20 Years Later…Remembering 9/11, Lighting the Candle of Hope #9/11 #WeWillNotForget

So here we are, 20 years later, remembering the horrific act of terrorism that shook our nation and left us all in a state of shock as we grieved those who were lost, as well as the brave emergency responders who gave their lives trying to save them. This is adapted from my original post a few years ago, and although a lot has changed since then, some things will never change. Among them, the power of our unchanging God, the love of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and His Light in our hearts, and the truth of His Holy Word. Mine is only one story. What’s yours? What if we all lit someone else’s candle?

“Five years from the date of the attack that changed our world, we’ve come back to remember the valor of those we lost—those who innocently went to work that day and the brave souls who went in after them. We have also come to be ever mindful of the courage of those who grieve for them, and the light that still lives in their hearts.”
—New York City mayor ­Rudolph Giuliani at the World Trade Center site in 2006

 Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” – John 8:12

September 11, 2001. One of the darkest days in American history. According to Wikipedia, 2,996 people were killed immediately, including those on the four planes, the World Trade Center and surrounding area, and the Pentagon. Many more have since died, due to their injuries, or cancer from inhaling the toxic dust. Of course, this number varies, depending on what source you read it from, and when it was written. One thing is for certain: it was a terrible, dark day for all of us, especially those who lost loved ones that day. We must never forget, but continue to reach out to one another, to pray for the families who lost their loved ones, and, to hold the light of hope in our hearts as we remember those  we lost that day. And lest we forget, here is just my little contribution, a little of where I was when “the world stopped turning” on that terrible “September day”…

I was less that 2 months from turning 36. My children were 15, 13, and 9. I was working at Lowe’s Home Improvement Warehouse in Clayton, NC, at what we around here call the Hwy 40/42 area (where NC Hwy 42 intersects with I-40, which goes into Raleigh, NC). I was just about to turn onto I-40, going to work, when I heard something on the radio about a “plane crash”. Of course, mostly concentrating on my driving, at that point, I had no idea of the seriousness of what I was hearing. At work, around the store, the atmosphere was somber. There was just a strange quietness. As my customers all kept talking about it throughout the day, it was only then that I began to realize just how serious it was. I went home and for the next couple of days, all I could do was sit in front of the TV, my eyes glued to the screen, and my mouth open, in a state of shock. As the days and weeks passed, I remember I was literally scared. I was scared to death, especially in the first few days after the attacks, as I think no doubt, everyone was. Were they going to come here and attack us next? Would there be more attacks?

As the years passed, my kids grew up and my daughters now have kids of their own, my youngest is now working on her 2nd masters, and teaching Intro to Psych at ECU. Things changed, people have moved on, I’ve gone through a couple of divorces, lost my husband and high school sweetheart, Keith, to Covid, and survived it myself as well as breast cancer by God’s grace. Our family has lost a few more members over the years, and there have been a few new additions as well. I have since completed an Associate’s Degree in Office Systems Technology, which has provided me skills that have helped me tremendously with my writing. I’ve published 3 books, (though I discontinued the first 2), and started my own imprint. My latest, CPR for Your Faith from Beyond Death’s Door (Resuscitating the Christian Heart…Yes, Your Ship is Coming In!) is available on Amazon in print and Kindle, and in hard cover on B&N. I am getting ready to release a new 35th Anniversary Revised Edition, so stay tuned on that one. More books are coming as the good Lord leads me.

Yet, every year at this time, I cannot help but think of the sadness this day always brings, especially to those who lost family members or friends in this horrible, cowardly attack on the American people. After all, they were not lost to just their families or friends; they were lost to all of us. Over 3,000 families are still grieving those they loved who were killed that day. All those people spent that last evening of September 10, 2001 with their families and loved ones, never knowing it was their last night with them. They got up and went to work that morning with no idea of what was coming. They sent their children off to school that next morning and kissed them good bye for the last time. Those on the planes had to call or text their loved ones, in tears as they faced the shock of explaining to them that they knew they were about to lose their lives. I could go on, but there is no room here…

I’m sure what most of us may have been through pales drastically in comparison to what the victims of the events of 9/11 experienced that day. The scars will be on the hearts of their surviving family members for the rest of their lives. Even though for us, life went on, for them, every year, this day is a dark reminder when all the painful memories come flooding back. Yet all of us have “a story”. You may not think it’s much to offer, but a story left unshared will not help anyone. It’s not what we’ve been through, or who’s been through the worst tragedy, or even who may be hurting the worst. It’s the power of healing that comes from sharing the Light of Christ’s love with others who are hurting. It’s the knowing that no matter what any of us have suffered, His love and healing, restoring power is greater and stronger than any of it. It’s the candle of hope that lights up from one heart to the next as we each share what He has done for us and help them to understand the ways that same healing power can help them.

So wherever you are, if you can tell your story, or light a candle, write a book, or even just write your testimony in a tract or blog post, or just say a prayer for the families and friends of each one of the people who were lost that day, then the light of hope will start to flicker, then burn brightly, into an eternal flame of hope. It is the hope that unites the American people. Because when you mess with any of our people, you are messing with all of us. Jesus told us that in the last days, these tribulations would come…

Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”

And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.

