The Children’s Bread

The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said. But Jesus replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.” “Yes, Lord,” she said, “even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” Matthew 15:25-27

I recall a conversation I had with my sister some years ago when Puff Daddy (I believe this was before his P Diddy incarnation) was taken to court for child support. Some folks held the opinion that the mother of his children was asking for a lot, far more than she needed. But my sister said, summing up the matter nicely:

“If Puff Daddy rides around in a limousine, so should his children!” In other words, if my father eats caviar (never tasted the stuff, looks unappetizing, LOL!) so will I! That seemed like sound reasoning to me.

When my siblings and I were young, we went through what most children did of our time. You ate what mom cooked. Much of the time, MaDear indulged us and cooked what we wanted, our short order cook and waitress all in one. But I still remember the standoff she and I had over greens – I didn’t want ’em and she was determined I would try them. They were a cold congealed mess when I finally touched the fork to my lips, but try them, I did. I admitted they weren’t bad and I’ve eaten them ever since.

And then there was the showdown between MaDear and my little sister over chicken. (It was epic, on the scale of the Everybody hates Chris episode when Tanya refused to eat the surplus sausage.) The youngest, being the baby, could normally get away with murder although she never did perform anything so heinous. But our MaDear clearly wasn’t having it that day. She stood her ground and informed her baby that she would sit there until she finished that fried chicken leg. My sister wailed and insisted she couldn’t because of a phenomenon we’ve all experienced at one point or another. You know – when you bite into the drumstick and see that ugly red vein protruding – ugh. Even I, whose stomach is not so tender, must admit its appearance can be off-putting.

You will eat it, MaDear insisted, even if you have to sit here all night! 

But my sister couldn’t. Unlike with me, our mother relented when she saw her daughter was genuinely repulsed by that particular cut of meat. For years afterward, she would only eat only the breast, as it contained no obviously offending veins. This brings me to the next well-known tradition in many households, also ala EHC – Daddy gets the biggest piece of meat! The breast belongs to him! But, notice, we ALL ate chicken. If he received steak and gravy, concurrently, so did we all. And my father was a big fan of this notion. It was his habit to purchase gallon sizes containers of ice cream daily during the summer and personally see to it that we joined him in polishing it off. Sometimes I was cajoled into partaking in one of his down-home delicacies, say cornbread and buttermilk (yucky, btw) because he insisted that we eat what he ate. To feed us from his plate was his delight.

Recently, it occurred to me that this analogy held true with the children’s bread. See, my rambunctious Rottweiler Rocco, could not, nor should he, receive everything I eat. (Some of it he wouldn’t even appreciate, being a dog.) But my daughter can. And never does she have to qualify for the privilege or prove her worthiness. She eats what I eat, simply because she is my daughter. I offer it up freely; it is my pleasure. To care for her, even though she is grown, brings me joy.

Today, I thank God for this revelation because I’ve struggled most of my life with whether or not I deserved my blessings. Could I ever earn such a thing, or would I ever be good enough? My life has been a series of failed experiences in proving my value to the world. I’ve spent a good portion of my time creating accomplishments to justify my worth to man. This has been an unsuccessful effort because, mainly, the problem lay with me. I didn’t believe myself worthy. But now I know, my blessings have nothing to do with my worthiness. He is my Father. My value lies in the fact that I am His child. I get what He gets, have access to the things He has access to and I eat what He eats. Maybe He still gets the big piece of chicken, LOL! But in true Father fashion, I am allowed to eat from His plate, sup from His bowl, simply because He wants me to enjoy what He has. I don’t have to do a thing to deserve it, other than be His. Can you imagine a baby deserving a meal? Crazy, right? Think about it – a mother’s breast will excrete milk in response to her baby’s cry. We are hard wired and designed to give to our children, provide for, and respond to their need.

It has been said by some that healing, based on the context of our scripture, is the children’s bread. But I say, let us not stop there. It’s all ours! Everything God has belongs to us. Consider this: Would any of us withhold provision of ANY sort from our children? Is there any advantage we wouldn’t want to give them? And if they asked, or we saw their need, who among us wouldn’t give MORE than enough according to our ability? My children are welcome to anything and everything I have because they are mine. And so it is with God. I’m walking into this new year secure in the knowledge that my Father’s bread, is MY bread. Whatever He has belongs to me. Yes, all the cattle on a thousand hills and more are MINE.

