Should Encouragement Sound Hard?

Good morning friends. I wanted to share my “slap in the face” from my devotion this morning with Oswald Chambers. As the end of the year gets closer, and the holidays are within touching distance, we run around being “do-gooders” in the name off sacrifice for others. We sacrifice out time, our talents, our money with the hope of making our Lord pleased with us and of course helping our fellow man. We don’t outwardly look at it like that but I think sometimes that thought can niggle at us. I think we forget what true sacrifice is and I boil it down to this analogy – If the task you are doing to help fellow man may seem to others like a sacrifice or burden but to you it is a chance to show love and support, then your heart is in step with Christ. If the task you are doing to help fellow man feels like a sacrifice or burden then your heart is not in it, so stop. While it may be needed, its long term effects will not last. And it is needed to last in some form of caring.

We forget what true sacrifice is…

How dare we talk of making a sacrifice for the Son of God! We are saved from hell and total destruction, and then we talk about making sacrifices! Oswald Chambers

That was a hard statement to read this morning. And it made me think about all the programs we are getting setup for the holidays to help the needy, to help their physical needs; the food baskets, the “Share the Warmth” clothing drive. But are we doing enough to help their spiritual needs, their emotional needs. I can’t answer that question. Its different for each person. Am I, myself, skimming off the top or digging deep.

The missionaries around the world are truly sacrificing for Jesus. Remember the big news stories about the missionaries in Haiti getting captured and now its old news…but you know what, they are STILL captured and imprisoned. As they are in Afghanistan and other third world countries. But what can we do about that? Pray! If every person in the world would pray for them, not just once, but every time you do something for others, say a true heartfelt prayer for them. The power of hell has no power over the love of God and His people who sincerely believe in Him.

Taking the time to stop – be still – pray…is a sacrifice we can all do. It doesn’t come from our financial resources or our talents, it comes from our time and our heart. True sacrifices come from our heart.

So as you approach the holiday season, look at things a little more differently. Look at the value of true connection to others needs and always surround it with love from your heart. Never forget to pray for others and always be kind.

Always Pray in Kindness

A Gift of Hope

Enclosed is a short story I wrote this afternoon as I am slowly gathering my crafts together to get them done for Christmas. I ran across my glass hearts and thought of how to me they resemble hope more than love. Especially at Christmas. This year, year two of Covid, there are many who have lost hope so we must find ways to encourage others. So I wrote this story. Its kind of long, over 900 words, but I think it has a message we can all understand. We all have been hurt at one time or another and can sometimes lose hope. We must come along each other and rebuild each others hope so that they can then encourage others, thus creating a circle of encouragement. So if the story is too long for you to read, remember to encourage each other and help rebuild hope.

Buried Hope

“Hey sweetie, hand mommy that heart,” said Meredith as she motioned to her daughter.

“Are you going to put it back in the dirt like you found it?” questioned her daughter Hope. Her young blond curls fell into her face as she bent to pick up and examine the small glass heart.

“I am.”

“But why. It’s pretty. You could wear it.”

“It’s a little big for a necklace, but it is pretty isn’t it?” Meredith examined the heart before she carefully placed it under the flower she was potting. She though back to when she had been given a similar pot of flowers and this lovely poem of hope. She was miserable and had lost all hope because she had miscarried her second child. She had wanted children so badly and now that hope evaded her. The poem had encouraged her and gave her some peace. The following spring as she followed the instructions in the poem by planting the plant in the yard, she discovered in the bottom of the flower pot a tiny laminated copy of the poem and the glass heart was attached to it.

“This is a heart of hope for someone who is very sad right now,” explained Meredith. “When this was given to me, I thought I would never be able to have children and I was very sad.”

“But Mommy, you had me,” Hope said matter of factly.

“Yes, I did, two years later. And now you are a grown-up 5 year old who starts school in the fall. Won’t that be fun?”

“Yeah.”

“Okay,” said Meredith dusting the remaining dirt from her hands. “Let me go get the poem and I will deliver the flower.”

“You going to give it to Mrs. Lawson?” Hope said sadly.

“Yes. I think she needs it, don’t you?”

“Yeah. I know that Bobby is really sad too. I can’t imagine us losing Daddy.”

“They all need our love and prayers to get through this tragedy.”

As Meredith got out of her car at the Lawson’s home, she saw Nancy working in her flower bed. Nancy sat back on her heels with a soft wave and a sad smile on her face.

