My Special Mother’s Day Shopping Trip

by Evelyn Horan

shopping“Dad, I’m on my way now,” I called hurriedly, trying not to show how anxious I felt that Saturday morning as I peeked in the kitchen doorway.

“All right, Emma,” Dad said, standing at the counter scraping carrots for a vegetable soup. “Hope you can find something. It’s really not good to wait until the last minute,” he reminded.

“I know, Dad,” I agreed. “I hope I can find something, too!”

I had to shop in a short time. I needed a special Mother’s Day gift for my mom and a nice card. But, I didn’t have much savings. Would I have enough money?

When I arrived at our neighborhood shopping mall a few blocks away, I remembered that department stores are more expensive, so I decided to look in a “penny-saver” store first. I walked up and down the long rows of aisles, but nothing was right for my mom. I couldn’t find anything like a Mother’s Day gift there.

“Now what am I going to do?” I wondered, as I walked outside and leaned against the storefront window. I tried to think.

I remembered a Christian bookstore a few blocks from the shopping mall. “But probably everything is expensive, and I’ll have taken a long walk for nothing.” I felt really nervous. When I calmed down a bit, I could still feel an inner urge, almost like a kind of quiet voice, telling me to shop at the Christian bookstore for my mom. So I took a deep breath and began walking.

When I entered the store, I went up to the smiling saleslady at the counter. Then I noticed a gold cross on a chain in the glass counter case.

“I guess they’re pretty expensive,” I said, hesitantly.

“They’re l4 karat gold,” she said, “but we’re overstocked, and we’ve just marked them down to $l5.99.”

“Really?” I exclaimed, happily. “Could you please wrap that one as a Mother’s Day gift for me?” I pointed to the gold cross.

“Why, of course, young lady, I’ll be glad to,” the saleslady said smiling.

“Thank You, God for helping me find Mom a nice Mother’s Day present,” I whispered.

While waiting for my package, I browsed along the shelves of books in the young people’s section. I found an interesting and informative book about the lives of Old Testament heroes that included Moses, Noah, and Sampson and others. It had many beautiful, colored pictures. I wanted to buy it for myself.

“Later,” I told myself, “I’ll buy the book after I’ve earned some more allowance.”

Then, across the aisle I saw the greeting cards. Wonderful! I didn’t know the Christian bookstore sold greeting cards.

Looking closer, I found a perfect Mother’s Day card for my mom. Inside it told my mom how much I loved her, and it asked God’s blessing on her life for years to come.

“Thank You, God,” I murmured, happily. “Two special favors in a half hour!”

As I left the store with my mom’s Mother’s Day gift wrapped in a big gold colored bow, along with my special greeting card in a bag, I had to hold myself back from skipping and racing joyfully all the way home! I even had some allowance money left over.

While Dad and I enjoyed a bowl of his tasty vegetable soup for lunch, I told him about my shopping experience and about the gentle voice that encouraged me to go to the Christian bookstore to shop.

“Emma, do you have any idea Who might have helped you today?” Dad asked with a little smile.

“That’s easy, Dad,” I said quickly. “It had to be the Holy Spirit. I’m sure of it. Things worked out too perfectly. Isn’t it neat, Dad, how God can be real in your life?!”

“Yes, Emma, He’s always there when we need Him”

“And I want to go back and buy a beautiful picture book for myself, telling all about the lives of many Old Testament heroes. I’m hoping to buy it when I earn more allowance money .”

“Hmm,” Dad said thoughtfully. “ Because you are being careful with your allowance and trying to budget wisely, how would you like it if I bought the book for you as a special gift from Mom and me for being such a thoughtful young woman? And you can continue to save your allowance money for other special things you’d like.”

“Oh that would be wonderful,” I cried happily. ” And now, I even have enough money left over from shopping today to put in the offering basket at Church on Sunday as my way of thanking God for His help today.”

“Wonderful,” Dad said. “You are being one of God’s good stewards. Let’s go back to the store for the book after lunch. We don’t want the book to be sold too quickly. So, I’ll drive you in the car.”

