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“Angel” – that is the name of my beautiful kitty cat. But I should have named her “Ornery”.
She is chock full of personality, and sometimes I call her “Miss Personality”. It is hard for me to hold her and love on her because she always wants to get down and play. When I talk to her, she rolls onto her back over and over again, and she loves to talk back. In fact, she is the most talkative cat that I have ever owned. One of the funniest things that she does is when she smells something, she will open her mouth and just look at me. It is one of the funniest things I have ever seen!
When I throw a toy in the air, she jumps up so high to get it – sometimes three to four feet! I am always shocked when she jumps that high. While I write in my living room, she goes down to the first level of my townhouse and looks out the window at the birds and those who walk their dogs. She absolutely loves to do this, but every 15 minutes or so, she comes back up to “check” on me. She lets me pet her head and she rubs up against me, and then she returns to the lower level to look out the window. It is so incredibly cute!
To understand this story, I have to share my morning routine. Angel sleeps on the bed with me. When I wake up, I turn on the TV and listen to the news for about ten minutes or so, and Angel knows this, so she patiently waits for me. But if it takes any more than ten minutes, she will start to meow. Then she will jump on the nightstand and start pushing things off onto the floor. I know at that point that I need to get up and get moving.
Yesterday was Mother’s Day. When I woke up, I immediately picked up the phone and called my mom. This was different from the normal routine, so I guess it bothered Angel. While talking to my mom, she went over to the blinds and started patting them as hard as she could with her paws which made quite a bit of noise. I snapped my fingers to get her to be quiet at which point she stopped and looked at me. I continued to talk to my mom, and she went back to batting at the blinds. I gave up, got out of bed and went downstairs with her while I talked to my mom. We both laughed at Angel’s behavior – cats certainly know how to get us to do what they want!
This morning, when I woke up, Angel started to bat the blinds again with her paws. She didn’t even wait the usual ten minutes or so. I think she may have learned from yesterday that if she messes with the blinds, I will get up immediately. And that is exactly what I did! She certainly has me figured out!
Well, there is a picture of Jesus on the wall that I see every day when I go downstairs. This picture of Jesus is the same one from the book “Heaven is for Real”, and it is my favorite picture of Him. This morning, I was caught off guard as I glanced at this picture. For a split second, it looked as if Jesus was smiling….kind of as if he was about to laugh. I quickly looked back at the picture, and He looked just like He had always looked, but I knew what I saw in that split second. I smiled and then chuckled.
“Yeah, you are the one that gave her to me!” I said quietly as I walked down the steps, laughing. I then picked up Angel and loved on her, knowing that she was a gift from Jesus. I always knew that, but this morning I was reminded of how lucky I am to have this wonderful cat in my life.
When I pray, I always ask God to speak to me through His Word. When I open the Bible, I assume that God has me open it to whatever I am supposed to read that day. I have always done this, and I usually read something that really speaks to me that day. This is just the way I do it, and it works for me.
Today as I prayed, I felt like God was asking me to be silent. To just sit in His presence and listen to His still small voice. I have read some books recently which taught me this concept, and today, I felt like I just needed to listen to Him. Well, something came to my mind almost immediately. This had been in the back of my mind for a long time, but today, I felt as if God wanted me to delve in and understand this event in my life on a deeper level.
In 2011, just months before I found out that my husband had been having an affair, I began to have dreams that I was divorced. If you have read any of my past blogs, you will know that I had occasions of premonitions through dreams. My dad had this happen to him too – he dreamed that his brother was killed in a car accident, and a week later, it actually happened.
The first time I dreamed I was divorced, I just blew it off. I woke up thinking how ridiculous the dream was as I had no intention of ever getting divorced. When the second dream happened, I was a little bothered and wondered why in the world I would dream about something so crazy. When it happened a third time, I woke up confused and worried. I told my husband about the dream, and I asked him point-blank if he was going to divorce me. Although he denied that he would ever divorce me, his response was anything but convincing.
