Virtual Reality

A couple days ago my husband and I went to our youngest son’s workplace for a small tour.  He works at a high technology job and has many exciting opportunities of travel and adventure.  While we were there, he gave us a trip in the virtual reality world.  I put on this huge mask/headset and a controller in each hand.  With one of the hands I could transport myself to any area that was around me.  I first went to the Nativity church in Jerusalem, to the birthplace of Jesus.  I was in awe!  I was standing before that holy, protected spot, in a world that was so real, you felt you were actually there!  I saw the donkey hooks still in the stone wall where they tied their donkeys in the stable.  I saw a stone where it is said, Mary sat and nursed Jesus!  It was surreal.  I walked around looking up at the beautiful church ceiling and the walls of beauty that surrounded this precious area. 

I’ve always dreamed of seeing the land Jesus walked and the places He ministered.  Seeing the actual area where He was born was amazing!  I transported myself with the controller to other areas surrounding this one spot and saw the most beautiful church I’ve ever seen yet kept going back to the precious stable where my Lord came into this world.  Of course we can’t be 100% sure that was exact spot He was born, but those that researched and uncovered it will vouch that it is, as some of the actual surroundings are still there, which support that theory.  Either way, it was an awesome experience and my soul was stirred, reminding me that this Jesus is the Jesus I love and serve.  This Jesus walks with me every day, and this Jesus will one day look into my eyes as I gaze upon His face, and I will know, This is not just virtual reality, this is truly Home.

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    About a month ago our son, whom we hadn’t seen in a while came home for a weekend. He had graduated college and now was in his own apartment with a new job, living about one and a half hours away. I was anxious to see him and to hear about his new career and what he was all doing.  He is the baby of the family, and the last one to leave. One by one, all eight children left the nest for a life, all their own. The last one leaving though stings just a little more because now there are empty bedrooms, no more school conversations and the sound of doors opening, and closing are far and few in between. There are less distractions and more prayers. Lots of more prayers.

  On the day our son was leaving to go back ‘home’ I was sitting in my recliner, and he was on the couch doing something on his phone, with the tv on.  My husband was in his chair and no one was speaking.  My husband says to me, “I haven’t heard a lot of conversation between you two.  Don’t you have anything to talk about?”  I thought about that as I was sitting there.  We did have our little talks but right now I didn’t know what else to talk about that would convince him to put down his phone. I know some people would say, “Well, shame on him for spending his last few hours on the phone instead of holding a conversation with his mom.  Kids these days, just no respect.”  However, after thinking about it for a bit, I decided I didn’t feel that way, not now, in this moment. I discovered that I didn’t need to tell him to put down his phone and talk to me.  He just being there was enough.  He was ‘home’, ‘really home’, and it was just like it had been a few years earlier.  Just like old times, with him lying on the couch, doing his own thing.  I watched him with a smile on my face, enjoying that time because I realized his presence was all I cared about.  True, he wasn’t talking to me, but just him being there was all I wanted.  He was there and as I watched him, a flood of memories with all the kids being home filled my mind and warmed my heart.   I was enjoying the time now, because even though there was silence between us, there was love.  Our son knew I would always love him, even when he was occupied with his phone and I knew he loved me, even when I was silent.  I was content, knowing he was content.  He was there…close by, and that was enough.

My mind then drifted to God, our heavenly Father. Perhaps that’s the way it should be in our relationship with Him. God loves when we talk to Him.  He desires that we share our dreams, our questions and our hopes. Then, that day comes when you have a need, but you think that maybe God won’t listen to you because you haven’t been praying regular, you’re not doing your devotions faithfully, and you didn’t even thank Him for your last answered prayer. You’re feeling a bit guilty and you wonder,  “Will God really care about my prayer now; now when I finally take the time to talk to Him?”  Yet we pray anyway because prayer seems to be our last resort and we really need Gods help, so we pray and hope He is listening.  We need Him to answer but no answer seems to come. All there seems to be is silence. Indeed, those times can be difficult for us, We wonder if He really hear us, does He really care or is He just too busy with more important issues,  We think He may be upset with us for only coming to Him when we need something (sound familiar with your kids?)  None of that is true.  God does care.  He hears your prayers, every word and every thought.  God loves you and perhaps, in that moment, He just might be sitting back, watching you. Perhaps He is enjoying your presence as you pursue your dreams and hobbies, as you read that book, enjoying your friendships or just doing your everyday routine. His heart is warmed as He watches you being content in all the blessings that are yours. And though you may think He is not answering, rest assured, He is preparing the way, always working on your behalf.  It may not always be what you ‘want’, but it will be what is ‘best, for you. One thing is for sure.  He is always with you, always has His eye on you and His ears are always open anytime you talk to Him. But, maybe now, all He wants is to sit back and enjoy what He sees. His special, unique and cherished creation.  He is smiling, knowing that someday, you too, will come ‘home’, but not only for a weekend. You will eventually be coming ‘Home’ for good.  Until then, He is always faithfully and lovingly with you, watching, listening, and enjoying you. And that, my friend, should be enough. Just His presence should warm your heart. I hope it does. 

