A Chance Meeting at the Lake

Smell the Bacon

Darkness had not yet given way to light, but it was coming, and soon. It was 5am and my husband was already up. As I slowly awoke from my slumber so did my appetite as the smell of bacon cooking wafted its way to greet me good morning.

It was almost 6am before I arose, the cooked bacon had gone, but not the welcoming smell. Daylight had made her appearance and bade me to start my day. Which was not going to happen until I had a cup of tea and a bowl of porridge (think Goldie Locks and the three bears).

Not My Usual Friday

It was Friday, that meant three things, (1) It was curbside recycle day. (2) Free Friday Download at a local store. (3) My mother’s weekly call (free calls on the weekend).

I hurried down the driveway, hoping not to be seen by neighbors while still wearing my pajama’s and wrapped in a dressing gown that made me look twice as round as I am (think soft, shapeless blanket). Hey! don’t knock it, I got the dressing gown on sale and it’s really comfortable. I needed to get the recycle bin to the curbside before the truck arrived, sometimes they come early and sometimes not. There was no way of knowing and I didn’t want to miss them.

My husband informed he had downloaded the Friday freebie and yay! it was a box of porridge. Something at last I would use. I normally pass the free stuff onto my daughter, but not this time….sorry Sam.

My mother usually calls around 4pm central time, that’s 10pm in Wales. The day was young and the weather an usually cool 78f for a July morning in Arkansas, I had plenty of time to walk and do errands before her call. My favorite place to walk is a local lake with tree covered trails, a welcome shade when the temperature rises.

The Lady With A Divine Appointment

I was half around the bigger of the three lakes when a lady with a hiking stick stopped and asked if I thought it was going to rain. I looked up to the bright blue sky with only a few white clouds feeling a little like Elijah’s servant looking for a black rain cloud. We conversed a little more about the possibility of rain, then she asked if she could walk with me as she believed this was a divine appointment.

We walked side by side, taking about Jesus. She asked me questions of how I received Christ as my Lord and I asked her similar questions. She shared about her family and asked about mine…I gave vague answers. Yes, I’m protective.

She loves gospel blue-grass music and insisted on playing a song for me. Know this I am not a blue grass fan, gospel or not. The song title is On My Father’s Side, maybe you are familiar with it? I wasn’t. The song tells the story of Jesus answering questions in the temple when he was 12 years old. Here are some of the words to the song.

“What’s your name son?”

“On my mother’s side my name is Jesus, but on my father’s side they call me Emanuel.”

“How old are you?”

“On my mother’s side now am 12 years, but on my father’s side I’ve just always been.”

For you [who are born-again have been reborn from above-spiritually transformed, renewed, sanctified and] are all children of God [set apart for His purpose with full rights and privileges] through faith in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:26 Amp

In this world I answer to several names, Helena, Mam, Nanna, Nurse even the occasional “Hey You!” those are my temporary names.  As I listened to the words of the song I was reminded that my Heavenly Father calls me Redeemed, Beloved and Daughter; my permanent names. If you know Jesus as your Lord; Redeemed. Beloved and Daughter are your permanent names too.

Maybe it was a divine appointment that interrupted my normal Friday routine with a reminder from my Heavenly Father of who I am in Him.

4pm arrived and my mother called right on time.

Helena

Looking to Jesus. Living in His Radiance

How has today been for you? Good? Interesting? Not so Good? Down right awful? Other? Using one of the five tell me in the comments how your day went.

P.S Just a reminder I will be doing a few giveaways in August, starting with Pastor Rick Bezet’s new book Love In an Angry World.

Inviting Friendship: Part 2

Feeling Uncomfortable

Eating out alone is uncomfortable for me. I feel awkward, as if I don’t know where to look other than my food. I don’t want to people watch that seems rude, though people fascinate me. I usually have a book to read when I’m travelling and will bury my head in its pages at airport restaurants. I rarely eat out alone when home.

Gathering with family or friends around a table, whether at home or at a restaurant for a meal is more than nourishment for our bodies. It’s nourishment for our wellbeing. Interaction with others in a safe and friendly atmosphere brings us a sense of belonging, a sense of caring about each other, it helps us to bond. It helps friendship to blossom and grow.

We see the same thing in churches every weekend before the meeting starts, people sitting with heads buried in their phones or the church bulletin avoiding eye contact. Not because they don’t want to be friendly, rather because they feel uncomfortable being there alone or unknown.

Some arrive late on purpose to avoid the awkwardness of not knowing anyone, yet wanting to be there, and they promptly leave when the service have ended. Another week has gone by and they are no nearer to making friends with their fellow believers than they were when they first started attending. They come to visit the family and go away feeling ignored.

