Monday, January 15, 2018

Monday Morning Memo: The One

Today, January 15th, 2018, is my mom’s 92nd birthday.  Oh how I wish we could celebrate together.  I would love to serve her cake and ice cream topped with LOTS of homemade hot fudge (nothing was ever too sweet for her!).  But I’m confident the party she is having is so much better than anything I could ever imagine.  The reason is that when my mom was 83, her precious Jesus called her home.

If you’ve read my latest devotional book, you know that my mom suffered for the last ten years of her life.  She had Alzheimer’s and I’ve often told people that we lost her one-inch at a time.  There were many times during the last two years of her life, that I would leave her room in nursing care, shaking my head and wondering why in the world her Jesus wasn’t taking her home.  It wasn’t that I didn’t want to have her here on this earth with us; I just didn’t want her to suffer anymore.  But then of course when she did enter the heavenly gates on August 15th, 2009, a part of me wondered why her Jesus had to call her home so soon.

Sometimes life just doesn’t make sense, does it?  Why do good people have to suffer?  Why do some people, who take care of their bodies, develop something like Alzheimer’s while others who abuse their bodies live a full life?  Why are there good people who work so hard to make a good, honest living, but still struggle to pay their bills…while others who lie and cheat to move up the corporate ladder seem to have everything this world has to offer?  Why are some born into a world where there is unbelievable poverty with not enough food to eat, clean water to drink, or even a roof over their head and have never even heard the name of Jesus?  All while I was born into a Christian home, with plenty of food and water, a warm, soft bed to get into every night, and the opportunity to hear about my Jesus on a daily basis.  Yes, sometimes life doesn’t make sense, does it?

You may not understand this, but I often have preconceived ideas or plans on how things should happen.  Not plans just for me, but I go to the extent of having plans figured out for my husband, my children, my friends, etc.  I’m sure that I know what is best for me and everyone else and so I just need my Jesus to be my “genie” and make it all happen (in my timing of course!). 

Problems arise then when He doesn’t “pull out of the bottle” what I think He should…when I think He should.  I can become frustrated, discouraged and sometimes even angry with my Jesus because He just must not understand exactly what my plans are for every detail of my life and the lives of those around me.  Because if He did, He surely would cater to my every whim…wouldn’t He?

As I’ve thought about this a lot recently, I’ve come to the conclusion that we have become spoiled because we live in an “instant” society.  We want everything right now and we don’t want to wait for anything.  We want a microwave to cook our food quicker…the fastest computer to surf the Web…the fastest new cell phone to send those all important texts…we want complete healing NOW from a surgery so that we don’t have to deal with pain anymore (ok, you knew I had to throw that one in!)…we want anything that will fulfill our desires…faster.  So when a wrench is thrown into our plans and we find ourselves with an unexpected health issue, or the loss of our job, or a spouse who wants to walk away or a child who chooses the wrong path…life can very quickly not make sense.

So what do we do when life isn’t what we bargained for?  We trust.  Not in ourselves, or our family, or our employer, or our all-important tech giant.  We trust in the One who created us.  The One who knows the number of hairs on our head.  The One who loves us more than we can even imagine.  The One who loves our spouse, our children, our friends…even more than we do.  The One who was nailed to a tree, so that we could spend eternity with Him.  The One whose plan for us is perfect, even if it doesn’t make sense to us.  The One who is our Jesus.

I’ve heard it said that when our prayers aren’t answered when or how we want them to be, Jesus must have a far better answer that will be greater than we could ever imagine.  I had this happen to me recently.  I had been praying about something for a quite awhile and I kept telling Jesus that He really needed to hurry up to work out my plans.  But when He did finally answer in His perfect timing, His plans were really far superior to mine!

To trust means that we have our faith firmly planted in our Jesus and every day when we awake, we make the choice to trust Him and Him alone.  Trusting Him is not a one-time decision…it is an everyday decision.  When unexpected issues arise…we choose to trust Him instead of becoming frustrated, discouraged or angry.  If you are like me, you may have a ways to go to accomplish this every day.  But I think we need to remember that it is a process and we can be encouraged that with Him, the One who loves us so, all things are possible!

Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
    don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
    he’s the one who will keep you on track.
Don’t assume that you know it all.
Proverbs 3:5-7a (The Message)

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Tuesday's Thoughts: Circle of Support


As many of you know, I had a very extensive back surgery on 9/25/17.   It has been a long recovery, but I can honestly say that my Jesus has been faithful!  So many of you have been “Jesus with skin on” for me as you prayed, emailed, texted, brought food, brought books for me to read, etc. etc. etc.  I am so blessed to have each of you in my life and “Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy, for you have been my partners in spreading the Good News about Christ from the time you first heard it until now. And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” (Phillippians 1:3-6)

This surgery has been very hard on my body and I’m finally getting strong enough to feel like I can start working on reversing some of the negative effects.  As I’ve prayed about this, I have felt impressed that there may be others who may be in a similar situation but really need a “Circle of Support” to encourage them.   I don’t know, but maybe one of the reasons that my Jesus has had me walk this journey with Him, is to be a support system to others who also need to improve their health.

