Category Archives: Testimonies & Personal Stories

Feast of Trumpets

Standard
Feast of Trumpets

fall-feasts

Four Feasts we’ve studied (Passover, Unleavened Bread, Firstfruits, and Pentecost), three Feasts remain.  The remaining three are fall Feasts, and all three take place at the last harvest of the year, the grape harvest, and within the span of about a month.

The Feast of Trumpets

This year (2017) the Feast of Trumpets, or Rosh Hashanah, arrives on the evening of Wednesday, September 20 and will end in the evening of Friday, September 22, of this Hebrew Year 5778.

This is how it got started:

Then God spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel, saying:

“In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall have a Sabbath-rest, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation.  You shall do no customary work on it; and you shall offer an offering made by fire to the Lord.”   Leviticus 23:24-25

 

What was the offering to be made by fire to the Lord?

“… one young bull, one ram, and seven lambs in their first year.  Be sure they are without blemish. (a blood offering).  Their grain offering shall be of fine flour mixed with oil.  (an unleavened bread offering).  Also one kid of the goats as a sin offering, (scapegoat) besides the sin offering for atonement, the regular burnt offering with its grain offering, and their drink offerings.”  Numbers 29:7-11

Rosh Hashanah is always observed on the first two days of Tishri, the seventh month of the Hebrew calendar.  Why is a “New Year” celebrated in the middle of a year?  Because it celebrates the end of one agricultural year/season and the beginning of another.  It’s what we might call a fiscal new year, like the one when we have to choose our healthcare plans.  In God’s kingdom it is all about the harvests, the harvest of crops and the harvest of souls.  How many stories did Jesus tell where He used sowing seeds, watering plants, tending crops, and bringing in the harvests to describe His kingdom and our ministry on this earth?

The trumpet is often used to gather people.  Trumpets, and shouts, were also used as a weapon of war, for example, to bring down the walls of Jericho.  And in the same vein, “… I [Jesus] will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”   Matthew 16:18 (KJV).  I believe that we who are His will hear the trump of the Lord one day very soon, and that it will gather us from the heavens and the earth, to protect us from some severely ugly times.  I believe God will allow the ugly times to come to hopefully show the deceived who they are truly worshipping, and hopefully it will turn their hearts.  

It was seventy years after the death and resurrection of our blessed Savior, that the Jewish people became a scattered people over the face of the earth, their temple destroyed, and their land taken over, but it was prophesied that in the last days God would gather them again to their promised land (Deuteronomy 28:58-67). After just under 1900 years it has happened as prophesied.  In 1967 the Shofar blew in celebration in Jerusalem on the Temple Mount after the victory of the Six-Day War between returning Jews and the occupants of the promised land.  Since that time Jews have been allowed to return to their homeland!  Even so, it is still fearcely squabbled over, and hard to believe that such a tiny speck of a place on the globe could be the object of so much violent hostility.  It seems there will never be peace in Israel.

The holiday though is also very relevant to Christians, as we also are a scattered people all over the globe – as God wanted us to be so that we could share the gospel with every tribe and tongue and race and nation; and we are also scattered between heaven and earth.  (Please check out: Should Christians Celebrate Rosh Hashanah?).

“And one of them, Caiaphas, being high priest that year… prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, and not for that nation only, but also that He would gather together in one the children of God who were scattered abroad” John 12:49-52

Clearly in the New Testament it is a trumpet that will summon and gather God’s people from all the places where we have been scattered:

“For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first; Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” (1Thessalonians 4:16-17)

“Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump; for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” (1 Corinthians 15:51-52)

*   *   *

This picture of “gathering people” reminds me so much of something from the little town where I grew up.  Atop of the hill, in the center of town stood a charming little log church with a steeple.  The pews were each hewn of split logs, and even the pulpit and altar were hand-made of logs and hand cut boards.  When the time for Sunday Service came one of the elders or deacons of the church would undo the bolt on the doors, turn the knob, and pull the front double doors open, and then He’d begin clanging that big brass church bell, taking grasp of the thick rope that hung down into the front foyer with his two strong hands and pulling with his body weight, then letting the rope rise back up, pulling it down again, and letting the rope rise back up.  The sound would echo across the rooftops and down that lofty steeple, causing all the nesting birds to take flight.

Magically, at the clang-clang-clang of that bell, folks began bustling from their houses and vehicles, all dressed in their Sunday-best go-to-meeting clothes.  Ladies in dresses, spritzed with perfume, curled hair in hats, wearing makeup and white gloves.  Men, freshly shaven, in suits with stiff collars and ties, and hair neatly parted and combed into place.  Children, bathed, with shining faces, coiffed and suited and well-mannered, as miniatures of their parents.  They all strolled and shuffled up that hill, smiling and greeting one another, and gathering through the open doors, taking their places in the rustic hardwood pews for a sit-down spiritual feast.  Oh how lovely it was on Sunday morning to hear those church bells ringing!  The piano playing.  And the choir singing.

In the same way as the church folks gathered in to satisfy their hungry souls, so similar was the practice on ranches all over my rugged cowboy state.  When supper was ready it was common to hear the cook or the wife step outside and run the wand around on the triangle and holler, “COME AND GET IT!” and here they’d come.  The hard-working, broke-back, famished ranch hands would wobble to their feet, swing a leg off their horses, toss their tools in a box, remove their hats to wipe the sweat from their brow, and knock the dust off their pants as they started the journey to the chow hall.  They all came a hobblin’ from the far corners of the fields, some smiling, and some grunting, and all eager to fill their aching bellies, have a laugh (or a cry), share a story, and then call it a night.

Can you hear the church bells ringing?  Can you hear the choir singing?  Can you hear this little lady screaming, “COME AND GET IT!  O weary sojourner, come and hear the word of the Lord!”

Our Savior is coming!  The Landowner is coming to settle accounts, and gather His grapes into the winepress.  I don’t want you to be taken by surprise.

Scripture says, two men will be in the field and one will be taken and one will be left.  Two women will be in the kitchen.  One will be taken and one will be left (Matt.24 & Luke 17).  The wise virgins will go with the bridegroom and the foolish virgins will be left  behind (Matthew 25).

“For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking…until the flood came and took them all away…”  Matthew 24:36-39

“You have heard Me say to you, ‘I am going away and coming back to you.’ If you loved Me, you would rejoice because I said, ‘I am going to the Father,’ for My Father is greater than I. And now I have told you before it comes, that when it does come to pass, you may believe.”  John 14:28-29 (NKJV)

“Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand.  Therefore if they say to you, ‘Look, He is in the desert!’ do not go out; or ‘Look, He is in the inner rooms!’ do not believe it. For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be” (Matthew 24: 23-27)  …for those who are HIS!

Some of us will fall asleep, and some will just fly away.  Some will be blessed to experience the Rapture, the magnificent fulfillment of the Feast of Trumpets.

(Thank you Carleen Sabin for making and posting this beautiful You-Tube video) 

If you haven’t “found Jesus yet,” get with a believer or a pastor today.  Don’t let the trumpet of God surprise you.  Come, while the door is open.

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 6:23

Most assuredly I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God. John 3:3

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  1 John 1:9

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whosoever will believe on Him shall have eternal life.  John 3:16

Jesus said to him, I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me.  John 14:6

If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.  For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.  Romans 18:9-10

He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; he who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son.  And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.  He who has the Son has life: he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.  These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the son of God.  1 John 5:10-13

Behold I [Jesus] stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.  Revelation 3:20

.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ways to Celebrate Grandparents Day

Standard
Ways to Celebrate Grandparents Day

I’m a little late posting this for THIS year, or maybe I’m just waaaay early for next year?  Ha.  But, here are some ways I thought would be nice to celebrate Grandparent’s Day.  But, in all honesty, please don’t save them up for that one special day a year. If you have grandparents living close, do some of these with them as soon and as often as you can.  Time passes so quickly.  Memories fade.  The breath of life evaporates before we know it.  Don’t let it get away from you.  Our elders are a special treasure!