Inviting Friendship

When we invite people into our homes we want them to feel welcomed and comfortable. We want them to feel at home, we want them to know it’s okay to lose the shoes and get comfy on the sofa. We want them to feel safe, relaxed and know they are with family. We want them to interact with the family as family, not sit with their heads buried in a book or phone feeling disconnected.

When I first attended the church I’m planted in, there was about 150 people at that particular campus. It was easy for them to notice that my husband and I were new there. Those sitting around us welcomed us with genuine warmth and each week we got to know more and more people. The church has grown over the last fifteen years into what some call a mega church.

Friendship begins with an invitation; invite someone to be a friend by being a friend.

When you attend a large church you are not going to know everybody, you are not going be able to invite everybody out for coffee. So how do we make friends in mega church? Same as you would in a smaller church. Start by connecting with those around you. Get to know their names. Make a point of talking with them before or after the service. Invite them to the small group you attend. Invite them out for coffee. Do it all with genuine love and interest for the other person. Value them, they are real people who God loves.

“Acknowledging the value of a soul plants in us a seed of willingness to build others up, encourage others, and call the greatness out of them.” Rick Bezet

When we value people as God values people we will see their worth as He does. When they see that we genuinely care about them, they will put down the phone and the bulletin and begin to interact; could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Don’t stop at only befriending those in your church, look outside. Show them the same love you show the person in the next pew.

Just as lotions and fragrance gives sensual delight, a sweet friendship refreshes the soul. Proverbs27:9

Helena

Looking to Jesus. Living in His Radiance

What does Friendship look like for you? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments box either through the blog site or on Grace Lace and Polkadots Facebook page.

The month of August I will be doing some giveaways, starting with Rick Bezet’s book Real Love In An Angry World: How to Stick to your Convictions Without Alienating People. Be on the lookout.

Hope your soul is refreshed this week with friendship!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inviting Friendship: Part 1

Three times, through three different people over a course of a few days the same message came to my attention.  It was one of those listen closely moments.

The subject was that of being a friend, maintaining friendships and reaching out to others in friendship. Which is something I don’t do well, at least not as well as I would like.

Wise Words From Three Wise People

Rick Bezet in his new book, Real Love in an Angry World encourages us to show hospitality, love each other, see the potential in others and give honor.

Christine Caine in First Things with Christine, says “I cannot imagine venturing through life without great relationships! Our courage often comes from the encouragement of others, which is why we’re not suppose to live this life alone.”

Ginny Heisler, a friend from church posted on Facebook (I have her permission to share with you), she wrote;

“I have come to the conclusion that group texts, social media comments and Snapchat stories have given us all the illusion of friendship. Sit down with me and have a cup of coffee while we talk about our dreams, fears, struggles and triumphs. Have dinner at my table, I’ll cook. Play cards (or chess) with me in the park. That’s friendship! That’s how you build a relationship. That’s how iron sharpens iron.”

I get it we all need friends and we need to be a friend. The problem I find is that we are all so wrapped up in our own little worlds. I know I am! We are on the move, running to and fro work, taking and collecting the kids from school, attending church small groups and trying to have a home life. Seriously folks! Who has time for real friends?

I have a lot of friendlies in my life. You know, the people who are more than acquaintances, but don’t quite make the real friend status. We know each other’s name, we pass pleasantries when we run into each other at the grocery store or church and that’s as far as it goes. Friendlies!!

People need real friends because so many of them don’t have real families anymore.” Rick Bezet

We live in a mobile society, no longer do we live our entire life in one town where everybody knows everybody. We move for a variety of reasons, sometimes it’s because of family dynamics, a job change or simply because we are adventurous but, the outcome is the same. We don’t have roots with our new neighbors!

“Friendship starts with an invitation.”

Developing acquaintances into friendlies then into real friends takes time. It takes effort. It takes commitment. It takes planning. Not all acquaintances will become friendlies, and not all friendlies will become real friends. But it is worth the effort, one I am willing to invest in. Will you join me in proactively reaching out in friendship to others. I mean what’s there to lose? At the worst they will remain acquaintances.

Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples – when they see the love you have for each other. John 13:34 Msg

When Jesus lived on earth he was a people person (he still is), he was approachable, friendly and kind hearted. Don’t mistake those qualities for a push over. He spoke to the crowds, but he also went out of his way to speak to the one. He poured into the lives of his disciples, he knew their potential even when they didn’t. He reached out in love.

Isn’t that what we should do? See the potential in others and invest our time and energy by encouraging them. By being there when they are going through a hard time? By laughing with them when they celebrate? Isn’t that what a friend is for to share the bad as well as the good times? To lend a listening ear and a tissue when needed? To want the very best for them and to love them through the ups and downs, and if we are honest with ourselves isn’t that what we want in a friend?