I gave my dad a big hug. “Thanks, Dad,” I said. “I’ll clean up the soup dishes right away. And, Dad, I’ll do the dinner dishes tonight too, I promise.”

“All right, Emma,” Dad said, smiling. “Sounds good to me.”

Finding God Every Day

by Evelyn Horan

girl looking at treeHow do I know God is a part of my daily life?  Every time I begin to think God is too busy in His Heaven to remember my needs and wishes that might seem trivial, I try looking for Him in my routine activities.

I remember one busy morning I had to shop in a short time. I needed an indoor basket plant for my friend, Helen, whose birthday party was in a few days.  I wanted her to have a dish garden plant to put in her room. Knowing that florists expect a “good price” for the sort of dish garden I wanted, I thought of a large discount store outside my neighborhood.

But I don’t enjoy visiting this store because it’s always crowded.  Still, I felt an inner urge to shop for other items there as well.  Just as I expected, when I arrived, the store was filled with shoppers.

Then I prayed, “Dear God, please help me find a lovely floral arrangement for Helen.”

Inside the store, with shopping list in hand, I came upon a temporary table of assorted,  dish garden plants. I couldn’t believe it!  They were exactly the kind I wanted, but much more beautiful than I’d even imagined.

“I must have one of those basket plants,” I told myself.  I knew Helen would enjoy the plants.  Cautiously,  I read the sign and then looked again.  It was true, these large, healthy dish gardens were moderately priced.

“Thank you, God,” I whispered.

Then further down, on the right, there was  a display table of children’s books.  As I browsed through them,  I found a beautiful picture book showing the life of Jesus.  It too was moderately priced. The book would be the perfect gift for my young sister, Emily, who had been wanting a book about Jesus.

“Thank you, God, for sending me here,” I murmured happily, reaching for the picture book.   Through my prayers, God had helped me find the things I needed today.

At home, relaxing after shopping, I thought about my morning.  And I had to remind myself once again–when I take the time to look for Him, it’s easy to find God doing wonderfully, unexpected things in my ordinary life.  I just have to stay alert and recognize them.

When I do, I find the reassurance that these little “special favors” are God’s way of showing me that I am not alone to meet the challenges in my life.  They reveal that God is here with me, helping me, and smoothing out my way in my day to day needs.

Isn’t it wonderful how God makes His presence known to us in ordinary ways all the time!  What a joy to know God is here in our lives, helping us, and blessing us every day with His faithful love.

Counting Our Blessings

By Evelyn Horan                                                                       

countI am often reminded of an old song that tells us to” count our blessings” and” name them one by one.” When we do this, we can remember what God has done for us.   Sometimes, when we ask God for our desires, we don’t always get what we want, but if we pay attention, we notice we’re getting what we need.

There are times when requests are made to our parents, but they are denied—like the young man who wanted a special fishing pole, but he had to be satisfied with his old pole. When he went fishing again, he caught a two-pound trout. He realized that old pole was all he needed.

Some girls can recall how they thought they couldn’t live without a certain outfit they’d seen in a teen magazine. But in real life, in a department store, sometimes the color wasn’t right or the material was scratchy. Other times stylish boots were a fad. Trying them on, they realized they could hardly walk in them.

It’s easy to compare what you have against what friends, neighbors, or people who are admired have—and  then you find yourself coming up short. Everyone else seems so much better off! It’s easy to envy kids who seem better looking or more popular, ones who make better grades or are successful leaders. There is always someone more coordinated on the drill team, or a soprano in the glee club who can hit higher notes. Maybe you always notice someone stronger, more athletic, someone who drives a great car, has more spending money, and a better job.

You can spend all day making a list of people in better circumstances, but that’s not a helpful activity for those who want to be like Christ and follow him.  A good way to shake that self-pity is to inventory the good things God has done for you. One of his blessings, often taken for granted, is good health.  There are people who have a life threatening disease or a serious injury to face. If you have good health, it’s time to be grateful.

Second, the necessities of life provided by parents, foster parents, grandparents or whomever you live with, require gratitude. Not everyone has a warm place to live, adequate clothing to wear, enough food to eat, and plenty of clean water to drink. Having these things when there are millions of people in the world who don’t have these necessities should cause us to pause and remember that God has truly blessed us.