“Cast me not off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength faileth.”  – Psalms 71:9

 

Family Tree

If your family doesn’t already have one, let the kids start a family pedigree chart with their grandparent.  Let them do as much of the investigative work as they can to fill it in.  First let them fill in their name in the center bottom space, and then just above it let them fill in the names of their dad and mom.  Above those spaces are spaces for grandparents on the paternal and maternal sides.  Spend a day or at least an afternoon with grandparents collecting information: names, birthplaces, careers, military, where family died and are buried.  Ask for obituaries, photographs, family Bible notes, newspaper clippings and stories.  It’s actually a lot of fun seeing where your family came from, not just ethnicity, but travels, both foreign and domestic.  It’s also a great way to learn history.  It means so much more and is so much more interesting when you find out you had actual family living in those times and places and events.

Blank fan tree

If you would like the electronic file for this chart so that you can print one for your personal use, please send your request to mrshlovesjesus@gmail.com, and write “Pedigree Poster” in the subject line.

This is a Pedigree chart I created as a Christmas gift to my family last year.  I took the digital file of the pedigree chart above to my local print shop (also Staples, Copy Max, Walgreens, and even Walmart can print them) and had it printed on poster-size paper.  I printed mine in color on plain paper, but they can also be printed on photo paper, and then framed in poster size frames.

poster

 

“Children’s children are the crown of old men; and the glory of children are their fathers.”  – Proverbs 17:6

 

photos

Beside the pedigree poster hanging on my wall I have a decorative tree with photos of hubby & me, our parents, and our grandparents, three generations.

 

Video Interview

On one of our visits to my husband’s folks’ house, we were blessed to have his uncle stop by for a visit.  He was in town to speak at a local high school about his experiences as a soldier in WWII (Europe).  He was often asked to speak at schools about his personal experiences, because he was such a gifted story-teller.  He wrote a book as well, which we treasure having a copy of.  We of course were very interested to hear his stories and so asked if he would share some with us, which he happily did.  We all sat around in the living room listening intently as he told of being on the boat and being soooo sea sick and all the other men being soooo very sea sick also, and then being dropped on the battlefield, and of his experiences as a Forward Observer, which was very dangerous.  I could kick myself a thousand times that we didn’t get video of that visit (which is why I make the suggestion to you now).  It is just so moving to hear a personal relative tell of historical events from their own personal experience, and see their facial expressions, and watch their body language.  It is just so much more captivating than a book in history class.  So I encourage you, if you have a grandparent, ask them to tell you a story about some important time in their life and video tape it.

“Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honour the face of the old man, and fear thy God: I am the LORD.”  – Leviticus 19:32

 

video1Something our family DOES have, and I can tell you is an enormous treasure, is a compilation of my husband’s folks old home movies that they took on an old 8mm recorder.  They had the movies transferred to VHS when that was the most  modern thing, and gave us a copy.  But as hubby and I were watching these silent movies, we realized that much of those people and places were unknown to us.  So the next time his parents visited us we asked them to sit down and watch it with us and tell us where all those places were and who the people are.  I set up a cassette recorder to record their narration.  Many years later I took the old silent VHS and the narration on the cassettes and put them together on DVD.   Then I made several copies and gave them as Christmas gifts for our family.  It was the very next Christmas after grandpa had died and you can’t image what a treasure it was to the whole video3family to get to hear grandpa’s voice again, and laugh at his sense of humor, especially since the family had no idea we’d ever gotten that sound tract.

Also, if  you have been to a funeral recently, most funeral homes ask the family to bring them old photos for a video slide show, set to music, to play during the service.  Why wait until a person dies for this?  Ask your grandparents now if you can borrow their old photographs, and then scan them into digital form and make a slide show of their lives from birth to old age.  You can add captions to the photos that say where the photos were taken and who the people are, and you can also add a favorite song or songs of theirs to go along with it.  Most computers have the software for making photo slide show DVD’s on them.  I used Movie Maker to make DVD’s of our family vacations, weddings, and a memorial of our dad.  It would be a nice trip down memory lane for them to get to see their lives laid out in such a way, and a special thing to share with them while they are living.

“And he shall be unto thee a restorer of thy life, and a nourisher of thine old age: for thy daughter in law, which loveth thee, which is better to thee than seven sons, hath born him.”  – Ruth 4:15

 

Old Letters and Great Books

booksMy husband’s dad served in Korea, and wrote letters home to his parents a couple times a week.  We found the letters a while back, along with a bunch of pictures he took while in boot camp and on the front lines. We also were fortunate to get to inherit his army coat, a hat, and medals, maps, and various other personal objects from the war, along with the flag that was presented to the family at his funeral, and the bullet casings from the 21 gun salute.  Altogether the letters and photos, and photos of the objects made a wonderful book that is and shall forever be a cherished keepsake for generations.

I also collected all our family history, stories, pedigrees, photos, birth, marriage, and death certificates, newspaper clippings, obituaries, maps, military histories and pension papers, pioneer stories, censuses, etc. and made it all into a book (first a ring binder, and then a printed, spiral bound book with a hard cover) to share with my sisters.  I made scrapbook pages of the old photos and scanned those pages, and made separate chapters for each person, telling each person’s individual stories.  I visited courthouses, libraries, and museums in the towns where they lived (the ones that were closeby) and collected as much information as I could about them and the history of those areas (marriage, divorce, land records, court records, if they played on baseball teams, delivered mail, or worked in local factories, or acted, sang, or danced in theatre, etc.).  I visited cemetaries and churches and found headstones and church records.  I visited newspaper offices and got old newspaper stories and obituaries.  I will confess, it is a lot of work, but truly it is fun and rewarding work, and I sooooo encourage you to gather as much of this kind of information as you can from living relatives, while you can.   Honor your parents and your grandparents by preserving their legacy in words and pictures.  They will be delighted and honored to see all your efforts as well.

 “The glory of young men is their strength: and the beauty of old men is the gray head.” – Proverbs 20:29

 

Grandma’s Recipes

What is your favorite thing that grandma makes?  Why  not make a date to make it with her, and for heaven sakes cookbooksget her recipe!  Get ALL her recipes, and make them into a cookbook.  My husband’s family actually collected recipes from everyone in the family one year and made a family cookbook for all of us.  We all contributed, and we all paid for our own copies of the book, and it is very much a prized possession of mine to this day.  Each person that contributed recipes also told a story to go with it, like if it was the first meal they made for their husband, or if it was their mother’s favorite thing that they made, etc.

I have myself very fond memories of having picnics with my grandmother.  She always made her standard cucumber sandwiches, hard boiled eggs with salt and pepper, and a thermos of iced tea.  When’s the last time you went on a picnic with your grandma?  Or soaked your feet in a tub of hose water in the back yard?  …And listened to her tell stories about a time she got in trouble as a kid.  …Or what it was like as a teenager going to school. …Or her first boyfriend, or first date.  …Or what she and her brothers/sisters did for fun.

 “Now also when I am old and grayheaded, O God, forsake me not; until I have shewed thy strength unto this generation, and thy power to every one that is to come.” – Psalms 71:18

 

Play a Game

My husband has fond memories of playing Yatzee with his grandmother.  It was her gamesfavorite game to play, and if he could beat her he felt like it was a real accomplishment.  Grandma was apparently very good at Yatzee.  My grandma liked to play cards, and her game of choice to play with us kids was Rummy.  She also showed us how to play Solitaire and let us play at the table while she cooked and baked.  I also remember making card houses in the living room, using the carpet to help hold the cards in place.  My sisters and I made elaborate card houses, some more fragile than others.  Does your grandma or grandpa have a favorite game they like to play.  Ask if you can come play it with them one afternoon.  Or, take them to play Bingo, or Pinochle or Bridge at the Senior Center, dominoes, Cribbage, or take them bowling, or to play miniature golf, or darts.  You might find out they’re pretty darn good at it.