“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come. – Matthew 24:3-14

…But we must remain strong, encourage one another, pray for one another, and share our story, however little or great it might be, and we must begin to link hands all across this once great nation, and form a chain of prayer, and let the light of hope flicker, becoming the eternal flame of that hope that unites us all, and stand strong. It is that hope that will help us “endure to the end”, and perhaps relight the candle of hope, for those who have lost it. I guess you could say it’s kind of like, if each of us shares a little of our story, maybe it’s kind of like all of us lighting a “candle” in memory of those who were lost that day, as well as those who have died since from their injuries or sickness caused by the toxic dust and fumes from the disaster, etc. Perhaps, even if but a small flicker of hope arises from one of us sharing our story, it becomes the eternal flame of hope that will light someone else’s way. To me, it is like saying, I am only one person, but I am here, and I care, because to me, each precious life that was lost that day was an American citizen, a father, a mother, a husband, a wife, a brother, a sister, a son, a daughter, and the list goes on.

A lot has happened in the 20 years since that dark day. Covid has taken many of those we loved, including my husband. Only 3 months later, strokes took my precious mother. Cancer and other things have taken many others. Still, so many who have been left behind are left feeling the pangs of grief, depression, and hopelessness, and too often, we have left them to wonder if anyone cares, because too many times, we let the enemy trick us into feeling we are too far gone or traumatized to help anyone else. Jesus knew we would have tribulations in this time, and He had this to say…

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33

There is a kind of healing we ourselves can experience in allowing God to use our own pain to help others, and Jesus knew this. If we look at the bigger picture, as we trust in Him and wait on Him to renew our strength as Isaiah 40:31 reminds us, we will find ourselves “mounting up with wings as eagles”, and soaring high above the storms, just as they do. Only then will we find ourselves rising above the storms our Lord said we would endure in these days before His return, and discovering the peace He promised us that is out of this world (See John 14:27 and Philippians 4:6-7). Once we do, if His love is in us, we won’t want to keep it to ourselves, but we will take that Light that is in our hearts and light someone else’s candle with it. Just think of what a better world we could make it if each of us did that. After all, it’s been said that a candle loses nothing of its light by lighting another candle.

I know this is more of a Christmas seasonal song, but I still felt the message was perfect for what I am trying to say here. May we never forget the victims of that terrible day, the children who had to grow up without parents and all of those who lost someone they loved that day. May we each light a candle of Christ’s love and reach out to those who are hurting, say a prayer for those whose families were forever broken that day, and all we have lost since. Whether it’s through this senseless attack on our nation, or Covid, Cancer, or something else that has caused the loss of someone you love, let us remember that we have all lost someone. We have all suffered in these times we are going through, and our Lord, Jesus said it would be this way. But if we remember, our God has not surrendered His authority, nor fallen off His throne, He is still in control, and according to the last page of my Bible, He wins, then we know that if we are on His side, we are on the winning side!

Where were you that September day? What will you do to help light someone else’s candle of hope today? After all, if we have the Light of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ in us, then it is not our own light we are sharing with them, but a part of His Light. And that Light is sufficient to cover us all. It is ours for the asking, and the peace that comes with it is out of this world. He said so Himself.

The Wisdom of Fruit Trees: God’s Plan for You in 2021!

Hello, and blessings to you in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ! Let me first start out by saying, I hope that you and your family had a wonderful and blessed Christmas and…

Happy New Year!

And I don’t just mean that in the traditional sense. I am speaking it over you and your family in Jesus’ name! The Bible says in Proverbs 18:21 that “Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.” 3 John 2, NKJV, also says, “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.” So, I am starting this year off right. I am speaking life! That said…

I know that if you are anything like me, you are probably thinking something like, “well, we tried that last New Year’s Eve, and you see where it got us.” I know. I get it. I lost my precious husband and my dear mother in 2020, my husband due to complications from Covid, as he was immune suppressed, and unable to recover from the damage it did to his lungs, and my mother from strokes. I don’t know anyone who hasn’t suffered some type of tragedy or great loss and hardship in this past year. As a matter of fact, I don’t know too many people who have much of anything positive to say about 2020. In fact, I’m pretty sure many, myself included, have had thoughts of giving up…

But wait!…

Now, let’s just back that up a minute…(insert sound of brakes screeching, like when you didn’t see the stop sign – Go ahead and go YouTube that if it makes you feel better, just be sure to come back. You DON’T wanna miss this Word God gave me this morning for you). What if…WHAT IF…. there is a more positive way to look at all of this? (Seriously, you’re not going to give all these trials this past year threw at us that much power over you, are you?) I know I’m not! I said the rear view mirror of my life was torn off, and I’m not sitting here trying to glue it back on! Take a few minutes to listen to this song…

It ain’t over till GOD says it’s over!!!

