Chasing Fantasies

“He who tills his land will have plenty of bread,
     But he who follows frivolity will have poverty enough!” ~Proverbs 28:19

What kind of friends do we keep? Do they lift us up or drag us down? Do we interpret lifting up as making one happy and encouraging a continual party? Or do our friends encourage us to strive for the best in ourselves and develop Godly goals? The friends we keep help develop our character and our future. The words that fill our ears affect our thought patterns. When we follow friends who are frivolous and live in a continual party mode, we begin to slip into those same patterns. After all, how hard is it to work a full week while receiving continual message requests to skip off to the mall, salon, or the beach? We put our job, as well as any advancement, at risk of collapse. We find ourselves in poverty.

I like how the NIV puts the second half; “But the one who chases fantasies will have his fill of poverty.” This version is a great analogy of the get rich schemes of today. Advertisers take advantage of lazy people (who in their greed want something for nothing) by promising high returns for very little input, whereas the scheme rarely brings profit for the participant. Many marriages have been wrecked from a spouse who secretly spent savings on get rich Money Trading and Wall Street ventures. Anything hidden from your spouse is not of God, for God is light. If you don’t trust the Lord to be your provider, your faith is in the temporal. If you believe your worth is established in wealth, you will end up chasing fantasies.

“Better is the poor who walks in his integrity
     Than one perverse in his ways, though he be rich.” ~Proverbs 28:6

Money in and of itself is not the enemy. However, the love of the world’s money for our own pleasure is where destruction lies. To prosper in earthly wealth is not the satisfying prosperity God has to offer. As with everything else, God looks at the heart. If your heart is clouded with unforgiveness and selfishness, you will not have the peace and joy of His prosperity. God desires his children to have all he has to offer. Wealth is already his. He created the earth! But how we obtain our material possessions and the friends we keep determines the quality of our heart. When we promote ourselves by befriending the rich, or that popular friend, for our own benefit, we are living in self-centeredness without integrity. James 2:5-6 says, “Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? But you have dishonored the poor man. Do not the rich oppress you and drag you into the courts?” Are these the kind of friends you want? But, to have friends of integrity, you must have integrity. The best way to check your heart is to look at how you treat others on your way up that ladder. What kind of prosperity do you desire? Do you desire the world’s wealth or to prosper in all that God has for you?

“Whoever gives to the poor will lack nothing,
    but those who close their eyes to poverty will be cursed.” ~Proverbs 28:27

The concept of giving to others so God can give to us is all too foreign. Acts 20:35 says, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”  To be rich with God’s wealth is a blessing, to be rich with that which we did not earn righteously is a curse. An old saying that is proven trusted and true: “If you take care of the things of God, He will take care of you.” This comes from Psalm 37:4, “Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.” Do you trust Him to provide? Will you be satisfied with the Lord’s provision? In His hand is the only place true contentment is found.

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**If you enjoy devotionals with beautiful artwork that you can doodle as you read…check out my Proverbs Devotional & Doodles journal which can be found through The Thinking Tree Publishing Company on Amazon here: Proverbs Devotional & Doodles. The above is an excerpt from Day 28 of Proverbs!

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I Have Ancestors! Part II

Well, it’s been a little over a month since I last posted. I’ve had soooo many things running through my head, but just couldn’t bring myself to write it all out. And then, last night, I received the results from my DNA test. Oh me, oh my… Oh my…

Let’s just say…we’re definitely ALL related!

I promise to write more as my little brain processes a couple of the “shockers” in my results. But, for now, just know that I am convinced more than ever that the life of Jesus gave more healing than any other…ever! To be born of a race that was considered “chosen” yet so horribly persecuted out of jealousy, and yet to still love ALL of mankind, is phenomenal and supernatural.

You know what is the most ironic? How true were the words which Jesus spoke in Mark 4:22: “For there is nothing hidden which will not be revealed, nor has anything been kept secret but that it should come to light.”