“If you then, imperfect as you are, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in Heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” Matthew 7:11

Happy New Year,

Loria

Press Release for IMMACULATE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Contact Person: Loria Boyle
Book’s Name: Immaculate, 2nd novel in the Touched series

Email Address: lgboyle@thewordinmylife.com
Web site address: www.thewordinmylife.com

Mailing address: P.O. Box 181, Midlothian IL 60445

“Immaculate” Release & Book Signing

Meet & Greet Author, L.G. Boyle

Chicagoland Area, July 22, 2016 – Join Author L.G. Boyle to kick off the release and book signing of her second novel, Immaculate, on Sunday, August 7th hosted by Grant Memorial AME Church, 4017 South Drexel in Chicago at 1:30 pm. The first novel in the series, Touched, was sparked by the Sunday school teachings of Loria Gillespie-Boyle. Writing under the pen name, L.G. Boyle, the results have far exceeded her expectations, wowing friends, family and strangers. Touched and Immaculate are both available in paperback and Kindle on Amazon. The books can also be downloaded electronically via her blog and website, www.thewordinmylife.com.

L.G. Boyle creates a universe where the characters leap across time as their tale becomes intertwined with great stories of the Bible. The premise is lifted from a popular scripture where Jesus tells his disciples, “Suffer the little children to come unto me and forbid them not, for such is the kingdom of God.” After the people bring their little ones forward so that he can bless them, the Young Master (Jesus) endows three of the children (Mal, Ari and Martha) with gifts taken right out of the legendary Israelite exodus from Egypt.

Touched has thrilled readers of all ages, ranging from ten years to senior citizen. One reader recommends the stories because they are “wholesome, suspenseful, and inspirational.” The sequel, Immaculate, picks up right where its predecessor left off. As may be inferred from the title, the heroes (and heroine) go on a quest to save the Christ child.

Fans of Christian fiction read more than most Americans, a survey in May of 2015 revealed, and buy books more often. They also have a tendency to follow books in a series, according to the report: Christian Fiction Readers: Worth Pursuing, Worth Keeping. Historical fiction, under which Touched and Immaculate fall, is a popular genre. The author envisions that her work will birth many such tales, and is already at work on her third novel.

L.G. Boyle is a great fan of the Bible and loves to tell her versions of the stories found therein. At the urging of her friends, she began to write a blog, The Word in My Life, to encourage others by applying Bible scriptures to life events. She can be found on Twitter and Instagram as lgboyle1. For a full biography, go to http://thewordinmylife.com//about-me/

 

Press Contact:
Secondary Contact: Norvella Johnson, Assistant
Email Address: admin@thewordinmylife.com

Links to Book: Touched and Immaculate

High resolution photos available at www.thewordinmylife.com

Twitter and Instagram, lgboyle1

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It’s Gone Rain on Yo’ Head!

color purple-rain on your head
The Color Purple: It’s gon’ rain on yo’ head!

But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. (Philippians 2:17)

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)

Bone tired. Weary. These past few weeks have been mentally draining, but rewarding, full of ups and downs. I’ve ridden a roller coaster of emotions from utmost despair to life-giving hope. I’m exhausted. My faith in the concept of an Open Heaven was put to the test, recently, with the hospitalization of my mother. I thought of the story of Hezekiah when I asked God for more time with MaDear. Surely this is a small thing for you, Lord! God granted my request and I am so thankful! But after a week of watching over her, culminating in an overnight stay, my own life suffered from neglect. Even as issues came up while I was tending to my mom, I regarded them with Scarlett O’Hara disdain: I won’t think about that now. I’ll think about that tomorrow!

So a week’s worth of I’ll-do-it-tomorrows, fires that needed putting out YESTERDAY and things that required my immediate attention were delayed until that crisis was over. And I’d do it again. No THING was as important as what I was doing at that moment, no place so dire that it required my presence. My mom needed me and I needed to be with her. These other things were important, just not as high in priority. Then came the day of reckoning, when it all caught up to me. Wave after wave of actions I could no longer put off overwhelmed me. To be fair, some of it was my fault due to my own habit of procrastination.

Moments of joy also snuck into the dilemmas – I attended a business expo where I debuted a copy of Immaculate and had a meeting with a woman of some standing regarding the original book, Touched. Picture me tagging along in the footsteps of said woman (the wife of a prominent dignitary) looking the picture of the ingénue. Kinda like Emma Stone’s character in The Help or Anne Hathaway in The Devil Wears Prada – you know, the all too green girl who’s brand new to the scene. I took it all in with a sense of wonder. I was among greatness! But I wasn’t too surprised, after all, the Bible does promise that is where my gifts will take me. Still, I just hope my eyes weren’t too big, LOL!

