Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Humor Me... How I Learned To Mind My Own Business

Humor Me...
"A cheerful heart is good medicine..." ~Proverbs 17:22

Quite often my Dad will send me jokes in my email. Mostly just forwarded, but always funny... and some just laugh-out-loud funny. I'll usually tell them to a family member or two and then I thought... "I should start sharing some on my blog!"  We all need a laugh from time to time. Don't you think?

So... from now on, whenever I share a joke or funny story, it will have the title "Humor Me...". That way you'll know right off if it's something you want to click on. Ok?

This first one I read last Sunday after church. I don't know if I was in a wierd mood or what, but I just laughed for the longest time. Especially since my 10-year-old didn't quite get it at first and thought I was laughing at him! :)

How I learned to mind my own business...

I was walking past the mental hospital the other day,
And all the patients were shouting,

The fence was too high to see over, but I saw a
little gap in the planks, so I looked through to see
what was going on......

Some idiot poked me in the eye with a stick!!!

Then they all started shouting,

Hahaha...                              Hahaha.....

            Hahaha..... :)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Who Is My Shelter? by Neta Jackson

Who Is My Shelter? by Neta Jackson is the story of Gabby Fairbanks. A middle-aged woman going through a difficult separation from her husband Phillip, after being thrown out of her own home. Gabby is making a new life for herself, raising her two teenage boys, and working at a job that gives her life meaning... running the House of Hope for homeless single moms and their kids. Gabby is a christian who let the promise of romance and a better future distract her from God. But the trials in her life prove to be the very thing that leads her back to Him. And He shows her that He is the only Rock she can lean on.

I absolutely loved this book. It was so much like real-life, I didn't have to imagine that this could happen. I felt as if it was happening and I was just an on-looker. The characters are wonderful and very easy to follow. I admit that at the very beginning of the book, I thought I had figured out the ending. I was disappointed. And while I was somewhat right... the story really took me by surprise. It never got too complicated, but it never failed to keep me interested. I was sad to be done with it. I wanted to read more...

I enjoyed this book so much that I have already bought several books in this series and the one that precedes it. The author began with a series called "The Yada Yada Prayer Group", and in it begins the story of some of the wonderful characters that carry over to the "House Of Hope" series. Neta Jackson's husband, Dave Jackson, also wrote a parallel series to this one that looks amazing. Check it out.

I have certainly found another favorite author... she has me hooked! I'm ready to read every book in the series, and the ones by her husband. Neta Jackson is a great writer and her books are very well written. Easy to read and keeps you coming back for more. I recommend this series highly. It's great fun!

Thanks for reading and God bless!
Mary Ann :)

*Thomas Nelson has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.-Thanks Thomas Nelson! :)

Friday, March 25, 2011

Love Has Already Won

I share the following article with great concern. We live in a day where many people are no longer looking for 'truth', but rather for someone who will agree with their own idea of what truth should be. And sadly there are those who are ready to stand and lead them in these false truths.

We should never make emotional assumptions about God or eternity but ALWAYS seek to find the truth.  Read God's Word! He created you... He loves you... He knows you. And He's given you the truth in His Word. HE is truth!

Jesus said ..."Watch out that no one deceives you." ~Matthew 24:4

Love Has Already Won by Dr. Michael Youssef
via his website Leading The Way
Mar 25, 2011

As an Anglican pastor, I bear scars from the war with “universalism” inside the Episcopal Church. I also have endured the battering of Bishop John Spong and his effort to “rescue the gospel from fundamentalists.” And when I saw Rob Bell’s new book “Love Wins,” I found myself quoting former Yankee great Yogi Berra: “It’s like déjà vu all over again.”

I’m the kind of person who detests jumping through hoops, playing mental gymnastics and arguing about what the definition of “is” is. That’s why I’m not going to challenge the book point by point as wonderful scholars like Dr. Al Mohler have done. Instead, I’ll deal with the big picture in the larger, even global, context of this “new suit” placed on an old heresy.

A number of years ago, when some young people representing the sad and lost segment of the church told me how wonderful Rob Bell’s videos were, I became curious. Even back then, I felt nauseous when I watched some of these videos. I saw just how troubled this young man Rob Bell is and how he, in his effort to create a name for himself, began to trouble weak believers – causing so much harm to his soul and theirs.