I’m so glad now, even though utterly embarrassing, that my life has not been portrayed as perfect by any means! That my sins have been “out there” and that I have a redemption story…one that shows if God can save someone like me…He can, and will, save anyone who wants Him. Just simply ask…

“My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.”

~Psalm 139:15

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I Have Ancestors!

It’s funny…until the past few years I thought my ancestors were non-existent. I had to come from somewhere, didn’t I?

After hearing little snippets here and there, I finally took the DNA plunge. I know…it’s a trendy thing right now. My dad won’t even consider it. He thinks the government will steal his biological history and use it to create a look-alike robot, or capture him and put him a Chinese torture chamber! 😉 But, if I had his military/war history, I would have those fears too. I think most people already know that the “powers that be” already know more about us than we do!

I’ll find out in a few weeks just where I came from! Most American’s have no clue due to the constant revolving door. When I was living in Ukraine, a lady told me that she was of the “pure” race. Well, she was basically putting me down for being a mixed-breed-mongrel. LOL. **Sigh**

Oh if only she knew that we were all created by God…and he loved each of us no less than the other! I wonder how many relationships would heal if we all looked at each other through the loving eyes of our Creator…and loved each other the way he loves us…

 

Scriptures for Hope:

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” ~John 3:16-17

“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” ~1 John 4:10

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” ~Matthew 22:37-40

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” ~John 13:34-35

“And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” ~Romans 5:5

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” ~Romans 5:8

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The Iris of the Eye

Have you ever studied the anatomy of the eye? The iris is the ring of color which determines the size of the pupil that regulates the amount of light filtering into the retina which transmits the images to our brains. Our eye color is determined by the pigments in the iris. The name “iris” is derived from the Greek goddess of the rainbow, because of the many colors in the iris. While I don’t follow Greek myths much, it is interesting that our colors admittedly are derived from God’s rainbow. The iris of the human eye is quite a mystery. While the common colors consist of brown, blue, green, hazel, or grey, occasionally people are born with a mixture of all colors, creating new eye colors!

We are all created unique. People have a hard time seeing outside the box of what mankind has deemed acceptable. So why, oh why, do we try so hard to fit into someone else’s box? I want her hair. I want his muscles. We tend to feel disliked if we don’t look like supermodels. Think about it…what really is normal? Is your normal…normal? Is mine? The world’s greatest accomplishment will never surpass the beauty of God’s creation!

The ugliest person ever born is completely loved by the one who created the world. Don’t listen to the lies of those who only seek to control and destroy. For, the ugliest person to the world is especially loved and beautiful in the colorful eyes of God.

You are enough.

You are beautiful.

You. Are. Loved.

The Iris of the eye
Filters light to the soul
Painted by God himself
In colors of His rainbow
Trust in Him, and believe,
For you truly are
Fearfully and wonderfully made!

“For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.”
Psalm 139:13-16

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A Christian Hates Carols and Trees?

Why would any Christian hate Christmas trees or Christmas carols?

Back when my kids were younger our Christmas season was so stressful with all the grandparent gift competition and squabbling over where we were spending the day, I was so disgusted with it all that I simply quit. I actually stopped putting up a tree for quite a few years! We all needed to focus on the joy and not the gift. Consequently, I was called a Scrooge by quite a few so-called Christians! Because I didn’t decorate the way they thought I should? I was a Scrooge. Hmmm… Since Christmas is supposed to be about the birth and not the tree, I ignored those comments because they showed the position of their heart.

When I did some research, I found the word “Christmas” is short for “Christ’s Mass” given from the Catholic Church. Christ’s actual Birth was (according to the Roman census) in early September, not the end of December. As with most holidays, they evolve. The church wanted to coincide with the pagan holidays and this one fell on winter solstice. (Just Bing search it!) I don’t believe for one second that Jesus cares one iota if we celebrate his birthday. I do believe he does care that we celebrate his life! I do believe he cares that we honor his death and the sacrifice he made for all mankind. And I do believe he gives us the joy of celebrations, whenever they are, because he loves us! After all, his first miracle was at a party!

