Letters From Home

63706_315156658584187_129777671_n“Mary carried her Bible everywhere she went.  Tucked inside her purse or coat pocket, it never left her side.   Like a cherished keepsake and without fail, every chance she got throughout the day, the words from its worn pages brought her inspiration, comfort, instruction and hope.  One day someone asked her, ‘why’ …  To the stranger’s question she replied, without even having to contemplate what she would say, ‘These are my letters from home.'”

The Bible is like a treasure box filled with letters from distant relatives whose stories guide and shape our lives.  Like pilgrims who have traveled to a promised, far away land, they journeyed to new horizons and braved the challenges of this life, while sharing their experiences and faith with you and me.   From cover to cover, the Bible is God’s amazing gift to us- a collection of love letters from our Father Creator and the story of His Son, Jesus Christ- interwoven within a tapestry of personal accounts which reveal God’s character- His sovereignty, wisdom and power, along with His deep and endearing love, grace, and mercy.

As we read our letters, they instruct and inspire us, reminding us to keep seeking, keep following, keep trusting, keep praying, keep loving, keep marching, and to keep believing that we will one day reach the Promised Land- our heavenly home- where we will, at last, be with our beloved Father and with our precious LORD and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Have you taken the opportunity lately to open the Bible and read God’s letters, written with love to you- His dear child? If you haven’t, I encourage you to do so. If you find the King James Bible difficult to read, find a translation like the NIV or the Holman Christian Bible.

Open to the book of John.  It is the fourth book in the New Testament.  John is a wonderful place to start because the author tells the story of Jesus in such a beautiful way. From His existence with God the Father at the time of creation, to His birth as a human child and His miracles and teachings, to His heart-felt prayer for you and me in the Garden of Gethsemane, and to His cruel crucifixion- every line reveals more of God’s character and endearing love for us, His children.  But the story doesn’t end in sorrow, for Jesus rose from the grave, conquering death for all eternity,  and making a way for you and me to live with Him forever in peace and harmony in our heavenly home! That’s right.  this earthly life isn’t all there is!

God loves you more than you could ever comprehend.  And He left you a treasured keepsake, filled with His words of love and guidance.  They are for you- His beloved Son or Daughter. He knows you and His desire is that you know and love Him.   He longs for the day when you run into His arms and call Him “Father”. He is waiting for you to read the letters He sent and to know His love for you. He has a plan for your life, just as He did for Mary.  She found direction in the letters He sent her and so can you!

If you want to know God’s love and His plan for you, then take time- right now. Open the Bible and read your Letters from Home.

God’s Voice in the Darkness

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“I want to go back, Lord,” I said. “It’s familiar there.”

“No, my child,” God replied. “You must keep moving forward.”

“But I’m afraid, Lord. Please hold my hand,” I cried.

“I’m here child,” He assured.

“I want to go back, Lord,” I cried out again. “The pain is just too great.”

“My grace is sufficient,” God said. “You have my strength.”

“But I feel so alone,” I said. “Please don’t let go, Lord!”

“I’m here, my child,” His words came with comfort.

“Please take me back to where I was before,” again I pleaded.

“No, my child,” He whispered. “You must walk on.

I am here with you, every step of the way.

And I will never leave you,” He assured.

“Even if it were possible, turning back now would never allow you to

receive all the wonderful things I have planned for you.

Keep walking ahead, child, and listen to my voice,” God said.

“I will see you through this. And I will never leave you. You have my promise.”

I walked on through the darkness, my hand in His…until I could again see the light.

And as I reached the light, it’s rays of warmth seemed to pour over and into me, deep within my spirit.

The darkness could not defeat me for my LORD walked beside me. His light was always there, deep within my heart, for He was and is ever with me.

Now, in my heart, I know the darkness of this world can never defeat me. For, through Jesus, my Savior, God pierced the darkness with the light of His love and conquered it for all eternity!

~ Angela Hall Dobbins

John 8:12b: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Isaiah 41:13: For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.”

The Essence of Love

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Love is a sunrise- a radiant kiss
of life and warmth for all creation,
The heavens amidst,
a glorious light of truth and dedication.

Love is a seashore- golden sand
and silver waves depict the timeless art,
Collecting and sifting, again and again,
carefully discerning the thoughts of the heart.

Love is a gentle rain shower in spring-
soothing the thirst of a weary one’s soul.
Falling, it makes the heat to sing
and tenderly urges the flowers to grow.

Love is a mountain- majestic and strong,
a colossus of truth, changeless and free;
A powerful fortress which all nature bonds
and holds in its chambers life’s key.

Love is a miracle- God’s special gift,
His perfect plan sent to earth.
Love is the essence of all that is HIS,
the measure of life and its worth.

And all who discover this wondrous gift
hold the key to God‘s riches untold.
It is love’s priceless treasure that brings hearts a’lift,
for the essence of love is life to the soul.

by Angela Hall Dobbins © 2010

Happy 2014!

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Dear Heavenly Father, please help me to embrace the New Year with joy, for Your blessings are beyond measure. And help me to approach each new day with a joyful outlook and to diligently share Your love with others. May Your love bubble up from within and overflow! In the precious name of Jesus, our LORD. Amen.

Wishing You a Joyous, Hope Filled, & Love Inspired New Year!!

The Right Question to Ask on Your Hard Days . . . and the Answer

via A Holy Experience – The Right Question to Ask on Your Hard Days . . . and the Answer.