The first time I heard this song, it was a home video of a little girl whose mother recorded her singing it and, with permission, shared it on Facebook. It was such a powerful message to me. A couple of nights later, I even dreamed that I was hearing that video being played, and I could hear the little girl singing it. I wrote the mother an encouraging message telling her how much it had touched me and thanking her for sharing it….

Look. I know that if you’re anything like me, you probably have a few choice words you could say to this past year (if only it were a person, let’s face it, some of us watched too many of those old cartoons). I can tell you, my husband and I certainly would not have been welcoming in the year 2020 so joyfully on New Year’s Eve a year ago if we had known what it would bring. But it’s not a person, and well, we can’t turn back time. I think we all can identify with these feelings. I’m pretty sure many of us who suffered significant losses in this past year would agree that in a sense, we kind of woke up on New Year’s Day feeling much like someone in the wake of the damage after a tornado or hurricane, surveying the damage it has left behind. But let’s just turn it around and see if we can’t get a more positive perspective on it all, shall we? (Go ahead and go do that brake screech thing again if you want. Again, just come back, you DON’T wanna miss this! 🙂 )…

I’m sure if we really think about it, we could come up with some good things we did in 2020. Or better yet, ways that God did bless us to make it through – you’re still here, right? Or you wouldn’t be sitting here reading this. The topic for our Women’s Conference at our church a couple of years ago was, “Kept”. Our speakers dove in to the study of the women in the Bible who were “kept women”, kept by God Himself through the various trials they went through. And God left His fingerprints all throughout the pages of time, in that we can learn powerful lessons from their stories. So, what all has God “kept” you through this past year? The best way we can break the enemy’s power to use these trials and heartaches we have endured over us is to give God the praise for the ways He has kept us through these things. What has He kept you through this past year? What is one good thing you have done in 2020? Here’s my list:

  1. I published a powerful book of my testimony of my Near Death Experience in a car accident that will help people who have been through traumatic events and are giving up on their faith – you can check it out here!
  2. I survived Covid. God healed me so that I could be here to encourage you, and bring more fruit in for Christ’s kingdom.
  3. I celebrated a year being healed and delivered from breast cancer.
  4. I finished a new book (fiction) that my dear late husband, Keith, and I worked on together that we both felt will help people see that no life is too hopeless for God to change. It’s still in the editing stages, so it’s coming soon!
  5. I have seen God’s provision in powerful ways in every area of my life since my husband’s passing, the more I put Him first.
  6. I have learned from it all through His grace, and yielded all the broken pieces to Him, so He can use my story to help you too.
  7. I have more great inspirational books coming, and I have accepted His call to yield my life to ministry to others, and I could not be more excited about all He is going to do through me in 2021!

I believe if we think about it, we can all list some ways God has kept us through the storms of this past year, and the good things that did come out of it all, and in so doing, break the enemy’s power to use it to destroy us any further. That is simply “baggage” we are not going to drag into 2021. So, now, I will share with you the Word that God has given me, something I think will help us all. As a matter of fact, I felt His Holy Spirit nudging me earlier as I had my devotions, clearly letting me know, He had given me a Word and that He expected me to share it. So here goes. But first, I’ll give you a little more background information, so it will make more sense…

A LITTLE BACKGROUND INFORMATION: THE GARDEN OF YOUR HEART: A few years ago, as my husband and I found a good church and began to draw closer to God, He showed me a vision one morning that clearly let me know where I stood with Him. I think it will help you too, because I feel most of us can probably identify with this. So I saw what was supposed to be the “garden of my heart”. If you’ll just pick up your Bible and start reading it, you’ll see that Christ, our Lord Himself gave us teachings from this perspective. A good place to start is Matthew, Chapter 13. In this chapter, Jesus gave the Parable of the Sower. He led me to this several times over a period of time, and each time, His challenge was the same: “Which one are you?” For too long, I have been one to let too many of the “stones” the enemy had thrown into my path discourage me. I wasn’t standing on the Word as I should have been. If we keep on like this, those stumbling stones are what the enemy will use to snatch the Word away, so that it can’t be implanted deep into that soil of our heart’s garden. I also went for too long in the earlier years of my life not having the deep “rooting” of God’s Word in my life, so when those trials of life came, I didn’t have the root of that Word to guide me through it. —> (SPECIAL DEVOTIONAL SUGGESTION: I highly recommend sitting down with your family discussing this section of Christ’s teaching in Matthew 13. Don’t point fingers or judge each other. Just read it together, and talk about which of those types of soil characterizes that “garden” in each of your hearts. Then, pray together about it, and ask God to show you all ways to get that deep rooting in His Word that will help you grow stronger and stand together through the trials that may come. Get back together, in, say, a week or two, and talk about ways each of you have grown stronger in these areas. Give thanks as a family for the ways He has helped you grow together.)