This created an odd mixture of highs and lows as both aforementioned events occurred on the same day and I had to squeeze in a visit to my mom in between. My sister fell sick after she’d stayed up all night providing confections for my presentation at the expo. She made cake pops that looked like tiny books with my cover on them! Super talented, that one is. I had to return to the hospital and finish out her shift. Whew! But I didn’t give in. I kept going until the important things were taken care of.

It was only afterwards that I succumbed. After my mom was released from the hospital and doing well, after I’d taken care of all the necessary things that claimed my attention. I woke yesterday morning feeling out of sorts, blah, troubled in my spirit. Didn’t even know why. Couldn’t quite put my finger on it. I’ve learned, though, that feelings are fickle. Can’t trust ‘em because they may vary from minute to minute. I ate breakfast as my stomach did flips. Drank my coffee and still was not eased. Then I decided to ride it out and just wait ‘til the feeling passed. I took a nap. Woke up feeling better and had more of a handle on what I was experiencing. My throat felt like it had a small lump on the inside when I swallowed, an indication of the onset of something allergy or virus related. And there I had it, I realized. I was worn down, nearly sick physically but too busy to take note. My body was slowly shutting down, forcing me to get what I needed, the rest I would not take but for physical limitations.

Have you ever felt like you’ve given your all, your absolute all – done the very best you can do and worn yourself down to a nub? A question I’ve often asked myself is, where do you go when you’ve emptied your cup? Who or what fills you back up to capacity so that you can get back at it again? Father, I’m so glad that when troubles come my way, when they pile up on my head, when the enemy comes against me like a flood, YOU will lift up a standard against him (Isaiah 59:19). David, that great psalmist, was able to declare after he had been run to the ground by Saul and his enemies: YOU restore my soul so that my cup runneth over! Elijah, after outrunning King Ahab’s chariot, soon found himself on the run from Queen Jezebel. But an angel caught up with Elijah and provided sustenance to strengthen him for the journey ahead. So when I pour myself out and sacrifice myself in service, I can be assured there will be a refill and restoration.

Thank you, Lord, that you know my limits. You know when I have poured myself out and given all I can to my family and my ministry. You know when I am at the end of my rope. I can trust You to make sure I get the rest I need and the peace for my soul. You fill my cup again and again, until it overflows.

Be forever blessed,

Loria

Chasing God

runners-373099_1280“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Matthew 6:33

“I’m chasing after you, no matter what I have to do – ‘cause I need you more and more!” Chasing after you, Bishop Paul Morton

I remember hearing Claire Huxtable sing, “Seek ye first,” with the Hillman (aka Spelman) choir on the Cosby Show years ago. It was a beautiful rendition – oh, the harmonies! I just loved the song and the message. But to the young girl I was then, the idea of foregoing all the things I wanted to do and pursue was the waste of my opportunity to have a good time. Serving God could get in the way of that. Fun and adventure awaited me, I had my whole life ahead of me. Put God first? To me that meant church, church and more church, LOL! I thought, later for that! You mean I can’t live my life, do what I want to do, go where I want to go? I gotta be all holy? Really wasn’t trying to hear it.

But as the Bible says, when I was a child, I spake as a child. After having lived half a century on this here earth, I’ve learned a thing or two. One, that I put all of that energy into doing what I wanted to do first and it got me nowhere. I didn’t do it God’s way. Two, that chasing church is not the same as chasing God. You can attend church several days a week and give all your money in the offering plate, but it won’t get you closer to God. Only time spent with Him, in the Word, and trusting and relying on Him, building that relationship will do that.

Until recently, I was still unable to fully embrace the concept of going after God, not the things of this world, and trusting him to provide and grant me the desires of my heart in the process. God is spoon feeding the revelation to me, only as much as I can handle, before moving on to the next lesson He has for me. He’s building it line upon line, precept upon precept. After An Open Heaven revealed that we have access to God, ALWAYS, it occurred to me that there was a responsibility now on me. Not so much to do more, but to turn to Him more and rely on Him only. I had spent my life in the pursuit of things – money, health, job, love. I guess I kinda just thought He would find a way to fit in there organically, LOL! But that’s not how this works, as the lady in the commercial says. That’s not how any of this works!

When God revealed to me the gospel truth that I have access to Him, it revolutionized my way of thinking. Once I realized all that He is doing for me, I asked the question: What must I do? What is my response to His goodness? Notice that I’m not trying to invoke His blessing. I already have it. But I want to be up under Him, under His wings, basking in the glow of His love, sitting at His feet and learning. I find that the more time I spend with Him the more time I WANT to spend in His presence.