The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you but will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17 NIV

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Good News Only, Please

Years ago I began putting together a newsletter. I did so for one reason.  In a world that was growing dark, where bad news was everywhere, I wanted people to have some good news.  Only good news.  Therefore, I called my newsletter A ray of Sonshine, because there are days when we desire to see just one ray of Gods light.  One ray in our heartbreaking situation, in our worse fears and in a world where there seems no hope to be found.  Sometimes one ray of God’s love, His goodness or an answered prayer, is all we need to get through the day. I hope I have somewhat accomplished that, though I am fully aware that it makes little difference sometimes in our lives.   None the less, I hope to continue putting it out there, reminding others and yes, myself as well, that we are never alone in our heartache and pain.  Our journey doesn’t need to be dark, painful and without purpose. With God beside us, it is very, very worthwhile.  Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Yes, I admit I have days when I feel depressed and wonder to myself how much longer until Jesus comes to rescue us.  I ask Him, “How much longer?” Lord.  I feel tired and weary, and tears remind me I am nothing without God.  If I did not believe and trust Him, then what or whom else would I turn to?  A friend can encourage but if that encouragement isn’t Jesus based, it would not be able to sooth the agony inside.  My only comfort, my only peace comes from my faith in God and His Son, Jesus Christ who calls me ‘His Friend.’   John 15:15I have called you friends,

  If God is not in the picture, not at all, well that scares me to death, for then, even in death, I am alone, without hope of everlasting life.  I realize He truly is my life, because He is the one who gave it to me in the first place.  He gives me my next breath, He provides salvation, He orchestrates my everyday life to full fill His purposes, for my good and He forgives me for sin with love that is unconditional.  He is everything!  Without God, my life would seem less meaningful and without hope of a heavenly reunion with loved ones.  When feeling hopeless, I am quickly reminded of just how blessed I really am, because no matter how hard life may get, how dark, how evil, yet I will one day rise in glory seeing my Jesus face to face! All the bad will disappear as His love saturates every part of my being. My cup will overflow and I will have joy unspeakable! 

  God is not dead.  He is not a fairytale.  He is not a myth. He is my Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, my Savior, my Friend and the Holy Spirit, my comforter and guide. I will lift my eyes to the skies knowing one day, one day soon, my Lord will come, and I will forevermore be with Him.  And that my dear friends is good news!  Right now we may only get those rays when we need them, but one day the rays will forever embrace us as we gaze fully upon the wonderful, loving face of Jesus!  Now that is a promise we can always feel good about, no matter what we see or hear in this world.

I’m sure I shared this before, but it bears repeating, so here goes. My dad always told me, “The best is yet to come!”  1 Corinthians 2:9 But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him,”

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It is what it is

It is what it is.”  This is a favorite of my mom’s.  When discussing her health, a not so good night’s sleep or her caregiver giving her something she doesn’t particularly like for supper, she says.  “It is what it is”.  My sister and I now say this as well when things don’t go the way we’ve planned, or the weather is not what we want it to be or we are at the grocery store when we realize we have left our grocery list at home. Sometimes you just need to shrug it off knowing, it is what it is, period.  Oh yes, we laugh about it afterwards and we move on because in all reality we understand that we don’t always get our way.  But think about it, if you always did get your way, I wonder how many of us would be truly grateful or would we eventually take it for granted thinking our lives are better than all the others who have to carry the inconveniences of a not so perfect life.  God knew what He was doing when He so lovingly created us.  Some things we have control over, but others we do not, and ultimately God is the One who plans our way and directs our steps.  He also knows that life is not about being given every desire we have, but it is serving Him and doing so with a grateful heart, on good days and bad days.  (At least we call them bad days) but they all serve to fulfill His plan, bringing Him honor and glory as well as working towards our own best interest. We learn to pray with-in His will, longing to follow His ways and becoming the people He desires us to be.  It all works together for good. Romans 8:28