Asking questions for the sake of asking questions, not in a desire to find true answers, is indeed troubling. Even then, I felt that Bell’s questions were quite similar to those of the serpent in the Garden of Eden: “Did God really say that?” He was more anxious to share his own doubts than to arrive at the truth. I felt that Mr. Bell and his equally confusing mentor, Brian McLaren, are deeply entrenched in the school of Bishop Spong from the Episcopal Church – but with one major exception: they call themselves evangelicals.

With “Love Wins,” what Rob Bell managed to do (once he came out of the closet of just-asking-questions-for-asking-questions’ sake) is reveal to us that he is a universalist pure and simple. Just like the author of “The Shack” did before him, he (for the sake of misleading larger numbers) has dressed his brand of universalism in a new suit, bringing it up to date with fashionable clothes that could easily deceive emotionally bound, mindlessly challenged and unsuspecting young Christians.

In many ways, Rob Bell’s book puts an end to the nonsense of the “I’m only raising questions” and “We all should be asking questions” gibberish.

By telling us that hell is empty, he finally came clean and revealed his modern-day modification of Bishop Spong’s universalism. Sadly, this sleight of hand has and will mislead many young people, for whom I truly grieve.

The pathetic part about this claptrap is that Mr. Bell, in his effort to draw some cheap sympathy for his heretical views (much as Bishop Spong did with his “rescuing” the gospel from fundamentalists), made himself a martyr for his blasphemous view of God and His eternal plan of salvation. As Bell puts it, anyone who disagrees with him is “defaming” him. Those who attack his false teaching are attacking him because he “does not articulate matters of faith as they do.”

This is the oldest trick in the book. You grab someone’s finger, poke your eye with it, and say, “Ouch!”

His biggest argument wonders how can a “great God” send people to hell. As kids would say, “Duh.” God does not send people to hell; people send themselves to hell. God is too respecting of human beings not to give them a choice.

I want to think about this twisted logic.

Heaven is all about Jesus. So, the people who hated Jesus—rejected Jesus, reviled Jesus—are going to be forced against their own will by that great God to spend eternity with Jesus? To them, that would be very hell itself.

Of course Bell picks and chooses what part of Bible history is acceptable to his warped logic; that’s why he says that some things in the Bible nullify others. This appears to be akin to the Islamic method of interpreting and explaining all of the contradictory passages in the Koran. The way they get around this is the same as Rob Bell. In Arabic they call it “Nassick WA mansoock”; later revelations cancel earlier ones. It’s not surprising that many people love Bell. After all, he created a new Christianity that eases their conscience.

Throughout history, God has offered humanity a choice: His way or theirs. Each choice bears its own consequences. Rob Bell chose his way. To change this is to impose on God Mr. Bell’s ideas of what His love and justice should look like.

Imagine a school headmaster saying to his students, “It doesn’t matter if you come to school on time or not, study or not, keep the rules or not. All students will get an A.” That’s the kind of gospel Bell and his emerging-church cohorts are establishing — spiritual anarchism.

Just about every parable Jesus told has to do with those who obey and those who do not. Evangelicals did not come up with the words, “Their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched,” (Mark 9:48 NIV) when describing hell; these are Jesus’ words.

For a man who was born in Africa, I came to the same conclusion about heaven and hell as Western Christians. Imagine that! Where did you get the funny idea that hell exists, you may ask? The text of the sacred Word of God. For to deny hell as a real place with real people in it who reject Christ’s gracious salvation is to deny the very words of Jesus in Luke 16 where He told us about the rich man and Lazarus.

Not only that, but this heresy makes total mockery of Jesus coming from heaven, dying on a cross and rising again. It mocks not only the entire plan of salvation that God articulated to Adam and Eve in Genesis 3:15, but also the prophets’ prophesying of Jesus’ coming as the only Redeemer of mankind for those who believe in Him.

I understand Rob Bell’s desire not to “traumatize” people. Believe me, I have never preached on hell without weeping, even sobbing. I don’t want to see anyone, not even my worst enemy, go to hell. I do, however, wish Bell would think of the traumatization of the many persecuted, tortured, imprisoned and killed Christians who are dying for their faith. I suppose Mr. Bell would tell them to abandon Christ and embrace the religion of their persecutors, because after all, everyone is going to be in heaven together.

