The Sweet Stuff Ministry

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Let God fight for you

Exodus 14:14 The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.

Just stay calm! Sounds easy enough, but how in the world can we stay calm when things around us seem to be in such turmoil?     What can we do when the enemy is camped at our doorstep?  
We feel so powerless and weary and often times despair will set in and cause us to feel trapped. Perhaps we feel trapped by depression, rejection, disappointments, fear. The despair may come from a job situation, conflict within a relationship, health or finances. We have all been faced with these situations- events and circumstances with the potential to trap our hearts into negativity, anger or bitterness. Maybe you have a present situation in your life that brings about these emotions and you are feeling trapped. Let us read this scripture from back to front, “Just stay calm. The Lord himself will fight for you.” He WILL fight for you and He is the mighty warrior, but first you have to allow Him to be your warrior. Staying calm, although seemingly impossible at times, will allow you to submit all your troubles to God.    
Submission is letting go.  Let go of the need to emotionally wrestle the situation.  Let go of the need to do something.  Let go and let God fight it for you.                          

Monday, December 30, 2013

Healing

John 5:8   Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.

This verse was Jesus' command to a man that he had healed after 38 years of dealing with a condition that prevented him from walking.  This infirmity had become a way of life for the man.  He had lost hope of anyone helping him or of being healed. 

Jesus came by and in an instant told the man to get up.  Walk.  Move forward.  No looking back.

Many of us have infirmities, some of which are physical, many of which are emotional.  Emotional infirmities can cripple us from moving forward.  We may be physically walking but we are going nowhere.  Stuck in negative, non-productive emotions.  Negative emotions and bitterness have become a way of life for some. 

The new year is before us.  A time of new beginnings and resolutions.  There is no time like the present to decide on a resolution to be healed emotionally.   God will heal you and show you how to move forward.

The decision is yours.

The next few weeks will focus on forgiving, letting go and moving forward.     #TSS

Friday, December 20, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Luke 2:  15-16   When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."   So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.

This is what Christmas is all about!  Have you found Jesus in the manger?  Have you met him at the cross?  If not, it is time to unwrap all the gifts that he has to offer you.  He offers the gift of salvation.  He has in store for us peace, joy, healing and eternal life.  What a wonderful Christmas gift!

In order to celebrate with family and friends, The Sweet Stuff will take a couple of days off.  May you and yours have a blessed Christmas as you celebrate the birth of our savior.      

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Psalm 23

Psalm 23: 2  He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside the still waters, he restores my soul.


We cannot blaze the trail through our lives seeking our own way while dragging God behind us and expecting him to go along with our plans. 

We cannot walk with God unless we allow him to lead.  He wants to lead.  He wants to restore you.

If your pastures do not seem green and your waters are tumultuous, get behind God and allow him to lead you.  In doing so, you will experience the still waters of contentment, peace, joy and The Sweet Stuff.  

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Submission

Luke 1:38    "I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered.  "May it be to me as you have said."  Then the angel left her.

"May it be to me as you have said".

Submission.  Obedience.

What a perfect example of these two nouns.  Young Mary, who had to be scared and unsure of what was happening to her, simply accepted what the angel told her and trusted in what God had in store for her. 

In Mary's day, she could have been stoned to death for being "with child" as an unwed mother.  Much different than our world today.   She risked losing her fiance', her reputation, and her life.  Yet, humbly, she accepted what God called upon her to do.  

How many times do we so willingly say, "Ok God, whatever you say"?  I don't know about you, but I will sometimes try to argue my case, especially when the assignment is somewhat out of my comfort zone.  However, as I have learned the hard way, when God has an assignment for us, it is much more pleasant on our part to say right away "May it be as you have said". 

Mary is such a wonderful role model for obedience and submission.  Let us all follow her model.  #TSS

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Two Steps Forward; Three Steps Back

Philippians 3:13-14
       “Forgetting the past and look forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Jesus Christ, is calling us.” 

            Today’s devotion is a “mail bag” item that posed this question:  “Why on some days do all the hurtful things that others have done come flooding back?  Two steps forward and three steps back.”