And God is going to do more, even greater than He already has in my life. It’s already begun. He’s doing it right now, just in changing the way I think and pray. He’s shifted my focus. I used to pray for Him to change my situation, now I look for Him to change me. I see that the more I grow, the more my situation changes. One day I considered this scripture: Beloved, I wish above all things that you may prosper and be in health, even as your soul prospers. (3 John 1:2)

Now, I took that to mean that as I grew spiritually, I would also prosper financially and physically. I visualize a set of scales, with one side representing your soul and the other ALL of the things you feel you need and want. As you add to the side that truly matters, feeding your spirit man, the other side would balance out accordingly. And that makes sense. I’m seeking a harmony of both in my life. So, all of these years that I have been chasing these things, they would have come to me, had I chased HIM. I’ve been putting the cart before the horse. I’ve been doing it all wrong.

As a matter of fact, the verse preceding the well-known, seek ye first scripture admonishes us to NOT worry about all of that – what to wear, what to drink, or where to live. God knows that we need that. That’s basic. But if we go after Him, these things will come after us. So I’ve made up my mind to be done with the foolishness, this way that does not work, and pursue God only, trusting that he will bring the things that I not only need but also desire into my life.

Ah, but there’s something else at work here. An element of SURRENDER. If I give it all to you, Lord, I’m trusting you with the outcome. And faith, too – cuz you gotta believe that He can DO IT! Oh, so many good things are coming from drawing closer to you and they’re not only tangible. Grow me, Lord, like a flower. Increase me, Father, so I can do more of Your will. Decrease me, so that I can be filled with more of you. I don’t want anything right now more than I want you. More of you, Lord, is my prayer.

Be blessed,

Loria

An Open Heaven

clouds-385290_1280So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me.” John 11:41

I sat in church on Sunday and listened as the pastor expounded on his topic. See, this is the Year of Jubilee in Jerusalem, according to the pastor. Every seven years God granted the Israelites a get out of jail free card, so to speak. It was a time when every man was forgiven his debt and regained his freedom if he were enslaved. He could start over fresh. (Our bankruptcy laws seem to follow this pattern.) After seven cycles of these periods of forgiveness, the Year of Jubilee was proclaimed and the Israelites were assured of additional blessings, i.e., given back property that he’d mortgaged, for example. So the pastor had a list of seven blessings that he determined were also a result of Jubilee: Presence of God, double portion, family blessings, miracles, financial abundance, restored relationships and an open heaven.

My mind fixated on that last one, considering the possibilities. I got excited the more I thought about it. I mean, I really bought into it. I believed it meant I could pray and have God’s ear always and therefore, was more likely to have my request granted. Every blessing listed could be mine, similar to how Solomon asked for wisdom and received wealth and peace, as well. The concept seemed to me a wonderful catchall. It covered everything. It was like getting a surprise bonus, a twofer, a bogo. (You should have seen me the other night when my brother got my frozen yogurt free with his purchase at my favorite shop, LOL!) I latched on to the idea eagerly. The pastor said, “Point to your blessing and call it out!” (The words were displayed prominently around the walls of the sanctuary.) Obediently, I pointed to An Open Heaven, figuring it would get me the most bang for my buck! I receive it, I cried aloud with the rest of the congregation.

But my mind said, “Hey! Wait a minute!” The entire premise is predicated on our covenant being the same as the Israelites. But it’s actually not. The covenant of Israel can seem appealing (blessed coming and going, in the city and the field, lender not a borrower and all that) but the new covenant is better. The old testament or covenant is contingent on being able to keep the law. If you break one, you are guilty of all. The new covenant, the Bible says, is a better covenant. The blood of Jesus does what the sacrifices of goats and bulls could not do. It saves and cleanses and forgives and restores continually. While we are descendants of Abraham (“And if you be Christ’s, then are you Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” Galatians 3:29) because of our faith, we are entitled and can lay claim to the promises made to him.  It’s just not limited to a certain time during a specific year.

I realized that Jesus died so that I can have access to heaven every second of every minute of every hour of every day. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. So in reality, I already have the ear of God, always. He hears me and answers my prayers. I don’t need to proclaim a special year to receive that. My former pastor once said of the coming new year, “Every year can’t be your year!” Au contraire mon frère! Oh, but it can! Because the veil has been taken away, I have unlimited access to God. I can come boldly, confidently to his throne and make my request as His daughter.

I was elated. If news of one Jubilee year got me excited, a lifetime of being able to claim these blessings made an even bigger impact. Membership has privileges, I thought to myself as I quoted an old commercial. I became bolder in my prayer life and began to believe God for more. And I saw more results. What if, all this time, I was only hindered by my belief or lack thereof? So I began to pray like Jesus and know I have the very ear of God. I no longer wonder now. I know this of a certainty. Thank you Father, that you always hear me. Oh, the blessings in store for us now that we know we have them! I feel I have found a treasure that is secret no longer. And that is good news, indeed!