But Christmas Carols in November?? I think I finally figured out why Christmas Carols make me change the radio station faster than Frosty snowboarding with Clark Griswald! All songs have a subject. Originally, these songs were written to bring light to the birth of the Christ, the Savior of the World. It’s all about the “fluff”. Momma’s, don’t we all know how messy birthing babies can be? Yet, even through the pain and the mess, we find love looking in that little baby’s face, then we turn around and do it all over again! We smile at the goodness while ignoring the ugly. That’s what a Christmas Carol is all about. Sweet and beautiful.

So why the sink in my soul every time I hear a carol? The same sink that made me put away the tree. The meaning and joy has been zapped right out of it! Let me ask you this, do you hear a song about the life of Jesus in a major retail store any other time of the year? No. We wouldn’t want to offend anyone, right? But during the Holidays, carols are promoted because studies prove that people buy more “stuff” when they are played over the intercom. Our society has evolved the Christmas Holiday into commercialism. I get depressed just thinking about all the junk I’m subliminally made to feel I should buy, and the ungrateful people who could care less about their gifts, and all the money wasted.

I have to always remember the enemy has been trying to thwart Christianity for over 6,000 years. He is pretty good at taking the good things God created and using them for evil. Ephesians 6:12 says, “For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world’s rulers of the darkness of this age, and against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” People and things are not our enemy…attitudes are. We can’t throw out the baby with the bath water!

Eventually, I began to focus on things that will matter a hundred years from now. People not presents. I’m not worried about who can come to Christmas dinner and who can’t or won’t. We can always get together another weekend. I don’t stress about the perfect gift. Personally, I treasure homemade gifts. Yesterday, my dad gave me a present of a handpicked perfect mix of nuts, full of Brazilians!! That two pound can he wrapped up is by far the best present I’ve had in years!

Yes, we still exchange gifts, and I still decorate my house, but I focused on nativity sets, which represents the purpose for the season. We stopped putting our gifts under the tree (yes, I do have a tree these days), though now our new tradition is to put them under the large nativity, the reason for the season. The kids began focusing on giving and not receiving, and I stopped feeling guilty for not buying them everything society said I should. Win.

Amazingly enough, the Joy came back! And…every once in a while…I’ll even sing a carol or two.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” ~John 3:16-17

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Comfort & Healing Journal

Do you or someone you know need a little encouragement today? Are you or someone you know, experiencing the pain of loss? The holiday season can be very tough for those of us who are grieving. Whether it is the loss of a loved one, loss of a job, or the loss of a marriage, we all grieve. Journaling through that process helps us to grow and not get stuck. Here is my latest endeavor with Thinking Tree Publishing Company. This journal helps give encouragement from others in the same situation, and helps point to the hope God gives.

Don’t give up on hope. Don’t give up on life. You are loved!

Click here: Creative Journal & Coloring Book for Comfort & Healing

Here is an excerpt:

A Letter From Nora :

When Sarah asked if I would put this book together, I thought to myself, “Sure! This one will be a piece of cake!” And then life hit…and death hit…

About three quarters of the way into this project, a close family friend committed suicide. Her death was a shock to most people because of the way she lived her life. She lived as a committed Christian, always the first to help others, and at almost 70 years of age she was a devoted grandmother. And yet, she suffered from devastating depression most of her life.

Consequently, we are all left with nothing but the “why” questions. Some things in life are unexplainable. Why would an innocent baby die? Why would I lose that perfect job? Why would my husband decide he didn’t want to be married anymore? Why did my dad leave? Why did my adult child reject me? Why would a natural disaster wipe out a lifetime of memories? Why didn’t I notice my friend was suffering before committing suicide? And the resounding question of all time: Why do bad things happen to good people?

Book written by my good friend, Mark Tabb

And…we grieve.