            One reason this happens is because you ARE taking the two steps forward.  When we move toward forgiveness and letting go of hurts, we are moving toward a closer relationship with God through obedience of his commands to do so.  When we move toward God, the adversary feels threatened.  He knows he is losing ground, therefore he must remind us of the injustices we have been served.  He will replay details and try to convince us that we need to harbor bitterness and wallow in the hurt.  There may be times that we encounter the one(s) that hurt us and without a doubt this stirs the raw pain and may even re-open the wound. 

            Another reason it happens may be that God is trying to speak to you about some part of the situation.  Let me explain my own experiences.  In dealing with the situations that have hurt me most, I had the same question. “Why do the hurts keep flooding back?  Why can’t I be free of these reminders”?   As I continued to pray and cry out to God, He showed me that not only did I need to forgive, but I also needed to learn to pray for my offenders.  Some of the people that hurt us are not saved and have no relationship with God.  When I finally saw what he was trying to tell me, I had a different kind of hurt inside me, a deep hurt with a burden for the lost. 

            Both reasons listed above can be dealt with in your daily walk with God.  First, when the flood gates open and the hurts flow in, re-establish the fact that you have decided to forgive.  Claim that decision in Jesus’ name.  Set those emotional boundaries and tell the devil he will not win.  Refuse to feel the hurt.  Decide that you will enjoy The Sweet Stuff. 

            Secondly, pray for the offenders.  Pray that they will walk with God.  Pray for their salvation and for their families.  Yes, I know that this is not easy and is quite uncomfortable to do in the beginning.   Remember that when others offend, they have hurt God far more than they have hurt us and that they will stand before him with an account just as we will.  It is important to settle our accounts here on earth, if not with the offender, then we should settle it in our hearts.   #TSS

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Best Christmas Gift

Matthew 18:21-22  Then Peter came to him and asked, "Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me?  Seven times?"  "No, not seven times," Jesus replied, "but seventy times seven!"

Forgiveness is multifaceted. 

Forgiveness is tough.

One of the toughest parts of forgiveness involves fear---the fear that comes with feeling vulnerable to being hurt again.  For as many times as we are hurt, we must forgive.   Non-negotiable. 

Worrying about subjecting ourselves to the possibilities of hurt is not fun.  It is also NOT forgiveness.  Forgiveness is letting go of the actions or words that caused hurt in the first place; the decision that we will not allow the actions or words to affect our inner beings and service to God.  Forgiveness pertains to things in the past, no matter how recent or distant.   

The fear of being hurt again is a trust issue.  It pertains to the future.  Fear is anticipation of something that might happen.  Fear is not of God, it is a tool of the devil.

We are required to forgive over and over and over.  Think of it from God's perspective, He forgives us over and over and over.  The offer is always good.  

Do not allow fear to prevent you from offering forgiveness.  Trust in God to protect you from hurts and decide to live in forgiveness.  

The Christmas season is a great time to offer forgiveness.  After all, Christ was born in order to die and offer forgiveness for us.   Christmas stirs our hearts to deal with forgiveness-I believe this is no coincidence!                      #TSS

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Luke 2:14

 Luke 2:14    "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!"

  So many times when we are celebrating the Christmas season, people will say that all they wish for is "peace on Earth".  Christmas cards and decorations will resound the message of "peace on Earth".  Lately, the latter part of this scripture,"goodwill toward men" has spoken to me.   
        Do we possess goodwill toward men?  What does this feel like or look like?  Goodwill toward men should mean that we have do good, pray for good, and desire for good things in the lives of others.  We should be supportive in others' endeavors and happy for them when they are blessed with good times and things.

        Do we practice good will?  When we know that a brother or sister is struggling, do we offer to help carry the burden?   Do we pray for our brothers and sisters to have peace and for good things and blessings come their way?  Do we pray for their businesses to thrive and for their families to be healthy? 
        These are a few examples of what goodwill toward men looks like.  This is my wish for this Christmas--Goodwill toward men---all across our planet.                         #TSS
        
   

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Being right is not nearly as important as doing what is right.

Proverbs 11:2     When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.
Being right is not nearly as important as doing what is right.
Disagreements and conflict are a common part of the human nature.  People will not always see eye to eye.   Pride loves to rear its ugly head and allow the conflict to escalate into "who is right" instead of focusing on doing what is right.  