So, what I saw, as far as the “garden of my heart” was a barren, desolate place, with dry, hardened, cracked ground. Nothing was growing. There was no “fruit” being produced. Then, I saw the “gate”, and Jesus standing on the other side of it, and what He said to me changed everything for me that day. He said, “I want to help you, but you have to let Me in first.” Did you get that? It is we who have to open that gate and let Him in. You see, for too long, I was, as I talk about in my book, “CPR for Your Faith from Beyond Death’s Door”, a strong-willed, stubborn, hard-headed little Ms. Independent who thought I knew how to handle life on my own. There are a lot of things that can make us that way. For years, I had been made to feel worthless and this eventually led to the mind trap of approval seeking, and way too much allowing my attitude, thoughts, and actions to be controlled by what others thought of me, etc., etc…

Now, I know better. That’s the “old” me. Let’s take a look at what Paul tells us in Ephesians 4:20-24: “But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus:  that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts,  and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.” (NKJV) Now, let’s look at 2 Corinthians 5:17: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (NKJV)

This means that if we are in Christ, meaning, walking in His promises of His Word, and we have truly opened the gate of that garden of our hearts, then, and only then, He can come in and transform all of that barren, unproductive ground into a beautiful, lush garden, full of trees producing loads of fruit for Him. But He is a gentleman. He will not force Himself on anyone. It is you, and I, who must make that decision to open that gate of our hearts and let Him in. So, I began to get more deeply into prayer with Him, and I opened that gate of my heart as I finally realized I couldn’t do it on my own, and that has made all of the difference.

In the aftermath of all that had transpired in the past year, I will admit that I had, for a time, hardened to the point that I thought I had lost something very precious to me. I didn’t hear God speaking to me in the mornings when I woke up anymore. Truth is, I hadn’t lost it, or Him. He was right there all along, just as He is with each of us who will open that gate of our heart’s garden and let Him in. But when we start to try to handle things on our own again, look out! This is what the enemy wants. Over time, he sows his weeds of doubt, despair, and hopelessness, and even tries to make you think you can’t hear from God anymore. So, as I began to pray more and get back into seeking a closer relationship with the Savior, and put Him first again, and LET HIM HANDLE THINGS, instead of letting the enemy fool me into trying to handle it on my own (see Proverbs 3:5-6), I began to awaken in the mornings hearing my gentle, loving Savior there again, speaking to me, showing me things, and guiding me. What came to me from the Holy Spirit this morning is going to change your perspective on this coming year, just as it has mine. And now, the Word He has given me for you for 2021…

THE WISDOM OF FRUIT TREES: GOD’S PLAN FOR YOU, AND ME, IN 2021: As I awakened this morning, I was seeing a vision, as is often the case. At first, I was seeing what represented the garden of my heart, and I felt as God spoke to my heart that what He was saying applies for all of us. It looked like the aftermath of a tornado or hurricane. I had the feeling, as many of us do right now, of waking up after a terrible storm. I then saw a tall, flourishing fruit tree, and He said to me,

“I am going to take all of the broken pieces of your grief, sadness, sorrows, and broken dreams of this past year and turn it all into the compost that will enrich the fruit trees of the fruit you will bear for Me in this coming year if you will only yield it all to Me. Yield the broken dreams and the shards you have tried to pick up on your own to Me, and you will see what I will do, for I will take what the enemy meant to destroy you and turn it into the rich compost that will nourish the fruit trees of your heart’s garden. So will I take the weeds and the broken pieces of what was meant for your harm and turn it around for your good. I will make the heartaches, disappointments, failures, and broken dreams of 2020 into the powerful, divinely enriched compost of 2021 that will yield a greater harvest than anything you have ever imagined possible if you will only yield it all to Me, for there is nothing that I cannot do.”

Only yield it all to the Master Gardener standing at the gate of your heart’s garden now, and He will turn your chaos into the chorus of His praise, your calamity into renewed confidence, and your tragedies into triumph that will bring glory to His name, if you will only trust Him. He knows what is ahead, and He is well able to do above and beyond all that we can ask or think. We do not know what tomorrow holds, and no doubt, this year will hold challenges of its own, but we can rest assured that if we put our trust in the One Who holds tomorrow in His hand, we will make it through. Jesus said in these latter days, we would have trials and tribulations (Matthew 24), but He also said, “be of good cheer, I have already overcome the world” (John 16:33).

If you are still here, it’s because He still has work you can do for His Kingdom. It’s because He has a reason for you to still be here. You can help bring in the great harvest that will precede Christ’s return. So, as we are all thinking of those New Year’s Resolutions, why not make one to let Him back in the “driver’s seat”? This past Christmas, as we prepared to celebrate the miracle of Christ’s birth and what it means for all of us, I have to say, after all my family and I have endured in 2020, I found myself going through my own personal advent season. As I prayerfully embarked on this journey, it was quite a revealing process as I discovered all that I had been allowing to be placed on the “throne of my heart” before Him.

