Category Archives: love

Love Is A Choice

My mother’s life started out rocky, but she learned that love is a choice. My grandparents adopted my mother at the age of 10. They chose to love her and I am so thankful they did.

My mom had her own family, 2 sisters, 1 half-sister and 2 half- brothers, and she was the oldest of them all. Their life was hard and very tumultuous and scary. The details are hers to share with those she chooses. It was not the type of life anyone would want a loved one to be in, but it was her life. And she was the luckiest of all her siblings because although she did not grow up with her siblings and her mom and stepfather, she did grow up in a home of love, laughter, and joy.

She grew up in a home with parents that loved and honored the Lord. She learned about Jesus and forgiveness and she learned about being loved. She learned that life is full of choices and every choice has a consequence. She learned that she was free to make mistakes and with mistakes came lessons that would guide her along the way in her life.

She often wondered about her sisters and brothers and what happened to them and even her mother. She was able to connect with her siblings later in life and build lasting relationships. As I said she was the lucky one. My heart breaks for my aunts and uncles and the hardships they endured, and I continue to love them as if they have always been a part of my life. They are family.

Fast forward 10 years to my parents tying the knot with their own dreams of having a home and starting a family. My parents were blessed with four children. Myself, a sister two years later, another sister four years later and just when they thought they were done with diapers, my brother appeared 8 years later. He was definitely a surprise.

The story could stop there.  It could be they had four children and lived happily ever after. Well, they did have a great life. They remained married and in love with one another until my father passed in 2015-51 years with each other.  That fact alone would be enough to inspire you.

My mother is more than a daughter, sister, mother, wife, grandmother or aunt. She taught me what selfless love is all about. My sister, born two years after me has a hearing impairment.  There were no support groups or local organizations to reach out to for a special needs child. She helped to form a local group for parents of deaf children. She took my sister to weekly speech therapy appointments, while still raising 3 other children and running a home, plus being a volunteer fire dispatcher (before 911 existed) and being the chief cook, laundress, bottle washer, and confidante.

As we became older, she shuttled all of us to our various extracurricular activities, made sure we had hot meals and lots of love.  And she instilled in us a kindness and compassion for others that came from her life as a child. To love others is a choice. A family is family and family is first. It doesn’t matter if you have been thick as thieves with your cousins all your life or if you just laid eyes on them as a teenager. The love is the same.

She worked for child service agencies to help protect children from the horrors of the world because she understood that better than anyone what is was like to be hungry, hurting and alone.

She chose to not live as a victim. She chose to live a life of love and she shows that love every day to her friends, family, and total strangers. She embodies the heart of Jesus. She shows grace in all situations. She prays daily and gives her worries and concerns to the Lord. She is my hero because her heart always has room for compassion and kindness like I have never seen.

She has mended many of my broken heart moments, she has given advice that has carried me far in my life and although there have been many times, that I have hurt her heart and been less than stellar as a daughter, she hasn’t loved me any less.

She is the rock in our family.  She is the glue that keeps us all connected when we lose touch with one another. The sad part is she lives thousands of miles from all of us, but she is only a text, video chat or call away. It’s not the same as being with her in person, but it’s the next best thing.

I only pray that someday, I can be half the mother she has been to me and my siblings. I strive daily. She isn’t just my mom, she is my hero.

Mom, I just want to thank you so much for choosing love. Thank you for choosing to love others unconditionally and to always show grace under pressure. Your forgiving heart and spirit have taught me more than I could ever express. I am very honored that God chose you to be my mother. I love you so very much! Happy Mother’s Day Mom!

247260_2137514036390_8032578_n

Our Mom

 

 

 

Advertisements

The Pink Purse

My friend Sherry was a lover of the color pink, not a vibrant, bright pink, but a pale subtle pink. She was a romantic at heart and loved with all she had. She would share whatever she had if anyone needed it. I miss her so much.