Settling disagreements should not rely upon who is right and who is wrong.   Tomorrow, the "right" person, who started to conflict or even the topic of the disagreement may long be forgotten.  However, emotions, hurtful words, and actions during the disagreement will last-sometimes for extended periods of time.   
 
Walking away or refusing to take part in disagreements equals wisdom. Many people will view the refusal to participate in conflict as cowardly or not taking up for oneself.  God views it as humility.  He views humility as wisdom.   God doesn't care what the disagreement is about, who is right and who won in the end.  He expects us to use self-control versus allowing our emotions and pride to result in an ungodly treatment of others. 

When conflict does occur, God has a plan for resolution.  The plan involves grace, forgiveness, repentance and Christ-like behavior (see Matthew chapter 18).  He wants us to be humble in all our dealings with others.  It is never in God's plan for us to focus on who is right and who is wrong.  It is His plan for us to do what is right in all matters.       

If the need to "be right" is causing you to have conflict with others, pray for humility.  Seek God's heart and ask Him to help you do what is right instead of focusing on being right.  Study and seek His wisdom in all situations.  

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Trust

Psalm 91:2 “I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.”

When those things come along in life that we cannot understand nor have any control over, TRUST in God is all that we have.

I have a heavy heart this morning for a fellow that I respect and love dearly.  He is a devoted husband, loving and protective father, precious friend, deacon, child of God, neighbor to all.

Please join me in lifting him up in prayer for peace and comfort for him and his family. We must trust in God's sovereignty and timing.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Wisdom

Psalm 111:10  Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true wisdom.  All who obey his commandments will grow in wisdom.

What does wisdom look like?  What does wisdom feel like?  What does wisdom act like?  The Bible tells us in Psalms 111:10 that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.  Fear in this sense does not mean to be afraid, but it means to respect.  A respect and deep appreciation for the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. This is where to start in becoming wise. 
    
Webster's Dictionary defines wisdom as an understanding of what is TRUE.   Understanding truth is understanding the Bible (God's word).  We understand God's word first by having a strong desire to obtain wisdom.  Secondly, we should pray, read scripture, and seek the counsel of Godly people. 
    
Worldly wisdom can be dangerous.  Being of great intelligence or possessing worldly knowledge does NOT equal wisdom. 

So what does wisdom look like?   Wisdom is a deep love and respect for God.   Wisdom is righteous living by obeying God's commandments.  Wisdom is calm.   Wisdom is finding the truth in situations before reacting and knowing when not to react at all.  Wisdom is embracing integrity.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Trust

Matthew 5:44  But I say, love your enemies!  Pray for those who persecute you!  In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven.

When are emotionally wounded by the actions of others, we naturally desire to stay away from the person(s) and to put up a wall or shield that stands in between us.    We want to protect our feelings and not allow room to be hurt again.  We may even entertain thoughts of retaliation.   Sometimes the hurt and the actions are so disappointing and unbelievable that our minds become consumed with the disbelief and the replaying of the events.

It becomes difficult to trust others.

Finding excitement and participating in events/groups that we once enjoyed takes much effort. 

Friendships and other relationships become strained.

Walls separate us from others.  When we are separated from others, we create a distance from God because he commands us to love one another and love cannot get through a wall.  God expects us to love even when we feel like we want to hate.  That is a tough one at times!

Thoughts regarding walls/shields:
               -walls rob us of new friendships and relationships that God will send to heal and help us
               -walls decrease our closeness to God
               -perhaps your role is to pray for the offender(s) and be an example of God's love
               -I found that it helps tremendously to rearrange your expectations of people.  Doing so
                decreases the disappointments.   Look to God to meet all your expectations.  He tells us
                in the Bible that humans will fall short of that.  

Monday, December 2, 2013

CUPCAKE CROWN

This Cupcake Crown goes to a man with more emotional fortitude and faith than anyone I can think of.  He is currently undergoing a month long hospital stay receiving treatments for leukemia.   It is at least his third time this year for the month long treatments.  Did I mention that he is a cancer survivor from years ago?   I visited with him last week and as he described some of his darkest moments, he immediately followed the description with the "light" that God showed him. 