If that isn’t strange enough, around that same time, another amazing thing happened (although I didn’t understand it at the time). On at least three occasions while falling asleep, I audibly heard a voice say “Maria!” I opened my eyes, sure someone was calling my name, but no one was there. My husband was asleep next to me, and he didn’t move at all so I thought I had dreamed it. When it happened again, I thought that maybe it was an angel or even God trying to say something to me. Each time, I heard “Maria!”, clear as day, and when I opened my eyes, no one was there. My husband never moved, so clearly, he never heard it.
As I thought about these events this morning, I wondered if this was some kind of warning about what was going to happen to me later in 2011 when I found out about the affair. Was that God’s voice speaking to me?
I opened my Bible to Isaiah 41:
“Listen to me in silence…” Isaiah 41:1
This was interesting enough. But it went on:
“Do not fear for I am with you, do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand. Yes, all who are incensed against you shall be ashamed and disgraced….For I, the Lord your God hold your right hand. It is I who say to you, “Do not fear. I will help you.” Isaiah 41: 10-13
When I look back on these events, I now know that God was right there. I believe He was telling me that He was watching everything, and he knew every detail of the affair even when I had no idea what was happening. I believe this was His way of telling me that He never left my side during that time, and that even though I was going to be divorced, He would bring me through it. Even though I was about to go through hell and be yanked out of the life I knew, He would ensure that I would get through it and would end up in a much better place.
Always know that God sees EVERYTHING. He sees everything that is done in secret. He knows every insult, every lie, every betrayal….everything. Nothing can be hidden from God. On the other hand, He feels every single pain of betrayal. He sees every teardrop, feels every hurt, and goes through all the suffering with us. Remember – God was betrayed by Judas. He knows full well the pain of betrayal of someone who He believed loved Him.
He will always be with you, even when you think He isn’t there. God never leaves our side…EVER! As it is written in Isaiah 41:13, “Do not fear. I will help you.”
Well, today is Mother’s Day, and I want to tell you the story of one amazing mom – my own! I As I listened to a woman speak in church today, I realized just how lucky my brother, sister and I are to have our wonderful mom.
My mom is truly the most selfless person I have ever known. She worked constantly when we were young – from the moment we woke up to the moment we went to bed. Not only did she work outside the home, but she cooked, cleaned, took care of us and my dad, drove us all over the place, and even waited up for us to make sure we made it home safely after going out on the weekends. She helped us out with our homework and took care of us when we were sick. I look back now and wonder how in the world she did it all…and I don’t ever remember her complaining about it!
My sister has spina bifida, a congenital abnormality of the spine. I remember a time after my sister had surgery and how my mom took care of her. I remember her getting up multiple times in the middle of the night to roll my sister over because she was in a body brace and couldn’t move. I never heard her complain.
I remember nights when a stomach bug hit multiple members of the family, and my mom stayed up most of the night taking care of us and cleaning up after us. Even though she slept very little, she didn’t stop and rest. She continued to work the next day as if she had a full night of sleep. I never heard her complain.
I remember how she planned elaborate Christmas programs at the school where she taught and how she stayed up late to work on costumes and props for the show, all while continuing to cook, clean, and care for all of us. I never heard her complain.
I remember how she would buy us new school clothes when she hadn’t bought any new clothes for herself in years. She definitely sacrificed for us and put our needs ahead of her own. I never heard her complain.
As I’ve said in previous posts, I’ve dealt with some narcissists in my lifetime. There was constant pressure from these narcissists to visit them often, and many times I wasn’t able to visit my parents because of this. My mom never pressured me to visit. She just quietly told me to come see her when I could, and if I wasn’t able to come, it was alright, and she understood. Even though I know she wanted to see me more often than she did during those years, I never heard her complain.
She took us to church every Sunday without fail. She instilled good moral Christian values into us and ensured that we behaved properly both in church and in everyday life. She taught us how to pray. We were taught to respect our elders and to say “please” and “thank you”.
She listened to us as we vented to her about our problems. She supported us, but she disciplined us when necessary. She made us take responsibility for our actions if we did something wrong. She did not bail us out if we misbehaved.
She was and is always there for us. We truly are blessed to have a mom who I consider to be the best ever! Happy Mother’s Day, mom…in my eyes, you truly are the best. God has given us a true angel!
