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.

 

When the Greet and Meet Time at Church Freaks you Out

“Turn and greet your neighbor.” A simple request heard in churches every weekend.

For some this request is greeted with dread.

Not everyone in a church meeting wants to acknowledge, let alone shake hands with the stranger next to them. The very thought can send them running to hide in the restroom.

Most times I am happy to greet those around me with a simple hand shake, just don’t ask me to high-five or fist-bump…not happening!

Then there’s hugging. Did you just squirm in your seat? Did the very thought of hugging someone you hardly know cause you discomfort? Me too.

Last Sunday I sat in a different seat to my norm finding myself next to a lady I have never met. I said hello and gave a friendly smile when she first sat next to me. Then came the time in the service when we were encouraged to turn to our neighbor and greet them. I extended my hand in friendship and she graciously responded.

Then it happened!

Holy embraces all around! Romans 16:16 msg

She pulled me a little closer wrapping her arms around me as she informed me ” I’m a hugger.” Honestly I didn’t have time to pull away. There I was, embraced in a hug with a total stranger…are you cringing?

If that had taken place a few years ago I would have stiffened like cardboard, held my breath as I endured the torture and made sure I avoided her in the future. I no longer respond to that degree, though I still have a little hesitancy, a little awkwardness, a little embarrassment but a lot more grace.

It is only as I have responded to God’s love for me, accepting His warm welcoming embrace have I slowly become more comfortable with accepting and showing affection to others.

Whatever church gathering you attend I’m sure the leadership would want you to feel safe. It’s okay not to shake hands, high-five, fist-bump or hug. It would be sad to stop attending church all because you dread the “greet and meet” time.

How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings. Psalm 36:7

Set your own boundaries, you know what you are comfortable with. In the meantime allow the One who loves you unconditionally to draw you into His warm embrace. Let the Lord melt away your fears and break down your walls. Let Him fill you with His presence and grow you in His grace.

Maybe you will never be a hugger, and that’s okay. A warm friendly smile and a welcoming hand-shake can say “I’m glad to have met you today.”

I was glad to have met the lady next to me even if she was a hugger. We spoke after the meeting (not about hugging). I found out she was visiting from out of state and this was her first time at my church. She had shed a tear during the service and told me how she wished she had a church like this one in her home state. I’m glad I didn’t push her away.

To those who are comfortable with the “greet and meet” time. Let us be mindful of the people around us, may we respect their boundaries…you can usual tell from their body language. One last thing, I do not allow men (other than my husband) to hug me full on no matter how long I have know them and definitely not a male stranger.

Are you a hand shaker, high-fiver, fist-bumper, hugger or a hide in the restroom woman? Share in the comments, you may be surprised to find you are not alone.

Until next week

Helena

Looking to Jesus. Living in His Radiance

 

 

Radical Love: Part 2

I am so thankful for Jesus. Thankful for His willingness and obedience to pay for my sin on the cross. Thankful also that the story does not end with a battered and bruised bloody corpse, laying lifeless wrapped in linen on a cold tomb slab.

It was early in the morning, when Mary and several other women came with spices and perfumes to use on Jesus’ dead body.  They wondered how they were going to roll away the stone? Think heavy stone, not a small boulder. Oh what a shock they had when they got there!

There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. Matthew 28:2-4

If I had been with these women I too would of been surprised to see the stone rolled away. But oh my gosh! An angel! Really! Scripture tells us we sometimes entertain angels unaware, but these ladies were very much aware of what/who was sitting on the rolled away stone before their eyes. No mistaking his appearance, this being was glowing! Looks like the guards who was on duty to ensure no one stole Jesus’ body were pretty shocked too.

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just like he said. Come see the place where he lay. Matthew 28:5,6

In Matthew 28:7 The angel goes on to tell them to go quickly and tell the disciples that Jesus is risen from the dead. Afraid but filled with joy they ran (vs 8) Yep! think I would be running with the wonderful news too. They were instructed to tell the disciples to meet in Galilee where they would see Jesus.

Oh my gosh, look what I found in vs 9 & 10. Seriously I must have read this scripture many times over the years but only now is it popping off the page. Jesus meets with the women as they were on the way to the disciples.

Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

When the eleven disciples met with Jesus on the mountain in Galilee they too worshiped Him (see vs 16,17). He told them in vs 18 “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me…

…He then goes on to give them the great commission.