Until next time

Helena

Looking to Jesus. Living in His Radiance

What has helped you to make new friends and maintain the friendships you have? Feel free to comment, we learn by sharing.

 

 

Living a God Colored Life

 

A simple gift. A thoughtful gift. One I would enjoy, if only I had the time.

Time to spare. Time to sit. Time to color.

It would be six months before I found the time. It’s not as if I was constantly busy the whole six months. Sure, work, family and church took up a good proportion but, my downtime hours were filled with non important things; surfing social media, reading way too many blog posts and watching the box (television). I had the time. I filled it with clutter.

The Time Had Come

My eight year old grandson was spending the afternoon with me, when he tired of building Lego and asked for paper and colored pencils I remembered the gift of the inspirational coloring book.

He did a little coloring on the fist page and promptly returned to the Lego.

I flicked through the pages, my eyes feasted on beautiful intricate designs, each page featuring an encouraging scripture. It was my turn and my time to pick up the colored pencils and begin the creative process of turning a black and white page into a masterpiece of color.

Okay folks, I’m not going to make a living as an artist as you can see from the above picture, but I enjoyed it. I picked up a pencil and commenced. Yellow for the center of the flower, then a pink for the petals. Add jade, aqua, mid blue and a soft brown and my first design on a page loaded with design was done. Just a trillion more to go! The intricate designs fascinated me, I scoured the book in search of duplicate designs. I didn’t find any.

He colors us with His love, grace and mercy

As I continued with my artwork I thought about the Lord, how He colors our lives with His love, His grace and His mercy, carefully and meticulously taking us from a life of generic black and white, to one filled with colors that only He can create.

It takes time to color the intricate designs in the book, my first masterpiece is only half done, still a lot of coloring to do. The pencils are line up ready to be used, ready to bring more color to the design. I’m sure thousands of inspirational coloring books has been sold, and just as many have already been colored, yet, none of them will look like my artwork. It is uniquely mine!

Uniquely His

When we invite God in to color our lives we will become a masterpiece that is uniquely His. He doesn’t color us in one go. He could, but that would be too much for us to take; He’s kind and gentle like that! He doesn’t rush us but draws us patiently into a closer relationship with Himself. James 1: 2-3 in the Message Bible talks about our true colors coming out when we are under pressure. As we allow God to color us as His masterpiece it will be His colors in us that will be exposed.

You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.

 

Are you ready for more God color in your life? I know I am, what about you?

Until next week

Helena

Looking to Jesus. Living in His Radiance.

 

Summer Time Reading: Books I Recommend

Summer is here and it’s hot. Hot and humid! Too hot to rush around, it’s time to slow down. Time to live life at a more relaxed pace…we wish!

Whether you are at the beach, the lake or the kiddie pool in your backyard, find a shaded area, put your feet up, have a cold refreshing drink at hand, relax and enjoy a good book.

Here is a list of some of the books I have enjoyed reading, they are not in any particular order. Please note; I am NOT being paid to recommend these books, I have genuinely read and enjoyed each one.

First let me say, no book or devotional should ever replace your daily reading of the scriptures. We need God’s word in us daily if we want to grow in our Christian walk. Scripture is not just words on a page, it is food for our soul, meat to our bones. It’s nourishment…don’t skip a meal, this is not the time to diet.

That said I highly recommend The One Year NLT Chronological Bible, the flow is easy to read.

Here they are 20 thought provoking, encouraging, enjoyable books.

Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst

Extravagant Worship by Darlene Zschech

Run to Win by Christine Caine

A Life Unleashed by Christine Caine

Here Comes the Bride by Sue Angel

Words That Change Everything by Karen Jordan

Without Rival by Lisa Bevere

Driven By Eternity (Revised & Expanded 10th Anniversary Edition) by John Bevere

Dressing the Wound: Give Yourself the Gift of Forgiveness by Vickie Petz Henderson M.D.

The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson

In A Pit With A Lion On A Snowy Day by Mark Batterson

100 Days of Favor (Devotional) by Joseph Prince

Mark Of The Lion series by Francine Rivers, 3 books in the series…A Voice in the Wind. Echo in the Darkness and As Sure as the Dawn. (Christian Fiction)

Checking Into Faith by Ian Green

Be Real: Because Fake Is Exhausting Rick Bezet (my pastor)

Real Love In An Angry World by Rick Bezet to be released on Amazon July 4th (I got an early copy)

Marley & Me by John Grogan (get the tissues ready)

When Wallflowers Dance by Angela Thomas

Now it’s your turn, what books do you recommend? Need book title and author. Leave a list in the comment box either on this site or on my gracelaceandpolkadots Facebook page.

