Summer Joys

Think back to the most memorable summers in your lifetime.  What is the one experience that truly stands out?  Perhaps it was one of those rare moments when you had the luxury of sitting on your grandmother’s porch swing, sipping ice cold lemonade and indulging in her famous double chocolate chip cookies.  Or maybe it was when you had the chance to go fishing with your dad, enjoying his undivided attention.  Your most memorable summer may even be the very first time you were blessed with the opportunity to take your own children to Walt Disney World.  Whatever your summer memories, I am sure there are times when summer was the best season of the year.  And there are likely times when summer was the most difficult season to muddle through.  This summer, focus on the dreams that God has for your life.  Surround yourself with summer joys.
When I was a little girl, I fondly recall the times when I would have the privilege of riding with my Papa Joe and Grandma Ethel in their blue and white pick-up truck.  On the way to town, Papa Joe and I would sing the song, “In the Good ‘Ole Summertime,” at the top of our lungs.  There was nothing like sitting in the cab of that pick-up, feeling the breeze on my face with the window rolled down, and feeling the warmth of the sunlight as we drove down the little country road.  Since then, the truck has been sold and Papa Joe and Grandma Ethel have gone on to be with the Lord.  Still, the memories will be with me forever and I am thankful for these summer memories.
Other summer joys I clearly recall are the times my mom, dad, and I were able to spend with my Grandma Lucille and Papa Sig at their condominium in Fort Myers.  Whether combing the beach for seashells, building a giant sandcastle, or swimming in the Gulf waters, we always had such wonderful family time together.  I first learned to swim in the condo’s pool.  And I will always remember the last day of each visit, when we would have to each eat an ice cream bar, a glass of orange juice, a handful of fruit, and countless other things, due to the fact that we had all stocked up way too many groceries for our stay there.  Since then, the condo has been purchased by someone else and Papa Sig has gone on to be with the Lord.  Many things change from year to year, but I am happy that I can hang on to these memorable moments.
All of my life, my parents and I have always enjoyed a summer vacation (or more than one!).  We have so many memories, as well as thousands of photographs documenting each and every moment.  Whether we were visiting relatives in Virginia, exploring the Great Smoky Mountains, or sailing the Caribbean waters on a cruise, we always enjoyed spending time with each other.  Even now, my dad and I enjoy traveling during the summer.  We find summer joys on land and on the sea, and even in the air.  Still, summers are not quite the same without my mom here with us.  Yet, I am thankful for the summer joys that God continues to give us, as well as the fond memories we have of summers past.
Although I am grateful for the summer blessings that God has bestowed upon me, I cannot help but think about the absence of my mom.  In particular, the month of August is especially difficult for me.  And our camper in North Carolina is not what it used to be.  You see, my mom passed away unexpectedly in our camper, while we were on vacation on August 2, 2008.  I have prayed and searched the pages of God’s Word for peace concerning this date and location, yet there are still moments when I do not have complete focus on August 2.  And there are times when I cannot bring myself to sit on the sofa in our camper.  Even so, I know that God has given me victory over these things.  He wants me to enjoy life, no matter what day it is and no matter where I am.  He loves me unconditionally.  He wants me to live a life full of joy.
What about you?  Are there summers that you look back on with pleasure or disappointment?  Or are there summers when something caused you to lose sight of the good things and solely focus on the bad?  Maybe there is a particular location or a certain date that you find difficult, even though it previously brought you joy.  John 16:24 (NIV) says, “Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.”  Don’t let the sorrowful summers get you down.  Ask Jesus to help you overcome these difficult memories and enjoy making new ones.  Spend time with your family and friends.  Cherish each and every moment this summer.  Let go of the summer sorrows.  Let Jesus surround you with summer joys.
In Christ’s Love,

You Can Pray

Think back to the last time someone asked you to pray for them.  When the request was made, I am sure you told them you would pray.  All day long, you intended to stop what you were doing and pray for their need.  Yet, the day quickly came and went, a blur of meetings, deadlines, and responsibilities.  It wasn’t that you forgot to pray.  You simply were waiting for the perfect moment when you could focus 100% of your attention on this request.  And it is likely that your promise was unintentionally broken.

