothing. The pastor’s kind words helped me past the guilt I was experiencing to an understanding that God had not left my side. It felt a lot like faith.

I’m thankful for David. I knew to be thankful before I got cancer. But something about having a husband who cleans up behind a grown woman who is too sick to make it to the bathroom in time really shows what a man is made of. Again, bless his sweet heart. His kind example of faith, hope and love felt a lot like grace.

And lest I spiritualize things too much, I have to admit that I’m thankful for hair. Apparently God looked down at the curly bob I’ve worn since the eighties and said, “Enough of that girl! You need a new doo!” He grew it back, curled it not quite as tight and even gave me a few sprigs to pull toward my ample forehead. I imagine He smiled at His work and said, “Not bad for an old chick.” I know it’s vain, but I can’t even tell you how happy I am to finally have hair. It feels a lot like joy.

I have to say, I think I owe my life to you. Remember the story in the Bible of the men who carried their friend on a cot to Jesus? The place was so crowded they lifted him onto the roof. I reckon they had a pulley system of some sort. They removed the roof tiles and let him down right in front of Jesus. Luke 5:20 says that Jesus healed the man and forgave his sins when he saw the faith of his friends.

When I was so weak I had to be carried, you my friends lifted me up to the Lord in prayer. You faithfully asked Him to heal me. Praise God He did! It feels like faith, hope, love and grace rolled into a great big bundle of joy!

Yes! I’m so thankful!

Similar Yet Different

I love the beach, especially during off-season. My autumn love affair began when our daughters were young. David’s vacation days landed in October and the weather co-operated enough to enjoy the surf. Apparently kids don’t realize how cold the water is when they’re having fun.

Fast forward about thirty years. Our firstborn lives in Illinois and her youngest daughter Kianna happens to love the beach too. However, they seldom get to visit there since it’s at least a fifteen hour drive. Kianna turned sixteen on Halloween so her parents surprised her with a long weekend at the coast. She is such a great kid and was thrilled with the gift even though it included me [her Grammy], her mom Stephanie, and Stephanie’s sisters Amanda and Hannah. Together the five of us stayed in a beachfront condo on Ocean Isle for three days. The Lord graciously blessed us with gorgeous weather: sunshine and mid-seventies; a beautiful harvest moon shining down over the sparkling water; and breathtaking sunrises and sunsets. Watching the waves lap at the shoreline was the best therapy of all.

We capped off Saturday night with a Bob Ross painting party. Stephanie collected the supplies we needed beforehand plus a YouTube video on how to paint a seascape. Though all of us watched the same recording, listened to the same instructions, and by the end of the day even had similar hairstyles as our teacher Bob, our paintings are very different. It is actually rather surprising how different they are. As the mother/grandmother it reminded me of an important truth. No matter how similar the parenting, our kids are going to grow up to do their own thing. Just as we were given freewill by our heavenly Father, so also were our children. With each personality, set of circumstances and choices made, our character is developed. It seems the best Parent of all loves variety.

I wonder why we struggle with that. We look at others and wish we were like them. They always know where they put their keys. When they pull off their shoes, their toes aren’t poking through their socks. They never take their kids to the grocery store with jelly on their faces. Their purse is not hiding last week’s banana and their credit cards are never declined.

Maybe it’s time we cut ourselves a little slack. Maybe those of us who march to a different beat are the very ones the Lord will use to make others laugh. Perhaps we’ll lighten a load and make the world a better place.

So to you who live on a continual guilt trip over your imperfect kids and your crazy life, I recommend jumping off that train. Lick your thumb and wipe the jelly from your kid’s face… or not. Relax and be glad that your offspring are different. At some point they’ll probably wonder why fruit flies are hovering around their purses and you’ll know the answer.

Paint the scenes of your life to suit yourself and the Lord. It just so happens, He loves variety.