What kind of justice says, “It does not matter what you do, what sins you commit and whether or not you reject God’s gracious offer of salvation here and now; everyone will get off scot free”? The fact is that love already won when God so loved that He gave so that whosoever believes (in this life) will be saved. This is a clear indication that His love, not Rob Bell’s perception of it, has already won the day.

Please visit Dr. Michael Youssef's website Leading The Way and take a look around. You'll fine some great articles.

Thanks for reading and God bless!
Mary Ann :)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Use Bottle Tops To Seal A Bag.... Great Idea!

This is a great idea that my Dad sent me in an email. It's something I would have never thought to do myself, but looks like it could be useful.

It's a great idea for those last little bits of cereal, macaroni, snack food, or any food that comes in a bag. I use a lot of bag clips to keep things fresh, but when the bags get too low I tend to cut the bag down... which makes it hard to keep the clip on. Guess I shouldn't do that but it's annoying having all those large empty bags in the cabinet.

I'm guessing you could do this trick with regular sandwich bags or even re-use bread bags... or maybe those veggie bags in the produce department (they may be too flimsy). Seems like there could be many uses.

How to seal a bag and make it air-tight:

Cut  a disposable water bottle and keep the neck and top, as in the photo.

Insert the plastic bag through the neck, fold over and screw the top to seal.

The bag is made to be air-tight, such that water will not leak, the secret lies with the screw top!

This is a great idea to share. Good for us and the environment too!

Well, that's it! Clever, huh?

I searched the internet and couldn't find where this idea originated. It's been shared on many websites. Whoever thought of it... and shared it... I thank you! :)

I did try this idea myself before posting it. It seems to work well... but I think I'd use it mostly for longer storage or a one-time-use thing. I wouldn't use it for something I had to get in and out of a lot... the bag would get too crumpled. But that's just me. Maybe you'll find a great use for it that works well for you.

The way I see it... Anything is worth trying once! You never know when you'll find a great money-saving or time-saving idea. And that's my tip of the day!

Thanks for reading and God bless!
Mary Ann :)

Monday, March 21, 2011

Guest Post - Reacting Versus Responding

Written by Joyce Ray

Have you ever had one of those days where you were really tired, and everything – no matter how small it was – seemed to bother you? Mine was just last week. It wasn’t like anything major or out of the ordinary happened. It was a typical Monday for me. I went to the gym, went to work teaching second grade (My class was actually really well behaved that day), left school at 5:00 to pick up my mom from work, went to the chiropractor, and then stopped by the grocery store on the way home. I was tired, but in a good mood, until I got to the chiropractor’s office. They were short staffed, and the treatment that normally takes 30 minutes took almost an hour. By then I just wanted to go home, but our cats were out of food, so I figured it would be just a quick trip in and out of the store. I was wrong. The lines were long, and I chose one in which the person in front of me had vouchers that the clerk didn’t know how to ring up. This took awhile, and as my frustration mounted, I could feel the tears building behind my eyes. By the time I got home I went to my room, collapsed on my bed, and began to cry. I must have stayed that way for over 30 minutes.

As I lay on my bed I began to ask God what my problem was. In that moment I felt like such a bad Christian. I hated the way I was feeling, but I just couldn’t seem to do anything about it. It was then that God began teaching me a lesson which continued all week on being responsive versus being reactive. God tells us that in this world we are going to have troubles, but he also promises us that we can have His peace in the midst of these troubles (See John 16:33). However, we will never be able to rest in that peace He has promised us, if we continue to live in a reactive mode; living like a puppet immediately reacting to everyone and everything in the environment that pulls its strings. This knee jerk reaction is very natural and very human. It is also all around us, because we live in a world filled with reactive people. These same people are also often stressed, anxious, frustrated, angry, and depressed. You might even be one of them.

God, however, calls us to live a very different kind of life. He tells us that His yoke is easy and His burden is light (See Matthew 11:30). One of my favorite verses is found in Exodus 33:14 in which God promises that His presence will go with us and He will give us rest. In order to live in this place of rest that God has promised us, we have to quit reacting to the world around us and start responding to the love of God within us. I’ve found that the best way to do this is to be in constant communication and communion with God throughout the entire day. When God told us to pray without ceasing (See 1 Thessalonians 5:17), He meant that we should always be aware of His presence, like a best friend walking by our side all day, ready to talk to us about anything and comfort us when things just don’t seem to be going our way. I’ve found that the amount of peace that I have throughout the day is directly proportional to the amount of time that I am focused on Him.