“With the ancient is wisdom; and in length of days understanding.”

– Job 12:12

Other Ideas

Go for a walk

Go fishing

Do some gardening (plant an herb garden in pots)

Go to church with them

Visit them and read them letters that they’ve gotten in the mail

Take grandma to get her hair and nails done

Take them to their doctor visits

Take them to the store to do their shopping, or run a few errands

Take them to a veterans memorial (if there is one with a spouse or loved one memorialized there)

Take them to a cemetery to put flowers on someone’s grave (for a loved one’s birthday rememberance, or veterans/memorial day)

Take them to a class reunion, or a small town annual get-together

Take them for a drive in the country

Play old records

Watch an old movie

Take them out for lunch

Invite them to your house for coffee (and devotions)

Take them to visit an old friend they haven’t seen in a while

Take them out for ice cream

Sit on a park bench and feed the birds, or the ducks (pond)

Take them for a boat ride (a little row boat across a pond or lake) and bring an umbrella for shade

Take them to a grandchild’s school event, or track meet, or soccer game

Take them to a rodeo, a fair, a car or horse race, or baseball game

Take them to lookout point after dark to look at the city lights

Ask them to teach you how to knit, crochet, sew, quilt, or tie a fly (fishing), etc.

Take them to the shooting range for some target practice

Rent a golf cart and take a drive through a scenic golf course

Take them for a drive to new parts of the city

Take them something you’ve baked or made and visit for an afternoon

Take a pizza and cokes and sit on the porch and eat it with them

Do something for them that is too hard for them to do themselves, but needs done, like vacuum, trim a tree, re-attach a rain gutter, paint, mow, move a hose, shovel a sidewalk, take mail out to the mailbox, light a pilot light, replace a lightbulb, put a heavy dish back up in the cupboard, put laundry away, etc.

Call and check on them at least once a week

Always tell them you love them, as often as you can

Send them cards and letters, with pictures

Pray with them and for them, for their health needs, and other needs

 

“The hoary head is a crown of glory, if it be found in the way of righteousness.” 

-Proverbs 16:31

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LOST & FOUND, the Parables of “Lost” Things

Standard
LOST & FOUND, the Parables of “Lost” Things

I remember when I worked at the school district, the last week of school, that our bin of lost and found items would get drug out and the items hung up on racks, or laid out on tables in the front foyer, where parents and students would be coming and going, and hopefully they’d see an item that belonged to them and take it home.  I was always amazed at how much stuff would accumulate over the year.  Coats, hats, gloves, shirts, sweatpants, lunch boxes, shoes… just a myriad of things.  My goodness, didn’t anyone miss this stuff?

lostandfound1

I have lost things though, so who am I to judge?

I lost my cell phone once.  I had it and then I didn’t have it.  I always kept it in my purse. Then one day I went to lunch with friends and afterwards ran a few errands, and when I got back home and went to make a phone call it wasn’t there.  I stirred the contents of my purse around with my hand, and then emptied it out completely, dumping the contents all over the floor.  Nope, no cellphone.

I looked in my car, all over the car, under the seats, between the seats, in the console, and even in the backseats.  I looked on the garage floor (maybe I accidentally kicked it out with my foot), and under the shelves along the wall.  It wasn’t there.  It wasn’t anywhere.

Like most people now-a-days I don’t have a landline, or even another cell phone as backup.  And even if I had walked to the neighbors that day it would have been useless to borrow their phone.  I did’t know anyone’s number.  No one calls a NUMBER any more, we all call a NAME or a FACE.  Oh dear.  This was bad. This was my only communication with the outside world and it was gone, gone, gone, forever!

I went back in the house and looked on every surface where I might have laid the phone: the kitchen counters, the bedroom dressers, the bathroom, the laundry room.  I retraced every step I’d made before leaving the house that day.  And then I got back in my car and drove back to every business in town where I’d been, and asked if anyone had found a cell phone.  Not a one.

I came back home and sat in a panic in the middle of my living room floor thinking intently about what to do next.  And in the middle of my racing thoughts I heard it…I heard my cell phone ringing.  “My phone!  Oh my gosh, where is it coming from?  I jumped to my feet and dashed around my house like a raving maniac, trying to get to the sound before it stopped ringing…….and where did I find it?  My… PURSE!

It had slipped through a tear in the lining and was caught between the lining and the shell of my hard leather purse.  I felt like an idiot, and at the same time was soooooooo relieved to have found it.  So happy in fact that I wanted to drive back to every place I’d been, call all my friends, and tell them all, “I FOUND IT!!!!”

So, I completely relate to the thrill of the woman finding her lost coin in the story below.

Lost Things

Click below for the FREE PRINTABLE coloring page

FREE PRINTABLE coloring page, click >>>>>> Lost & Found

.

The Parable of the Lost Sheep

 Matthew 18:10-14 (NKJV)  Courtesy of Bible Gateway

10 “Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven. 11 For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.[a]

12 “What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying? 13 And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray. 14 Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.

Luke 15:1-7 (NKJV)  Courtesy of Bible Gateway

Then all the tax collectors and the sinners drew near to Him to hear Him. And the Pharisees and scribes complained, saying, “This Man receives sinners and eats with them.” So He spoke this parable to them, saying:

“What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.

The Parable of the Lost Coin

Luke 15:8-10 (NKJV)   Courtesy of Bible Gateway

 “Or what woman, having ten silver coins,[a] if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls her friends and neighbors together, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the piece which I lost!’ 10 Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

The Parable of the Lost Son

Luke 15:11-32 (NKJV)   Courtesy of Bible Gateway

Then He said: “A certain man had two sons. 12 And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.’ So he divided to them his livelihood. 13 And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living. 14 But when he had spent all, there arose a severe famine in that land, and he began to be in want. 15 Then he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. 16 And he would gladly have filled his stomach with the pods that the swine ate, and no one gave him anything.

17 “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, 19 and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.”’

20 “And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring[a] out the best robe and putit on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. 23 And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; 24 for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry.

25 “Now his older son was in the field. And as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. 27 And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and because he has received him safe and sound, your father has killed the fatted calf.’

28 “But he was angry and would not go in. Therefore his father came out and pleaded with him. 29 So he answered and said to his father, ‘Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends. 30 But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him.’

31 “And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. 32 It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.’”

.

In my book, Come for Supper? the memoirs of a reluctant hostess I tell the story of how I came to know Jesus:

I was working for a small town newspaper and calling on a customer for an ad. This customer had a wrapping and shipping business located inside a liquor store on the east side of town. As I made my acquaintance on my first visit, the woman of this husband/wife team set me on my heels with a pretty direct question. One I wasn’t prepared for, or was even expecting that day. She asked me if I knew Jesus, and if I were to die today if I knew where I would be going. Wow…I couldn’t get out of there fast enough. She made me very uncomfortable. But her words haunted me for weeks after that.

I knew what she was talking about. I had been raised in Sunday school. I had Christian grandparents. My dad had always expressed how it would mean the world to him if his daughters would get baptized at some time in our lives. I always intended to get baptized, but being fresh into my young life I wasn’t sure I was done sowing my wild oats yet. Somehow I had it in my head that making a commitment to God meant the end of “fun.”

I avoided her in every way after that, but a month down the road when I stopped in to pick up their ad for our paper, being careful to go in the afternoon when I knew she wouldn’t be there, she WAS there and smiling at me as I walked through the door. DANG-IT! But as much as I make this out to be a bad thing, truly our conversation had been all I could think about. I had wrestled with God over what she said for weeks. So when she asked if I had thought about what we talked about, I humbly confessed I’d thought of nothing else.