An uplifting and inspirational message by Joni Eareckson Tada

Screen shot 2013-07-20 at 7.44.17 AM My beautiful friend, Joni Eareckson Tada, has spoken words into my life that have forever changed me — and countless others around the world. Founder and CEO of Joni and Friends, an organization that accelerates Christian outreach in the disability community, Joni is the author of numerous best-selling books, including Heaven, Joni, Diamonds in the Dust, and her most recent — and beautiful — Joni & Ken: An Untold Love Story.

Joni tells a story on the farm front porch today that just — well, you tell me what it does to your heart…

Ken opened wide the front door so I could wheel out to the van.

For a long moment I sat squarely in the door frame, staring and taking it all in:

the shade tree dappling our brick path, blossoms bobbing on the crepe myrtle, and patches of sunlight on dewy grass.

It was the freshest of mornings. Oh God, I breathed, If only I could feel as fresh.

After more than four decades of quadriplegia, I’m tired.

Please don’t think I’m a veteran or a professional when it comes to living in a wheelchair.

I’m not an expert.

My bones are weary and thin from battling everything from pressure sores and pneumonia — to stage III cancer.

My question these days is never “Why, God?”

It’s most often “How?”

How do I keep on going?

How do I care about others when I’m consumed with my own physical challenges?

How can I be kind and civil when pain wracks me?

How can I find the strength to face this day?

That morning, Ken had the answer.

“Why aren’t you out by the van?” he asked when he came from the kitchen with my lunch bag. Staring at the splendorous morning beyond the door, I answered him with a deep sigh.

“Wait here,” he said, “I know exactly what you need.”

Soon he was back with a yellow post-it note. With a thick Sharpie, he had simply penned on it the letter ‘C.’ I gave him an odd look.

“It stands for Courage,” he said, “The courage of Christ. I can see it in your eyes, Joni, and you can do this. I know you can!”

With that, he pressed the post-it on my shirt, right above my heart.

I glanced at it, then up at him. I can’t explain what happened next, but grace actually entered my heart. His note was a means of grace, like a sacrament through which God creates faith inside us. And it felt so liberating.

A breeze wafted in and my eyes became wet.

“Thank you,” I whispered to Ken and lifted my arm to give him a hug. “Thank you for that.”

He wiped my nose, kissed my cheek, and said softly, “Let’s get this day going.”

I then wheeled out into the morning feeling a fresh wave of strength from my Savior.

Proverbs 18:21 sums it up: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.”

Ken only said a few words, and probably without giving them much thought.

But those words were brimming with power and life. His was a pronouncement, a declaration of the good he saw in meor, at least the good he wanted to see. And God gave me His amazing grace to rise to the occasion.

It’s a hard world. Even the best of Christians are feeling the weight of weariness. Little wonder we are to “Encourage one another daily” (Hebrews 3:13).

Think of the people you’ll see today… friends recovering from surgery, neighbors dealing with grief, coworkers coping with pain.

Whether you say it in an email, over the phone, or in person, your words have the capacity to change their countenance and character.

And the best word?

The Word made flesh, Jesus — who always has courageous words of life.

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The Hospital Window

2865240756_55d6c2940c_zSometimes we find ourselves in overwhelming and painful circumstances.  It is during such times in our lives that giving to others seems to be the greatest challenge, even the farthest thing from our thoughts.  And yet, it is in letting go of our own will and the need to be “ministered to” and turning our focus upon Jesus and His infinite love and mercy, that we find the strength and capacity God has given us for sharing His love with others.  Before we know it, with one tiny step, we reach out to another whose need may be even greater than our own and something changes…it is in that moment we discover God’s love in a most healing way.  It is often in that one opportunity seized that we ourselves are ministered to the most.  This story is an example of such…

 

“The Hospital Window”

Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room. One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon to help drain the fluid from his lungs. His bed was next to the room’s only window. The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back. The men talked for hours on end. They spoke of their wives and families, their homes, their jobs, their involvement in the military service, where they had been on vacation.

Every afternoon when the man in the bed by the window could sit up, he would pass the time by describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the window.

The man in the other bed began to live for those one-hour periods where his world would be broadened and enlivened by all the activity and color of the world outside.

The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake. Ducks and swans played on the water while children sailed their model boats. Young lovers walked arm in arm amidst flowers of every color and a fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance.

As the man by the window described all this in exquisite detail, the man on the other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine the picturesque scene.

One warm afternoon the man by the window described a parade passing by. Although the other man couldn’t hear the band – he could see it. In his mind’s eye as the gentleman by the window portrayed it with descriptive words.

Days and weeks passed.

One morning, the day nurse arrived to bring water for their baths only to find the lifeless body of the man by the window, who had died peacefully in his sleep. She was saddened and called the hospital attendants to take the body away.

As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be moved next to the window. The nurse was happy to make the switch, and after making sure he was comfortable, she left him alone.

Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look at the real world outside. He strained to slowly turn to look out the window beside the bed.

It faced a blank wall. The man asked the nurse what could have compelled his deceased roommate who had described such wonderful things outside this window.

The nurse responded that the man was blind and could not even see the wall. She said, “Perhaps he just wanted to encourage you.”

Epilogue:
There is tremendous happiness in making others happy, despite our own situations.

Shared grief is half the sorrow, but happiness when shared, is doubled.

If you want to feel rich, just count all the things you have that money can’t buy.

Today is a gift, that’s why it is called the present!

– Author Unknown