A little later in the week God gave me the opportunity to put what He had been teaching me in practice. I had one of those days when everything really did go wrong. My class was acting up, my shoulder was hurting, unexpected chores and errands came my way, and I only got a couple of hours sleep the night before. However, if you were to ask me what kind of day I had, I would tell you that I had a fabulous day! I was more tired and more went wrong, but nothing could rob me of my peace or joy, because I was communing with God. Instead of reacting to what was going on around me, I chose to respond to the One who lives inside of me.
 As you are going through your day today, please remember that “greater is He who is within you than he who is within the world”. Keep your eyes right where they belong – on Jesus – and he will turn those mountains into mole hills and your sorrows and frustrations into joy.

To read more about Joyce Ray, click here.

Thanks for reading and God bless!
Mary Ann :)

Friday, March 18, 2011

My Top Money Saving Ideas

One subject everyone is talking about today is the economy. Food prices, gas prices, clothing, and other necessities have all gone up. Way up. And who knows when or if they will top out?

Not only are prices going up... packages are getting smaller and the standards for quality are being lowered as companies fight to keep prices down. Not working! We just end up getting less of a not-so-good thing for more money.

This is definitely a time when we all need to be on our toes. Know where our money is going... and then make it go as far as we can. We can't sit back and hope someone will be there to help when we need it. We need to do our part now to hopefully lessen the blow of future setbacks.

I put my faith and trust in God... knowing He will provide for my family during these difficult times. He always has and He always will. No doubt. It says so in His Word and He has proven it to me over and over again through the years. His word also says to walk wisely. I wouldn't be wise if I didn't do my best at managing my money.

Now.... I say that God will provide, but my idea and His idea may be completely different. My 'necessities' may be His 'luxuries'. I want to learn to let go as need be. I want to be flexible. I don't want to try and hang on to things I can't afford. Finding new tips and tricks that I can use helps me do that.

