Words to Encourage You

  • Freeway Lessons
    I was driving home today in bumper to bumper traffic. I looked down for a second and yeah, you guessed it. I tapped the guy in front of me. Now I know everyone says tap, but when I say tap, I mean tap. I didn’t have my foot on the accelerator, just on the brake, but you know how you can be rolling and you don’t even realize it?  That’s what happened.
    Thank you Lord for excellent brakes.
    So this fellow, cool looking dude with sunglasses, slowly opens his door, gets out of his car, swaggers to the back, looks at his bumper, turns to me in disgust, shaking his head and gets back in his car. At the same time I am out of the car crying, “I am soooo sorry.” I felt like a dirty rotten scoundrel with no way to make it right.
    I got back in my car defending myself, you know how it goes.  Trying to make a wrong situation a little bit “more right,” thinking how rude he was and hey, I didn’t mean to do it, I’m sure he thought I was texting and I wasn’t and there wasn’t any damage, etc., etc., etc.,
    When it comes down to it, I am in the wrong!!!  I wasn’t watching, I hit his car and I can thank God because it could have been a lot worse.
    I am always looking for a teachable moment, a takeaway.  It wasn’t until I got home, told the story a couple of times to my family and then relived it in a quiet moment.  Here’s what I came up with.Don’t look down.  One moment of inattention causes most accidents on the road. (True, read the stats.)Be gracious and understanding.  (Colossians 3:12, Philippians 2:3) What if I had been the one who was hit?  I know I would have been irritated.  And who knows what kind of day this fellow had.  He might have been at the end of his rope.

    Pray.  (Colossians 4:2)  Isn’t this a golden opportunity to pray for someone?  My grandmother was the only Christian who knew me when I was born.  She prayed for me for 31 years and one day I heard about Jesus and asked Him to come into my life and be my Lord and Savior.  We will never know until we get to heaven, just how much our prayers have meant.

    Do not let situations like this define you.  ( Ephesians 4:24, 1 Peter 2:9, John 1:12) Yes, I did something wrong and I am not going to look down in bumper to bumper traffic, I will pay attention, but I am not a bad person.  My heart is in the right place.  Jesus sees me a lot differently than this fellow does.  This is where my worth comes from.

    Changing You, Little by Little

I’m Not Giving You my Key!

           My best friend was telling me about her new condo and she was excited. She’d been rooming with a co-worker and this new place was all hers and now she would have privacy, not to mention the pool, the clubhouse, the two bedrooms and two baths. I was excited for her and said excitedly, “Now I can come and visit you.”

            She said, “Yeah, but I’m not giving you a key!” Her statement was funny at the time. I assured her I would never visit unannounced and only when invited.

            My daughter and I took a walk later that morning and as I was telling her about it we began to play a little game. As we passed people on our walk we asked each other, “Would they give us their key?” depending on their friendliness. It’s surprising how many we shook our heads at and said, “Nah, I don’t think they’d give us their key.”

            Later I began to give the idea some serious thought. Would I have said that? I don’t think so. I would like to think that I would say, “Here’s my key. Come over any time you want.” I love to have people over, for dinner, for the night, for game night or just for coffee and dessert.

            I have a good friend who came home from work one day and her husband was lying on the floor, dead from a heart attack. Naturally, her life was shattered. She was a recluse for quite some time and it’s taken a long time for her to get back to the living. Another friend talked her into volunteering at her local hospital. She went, reluctantly. You should see her now. She reads to patients, writes letters for them, sometimes she just listens to them, gives them a word of encouragement; she’s a real funny gal and most of the time she can bring a smile to their faces. Wanda is smiling too. You can’t give without smiling. She’s a happy woman again and she feels like her life has meaning and purpose. It’s really true; when we give ourselves to others we will feel better. I think Wanda would give me her key.

            Everyone loves to give at Thanksgiving and Christmas. We’re listening to those beautiful carols about peace on earth and good will towards men. Christmas is almost upon us and we’re going to get busy and bake our cookies and pumpkin bread and visit the convalescent hospitals. It’s what we do. We tell ourselves, “This is great. I’m going to do this more often.” But the holidays pass, we’re back into our routine and somehow we just can’t fit it all in. (Did you know there are more visitors at convalescent hospitals in the month of December than at any other time of year?) We need to “fit it in” the rest of the year also. This is an excellent thing for families to do together. Teach your children about giving out keys.

           There’s a postal clerk named Mike who has worked on the campus of Penn State University for over 30 years. He says he’s determined to make people feel good. They must really like him because the customers line up and wait for a long time so Mike can serve them. He says, “If you can’t say something nice about someone, you’re not looking hard enough.”   One of his customers said, “I love coming in here. Mike is pure heart. He makes your day so much better.” Mike is a gentle, kind looking man. I would want to wait in his line too. Mike would give us his key.

         I love to encourage people, but after hearing about Mike, I decided to really look for more ways to do that. I didn’t feel like cooking one night, so I ended up at Baja Fresh for a salad for me and at Five Guys for a hamburger for my husband. The woman who took my order at Baja Fresh was a small plain looking woman. Now what I mean by that is that she didn’t have much make up on and she looked tired. I watched her as she waited on customers and I noticed something. When she smiled her whole face changed; it was radiant. When I paid for my salad, I told her, “You have the most beautiful smile. Your whole face lights up.” She was still beaming when I left. Then I went to Five Guys and ordered my husband’s burger. There was a tall young man who was putting the burgers together, stuffing them in a sack and then he’d announce in a booming voice, “Order nuuummmmber 42 is ready.” His voice was deep and it projected clear across the room. I picked up my burger and asked him, “Have you ever thought of radio or TV announcing?   You have a terrific voice for that.” Big smile on his face. I just love it. Do you think those two went home that night thinking about those compliments? I know they did. They might start giving people their key.