Be blessed,

Loria

MASTERPIECE, a Self Love Anthem

jaz
Jazmine Sullivan performing Masterpiece at BET’s Black Girls Rock! 

Click here to listen only … sadly, I am unable to post the video, but let me assure you it is ah-mazing! I’m SO in love with this song – the lyrics reveal why:

My eyes ain’t used to these rays
I’m feeling exposed, but I hide no more
I can’t hide
As the sun shines on all of my glory
My flaws don’t look so bad at all
What was I so afraid of?

Every part of me is a vision of a portrait
Of Mona, of Mona Lisa
Every part of me is beautiful
And I finally see I’m a work of art
A masterpiece

Who is this I’ve tried so long fight?
Filling my heads with lies that I’m not good enough
Then I heard something in my ear
Tell I’m perfect, now that I know the truth
Time to show and prove

Every part of me is a vision of a portrait
Of Mona, of Mona Lisa
Every part of me is beautiful
And I finally see I’m a work of art
A masterpiece

And now I see the pretty colors on my canvas
I’m a work of art, a Mona Lisa
I’ll share my picture with the world
Not afraid to let it show anymore

I can light the night, shine so bright
(Let my colors paint the sky)
I can light the night, shine so bright
(There is beauty in my eyes)
I can light the night, shine so bright
(And I can see it now, I believe it now, I can feel it now)
I can light the night, shine so bright
(Want the world to see, I’m a work of art. I’m a masterpiece)
I can light the night, shine so bright
(I am beautiful)

Every part of me is a vision of a portrait
Of Mona, of Mona Lisa
Every part of me is beautiful
And I finally see I’m a work of art
A masterpiece

No Ordinary Love

Sade
Sade, No Ordinary Love

“The beginning of the word of the LORD by Hosea. And the LORD said to Hosea, Go, take unto thee a wife of whoredoms and children of whoredoms: for the land hath committed great whoredom, departing from the LORD.” Hosea 1:2 KJV

One area in which God has been dealing with me lately is love. More specifically, as it has to do with forgiveness. Like many people, I struggle in this because I have been hurt, abused and taken advantage of by others. I am damaged. So I admit that in the past, I have loved warily, instead of freely. And I have held grudges so long, I thought I would take them with me to the grave. I could repeat the story of the offense because I had rehearsed it and nursed it. And, it was only causing further damage, not healing me.

See, I had fallen for the lie, the GREAT lie, that love is not supposed to hurt. That it should be as natural as breathing. That if it was from God it would be effortless. That if he was the one for you, your union would be blessed. That love would be easy. The greeting card industry would have us believe that love looks like hearts, bows and flowers. It smells like perfume and potpourri. It tastes like chocolate, wine and maybe even a nice dinner. They would also have us believe that love is random and involuntary – Cupid’s bow determines who you love. Therefore, you cannot choose who you love. We’ve been conditioned to believe that love is a feeling as illustrated by a few recent Facebook posts: “People no longer date – they have sex, then catch feelings.” (Sad, but true!) And, “I HATE MEN … never mind – he called.” (Funny, also true.) A friend confessed that he felt he loved a girl because they fought like cats and dogs. Those were intense feelings. But as one of my favorite characters said, “Don’t confuse quantity of emotion with quality of emotion.”

So we have many examples of what love is. But none of these are real, true love. Maybe I don’t have all the answers. Maybe I haven’t even experienced it … yet. But I know what it is not. Love is not emotion. Feelings are deceitful and fleeting, changing from one moment to the next. Love is not the result of something someone does or doesn’t do for us. It is not the result of an action. It is not pristine and sterile, sweet smelling or beautiful. In fact, I submit that true love is sometimes unsavory and ugly. It is not accidental or aimless, but directed and purposeful. Real love is imperfect because we are. It is delivered by damaged people to damaged people.

The prophet Hosea was commanded to take a wife with a shady past. He could not be sure that she would not return to her life of promiscuity. God had not even “saved” her or delivered her from that previous lifestyle. She wasn’t a cleaned up version of herself. Gomer was a woman known to sell her body for money. She married the man of God, but she did not change her ways. Then again, it appears that she was not expected to do so. That was never the point.