I started to think of the things I currently do that save me the most money. Some I've done for years, some I do on a regular basis, and some I'm flexible on. But, these are what works for me and applies to my family and situation. You may be able to use some of my ideas, you may use them already. Some may not apply to your situation at all, and some you may need in the future. So... Here they are:
  • Make your own laundry soap. I've been making my own laundry soap for a couple of years now, and I will never go back to store bought. Very easy to make and it's been my top money-saver. Click here for the recipe.
  • Shop the sales... BEFORE you need it. This has been another great money-saver. When something you use goes on sale... buy it. And buy as much as your budget allows. Always check the expiration date. You don't want to buy more than you can use before it goes bad. It's better to buy what you need NOW at a cheaper price than to wait until you need it at full price.  If you're going to end up buying it anyway... why not spend less for it? I check the store ads each week as they come out and make a list of sale items that I use. After a while you will notice that some items, such as meats, go on sale at regular intervals. I usually buy enough to last until the next sale. If you're just starting out... even buying one extra of an item each time will begin to get you ahead. But think ahead.
    You don't want to spend all of your money and only have a pantry full of ketchup! 
  • Shop at more than one store. This kind of goes alone with shopping the sales. I check the sale ads for every store in my area. They all come in the mail at the same time. When I go to buy the sale items... that's all I buy. The sale items. Nothing else. If you were to pick up an extra item at every store you visit, it would defeat your purpose of spending less. Also check your local dollar store. Mine has great prices on spices. Not much else though... you'd be surprised how fast those dollars add up!
  • Condense errands into as few trips as possible. I try to plan the bulk of my errands for one day a week. Other than that... I will keep a list of errands to be done, and the first person to head in that direction is the lucky one who gets to run the errand along their way. Gas prices are too high to make unnecessary trips, no matter how short they may be. And if you shop at more than one store, you'll need to plan ahead. Another reason for keeping ahead by shopping sales... you won't have to waste your gas running to the store for something you just ran out of.
  • Buy in bulk. I buy in bulk as much as possible. You have to learn prices, which you'll do if you're shopping around at other markets, because sometimes buying in bulk is not the cheapest way to go. Here's how I see it... If I can buy an item in bulk for less, or if it costs the same, I will buy in bulk. If I can get an item cheaper on a sale somewhere else, say it's a usual sale item at another store, then I pass on the bulk item. The only time I buy in bulk when it costs more is when it would cost me more in gas for the extra trips to the store. Seems to even itself out in the cost of money and time spent. 
  • Use less meat. This can be for budget and health reasons. I don't like to make 'meat' the center of our meals. I try to use more veggies, rice, and beans to a dish. Add a salad, bread, or a bowl of fruit. Dicing the meat and adding it to a meal helps it go farther as well, as in casseroles. When we grill... it's hard to say no to a big juicy steak. But even then, a lot may be thrown out with the plates. I've learned to cut steaks and chicken breasts in half. When I make chicken as the 'meal', I usually cut it in strips. Everyone eats less but still seems to be filled. Not to mention you'll cut back on the hormones that are in the meats.
  • Make it yourself. There are many convenience items you can make at home yourself. Pancake Mix, Waffle Mix, spice mixes or blends, hot chocolate mix, brownie mix, biscuit mix, onion soup mix, ranch dip mix... anything imaginable. We even learned how to make our own 'Starbucks'. Believe me... if you can find it at the store, or even a restaurant... I'm pretty sure you can find a recipe for it on the internet. Try several until you find a favorite. Even non-food items such as, Laundry Soap, liquid hand soap, fabric softener, and window cleaner. It may seem overwhelming, but getting started is the hardest part. For storing bulk mixes (and even bulk foods, such as pasta, rice, beans, etc.) I use food grade buckets from the bakery at my local market. Usually they will be happy to give you any empty 'icing' buckets they may have, just be sure to ask for the lids. For spices, I keep the containers from my local bulk food store. I buy spices in bulk... so I just refill the containers with spice 'mixes' when they are empty. Be sure to label your buckets and spice containers... 
  • Have a leftover night.   See what's left from the previous meals of the week and make a new meal out of it. If you can't make something new... serve different sides or fruit with it. Just try to use it up before it goes bad. I've even learned to see what's in the fridge when I'm meal planning. Are the carrots and celery a little limp? Why not throw them in a soup or stew? How about a stir-fry served over rice? Or... the apples aren't being eaten as quickly as they should? Slice them and offer them as a side dish. Same with other veggies. My kids seem to eat more fruits and veggies if I offer them with a meal or slice them up for a snack. Just can't use the leftovers right away? Try freezing them. I do a lot of cooking for the freezer, and many meals can be frozen. Sometimes I will freeze leftovers as a whole meal for another day. Often I will divide leftovers into single servings to freeze for lunches or meals when everyone else is gone. Sending leftovers in school lunches is another good idea... most of the time... just don't forget the utensils.  :)
Whew! There you go.  My top tips... at least some of them. I kept thinking of other things I'd like to share, so rather than making this a longer post that no one will finish... I'll just save them for another time. Maybe Top Tips Part 2? More Top Tips? Hmmm...

I hope you found something useful here. I love sharing ideas. So do me a favor, will you? If you have a great money-saving tip, would you share it with me? Just leave a comment below. Any household tips are welcome. Married, single, young or old, kids or no kids... we all have to spend money. So may as well learn from each other... right?

Thanks for reading to the end! God bless!
Mary Ann :)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Prayer Wall

At the back of our church is a wall we call the Prayer Wall. On it are photos of people who would like to be prayed for. Anyone can have their picture taken after service or bring in a picture if they'd like, and have it posted on the wall. Then, each week as part of the service, the pastor leads us in prayer for everyone on the wall.

I believe prayer is powerful! I want to pray for people, pray for needs, pray for healing, marriages, finances... whatever it is, it needs to be covered in prayer. I've seen God work! I know He hears us! He loves us and He wants us to bring our needs before Him.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. ~Philippians 4:6

Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. ~Luke 18:1

...pray continually ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:17

I have made a Prayer Wall here on my blog. It's nothing spectacular. Believe me, I wanted it to be. But I felt the Lord was urging me to put it up now. Not wait until I thought it was good enough. He doesn't care what my page looks like... only that I'm obedient to Him. It's more important that we intercede for one another than it is for people to 'Oooo' and 'Ahhh' at my page. (Maybe I'll fix it up later...?)