          Let me tell you about another kind of key. This is a key that is always available, it never rusts and it always works. It’s the key to heaven and that key is Jesus. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

           Jesus invites you to ask Him into your life and heart. He’ll change your live, all you have to do is ask Him. If you would like to know more about that, contact me.  I’ll give you the key.

 

Changing You, Little by Little

IMG_1902Photo Shooting in the 60’s

          My oldest daughter and I walk every morning and we’ve never run out of anything to talk about.  This morning she asked me,  “Mom, do you remember when you took David and me to the San Diego Mission de Alcala and out to the bay for pictures when we were little?  You wanted pictures for our Christmas cards one year.”

The memory came back as if it was yesterday.  Yes, I remember.  It was November, 1969 and I think we went out at least two different times.  We had to go on a Sunday because I was a single parent.  I worked full time and Saturday was house cleaning day.  So one Sunday I dressed them in green and we went to the bay and another Sunday it was a blue dress for Melissa (matched her beautiful blue eyes) and a white shirt and red tie for David and we went to the mission.

Melissa told me, “Mom, you were photo shooting before you even knew what that meant.”  I guess I was.  At the time I know I was determined to make a memory.

You know, the older I get the more regrets I have.  Especially when I see what moms are doing today with their children; home schooling, (unheard of in my circle of friends and impossible for a woIMG_1903rking mom), play groups, soccer and tennis meets, swim club, home groups, MOPS and the list goes on and on.

I dug through a big box of pictures last night and found them.  Thanks Melissa for  encouraging me this morning.  It did my heart good.

Changing You, Little by Little

 

old-manA Man on a Bike

I almost missed an opportunity to encourage someone yesterday. Thanks to my daughter Melissa, it didn’t get away from us. You’re going to love this.

Melissa and I walk every morning; it’s about a three-mile walk through our neighborhood and then around a lovely lake. We pass a lot of people every day and a lot of times we stop and chat for a minute. Today we saw a man on a bike; it wasn’t the first time. We’ve seen him before and we’ve noticed how determined he is, head bent over the handlebars, forging ahead.

We were almost home when he rode by yesterday. Melissa impulsively yelled, “You are losing weight!” The man on the bike came to a halt, put one foot on the street and turned around to look at us. His mouth dropped open and he was speechless.  Melissa said, “You don’t have to stop, we just wanted to tell you we can see you’re losing weight. You look great!”

The man exclaimed, “No, I have to stop because this is amazing, simply amazing. I have been losing weight for several weeks. I’ve lost inches on my waistline.” (He put his two hands up to show us how much) “I’ve had to punch more holes in my belts and do you know not one single member of my family or the people I work with have said anything to me about it. And now you two tell me I look thinner. If I wasn’t married I’d kiss you.” He rode off, shaking his head and mumbling, “This is amazing!”

Wow. We could have walked on by and just talked about it to ourselves. But we didn’t. And now a man rides on home with even more determination. Who knows when he was encouraged the last time?  

Melissa and I were encouraged as well. What did that take? Five minutes? And a man on a bike goes home with a smile on his face. His pace has picked up a bit and he’s more determined than ever.  

You are going to see people like this man on a bike who need a good word. Keep your eyes open. They’re easy to spot.

“……encouraging one another; and all the more as you
see the day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:25)

Changing You, Little by Little

 

 

It’s almost time for the World Series and I didn’t even realize it. When my husband was alive I knew all about it and we both looked forward to the playoffs. Richard ate and slept baseball and I enjoyed watching him watch baseball because I knew he loved it so much.

            I was going through my files the other day and I found an article tucked away behind some of my notes that he wrote about baseball. I had forgotten all about it and I enjoyed reading it again and remembering how proud he was when I told him how good it was.

            Not only did Richard love baseball, but more importantly, he loved the Lord and he loved His word, the bible. Somehow he put the two together and his story tells a great biblical truth that we can follow today.  I hope you enjoy, “Batter Up.”

 Batter Up!

By

Richard Scharfenberg

149

Once upon a time, long, long ago, in a land far, far away there was a small and poor country called Sackcloth. Although the people in this country were impoverished, they all found ways of getting involved in their one great love; baseball. Baseball was the national pastime and it was played everywhere. Everyone, young and old alike, played in one of the many leagues that had formed. There was a toddler league, a children’s league, high school league, an over-the-hill league and even a left-hander’s league. This was all well and fine, but they all agreed and put their money on a superior league called The Saulville Saints. Boys went to bed at night dreaming of making the first cut for the Saints. The Saints had won the Universe Series twelve years in a row. Last year they had beat the Dogwood Demons in four games straight!

Alpha Omega was the manager and his word was law. He remembers one spring training when a young man named Wavering, a little unsure in the blush of youth, showed great promise when he came on the scene. Wavering was fleet of foot, quick of eye and nimble as a cat. He had a deep love for the game of baseball, but had not yet refined his raw ability. Alpha saw past his immaturity and envisioned his potential. This young man was going to go places. With his skill and Alpha’s coaching, the sky was the limit. Alpha began to personally tutor him.

All through spring training you could watch this rookie begin to hit the ball with authority, steal bases with ease and make diving catches in the outfield. Wavering blossomed under Alpha’s instruction.

Then came the BIG DAY; the final pre-season game to determine who would make THE TEAM.

The entire village of Sackcloth was in the stands that day, earnestly watching their heroes perform. The lead changed back and forth as the teams battled each other.

The score was tied seven to seven in the bottom of the ninth with the bases loaded and two outs when Wavering came to bat. In the dugout Alpha gave the sign for a suicide squeeze bunt. Wavering couldn’t believe his eyes. He knew that he could blast the ball to kingdom come. Alpha knew it too. Nevertheless the sign held. Ignoring the signal Wavering proceeded to hit the first pitch over the fence for a grand slam home run, winning the game and sending 50,000 delirious fans home, raving about THE HIT that won the game.