She asked me if I was ready to make the commitment and I said yes, afraid I may not get a second chance. She whisked me off to the bathroom grabbed my hands and told me to pray with her, “Repeat after me” she said, and I did.

I honestly couldn’t tell you the words I prayed with her that day. All of them escape my memory. But something incredible happened in that bathroom when I said, “Amen.” My blood felt effervescent. My legs were wobbly and weak. My mind was swirling. I was not the same person. I followed her out to her desk and stared in a daze out the huge picture window. All of a sudden I noticed the sky and the most gorgeous sunset I’ve ever seen. It was magnificent with reds and purples. I wondered in my heart and asked God, “Have sunsets always been this beautiful and I never noticed, or did You make this one especially for me?”

Just as I thought this I saw a figment of angels in the clouds…thousands of them. They were all singing and rejoicing. It was so moving to me that I dissolved to tears. It was some months later that I came across the scripture that says, there is “more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents, than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.” Luke 15:7.

The angels were rejoicing over me that day, a great cloud of witnesses, and God gave me a brief and beautiful glimpse.  And they are gathered to rejoice over you too!

5982796_orig

.

If you are reading this and have never asked Jesus into your heart, but feel His Spirit speaking to you, take heed my friend.  He is seeking you.  As Beth Moore would say, “He is persuing you.  The Creator who made you, HE is persuing you.”  And the greatest love story is…

.

(By the way, you CAN buy this song.  Glen recorded several Christian albums!  God bless him, and God rest his precious soul.  Look for them at Amazon.com.)

.

You are the Lord’s Pearl of Great Price!

You are His Hidden Treasure!

.

The Parable of the Hidden Treasure

Matthew 13:44-46  (NKJV)

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

The Parable of the Pearl of Great Price

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, 46 who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.

Solid Rock

FREE PRINTABLE coloring page, click >>>>>> Solid Rock Printable

.

On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand!

.

God bless you my friend!!!!

The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard

Standard
The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard

Matthew 20:1-16 (NKJV)

20 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard.

My Bible footnote says it would have been 6:00AM.

Now when he had agreed with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. 

My Bible footnote says a denarius (a word of Latin origin) was the standard wage for a full day’s work.  The KJV uses the word “penny” or pence in place of denarius which in Roman currency of the time would have been ten asses (asses were bronze or copper coins used during the Roman Empire).  Denarius is the origin of the common noun for money in Italian denaro, in Portuguese dinheiro and in Spanish dinero.

Here are some example salaries and product costs as of the times of Diocletian in the third century AD:

Farm laborer monthly pay, with meals = 400 asses

Teacher’s monthly pay, per boy = 800 asses

Barber’s service price, per client = 32 asses

1 kg of pork = 380 asses (1 lb = 170 asses)

1 kg of grapes = 32 asses (1 lb = 15 asses)

* Source: Wikipedia

And he went out about the third hour and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, 

The third hour would be 9:00AM; and there were more people standing inactive, unemployed; (by implication) lazy, useless: – barren, idle, slow“(Strongs #692 argos) in the “agora” (Strongs #58), which is probably the town square, market, or thoroughfare/street.

and said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right I will give you.’ So they went. 

Their wage: whatever is right (just drawing attention to that).  The Greek word used is dikaios (1342) and it means “equitable” (in character or act); (by implication) innocent; holy, just, meet, right(-eous).

Again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour, and did likewise. 

The sixth hour is noon and the ninth hour is 3:00PM.

And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing idle,[a]and said to them, ‘Why have you been standing here idle all day?’ 

The 11th hour is 5:00PM (an hour before quitting time), and is it just me or does the land owner seem kind of annoyed that there are folks just standing around idle all day?

They said to him, ‘Because no one hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right you will receive.’[b]

Again he promises “what is right.”

“So when evening had come, the owner of the vineyard said to his steward, ‘Call the laborers and give them their wages, beginning with the last to the first.’ 

To pay them, the landowner worked his way backwards from the new hires to those with seniority (which btw, is an exact representation of the grapes in the basket.  The first grapes gathered are at the bottom and will be last to come out. The first grapes to come out of the basket are the last ones that went in).

And when those came who were hired about the eleventh hour, they each received a denarius. 

Quite a generous wage for an hour’s worth of work.

10 But when the first came, they supposed that they would receive more; and they likewise received each a denarius. 

The landowner was certainly a man of his word wasn’t he, although “fair” is in the eye of the beholder isn’t it?   Ever been hired for a job and completely happy about your wage until you found out what others were being paid?  My husband calls it O.P.M. (other people’s money), and it is the root of all discontentment.  Yep; been there and done that.

11 And when they had received it, they complained against the landowner, 

12 saying, ‘These last men have worked only one hour, and you made them equal to us who have borne the burden and the heat of the day.’ 

13 But he answered one of them and said, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius?

14 Take what is yours and go your way. I wish to give to this last man the same as to you.

I believe the “wage” in the parable is probably A TICKET TO HEAVEN, and when I look at it like that I kind of get a different perspective. I can’t help but draw a parallel with the thief on the cross.  Jesus told him as they hung on their crosses together, with the sun fading on the day, that today he would be in paradise with Him.  The thief had run out of time to do very many good works.  He was at the 11th hour of his life.  All he had time for was to witness to one last man, yet he got the same reward as our righteous King, as well as all the prophets and saints and godly Hebrews of the Old Testiment who had preached, and prophesied, and judged, and led, been faithful, and died before him.

The thing I have to remember is that Salvation is not earned.  It is a gift rewarded for saying yes to an invitation.

15 Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things? Or is your eye evil because I am good?’ 

My Bible footnote says that this parable blossomed out of the attitude that the disciples had shown toward service and rewards.

I find this a tricky thing about church. It is so easy when you belong to ANY group of people to look around at others and compare.  So easy to get hurt feelings about things.  So easy to get wrapped up in unholy competitions.

Am I the only one that is secretly longing for pats on the back for my good deeds? Sometimes tempted to brag about charitible things I’ve done just to make myself feel more spiritual or worthy to my peers?  Am I the only one that feels a twinge of jealousy when someone else in the congregation is liked more, fawned over more, appreciated more?  Am I the only one that is hurt when my fruit salad is passed over for Linda’s Fritata?  Or when Beth is chosen to lead next month’s Ladies Group instead of me?  Or when Emily puts a picture on Facebook and it gets 47 likes immediately and I don’t even have 47 friends?  Or when a certain, once unknown blog writer, celebrates her Food Network show and new line of kitchen wares filling up all the isles in all the Wal-mart stores across America and I count it a huge success if just one person clicks the “like” star on one of my posts.

Although rewards are part of God’s plan (Romans 2:6; Matthew 16:27; Revelation 22:12; 2 Corinthians 5:10), Jesus rebukes the spirit of serving for the rewards rather than out of love (1 Corinthians 13).

16 So the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen.”[c]  

Matt20.16

Click this link for the FREE downloadable coloring page: Grapevine  to use for your small group, or Sunday School class, or just to color as you spend time in prayer.

The last will be first and the first will be last…just like the grapes being gathered into the baskets, the last ones in will be the first ones to enter the winepress, but they will altogether be a lovely batch of vino.

Chosen vs. Called. 

The Greek word for Called is “Kletos.” Strongs #2822.  It means invited, appointed.  It is used eleven times in the New Testament (Bible Study Tools), and most of those times it is in reference to a calling to ministry or a special appointment, such as apostle or saint.

A calling is kind of a general thing, but it is usually geared to a specific group of folks.  For instance, I think of a ranch cook calling the hands for supper.  She yells or rings the bell and anyone on HER ranch who is hungry will come running.  A church bell calls ITS congregation to church.  A school bell calls ITS students to class.  The disciples, and we as Christians, received a calling from Christ to take the love of Christ to our neighbors.  Many are called.