Whenever people visit, I hope they will take the time to pray for those listed. I promise I will do the same. We all need someone praying for us.... interceding and standing in the gap. Let's lift each other up!

If you'd like to add or be added to the Prayer Wall, please send a quick note with the first names of those to be added to amomwithablog@yahoo.com or, use my contact page.

I will only publish first names for privacy reasons. That's ok... God knows everything about us already... He's just waiting for us to come to Him.

Thanks for reading and God bless! Mary Ann :)

Monday, March 14, 2011

"The Walk" by Shaun Alexander

Not long ago, I saw Shaun Alexander on a t.v. interview, and then decided I needed to read his book. Imagine how excited I was when I found it available through the Blogging for Books program. And I'm so glad I did. For me, it was probably one of the best books I've read.

In "The Walk", Shaun Alexander tells us how important it is to walk with God... not lagging a step behind or trying to get a step ahead, but allowing God to set the pace for our lives. He points out that God is a God of order. His work in our lives is not random. He leads us through various stages of spiritual maturity.

The author explains in great, yet simple detail the five stages we go through for our spiritual growth. Those five stages being: Unbeliever, Believer, Example, Teacher, and Imparter. He points out how God can use us no matter what stage we are in... but each stage is important for the sake of our maturity in Christ.

There is a detailed chapter on each stage that includes Biblical references along with Shaun's personal experiences. Simple truths expressed in a simple, yet informative and encouraging way. A great book to help get a clear understanding of your 'walk' with God and how it leads to spiritual growth.

*I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for my honest review.

Thanks for reading and God bless!
Mary Ann :)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

And The Winner Is...

On last Wednesday's post: Meet my BFF and author Joyce Ray... and Book Giveaway, I had a giveaway for two copies of Joyce Ray's book "Active Christianity". It was exciting for me to share about my best friend. She is a great writer and teacher and I just know you'll enjoy reading her book.

And now it's time to announce the winners! I used a random number generator to select the winners. Not that I needed to.... I just thought it was cool! ;) Anyway...

Congratulations to:

wisewomanwriter... at The Wise Woman      ... and...

Lori... at Lori's Prayer Closet.

Each of these ladies has a wonderful blog and I know you will be blessed if you stop by and leave them a comment. I know it will bless them too!

Winners... Please contact me at amomwithablog@yahoo.com with your mailing address. I will get the books out to you asap. I appreciate the wonderful comments and hope you will visit again soon.

God bless!
Mary Ann :)

Monday, March 7, 2011

A Girl Named Lucy

It was one of those days when I had a lot of errands to do. Mail a package, exchange a gift, make a deposit. My husband and kids went with me so we could hang out a little. Oh... and so they could rent a video game. Ok. They went for the game... not for family time. But it was still a nice time.

The bank and Blockbuster were in the same shopping center, right next door to each other, and the last stop before heading home. I thought I'd run in the bank and let my husband take the kids in to start looking for a game they both like. You know how long that can take!

The bank wasn't busy at all and I usually go to the ATM right inside the lobby anyway, so I was out in just a few minutes. As I came outside, heading to the video store, there was a young woman leaning over the garbage can... heaving heavily.

I'm ashamed to say that my first thought was that she had been drinking or something and that maybe if I didn't make eye contact... "Can you help me?" she said. Well, so much for no eye contact. I was now forced to do something. I had two choices: Be a coward and say I have no money... or "Are you ok?" I heard myself say before I could make a decision. I asked again "Are you ok? Do you need help?"

She asked if I could give her money for the bus. She was crying heavily and told me she had just been in a fight with her boyfriend and had no way to get home. I gave her what I had, which wasn't enough for the bus. I told her I'd go ask my husband for money inside and I'd be right back. Well... you know I expected her to be gone. Take off with what I had given her. That's probably all she wanted anyway. Right?

To my surprise, she was waiting for me when I came back outside. There she was sitting on the pavement, back against the wall, crying in despair. I gave her the money and she thanked me. I asked if she could get home alright and she said that she could. Then she broke down and told me she didn't know what to do... and then she said "I have two kids! What am I gonna do?"

After a while, her crying had slowed enough that she could tell me a little more, and she seemed to want to talk. So I listened as she told me that she and her boyfriend had a fight and that he took her kids with him. My older son was now with me and he asked if her boyfriend had hurt her. I'm still angry as I remember her pulling her hair aside to reveal a pretty large lump on her face.