Now the stands are empty. The locker room is strewn with uniforms, showing signs of a recent celebration.   Happy players are drifting out of the stadium excitedly talking about the upcoming season. But back in the corner of the dugout Alpha speaks softly to Wavering. “I’m sorry son. You won’t be playing with the Saints. You’re a terrific athlete and you had a brilliant future, but what I really need is someone to follow the rules without question.   Yes, we won today and you will be called a hero, but you will never know the plans I had for you.

He who has my commandments and keeps them, he it is

who loves Me and he who loves Me shall be loved by my

Father, and I will love him, and will disclose Myself to him.

(John 14:21)

Changing You, Little by Little

 “Encouragement is helping someone else be a better person.”
Judy Scharfenberg

 

More Precious Than Jewels

Who can find a capable wife?  She is far more precious than jewels.”  (Proverbs 31:10)

     Beth’s recent email is proof of the wise young woman she is.  I wish more young women solved their problems like she does.  Here’s what she wrote:
     “Claudia, I don’t know what I do that encourages the distance between Mark and me.  Our anniversary is next week, and I only see grounds to observe it, not celebrate it.  My marriage isn’t bad; it’s just not good right now.  My needs and desires almost consume me, and I feel cheated.  In the beginning, I had such high hopes.  I always dreamed of a knight in shining armor whisking me away – don’t we all?
     Mark is preoccupied and busy.  He goes to work, comes home, eats, watches television, mumbles a word or two and then goes to bed.  I feel like I’m not even there.  And I’m no better.  Really.  I know I need to focus on the worthy things in Mark, but my heart tells me other things are more important to him, and it hurts.  Then I remember the list of his good qualities I wrote in my journal just a few weeks ago.  He’s a believer, he attends church, he brings his paycheck home, he is intelligent, he’s healthy, he’s faithful to our marriage and last weekend he installed five ceiling fans in the house.
     And then I remind myself of what God would have to say about this.   As I honor and respect Mark, I know my heart will change in time and I believe Mark’s will too.  ‘An excellent wife is the crown of her husband.’ ” That’s my comfort and my strength.
     Your husband comes to you with years of training, conditioning, beliefs, hopes and dreams.  Sometimes he’s wounded and that wounded boy lives on into adulthood.  Treat him respectfully.  Look beyond your needs and be gracious and grateful.  Look for something for which you can praise him.  It may seem little to you, but to him it’ll be big.  He needs your approval, your support and your encouragement.  He needs you on his team, not on his back.  The Lord is pleased with a gentle and giving spirit.  God will give you the strength and it’s just ironic.  You treat your guy like a king and he’s going to treat you like a queen.  Everyone wins.

     Further reading: 1 Peter 3: 1-6 and 2 Peter 1:3-11
Contact me for an additional resource – $10 includes S/H
30 Days of Encouraging Your Husband Journal
judyspeaksandwrites@gmail.com

Changing You, Little by Little

 

 

Words I spoke at my brother’s memorial in North Olmsted,Ohio.

I’d like to tell you a little bit about my brother Dave.  We actually began our lives here in Ohio.  In 1953 we moved to  California when our Dad was transferred by the Navy.  And years later, in 1971 Dave moved his family back to Ohio.  Although he loved San Diego and the Pacific Ocean and the beautiful beaches, (one of his favorite things to do was body surf) he also loved Ohio with its older homes, quieter neighborhoods, trees, fishing on Lake Erie and especially having the four seasons.  We had many visits over the years, but they were never often enough or long enough.

Dave was my only sibling for a long time.  We have a dear brother, Jonny, but he’s 30 years younger than us and we didn’t get to know him well until he was an adult.  Brothers and sisters have a unique relationship; for many years it was Dave and me and we told each other everything.  When we were kids I never let him forget that I was thirteen months older and he had to do everything I said.  That worked for awhile until he grew up.  Then he told me a thing or two.

I was so proud of the things he accomplished.  Mom and I were beaming the day he graduated from high school; he went to college for awhile; I bragged to everyone when he joined the Army and became a paratrooper with the elite 101st airborne; my son David and I were two of the first to visit him when he returned from the Vietnam War on a stretcher with critical injuries.  Three days before he was due to come home the truck he was riding in was involved in a mine explosion.  Dave lost his left leg and right foot.  His recovery was long, but he worked hard.  I was so grateful and proud when he got a good position at United Airlines and worked there for many years.  The birth of his five children were monumental events in his life; Dave made a mean meat loaf and he loved cats and dogs.

But what do you think he might say to you if he were standing here?  I know he’d be uncomfortable.  He’d shift his weight and look at the floor and probably start with, “Geez oh man.”  But then maybe he’d get up some courage and he’d tell his children, David, Joe, Glenn, Michelle and Danielle, that there wasn’t a day that you weren’t on his heart and mind.  He didn’t know how to express this.  He felt overwhelming love for you in his heart, but it embarrassed him to say that; even frightened him.  Dave and I had never received many loving words when we were young; they didn’t come naturally.  But when we talked on the phone several times a week, he always mentioned his concern for his family.

In November of 2003 Dave came to California for a visit.  He was struggling and he was seeking some answers.  One of the things we did was go to church on Sunday.  It was the week after we’d had terrible fires in San Diego County.  Two families in our church had lost everything they owned.  Our pastor, Ray DuVal, talked about family and love and compassion.  Dave had always resisted what he called “my preaching.”  We didn’t see eye to eye on some things.  But he said this time was the first time he realized it wasn’t about religion, it was about people and relationships.  Later that day, in my living room, Dave bowed his head, closed his eyes and with tears, he  prayed and asked the Lord Jesus to come into his life and into his heart.  In the days before he went home, he told me over and over, “I’ve had a heart change.  I’ve really been transformed.” (I didn’t even know he knew that word.)   He said, “I can hardly wait to tell my family what a jerk I’ve been and ask them to forgive me.”  Those were his words not mine.

