Who will you run to…when hit with the Holiday Blues ?

Hi Sweet Sister,

Are you emotional and anxious about the approaching holidays? Perhaps this will be the first Thanksgiving without a loved one present? Or you have a family member who scrapes you like sandpaper and you dread a potential conflict?

First, I want to assure you Jesus was human too and understands all the bundle of emotions that we deal with. Most of all, He showed us what to do when faced with large emotions. He came to earth to model what to do when emotions rise and we feel our eyes about to pour up and out with tears or our mouths speak words we can’t take back.

And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”

Matthew 26:39

As children we learn 4 very important words to help us to remember what to do if our clothes were to catch on fire.

“Stop, drop and roll ”.  

Fire is something that needs to be dealt with right away.  Thus, instead of running around or ignoring that one is on fire, we learn that the best course of action is to stop and drop and smother the fire by rolling on the ground.

 I have been guilty of stuffing down my emotions until I explode like popping coals on some unsuspecting family member. At first, I imagine I am being kind by letting things slide and not being honest with myself and my family about things that bother me. However, letting our emotions build inside and then like a volcano erupt out searing words of fiery ash is not fair and certainly not kind. What should we do to relieve the pressure of built-up irritations, hurts and resentment?

Jesus modeled this for us in the garden of Gethsemane. He went farther away from his disciples and then dropped to the ground and lay prostrate before His father in prayer.  He drew closer to his Father and honestly poured out all that was on his heart. Then He prayed the perfect prayer of a surrendered life, “Not as I will, but as you will.” After this agonizing time of intense prayer, Jesus was strengthened and was able to complete his mission in a calm and controlled manner.

Have you ever heard of the term “Cozy corner?” A Cozy corner is a quiet place away from the drama of others, where we can pull away and breathe deep and pray for help, strength, patience and love.

Where is your cozy corner? Or better yet, Who is your cozy corner?

You are a hiding place. You protect me from trouble; you surround me with songs of deliverance.  I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go. I will counsel you with my eye on you.              (Psalm 32:7-8)

Having strong emotions is not wrong; emotions are not negative but can inform and teach us. However, we need the Holy spirit to help us to find healthy ways to express and release our emotions so they don’t build up and we explode or we push them so far down we become stuck.

If the emotions start to rise within in, step away from your family and spend a little time asking God for perspective and for healthy ways to express yourself. “Help, Lord” …”give me Love for so and so” , or “I am so sad with out my family member here…what can we do to honor them together?” “

So whether you are in the desert of grief over the loss of a loved one, in the storms of messy relationships or perhaps have heart-burn from making a poor choice; come away into Jesus, who promises to be our cool, refreshing hiding place.

Come away and Stop, Drop and Pray.

The Black Light Pen

by Marni Hansel

Psalm 51:7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

After ten long months of trying, Brian (our adult son with Down syndrome) has been consistently wearing his CPAP machine at night.  At first we were rewarding him with little bags of peanut M&Ms, but as his times increased he was earning meals out at restaurants.  When his doctor pointed out that these rewards were not helping him lose weight, we switched to cool gadgets as prizes.

Today, his black light pen arrived.  Amazon said it was good for finding scorpions and pet stains.  We don’t have scorpions and I didn’t really want to find pet stains, so I figured it would be fun just to shine it in a dark room and see what would glow. We went into the windowless powder room and closed the door.

Now I have never claimed to be a good housekeeper, but we do try to keep the powder room “guest-ready” at all times.  To my eyes, it was not visibly dirty.  Oh friends, the black light revealed the truth.   I don’t want to gross you out, but suffice it to say, the purple glow lit up a splatter pattern all over the wall, floor, and toilet that had me running for the bleach spray.  (Brian is absolutely delighted with this prize.)

I am the powder room.  I tidy myself up and present a “nice Christian lady” image to the people who are “guests” in my life.  I’ve gotten pretty good at appearing clean and shiny to the world.  But here’s the thing:  God sees the real me and his Word shines on my heart and reveals the truth.  I’ve got sin splattered everywhere.

It turns out I’m not the only one who’s a mess.  Whole chapters of Leviticus deal with God’s regulations for cleansing rituals.  The scriptures make it pretty clear that we are all in desperate need of purification and atonement.  In Psalm 51, David recognized his need for God to wash away the splatter made by his sin with Bathsheba.