“Then the LORD said to me, “Go and love your wife again, even though she commits adultery with another lover. This will illustrate that the LORD still loves Israel, even though the people have turned to other gods and love to worship them.” Hosea 3:1 NIV

The prophet was ordered to redeem his wife and treat her as if he loved her, not as if she had betrayed him. God wouldn’t let his servant give up on her. Gomer was to be an example of God’s unfailing love. Real love is active. It doesn’t just lay there waiting for a feeling. True love forgives and gives us another chance. Love never fails. Never. We fail in doing all that love requires because we are human. We let our emotions and the situation get the best of us. Our “shouldn’ts” get in the way. I shouldn’t forgive them after all they did to me; they hurt me. And we remind ourselves constantly of that pain, holding it as a shield before us so that said person cannot get close enough to do us harm again. But love doesn’t remember hurts, nor rehearse them. We fall short in doing all that love requires because we are human. And it ain’t easy. I tell you, if we knew everything that real love entails, we wouldn’t say to people so carelessly, “I love you,” in the same way we declare our love for black walnut ice cream (my personal favorite) or Garrett’s cheesy/caramel mixed popcorn.

We even go so far as to not pray for the person who offended us. But that is not the example Jesus provided at the cross. Father forgive them, for they know not what they do. At that moment, Jesus was a victim of the ugliest side of humanity: mob action. Mocked and jeered, flayed and tortured, he interceded for his abusers. And by the way, it is a sin to not pray for others. Yep, per the Apostle Paul. Real love prays for those that spitefully use us, as Jesus instructed. Even as his accusers were putting him to death, he displayed love for his abusers. Crazy, right? (Talk about Stockholm Syndrome!) But real love is crazy. That’s agape or godly love. It is determined and persistent and prevailing despite the circumstances. It witnesses the ugly, unsavory, the seedy elements in us all and responds with hope. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not keep a record of wrongs. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures ALL things (1 Corinthians 13:4-7). Whew – that’s a tall order!

I heard an evangelist testify that during the early part of her marriage, her husband repeatedly beat her for “breakfast, lunch and dinner.” She stayed. Loving flawed, damaged people is not easy. And I’m not advocating that anyone stay under such circumstances. Neither did she. The evangelist often said during her testimony: “I’m not telling YOU what to do, I’m just telling you what I did.” I couldn’t have sat through that for my children’s sake, I know. But she did, along with her children. They also witnessed the transformation of that man from an abuser to one who loved his wife wholeheartedly. Had she left, she and her kids would have missed the miracle.

I admit, I do not have a handle on that kind of love. It’s scary to contemplate. In it, you have to surrender your right to feel wronged. Wow. The only people I know for sure that I love with that kind of devotion are my children. Oh yeah! Now I get it. We are His children. He loves us unconditionally. And we are to display that kind of love to others, no matter whether it is deserved or how hard it may be. May God help us all.

Be blessed,

Loria

Choices, choices …

"I choose a mortal life," Lady Arwen ~ Lord of the Rings
“I choose a mortal life.” Lady Arwen, LOTR

For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies.

Corinthians 15:53

As anyone who is familiar with me knows, I can be a bit of a science fiction fan. I say “a bit” because science fiction is only a small part of what I like to read and it seems to be a genre with which more folks are acquainted. But I truly love fantasy adventure, young adult fiction with supernatural leanings, specifically. It goes back to my early childhood when I used to pick up my brothers’ comic books and teach myself to read. (To this day, there are still words I mispronounce because I learned by sounding them out as best I could!) The Archie digests, Richie Rich and Casper were faves, but the superheroes! They were the best – action, adventure, super powers, villains – BAM! POW! Cartoons and comics were wonderful, colorful and self-explanatory because of the pics. They were also a great way to improve reading comprehension and vocabulary. They built my imagination and increased my sense of wonder. Because these traits outlasted my childhood, I believe they contribute to my ability to look to God for great things even today.

I also credit my growth early on as a reader (and subsequently, writer) to The Book of Beautiful Bible Stories. I read my grandmother’s illustrated copy until it fell apart. (I actually found a copy at a library book sale when my children were young. I can tell you, I am quite happy to have it in my possession!) That was pretty much it for books, as I recall, until I was sent to a new school in the fourth grade – Walt Disney Magnet School. It was as magical as it sounds and a great opportunity for my family. I enjoyed the experience immensely and still carry fond memories of my time there.

After being there a short while, I noticed certain children walking around with a book under their arm. Not a textbook, mind you, but what I know now as a paperback novel. I was curious. Why did they carry this book? Was it assigned? It wasn’t a comic or picture book and the cover was dark and depressing instead of bright and attractive. It didn’t look like your typical children’s book. Hmmm. It piqued my interest and one day, while visiting the library, I spied the tome and was able to sate my curiosity. Little did I know, The Hobbit would take me on a lifelong journey to a world where the pictures would no longer be physically necessary. Instead, I would be required to create them with my imagination. But it would not be a chore as the author went to great pains to supply plenty of clues to aid the process so that my mental picture would be complete.