Just about a month ago Dave went to a little church here called Grace Church of North Olmsted.  I had done some research and told him about it.   “You oughta check it out.”  Well he did and he called that afternoon and said he liked it, thought he might go back and he did go the following Sunday.  I know he felt like a duck out of water, he never did like to go into a new situation alone, but I sure give him credit for getting out of his comfort zone.  That took courage.

He said the pastor talked about Matthew and Mark and Peter and he figured he’d better start reading his Bible to figure out who these guys were and what they did.  Dave didn’t enjoy reading, but he told me he was reading his Bible and learning things he didn’t know.  What I began to see was love and joy and a heart wanting to obey the word of God.

The family chose the perfect verse for the holy card that will be used tomorrow at his funeral.  2 Timothy 4:7-8 says, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; and now the prize awaits me – the crown of righteousness that the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on that great day of His return.  And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to His glorious return.”  This is a true and perfect culmination of Dave’s life.  He was fighting the good fight, he finished his course, and he kept the faith.   He did the best he knew how to do.

There’s something else Dave wants his family to know.  He didn’t get a chance to tell you, but he told me.  He wants you to know that God so loved the world, that means each and every one of you, that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish, but will have eternal life.  Dave wants you to know that “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”    You see Dave wants you to have what he has.  You are dear to him and he wants your future to be secure.  He wants to see you again.

I’m sorry Dave’s life was cut short.   I’m selfish; I wish we’d had more time with him.  And I may have tears in my eyes, but I am a happy, happy woman.  You see because of Dave’s prayer and commitment to the Lord, when he closed his eyes on earth last week; he opened them in heaven and saw His Savior waiting for him.  I can only imagine what it must look like.  My brother is now whole and complete, he’s walking perfectly and he will meet his mom and dad on that beautiful shore by the crystal sea.  Death is not pretty, but heaven is a beautiful place and that’s where Dave is now.  Who can be unhappy about that?

Changing You, Little by Little

 

God Will Make a Way            

Several years ago, I was at choir practice at church.  One thing I liked about our rehearsals was that we often spent time in prayer for each other.  One evening when we were sharing requests, I was burdened for one of my daughters.  She was about to make a decision that was really bad.  It was literally breaking my heart and I didn’t know what to do.  I couldn’t share the specifics of the situation, but when we prayed for all of those unspoken requests I was in tears.  Some of the other choir members saw my tears, came over and put their arms around me and prayed for me.  Then our choir director began singing softly and soon we all joined in.

         “God will make a way, where there seems to be no way.

          He works in ways we cannot see, He will make a way for me.

          He will be my guide, hold me closely to His side.

          With love and strength for each new day,

          He will make a way, He will make a way.”

 I can’t explain it.  I didn’t have any answers, but I was comforted and encouraged.  I went home that night with more hope than I’d had in a long time.

It was two months later, in the middle of the night, my daughter was on the phone about to make this bad decision I had worried about and it was right then that my husband had a massive stroke.  Frantic, I ran to the kitchen and said, “Honey, get off the phone.  Something’s wrong with dad.  I need to call 911.”  Of course she got off of the phone, the ambulance came and we rushed to the hospital.

A few weeks later my daughter and I were talking.  My husband did survive and we were about to move into a whole different way of living; me as a caregiver and my husband in a wheelchair.  My daughter and I were having a really serious talk, about the significance of the stroke and the timing and the phone call.  By the way, she had thought twice about the mistake she almost made.  She was making much better choices.

She asked me, “Mom, why do you think God let that happen?  Dad is a good man, he’s worked hard for his family; why does God do stuff like this?”  And I told her, “Honey, did God cause the stroke?  Well, I know nothing happens without Him knowing about it.  Could he have stopped it?  Yes, I believe that.  But, He’s allowed this to happen and I am confident of one thing.  Would your Dad give his life for you, so yours can be better?  You bet he would.  My dear daughter, he just did that.”

We cried that night.  It was a poignant, soul-searching, sin-cleansing, eye-opening moment with God for both of us.  Oh that we would be in tune with Him for more moments like these.  I don’t mean strokes, but what comes after, complete surrender, obedience and trust in every situation.

And this is important….If you had told me 14 years ago that I would be telling you that I have joy in caring for my husband in a wheelchair, I would have said, “You’re crazy.  I can’t live like this for the rest of my life.”  But let me tell you, God took a bad, bad situation and He turned it into a good one.

Now, do I get mad at Richard?  Yes.  Does he get upset with me?  Sometimes.  We have our ups and downs just like everyone.  Do I wish we could go to the beach and take walks like we used to?  Yes.  Sometimes I’m tired of being the able-bodied person in our home.  I don’t want to be the one who is always driving; there are days I wish I didn’t have to lift that wheelchair one more time.

But I can sincerely tell you, those thoughts are fleeting.  Whenever I feel sorry for myself and want wallow in self-pity, I thank God He’s given me the opportunity to care for Richard; where would he be without me?  I thank God for the things that have happened as a result of this stroke.  Because you see God has turned me into a giver instead of a taker.  I am content and I have peace.  How does that happen?  By the power of God.  He has our best interests at heart.  Oh and by the way……He knows what He’s doing.

Changing You, Little by Little

                                        

                                                                                             

 It’s Who You Know”    

 (Adapted from Grandkids Say the Cutest Things,
                   by Karen O’Connor – Harvest House Publishers)

My granddaughter, Madelynne, was excited about her solo in her school’s talent show.
She’d been anticipating this night for weeks.  She looked absolutely darling
in her shiny top, black leggings, and sparkling pink flip-flops.

As she fidgeted from one foot to the next, in true stagehand style, I applied her
blush and glittering eye shadow.  Then I whispered in her ear, “You look like a rock star!”