1 Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love;

according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions.

2 Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.

Leviticus 16 explains how every year on the Day of Atonement the High Priest had to make blood sacrifices of goats and calves for the sins of the people.  The problem with all those rituals is that the cleansing was temporary and needed to be repeated. The people would always commit new sins, and the animal blood did not have the power of eternal redemption.   

However, the writer of Hebrews tells us in chapter 9 that without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sin.  The solution to the problem, of course, is Jesus.  I can’t read Hebrews 9 without also hearing the voice of John the Baptist proclaim “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world!”

.

11 But when Christ came as high priest … 12 He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption.

 This old hymn by Robert Lowry preaches gospel truth:

1 What can wash away my sin?

Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

What can make me whole again?

Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Refrain:

O precious is the flow

that makes me white as snow;

no other fount I know;

nothing but the blood of Jesus.

2 For my pardon this I see:

nothing but the blood of Jesus.

For my cleansing this my plea:

nothing but the blood of Jesus. [Refrain]

3 Nothing can for sin atone:

nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Naught of good that I have done:

nothing but the blood of Jesus. [Refrain]

4 This is all my hope and peace:

nothing but the blood of Jesus.

This is all my righteousness:

nothing but the blood of Jesus. [Refrain]

Christ’s sacrifice on the cross was enough.  His blood has the power to cleanse the splatter of all of my sins – past, present, and future.  I love the lyrics to this hymn by Elvina Hall: Jesus paid it all.  All to Him I owe.  Sin had left a crimson stain.  He washed it white as snow. 

I’m ashamed to say that my powder room will be dirty again.  Now I can use Brian’s blacklight to find what needs to be thoroughly cleaned. And although God is transforming me to be more like His Son through the process of sanctification, I know that I still sin daily.  I need to read God’s Word, listen to the Holy Spirit, and pray for God to convict me of sin.  As He illuminates it, I will pray and repent, confident in the wonder-working power of the blood of the Lamb to wash it away.

Dear Lord, my sin is ever before you.  There is no hiding from the light of your Word.  You have searched me and have known me.  I repent and receive forgiveness through Your Son Jesus.  Create in me a clean heart.  Wash me and I will be whiter than snow.  Amen.

God Even Uses Rude People for Good

by Amber O’Brien

Look at this sweet picture! I bought it for two dollars, as I gave one dollar to a 6 year old budding artist and one to her 3 year old sister who were selling their creations on the front steps of their beach home. “Oh I love rainbows!” I told them when I spotted this one.

“Rain and sun are both needed for a rainbow” I exclaimed as I excitedly confirmed to the young artist how scientifically accurate her masterpiece that includes piercing sharp raindrops falling while the smiling sun shines above the rainbow.

Also, most encouraging to me was how God orchestrated the timing and positioning so that I would walk my bicycle past their porch. (rather than ride by on the street)

Just a few moments before, as I was about to go back onto a bike path, a couple walked right in front of me without noticing or caring. I must admit that inside my head some complaining occurred...wow….they are not paying attention and and blocking my way….How Rude!”

I decided to take a detour and to walk the bike on a sidewalk for a bit until the next intersection and that is when I noticed two young girls selling their wares. “Do you have any money?” the older girl bluntly asked causing her mom and I to laugh. I assured her that I did, as I had a few dollar bills ready in my pocket after visiting a local bakery. I oohhhed and ahhhed over the pictures and did my best to encourage the sisters and their proud momma.

Voila, a God-incidence in the making because I was nudged onto a different path.

If not for those two people walking in front of me and pushing me to walk my bike further, I would have missed this God-ordained interaction. When they thanked me for the payment, I reminded them of who the money was really from, stating “my money is God’s money, so this is from God”.

As I put the drawing in my basket, I rode off saying, “God loves you all so much”.

So what is the rain in your life my friend? Most likely yours is a bigger storm than rude people. There are storms happening all over. I have people in my life who are grieving the sudden death of a loved one and are walking around with wounded souls and torn hearts. I know of recent medical diagnoses that seem hopeless from the worlds perspective. Perhaps you have loved ones who are not speaking and the division is affecting the entire family. I so wish I could make everything all better for you, my sister. Just like you, I wish that I could heal all grieving hearts, bodies and relationships.