He has hope.  He has faith.  He thanks God for everything in his life. 

He walks the hallways of the hospital unit telling others about God.  Talk about inner strength!!! 

We could all take lessons from this man.  He is dear to our family and all those that know him.

Mr. B, you get a dozen of the most delicious cupcakes ever made!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Holiday is a day on the calendar in November. 

Thanksgiving should be an attitude of our hearts every day on the calendar. 

May you and yours have a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving Holiday weekend.

See you back here on Monday!                                          #TSS

Monday, November 25, 2013

Filling in the Blanks

Isaiah 11:3      He will delight in obeying the Lord.  He will not judge by appearance nor make a decision based on hearsay.

Years ago at a bridal shower for one of my college friends, we played a game of fill in the blank.  It was designed to show how well we knew the bride by asking various questions that were not the most obvious things you might know about someone.  I still remember the laughs we had as the answers were read and how the bride would tell us if we were right or in most of the cases, not even close to right about the answers.

This game was all in fun but how many times do we fill in the blanks with how we think we know people?   Are we quick to make judgments based on appearances, hearsay or false evidence?  I think that we can all bring to mind a time when we made a "fill in the blank" judgment about someone and then after we really began to know the person, we realized that our initial assumption was far from the true person.   Perhaps you can call to mind a time when such assumptions were made about you.  Some we can chuckle about and others cause hurt.  

Only God can perfectly judge us and he does not use appearance or hearsay, no "fill in the blanks" with him.  We should ask that he govern our hearts in order to be fair with our treatment of others as we expect others to be toward us.                                      #TSS

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Self Control

2 Peter 1:5-7  For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.

Once upon a time a frog and a scorpion sat next to each other on the river bank.  The scorpion wanted to get across the river but could not swim.  He asked the frog to take him across the river on his back since he was a good swimmer.  The frog said to the scorpion, "why would I do that?  You and I both know that you will sting me and neither of us will make it across the river."  The scorpion laughed and said to the frog, "my friend, I will not sting you, for if I do, I will not make it across the river either."   This made sense to the frog and so he trusted in the scorpion and allowed him on his back to carry him across the river.  About half way across the river, the frog felt a mighty sting in his back.  As his legs began to fail from the poison of the sting, he asked the scorpion, "why did you sting me when you promised that you would not do that?"  The scorpion simply stated, "It is my nature". 

We are all born into this world with a sinful nature.  Satan is always around to tempt us to do wrong and to treat others in ungodly manners.   Having faith is more than believing facts, it must result in action and a growth in Christian character.  Moral excellence, knowledge, perseverance, doing God's will and loving others is faith in action.  

The story about the frog and scorpion is an example of a lack of self control on the scorpion's part.  He did not treat the frog with brotherly love.  He did not keep his promise to the frog and in doing so, set himself up to die as well.   God expects from us temperance in both our thoughts and actions.  He expects us to love one another and to be good to one another.  Seeking his will and understanding the principles that he expects us to uphold are not optional, they are part of the Christian life.  They require hard work and constant attentiveness.  God gives us the strength and power to keep these virtues as well as the responsibility to learn and grow.                                                     

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Job

Job 42:12    The Lord blessed the latter part of Job's life more than the first.

I recently studied the book of Job seeking to understand his strength and perseverance.  When we think we have it rough, a good look at Job's life will put ours into perspective. 

Job's experiences opened his eyes to the indescribable holiness of God.  God used Job's sufferings to refine his character.   To make him a better person.  We often hear that when we suffer trials and temptations that we should seek to find what God is teaching us.  Job is a great example of this.  

In all the sufferings and losses that Job experienced, he was still able to worship God and acknowledge his sovereignty.  Many times Job was tormented by others and encouraged to turn away from God.  He was humiliated, rejected, knocked down and beaten while he was down. 

The central theme of Job is that through God's grace, we shall trust and serve him merely because of his sovereignty and not in return for earthly benefits.  God's sovereignty means that he is not required to give a reason for all that he does, however, we are required to trust in all that he does.  