Madelynne gave me a big, confident smile, tossed her hair back and said, “Grandma,
when I’m famous I’m going to give you a backstage pass.”

I can hardly wait.

Grandchildren are the crown of old (women)
Proverbs 17:6

Changing You, Little by Little

 

 

You Are Now Leaving Whine Country.

(as seen on www.lolwithgod.com  8-13-2011) 
 

I was telling my daughter Jennifer about the beautiful drive through wine country in our city Connor Questionof Temecula.

Seven-year-old Connor was sitting nearby.  He looked up and asked, “Is that where people go to complain?”

We laughed and I said, “Isn’t he the cutest thing.”

Later, I thought about Connor’s remark.  What if there was a place we could go to complain; not just a customer service desk or an 800-number, but a whole country where people walk around, sour looks on their faces, moaning and groaning to their heart’s content.

How long would they stay?  Would they want to leave?  How would they get out?

Wait a minute!  I think I’ve seen that sour look.  I’ve heard that moaning and groaning.  It’s been me!  Maybe I haven’t been verbal about it, but sometimes that complaining has taken place in my heart:

  •  “I wish I could go to Hawaii.”
  • “Why can’t I be like her?”
  • “If I had more money, everything would be better.”
  • “My life is full of hard work. “
  • “When do I get a break?”
  • “He just doesn’t understand me?

For years I cared for my Grandma Jay.  My six children were younger and five were still at home, my husband worked hard to provide for us and, like many families, we went from paycheck to paycheck.  Grandma lived with us until she needed more care and we had to move her to a care facility. 

I would visit two or three times a week, pick up her laundry, bring her home on Sundays for family dinners and make sure she got her hair done.  While I was visiting I would straighten her room.  Grandma had a habit of putting food in her bedside table and it was a mess.  She had given everything up and this was one way of keeping her independence, making choices, but I didn’t see that.  All I saw was “stuff” that needed to be done.  Well, Grandma didn’t like me straightening up; she did, “Just fine, thank you very much.”

One day she couldn’t take it anymore.  Her little 98-pound frame trembled with all of the anger she could muster, and she said, “Judy, you’re enough to make a preacher swear!”   

I couldn’t believe it.  I wanted to defend myself so bad.  I was helping her for goodness sake.  Woman Complaining

Didn’t she know the sacrifices I was making?

Many people would have agreed with me.  I had circumstances I could whine about.  But thank God I didn’t do that.

I took her little face in my hands and said, “Grandma I’m going to love you whether you like it or not.” You know, I think I saw the corners of her mouth turn up into a smile.  From then on I did the straightening up when she was in the bathroom.

Philippines 2:3-4 says, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.”  (NAS) *

God’s Word covers every situation.  Over and over we’re told to forget about ourselves and become bond-servants, slaves if you will, of Jesus and follow Him.  Why? Because everyone wins.  Grandma won because she received love and respect; I won because in putting her first I experienced the peace and joy that always follows acts of obedience.

I had left Whine Country and it was good.

* For further reading:  John 15:10-17

  Connor

Changing You, Little by Little

 Bible Reading Challenge

Tired of deciding what Bible study to do?  There are so many good ones available and if you’re like me, you want to do them all.  Why not take this Bible Reading Challenge?   Choose a book in the Bible and read it through, verse by verse.  Some days you  may read two verses, some days ten, you decide.  After you read, use  a notebook or journal and record your answers from these basic study questions.   Let me know what happens.  🙂

BASIC QUESTIONS FOR BIBLE STUDY

 

1.     What is the passage speaking about?  (2 Timothy 2:15)

 

 

2.     Is there a promise of God’s?  (2 Peter 1:4)

 

 

3.     Is there a commandment to obey?  (John 15:14)

 

 

4.     Is there a sin brought to mind to confess?  (1 John 1:9)

 

 

5.  Is there a prayer brought to mind?  ( 1 Thess. 5:17)

 

 

Changing You, Little by Little        

 
 

Reach Out  

Read Philippians 2:1-4  

Mamie Adams always went to a specific post office in her town because the employees were friendly.  On one busy afternoon she stopped by to purchase a few stamps.  While waiting in the long line, a man pointed out that she didn’t have to wait, she could get her stamps at a machine in the lobby.  “I know,” Mamie said, “but the machine won’t ask me about my arthritis.”

People need a tender touch.  Did you know that babies who are held grow faster; that the touch of a hand lowers blood pressure; a smile releases some good hormones in your body and generally causes others to smile back?  You and I are going to cross paths with people who are hot-tempered, disgruntled, impatient and discouraged.  You could turn their bad day into a good one with a kind word and a smile.  Dale Carnegie once said, “You may forget tomorrow the kind word you said today, but the recipient of that kind word will cherish it all their life.”  I’ll bet someone comes to your mind right now who changed your life with a word of encouragement or praise.

The Bible says, “A good word makes a heart glad.” (Proverbs 12:25) Have you looked into a child’s face after you’ve praised him?  Have you seen his smile; watched his face light up?  You can’t see it, but his heart is glad.

There are many young people who need someone to show them how to live.  There are seniors like Mamie Adams who need someone who will spend time with them.  There are angry people who need a gentle word; hurting people who need a tender touch.  You and I can reach out and give that to them.  And when we do, hearts are happy and everyone wins!