So, this next time around, let’s not leave Him the “manger”, but may we all accept the challenge to graciously and humbly yield it all back to our Heavenly Father, the One Who created us, and Who sent His Son, our Jesus, to die for us, so that we could have eternal life in Heaven with Him. May we each find that new joy and healing, peace and comfort, encouragement, and renewed faith and vision for greater things that can only come when we finally open that gate to the “garden of our hearts” and let the Master Gardener in. We may not know what tomorrow holds, or which of us will be here next year to celebrate another year, but when we let Him back in, and give Him His place back on the throne of our hearts, we can rest assured that there is nothing that can stop the great things He can and will do in our lives.

Let’s let Him take all of the broken pieces of what the enemy meant to destroy us in 2020, and put it all through the “compost machine” of His power through the matchless and mighty name of His Son, Jesus Christ, and turn it into the compost that His Holy Spirit will use to nourish the fruit trees He has already planted in the gardens of our hearts. Then, and only then, will we see how truly flourishing and beautiful the garden of our hearts can be. Only then, will we see the great and powerful harvest we are truly capable of. May we each bring in a greater fruitful yield for His Kingdom in 2021 than we have ever dreamed possible.

Will your “garden” bring in a great harvest for the Kingdom in 2021? Let Him turn the heartaches of 2020 into the “compost” to enrich the fruit trees for what He will do through you this year!

“CPR for Your Faith from Beyond Death’s Door – 35th Anniversary Special Free Book Promotion…a Calm in the Storms of 2020

I don’t think anyone would disagree with me that 2020 has been a rough year. Have you lost a loved one this year to Covid (or anything else for that matter)? Is your family struggling with the financial setbacks and utter chaos that the “storms” of this year have left in their wake? Have you or someone you love been through some other traumatic event? Have you thought about giving up? Well, please wait before you do, and read this…

I can relate to you, believe me. Which brings me to why I haven’t been on much for the past few months. I can honestly say in more ways than one, that this has just about been the worst year of my life, and it’s not over yet. In truth, there are not many people who can say this pandemic has not affected them or someone they love. Many more will eventually be affected by it. So, back to why I haven’t been on here posting much…

On July 17th 2020, I tested positive for Covid 19. My dear, precious husband, Keith, received a false negative and was sent home. Not a week later, he was in the hospital. The strange thing is, the way this virus seems to work. As some on the medical team that cared for Keith told me, they are still learning about the way it works and how to treat it. Just when we thought he was getting better, he took a turn for the worst. He had been texting me, saying they were going to try and get him up in the chair, and that he was going to try to eat. A couple of days later, he was intubated. After only a week, he maxed out on the ventilator, and was placed on an artificial lung (ECMO machine – Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation). Keep in mind, that all this time, I was unable to even be with him.

Finally, he tested, then retested negative, and they were able to move him out of the Covid unit, into the Surgical ICU, but only one could visit (one designated visitor per family). But even though the virus was gone, the damage was done. On the evening of Saturday, August 29th, after they had exhausted every effort to save him, we gathered around him to say our goodbyes, and I held the hand of the love of my life as he slipped away. And no, I will not ever “get over it”. But I will also not let the enemy use it to destroy me.

Me with my late husband, Stacy Keith Stewart, from our engagement pictures, I think a couple of months before our wedding, Dec. 23, 2014

You don’t have to let the storms you’ve been through destroy you either. Just about all of us have lost someone to this pandemic, or even other circumstances. For those who have lost a spouse, as I have, here is a song by someone else who recently lost her husband. I found it comforting. This is a tribute Libbi Stuffle, of The Perrys, sang as a tribute to him. I was blessed to get to meet her a couple of years ago when Keith and I, and our pastor and his wife, were in Gatlinburg, TN at the Convention Center for the Church of God Sr. Talent Nationals…

We can all agree this has been a terrible year, or…

We can choose that we are not going to let the enemy use these tribulations and tragedies to destroy us, and we can trust in the God Who has promised us He will never leave us nor forsake us to help us salvage the memories, and the ways He can use it to strengthen us and work through us to help others. It’s really our choice. Each of us must decide whether we are going to let the devil use it all to harden us and make us bitter, or whether we are going to surrender it to the One Who loves us more than we can ever understand, and trust Him to use it all to make us stronger in a way that will bring Him glory. Jesus said in John 16:33: “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”.

Today marks the 35th anniversary of a very traumatic event in my life, one that not only almost took my life, but it nearly destroyed me. In my book, “CPR for Your Faith from Beyond Death’s Door”, you can read my story of my Near Death Experience in a horrific car accident on November 16, 1985, what I have learned in the years since on my journey to recovery with my Savior, Jesus Christ, and how He turned it around into the powerful testimony it is now. So, if you have been through a traumatic event, or lost a loved one/s to this pandemic, or other tragedies, and felt like giving up, I honestly feel that what He has given me to share with you in this book is the “CPR” your weakened faith needs. In the book, I will also get into a little about what the Bible calls “the falling away”, that would happen in the last days. My friends, many are giving up on their faith and turning their backs on God, at a time when as I said toward the end of the book, “giving up is simply not an option. You don’t have to end up being one of them.

FREE KINDLE EBOOK! Click here to download my book, 11-17-2020 through 11-21-2020!