Trusting in God's grace and sovereignty in the midst of suffering is not always easy.  We can see the benefits however in the last chapters of Job where his life was fulfilled and blessed way beyond all that Job had lost.                            #TSS

Monday, November 18, 2013

Words

Proverbs  18:21    The tongue has the power of life and death.

Have you ever thought about what causes us to enjoy some people more than others?   Even though we love many people in our lives there are just some people that we have a stronger desire with which to spend our time.  Think for a moment of some of your "favorite" people.   What about them influences the fact that they are favorites?

When I think of some of my favorite people throughout my lifetime, I think of words.   It is not that there were any spectacular words or fancy words, but just merely the fact that we shared words.  Kind words and words of encouragement develop those warm, fuzzy feelings.  Questions with words that displayed an interest in the happenings of my life have contributed to deep bonds with other people.  Words of love and fulfillment come to mind when I think of those most close to my heart.  Words that convey compassion, trust, and security develop everlasting relationships. 

We remember words. We also remember the emotion attached to the words.  Damaging words that bring about negative emotions will cause us to have no desire to be in the presence of the people that spoke them.  On the other hand, encouraging and loving words will produce a desire to spend great amounts of time with the people that spoke them.   

Words have a huge impact on our minds and emotions.  Words can build up or tear down.  We can all call to mind words that we would like to take back because they tore down or caused damage.  We can likely remember times when words were spoken to us that we would like to give back to the mouth from which they departed.

There have been words that we should have said yet never did.  There have been words that we did say but never should have.

Each time that we talk with people, we have a choice in our words.   We choose whether we use words that are destructive or constructive.  When we choose our words, we release the opportunity for life or death.  May we always choose construction.  May we always have a desire to speak life into the ears of another.   



Friday, November 15, 2013

Thanksgiving

Psalm 100:4    Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.

Each and everyday, may we be mindful and forever grateful of all the things God has given us...

as well as for all the things he has taken away!    


Have a great weekend!                                  #TSS

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Suffering

Job  30:15    Terrors overwhelm me; my dignity is driven away as by the wind, my safety vanishes like a cloud.

Job was a man that suffered immense tragedies in his life.   Along with his extreme loss of his family,  possessions, health and his position, he was also mocked by the younger people.   They even mocked the way he suffered.  Talk about a lack of compassion. 

Verse 15 conveys such deep emotion and raw honesty.  Job cries out about his fear and anxiety.  He was insecure and worried.  He even felt like he had lost his honor, that his name was no longer respected. 

Job's situation typically brings to mind a man of great patience, endurance and steadfast faith in God.  I am certain that he felt broken in ways that seemed unbearable at times.  I would like to focus on his broken heart.  Think of a time in your life when you have suffered.  Maybe it was the loss of a marriage, job/finances, family member or close friend, friendship, health, pet, or home.  Whatever the loss, think of how your heart felt; the fear that terrorized your mind, the worries and anxieties that kept you awake at night.  Can you recall the despair that left your heart feeling empty and beyond repair?  Now, multiply that times 10 and perhaps that will come close to how Job suffered. 

With the thought of the brokenness, I also want to focus on compassion (on our part).  When we hear of the suffering of others, do our hearts break or do we acknowledge that the situation is bad yet move on with our busy lives?   When we listen to someone describe their brokenness and suffering do we merely hear the words or do we hear the emotion, fear and distress?  Let us make it our personal prayer to be more compassionate for situations no matter what the source of the suffering.   May our hearts feel the brokenness along with our our friends and family members.  I pray that we will have a burden for the brokenness of others and that we will not forget what it is like to hurt and worry.  Hurt and brokenness are in the eye of the beholder and we should not discount any one's suffering.   I encourage you to today to make it your prayer that God will pierce your heart with a deeper level of compassion that each and every one of us could be concerned with the hurts of others.  We cannot always fix the brokenness of others but God can!  When we pray in earnest for others, God will hear our intercessions.                                              

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

It is time for a Cupcake Crown!   This crown goes to a precious lady that I have known for over 20 years.  So many times I have seen her pour out compassion and understanding.  She maintains the same deep level of compassion and understanding even when she does not agree with a person's situation.  She is non-judgmental, non condemning and always puts others needs before her own.  I would love to give her a real crown full of the most precious diamonds available.   