The Greek word for Chosen is “Ekletos.”  Strongs #1588.  It means select, favorite, elect.

Choosing is much more personal.  We choose a mate.  We choose our clothes.  We choose what we want to eat from a menu.  Choosing is intimate.  This word is used 23 times in scripture (Bible Study Tools). Most of those times the word is translated “elect” as in “the elect,” the favorites of the called, the cream of the crop, the most exalted ones of the called.  Jesus called many disciples, but chose a smaller group of twelve apostles.  Of the apostles, Jesus chose an inner circle, Peter, James, and John as His elect.  Often He asked these three to come be with Him for something special, like healing miracles, the transfiguration, or the prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Although the two words, Kletos and Ekletos are spelled the same, they are not pronounced the same and have different meanings.  They are homographs, but I have an uneducated hunch that there is an intended play-on-words in the Greek that is sort of lost in English, don’t you?

The same phrase is repeated in Matthew 22:14.

We all have an inner circle of friends, a small group that we trust just a little bit more, cherish just a little bit more.  I want to live my life in such a way as that the Lord would trust me just a little bit more, and cherish me just a little bit more.  Not to lord it over anyone, but just to have Him smile at me with affection.  I want to have a comfort zone thing with Him.  I want to have the trust/integrity thing with HIM!!!!  I have been forgiven much, I also want to love much (Luke 7:47)!

Personal Application

In penning this post I got to thinking about the shopping trip I made with my granddaughter this past weekend.  It wasn’t going to take us long to pick out some uniform pieces for school: a couple skirts, a couple pants, and a couple pair of shorts, but our little dash in to Old Navy hit a roadblock when we encountered the unbelievable, Disneyland-like lines for the dressing rooms, and then to pay at the end.  It was just crazy how many people were in that store.  I guess that’s what we got for not arriving there until afternoon on the half-price day of the tax-free weekend.

While we were in the monsterous line to pay we passed a bouncy-ball vending machine, and to help pass the time I dug some quarters out of my purse to let my little schnookums try for a pink ball.  One…two…three tries and one…two…three green/blue/yellow balls came out.  Well, shucks.  I asked her what she was gonna do with three balls?  She decided she would give one ball to her sister and keep the other two for herself, but I suggested she give the third ball to another kid in the store.  “Why?” she inquired.  “To be nice,” I riposted, and then I asked her to look around for a kid her age who would be a good candidate.  She looked around, but was overcome with fear and shyness.  She wanted me to do it.  I kept pointing people out to her, and encouraging her, promising that it would make her feel good to do it, but she just couldn’t get up the gumption to talk to someone she didn’t know.  I asked her to choose which ball she wanted to give away, and on our way out of the store I asked a little girl if she’d like to have it.  Although my little jelly-bean was too scared to step out and talk to another person, at least she was willing to give, and I was proud of her for that.

I feel the Holy Spirit challenging me in several ways today through the reading and studying of this parable.  Like my darling granddaughter, I too hold back sometimes, because of timidity.  My anxiousness causes me to stand around idle all day in my comfort zone waiting for a job to come looking for me.  Sometimes I find myself looking around to see if anyone else is stepping out before I do, so I don’t look foolish taking a leap-of-faith all by myself.  Consequently, I don’t make it into the vineyard until the 6th or 9th hour (if at all).  But then there are other times when I feel like I am the one who has been there all day, putting in the biggest effort, and here come others that have done barely anything and are getting lavish praise.  Sometimes I get jealous over favoritism shown to others in the small groups that I belong to.

In all honesty, I don’t accept praise well, but admit it is a nice reward to have someone notice my efforts (so that I can humbly dismiss them – ha, right?).  But to get very little praise or appreciation when others around me seem to be getting tons of praise for what seems like a fraction of the work, that is pretty hard to take.  Stumbling blocks.  Oh Lord, I hate the stumbling blocks in this Pilgrims Progress of life.  They are so hard to get past, but here’s what I’m feeling the Lord leading me to use as tools to help me climb over them, dig under them, and squeeze around them:

ladderTry to remember that Jesus made a fair deal with me when He invited me to work in His vineyard.

pick-axeRemember that He is a man of His word and will reward me with what is right. “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.”  Galatians 6:9

shovelStop looking around at the deal everyone else is getting, or get jealous over favoritism.  It’s Satan’s oldest trick to get us to LOOK at things we’re not supposed to have and then looooong for them.  There are far more harder working Christians out there than me who are going to be given the same gift as me in the end, and who have done a mountain more work.  Who cares if I am His favorite or not.  As long as I make it to heaven, who cares if all I have to live in is a pup-tent, and scraps from the Master’s table to eat.  Tis better to be in God’s kingdom than to be anywhere else.

RopeBe motivated by love, and not distracted by greed, or jealousy or even obligation, nor tempted into expecting a reward for every little thing.  To keep my eyes on the vineyard and not on the prize box.  To take the hard shell off my heart and let it swell for that person in front of me who needs a friend, or a sandwich, or a hug, or a kleenex, or a good laugh.

* * *

Dear Lord Jesus, help me not to fall into the trap of comparison.  Help me to keep my eyes on You and consider only the prize that You have promised me.  Help me to be content with such things as I have.  Help me not to be idle, or crippled by fear or timidity, or green with envy and miss a great blessing.  In Your precious name I pray.  Amen.

* * *

“No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”

1 Corinthians 10:13 (NKJV)

 

 

How I Got Rid of My Little Toenail Fungus

Standard
How I Got Rid of My Little Toenail Fungus

Never, never, never was this an issue for me in Wyoming, but apparently is a common problem in Texas.  I’m not sure I understand why.  In Wyoming we ladies have our feet cooped up in socks and shoes for most of the year  When not in shoes, our feet are usually in house slippers, and I even wore sockies to bed.  My poor feet rarely saw the light of day and rarely got a breath of fresh air except in the summer.

I confess that in Wyoming I used to get a pedicure maybe once or twice a year, usually in the spring and again sometime in the late summer, and that last nail polish job would (I’m kind of embarrassed to say) last for most the winter on my hibernating tootsies. Honestly, I didn’t spend too much time caring all that much about what my feet looked like in the winter; they were out’ta sight out’ta mind.  The only housekeeping I did to my feet during the dark months was to keep the nails short and filed with no sharp edges, so they wouldn’t wear holes in my socks.

In Texas, where our feet are on display for ten months out of the year, I notice my feet need work just about once a week.   And the little darlin’s breathe fresh air daily and get plenty of sunshine.  So it is kind of a head-scratcher why I have had so much trouble with this nail fungus thing – whatever it is?  Maybe it’s that mold spores and fungus have a greater survival rate in hot and humid climates than in the harsh winters and dry climates of the Rockies?

First Infection

I first discovered this fungus on my big toe toenail (shown on the left foot in photo above) when I was removing toenail polish several months after moving to Texas.   I freaked out, went crazy on Google researching this strange phenomenon, and then made a mad dash to the store to find my hopeful cure.  I purchased the most expensive brand of Tea Tree Oil, a #1-rated toenail fungus medicine with brush applicator, and a tube of Lamisil, suggested by the pharmicist.  I trimmed all my toenails close and sanded the tops to make them thin.

DSCN9046

I soaked my feet in an epson salt solution, dried them off really well, and then gave myself a thorough pedicure, removing all dead skin under and around the nail.  I did NOT polish my nails afterwards; I left them naked so they could breathe.  I washed all my sandals in the washing machine, HOT wash and rinse cycles, and then wiped them off with Clorox wipes to kill any residual spores.   I let them completely dry out in the bright, hot, Texas summer sun for a day.

I tossed out all my socks and bought new, 100% cotton ones.  I wiped down my dresser drawer with Clorox wipes and let it dry out in the hot summer sun.