But while I can’t take away the rain and for some reason God hasn’t, ( yet…for we know that All wounds will be healed in Heaven) I did want to remind you of an important Truth:

God works All things out for good. All things. Not just some things or some of the time. All. things. All. of. the. time.

For we know that in All things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28

Our God is like a masterful conductor who is weaving all the instrument notes together to create a beautiful symphony. Like using rude people to get us where we need to be. Sometimes He uses wounded hearts and broken bodies to humble us and lead us closer to Him. I look back over the rainy times in my life, and those were when I clung to Jesus harder and His word spoke to me most vividly. Looking back, these gloomy, stormy times helped me to be more sensitive to others, deepened my relationship with Jesus and drew me closer to some God-appointed people on my un-planned rainy path.

I have found that journaling is such a great way to process and release the many emotions and questions that occur when we are pushed off our paths. So I encourage you to find a notebook and let the cleansing tears fall as you write down your losses and your future fears. Let your anger out as you write out your hurt and disappointment. (stuffing emotions down inside can cause anger, resentment and depression) So let. it. all. out. my friend.

After I let out all my thoughts and emotions through journaling, then I wait and listen and look in the Bible for answers. I also always end my time filling up with refreshing truth and thanksgiving. I write out 3 good things (gratitudes) that God has done or given me and three characteristics of God. Such as: God is good, God is Love, and God is in control.

God is still on His throne my friend. He is still working All things out for good for you and your family and most of all His Kingdom. He is with you in the storm, shining through your tears.

“I wrote a poem about rainbows”, I told the mom and girls. “When you see a rainbow it is a kiss from God reminding you that He is with you”

He is with you my friend and He promises that He is going to use All things in your life for good. (He’s got the long game ) God promises to turn this detour into good. Trust in the Rainbow maker.

The toughest thing I have ever written or presented: In honor of Steve Narup

(the son of our dear former neighbors completed suicide and I was given the honor of speaking at his celebration of life. Oh how I love Steve who is now “healed in heaven”, his mom and dad, brother and sister so much. As I wrote and painfully delivered these words my heart was feeling the great heartache of all involved. yet………

But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. Thessalonians 4:13-14

I feel so connected to the Narup family and to Steve for our families have shared so many highs and lows together. For over 12 years the Narups lived next door to my young family in Country walk community and we literally shared a backyard. A rainbow playground set became the kids meeting place as well as the court behind our homes. My three children and Stef. Steve and Jon and the other neighborhood children built forts on that Rainbow jungle gym. They played Red Rover, kick the can, dodge ball and so many fun outside games. The hill connecting the Narup home and our OBrien home became the perfect sledding area as the children held onto each other and laughed and shouted as they raced down the hill together. They laughed and played and sometimes squabbled. Most times, they were more like siblings than neighbors. Since my children were younger and needed more supervision, I was often outside and sometimes would guide them with conflict resolution. OK so What happened ?  so What should you have done? What should you do now? You could say you’re sorry and that you’ll never do that again….ok now its your turn ….you can Say I forgive you and both of you hug or shake hands ….now go on and play and  never bring up what happened again.  The children would say they were sorry and forgive so quickly and completely and then proceed to play together as if the offence never happened……you know I think that might be one of the reasons why it says in the Bible that we must be like little children to enter the Kingdom of God.

Steve had such a kind heart and definitely took on a big brother role with the younger children. During my children’s birthday parties, sometimes he would help led a game station, I watched as Steve patiently helped and encouraged the younger children and then proudly give then a prize. Later, I watched that same kind and gentle heart grow even larger as he so enjoyed being a dad to his daughter Madison.  He was the middle child who so adored His older beautiful and vivacious sister Stef and so cherished his younger brother Jon who is so bright and creative.   He was so loved and cared for by his mom and dad who faithfully supported him as he grew and gained confidence socially and in his career. I could tell Steve was both an observer and a deep thinker. Three years ago he sent me one of the kindest birthday messages I have ever received. In it,  he thanked me for my role in his life and his family and then he told me to “stay on the path”.  I am still so touched every time I think about it:  for he reached out to me with gratitude and encouraged me to stay on the narrow path…even though he himself was struggling and searching for his own path.

