The first time I was nudged by the Holy Spirit to give away a prized possession, I admit to reluctantly obeying. However, I can attest to the overwhelming joy I received when the woman, who was the recipient of the necklace I gave her, began to cry.
For me, it was the start of a lifelong habit to begin paying more attention to that still, small voice to be more generous with my time, my money and my possessions. The necklace I mentioned above was a gift from my sister. On the simple silver chain was a small cross. The woman who had admired it worked at a fast food chain. I learned later she worked two jobs to support herself and her family.
While I treasured the gift from my sister, I know God treasured my generosity more. But, I received a greater gift when I gave the necklace away. It’s a paradox many don’t understand.
According to dictionary.com, a paradox is “a statement or proposition that seems self-contradictory or absurd but in reality expresses a possible truth.” Synonyms, or words that mean the same or almost the same, include contradiction, absurdity, inconsistency and mystery. But that’s the mystery of generosity, at least for those who don’t understand God’s economy.
In an article by Michael O. Garvey, he discusses the “empirical evidence in support of the biblical admonition” that it is more blessed to give than to receive. According to Garvey’s article, a study by University of Notre Dame sociologists revealed “through analysis of measurable data, people who are generous with their money, time and associations are happier, healthier and more resilient than their less generous counterparts.”
When my phone rang, I hesitated to answer because the caller was unknown. I answered to an urgent voice. “Carol, there’s black smoke coming out of your house near you deck stairs.”
Thanking my next door neighbor’s sister, I hurried out the door. Standing on my deck, I couldn’t see anything to my right or my left. Returning indoors, I grabbed my cell phone and headed out the front door to seek the source of the smoke. Walking around the exterior on all sides of my house, I still didn’t see anything.
Calling Diane back, I asked, “Where exactly did you see the smoke?”
“Underneath the deck,” she replied.
Running around the side of the house again, I peered over my fence and saw black smoke pouring into the frigid air. Without hesitation, I dialed 911. My heart pounded as I raced back into the house, grabbed my dog, my car keys and my purse. Just as I pulled out of my garage and parked my car out of the way, the city police and fire chief pulled in, followed by a fire truck and an ambulance.
Sharing the Good News and encouraging others in their faith walk is my passion. My other passion is my grandchildren. In May, we will welcome grandchild number seven, a girl.
For Christmas, I received a journal from my future granddaughter, courtesy of her mother. Inscribed in ink on the inside cover is the following: “Nana, Please use this journal to write your favorite scriptures, recipes and stories just for me!”
Her parents have chosen the name Ruby for granddaughter number three. When my daughter-in-law mentioned the name to my son, she wasn’t aware that Ruby was my mother’s name.
As Ruby’s grandmother, I want to impart how “fearfully and wonderfully made” she is by a loving Heavenly Father. Her older siblings and her cousins will be a wonderful example. I continually remind them of the importance of “living for Jesus” because He is what matters most in life.
In a Noisy World
In today’s noisy world, it’s often difficult to stay focused on Jesus. For today’s generation, the opportunities to become distracted are more prevalent than ever before.
When I grew up in the 50s and 60s, we didn’t have the myriad options available today. Nature was our playground, where God’s creation spoke to us of His marvelous works.
On a spring day in Pennsylvania, a poor boy was selling goods to pay his way through school. The year was 1863, and the boy was going door-to-door to meet his goal. While traveling through the countryside, he became hungry. He only had a dime left, so he decided to ask for food at the next house.
However, he lost his nerve to ask the young woman who answered the door for a meal. Instead, he asked for a drink of water. Thinking he looked hungry, the woman brought him a large glass of milk. After he slowly savored the nourishment, he asked her, “How much do I owe you?”
The young woman replied, “You don’t owe me anything. Our mother taught us never to accept payment for a kindness.”
The boy said, “Then, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
As the young man walked away, he not only felt physically stronger, but his faith in God and man was strengthened also. He had been ready to give up.
photo by Carol Round
Varying hues of red, gold and orange decorate my lawn. That’s why autumn is my favorite season. Watching the leaves change colors and drift to the ground is a reminder to count my blessings. If I couldn’t see, I would miss out on one of God’s gifts. I’m thankful for my eyesight.
Walking across my lawn, I hear the crackle of the shriveled brown oak leaves. While they’re not a thing of beauty, and the mess they create causes more work for me, they are a reminder of the blessings of hearing and an able body.
When I take a daily walk through my lakeside neighborhood, I continue to count my blessings. I love the scent of the neighbor’s burning leaves. I am thankful for the sense of smell.
Inhaling all God has to offer us in nature and being thankful each day for the simple things we often take for granted has made me more aware of how much He loves His children. When I stop by the cove near my house, I am in awe of the variety of birds He created. How could anyone not believe in a Creator God when viewing the diversity of wildlife, trees and flowers?
“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is there for times of trouble”—Proverbs17:17 (ISV).
What does it mean to be a friend?