I offered her my phone to call the police but she said she had a phone. She was just afraid to call them as she believed they would arrest both parents in a domestic case and she was worried her kids would be taken from her. And that's when it all gets confusing. What do you do then?

I'm thinking this so-called 'man' should not get away with this and I should call the police. Yet the "mother" in me says to leave it alone. If it were me, I wouldn't want my kids getting into the system. How could I call and risk her losing her kids? But what about her kids? Were they safe? What do you do at that point?

I asked if I could pray for her. She said yes and we prayed. I asked her if she had a home church and she said she hadn't been since her mom died 2 years ago. Broke my heart even more. Here this young woman is with 2 children and a moron for a boyfriend (pardon my language)... and she has no mom to go to for guidance or help. Top that off with the fact that she's afraid to tell her dad because he'll get angry. The only one she has to help her... and she feels that she can't go to him.

I listened to her, hugged her, encouraged her. I told her that parents get angry because they love their kids and don't want to see them hurt. And it makes them even more angry to see someone hurt them deliberately. I encouraged her to ask her father for help... especially if she believed her or her children were in danger. She can't handle this alone. She shouldn't have to. But it's her decision.

After a while her boyfriend called her and told her to come and pick up her kids. How? He left her stranded in the parking lot. Regardless... it seemed to ease her just a bit.

I called someone I knew who was involved in social work and gave them Lucy's name and phone number. I figured that she needed to know what her options were in this situation. Many times I believe women tolerate abuse because they don't know what to do about it. And then I gave her my number. If she really needed help... how could I just leave it at that?

I drove away praying. Praying for Lucy and her children. Praying for wisdom. And that was the end. I never heard from Lucy again.

You know... It's hard to help when you have to be cautious because you don't know the whole situation. Was she telling me the truth? Were there drugs involved? Did she really have kids? I like to take people at their word. But you have to be prepared for reality.

One thing this experience did for me was to make me aware. I need to know where to point people for help. I can't just say "It will be ok." I need to do better than that. If I can't help them... then I need to know who can. I may end up in a similar situation in the future... if so, I want to be prepared to better help. Cautiously, of course.

With that said... here is a great organization for anyone who is suffering abuse.

Visit their website at http://www.thehotline.org/ or call
1.800.799.SAFE (1.800.799.7233)

Would you say a prayer for Lucy today?

Thanks for reading and God bless!
Mary Ann :)

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Sunday Morning Blues

 Good Morning and Happy Sunday!

I hope you all are ready to enjoy the new day. This is the day the Lord has made... you know it's gonna be great!

I'm going to enjoy it. Regardless.

Not sure why... but when Sunday finally comes around my body seems to need a jump-start. And sometimes my mind. I wake up depressed. And not just mine. My kids too. The first thing my son said this morning is "Boy, I'm tired." Yeah, well.... me too! Typical Saturday night... wake up for 2 or 3 hours before finally going back to sleep only to hear someone say "Mom, I'm hungry." Ok, I tell them. I'll make breakfast in the morning. Oh... it IS morning!

It's just one of those Sunday morning 'things' to try and deter us from our goal. Church. The place we are spiritually feed, and yes, jump-started. That's what holds me over and motivates me for the next week. That's where I meet Jesus, praise Him, give thanks, worship Him and hear the Word. And we are going!!!

Wherever you are this morning, whatever you are doing, just leave it all behind and GO. Leave the dishes, the bills, the whining and arguing (but bring the kids and hubby), the running behind, the excuses of what to wear.... leave it all and go to church. Go sit at the feet of Jesus. Worship. Give thanks. Let Him renew your spirit.

Everything else will be there when you get home... I promise. But you will be better able to handle the day and week ahead of you if you give God the first of your time today. If you let this excuse keep you from church today... there will be another one next week, and the next, and the next. Believe me... I have years of experience.

So give your day to God! Enjoy Him and the fellowship of others who are seeking Him. Go and see what He has for you today. You won't regret it.

God bless you guys! I'm praying for you!

Mary Ann :)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Meet my BFF and author Joyce Ray... and Book Giveaway

Best Friends Graphic #24

I'd like to introduce to you my best friend and author... Joyce Ray. We have been best friends for over 30 years. We met in the 5th grade, and she hasn't been able to get rid of me since! Just kidding.  ;)

Seriously... Joyce has stood by me through thick and thin. The good. The bad. And a lot of the ugly. Just ask her. No...She won't tell you. She's too good of a friend. See what I mean? But yes, she's been there for it all.