None of us are promised tomorrow. Don’t let the one time you decide to give up on God be the day you end up paying the price for eternity. God didn’t bring sin, sickness, and death into the world. Our sin did that. But He did send His Son, Jesus into the world to bear all our sin on that cross so we could have a way to escape the high cost of our sin: eternal damnation and torment, and separation from God forever. Jesus paid it all. Don’t believe me? Let my 12-Year-Old self explain…Click here to read more about that 😉 , and how to surrender all to Christ and be saved. I could go on all day and get into more scripture to help you out, but I think the book does a pretty good job of that.

We can’t do anything about these terrible storms of trauma and the trials of tribulation, sickness, and death we are all facing now, but we can choose to not let the enemy use it to destroy us. We can choose to be thankful for the memories we had with our loved ones, and trust our Heavenly Father to guide us as we cherish these priceless “gems” in the treasure box of our hearts, and show us how He can use it to help others. We can choose to help each other, reach out to one another and comfort others, as He comforts us (see 2 Corinthians 1:4). We can choose to surrender it all to Him, so He can take what the enemy wanted to use to destroy us and turn it all around into a powerful, ground-breaking testimony that will bring others to Him. Now THAT’S how we can all give the storms of 2020 a swift kick in the pants!

So, let me help. Consider this my little humble contribution, a “calm in the storms”. This week only, from Tuesday, November 17, 2020, through Saturday, November 21, 2020, you can download the eBook version of my book, “CPR for Your Faith from Beyond Death’s Door” (“Resuscitating the Christian Heart…Yes, Your Ship is Coming In!”) from Amazon (Kindle) for FREE!

Click here to visit my Amazon page for the book and download your FREE copy!

Each of us has some way we can help if we stop seeing ourselves as “victims” of whatever has happened to us, and start seeing ourselves through His eyes instead. It’s time for us to come together and unite as the Body of Christ and get out of the “victim mentality” that the enemy is using to destroy so many. It’s time for us to come together and take the rest of 2020 by “storm”, a storm that is much bigger and more powerful than anything we will ever face in this world. It’s time for us to work together and escort the storms of 2020 out with the power of God’s promises that He knew we would need during this time, that are right there in His Word for us. It’s time for us to trust Him to help us “mount up with wings as eagles” (Isaiah 40:31) and soar above the storms of this life and see the bigger picture of the plan He has for each of us (see Jeremiah 29:11). Surrender to defeat, or soar to new heights? It’s a choice each of us must make on our own.

Are you a victim, or a victor in Christ? I choose victory. After all, through God’s grace, I have survived an accident that took the lives of 2 people, breast cancer, and Covid, and the loss of my husband of almost 6 years. I’ve also seen God’s grace carry my family through the difficult years after the loss of my brother, Charles, at only 9 years old, when I was 12, and our younger brother just had started school. I’m still here, and I’m not giving up. And you aren’t either. After all, as the old song by Ray Stevens says, “United, we stand, divided, we fall.” We’re all in this together, and if we work together and help each other, we’ll make it, by God’s grace. Without Him, and our Savior, Jesus Christ, we are nothing. Believe me, I tried for too many years to struggle through it all on my own, without His help. It won’t work. He said in John 15:5 (NKJV), “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” I have found this to be true, the hard way. It is so much easier letting Him carry the load, but He will not force us to surrender it all to Him. The right choice is the truth that will set us free, the calm in our storms, by the Master of the Seas, the One Who is still calming storms, if we only believe in Him. Now, here is another powerful encouraging song by Natalie Grant, who is also currently recovering from Covid. I had the blessing of singing in her back up choir a few years ago. There is nothing like the power of praising Him right in the middle of our storms, then watching Him calm our seas, and brighten our horizons, as only He can…

What will you salvage from the “Storms of 2020”? We may not know what the future holds, but as our Church of God General Overseer, Bishop Tim Hill, says in his book, “The Speed of Favor”, we can rest in calm assurance in knowing that our awesome and almighty God is already there. After all, remember, after the storm comes the rainbow. 🙂 I’m still here, 35 years later, after the enemy tried to take me out, and has several times since, because God still has work for me to do. You are still here because He still has a purpose for you, but we’ll get more into that in the book!

So, go and download my eBook while it’s FREE this week, and be encouraged. Then, go and start telling your own story. Know someone who could be uplifted by this information? Please share using the buttons below! May God bless you, and thanks for stopping by!

Masks in the Church: Part 1 – The Masks We Hide Behind

“Life is but a masquerade ball. No one is ever really who they say they are, but sooner or later, the masks come off.”

Okay, I made that up, although if anyone else has ever said it, I don’t know who they are.) I have said at one time in the past that I had considered having these words put on my tombstone (Now, I know better). Still, if you think about it, there is a lot of truth in that.

A while back, I did a post on Facebook about “Masks”, and how many of us as Christians have hidden behind them for too long. With all that we have going on now, with the Covid 19 Pandemic, and other signs that Christ warned us about happening all around us, I have felt led to visit this topic again.