On Easter Day, he used up some of his last bit of energy to get to church and say He was sorry for his sins and receive the cleansing forgiveness of the sacrament of baptism. He publicly chose to be a follower of Jesus Christ who is the Way, the truth and the Life. He chose the path that leads to everlasting life.

I was recently reminded of the story of the two men who were crucified on either side of Jesus.

One of the men was an observer and a deep thinker and recognized Who Jesus was and despite being in great pain turned to Jesus. He said, “remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

And Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

So this late convert who made the good choice…who chose to turn to Jesus while suffering, still physically died that bittersweet day.

He was not immediately rescued, and angels didn’t come to remove him from the cross that he bore.

But we know from God’s word that the man was spiritually reborn the moment that he turned to Jesus. He was completely forgiven, his wounds are now healed in heaven and he is suffering no longer.

And we trust that Steve is completely forgiven, Steve’s wounds are Healed in heaven and Steve is suffering no longer.

For God so loved Steve that He gave His only begotten Son Jesus, that if Steve believes in Him, He should Not perish but have everlasting life. 

(for those of you who are hurting now with a broken heart and feeling left behind and perhaps angry or  confused by it all ….. I believe Steve would say to you, “I am so sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt you. Will you please forgive me? “

And for those of you who, like me, feel a heavy weight of guilt and wish that you had done more for Steve or tried harder or perhaps you left some words unsaid, I believe Steve would say to you and me , “I forgive you, I always knew that you loved me. I love you and I am praying for you. I am praying that you will use every bit of energy that you have to find the path. For only God’s love can heal a broken heart.

And for those that have already found the One who is the Way and the truth and the Life …I believe Steve is now praying and patiently encouraging us as he echos out what all the angels and saints around God’s throne are saying as they are cheering us on:  keep going forward, look upward   ….. .and  Stay on the path!!!!!! )

               

Bit by Bit

by Amber O’Brien

Wealth gained hastily will dwindle,
    but whoever gathers little by little will increase it.
Proverbs 13:11 (ESV)

First, excitement.

At the base of the mountain, staring upward at the 600 concrete steps, the task of climbing seemed like a fun adventure in the cool of the morning.

However, the steep incline soon challenged my husband and I, and our steps slowed after 100 as our hearts and breathing increased. Oh my! I thought, 500 steps still to go.

Little platforms lined the steps and so we stopped for a break, eating juicy, purple grapes while taking in the increasing view. How amazing that after a short rest, we had a burst of energy to go up 100 more steps.

So, step by step, little by little, we slowly climbed up the mountain. Taking breaks. Replenishing our bodies. Enjoying each small goal along the way.  The renewed energy after a time of rest always surprised and encouraged me.

Finally, we reached the summit and were rewarded with spectacular 360-degree views. The joy of accomplishment resulted in big smiles and raised arms for the breathtaking photos. The victory of reaching our goal was worth every step as we bounded down the mountain with great ease.

This recent hiking trip with my husband and business partner reminded me of how in a similar way we have through the decades built up our family and business. We started with excitement, but the demands of raising children and growing a thriving business were challenging. I confess that there were times I wanted to quit or run away to an island in the early stages of both callings.

But then we learned to instead of quitting, to bit by bit, step by step, do a little each day. A wise woman once said to me, “Our lives are an accumulation of all the little choices we make along the way”.

Some good choices included taking intentional breaks along the way. Scheduled date nights on the calendar. Sunday family worship. Business lunches and longer retreats to rest, replenish, and regroup.

When we stop to rest, this is often when a creative idea or solution results.

So, what is your summit my sweet sister?

Spiritual? Physical? Financial? Relational?

Write down your goal and then start breaking it “bit by bit” into smaller goals.

For example: If your goal is to increase your prayer life but you are in a very busy season of your life, instead of praying for 10 people when you wake up, perhaps make a commitment throughout the day to pray for whoever God brings in your path or to your mind. Soon, these short “in the moment” prayers will add up. Prayer by prayer, action by action, you will build up spiritual treasure.