“Hey Nancy. I know how much you love your flowers and I just wanted to give a little extra color. This lily will be beautiful all summer, and then this fall you can add it to your garden.”

“Oh, Meredith. You are so sweet. Thank you.” Nancy stood to take the flower and give Meredith a hug. They had been good friends for several years. As Nancy reached for the flowers she froze staring intently at the flower pot and the poem that was being held by the flower stick.

“This is a white lily,” said Meredith. “Lilies represent hope and faith and white represents peace and purity. I thought this would help bring you peace.”

“Did you write this poem you placed on the stick?” she whispered softly as she reached just for the stick while Meredith held the flower pot.

“No. I copied it from one I received when I was going through a particularly hard time in my life. It brought me peace and I wanted to do the same for you.”

Meredith noticed the tears coming down from Nancy’s face.

“Nancy, I did not mean to upset you. I wanted you to know you always have a friend with me. I am so sorry I upset you.”

“No, no. You have not upset me but I do have to ask….did you also bury something in the dirt?”

“Yes. How did you know that?”

Nancy hug Meredith in a strong loving hug as tears and laughter came from her. “Oh, Meredith, you have no idea how happy you have made me. Come sit down and let me tell you the story.”

As they settled on the chairs on the front porch Meredith placed the lily on the table between the chairs.

“Meredith, this really is a lovely lily. So delicate and small but its fragrance is wonderful.” Nancy settled in her chair and began her story. “When I was a little girl my grandmother was a prominent member in our family. She loved Christmas and had clear glass ornaments for her Christmas tree. She loved the way the light twinkled through the glass. Some of the larger ornaments were cut class that refracted the light into tiny rainbows on the walls. When she found out she had cancer, she refused to go through the treatments. The doctors told her she would not last longer than a year without treatment.”

“I heard that treatments back then were a lot less effective and the effects were more painful than now,” said Meredith.

“I can hear my grandmother now.  ‘I would rather have one good year than three years of being sickly like I have seen some of my friends. Especially when it’s gonna get me anyway.’ She was a pistol. The spring before she died, she dug up her lilies and put them in flower pots and in the bottom of the flower pot, she placed one of her small heart ornaments along with this poem. Then she took them to the hospital and gave them to patients to help give them hope. Mom told me there were close to thirty flower pots. I had heard over the years how some people had regifted them but never thought I would ever see one. This is so very special, Meredith,” said Nancy as fresh tears flowed.

“I would have given it to you sooner had I know. I am excited and amazed of this story.”

“It just shows the full circle of love, hope, faith and even life if we allow it to grow.”

Anita Neal

Thank for reading my story. It was fun to write but it does show the importance of kindness and encouragement to rebuild shattered hope. Never forget the importance of kindness. It can be a spark someone needs to brighten their day.

Fun and Wet Walk

Today, our community came together to walk for the awareness of hunger across the globe. I have not seen the total amount we raised in our area but it was fun getting together with others and sharing a common cause. We in USA have a tendency to take for granted the ability of opening our fridge and grabbing a snack or being able to plan a wonderful meal. There was a message I read recently from the missionaries that we help support through International Missionaries. They stated that the mind set of the people they serve in the Dominican Republic was thankfulness if they got to eat that day. They feel it is a gift from God for each meal on any given day. That is a hard concept to get our privileged minds around. So I challenge all of us to pray for the people across the world – even in our own privileged countries, there are those who go without food. And lift a special pray for those impoverished countries who think it is a gift from God to be able to eat. If you get the opportunity to join in on one of these special fund raisers, do so. It really does go to a great cause.

Below are pictures of our group along with others who joined in for a great day – even though we got rained on.

Remember, there are those who are struggling in life just as we all do. Let us remember to always be kind. Kindness shows a beauty that some never get to see.

First Line Friday: June 18

First Line Friday

The café began to feel like her only real home. Carrie looked out at the lights as they blinked on the sign, Lou & Rachel’s Café. The pain and fear were still very real. She glanced down at the ugly scar that snaked across her left forearm and down her hand.

“Your awfully quiet tonight,” said Rachel. “You okay?” Rachel was well aware of what this day was. It had been six years to the day that her sister’s family had been in a horrific accident with Carrie being the only survivor of six in her family and two teenage boys whose car exploded upon impact.