 So as this new year unfolds may we all ask for His guidance and not complain about all of life’s irritants.  Life isn’t always rosy and the sun doesn’t always shine, so the next time you get caught in a rain storm walking home, look heavenward and smile because after all, “It is what it is”.

Then when you get home, dry off and have yourself a cup of coffee.  You are loved!

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Be Still and Know

When life lets you down
and you feel alone;
When emptiness lurks at your door,
Remember the One who calls you His own,
Remember He’s walked on before.

When this world disappoints you
and your hopes and dreams fade;
When life doesn’t seem to make sense;
Rejoice in the day the Lord has made.
He alone is your Rock and Defense.

When you’re feeling so desperate
With no answers ahead;
You long for some peace of mind,
Think of what our Savior has said,
“If you seek, then you’ll surely find.”

For after each nighttime
There follows a day.
Behind dark clouds the sun is still shining.
And during the storm a calm comes your way
As you trust in what God is designing.

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God’s Presence

There are so many places in this world I would love to see. Destinations out of my reach, but yet longing to experience the beauty, mystery, and emotions in experiencing Gods most beautiful, most awesome places on earth.  Knowing these things are unattainable for several reasons, I take comfort in looking at the artistry of God, such as sunsets and sunrises, a night sky filled with twinkling stars, the full moon shining as a night light for all, fields of wildflowers, and colored Autumn leaves, just to name a few.   I also listen to the sounds that bring joy to me such as waves hitting the shore, a cardinal singing his little heart out, the breezes blowing through the trees and the sound of a distant train in the night.  As much as I love all of the above, and though I cherish those moments, there is one place that I can be which is the most treasured of all.  I don’t even have to leave my home, save my money or pack a suitcase.  You see, the place I desire above all others is to be in God’s presence.  Now, I know He is always with me and I never need fear that He doesn’t see me, hear me or love me.  Yet there are moments when He just fills you and everything else fades as His love takes over every  thought and every emotion.  These treasured moments can come to us in a variety of ways, but for me, they usually come through music or song.

  Example:  The other day I am driving home and this song I love comes on the radio.  As the words were sung, the cries of my heart overwhelmed me. I began crying and felt as though God was hugging me, His presence saturating my very being.  I pulled in my driveway, and just sat there with my eyes closed, crying.  It felt so good, so heavenly, because I not only knew God was there, I felt Him there.  I wanted to stay there forever, basking in His love. My soul felt so connected to Him.  Oh how beautiful it was, enjoying His Presence, as my heart once again filled with hope and peace.  I wanted that moment to never end. When it did, I asked God, “Why does it have to end? I just want to stay here, in this moment with You.”  It was so real, His love embracing me and the intimacy we were sharing.  At that moment I longed for heaven, for if this was so amazing in this world, oh, how unimaginable it will be in heaven as we gather around His Throne! How humbling to praise Him and Glorify His Name as we gaze upon His face!  His radiance will fall upon us and His glory will fill all of Heaven! And no one will need to ask Him, “Why does it have to end?” because it won’t and we will bask in His love forever. That moment will be eternal. 

  I am so grateful for those personal times with God.  It’s moments like that which make everything worthwhile.  Sometimes we all just need a moment to reconnect, to be assured and to feel the embrace of our loving Heavenly Father. It’s not something we can create or bring about on our own; rather it is a deep desire to know Him, as He desires to make Himself known, especially in the darkest days of our lives.  I’m reminded again that I matter.  He loves me; in all of my weakness and fear, in my failures and doubts, He loves me.  And you know something?  He loves you too.  Deeply, unconditionally and eternally.  He loves you, because He created you and you matter.  Never, ever, forget that.  And if you ever find yourself starting to forget, ask God for a little reminder.  You may be awestruck when He answers you. God Bless.  

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