Until next week

Helena

Looking to Jesus. Living in His Radiance

 

 

 

Father’s Day: Simple Pleasures

He stooped over his cane as he walked, his once sprightly gait was now slow, but steady. I watched from a short distance away, he was determined the rising incline of the bridge was not going to win. Not that day, or any day soon.

It didn’t matter the bus he needed was already at the stop, he couldn’t go any faster even if he wanted to. The bus would have to go without him even though it would be another hour before the next.

The man I call dad, the man who use to carry me on his shoulders when I was a child. The man who worked double shifts down the coal mine to provide for his family. Now moved at a much slower pace.

Each time I visit home I notice the changes in my dad. His muscles are not what they once were when he mined for coal. His face a little thinner, his hair though still plentiful is not as bushy as it use to be.

Time Waits For No Man or Woman

Time ages us, it moves on whether we want it to or not. We may not notice the subtle changes in ourselves but believe me they are happening; to all of us.

My dad will be 91 years old this year, he has seen much in his life time. The days of his youth shepherding sheep and helping in the family vineyard took a turn when World War ll came to his part of Europe. He exchanged his shepherds staff for a gun, fighting to protect the freedom that was soon to be taken away.

Moving to Wales after WW ll meant learning a new language (English) and a new craft; coal mining, way below the surface where the sun doesn’t shine. A job he would do all his adult working life, one far removed from shepherding sheep. A job in which he lost friends due to caving in of the rock wall, a risk he took everyday in order to put food on the table.

He didn’t seek riches or position, rather the simple pleasures of life; family, friends, food and good health. These are still important to him. When my four year old grandson took the journey over the pond to visit his great-grandfather a few months ago the one thing they did together was to walk hand in hand down a country lane to feed a horse…picture that a 4 year old and a 90 year old walking together enjoying a simple pleasure. No generation gap there!

They Were Young Once

Stand up in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God. I am the Lord. Leviticus 19:2

When we look at an elderly man/woman, let’s remember he/she has lived and probably seen more changes in his/her life time than we may see in ours. Give honor to our elders, be courteous, be kind, be patient, be respectful. Remember they were young once and one day you and I will be the elderly.

I pray when I am 90 years old that I will continue to enjoy the simple pleasures in life. Hopefully there will be a 4 year old great-granddaughter or great-grandson in the picture.

Until next week

Helena

Looking to Jesus. Living in His Radiance

 

From Fear to Freedom

 

She couldn’t see him. He was there one moment and gone the next.

My daughter had signed her first born up to join swim team. The same team she swam for as a child. It was his first time to join a summer sports team and he was an excited four year old. She drilled him about listening to and obeying his coach but this particular swim practice he saw something that looked like fun and followed suit…he saw some older boys jump into the pool and thought he would do the same; they could swim, he couldn’t.

My daughter was sitting with the other moms, one eye on her one year old daughter and the other on her son. Various age groups with their coaches were in the water and several life guards were on duty.

Suddenly! She thrust her one year old on the lady next to her (insert shocked lady) and took off running down the side of the pool. Fully clothed she jumped into the water, her little boy was sitting at the bottom of the pool. He was new to swimming and for the most part held onto to his coach or the kick board when practicing. He didn’t possess the knowledge of how to push himself up to the surface. He needed to be rescued.

Physically he was fine. Mentally, he experienced nightmares, waking up crying in the middle of the night. Once I knew about the nightmares I did what any other born again, bible believing, praying grandmother would do. I took authority in the name of Jesus over the fear. As far as I was concerned it was not going to have a foothold in my young grandson.

The thief comes only in order to steal, and kill, and destroy: I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it abundantly. John 10:10 Amp

Fear is not of God and not how He wants us to live. I’m not talking about healthy parameters, such as, don’t play with fire or jump out of an airplane without a parachute. Our enemy has come to kill, steal and destroy and fear is just one of his tactics.

As born again believers in Christ we have the same spirit that lives in Jesus; that of peace, love and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). Jesus came that we may live free in His truth, free from the lies of the enemy. It’s time for us to believe what the word of God says and not just read it like a story book.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1 NIV

We don’t have to remain in a state of drowning at the bottom of the pool of fear. Our rescuer has come! The price has been paid for our freedom, through the sacrificial blood of Jesus.

We don’t have to live as a shackled Christian: We can live free.

Until next week

My apologies dear reader, I missed last week. I had a post written but it just didn’t sit right with me and, I am not about publishing posts for the sake of getting something out there. I want the posts to be source of encouragement to you in your walk with the Lord.

Helena

Looking to Jesus. Living in His Radiance.

How has knowing God’s truth set you free? Would love to hear your story, please feel free to share in the comments.

P.S. My grandson is back on swim team this year and now swimming without a kick board.