I remember, about a year before her death, I took her on a “Bucket List” trip. She wanted to go to the mountains in October to see the changing of the leaves. When the fall colors burst forth, and all you can see in every direction are hues of purple, pink, yellow, red and beautiful colors the mind can’t comprehend.

Prior to the trip, I had purchased a pink handbag from a local Goodwill store. It wasn’t anything fancy and was under five dollars. It was one of those open the bag and throw everything in it, no compartments and no zipper.  Just a simple snap at the top to hold it all together. For weeks, she pestered me to give her that purse. And for weeks, I said no way.  She had always told me that she could never use a grab bag, she needed it to have compartments and pockets and zippers and this bag had none. But her love for the color pink won out.

Bucket Trip to the Mountains 028

One day, I found a nice box, lined it with tissue paper and carefully wrapped the purse in the tissue paper and found gorgeous pink wrapping paper and tied it all together with pink ribbon and a pale pink bow!

We went to our weekly Bible Study and then made our weekly trek to United Dairy Farmers for a Peanut Butter Sundae with extra peanut butter. A treat to ourselves, and while we sat and devoured those sundaes, I presented her with the package.

She questioned what was this big gift box for. It wasn’t her birthday or any special date she could recall and I said you’re my friend; that’s enough of a reason for the gift. She ever so delicately tried not to rip the pink paper (which is near next to impossible because I love using tape when wrapping gifts) and finally I told her she needed to rip it open, she could find more of that gift wrap at the dollar store if she wanted it so bad.

When she opened the box and gingerly peeked in the tissue paper, this bright smile beamed from her eyes. And she hugged me tight and told me she would take really good care of it! She took that purse on our trip and made sure that I took a picture of her and her pink purse.

That’s what friends do for each other. We lift one another’s spirits, it could be the gift of an inexpensive pink purse, it might be a nice note or a phone call. It might just be sharing a cup of coffee. Whatever it is that you do with your friends to brighten their days, do it with love.

I know she carried that purse until it finally fell apart, but the small amount of money spent on that handbag does not compare to the joy it brought my friend.

May you know how much Jesus loves you!

Blessings!

Bucket Trip to the Mountains 057

 

 

 

via Daily Prompt: Pink

In Deep

John 10:10New Living Translation (NLT)

10 The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.

hopealways

 

 

 

I’ve been sitting her this morning, thinking about all the things going on around me, in my little world. We all have our own ways of coping and dealing with life and everything life throws at us, even if we didn’t ask to be part of something. And I’ve come to realize that I can choose to turn a blind eye to things that bother me or I can seek the Lord and His guidance.

I love and I love deeply. That’s the only way for me to do it. It’s not about what the rest of the world thinks, it’s about what my heart feels. I weep for the homeless and for the many people in my area that die from heroin overdoses every day. I weep because I don’t know how to fix it. I’ve been fortunate, not to have lost anyone close to me, but I have many friends and their families that have been affected by this drug. Just this morning, I read a news headline that 10 people lost their lives to heroin overdose in the last 24 hours. Losing 1 is too much, but 10 is a horrific thought. I didn’t know any of these people, but I weep for their families, friends and for them. I don’t understand what changed in their lives that they thought the heroin or any other drug for that matter could make it all better.

All of us need love. It’s part of our DNA. That’s how God created us. Every time I think about all the evils in this world, I think about this song What the World Needs Now is love. Unconditional love. Period. It isn’t easy loving someone without conditions, but if we want to be like Jesus Christ, that is exactly what we need to do, what we must do.

I live within miles of the number one ranked city (Dayton, OH) in the nation for Heroin addiction overdose and death. The only thing I know to do is to love on people. Meet them in their pain and slowly build relationships with them so they know that even when they shoot up, you still love them. We are all broken, we all have demons we face in our lives, I feel so strongly about this, but I still don’t have any answers. The only answer I keep hearing is we must love one another, deeply. We must look past our faults, our weakness. We must be willing to step out of our cozy comfort zones and reach out to the hurting, the dying and the lost. We must continue to pray for our world. Our small little worlds make up the big world we live in. Each of us must put on Jesus every day when we awaken and reach out in any way we can to stop this evil and that’s what it is, plain and simple, evil.