I heard a pastor describe it this way, “A friend is a treasure who loves you as you are, sees not only who you are but who you can become, is there to catch you when you fall, shares your everyday experiences, accepts your worst but helps you become your best, understands your past, believes in your future, accepts you today just as you are, and comes in when the whole world has gone out.”
Proverbs 17:17 puts it this way. “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is there for times of trouble.” In this case, brother doesn’t necessarily mean a blood relative. Instead, the writer of this scripture is talking about Christian brothers.
Did you know Jesus is the best friend we can ever have?
Recently, I found out how blessed I am with great friends, especially during times of trouble. On August 20, my dog, who would have been 14-years-old this December, became unexpectedly ill. Since it was after hours for my regular veterinarian, I had to rush Taco to an emergency clinic about 30 miles away.
A neighbor, also a wonderful friend, agreed to accompany me that evening. She had already prepared herself for bed but hurriedly donned her clothes and was on my front door step in less than 10 minutes.
I am honored & humbled that Derrick Garland Coy, author of A Jamaican’s Journey to Time and Patience, (http://dgcoy.me) nominated me to receive The Reader Appreciation Award. Mr. Coy is a Christian writer and entrepreneur who lives in Granada Hills, California with his wife, Diana. Born in Jamaica and educated in Jamaica, Hong Kong, and the United States, he is a world-traveler, former pastor, teacher, filmmaker, and business consultant. His book is a portrait of his multi-ethnic family whose African, Chinese, and European roots merge in Jamaica during the 1800s, then scatter across the globe in the mid 1900s, sending him on an odyssey to discover and fulfill God’s call in his life, heal family wounds, and share Christ’s message of redeeming grace and love. It’s an encouraging story of learning to trust and obey God in the midst of hardships, setbacks, and failures.
There are a few guidelines for accepting this award: 1. Acknowledge the giver of the award and provide a link to his or her blog site. 2. Copy and paste the award to your blog. 3. Pass the award to up to ten bloggers. 4. Notify your selected bloggers that you have nominated them. Accordingly, I am nominating the following bloggers for The Reader Appreciation Award:
- Allison Bottke (http://allisonbottke.com/)–Captivating readers and audiences with a mesmerizing tale of hope and healing, Allison is a bestselling inspirational author and speaker. With a powerful testimony of triumph over tragedy, her transparent vulnerability when addressing painful topics whether in books or on stage, enables Allison to connect with people in a very real and down-to-earth way.
- Jenelle (http://www.singlemominspiration.net/) is a divorced single mother who is balancing work and motherhood on a daily basis. She has maintained a successful mix of the two by focusing daily on her Christianity and religious foundation through words of encouragement which has helped her through the difficult times. As a result, she created Single Mom Inspirations to provide that same inspiration to others that may be going through a divorce, single parents (and all parents) or just a general difficult time in life. She wants to provide encouragement, strength and inspiration to others based her experiences.
- Lynn Dove (http://lynndove.wordpress.com/)–Lynn’s blog, “Journey Thoughts” is the 2011 Winner of a Canadian Christian Writing Award in the blog series category. She writes about her daily journey walk with the Father.
- Lisa Cooper (http://gotbible.blogspot.com/)–Lisa, also known online as Elementary History Teacher, lives in Georgia and writes primarily about history and history education for the weblogs, History Is Elementary and Georgia on My Mind. Her blog represents Lisa’s love of learning for Biblical archaeology, geography and history.
- Holly Gerth (http://holleygerth.com/)–When she’s not in front of the keyboard, Holly loves encouraging women in other ways. As part of doing so, she says she’s had the joy of cofounding (in)courage as well as Squee! Holly is also the best-selling author of You’re Already Amazing.
- Tracy Crump & Marylane Wade Koch (http://www.tracycrump.com/TheWriteLife.html)–You can sign up for The Write Life monthly e-newsletter and get short marketing or writing tips along with current story callouts for Chicken Soup for the Soul and other anthologies.
- Roy Lessin (http://www.meetmeinthemeadow.com/roy-lessin/)–Roy is an active Bible teacher and co-founder of DaySpring cards. He has written numerous gift and devotional books. His blog is titled “Meet Me in the Meadow.”
- Lysa TerKeurst (http://lysaterkeurst.com/) Lysa TerKeurst is a New York Times bestselling author and speaker who helps everyday women live an adventure of faith through following Jesus Christ. As president of Proverbs 31 Ministries, Lysa has led thousands to make their walk with God an invigorating journey.
- Rachel Olsen (http://www.rachelolsen.com/)–In addition to teaching, Rachel works with Proverbs 31 Ministries as a writer and speaker. For many years she served as Editor in Chief of Encouragement for Today, the ministry’s online devotional. Now she’s busy writing books and serving with the fantastic team at “She Reads.”
- John Kremer (http://blog.bookmarket.com)–John is the author of 1001 Ways to Market Your Book, which should be on the shelf of all authors and publishers. Actually, it should be in your hands, studying it for all the wonderful tips he gives his readers.
I encourage aspiring writers and readers to check out these blogs.