Take time to consider personal possessions and benefits beyond life’s necessities.  For some it’s a private room, a cell phone, a TV, a computer, music lessons, trips to amusement parks, family vacations. You may not have all those extras. But what do you have? What can you thank God for?

After a few minutes of reflection, we find we are blessed in so many ways.  It is foolish and selfish to give in to pity, or become morose over little things we think we need.  We should remember God loves us, and he promised to meet our needs as he sees fit.  He didn’t promise to grant all our wishes, but he did say he’d meet our needs and that we should not worry—for if he cares for the birds and the flowers, he surely cares for us.

When we count our blessings, we find we are truly blessed, and we are thankful to God who knows our needs and  cares for us.

The Power of Forgiveness

By Evelyn Horan

handshakeFor years I lived in a gloomy fog of depression, stress, and stomachaches. I had no appetite.  I carried the spirits of anger and hate around like we were good friends. And sometimes, I thought about ways I could repay the wrong I had suffered.

But,  I’ve found a better way to cope with hurts.  I experienced  God’s  forgiveness in my own life, and now I can forgive others.

One of the first things I gave up was my wish to retaliate when someone wronged me. I  learned that God is in charge. “Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord (Romans 12:19). I learned I was supposed to leave the discipline and judgment of others to God.

But I found exercising forgiveness difficult. I could eventually forgive the act, but I was tempted to hold a grudge against the person who wronged me.

A sermon I heard on forgiveness introduced me to Matthew 6:14, 15: “If  ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: but if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

“When we forgive others,  in response to God’s forgiveness,” the minister  said, ” the benefits are wonderful.  We become healthier physically, mentally, and spiritually.”

Before that time, my stomach was in knots more often than it was relaxed.  My face and jaw muscles would tense with anger, and my blood pressure would rise when I thought  about a wrong I’d experienced.

Could I forgive?  Could I really look at the situation the way God expected me to?  Not without His help. Through prayer I uncovered the ugly hurt I’d harbored in my life.   I explored the ridges and folds of the pain in the light of God’s forgiveness. I realized my unforgiving spirit had been a sin, and I gradually came to repentance. It took a long time, but I reached the place where I could say with conviction, “Yes, Lord, I’ll release my hurt and give it over to You.”

After I prayed to God for forgiveness and confessed my sin, a warm feeling of love filled my spirit. My stomach relaxed and my breathing became deep and free. It seemed as if chains had been removed from my heart.

I never thought it would happen–and certainly it wouldn’t have without God’s power–but I sought out  the one who had caused me pain. I apologized for my unforgiving spirit and years-long grudge. In turn, I received  an apology.  Our friendship was not only restored, but renewed with a deeper level of understanding.

Because I asked God’s forgiveness for my sin of being unforgiving, I can now forgive a wrong done to me.  Finally, I also know without doubt that I am in God’s care. I am His child, and He knows my hurts.   All I must do is put my problems in His healing hands.

Attitude of Gratitude

By Evelyn Horan

joyDo you have an attitude of Gratitude?  Do you count your blessings when you say your prayers, or are you like me?  Most of the time I talk to God about my wishes more than I thank Him for what He’s done for me.

Many times, later on, I’m glad my wishes weren’t all granted–like the time I knew I couldn’t live without a certain party outfit I’d seen in a teen magazine. Then when I saw it in real life in a department store,  the color wasn’t right and the material was scratchy!

Another time I wanted some stylish boots.  Everybody was wearing them.  Well, when I tried them on, they made my feet look really big.  Because I’m “only human,” I compare my life with friends, neighbors, and even favorite celebrities.  I have to admit, I often feel less fortunate. That’s when I get really, really depressed!

“Everyone is so much better-off than I am!” I complain.

In my self-pity I envy the girls who are prettier and more popular, the ones who makes better grades and are more successful leaders.  There is always someone more coordinated on the drill team, or a cheerleader with fantastic spirit. My “woe-is-me” list can go on and on.