According to the Montgomery County Coroner’s office, via a news release on WDTN Channel 2, Dayton, Ohio (01/31/2017), 355 overdose deaths in 2016; the majority being white and in their 30’s. The actual amount of deaths was 349 according to this report from the Montgomery County Coroner’s office. As I read the reports and look at those numbers, just for the area I live in, I am astounded. This says nothing of the national problem we have. And I weep.

The hardest drug I have ever tried and lived to tell about was Nicotine from smoking cigarettes. It too is habitual and it too kills, but slowly. I’ve heard if you have just one “hit” of heroin or any other drug, depending on its chemical makeup and strength, it can kill. For some people who feel the need to do drugs, doing it just once might be their last time.

Here in our area, there is an organization that is slowly making a difference in the lives of families and addicts, with resources to help them succeed in life. Kudos to FOA Families of Addicts.

There is hope. There is always hope. Hope Over Heroin is a ministry collaborative born out of a need to do something to save lives, to educate others and to give hope in the darkest of situations. They are a National organization that is available with resources to guide you.

If you or someone you love is addicted,  please know there is help. Reach out.  You may contact the 24 Hour Heroin Addiction Hotline, call 1-888-966-8404 and chat with a live agent anonymously. If you have lost someone you love to a drug overdose, please accept my sincerest condolences, I weep with you.

Jesus can turn any mess into a message of Hope. #HopeAlways#HaveFaith

Blessings to you.

Addition to post edited on 4/22/2107

When I orginially wrote this I did not know anyone that had succumbed to a heroin overdose. Sadly, earlier this evening I received news that a friend’s son has passed away as a result of a heroin overdose. Rest in Peace James Williford.

 

 

Coat of Love

1 Corinthians 13:4-7New Living Translation (NLT)

4 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

How many times have you read this passage in the Holy Bible? How many times have you heard this portion in marriage ceremonies? I have heard it, and read it hundreds of times. It is one part of 1 Corinthians 13 that I really like. It helps me remember how I should be toward others. Do you love like this? Do you love like God does? Continue reading

Ademoneo

Ademoneo, Greek Transliterated word  New Testament Greek Lexicon

pronunciation: ad-ay-mon-eh’-o

Definition: To be troubled, great distress or anguish, depressed.

There are three instances that this word has been used in the New Testament You can find those instances in Matthew 26:37/Mark 14:33/Philippians 2:26

depressed


I have lived with depression for years. But not my depression. Until recently, I didn’t have this problem, personally. But I have lived with the disorder for many years because I love people who live and suffer from clinical depression. Depression that from what I know and have seen, they battle daily to keep their lives going on an even keel.  Depression, if left to run its course ends up ruining many things in their lives; including them.

This depression wasn’t just because something happened that made them sad or downtrodden, but a melancholy that settled in their soul and no amount of encouragement or laughter could bring about change. Sometimes medications help, sometimes they didn’t. People suggest that you see a psychiatrist or psychologist and talk out the reasons that have led to your depression and they can teach you ways to cope with it and live with it.

What I have found, though, is that it isn’t just one thing that causes it and what works great for one person suffering, doesn’t even begin to work for someone else with the same diagnosis. The mind is like a minefield. What might set one person off, another person it wouldn’t even faze.

This depression that I have been feeling lately, has been coming on for months. I have fought long and hard to keep it at bay. I have done my best to dive into the Word and pray to the Father seeking His guidance. I have started Bible Journaling as a way to express myself, while still reflecting on scripture and God’s promises to never leave us or forsake us. I know I am one of the luckiest people in the world because I have the spirit of God living within me. The Holy Spirit. And he guides me and convicts me when I stray from the teachings of Jesus. I have always been able to show mercy and grace under pressure and continue to live in a joyful state of existence with God’s joy in my heart. It’s not always happy times or moments, but I’ve always had God’s joy there and His peace that only he can give.