Other books of the same genre soon followed, most notably, The Lord of The Rings. Movie adaptations of LOTR failed to impress, although I so much wanted to be. Then came Peter Jackson’s version of the J.R.R. Tolkien classic. At last – a movie that did justice to the book! (It’s a three part book, people – not a trilogy!) So many times I had been disappointed with Hollywood’s take on my favorite stories. This was one of the few occasions they didn’t let me down. Normally, I found The Two Towers (Part II) laborious. Not so. The battle scene was thrilling. (Orlando Bloom in tights, shooting arrows and performing an insane flip to mount his horse – need I say more?) I was even pleased with the liberties taken with the story line. The added embellishment to the secret love of Aragorn and Lady Arwen kept me enthralled. The heroes of one of my best loved tales leapt off the page and sprang to life.

And then Arwen said something that I don’t recall from the books. But I have not been able to forget it ever since. “I choose a mortal life.” It may have come from one of other, lesser known books the author created in that same world, providing a back story for the works that would become famous. It has been said of Tolkien that he was Christian and that these stories were Christian in nature. Keeping that in mind, the parallel that I drew from his character to Christ did not seem so strange.

See, Arwen was one of the Eldar. Actually, daughter of a great king among the elves, Elrond. As such, she had the capacity to live a very long life. Potentially forever, if not killed. The elves were portrayed as angelic, though flawed. They could alternate between being beautifully ethereal and at times, terrible to behold. By contrast, hobbits had a life expectancy somewhere around the life span of man before the flood. Bilbo and Frodo, for example, were in their third century of life when their adventures began – equivalent to our early thirties. Aragorn aka Strider represented man after the flood. He would age at what could be considered, for us, a normal pace. Which left Arwen with a dilemma. I’m sure you could imagine it. How could she and her love be expected to overcome their age difference? He would expire long before she would even think of dying. But because she loved him, she would not want to outlive him. So, she made a choice. He could not become Eldar. The only option was for her to give up her longevity and join him. Only great love could cause one to make such a sacrifice.

Essentially, this is what Jesus, the son of God did when he put aside his divinity to become one of us. Stepping out of eternity, he entered our time stream to become like his creation, to experience life as we do. Jesus hungered and was thirsty, he got tired and was sleepy; he dealt with the same limitations of a mortal body that we do. He knew what it was to love and be injured by love, to be betrayed and deserted by his friends. In short, he became one of us. He loved us enough to not leave us here by ourselves, choosing to die with us, for us, as one of us so that we could live forever with him. He chose a mortal life. Because of his sacrifice, we can now choose immortality. Yep. Just ours for the taking. Jesus gave it all up to give us this opportunity. In effect, He pressed the re-set button. How many of us have thought, if i were in the Garden of Eden, I would’ve done things differently? Or, if only they hadn’t partaken of the forbidden fruit? Well, we now have the same choice set before us as Adam and Eve. Life and death, immortality or mortality. Therefore, let us choose wisely so that on the day of His return, like Arwen, we may be reunited with our King.

Be blessed,

Loria

Love On Top!

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Beyoncé aka Mrs. Carter
This is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. 1 John 4:10 
Baby it's you! You're the one I love. 
You're the one I need. You're the only one I see. 
Come on baby it's you! 
You're the one that gives your all. 
You're the one I can always call. 
When I need you make everything stop. 
Finally, you put my love on top. 

They say troubles come in multiples. For me, three is the magic number. That’s when I call it. See, the first incident could be merely coincidence. The second occurrence may be just plain bad luck, By the third event, I know that I am the recipient of a full-fledged, out and out attack that is supernatural. It’s usually at that point the devil is identified and he runs screaming like the little punk he is. (Yes, he is – we don’t owe him any reverence.) Picture him as the wicked witch of the Wizard of Oz after having a bucket of water thrown on her by Dorothy. “You’ve destroyed all of my beautiful wickedness,” the witch cries as she melts into nothing. It’s a comical scene when you think about it, but in reality, it’s not amusing. He doesn’t like to be called out. He wants us to think it is people who hate us, events are conspiring against us, or even that God doesn’t want us to be happy. That they are the enemy when all the time it is he, the evil one, who is at work. He is the spiritual wickedness that influences those who sit in high places.