So I’m toying with the idea of putting together a Facebook page that will be a “Circle of Support” for anyone that needs it on his or her health journey.  It will be a closed group, so that comments and posts won’t be seen by the entire world.  On this page, the members will be able to share things that are helping them improve their health (mentally, physically or spiritually!), such as certain exercises, recipes, scripture thoughts, etc. that might encourage others.  Members will also be able to post on days where maybe their struggle is real and they just need members to pray for strength for them on that day.

NOTE:  This group will not be an endorsement for one particular diet plan or supplement.  But it will be ok to make posts such as:  “I am following the XYZ plan and I’m finding this aspect or recipe to be a huge help”.  An example of posts that will NOT be allowed would be, “I’m using the XYZ plan and I would love to set you up to sell this plan also”.  NOPE…no selling on this page!  I will monitor all posts and those not following the intent of this page, will be removed.

What do I need from you?  I need to know if you think this is something that is needed.  I know there are tons of Facebook pages out there and maybe this would just be “overkill”.  I do not want to reinvent the wheel, I’m just trying to listen to my Jesus’ promptings and so I am throwing this out there to see if I am hearing Him correctly!

So please let me know if you think the “Circle of Support” Facebook page would be a help to you!  You can email me at luannfulton@gmail.com or PM me on Facebook or make an entry on this post!  Hope to hear from you soon!

“So it is right that I should feel as I do about all of you, for you have a special place in my heart. You share with me the special favor of God, both in my imprisonment and in defending and confirming the truth of the Good News. God knows how much I love you and long for you with the tender compassion of Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 1:7-8)





Monday, January 8, 2018

Monday Morning Memo: The Power of a Touch

Ever since my surgery, our three-year-old grandson, Elias, has wanted to have a sleepover at our home.  We had done this numerous times before my operation, but I just haven’t felt up to having him yet overnight.  He also attends preschool, so it has made it a little more difficult to figure out a time when he could stay with us.  Each time Elias would come to see us, he would say something to the effect of, “Grandma, I’ve been thinking that I need to have a sleepover here with you and Grandpa.”

I’m sure you will be relieved to know that we finally got the big sleepover accomplished this past week.  Since Elias’ preschool was on break for the holidays, and I was feeling stronger, we invited him and Ezekiel, his 22-month-old brother, to stay with us overnight.  They both entered our door, grinning from ear to ear, knowing that the next 24 hours was going to be playtime with Grandma and Grandpa.

And play we did!  We got on the floor, and out came the trucks and tractors; we colored pictures, made lots of pretend meals in our pretend restaurant, read books and just had a great time.  Of course a lot of my time was spent in our real kitchen because our grandsons have hearty appetites!  

I so love being a grandma and I want to soak up every moment that I can with my grandchildren.  But, I was reminded this past week that I often think that our time together is important because I want to impact their lives.  While that is true, I sometimes forget that our time together is an opportunity for them to impact my life too.

Let me give you an example.  Elias and I were talking and all of the sudden, he reached over and started rubbing my back.  Now, he is a very tenderhearted boy and he knows that I have a bad back.  He said, “Grandma, does that feel good?”  When I assured him that it did, he said, “Good, because I want to make your back better.”  Be. Still. My. Heart.  His simple touch made my day.

Since that moment, I have been thinking about the power of a touch; being intentional in making a difference in someone’s day.  Like Elias, it may mean physically reaching out and putting your arm around someone who is hurting.  Or, it may be as simple as smiling at a harried cashier or looking for a way to lend a helping hand or listening ear to a friend.  The ways to impact a person’s day are endless, but we just have to be willing to take advantage of the opportunities that Jesus sends our way.

We live in a day when many people are discouraged and are ready to give up because they think that no one cares.  What if our simple gesture of love towards them was what they needed to face another day?  What if our smile or compliment gave someone the courage to do something new and challenging in their walk with their Jesus?  Best of all…what if our act of caring allowed someone to see our Jesus through us and as a result, he or she wanted a relationship with Him too?  Wow…the angels would be rejoicing!

Let’s be watching today for moments to utilize the “power of a touch”.  I’m guessing that if we are willing…Jesus will be more than willing to provide the opportunities.   

“So now I am giving you a new commandment:
Love each other. Just as I have loved you,
you should love each other. 
Your love for one another will prove
to the world that you are my disciples.”

John 13:34-35