Lately, I’ve been pondering how do I get back to where I was or maybe I should be asking where are you leading me Lord and how much longer will I be in this dark valley?

I am a people person. I always have been. I never meet a stranger, ever. I love to talk and read and learn. I love to be an encourager to others and help people. I do have a caregiver mentality. The only problem with having that mentality, is sometimes I forget to care for myself.

Zechariah 13:9New Living Translation (NLT)

9 I will bring that group through the fire
and make them pure.
I will refine them like silver
and purify them like gold.
They will call on my name,
and I will answer them.
I will say, ‘These are my people,’
and they will say, ‘The Lord is our God.’”

I know that God allows us to go through painful circumstances when necessary to refine us for what His purpose is for our lives. I know that in those moments, I need to lean into him and pursue Him for my needs. He will supply them all.

Before I retired early, even though I was in great physical pain, I was around others and now I am around the same people daily. Please don’t get me wrong, I am very blessed to have my family, but honestly spending every waking minute together is maddening when you are a person that seeks to be around people and not feeling isolated all the time. Unfortunately, with the loss of income (over 50%), the itinerary for the week changes to accommodate budget needs.  And many other changes occur because we can’t eat out as much as we would want or buy things on a whim because the funds aren’t available. And event though the physical pain isn’t as strong as it was when you were working full-time, it’s still present. The difference is now you can sit and rest when you need to. That’s really the only difference.

When I worked 40 hours a week outside of the home, I still had obligations here that had to be taken care of and everything came together, one way or another. Now I feel isolated, lonely. I feel like all I am to people is someone who cooks and cleans and does laundry and keeps a two-year-old occupied all day.  I love being a grandmother. But I don’t want to be the grandmother that can’t have fun with her grandchild and then take a break. I will if that’s what it takes. But I miss being able to do fun things for me. With my friends.

I miss being able to splurge and go to a fast food restaurant and grab a sandwich because I don’t feel like making a lunchmeat sandwich at home. I miss working and earning an income.

So let God work his will in you. Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him scamper. Say a quiet yes to God and he’ll be there in no time. Quit dabbling in sin. Purify your inner life. Quit playing the field. Hit bottom, and cry your eyes out. The fun and games are over. Get serious, really serious. Get down on your knees before the Master; it’s the only way you’ll get on your feet.
James 4:10 MSG

And the worst part is every little critique that anyone has for me, I take offense to. Even if they are correct. I have always been a firm believer that constructive criticism is good. Lately, I haven’t felt any of the criticism I have received is constructive. I take things too personally and inwardly, I cry. I think of all kinds of ways I could respond, but I know that is not what Jesus would want me to do because as soon as I allow those thoughts to flash across my mind, I am convicted in my spirit, that is not who I am.

I get depressed because I can’t even go to the store by myself. Even though I am a people person and anyone that knows me would agree; sometimes I just want to be alone. I know this is healthy thinking. I just can’t convince anyone else of that without hurting their feelings and that’s the last thing I want to do.

I used to read 3-4 books a month and now I am lucky if I read 3-4 books in 6 months. I miss reading. When I read, I can visualize the story in my mind and I can escape my life for a few hours and just dive into the story. Page turners I can read within a day or two. Now my books are on shelves, gathering dust because I don’t have time to do that anymore.

My depression is in part my fault as I have never been good at setting boundaries and keeping them. I know that until I learn to stick to my boundaries and keep them in place, I will continue to be walked on and I will continue to resent certain people. That is not healthy and I have no desire to walk that road.