“I am old enough now to have processed what happened and begin to heal from it. But I can still see in it my mind, hear the screaming of tires, the breaking of glass and that horrid smell of burning flesh. Will I ever be fully healed? I sometimes wish I had died as well so I don’t have these memories.”

“Emotional and psychological healing takes an infinitely longer time and in some cases you just learn to live with the memories by pushing them out of your mind. You will get better. What does your therapist say?”

“She is pleased with how well I have done so far but she knows there is still a lot more healing to do. Thank you for taking me in. I cant imagine doing this alone.”

“Have you thought any more about the community college?”

“Some. My therapist is good friends with the Dean of the College, so they understand my situation. Due to my injuries, I may never be able to play the violin again but I could teach. I just don’t know if that is enough or even a wise thing to do. Or do I really want that?”

“Well, as I am sure what others have told you is that at least you could be back in music. But I fully understand if that is not enough or if its is too hard to separate from what you wanted for your life. I will be here to support whatever you need.”

“It’s funny but the love and warmth of this little café has helped me heal better than I think anything else could have.”

“That is because of the love of this little town. They loved your family and only want the best for you. They too will support any decision you make. You have a lot of love here. Plus they are always here for my cherry pie. It is to good to be true,” she chuckled.

“You are right about that,” she chuckled herself. “I know the love of this town. I can feel it. I just got to get a direction.”

“Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. It will happen when its time. Just breathe.”

Carrie smiled at her aunt as he walked back into the kitchen. She knew the love here was strong and was so thankful for the café being her new home.

Thank to Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie for a fun prompt for Fridays. Come play along and share your creativity with us.

And as always, I remind all to be kind. Its a amazing tool to help others heal.

Helping Out Fellow man

What you do with the gifts God gives you shows others, who are watching, the value of the gifts you have been given.

Today, my church participated in the World Vision Waterwalk for 2021. Our goal was $1500.00 and we met our goal. Knowing what some people in some countries have to go through just to get clean water is scary for those of us who just turn on a tap and there you go. May we never take it for granted as one day it may all may be compromised.

Enclosed are some of the photos I took of our church using our gifts to try to put a drop in the bucket of much needed water across this globe. If this stirs you heart, it is never to late to give.

Have a blessed day and remember that any gift of kindness brings joy to the giver and the receiver.

Always be Kind

Sunday Poser #26

Sunday Poser is a thought provoking challenge by Sadje and her blog to Keep it Alive. Her question today is one that touches home with a lot of people…or it should.

For me, the most inspiring human trait is true love for mankind. While there have been some wonderful attributes already mentioned, to me, if there is no true inner love from the heart and soul for mankind, the other wonderful traits will not be able rise to the surface.

And I push myself for kindness that the world is sorely lacking. With each seed of kindness planted, a tree of beauty will come forth planting many other seeds of kindness.

Compassion Encouragement

Happy Saturday Friends. I want to share some encouragement with you as we all need encouraging from time to time. Today I want us to think about how encouraging compassion can be for those who receive it as well as those who give it. It is a key component I believe of Christians, yet those who don’t really know Christ have the ability to have compassion as well. It is a gift from God.  I saw a video this morning that showed true care and compassion towards animals. For encouragement to our church family, my pastor’s has a daily devotion online since some are still on lockdown. This week he has been going through creation and how as creation was done, it was methodical. Each part of creation was essential to the next part of creation. For example the sun, moon and stars were created before much else was to establish the ability to mark time, and to give us light – a separation from all darkness. Plant life, which needed the light that was earlier created, was then created to sustain life that came after it as food supply and for the air we breathe. We breathe in oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide, plant life breathes in carbon dioxide and exhales oxygen. It is all important for survival. We support each other. And later animals were created right before man and man was created to care for the animals. Of course that changed with the fall but the intent was care, compassion…and mutual love.

While Genesis 1:26 reminds us that we have dominion over animals, Proverbs 12:10 reminds us to do it with compassion.

I am always encouraged when I see people going above and beyond in caring for animals who find themselves in a no win situation. The video below shows the compassion of a group of men who found a dolphin that had been washed up by Hurricane Laura landing the dolphin in a pond 9 miles away from the ocean. They came together to safely capture the dolphin and take it back to the ocean. It was most encouraging.


https://weather.com/storms/hurricane/video/hurricane-lauras-storm-surge-traps-bottlenose-dolphin-miles-from-the-ocean

God made us all with compassionate hearts towards His creation, not only to the nature side but also to the human side. Where would any of us be without the compassion from others. WE all have struggles. The definition of compassion is a strong deep feeling of sympathy and sorrow for anyone or any creature who is hurting in any fashion. Jesus is our greatest example for us to learn by, as He was compassion for us and taught us how to have compassion and use it to further His kingdom.