I’m sure guys go through the same thing.  There is always someone stronger, more athletic, more popular; someone who drives a hotter car, has more spending money, a better job; and someone whose parents are more “understanding” because they let him stay out late, and so on.

Though it’s easy to think of people in better circumstances than we are, that’s not a helpful activity for those of us who want to be like Christ and follow Him. A good way I’ve found to change my self-pity is to inventory the good things God has done for me.  Some of His blessings I take for granted are my good health both physical and mental.  In contrast  we think of all the people who have a life threatening disease, or a serious injury to deal with.

So the first blessing could be good health, both physical and mental.  The necessities of life are other things to be grateful for. This includes a warm place to live, adequate clothing to wear, enough nutritious food to eat.; and plenty of clean water to drink. Having these things should make us even more thankful when we think of the millions of people in the world who don’t have even these necessary things.

Any personal possession and benefits beyond life’s necessities are a blessing.  For some it’s a room of our own, a cell phone, a place to study,  a TV, a computer, DVD player, music lessons, trips to amusement parks, family vacations etc.  Other kids can be more or less fortunate, but we can compare our possessions to the homeless in our communities.

After a few minutes of reminding myself of how blessed I am in so many ways, I feel foolish and selfish for pitying myself or getting depressed over some little things I don’t have. I should remember God loves me, and He promised He’d always meet my needs as He sees fit.

But I must remember, also, He didn’t promise to grant me all my wishes, but He did say He’d meet my needs–that I’m not to worry.  If He cares for the birds and the flowers, He surely cares for me.

Where is my attitude of gratitude?  It’s time I count my blessings and thank God for His goodness!  I should praise Him and say, “Thank you, God, for all You’ve done for me, and for all You’re going to do.”

I think I’ll begin right now!

The Girl above the Bar

by Kelsi Barkman
She’s hurting
She’s breaking…
Longing to be loved,
and for the void to be filled.
This, This is the girl who lives above the bar.
She’s tenderhearted
and merciful
To anything or anyone being bullied,
A misfit among some-
Loved by others…
This, this is the girl who lives above the bar.
Depressed,
Wanting more
And finding it in the wrong places,
This, this is the girl who lives above the bar.
Life isn’t easy.
It has brought tears and pain,
And it has scarred. Deep scars.
Parents fought.
The family split.
She can’t find love there,
So she tries to find it in the streets.
More pain. More scars.
This, this is the life of the girl who lives above the bar.
Where is healing?
Where is peace?
Is there any hope in this big, wide world?
Running,
Trying to bury heartrending emotions,
Desperate to block what hurts to bad to feel.
Does anyone care?
Is anyone there?!!!
dear, dear, girl. No matter what you are going through or who you are…yes, there is hope. Yes, there is Jesus who heals, who loves and who cares more about you than anyone on earth. Life-we will never comprehend , but know this. Jesus will never leave you. Wherever you go, wherever you run…He is there. He knows your heart. He knows your pain. So stop running and surrender. Give it all over to the one who will heal your heart and who will fill you a greater love than you have ever known. Trust him even though its hard. There will be peace.
The words of the psalmist…
“Where can I  go from your spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
If i make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
If I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
Your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’ womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
your eyes saw my unformed body.
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everylasting.”
Psalms 139:7-16a;23-24 NIV

God Has Promises for Us

by Evelyn Horan

praying-handsSometimes we are so busy at school, at home, or with our friends that sometimes things pile up on us, and we feel that our problems are too big for us to solve if we depend only on ourselves. But when we remember our Bible verses, we know we can turn to God for help, because God has promises all stored up for us when we need them.

GOD HAS PROMISES

I SAY

GOD SAYS

BIBLE VERSES

I say:“It’s impossible.”

God says:   All things are possible.

(Luke 18:27)

I say:  “I’m too tired.”

God says:  I will give you rest.

(Matthew 11:28-30)

I  say:  “Nobody really loves me.”

God says:  I love you.

(John 3:16 & John 3:34 )

I say:  “I can’t go on.”

God says:  My grace is sufficient.