So don’t quit, but bit by bit keep walking toward your summit. It will be worth the climb.

Lord, thank you for promising to be with me and to help me. Please open only doors that would be good long term and please close any doors that are not in your perfect will. Please give me wisdom on the best way to care for my body, mind, and soul and show me how to take healthy breaks and enjoy the people and the scenery you have laid in my path.

In Jesus’ Name, amen

For Deeper Study

Matthew 6:19-20: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.” (NIV)

What can you do for just 10 minutes today to help you to walk toward a little goal? What can you do for 10 seconds a day multiple times throughout your day?

I’d love to hear from you! Share your goals and thoughts in the comments.

Message to Myself

by Annie Haroun (guest post:)


I woke up with an awful dream fresh in my mind. Two animals who turned into two people were bitten over and over by venomous snakes. It was horrifying. Yet as I pondered it, I was reminded of the narrative in the Book of Numbers where the children of Israel were grumbling and complaining about so many things even after being rescued from the hands of the Egyptians and slavery. Despite many warnings, they continued their disgruntled attitude towards the Lord and Moses, and consequently, the Lord sent fiery serpents to bite the people. “Then the Lord sent poisonous snakes among the people, and they bit them so that many Israelites died”(Numbers 21:6).

The good news is that God does not send judgment without a provision of mercy.

Moses heard from the Lord, Who told him to place a serpent on a pole, and Moses did so by forming a serpent from bronze. Anyone who would look up at the serpent on the pole would be healed. I had assumed the mention of “serpent” in the Bible always referred to the devil, but here, the serpent on the pole stands for the hideous sin nature, and when we live ruled by this nature, our sin continually bites us. It became clear to me that it was Jesus they were to look up to on the pole for He BECAME that ugly venomous sin nature. The perfect Lamb of God allowed Himself to be killed in our place, and then went to hell FOR us, before rising again to resume His place at the right hand of God the Father.

The Israelites’ sins were a lack of contentment over what God had provided and continual murmurings in their weariness. We can explain these things away as if they aren’t so bad or we can try to justify them, but they are not light matters to God. In fact, the Lord was crucified for these sins and the nature that produces them. They are poisonous and have no place in the life of a believer. In Psalm 141:2, we can see it is okay to pour out our complaint to God, but then we leave it there with Him rather than continue to feed on the dissatisfaction, whether within ourselves or verbally to others.

Do everything without complaining or arguing ; Philippians 2:14

How beautiful though that if we do we fall into bitterness or moaning over our own lot, we can avoid being overcome by the venom! Whether we have already trusted Him as the Savior but feel stuck in our sin, or we have not yet opened our hearts to Him, we only have to turn our gaze from the horizontal and look up at the Cross. Here His mercy heals our deadly “snake bites.”  Here, by His grace, our hearts are freed from ourselves to love and obey our Lord, and bask in what His Hand has provided. It just takes a look. 

Do you want a calmer home and soul?

Messages to myself: guest post by Annie Haroun

“Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O LORD, God of hosts.” Jeremiah 15:16

Anyone who has dogs will know what is pictured here. It is a wonderful toy that you stuff with treats. Not only does it keep your canine companion busy for a while, but the problem-solving and chewing help use up hyper energy with the end result (you hope) being a calmer pup.

Today I spent half an hour digging out the old stale treats that no longer interest my dogs, then refilled the toys with fresh tasty ones. I often claim I don’t have enough time to get things done that need doing, so why would I place such importance on this?  Well, my furry pets are my responsibility and it gives me a lot of pleasure to see them happy chewing on their doggy treat toys, and it also helps the household to have calmer pets around.

Proverbs 12:10a states, “Whoever is righteous has regard for the life of his beast,..”  It IS important to take care of what God has given me including the beasts in my family! So I make time for them. 

What is the main message here? It is that we DO make time for what we WANT to make time for. I have had days where I spent five minutes reading a devotional, then two hours watching a good movie (British mysteries or Jane Austen are addicting) and another good hour working on logic puzzles. Priority check!

I’m speaking to “me, myself and I” here!!!