Reach out and touch that neighbor who hates you;
Reach out and touch that stranger who meets  you’
Reach out and touch the brother who needs you; 
Reach out and let the smile of God touch thro’ you. –Brown   

The common tasks are beautiful if we have eyes to see their shining ministry.
(Grace Noll Crowell)

Changing You, Little by Little   

 

 

 

 
   

Straight Arrows       

Behold, children are a gift of the Lord; the fruit of the womb is a reward.  Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth.  How blessed is the man whose quiver[1] is full of them; they shall not be ashamed, when they speak with their enemies in the gate.   Psalm 127:3-5  

             Think about arrows.  Even if you don’t know a whole bunch about them, you would have to agree that a warrior wouldn’t want a weak arrow that would bend or break.  When he crafted his arrow he would spend time cutting, slicing, shaping and smoothing until it was the best he could possible make.  He would use the finest materials and he would make sure it was strong and straight.  When he pulled that arrow from his quiver he would want to be sure his aim was true and know that this arrow would hit its mark.    
              God compares our children to arrows in the hand of a warrior.  And He gives clear direction in their craftsmanship. Consider Deuteronomy 6:5 -7 – “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.  And these words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your sons (and daughters) and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.”    
              So what does that mean?  Simply this.  Start shaping that arrow as soon as he is born.  Get down on the floor, your little one in your lap, open your Bible and teach him about his heavenly Father.  Oh, he may not understand your words just yet, but he’ll see your smile and hear your voice.  Take my word for it, he’ll respond as you cherish that Bible before his eyes.  You can be sure he’ll have every advantage to grow up knowing how much you love the Lord Jesus and His word.  You’ll be paving the way for him to love God with all of his heart and all of his soul.  You want your little arrow to hit its mark.      
   [1] By the way, did you know that a full quiver usually held five arrows?  Just saying…………  🙂        

Changing You, Little by Little     

     

Don’t we all want peace? 

    
  
 Peace I leave with you.  My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you.
Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.  (John 14:27)
 
Peace doesn’t come automatically.  Harassing situations often cause us worry and sometimes we even become hostile.  It’s not natural to seek peace.  So we must deliberately cultivate a different attitude.  When we look in God’s Word we soon understand how to do that.  Romans 14:19 tells us to pursue what promotes peace and what builds up another.  Proverbs 3:1-2 is very clear.  Don’t forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commands; for they will bring you many days,
a full life, and well-being.
        

 One of Jesus’ greatest gifts to us was His peace.  Not from the world, but from Him.  It looks different.  Jesus’ peace gives a gentle answer to a husband who has hurt us with an insensitive remark.  Jesus’ peace helps us speak calmly, but firmly to that teenager who resists everything we say.  Jesus’ peace helps us forget about ourselves and forgive that one who has wronged us.  And a beautiful thing happens when we seek peace and pursue it.  We see things differently and become gentle and softer.  We create a pleasant atmosphere and others often respond in the same way.  Best of all, the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus.  (Phil. 4:7)        

For further thought read Colossians 3:12-17       

Changing You, Little by Little       

    

     

      

I am that woman!

 

        I speak for Stonecroft; the outreach groups you might know as Christian Women’s Clubs. The emphasis has always been to provide a non-threatening atmosphere, a place where you can invite a friend and be sure they will hear the gospel in its entirety. Along with a delicious meal and a special feature; the event concludes promptly in an hour and a half. Even working women have found time to attend these luncheons. Special features can be anything from a fashion show to a first aid demo to a flower arranging demo. Last week I saw a gift wrapping feature and came away with tons of new and inexpensive ideas. The name for our groups has changed to Women’s Connection, but the premise remains the same.  We’ve added topical and interactive talks which are very appealing to younger women and slowly the word is getting out. Most clubs offer free child care as well.
        Often when I look out at the faces in my audiences I see many senior citizens. I understand that; they are the ones with the time. I never let that bother me. Because if I know one thing, it’s this. It doesn’t matter if you’ve gone to church all of your life, if you’re involved in a Bible study, if you’ve lived a good and decent life and everything seems to be going very well. There is always one woman, maybe more, who has never understood that she must individually receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

At these events I talk about a woman who thinks she has it all together, but deep inside she’s missing something. She’s searched for peace, for happiness, for fulfillment, for meaning in life and she’s come up empty because she’s looked in all of the wrong places. Church attendance won’t do it, reading the Bible won’t do it, making a meal for your neighbor won’t do it, nor will giving to charity. Then I tell them what will do it. After each event I stand at the door and greet ladies as they leave. Here is what happened at four of the events:

Chino Hills:  A woman, who was a hostess at our table, has been attending these luncheons for years and she regularly attends church. She told me emphatically, “I am that woman you talked about!”

Visalia:  A woman told me, “You had me all the way. I loved your talk and it’s helped me see where I need to change.”

Temecula:  There were about 120 women gathered for a Ladies Tea. A young woman had invited her mother. Her mother used to go to church, but something happened and she hasn’t stepped inside of a church for over twenty years. For some reason she came to this tea with her daughter. I was told later, “Something significant happened at our table. She was really moved like never before.”

Oakhurst:  A woman came to me with tears in her eyes. She said, “I wish my son could have heard your message. He’s nineteen, into drugs and alcohol and he says he’s too far gone. It’s too late!” I gave her a CD of my story and I’m praying for this young man.

There’s something else that I know. God promises that His word will not return void. When it is proclaimed I know hearts and minds and lives change. You can count on it.

If you’re reading this and you feel like you could be that woman, please contact me. I would love to hear from you. I promise a quick reply.

judyspeaksandwrites@gmail.com IMG_1835

Changing You, Little by Little.       

        

EATING IN JESUS’ DAY         

            Everywhere I turn I see the promise of another diet that’s either fast, easy or painless.  That’s because the diet industry is a multi-million dollar business and growing larger all the time.  Like everyone, I’m always looking for a quick fix, so it’s in the industry’s best interests to come up with something new.  I want to believe them so I buy their pills, try a new food plan or join a support group with the hope that this time it will work.  A few of them are sensible, some may cause brief success, but most of them just want my money so they make promises that are hard, sometimes impossible to keep and I continue to pack on the pounds.