If you have read any of my previous blog posts, you know that I notice signs from God in everyday life.
Last Wednesday, a line of very strong thunderstorms came through this area. A line of severe weather began to develop around 4:00, and I watched as this line grew closer and closer to my neighborhood. However, as I watched, I began to notice that the really bad storms were just north and south of where I lived. Severe thunderstorm warnings were issued to my north, and tornado warnings were issued to the south.
At around 5:30 or so, it began to thunder outside of my home, but the storm was small and only lasted about 15 minutes. I was so thankful that this area had dodged the worst of the storm; however, I later heard of some deaths associated with this line of storms due to tornadoes. Although I was happy this area dodged the worst of it, I was deeply saddened by the loss of life.
A few hours later, I saw reports of rainbows in the area. Not only was it a rainbow…it was a beautiful double rainbow! I remembered the time when I saw a rainbow during one of the worst times in my life (see previous blog post, “God’s Rainbow”). When I saw the picture of the double rainbow, I immediately felt a sense of peace as I knew God was sending another sign of His love.
That night, as I climbed into bed, I noticed that my rosary was once again glowing. Even though this rosary glows in the dark, I rarely notice it for some reason (see previous blog post, “A Christmas Miracle”). On this night, I did notice it, and it just happened to be the same day that the double rainbow appeared in the sky. I felt like God had His arms wrapped around me. I felt so loved and protected.
The next morning as I prepared my breakfast, I couldn’t stop smiling as I remembered what had happened the previous night. I happened to look over toward my window, and I noticed my peace lily. This lily was from my dad’s funeral in March, 2014. The poor thing almost died, and I almost threw it out, but I really wanted this plant to live since it reminded me of my dad. I kept it and nurtured it, and it eventually began to put up new leaves. However, it never bloomed. On this particular morning, I was stunned to notice that it was getting ready to bloom. I walked over to it and noticed that two white blooms were getting ready to open. I couldn’t believe it!
In Christianity, the peace lily is associated with the Virgin Mary, Easter, and Christ’s resurrection. It indicates a season of rebirth and is a popular funeral plant as it symbolizes the rebirth of the soul of the departed. This beautiful plant is associated with hope, peace, purity, prosperity, and innocence.
The timing of the blooms are amazing to me. First of all, it occurred the morning after I noticed the glowing rosary and the appearance of the double rainbow. Second, it occurred during the season of Lent, just a month before Easter. Third, this plant, which reminds me of my dad, is now blooming just one month away from the date of my dad’s death. Fourth, the lily is my dad’s favorite flower. In fact, we had lilies engraved on the headstone for this reason.
What better gifts can a person get for Easter? Candy? Easter eggs? An Easter basket? Nope, this is definitely the best gift a person can get, and I thank God with all my heart for sending me these wonderful signs from heaven.
Be sure to stop and look around this Easter season…you may be missing messages of love and encouragement from God. He sends them all the time 🙂
This question is certainly a hot topic of debate. After writing my previous post on this same topic, I was contacted by a friend of mine who didn’t agree that our salvation can be lost. She talked with her pastor about this issue since my post made her think a little more about this subject. His explanation was good. He said that if someone turns against God after becoming a Christian, they were never Christian. There is truth to this statement. According to 1 John 2:19:
“They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.”
I am glad that my friend enlightened me in this way. That makes a little more sense to me. However, I was still troubled by a few things.
First of all, God gave us free will. If, once we are saved, we are always saved, then doesn’t that take away our free will? Also, the way that some preachers are passing on the message of “once saved, always saved” sounds to me like they are saying that sin isn’t a factor since our works have nothing to do with our salvation. I do know of people who truly believe that you don’t have to do anything except to say “Jesus is my Savior”. They truly believe that they can lie, steal, cheat, or do whatever they want, but as long as they say “Jesus is my Savior”, they are guaranteed salvation because salvation is a gift, and our works have nothing to do with it.
Don’t get me wrong – I fully believe that our salvation is a gift and that Jesus died on the cross to save us. There is no doubt in my mind. What I worry about is that people are getting an incomplete and twisted message. I believe the error occurs when one or two passages in the Bible are the main focus, and the rest of the Bible is ignored. Let me explain further.