I decided this Lenten season that giving up something was not what would draw me closer to God. This is not to downplay anybody else’s efforts. You alone know what you need, and I know what I need—

a larger dose of God’s Word. If I can clean out my dogs’ toys for 30 minutes, then surely I can find 30 minutes (even if it is two sets of 15 or three sets of 10) to open-heartedly read from God’s Word. He finds pleasure in filling my soul with His promises, and this time just may serve to exchange my own nervous energy for calm, making my household a more peaceful place for both my human and my furry family. 

Job 23:12b says,   “I have treasured up the Words of His mouth more than my necessary food.” I’m taking care of my dogs’ necessary food. It’s time to prioritize  feeding my soul.

A St. Patricks Day Truth Bomb: What we really should be focusing on today


by Amber O’Brien


Top o’ the morin’ to ya!

Long ago this was a common greeting in Ireland meaning “the best part of the morning to you” and you my friend would say back to me, “And the rest of the day to you”.

I am an O’Brien, which on the Emerald Isle means “House or descendant of Brian”. (Brian Boru was the High King of Ireland until 1014) Since I now hold the Irish married last name of O’Brien, I am often asked how our family celebrates St. Patty’s day. While most people drink green beer and focus on the modern symbols of leprechauns, four leaf clovers and wearing a green piece of clothing so they won’t be pinched ; my thoughts have gone deeper to an awe-filled pondering, the more I learn about the amazing real -life hero of St. Patrick.

How did he do it? I wonder.

How did St. Patrick forgive the Irish pirates that enslaved him? At age 16 he was kidnapped from Britain and taken away far from his homeland and family to a wet and chilly island called Ireland and for six years was mistreated as a slave.

But this is the part that really blows my weak and unforgiving heart and mind……..after arriving home he studies to become a priest and then travels back to share the good news to the very place where he was enslaved.

Whoa Nelly…..hold back that unicorn jumping over a 7 colored rainbow and slowly and carefully Ponder with me what appears to be humanly impossible.

So St. Patrick not only forgives the people who enslaved him, he spends 20 years traveling the island of Ireland to share the truth of how Jesus came to set them free. For the Irish people of the 5th century this included being free from druidism and all kinds of paganistic practices. He was beaten during this time and robbed and put in prison and enslaved again for 60 days yet he keep helping those that continued to try to hurt him.

How do you think he was able to forgive and then spend his life shepherding these lost people who worshiped false gods and people?

“After I arrived in Ireland, I tended sheep every day and I prayed frequently during the day. More and more the Love of God increased, and my sense of awe before God. Faith grew, and my spirit was moved, so in one day I would pray up to one hundred times and at night perhaps the same.” St. Patrick’s Confessio

He states that before he was captured, “He knew not the true God” and I believe that those years of prayer including much confessions and sweet forgiveness. In fact, he begins his autobiography as, “My name is Patrick. I am a sinner.”

After six years of working as an enslaved shepherd and most of all six years of prayerfully waiting: God spoke to Patrick in a dream, saying, “You have fasted well. Very soon you will return to your native country. Then a later voice in a dream said, “Look—your ship is ready.”

He escaped and walked 200 miles to the Irish coast, boarded a ship and eventually home to his family.

God rescued him and brought him home! One would think that would be the end of the story. But God. But God and His love for the Irish people who were involved with all types of paganism and perversions.

Patrick knew the Joy and the gift of being spiritually and physically set free and he quotes this verse that so speaks to his experience in his autobiography.

“Call on me in the day of your distress, and I will set you free and you will glorify me.” Psalm 50:15

St. Patrick knew deep in his soul that he had been forgiven much and so he wanted to extend that love, as a shepherd seeks to protect and care for his sheep.

After Patrick’s escape from slavery and reunion with his loved ones; He decides to become a priest. This took 15 long years of study and preparation. It was not until Patrick was 40 years old that he traveled back to Ireland because of another dream.

He dreamed that he was given a letter from the Irish people and he heard their voices saying, ” We beg you, holy boy, to come and walk again among us”.

Guess who is believed to be the first Irishman that St.Patrick successfully shared about the One True God to?