I worked tirelessly to cure this fungus, if indeed that is what it was, with my over-the-counter remedies.  I never let my feet stay wet.  If I walked across wet grass, played in the sprinklers with the grandkids, or walked across the yard in the rain, I always toweled them off after, and after all my showers, with a clean, fresh towel that didn’t get reused or shared.

I kept my toenails short, but didn’t cut away the detached part on the advice of the pharmicist, although because I had sanded them really thin they did tear from the digging underneath with my fingernail file.  I also sterilized my clippers, files, knippers, etc. after every use.  I applied the Tea Tree Oil, the toenail fungus medicine, and the Lamisil cream after every shower, and made sure to get it up underneath each nail really good, and all over the tops too.

Months, and months, and months, and months went by with little improvement, but eventually the detached area slowly diminished to the point where I thought I was cured, and I relaxed my toe treatments.

Finally healed

And then this last January I noticed that the stupid thing was back.  UGH!!!!  Worse than before.  The detachement was almost to the root of my cuticle, and almost the whole left side of my nail.  Bummer!

Untitled

Now, I’ve heard there is a pill for this, but I didn’t want to treat my whole body for an issue under a small area of one toenail, especially when it costs money to go see a doctor to get a prescription, and when there are side effects to that medicine that are a little bit unsettling.  I’ve also heard that an alternative treatment and even more effective is laser therapy, but Holy Jemimah monkeys, it’s pricey, and may require several treatments to cure, which would mean several trips to the big city.  My toenails are not thick and yellow, they are normal and clear. They just have one little place of detachment.

So this time I followed my gut instincts and trimmed the detached toenail away from the cuticle beneath, using knippers so I could get in really close, and completely expose the area to fresh air and direct treatment.  Don’t worry, it didn’t hurt at all.  It probably does kind of make you cringe to look at it though.  I’m sorry.

20160211_160420

I then applied a drop of Clorox directly to the infected cuticle and nail with a Q-tip and let it soak in.

DSCN9034

I figured that if Clorox kills everything, including funguses on a variety of surfaces, I would do a clinical study of my own and see how effective it was on human tissue.  (Note: it honestly sounds less dangerous to me than prescription topical medications).  I used a Q-tip to apply a drop of Clorox to the cuticle, rubbing it into the skin and allowing it to soak in, and then over the nail, and I let it completely dry on its own.

DSCN9039

I wore nothing but flip-flops.  I again tossed out all my socks and purchased brand new ones.  I didn’t share my towel, or reuse it.  Everything got washed in the hotest setting on the washer and dried on the hottest setting in the dryer.

A couple of days later I applied hydrogen peroxide to the same area with a Q-tip, and let it dry on its own.  I spent the next month alternating my applications of Clorox or peroxide every few days.  After a few weeks I went to a once-a-week application, and then a once-every-two-weeks application, and finally once-a-month.

DSCN9040

Here’s what my toe looks like now after only six months:

20160804_122124

Here, look at the extremes side by side:

Soooooo, if you want my unprofessional opinion (I’m not a doctor and I don’t play one on TV) …forget about all the fancy, expensive, over-the-counter medications that take forever to work and aren’t effective at keeping fungus away, and before you spend your life savings on doctors and prescriptions.  Just get a small jug of cheap old Clorox and an inexpensive bottle of ordinary old trustworthy Peroxide, both of which are easily found, some steril Q-tips, and give this a whirl.  In my personal experience they are much more effective, and obviously won’t harm your skin when used topically on the infected site in small amounts and in moderation.  And another tip…  DON’T POLISH your toenails.  For one, polish keeps your nails from being able to breathe, like they need to, and two, polish hides (yes, I know that you want to hide your issue, but) it also hides dirt and grime.  It’s okay to paint them for a special occasion, but don’t let them stay polished for more than a day or two.  I believe the fungal spores live in the soil, and if that soil is allowed to just sit under your nails for any length of time, it breeds infection.  So I keep my toenails naked, and clean.

Sending prayers of healing your way!!!

“Make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed..   Hebrews 12:13 NKJV

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How God healed my pinched nerve (neck/shoulder/back)

Standard
How God healed my pinched nerve (neck/shoulder/back)

Yes, it will heal, but it will possibly take a lot longer time than you’re going to be happy about.  It took about four months for my pain and symptoms to completely disappear.

These are some of the things the Lord led me to try before finally breaking down and getting in to see a doctor:

  • A heating pad, as soon as it cooled I reheated it
  • Hot showers, as hot as I could stand and for as long as the hot water lasted
  • A TENS unit (a really good one), used non-stop until the gel pads dissolved and wouldn’t stick to my skin any more. Don’t think it really helped, but was at least a distraction from the pain.
  • Deep tissue massages, three visits in two weeks; I don’t recommend deep tissue because the sore muscles only add to the pain issues, and it all seemed to aggrivate the nerves, but a nice Swedish massage with some trigger point may be helpful.
  • A deep thumping electronic massager, like the TENS unit, not sure how helpful it was, but it was a welcome distraction from the intense pain.
  • Anti-inflammatory medications, very helpful
  • A cervical collar, helpful, but only for short periods during the day, helpful at night with a neck pillow and other pillows to prop up under my back.
  • Pain relieving gels/creams (Salonpas), very helpful
  • Exercise, helpful, but painful

…and total non-activity, helpful

no Chiro.jpgEverything I researched said DO NOT SEEK A CHIROPRACTOR FOR YOUR NECK (cervical spine) unless your chiropractor is highly skilled in neck treatment.  If after fully examining you with x-rays he suggests light traction and physical therapy exercises, ice and heat therapy, massage and trigger point therapy, and even laser treatments (like are used for neuropathy), rather than mentioning an “adjustment,” you’ve got a good Chiropractor. My GP said the back is okay to manipulate, but the neck (cervical vertebrae) should never be “adjusted.”

First things first…POSTURE!!!!  It is of utmost importance that you correct your posture.  I was a sloucher, and when my pain started I kind of babied it by slumping over.  Worst thing I could have done.  Sitting at the computer for hours and hours with head forward and arms extended is also the WORST thing!!!  Texting, driving, reading a book, writing with head forward…WORST things.

Correct Posture1

The best way to get correct posture is when standing, to grab a piece of the hair on the very top of your head and give it a tug upward.  Imagine that tuft of hair is connected to your spine by a string, and pull your spine into alignment.  Keep your head tall, not tipped forward, not backward.  Keep your back straight.  Let your arms fall to the sides.  Support your lumbar when sitting, or lying down.

Right and wrong ways to sit at a desk…

Good walking posture…

walkingpostures

If you have a job that requires a lot of sitting at a desk or computer, here are some stretches that you should do to help prevent neck and pinched nerve problems …

PT stretches

And believe it or not, your diet is a huge deal too.  I ditched all junk food and crammed my body with superfoods, natural probiotics and electrolytes – especially after doing my exercises and getting a massage.  I ate a ton of blueberries, cherries, raisins, and apples – because I craved them.  I ate dark chocolate, and Greek yogurt with active enzymes.  I crunched on carrots and ate lots of salad (with power greens, nuts, seeds, dried fruits, and vinaigrette dressings) and mostly alkaline foods.  And I drank tons of coconut water (the healthy brands without a ton of sugar and preservatives). Quite honestly though, coconut water doesn’t taste very good unless it has some sweetener in it, and it must be ICE cold, but it is much better for you than Gatorade.  Also, Turmeric is a natural anti-inflammatory and you can buy it in capsule form.  Fish Oil, with Omega Fatty Acids, is also supposed to be good for inflammation.

natural-anti_inflamatory

I finally sought out a doctor when the pain was unbearable and wasn’t getting any better.  As it turns out the doctor that I was able to get in with also knew personally the pain of a pinched nerve and started me down the path to recovery.