There are many passages in the Bible that point to the fact that you can turn away from God and possibly lose your salvation. First and foremost is a passage that I referred to in my last post:
“If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning.” 2 Peter 2: 20
Peter also refers to Proverbs in making his point:
“Of them the proverbs are true: ‘A dog returns to its vomit’ and ‘A sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud.’ 2 Peter 2:22
As per the book of Hebrews:
“It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift….if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subecting him to public disgrace.” Hebrews 6:4-6
“We have come to share in Christ IF we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first.” Hebrews 3:14
“See that no one is…godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son. Afterward, as you know, when he wanted to inherit this blessing, he was rejected.” Hebrews 12:16-17
As per the book of Timothy:
“If we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us.” 2 Timothy 2:12
From 1 John 2:
“See that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. IF IT DOES, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father.” 1 John 2:24
But the one that stands out most to me is from 2 John:
“Watch out that you do not lose what you have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully. Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.” 2 John 8-9.
As far as the teaching of current pastors regarding the fact that our actions (works) have nothing to do with our salvation, the most important passage comes from James:
“What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds?” James 2:14
“You see that a person is justified by what he does and not be faith alone.” James 2:24
“As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.” James 2:26
There are also many different places in the Bible where Jesus Himself states that if we love Him, we will obey His commands. One such verse can be found in the gospel of John:
“Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me.” John 14:21
Another one can be found in 1 John 3:
“Those who obey His command live in Him, and He in them.” 1 John 3:24
Now, regarding the idea that people can just say “Jesus is my Savior” and still lie, steal, cheat, etc., the Bible specifically warns against this behavior. In fact, the warning are stern:
“And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of His coming. The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.” 2 Thessolonians 2:8-10.
“Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist – he denies the Father and the Son.” 1 John 2:22
So, here is my opinion on this subject. Based on the above scripture, I believe that if you are a true Christian and endure to the end, staying true to God’s Word, you cannot lose your salvation. As it says in John 10:28, “no one can snatch them out of my hand.”
Is it possible to be a true Christian and then turn away from God? Yes, I believe it is possible based on the above scripture. If it wasn’t possible, why would there be so many warnings? Remember, Judas was once an apostle but then later betrayed Jesus. Is that because he was never a true Christian? Was it because he was Christian and then turned his back on God? We will never know as only God knows what is truly in someone’s heart and soul.
As far as being a true Christian, I believe that actions will show what it truly in someone’s heart. I do not believe that you can say the words “Jesus is my Savior” and you are guaranteed to enter heaven while continuing to live in sin. I believe that you have to truly give your life over to God, truly believe in your heart that Jesus died for us, and live by His commandments. I think that so many people want to believe that actions don’t matter because it’s easier that way. I also believe that people are being led astray by focusing on one, two or three verses in the Bible. If you truly want to learn the teachings of God, you must read and accept all of it, not just some of it. The Bible can easily be twisted into what you want it to say if you only focus on a few verses. I challenge all who read this post to open up a Bible and read it – not just the gospels, not just the New Testament. Read all of it. Only then will you have the true knowledge of what it takes to be a true Christian.
And that’s my opinion 🙂
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, Copyright©1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House, All rights reserved.
A great quote to start 2016! You are strong, you are courageous, you are a WARRIOR!!
Several weeks ago, I went to visit my mom and stayed overnight at her house. We had a wonderful time as we always do…shopping, eating out, and running errands. The weather was perfect, and we even laughed until our stomachs hurt as we watched Chevy Chase in the classic movie, Christmas Vacation.
The next morning, we decided to visit my dad’s grave. Before we left, we shuffled through a container in her garage that were full of artificial flowers since we wanted the grave to look nice for the holiday season. We found several things that we had put on the grave last year, but we were disappointed to find only one poinsettia (there are two vases on either side of the grave – see picture above). We decided that we needed to stop by Michaels to get another poinsettia.