Milchu, a high priest of druidism, who was Patrick’s former master. (Druids believed that there were many gods and worshiped nature. Ritual Sites were built all over Ireland as they literally worshiped the sun)

Imagine Milchu’s surprise to have a former slave of his come back and not only forgive him of his own personal sins, but share how All his sins could be forgiven. Patrick came back to share the truth that there is only One True God who has three names: the father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

( Did he use a three leaf clover to teach the trinity? or is this just tradition? either way He told them about the trinity and Patrick loved his former master and the Irish people so much that he came back and walked among them)

Patrick explains:

“His (God’s) gift was that I would spend my life, if I were worthy of it, to serving them in truth and with humility to the end.”

The ripple effect of Patrick’s forgiveness and mission is astonishing. What a beautiful ripple of Love: Patrick asks God for forgiveness and is set free of sin and forms a personal relationship with the good shepherd as he himself is shepherding. Then he forgives the people who kidnapped and enslaved him, and comes to tell them how to be set free of their own sins and come to know the One True God. Then Monks who came to know the one true God through the ministry of St. Patrick, lovingly write out the Bible by hand and preserve the precious Word of God. (Book of Kells) Then these monks left the Emerald Isle to share with other European countries about how to be set free. The ripple effect of love and forgiveness continues.

Patrick’s joy shines through as he writes:

I am greatly in debt to God. He gave me such great grace, that through me, many people should be born again to God and brought to full life”.

God Gives His Best to us and so we should want to Give God our best.

Just like the Irish greeting about wishing a friend the best part of the day.

Top O’ the mornin’ to ya!


Better Than Bleach

Have you ever walked into a room and knew that a diaper needed to be changed?  What if it was your own child? How long would you wait to change the diaper? Even if you knew that they would need another diaper change later that day, I bet you would help them.  

I recently read about how confessing our sins to God is like getting our diaper changed in a book by Fr. Donald Calloway, and the analogy wouldn’t leave me alone. I keep thinking to myself, “Oh Lord, a certain family member really needs their diaper changed. He/she needs to confess and be made clean. I don’t like smelling the odor of their dirty words and their angry tone.” 

And then God gave me a reality check through the words of Jesus: “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in our own eye?”  

Ouch! Jesus’ question hit me like an arrow straight into my hardened, judgmental heart. It had been too long since I had spent time praying and asking God to show me what I needed to confess. Perhaps I am the one who is smelling up the room?  

So I sat with my journal and asked the holy spirit to convict me of any selfish words, attitudes or actions that have offended my holy Father. The longer I sat the more the spirit revealed.  

A verse I had memorized years before encouraged me that God would be faithful to help clean me up.    “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 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)  

So I encourage you to sit in quiet and spend time asking the Lord for what you might need to confess. Sometimes I start by meditating on God’s definition of Love in 1 Corinthians 13-4-5. “Love is patient, Love is Kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking. It is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.”  

When I reflect on God’s sacrificial pure love in I Corinthians 13, I often get a reality check that my diaper needs a changing. May our reality checks always lead to attitude checks on how we love those in our lives. 

I am slowly learning that our job is not to judge those around me but to love them and perhaps through our own joy of being made fresh, clean and forgiven; they might be encouraged to get clean too.  

So my sweet sister, do you need your diaper changed today? I know I do.  

My Valentine

“your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” Matthew 6:8b

by Annie Haroun

I wasn’t particularly pleased with the song selections as I flipped through the radio stations in my car. I decided to myself, “This is it. I’m going to turn the radio off and pray out loud, and storm heaven while I drive home.” As I pushed the power switch to off, the sun, in all of it’s fiery brilliance, made a sudden jump out from behind the trees as if to shout “BOO! Here I am  waiting for you.” 

As I continued along the curvy road, it would hide, then quickly switch on as a spotlight aimed at me with its blinding orange glare, only to disappear again. It was still daylight and each time that it popped out,  it would then descend a little lower behind the trees. By the time I arrived home,  the daylight was almost gone and the sun had set.  There were no prayers said out loud as intended. There was no storming of Heaven with my requests.

There was simply and quite romantically the  peaceful sense of God with me in the moment as I  enjoyed and was bedazzled by His blazing sun. He had used His glorious creation to hold and hug me. He knows my heart. He knows my longings. He knows my humanity. And He met me. That’s all that mattered. A holy perfect God met me where I was and He loved me.