Recently I read the familiar story in Mark 6 where Jesus fed the 5,000.   I wasn’t looking for a diet, but I was amazed to discover a few principles that, if practiced, might be the key I’ve been searching for.  What I found was a plan that helped me learn to enjoy food, love God, and forget about gimmicks forever.

Read Mark 6:31-44 – Notice eight things

They were hungry.  (Verse 31)      

There were many people coming and going and they did not have time to eat.  When was the last time I didn’t have time to eat?   When I do sit down to eat, am I really hungry, or do I eat just because it’s “mealtime?”

 They were more interested in Jesus than in food.  (Verse 33)    

 The people recognized Jesus and his disciples and ran to get ahead of them.  They were so hungry for a word from Jesus that they didn’t plan for or even think of food.  Do I ever forget about food and look forward to what Jesus has to say to me instead?  Do I long for His word as much as I do my next meal?  When was the last time I skipped a meal to be with God?

 They listened to Jesus.  (Verse 34)       

Jesus saw that the people were like sheep without a shepherd and He began to teach them.  Do I get it; that Jesus is my teacher?  Can I open God’s Word, fill my mind with His thoughts and learn?

 They prepared to eat slowly.  (Verses 39-40)     

 They relaxed and lay down in large groups. There was no gobbling, no gorging.  How can I make mealtime more satisfying?  Perhaps with soft background music, engaging conversation, my family around the table and focused on each other; that’s my picture of preparing to eat in a leisurely, enjoyable manner.

 They prayed.  (Verse 41)  

 Looking up to heaven, Jesus blessed the food.  He knows that we need food to nourish our bodies.  He thanked God for His provision.  I too must be regularly grateful for my good food.  We live in the richest country in the world and have so much at our disposal.  We  have the ability to choose good, wholesome food that is good for us.

 They ate and were satisfied.  (Verse 42) 

 They were not full or stuffed.  All of my life I have eaten fast and furious.  By the time I’m finished I have eaten more than I need.  I detest that bloated and uncomfortable feeling.  I love the pleasant feeling of being just satisfied.   I’m learning to eat slowly, chew my food carefully and drink, drink, drink lots of water.

There was food left over.  (Verse 43)  

 They picked up twelve full baskets of broken pieces of bread and fish.  I can trust Jesus to provide for me abundantly, more than I’ll ever need!  When I serve myself it’s likely that I still have too much on my plate.  If I cut my portions in half, that’s probably all I really need.

 They walked everywhere they went.  (Verse 33)   

The people saw Jesus leaving in the boat, they knew where He was going and they ran ahead to get there before He arrived.  This was probably about eight miles!  In daily life the people walked to the fields, they walked to a neighboring town, they walked, walked, walked.  Why not add a walk into your routine, slowly increasing the time and distance.  Not only will you feel better, you might find that you like it.

 

Jesus was the leader then and He wants to lead us today.  Following Jesus is going to work.  Considering these steps as we prepare to eat, we will be free to control our appetite for food and develop our love for God.

Write down how you want to change your eating habits, pray about them and begin today to take one step at a time.  For example……

1.      Memorize a verse.  Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. (I Corinthians 10:31)

 

2.      Pray specifically before eating.      

 

3.   ___________________________________________

 

4.      ___________________________________________

Father, there are bad habits in my life that I’m just now beginning
 to acknowledge.  Sometimes I run to food for comfort when I should
  run to You.  I don’t pray about what I should eat.  I eat too fast and too
    much.  Lord, help me to change, by your grace and for Your glory.  Amen

Changing You, Little by Little.       

     

        

EVERYONE HAS A STORY       

It’s not a bad idea to think about the day Jesus came into your life.  Everyone has a story and they are all important.  You should be ready to share your story.  If you don’t have the facts down, this is a good worksheet to begin with.  Let me know what you think.  I welcome your comments and questions.  Email me at judyspeaksandwrites@gmail.com

 

WHERE WERE YOU?         

1.   What was your life like before Jesus became your Lord and Savior?
(Psalm 40: 1-2)

2.   What were your attitudes and feelings that made you realize you had a need?
(Psalm 63:1)

WHAT CHANGED YOU?      

3.   How did you hear about Jesus?  What were the circumstances?

4.   What did you do?  How and when did you trust Christ? 

WHERE ARE YOU GOING?      

5.   How did God meet your previously stated needs?  (Matthew 6:8)

6.   How is He currently meeting your needs?  (Philippians 4:19)

7.   What changes has God made in you? (2 Cor. 5:17)

—in your home?   (1 Peter 3:4)

—at work?   (Col. 3:17)

—in your family?   (Prov. 31:26)

—with friends?   (Phil. 2:3-4)

8.   What goals do you have for your life now? (Philippians 3:10)

9.   What do you think are the responsibilities of every believer?  (Matthew
28: 19-20, Ecclesiastes
12:13, Psalm 86:12)

 Copyright 2005, Judith Scharfenberg
judyspeaksandwrites@gmail.com

Changing You, Little by Little.        

     

        

DINNER AT THE TABLE     
Blessed are they who keep His statutes and seek him with all their heart.
Psalm 119:2

             Teresa and Mark are typical of many families today.  Both have demanding jobs, their kids are active in Karate, Awana and music lessons, not to mention school each day and the homework that goes along with it.  Sundays are just as busy with church and other activities most of the day.  It’s not surprising that Teresa finds it hard to find any extra time.  What bothers her most is that what should be top priority, time with her family members, there’s hardly any time for.  Most days they spend eating dinner at the counter or grab fast food on the way to still another commitment.

Someone told Teresa, “If you see a family who has it all together, ask them what they do and copy it.”  Teresa admired Hal and Claudia Baker.  Something happened last week that had made her sit up and take notice.  Her son Grant had spent the night with their son Randy.  Grant came home raving how Mr. Baker had prayed for each one of them at dinner and then they had played something called The Alphabet Game.   “Yeah Mom, it was really fun.  We began with ‘A’ and went around the table thinking up names from the Bible.  Did you know there’s a man named Festus in the Bible?  He was a Roman governor,” he finished proudly.       