As we walked the aisles of flowers in the store, we picked up many different flowers, but none of them really stood out to either of us. We looked at all colors but decided that red would be best. However, the red poinsettias that we saw were to big for the small vases at the grave. We looked at white ones and even blue ones, but neither of us were really happy with what we found. However, in those first ten minutes or so, we did find some really pretty stems, leaves, and pinecones that were covered with artificial snow, and they were small enough to work in the vases. But, it still needed something more.
Suddenly, my mom saw another area with Christmas flowers. We walked toward this new section, and since we were having some trouble deciding what to get, I said, “OK, Dad, show us what you want!” Both my mom and I laughed. My mom went to one end of the aisle while I went to the other. Then I saw it…one single red poinsettia with a small amount of glitter on the inner leaves. I looked closely at it, and I thought it was perfect. I picked it up, turned toward my mom, and to my surprise, she was holding and looking at the exact same poinsettia! I called to her, and when she turned to me and saw me with the same flower, we just smiled.
“I guess this is what Dad wants,” I said.
She laughed. “I guess so!”
To add a little more red color, we added a red hydrangea. Feeling quite certain that we had the perfect flowers, we eagerly went to the cemetery and decorated Dad’s grave for Christmas. When it was done, it looked just beautiful and perfect. We were both so happy and at peace. We both knew that Dad was with us that day, and we knew that he helped us to pick out the flowers.
Miracles happen every day. Just watch for them. They are all around you, and you will miss them if you’re not looking!
I hope everyone has a wonderful and miraculous Christmas this year!
Several months ago, I attended a Bible Study at a local church. I had been with this group for a while, so we all knew each other fairly well. During this particular study, one of the ladies shared a horrific event that occurred in her life. Her teenage son died by suicide several years ago.
Her son had been suffering from a deep depression, and the doctors were not able to effectively treat it. One day, he became so despondent that he ended his life. Of course, this caused immense distress in the family, and this lady explained to all of us how hard it had been on her and her family. The members of the group were so supportive, and we all rallied around her as tears streamed down her face.
She eventually brought up a concern that she had for several years since the suicide. She wondered if her son was in heaven because he took his own life. He had been very active in the church and believed that Jesus died for his sins. He showed love to everyone he met, and he helped out those who were less fortunate. She told us that he was a wonderful person but he suffered terribly from this depressive illness.
We all assured her that he was at home with Jesus, and he was no longer suffering from depression. I specifically said that the depression could have been just too much for him to handle and that God knows how much he suffered during his short life here on earth. God is love, and He has compassion on those who are suffering. According to what she said about her son, I have no doubt that he is with God in heaven.
However, one lady made the statement, “Once you are saved, you are always saved.” This statement bothered me, but I didn’t address it as that would have been inappropriate during that conversation. This woman needed support, and that is what I focused on at that time. Today, in this blog, I would like to address this statement as God’s word gave me clarification on this issue.
To say “Once you are saved, you are always saved” is an incorrect statement. When I heard this statement, I was bothered because I know people who have been saved but then turn away from God and lead a sinful life. It just didn’t make sense to me. Then one day while reading 2 Peter 2, I received clarification on this issue.
“If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. Of them the proverbs are true: ‘A dog returns to its vomit’ and ‘A sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud.'”
Does this mean that this young man isn’t saved? No. None of us here on earth know what was going on in his mind and heart at that moment that he ended his life. He never turned to a sinful life prior to ending his life. He may have had a very serious illness involving the neurotransmitters in his brain, and his actions may have been out of his control. It also says in the Bible, “Do not judge lest ye be judged.” Only God knows what truly went on at that tragic moment. No one on this earth has the knowledge of God, and no one can tell you who is going to heaven. If they do, they somehow have managed to put themselves on the same level as God himself, and that is sacrilegious. Only God can judge others here on earth.
Having said that, I do believe that it is necessary to clarify the statement, “once saved, always saved”. Do not be deceived into thinking that just because you accepted Jesus at one point in your life, you are destined for heaven even if you turn your back completely on Him. This simply is not true.
I will continue to pray for complete healing for this family. I know that God has them in His loving arms, and I pray that they find the heavenly peace that surpasses all human understanding.