The Bible promises us that the troubles we encounter are only those common to man. In other words, they happen to everyone at some time or another. We shouldn’t think it strange or unusual that it would eventually come for us in some shape, form or fashion. We may feel our troubles are unique. However, heartbreak is not. It is our common denominator, no matter our station in life. But with every trial, there is a way of escape given to us; the means to not necessarily undo what has happened but to transcend your circumstances, to rise above that situation. It is then that we can see that there may be a higher purpose for our trouble, a lesson to be learned. His ultimate goal is even sometimes revealed during our tribulation. So the way out is to change our focus, to see the One who is in control and to trust His plan.

So I’ve had my three recently – troubles that is – and I recognized the devil behind the curtain, manipulating events to discourage me. Then one day as I was driving Love on Top played on my car radio. That song had me grinning, singing along and bouncing in my seat. (It’s so much fun to sing along – not to mention the dance moves in the video were borrowed from New Edition’s If It Isn’t Love, another fave.) It has become my personal anthem, a love song from me to God. I riffed along with Beyoncé: “Baby it’s YOU!” I realized that in the midst of whatever is troubling me, my constant is God. My love for Him, supersedes everything because it helps me to endure and overcome anything. One of the most wretched feelings in the world is to feel like the object of your desire doesn’t return the sentiment. But I am sure of His steadfast love for me. Nothing can separate us. No-thing. I hear myself saying to Him as Bella said of Edward (of Twilight fame) – It’s Edward! It’s always been Edward! Poor Jacob never had a chance (LOL) because she had met THE love of her life. And so it is with me, no other god – be it money, worry (or worries about money), jealousies, envy, pride, job (or the loss thereof) – no other god can stand before my God. As was said of The Highlander: There can be only one! (I know that’s two movie references but I couldn’t resist! BTW – did you catch the shout out to Schoolhouse Rock?)

Which brings me to Good Friday, the day leading up to Resurrection Sunday – the holy day formerly known as Easter (nod to Prince). We honor the sacrifice of the one who loved us enough to die in our place so that we could have a chance at restoration. The One who put our love on top and made our salvation a priority. He is the only one who could have done it. I’ve heard folks mention other deities that have similar lore of a virgin birth and a god who died. But Jesus is the One who, as my sister loves to say, “loved us so much, he put his life on it!” He didn’t just die, he did it with purpose, executing a plan to save us which was set in motion from the foundation of the world. He put us first. God’s thoughts are always towards us, his creation. I know this. I see it in nature and how he carefully cultivated our living environment, anticipating our every need before he even created man, his crowning achievement, to oversee the world. We remain, to this day the apple (or center) of His eye.

I’m sure of some things in life. Troubles come and go. Everybody gets a turn. “But I know! (in ma Beyoncé voice)!” Jesus is the One I love. He’s the only One I know I need for certain. I see Him in everything, even a secular song, and gladly receive the confirmation of our love. I know He is working it out for my good. He gives me more than I asked for, more than I could ever imagine or conceive. I call on Him during times of distress, habitually. And He has answered my prayers repeatedly. It’s no wonder I can say with such joy, “Jesus it’s YOU!”

Be blessed,

Loria

 

Running with the Wolves

I’ll be honest. Brutally. I’ve avoided blogging for a while. Been turned off to it for quite some time now. All because of those who perpetrate and pretend to be Christians. They give those of us who are His disciples a really bad name. I’m not ashamed of this gospel but I don’t want to be counted amongst that number. We’re supposed to be good guys, people! But folks have got it twisted, thinking they are THE (ONLY) GOOD GUYS aneyes-712125_1280d, as such, above reproach. Oh, it breaks my heart, really it does, to see the foolish and vile things we visit upon our fellow man in the name of Christianity. Jesus said the world would know us by the love we have for one another. That would be the evidence, proof that we belonged to Him and that we are His disciples. So let’s ask ourselves, in light of that scripture: What are we really showing the world about us, as those who espouse His teachings and citizens of the oft proclaimed “God’s country?” It’s sad, truly and if you think God is down with it, you’re wrong. If Jesus came back today, looking for his church (without spot or wrinkle) would he even recognize you? Or would he count you as one of the goats – you know, one of those non-believers that we have been conditioned to look down upon. Would He see you, claim you as one of His own or call you out as a Pharisee so busy straining out the gnat that you swallow the camel? Worse yet, would He identify you as one of the wolves come to deceive the flock. Let us examine ourselves more closely. What would the evidence reveal about you? As one of my late pastors used to sing, “you oughta show some sign” of being a Christian. If only there were such a thing to indicate where our loyalties lie, a way to know for sure. Aha! But there is! It is LOVE.

Be Blessed,

Loria