When we think of the compassion God always has towards us, we should embody that compassion for others. We should always be on the alert to share His love in any encounter we may face. We all know many friends or family members right now who are fighting health issues, hurting emotionally, scared, wondering what’s next and we should always be ready to reach out to all of them to let them know we are here ready to help in any way we can and that we are to fervently pray for them. Tonight, I lift my heart out to all who are hurting in any way and hope this prayer below brings you a  moment of encouraging peace and compassion. 

And as sad or hopeless you may feel, know there is always kindness out there for you to receive and share wherever you can. Sometimes it needs to start from you first and then blossom to a beauty you didn’t know existed.

Cuteness of a Pin Cushion

Here in the USA over the last couple of years, figurines for hedgehogs, especially with Christmas decorations, have really taken hold. I find that interesting as the cute little creature is not native to our country. There are 17 different species of hedgehogs which is fascinating in itself to me. They are native in Europe, Asia, Africa and New Zealand. You can find replicas of them here in plant stores and multiple places that carry decorations. I bought a new Tree decoration this year and created a hedge hog family with the ones I had gotten over the last couple of years. I made a fun post of this family including a short short story that you can read about if interested, its here.

IMG_20191128_100046

I have become fascinated with them over the last couple of years because of the fabulous photographers that capture this creature and it cuteness and its apparent ability to smile. I wrote a special post on smiling animals here. Animals do smile, their entire face lights up when they are happy and treated kindly. But I have really been taken by the cuteness of a hedgehogs smile. How can you not smile at this cuteness?

smile 2.jpg
Smile

I have recently added the National Geographic Photo of the Day page to my Facebook account and again I am amazed by the fabulous photographers across this world and the amazing pictures they take. Today and yesterday two pictures of hedgehogs were posted and I downloaded them both to share with you. One was of cuteness and one was mom and babies. I was amazed at how the babies look…like little pin cushions.

hedgehog1

hedgehog
Preciousness

It is amazing to me how God can create so many fascinating creatures, some none of us have ever seen other than in pictures. We don’t even know all that is on the bottom of our deepest oceans, our most intriguing earthly frontier. Some of it that has been captured on film is quite scary looking.

But I will settle for the cuteness and the beauty that photographers across the world are capturing and sharing with all of us. Thank you.

And remember as you share in the beauty of God’s creation, to show it the respect that it so much deserves. And with all creatures, beast and man alike, remember the value of kindness and share it when possible.

animalkind 12

 

Holiday’s Can Be Hard

I love the holidays. I have been so blessed to be able to share this love with friends and family. But if you have recently lost someone, the holidays can be really hard. This post goes out to all of you who may have recently lost a loved ones this year, or even several years ago making the holidays hard to get through. This was a poem with author unknown but it was posted on Facebook  by a dear friend and coworker and I thought it needed sharing.  My heart goes out to all of you.

My First Christmas in Heaven

I see the countless Christmas trees around the world below,

With tiny lights, like Heaven’s stars, reflecting on the snow.

The sight is so spectacular, please wipe away that tear,

For I am spending Christmas with Jesus Christ this year.

I hear the many Christmas songs that people hold so dear,

But the sounds of music can’t compare with the Christmas Choir up here.

I have no words to tell you, the joy their voices bring,

For it is beyond description, to hear the angels sing.

I know how much you miss me. I see the pain inside your heart,

But I am not so far away. We really aren’t apart.

So be happy for me dear ones. You know I hold you dear,

And be glad I’m spending Christmas, with Jesus Christ this year.

I send you each a special gift, from my heavenly home above,

I send you each a memory of my undying love.

After all LOVE is a gift, more precious than pure gold,

It was always most important in the stories Jesus told.

Please love and keep each other, as my father said to do,

For I can’t count the blessings or love he has for each of you.

So have a Merry Christmas and wipe away that tear,

Remember, I am spending Christmas, with Jesus Christ this year.

-Author Unknown-

 

Remember those who are hurting this year and give them an extra hug of kindness.

Kind light