So, this will be the first of a series I am starting this week, on Masks in the Church. In this first of three posts I will be doing, I will just get into the basics of what it all means, and we’ll get deeper into it all in the next posts, so be sure and subscribe to my email if you haven’t, so you won’t miss out on any of these, or my future posts. I also get briefly into the subject of “masks” in my book, “CPR for Your Faith from Beyond Death’s Door”, which is now available on Amazon and B&Nsee more about that here. So, without further ado, let’s get started. Grab a cup of coffee and let’s sit down for a minute and talk about this. If you find it helpful, be sure and share it with someone!

So, this will be the first of a series I am starting this week, on Masks in the Church. In this first of three posts I will be doing, I will just get into the basics of what it all means, and we’ll get deeper into it all in the next posts, so be sure and subscribe to my email if you haven’t, so you won’t miss out on any of these, or my future posts. I also get briefly into the subject of “masks” in my book, “CPR for Your Faith from Beyond Death’s Door”, which is now available on Amazon and B&N, see more about that here. So, without further ado, let’s get started. Grab a cup of coffee and let’s sit down for a minute and talk about this. If you find it helpful, be sure and share it with someone!

Are We Hiding Behind Masks?

For too many of us, the ways we have adapted to the ways satan (no, I won’t capitalize his name) uses our past to control us and define us, we have allowed it all to cause us to develop this hardened outer layer of ourselves, all while trying to put on a fake outer front, or “mask”, a false facade for others, while inside, we slowly languish in our own self made “prison”, instead of trusting Christ to set us free.

Before I go on, I’m just going to “get real” with you myself. I recently found myself going through a trial that forced me to take my own “masks” off and get real with God, and with myself, and others. On July 17, 2020, I tested positive for Covid 19. Although I am mostly recovered, as I write this, my husband is in the hospital with it. This whole trial has forced me to take a long, hard look at myself in the “mirror” of God’s Word, and gone deeper in prayer and repentance myself than ever before, and I didn’t like what I saw…

If we as the Church are not careful and diligent to pray and seek Him and study His Word every day, the enemy will fool us into continuing to wear those masks and waste this life away drifting along in the world’s masquerade ball. His evil plan for us is that we will waste the precious life God has given us, hiding behind these masks and missing out on the real, true power of Jesus Christ and the plans He has for each of us to make a difference in this lost and dying world. Ultimately, as long as we let him fool us into living with this deception, he knows we will never truly bear fruit for Christ’s Kingdom, or complete His will for us, and that we will hear those three dreaded words that are more frightening even than dying from Covid 19: “Depart from Me…”

Types of Masks We Wear…

It’s easy to do. We do it all the time. You walk into the store. Someone you know recognizes you and calls out to you, “Hey (your name here), how are you doing?” It can be easy to give in to the temptation to put your “normal person, I’m fine” mask on, when in fact, on the inside, you’re a wreck. We don’t want others to see the trauma from emotional abuse, or other things we’ve endured, or the feelings of worthlessness from it all that we’ve suffered for years, so we hide it. We put our “smiley face” mask on, and say, “I’m fine, how are you?”. Realistically, most of us know when someone asks, “how are you doing?”, they really don’t have the time to listen to the laundry list of what most of us are dealing with these days.

It’s easy to do. We do it all the time. You walk into the store. Someone you know recognizes you and calls out to you, “Hey (your name here), how are you doing?” It can be easy to give in to the temptation to put your “normal person, I’m fine” mask on, when in fact, on the inside, you’re a wreck. We don’t want others to see the trauma from emotional abuse, or other things we’ve endured, or the feelings of worthlessness from it all that we’ve suffered for years, so we hide it. We put our “smiley face” mask on, and say, “I’m fine, how are you?”. Realistically, most of us know when someone asks, “how are you doing?”, they really don’t have the time to listen to the laundry list of what most of us are dealing with these days.

We have all worn “masks” in too many different ways. “Selfish ambition” is one (see Phillipians 2:3-8). I wore that one for too long. Now, I know that the work I have been called to do for Him is more important than whether, as a writer, I ever make that coveted New York Times Best Seller List (By the way, “coveting” is a form of idolatry.). The attractions of wealth, material possessions, and fame are no longer important to me (see Matthew 6:19-34 and 1 Timothy 6:6-14), but what He is getting ready to do through me, and the souls I will win for Him, those I will encourage because I can say, I know what you’re going through, I’ve been there.

“Approval Addiction” is another one I hid behind for way too long (Joyce Meyer has a book on this) because of years of emotional abuse I suffered because of the choices I made. For too long, I was a prisoner of my past, controlled by the need for approval, constantly obsessed about and controlled by what people thought of me, the need to “fit in”. Even worse, I wasn’t really reaching out to others because of how worthless and insignificant I felt deep down inside. That only continued to feed that old monster weed of my insecurities, caused by that need for others’ approval. If you are going to serve Christ, you must be willing to be set apart! (See Phillipians 3:7-9.) Then, there’s the old, “I’m okay, I’m not really depressed” mask, you know, the one many of us wear to church. There are countless others. “Denial” is one many of us have struggled with.