(II Corinthians 12:9 & Psalm 91:15)

I say:  “I can’t figure things out.”

God says:  I will direct your               steps.

Proverbs (3:5-6)

I say:  “I can’t do it.”

God says:  You can do all things.

( Philippians 4:13)

I say:  “I’m not able.”

God says:  I am able.

(II Corinthians 9:8)

I say: “It’s not worth it.”

God says:  It will be worth it.

(Roman 8:28 )

I say:  “I can’t forgive myself.”

God says:  I Forgive you.

(I John 1:9 & Romans 8:1)

I say:  “I can’t manage.”

God says:  I will supply all your needs.

( Philippians 4:19)

I say:  “I’m afraid.”

God says:  I have not given you a spirit of fear.

(II Timothy 1:7)

I say:  “I’m always worried

God says:  Cast all your cares on ME.

(I Peter 5:7)

I  say:  “I’m not smart.”

I say: “I have sinned.”

God says:  I give you wisdom.

God says: Repent and find  forgiveness.

(I Corinthians 1:30)

(I John 1:9)

GOD’S PROMISES FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT

GOD WANTS  US TO BELIEVE AND REPEAT HIS PROMISES

Genesis 28:15
He is with me and will keep me in all places wherever I go.

Isaiah 41:10
Fear not for  I am with thee. He will strengthen me, Yea he will help me.

 

Psalms 23:1
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.

Psalms 23:4
Thou are with me, thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.

Psalms 91:11
He shall give his angels charge over me, to keep me in all my ways…

GOD’S  PROMISES FROM THE NEW TESTAMENT

Matthew 7:7
Ask, and it shall be given you.

Matthew 19:26
With God all things are possible.

Philippians 4:7
The peace of God shall keep my heart and mind.

It’s You

by Nadia Gyane

smile-winterDid you know that you can ignite someone’s gift, by being your very best?

 

You can encourage people to give their best wherever they are, just by what you do and what you say. What you carry is what you can promote in others.

 

Being excellent at your job, in your school, in your college, in your home, in your life, in your relationships and in your world. You can motivate people to do the same and it all starts with you.

 

Make a choice today to do your best, because God deserves it, in all areas of your life, because He gave His very best for you.

The Audacity of His Love

by Nadia Gyane

 

neon-loveEven when we make mistakes Gods love is there. It never goes away. His love is so relentless that it will never quit chasing after me. I sometimes wonder if it was not for the Love of God where would I be.

I could make one of the biggest mistakes in my life and feel guilty and ashamed and still He will beckon me home. His love, grace and mercy would all turn up to take me home.

He is always ready to forgive me when I do things that I know and don’t always know is wrong.

The audacity of His righteous love towards me, an unrighteous person. Who would have thought that  such a great God would have such great love for me. I can do nothing to increase or decrease His love, it’s exactly at a high level which is so unfathomable to me.

His love is so strong and forgives me of my wrongs, just because it’s love.

This wonder is so far beyond me that even when I try and turn away, it’s his love that keeps me.

What Great love, the sheer audacity of it overwhelms me to make me want to love Him so much more.

Let It Go

by Nadia Gyane

 

free-fallingThere will be times in your life when God wants you to let go and I mean really let go. Let go of the hate, the hurt, the disappointment, the temptations, the bitterness and the resentment. Let go of the past, your bad friends and bad attitude and move into all that He has for you.

Letting go of all the bad things is more than reasonable in most cases, however there will also be times when God wants you to let go of something you see and know is good. That good job, that good girl or that good guy. That good home and that good friend. He will want you to let go of it in order to give you the very best. The best job, the best guy, the best girl, the best home and the best friend.

We must let go in order to receive something better from God and it won’t always be easy. It is difficult to let go of something we know is good for us and instead trust God that He has something better in store.

It is hard to look back at what was and believe that there will be something more than what we had. God knows better and only has better things in store for you. Which is why He tells you to let go and trust Him.

It isn’t always easy and at times you will have to cry as you let go. But what sweet, sweet joy comes as we obey and receive that better thing that God has in store for those that trust Him and choose to let go.

Let it go, today!