I have all the head knowledge, but still, I grieve. I know all the pat answers, but still, I grieve. Grief is messy. Each of us grieves differently, for we are all unique. Some people cry outwardly, others internalize. Some will hide from life, while some will busy themselves with every activity available. Experts say we experience at least two of the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. There is no right or wrong way to grieve. In my own grief, I simply could not pick up this book on grief. Every time I wrote a sentence, the words sounded dry. I shut down my social media. I wouldn’t talk about it. I wouldn’t cry. I felt paralyzed. I just needed time. I needed time to process our loss. God allows us that time to grieve. He allowed the Israelites to grieve for 30 days after Moses died. Then he instructed Joshua to tell them to pull up their boot straps and move on into the Promise Land. God allowed Job to ask all the “why” questions when he endured suffering upon suffering, and did not count it against him.

In my processing, I remembered that as long as we live in an imperfect world, with imperfect people, bad things will happen to both the good and bad. But…good things will also happen to both the good and bad. In those times, both good and bad, I remembered that God is always good. It’s ok to be mad at God, as our children are mad at us when things don’t go their way. His grace allows us to grieve. I don’t believe God causes the bad things to happen in life, it’s simply the consequences of life in an imperfect world. Though we may never understand why /he allows bad things to happen, He always works everything out for our good. (See Romans 8:28) Though we may feel all alone in our grief, we have a creator who understands our pain and loss more than anyone.

Sometimes God calms the storm, and sometimes He will calm His child in the middle of the storm.

When did I start functioning again? When I got out of bed in the morning. When I put one foot in front of the other. When I took a walk with my camera, forcing myself to see God’s beauty through a different lens. When I smiled at the check-out lady because she was stressed and watched her smile back. When I took dinner to a friend who was suffering their own loss.

I was able to begin functioning again when I found that in life’s changes, I still have purpose. We are needed. We all have value and worth. We are loved by the One who created us.

In His Love,
Nora

A Grief Observed By: CS Lewis 

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Example of Journal Pages

** If you enjoy devotionals that you can doodle as you read with beautiful artwork by Sarah Janisse Brown, founder of The Thinking Tree Publishing Company; the above excerpt from Comfort & Healing in Times of Loss can be found on Amazon here: Journal for Comfort & Healing: also, my Proverbs Devotional & Doodles Journal can be found on Amazon here: Proverbs Devotional & Doodles.

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Are we near the end?

Since people hate over the silliest of things, yes, I believe we are at the end. How much worse can it get? Jesus said when asked about the end of the age: “And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another.” ~Matthew 24:10

Are you ready for eternity? Do you live in forgiveness or bitterness? Will that thing you harbor anger and bitterness over really matter a thousand years from now?

We have to forgive, and forgive, and forgive again no matter how much it hurts, or how much the offender continues their attack, even if they never admit to their offense. It’s hard. I have to continually remind myself of this all the time. For, I’m not perfect, just forgiven. Forgiveness is the only way to find freedom for our soul. Forgiveness does not mean the offender is not guilty of the sin, for we all give an account for every little thing we do; it just means we release to God our right for revenge. (God’s vengeance is always much better anyway.) We are then free to live in God’s peace and joy, which usually makes the offender angry because we aren’t letting them cripple us. We are free. We are ready to “meet our maker” with a clean heart. We are forgiven. Because, yes; no matter how slighted we feel, if we don’t forgive, God won’t forgive us. If we aren’t forgiven, we spend eternity without freedom, without light, without God…in hell.

Don’t believe me? Or, maybe you don’t believe me because you feel like I shouldn’t be forgiven because I have offended you in some way and you don’t like me. Then I say don’t. What do I know? All I am is the messenger. Here in the States, there is a bible (taken from ancient scrolls) in every corner. Look it up on the internet. All I am doing is relaying what Jesus said in Matthew 6:14-15: “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

What of this life will you take with you into eternity?

“Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.” ~Matthew 18:21-22

 

“And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” ~Revelation 21:6-8

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