Other examples of “masks” we can tend to hide behind are, “tolerance” and “political correctness” (Careful! Are we not denying Christ, as Peter did, by doing this?). Too many times, we as Christians have tried to “blend in” to society, when God calls us to stand out! We have let the devil trick us into wearing these masks, but they only keep us from seeing who we really are in Christ, and who He has called us to be.

Taking off the Masks – Who has God Called You to Be?

So, take a few minutes to start each day together with God’s word, pray for Him to show you the “masks” you may have been hiding behind, then ask Him to remove them and help you let go of the need to build false facades, “release” it all to Him, and speak the Word over your marriage, your family, and your finances. Make the decision today to “get real” and pray and agree on that Word God gives you together (see Matthew 18:19-20), and I can assure you, you will begin to see changes in your prayer life, your spiritual walk with God, and your marriage and family relationships.

I can honestly tell you right now, today, for me, those chains have been broken! The masks have fallen off! They are gone! I am FREE in my new identity in Jesus Christ, my Lord (also in that section in Phillipians 2:1-15, about seeking to have the mind of Christ).

If this series the Holy Spirit has laid upon my heart to share with you helps you somehow to take a closer look at your own life, and see, through His loving guidance, what masks you may have been wearing, then it will have achieved its purpose. After all, it is not me, but Him, lovingly calling out to you now, while there is yet time for us to make a difference. I am only the hands that typed the words you are reading here. I am only His willing vessel, one who has been broken in many ways, but He saved me, delivered and healed me, and I have answered His call to help as many as I can, just as I hope you have.

With this pandemic we are all facing now, we can only work together, pray and show our appreciation to all of those front line workers who are bravely doing their jobs to take care of us, and pray for those who are sick. The truth is, none of us are promised tomorrow. The path to prayerfully seeking His guidance to help us take the masks off that too many of us have worn for too long, and show us the plans He has for each of us to make an impact for His Kingdom is a journey each of us must take on our own. We can only work, love, and pray together, now, as never before, and believe in the miracles He wants to do in our lives.

There is Hope for You…

Covid 19 is not an automatic death sentence. Many have recovered, and gone on to appreciate the things in life they took for granted before. I am one of them, or you wouldn’t be reading this right now. But if your time should come, and your name isn’t written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, and you haven’t accepted our Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, then after your last breath will be too late. You will have just allowed the devil to punch your ticket to the Masquerade Ball of no return.

Jesus loves each of us, so much He died for us to have a more abundant life of hope and fulfillment, leading others to Him. I hope you will accept Jesus as Lord of your life today. If you would like to accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, all it takes is a simple prayer, and to believe in Him with all your heart, in total surrender to Him. If you’re ready to take that step, click here, and allow my 12 year old self to tell you how. (That got ya thinking, didn’t it? 🙂

 

What Will Your Choice Be?

I wore many masks for a long time, but thankfully, I have been set free by the power of Jesus Christ. I am no longer chained to the past. I gave my ticket to that masquerade ball the enemy had me going to for too long to my Lord and Savior, my Jesus. He took it and ripped it up and gave me a new hope and a new life. Right now, I am taking it one day at a time as we recover from this, and praying for healing for my sweet hubby. Again, none of us are promised tomorrow. But I can tell you this much: I’m done wearing any of those dumb, ugly masks. I know now that God truly cares about what we’re hiding behind that mask, and that the truth has set me free (John 8:32,36, and 14:6) just as it will set you free. I know that each new day I wake up with the breath of life He gave me in my lungs, I will praise Him with it, and never take it for granted again. I don’t want to be the person I was before all of this. I want now, more than ever before to strive to reach my full potential of what He has called me to do.

Which will you choose? Will you continue to be a part of the problem, as many of us have been for too long, or will you choose to make a great impact for the Kingdom of Christ? The clock is ticking for every one of us. Thankfully, we have a loving Savior Who standing there at the door of our hearts, waiting to come in and help us “get real”, with Him, and with those we will reach for Him. Now, let this song minister to your heart…

Have You Checked Out My New Book?

If you haven’t, be sure to check out my book, “CPR for Your Faith from Beyond Death’s Door”, as I mentioned above. It has my testimony of my near death experience in a car accident in November of 1985, what I have learned since, and has been written as an encouraging message of faith, especially for those who have been through traumatic events and have felt like giving up. In the book, I also talk about throwing off the excess baggage from the past so you can sail forward to God’s wonderful plan for your life. I feel in any case, that it will help enrich your walk with Him, but it should by no means take the place of studying God’s Word. Jesus is the Lighthouse. I am only a flashlight to point the way to Him.

Know Someone Who Could Use This?

If you know someone who would be encouraged by this information, please share! Thanks for reading! Don’t forget to hit that ‘Subscribe’ tab so you won’t miss my next post in this series, and so you will be among the first to know about my upcoming new books. Now, let’s throw those masks out and start building the Kingdom together!