In this world we live in, there are many times when promises are broken.  Our busy schedules dictate when and where we must be, how long we must be there, and when we must move on to the next item on our agenda.  Because of this, we seldom have time for things that come up unexpectedly.  Even so, we are called by God to pray for one another.  I Thessalonians 5:17 (NIV) says that we should “pray continually.”  God’s Word is not telling us that we should spend 24 hours a day on our knees in prayer.  But, we should live our lives as an example for others to follow, always keeping the line of communication open between ourselves and our Heavenly Father.

I know you may feel overwhelmed by this.  You may think, I cannot pray continually.  I spend every waking moment doing everything for everybody.  There is no time left for me, much less prayer.  I want to tell you today that you can pray continually.  I have often felt the same way, but God has taught me how I can avoid the traps that Satan puts in our path.  When someone asks me to pray for them, I stop at that very moment and pray.  Sure, it may be a brief silent prayer as I am heading to my next destination.  Or I may be able to stop, lay my hand on the person’s shoulder, and truly lift them up in prayer.  Either way, I pray.  It doesn’t matter what is going on around me or what else I have to get done during the day, I pray for their need right then.  And I continue to lift them up in prayer throughout the day.

While you may feel more in tune with God if you are sitting in a quiet room, listening to praise and worship music, or searching the pages of God’s Word for answers, you can still pray anywhere, anytime.  If you are on a plane flying from one continent to another, you can pray.  If you are serving your country in a war zone, you can pray.  If you are dropping off your children at school, you can pray.  If you are washing dishes, mowing the lawn, or doing the laundry, you can pray.  If you are sitting in a hospital, nursing home, or any other location on earth, you can pray.  No matter what you are doing, you can pray.  No matter where you are, you can pray.  No matter who you are, you can pray.

In Christ’s Love,


Be Strong

Do you think of yourself as someone who is strong? Perhaps your strength is physical, or mental, or emotional. Or maybe you do not feel strong at all. You may feel like you will simply collapse under the weight of the burdens you carry. You may feel overwhelmed by the daily tasks you must perform. You may feel that you are a failure. No matter how you feel, do not give up. If you feel weak, Jesus is strong. Put your hope in Jesus Christ, and He will give you strength to continue your journey. With Jesus Christ by your side, you will be strong. He will give you physical strength, mental strength, and emotional strength. You can be strong in the Lord.

Personally, I have never truly thought of myself as someone who is especially strong. Sure, I keep my head held high. I smile, even when things go wrong. I try to offer encouraging words to others. Yet, I know I could be a much stronger individual. This week, two friends told me that I was strong. One of them actually said I was stronger than them. The other friend said I was someone who was strong, someone my friends could depend on, and someone they admire. As I tried to process their comments, I was overwhelmed. I was humbled to know that my friends felt this way about me. And I was so grateful to come to the realization that, yes, with God’s help, maybe I am strong after all.

Strength is something that every person seems to desire at some point in their life. When I was a little girl, I enjoyed watching the children’s cartoon, Tom and Jerry. I recall watching episode after episode where Jerry the mouse always seemed to defeat Tom the cat, no matter what defensive course of action Tom may have used. In the end, Jerry knew that he could defeat the cat. Even though he didn’t have the size, he had something greater. He had mental strength to outsmart Tom, and he had the confidence necessary to pull it off. While this may be a fictional cartoon, it is the perfect illustration to use when talking about human strength. Although we may feel inadequate, like Jerry, God gives us the strength we need to overcome any evil in our lives. On our own merit, we may be weak, but God gives us the strength and confidence we need to prevail.

No matter what battle you may be fighting, God is on your side. He will give you the strength you need to overcome. Ephesians 6:10-13 says, “Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” God has promised that He will provide an armor to protect you from Satan’s snares. God will give you strength to make it through. He will carry your burdens. He will make you strong. Make it your daily prayer to be strong in the Lord. Nehemiah 8:10 says, “The joy of the LORD is your strength.” Be joyful. Be an inspiration. Be strong.

In Christ’s Love,