I couldn’t sleep in my bed.  I couldn’t lie down at all without screaming pain in my neck/back.  The only position I seemed to be able to get into that would give me some relief from my pain was to sit in a chair, legs apart, leaned forward as if tying my shoes, resting my head on a pillow on the table in front of me, and letting my arms dangle to my toes between my legs with my palms down and fingers aimed toward me.  When husband was home, he would lay my hot pad (microwave flax-seed filled, as hot as possible without burning the seeds) across my shoulders and neck. I would stay in that position until my legs fell asleep. It was truly the most debilitating thing that has ever happened to me.  A nightmare!

30236-praying-prayer-womanpraying-sad-crying-1200w-tn

The pain actually started on Christmas day.  I woke up with it that morning.  At first it was just a stabbing pain between my left shoulder blade and spine.  It felt like someone had stabbed me with a pencil in the Trapezius muscle and wouldn’t take it out.  I had range of motion, but was just terribly uncomfortable.  In hindsight it might have been from sitting too long in front of the computer working on a project, or it could have been something that I lifted and carried that I shouldn’t have, although neither of those activities alerted me to knowingly injuring myself.

My stabbing pain was accompanied by a little area of numbness just above that felt as if little bugs were crawling under my skin.

A day or two later the pain also began radiating under my shoulder-blade area.  It then began to roll down the bones of my left arm like molten lava, first the underside (triceps) part of my arm, to the elbow, and then up and over my forearm (brachioradialis muscle), and down into my wrist.  Then it bled into the web between my thumb and pointer finger, and then my pointer finger went numb.  That’s when I started thinking it was a pinched (entrapped) nerve.

Peripheral Nerves of the Upper Extremity

The bone deep aching nerve pain in my arm was the worst of all.  It was the worst at night and nothing I did helped.  I wrapped my arm in my hot pad and elevated it.  I tried squeezing a ball.  I tried ice.  I put the TENS unit on it.  I wrapped it.  I pressed it against the wall at a 90 degree angle with my palm up (my massage therapist suggested this), and that helped a little, and hot hot hot showers seemed to help.

Wymberly arm exer.

I would have gone to a doctor sooner if I’d have had one, but my primary care physician had just recently closed his practice.  I didn’t know any other doctors in my community that were accepting new patients.  I live in a community where the doctors require you to fill out an application and after they’ve had a chance to review the application will decide whether they wish to take you as a patient.  It is a long, drawn out process.

PLUS, I kept thinking it was getting better.

But every time I thought I was getting better I would do something to set myself back.  First set back was a monstrous SNEEZE that undid all the good I felt I had accomplished over the previous two-week period.  The second was when I tried to do some yard work and over-did it.  The sore muscles irritated the nerve pain.  Third was when I grabbed something from a pantry shelf just a little above my head and it caused a jar beside it to tumble off.  I flinched and reached to save it from crashing to the floor and once again was on my knees in tears.

I finally found a doctor 40 miles away that could see me.  Husband took the day off work and drove me over.  It was agony to be in the vehicle for that drive, but finally seeing someone who might be able to help was what got me through it.

He sent me to the hospital for x-rays and prescribed a 6-day steroid.  Some muscle relaxers (and even a stronger pain medicine than Ibuprofen) would have been nice, but for whatever reasons he didn’t prescribe them.  He did inform me that I could not take both Ibuprofen and Naproxen Sodium together, even staggered, but could stagger whichever one with Tylenol for a short while.

2d7566ed00000578-3274835-this_is_an_example_of_a_normal_cervical_x_ray_with_a_forward_cur-m-155_1444966611098

I took the (nasty) 6-day steroid and waited for the results of the x-rays.  The doctor never got back to me on the x-rays, but did have the Physical Therapy people contact me to set up an appointment.  It was another miserable, 40-mile-each-way trip to see them, but they did tell me the results of my x-ray (which showed only a minor narrowed area, which they said was normal for my age).

Physical Therapy was the thing that healed me!  God bless the physical therapists.

I had a wonderful therapist who assessed my pain issues, and measured me for range of motion and pain triggers.   She tried to do some traction (which actually hurt me more than helped unfortunately), but she also did a couple of chiropractic maneuvers in the shoulder-blade area that didn’t hurt at all (or really help either).  Finally she set me up with some exercises and made me do them during my visit; and then she iced me with a huge cold pack that covered my whole neck and back for about 20 minutes (which felt wonderful, and was very helpful). She told me to use heat whenever, and before doing my exercises (to loosen things up) but then ice afterward for at least 20 minutes.  She also tennis ballgave me a tennis ball to use to roll on my back against a wall and massage the areas that hurt, and work on the trigger points.  It worked wonders!!! And icing afterwards helped tons.

 

She sent me home with a few sheets of the exercises with instructions.  And wanted to see me in a week to assess whether the exercises were helpful or not. I’m sharing them with you because they were extremely effective!!!

PT1PT2PT3

I also encourage you to search the Internet for blogs and conversations about whatever issue you are dealing with.  I found a blog that led me to The Spine Institute  which has wonderful information on the McKenzie neck exercises and other issues of the spine, including the sciatic nerve. (I apologize for this guy’s excessive talking, but hang in there for the info.  It’s worth it).

I confess I never made it back for another session of Physical Therapy as I ended up coming down with the flu not long after finishing the steroids, and then another flu bug back to back of the first one, both lasted weeks, but I did faithfully do the exercises she gave to me to do every day, and they fixed me!!!!  Thank God.  No surgery.  By the time I was over the flu I was also doing much better with the pinched nerve.  It has been four months since this affliction first hit, but I am finally over all my symptoms, and even have regained feeling in my finger.  My arm has completely stopped having numb sensations, and no numb spot in my back with the feeling of bugs crawling under my skin.

I try not to sit at my computer for too long before getting up and doing something physical.  I don’t text on my phone with my head down.  And I watch my posture like a hawk.

Another very helpful thing, certainly the most spiritually helpful, was to meditate on the scriptures in God’s word that speak of healing.  Pastor John Hagee has created a You Tube video that was amazing to listen to when I wanted to sleep but was in so much pain…

You healed me

I hope something here has helped you with your neck pain today.  May God speed healing your way.  In His precious name I pray for you.  God bless.

FIRSTFRUITS

Standard
FIRSTFRUITS

Are you ready to accompany me on another captivating adventure into the Biblical Feasts of Israel? Are you as addicted to this series of adventures as I am?  If you missed our first excursion into the Biblical holidays of the Hebrews, please get your passport up to date by clicking on the link under recent posts (The Lord Our Passover) to catch up, and then be sure to come back here for FIRSTFRUITS, the second stop on our tour.

Firstfruits02

“For if the firstfruit is holy, the lump is also holy; and if the root is holy, so are the branches.”  Romans 11:16

The Firstfruits observance rose out of the sawdust of the construction of the very first ever “church” (the tabernacle) and its priesthood. The Hebrew people, wandering in the desert, on their way to the Promised Land, were instructed to give their first best of their first spring crops to God and in return God would bless their spring harvests. He would also use these offerings and tithes to fund the operation and ministries of His house on earth.

“But you shall seek the place where the Lord your God chooses…to put His name for His dwelling place; and there you shall go.”  There you shall take your offerings, your sacrifices, and your tithes. “And there you shall eat before the Lord your God, and you shall rejoice in all to which you have put your hand, you and your households, in which the Lord your God has blessed you.” (Deuteronomy 12:5-7)

God established that His people (the Hebrews) seek His dwelling place (the tabernacle), and go there, packing their tithes and offerings, partaking of the communion (which had been established between Melchizedek king of Salem and Abraham their ancestor in Genesis 14:18-20), and there rejoice before the Lord.