But wait! What happened between Friday’s crucifixion and Sunday’s resurrection? Well, He had keys to take back. Keys that Adam and Eve had unknowingly handed over to Satan. The keys that allowed death to enter. Jesus had paid the price and the keys now belonged to Him.

The Ever-Living One [living in and beyond all time and space]. I died, but see, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of [absolute control and victory  over] death and Hades (the realm of the dead) Revelation 1:18

Get this He not only took the keys back but He made a spectacle of the spiritual forces.

He stripped all the spiritual tyrants in the universe of their sham authority at the Cross and marched them naked through the streets. Colossians 2:15

A victory parade indeed!

In Acts 1 Paul tells us that Jesus (after His resurrection) appeared to the disciples over a forty day period teaching them about the kingdom of God. I imagine they were ready to listen and believe more so than in the previous three years. But time came when Jesus needed to leave earth and return to heaven.

After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. vs9

The awesome news is He is coming back!

They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. Men of Galilee, they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”

Meanwhile, as we wait for His return we can be assured that nothing and no-one can separate us from the love that God has for us. Jesus paid the price, the deal was closed. Anyone who excepts His gift of salvation becomes family, His family. Sealed with His blood.

In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:37-39 NIV

We, you and I are radically loved. Live in His love!

From my family to yours

Have a wonderful Easter Sunday

Helena

Looking to Jesus. Living in His Radiance.

As always feel free to share, like and comment

Radical Love: Part 1

As a child, Good Friday meant eating hot cross buns loaded with butter and topped with strawberry jam…Delicious!

For me, hot cross buns was the only good thing about Good Friday. Why on earth would anyone think it was a good day was beyond my comprehension. A man had died. No, not just a man. God’s son had died and, people called it a good. Did they not like him? Were they glad to get rid of him? I didn’t see the good, except for the Hot Cross buns.

Even though I accepted Jesus as my savior as a teenage, it would still be many years before I would remotely begin to understand the good in Good Friday…yes, I am still learning, still discovering, still realizing the good.

JESUS KNEW THE PLAN

“I came from the Father and entered the world;

now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.”

John 16:28

His death and method of death was not a surprise to Him. I don’t think it was physical death that bothered Him so much as it was the spiritual death (separation from the presence of God) that He would go through.

Luke 22:37 NIV ” It is written:  ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors’, and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment.”

His life was not taken from Him, but rather He gave himself for us.

He was the sacrificial lamb to be slaughtered for our sins. He was willing but the reality of actually going through with it hit home and He prayed. “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” He knew what to expect and He still went through with the plan to rescue us from eternal separation from God. Now that is Love!

“He stayed there, not because the nails held Him, but because His love for you and me did.”

As Jesus hung nailed to the cross, people in the crowd shouted “He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One.” Luke 23:35b. Of course He could of saved Himself, He could of left the cross whenever He chose.

But, He didn’t!

He stayed there not because the nails held him, but because love for you and me did.

Abandoned

From noon to three, the whole earth was dark. Around midafternoon Jesus groaned out of the depths, crying loudly, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” Matthew 27:45,46 Message Bible

It blows my mind that Jesus willingly went to the cross knowing that when the sin of the world was place solely on Him, it would cause Him to be separated from His Father. The Father that He had been one with before the world was ever created. Now that is radical love!

I don’t think it could of been easy for God either, seeing His son bearing the sin of this world. God is Holy and there isn’t any darkness in Him, so to see Jesus full of darkness must of been really hard. Some say that God turned away from Jesus at this time, that would explain why Jesus asked why He had abandoned Him.

Salvation through Jesus was His plan, His idea because He too loves us.

“For God so [greatly]loved and dearly prized the world, that He [even] gave His [One and] only begotten Son, so that whoever believes and trusts in Him [as Savior] shall not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:6 Amp

The price was paid, the transaction was done and salvation had been secured…

…Sunday is coming!

If you have not accepted God’s gift of salvation, please don’t hesitate. He loves you so much and is eager to forgive you of sin and restore you to a personal relationship with Himself.

Helena

Looking to Jesus. Living in His Radiance

Share and encourage a friend.

What does Good Friday mean to you? Look forward to hearing from you in the comment box.