We've learned a lot over the years. Even now as we're older, the Lord is still teaching us and helping us grow in Him. Often He's teaching us the same lesson at the same time, each in our own way. It's when we get together to talk that we discover how God works in us and our friendship. Iron really does sharpen iron, and I consider myself blessed to have such a friend in Joyce.

Not long ago, Joyce wrote a book called Active Christianity. It's available at Tate Publishing. In it, she talks about the struggles of trying to be the perfect Christian. Hiding behind the mask of who we believe we should be... or the mask of what we think others expect of us. And the feeling of failure from 'pretending' to be the perfect christian. She reminds us that abiding in Christ and accepting the finished work on the cross is the only way to live the life God intended.

Joyce and I have learned so much together that I have asked her to do a guest post for me. I think she has a lot to share that would be helpful and minister to many. So you may be seeing a little bit more of her here on my blog.

For now, this is what she had on her heart to share...

When Mary Ann invited me to the Cross Walk and to hear Arthur Blessitt speak on Sunday morning, I was very excited. I knew that it was going to be an exciting weekend full of many blessings, but what I did not know is that it would be life-changing, not only for myself, but for all who were a part of it. It was a weekend that I, along with many others, will never forget.

What stood out in my mind about this weekend was the love of Christ as it radiated off of Arthur Blessitt. It was evident in his countenance, in his actions, and in his words every time he spoke. “I love Jesus, and I love people.” I will never forget the passion with which he shared these words. He had no agenda apart from loving others and sharing God’s love with others, and this is exactly what he has dedicated his life to. This made me question, “What have each of us dedicated our lives to?”

Our world is filled with things – some good and some bad – that can fill our minds, take our time, and drain us of our energy. Then there are the messages that the world sends our way every day. Messages like “money brings happiness, looks are everything, and happiness is found in a good relationship”. As Christians we know where our focus should be; we know where we want it to be; but sometimes it seems like the pull of the world overrides all that we know should be. The end result is often guilt and depression as we find ourselves crying out as Paul did, “The things I want to do I don’t do, and the things that I don’t want to do I do.”

So what is the answer to this struggle? I used to think that the answer was found in living a disciplined life - be a doer of the Word, make the right choices, die to self, and walk in absolute obedience to God. What I discovered, however, was that I had it all backwards. All of these things are important, but they are not the first steps. They are the outcomes of a life dedicated to loving God.

As Christians we’ve got to start putting first things first. If we want our love for God to be real, and not just one of those things we say because we are Christians and of course we love God, then we can’t just say we love Him; we have to fall in love with Him. We’ve got to get to know Him, find out what’s in His heart, and what He desires for us. We’ve got to spend time with Him, talking to Him and listening as He talks to us. We’ve got to start running to Him when things in life start crumbling around us, and quit running away from Him. We’ve got to share with Him our hopes, our dreams, our fears, and our innermost desires. We can’t worry about trying to be good enough; we’ve got to come to Him just as we are. This is how true love happens.

Once we have fallen in love with Him, as the words of the familiar hymn says, “The things of the earth will grow strangely dim…” Obedience will no longer seem like a chore or a struggle, it will be a natural reaction to the overwhelming love that we’ve experienced in Christ and that we have for Him. It will be only then that we can truly say as Arthur Blessitt says, “I love Jesus, and I love people.”

Joyce is a gifted writer, speaker, and teacher. She has so much to share. And speaking of sharing... she'd like to give away a copy of her book. Ok... 2 copies!

This is my first giveaway... ever. So, if you'd like to enter, please leave me a comment including your email so I can notify you if you win. If no one comments, I'll save it for another time. If you're the only one to comment, then... you win. And if I have more comments than books (here's hoping!) then I will have a random drawing for the books. Sound fair? Great.

And I should mention that I will take entries thru Monday, March 7th at midnight and the drawing will be held Tuesday, March 8th. I will notify the winner by email.

Thanks for reading today and God bless!
Mary Ann :)


About Me

nook color at BarnesandNoble.com! Now with Popular Apps, Email, Web & Video with Adobe Flash Player!