The depression I have observed in the last 20 years has caused true medical ailments because the festering of problems being pushed down farther and farther until there is nowhere to push them and they come out in ways that create havoc on the body. I’ve seen it. I know it’s real. It causes underlying medical problems such as hypertension, heart problems, stomach problems. and probably too many to mention here. If your depression is truly bad, and you do not have coping skills in place for when you start to spiral out of control, I’ve seen it come out in waves of sadness and anger. And even though many things said in the throes of an argument or disagreement that are spiteful and hurtful aren’t meant; once you’ve said them you can’t take them back. Words hurt.

Proverbs 12:18New Living Translation (NLT)

18 Some people make cutting remarks,
but the words of the wise bring healing.

I know that I must talk about it. I must talk to anyone that will listen that you can’t hold everything in and at some point not explode or just give up. We all need one another. We all have problems. We need to start loving each other not for what we have or don’t have, but simply because loving one another is so much better than the effort it takes to be hurtful to one another. And because that is what we are called to do.

Matthew 22:37-40 New Living Translation (NLT)

37 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’[e] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[f] 40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”

Heavenly Father,

Help me to see that I am not alone. Help me to realize that you are with me, always. Help me to reach out to others and lean on others. Lord help me to grow in the ways you want and need me to grow and keep me on the correct path for my life. In Jesus’ name. Amen

Blessings to you; may you always know Jesus Loves You.

Jesus Can Turn any Mess into a Message of Hope

#HopeAlways#HaveFaith

Visualize Your Dreams

I recently received my iBloom Planner for 2017. This planner makes my life so much easier and it helps me be intentional and focused on what I need to accomplish. Not only does it help me keep track of appointments and important dates for the year, there are also many other sections of the planner that ask specific questions to help you have a plan in place for the year.  Imagine that, a planner that actually helps you write a plan for your life and/or your business. Best investment ever.

One of the sections in the planner, ask what is your Theme for the year. The planner is designed with Christian women in mind who are in Business but want to have a satisfying life to love as well.

So along with the many things in this planner, there is also scripture and reminders to seek out the Lord and to pray.  I absolutely love it!

The problem I have been having is I just don’t have one theme word for the year. I have multiple themes that I believe intertwined together would be children of a parent theme. I just haven’t decided what that parent theme should be. My children themes are Declutter, Organize, Love, Laugh, Give.  I am thinking the one word to pull it all together might just be, Simplify,  maybe.

This verse from the Book of Psalm 51, Verse 10 has been popping up all over the place in my readings lately, so I am pretty sure God is trying to tell me something.

Psalm 51:10King James Version (KJV)

10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.

I realize that this verse is speaking about having a pure heart and the Lord’s spirit upon my life and my body so that I can share the gospel of salvation with sinners and they will return to the Lord.  This verse may not be talking about decluttering or organizing a space, but I know sometimes it is easy for our hearts and minds to become cluttered with a bunch of information that is not only NOT useful but sometimes can be damaging and toxic to the soul.

There are many verses in the Holy Bible on Love. I believe verses 34 and 35 from the Book of John, Chapter 13, sum up how we should show love to others.

John 13:34-35 NLT

So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”

 

Each day when I wake up, I pray and ask the Lord to give me His eyes so I can see others as he does. I want to love others as he did. I want people to know how much I love Jesus and how he has changed me into the person I am, from where I was before. There are days I struggle to be loving like Jesus; thank goodness, he is willing to give me a second chance and offers grace.

The Lord forgives our sins and they are forgotten forever. Never to be brought up again. Never to be hung over your head and thrown in your face when you get something wrong or don’t quite measure up to people and their expectations. His grace and mercy are showered upon us daily; shouldn’t’ we do the same?