“And it shall be, when you come into the land which the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, and you possess it and dwell in it, that you shall take some of the first of all the produce of the ground, which you shall bring from your land, and put it in a basket and go to the place where the Lord your God chooses to make His name abide.

And you shall go to the priest in those days…then the priest shall take the basket out of your hand and set it down before the altar of the Lord your God. And you shall say…I remember what you delivered me from ‘and now behold, I have brought the firstfruits of the land which you, O Lord, have given me.’

Then you shall set it before the Lord your God and worship before the Lord your God. So you shall rejoice in every good thing which the Lord your God has given to you and your house, you and the Levite and the stranger who is among you.

When you have finished laying aside all the tithe of your increase…and have given it to the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, so that they may eat within your gates and be filled…then you shall say, ‘I have obeyed the voice of the Lord my God, and have done according to all that You have commanded me.

Look down from Your holy habitation, from heaven, and bless Your people…’”
(Deuteronomy 26:1-15)

 

According to Leviticus 23:9-12, the priest would wave a sheaf of green barley from each offering of the new harvest before the LORD (north, south, east, and west); a male lamb was then sacrificed as a burnt offering to the LORD; there was also a grain offering of unleavened bread made with oil, and a drink offering of wine.

.

Green barley

16 Firstfruits

I took this photo of a crop of wheat growing in a field near my house.  The farmers all around me planted winter wheat in their fields last year.  When spring came, with perfect warm and dry conditions, most of them were counting their chickens, as the saying goes, hoping to cash in on the terrible, relentless drought we were suffering with exactly the right low maintenance/minimum water required crop.  I enjoyed watching as the beautiful fields of green slowly began turning amber gold, and the warm Texas sun dutifully accomplished its work.

One late afternoon weeks before the harvest those still green grains got bent over and blown down by a tornado and wind squalls.  The gusts mischievously pounded the crops with down drafts in the night while we were all sleeping, and in the morning when we rose the fields looked as if aliens had crafted crop circles in the night, or as if herds of elephants had bedded down in the middle of them.  Every field was sculpted with strange mazes and patterns of wheat pinned to the ground in random fashion.  The farmers kept their optimism that their crops were still harvestable.

Just when the wheat was almost perfectly aged and ripe for harvest, south Texas got smashed with a month of flooding rains.  Inches and inches of rain.  Rain that carried houses away, washed bridges away, washed all our firewood and even our picnic table away, and filled up all the lakes and rivers to overflowing.  The wheat fields sat in standing bogs.  After a few weeks the amber waves, well, what remained of them, began turning a grayish tan.  Even so, the farmers held out hope that the sun would come out, dry everything out, and there would still be something enough to salvage.

The sun did eventually come out. The wheat did eventually dry out.  When the wheat was finally dehydrated enough for harvest the farmers turned the key on their gargantuan tractors, and lowered their combine blades down to the ground to rake up their pitiful, drowned, and wind damaged wheat.  The blades dragged across rocks and hard clumps of dirt, in an attempt to reap every kernel possible.  The damage to their equipment ended up exceeding the small pittance they netted from those fields.  There was little to no profits that year, only tax write-offs and equipment repairs.

So when I read this scripture about green barley I realized that there is still a lot of faith to be had between green FIRSTFRUITS and that actual golden harvest, at least in south Texas.

“Honor the Lord with your possessions and with the firsfruits of all your increase; so your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine” Proverbs 3:9-10.

“Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house. And try me now in this, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such a blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sake, so that he will not destroy the fruit…” Malachi 3:10-11.

“Do not think that I [Jesus] have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”  Matthew 5:17-20

Male lamb, sacrificed

Now, here again, as with Passover & Unleavened bread is the beautiful, curious parable (mystery) which gambols and pirouettes on a fine centerpoint in the chiastic ring structure of scripture – Jesus!  Let’s begin with the amazing coincidence that Jesus, our male Lamb, sacrificed, arose from the grave on the very day of Firstfruits – three days after Passover/Unleavened Bread.

“But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order; Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming.” (1 Corinthians 15:20-23)

Unleavened Bread & Wine

We learned in the Passover study that Jesus’ body is the unleavened bread, pierced, striped, and broken for us.  His shed blood is the wine of the new covenant.  When we partake of the communion, we remember His sacrifice until that day when He shall eat and drink it anew with us at the wedding feast of the Lamb, in His kingdom.

“We have a High Priest, (in the order of Melchizedek Gen. 14:18 ) who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man” Hebrews 8:1,2,5.

Jesus is the first-begotten of the Father (Heb. 1:6); the Firstborn of Creation (Col. 1:15-16); the first-begotten of the dead (Rev. 1:5) and is the Firstfruits of those who are to be resurrected (1 Cor. 15:20-23). And just as He is our Firstfruits, “Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.” (James 1:18).

Jesus’ presented Himself as the “firstfruits” of the harvest to come.

“And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many” (Matt. 27:52-53).

Our High Priest offered to the Father a “wave offering” of what will be an overwhelming harvest at the end of the age.

“…but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.” (Romans 8:23)  

.

*  *  *

.

There is a famous credit card commercial on TV that asks, “What’s in your wallet?”  In the same vein I ask,

.

“What’s in your BASKET?”

.

This is the question on my heart now every time I walk down the isles of the big box stores at Easter, strolling among the purple baskets, green baskets, yellow baskets, pink baskets, and blue baskets…baskets filled with candy and toys…baskets for little girls and little boys…baskets filled with grass and eggs.  Longaberger baskets, Peterboro baskets, and great big Texas baskets filled and decorated with bread, or flowers, or fruit, used as centerpieces on our dining room tables.  What’s in your basket?  What do you have to present to the Lord?

Jolee Wheat

With our High Priest now seated in His heavenly sanctuary, what firstfruits will we present to Him in our baskets?

There is one thing I know, we brought nothing into this world and it is certain we can carry nothing out when we die (1 Timothy 6:7).  Not our riches.  Not our fame.  Not our social calendar.  Not our church attendance.  The only things to follow us to heaven are the souls of people whom we have invited to the great banquet, AND our other good deeds, which were done in obedience, and in secret, without fanfare, if they survive the fire (done out of love) – 1 Corinthians 3:14-15.

“Pure and undefiled religion before God and the father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.” (James 1:27)

“And he who reaps receives wages and gathers fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together” John 4:36.

I wonder, could the firstfruits in our baskets be the PEOPLE whom we’ve brought to the house of God (church), shared our faith with, helped in times of need, and fed and fellowshipped with around our tables?

.

Are my firstfruits fireproof?

Why was Cain’s offering not accepted (Genesis 4:3-5)?  I believe there is a big hint in the wording of the scriptures that tells us he gave an offering, but it was not of his “first” fruits.   Abel’s offering, on the other hand, was of the “first” born of his flocks.

Also…

“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”  Matthew 6:1-4

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.”  Matthew 23:23  “For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”  Matthew 5:20

And perhaps the biggest of all, if we do the good we know to do out of obligation rather than love, we may as well not done anything at all (1 Corinthians 13:3).  Love suffers long, is kind, does not envy, doesn’t parade itself, and if not puffed up.  It doesn’t behave rudely, seek it own, or easily provoked.  It thinks no evil.  It doesn’t rejoice in other people’s misery, but rejoices in the truth.  It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things, and never fails.

Something the Holy Spirit put in my heart to consider also is Matthew 5:23-24: “Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled with your brother, then come and offer your gift.”

“Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on. Yes, says the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors and their works follow them” Revelation 14:13.

11115862_10206489715344423_3652046293885024252_n

I’m excited for our next adventure in the feasts (the Feast of Weeks, Pentecost).  You’ll find it under the title: Happy Firey Tongues Day!  Come take your place at my Lord’s table, and let us sup together these blessed feasts that the Lord has laid out for us in His word.  Let us be rich and well fed on the Word that we may have hope for our future!

.

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasure on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasure in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21