Teresa called Claudia and shared her struggle.  Claudia agreed, “Teresa, there’s so much in our lives that diverts us from our priorities, more now than ever before.  Our kids are stressed and it will take its toll.  It’s become epidemic.  I heard on the news last night that there is a new movement called slow parenting.  Hard to believe, but yes, there are classes on how to slow family life down.

I’ll agree, it does take a plan.  We all want to teach our kids to fear God and love and revere His word.  In our fast-paced world, that could end up at the bottom of our list.    Our alphabet game is just the beginning.  It has led to some interesting discussions about Bible characters.  Some nights Hal will read an exciting story, another night one of our kids will say the prayer.  We all participate and there is no negotiating.  Everyone knows we will have dinner at the table as often as possible.”

Competition for our time is fierce.  Whether it is
a Bible game at dinner, reading Scripture and a prayer at
breakfast or a story and praise song at bedtime, make
devotion and worship a way of life.  Resources for creativity
line our bookstore shelves and are just a click away online.
Make it fun and interesting.  Your kids will find themselves
in an optimum learning environment.     
  

Practicing Faith
Father, may I be creative, personal and consistent.  I
want my children to know how much they are loved by me
and by You.  May our family generate an atmosphere
that will encourage them to seek You in all things.

Digging Deeper
Galatians 6:9-10

Changing You, Little by Little.  

“Food for Talk,” a box with questions for use at the dinner table.  Communication
is an art.  You and your family will have many treasured memories of time spent
laughing sharing and caring at meal time.  Go to:
www.foodfortalk.net to order.

        

     

THE BUDDY SYSTEM       

Each morning I spend an hour with my daughter Melissa jumpstarting our day with a brisk walk.  Our path is a beautiful walking trail full of singing birds, scattering rabbits, wildflowers in full bloom; once we even came upon a honeycomb buried deep in an obscure water main, and then there’s the occasional dog walker.

Today we came upon a tall boy and a short boy on their way to the school bus stop.  We’d never seen them before.  They must have been taking a short cut.  Now, I talk to everyone, teenage boys are no exception.  How ya’ doin’?” I asked.

“Fine,” one of them said.  Teen-age boys are not known for their huge vocabulary.

Melissa asked, “Are you on your way to the bus stop?”

Another one word reply.  “Yeah.”

We asked them what school they attend and sympathized about how early they have to get up to catch the bus.  The boys did come out of their one word comfort zone and added that the kids on the bus didn’t make the ride to school very pleasant.

“Well, at least you’ve got each other,”  Melissa said.

The tall boy nodded his head solemnly.  “It’s called the buddy system.”

Yes, indeed.  I thought about how rough school can be for anyone who is a little bit different; you know what I mean, kind of geeky, too short, too tall or maybe real quiet.  I’m glad they have each other.  That’s what probably has made this school year tolerable for them.

How about you?  Do you have someone who walks the road with you; someone who is a great friend; someone who sticks with you through thick and thin?  It’s called the buddy system.

“There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”
Proverbs 18:24b NAS

Changing You, Little by Little.       

        

    

THE COUNSELOR

 


And I will ask the Father, and He will give you
another Counselor to be with you forever—
John 14:16

It was early, the first gray light of dawn jut peeking over the hill outside my window.  I love it when the world is still and I seem to be the only one awake.  I sing, pray out loud and wait as the Word of God settles in and speaks to me.  I find tears welling up in my eyes and an overwhelming sense of joy floods over me.  I lift my eyes towards heaven.  Oh God, how good You are.  Thank you for saving me – for making me brand new – for giving me a life rich with meaning and purpose.

             I remember when I didn’t care about singing and praying or reading the Word of God.  I didn’t even own a Bible.  From what I’d heard, those stories were fables and sounded like impossible dreams.  The little I had read was confusing and hard to understand.

Then I heard about Jesus.  I asked Him into my heart and I asked Him to forgive me for excluding Him from my life.  I asked Him to help me and change me.  As I began to read, the Bible didn’t seem so foreign anymore.  It actually made some sense.  Not surprising.  Jesus said when He left this world for Heaven that He would send a Counselor to be with believers forever.  This Counselor – the Holy Spirit – teaches me truth, comforts me when I’m sad, guides me when I’m lost, intercedes for me when I don’t know how to pray,  helps me when I’m weak, convicts me when I sin, restrains me when I’m reckless, exhorts me when I need encouragement, reproves me when I’m wrong.  This wonderful companion transforms me and is vital to my life.  With help like this, how can I fail?

 Perhaps it’s been awhile since you thought
about the Holy Spirit in your life.  Somehow in
our fast-paced society, we lose our connectedness.
God’s will for believers is to be filled with His
Holy Spirit.  He will prompt us, put a little pressure
on, but He will never force us.  It requires a
daily surrender to die to our selfish desires.

Practicing Faith
Why not make this your prayer each day?

“Lord Jesus, thank you for thinking of
everything.  Come and fill me anew.  Help
me to live today filled with and by the
power of your precious Holy Spirit.”       

Digging Deeper
I Corinthians 2:6-16

Changing You, Little by Little.       

        

For a free Bible study in the Book of James, please share your email address in the comment section below, or email me directly at judyspeaksandwrites@gmail.com  Your copy will be sent within two days.  

Changing You, Little by Little

 

 

 

        

 

        

 

 

 

 

 

1 Comment

  1. Theresa Wild says

    I really enjoyed reading this whole page of Encouraging Words.

    I am struggling with myself because I am refusing to be selfless in a situation that I know I am being selfish and just plain wrong. I know that I will give in and do what is right, but it won’t be in a joyful manner and I will become resentful. I guess I don’t know how to deal with myself choosing to sin.

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