Luke 6:37-38 NIV

37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged.  Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

 

I want to be able to give to others in need as they have given to me when I have needed it, no strings attached. I want to give with a loving heart not because I should or because it’s the right thing to do, but because I want to show them the love of Jesus in a practical way. And most importantly, I do not want to condemn anyone, regardless of their actions. I have no idea what kind of battle other people face and I have enough “battles” of my own, I certainly don’t need to be picking more.  I can tell you about the good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over because that has been poured into my lap and my family many times. The Lord provided. What an amazing awesome God I serve!

As I learn to declutter my home, my life, and my heart, I pray God will show me areas that I need to organize or set apart more or less than they are now. I know that I need to invest more time in certain relationships and I need to let others go. I need to remember to laugh thru the struggles and love even when I don’t feel like being loving. I need to give with a cheerful heart because that is the only way you truly give of yourself, your time or your talents. If you are not happy in the giving, then you must step back and examine your heart and your motives.

2 Corinthians 9:7NLT

7 You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.

 

I  am excited to see where 2017 takes me and I am also excited to see if at the end of the year, I lived out my theme or were they merely words jotted down in a pretty planner.

dreamvision

Having a vision for your life, helps you to stay on task and stay focused. Visions may change as you grown, but don’t sell yourself short. God allows desires in your heart for a reason, trust Him to get you through them.

Blessings to you. Jesus loves you, right where you are!

~Carlene

 

 

Life

heartguard

Each time that I am faced with a dilemma of sorts, I am reminded that each reaction I have or how I respond comes directly from my heart. Is my heart full of grace, mercy and love or hate, anger and resentment?

I was discussing with some friends a few weeks ago, that our Spiritual Heart functions much like our physical hearts. If our Spiritual Heart isn’t guarded and taken care of, it can become diseased much like our physical hearts. I believe that is why there is much importance placed on our hearts as it being the wellspring of life.

If our physical heart becomes damaged and/or diseased, it may “misfire” and or stop functioning and keep us alive. I believe that if our spiritual heart becomes damaged or diseased, we may go down a darkened road we had not planned, thus causing death in our spiritual life.

God wires each of our hearts differently, but there is one thing we all can share and experience together. Love.

If the love banks in our hearts become empty, what do you think happens to us? If we are not filled daily with the food that fuels our hearts, how will we guard our hearts and pour into one another? For me, my love bank is filled when people spend quality time with me when they give me a hug or a good foot massage. Caring for others, encouraging them; sharing Jesus-all of these fill my love bank.

We must guard our hearts, so they do not become bitter. If we allow bitter root to take hold and resentment to dwell there – our hearts become hardened and have no room for compassion and kindness. Our hearts were not designed to hate, but to love.

Every word that is said in anger, can never be forgotten or returned from whence it came. Every hurtful, hateful lie that comes from our lips cause pain and grief and sadness. Evil causes evil. Good never causes evil. We must watch our tongues and use the words wisely. Healing can come from the tongue, but so can devastation.

treeoflife

Imagine if all you hear on a constant basis, are hurtful words that crush your spirit. Do you rise above these words or do you embody them? And if you have been emotionally abused by words, do they not affect your heart and how you perceive yourself to be?

Living in a world where words are thrown around like daggers we must guard our hearts and minds. We must take care when speaking. We must speak life into others. We must remember that no matter what we face or how large the storm seems, we serve a God that is bigger than anything we will ever face! In the Word, we are told not to fear, because God goes before us and prepares a way. (Deuteronomy 31:8)

The devil comes to steal, kill and destroy, but Jesus came so we could have life and have it abundantly. Having a life that is overflowing with abundance means we must guard our hearts, we must watch what we speak and we must trust in the Lord for everything. And most importantly, we must thank the One who gives it freely.

Lord Jesus,

Thank you for the many blessings you have given to us. Thank you, Father, for the gift of your Son on the cross. Thank you for always showing grace and mercy, even when we do not deserve such a gift. Thank you, Jesus, for being the Light in our darkness and for never leaving us or forsaking us. In Jesus name. Amen

 

Jesus Loves you! Blessings to you today!

~Carlene