Monday, November 11, 2013

Bitterness: The receiving end

Romans 15: 1-3  We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves.  Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.  For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written:  "The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me."

There may be times in life when someone treats you in ways that are difficult to understand.   The treatment may include disrespect with unkind words, manipulation, rejection or  attitudes of indifference.    Some acts may be outright malicious with the intent of causing harm.  This kind of treatment sends mixed signals to us.   A person may say "I love you" or "you are important to me" but not show it with actions.  When this happens, you are on the receiving end of bitterness that is present in that person's life.  Deep hurts in the past will lead a person to lash out at others, especially when it is perceived that another has what he/she is missing in life. 

You may never be able to explain or understand why these things happen.  However, I have come to realize that when people act in ways as stated above, one or more of the following will apply:
      -the person has unresolved hurts that need to be healed
      -the person is in need of an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ
      -the things that are said and done really have nothing to do with you. He/she is battling issues internally. 
      -compassion and unconditional love may be something the person has never known

I do not intend to imply that any of these behaviors are acceptable.  What I do want to emphasize is that when you are on the receiving end of these behaviors:
                1.  you must remain strong in knowing that you are not the cause of another person's
                      actions
                2.  you must NOT allow bitterness to grow within you from their actions and words
                3.  being on the receiving end says more about the other person than it does about you as a
                     recipient
                4.  it is your responsibility not to entertain thoughts of vengeance or similar actions

Prayer and patience will go a long way in coming to accept that everyone will not love you as God loves you.  It would be a wonderful world if that could be the case.   When you are placed in these situations, pray that God will reveal to you what he expects from you in response to the actions/words of others.   Seek strength in dealing with the failings of other people.          

Compassion for one another

Proverbs 19:17    Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward them for what they have done.

A mother sent her young daughter to the store down the street to pick up some things.  When the young girl did not return promptly, the mother began to frantically worry.  When the girl finally did return, the mother asked her what had taken so long.  The little girl said that on her way she had seen her friend crying and upset because her doll was broken and she had stopped to help her.  The mother asked her if she fixed the broken doll.  The little girl said, "No, I helped her cry."

I used this story some time ago in talking about friendship but today I want to focus on compassion.  In this story, the little girl was not able to fix the broken doll but she shared the burden that was in the heart of her friend.  She took time to offer her comfort and to be in her presence to show support and understanding. 

True compassion for one another is the ability to see the pain within others, to understand where the pain is coming from and to offer loving support which in turn lends itself to the steps of healing.   To offer this form of love and understanding fulfills the law of Christ.   He was full of love and compassion and showed the ultimate act of carrying our burdens when he went to the cross for each of us. 

We may not be able to relate to the source of another person's pain because we all have different hurts and burdens.  However, we can understand the process of pain because we have all suffered a form of hurt whether it is physical or emotional.  We can relate to the emotions, fears, worries and insecurities that our burdens can present.    

In Proverbs 19:17 we are encouraged to be kind to the poor.  The poor are not only people in financial distress, the poor are also those who are in emotional distress, spiritual distress or physical distress.  I encourage you to take a moment and think of someone you know that is carrying a heavy burden at this time.  Give them a call, send a card or an email or better yet, go for a visit.   Compassion is being aware of the distress of others and also having a desire to alleviate it.  We cannot always fix the problems, but helping someone to cry is a great source of comfort for both parties involved.      #TSS


Friday, November 8, 2013

Self Worth Part 5

1 Corinthians 8:3    For whoever loves God is known by God.

We are not required to accomplish great things in order for God to view us as important or successful.   Our successes in God's eyes are measured with the amount of love we hold in our hearts.  First and foremost, we are to love Him with all our hearts.  Secondly, we are to love one another.   These are things of  most value!  These things create your self worth. 

Abe Lincoln said this:  God must love the common man.  He made so many of them.

Have a great weekend!                                

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Self Worth Part 4

1 Timothy 6:6   But godliness with contentment is great gain.

Disappointments in life can lead to dissatisfaction.  Perhaps you are disappointed about your circumstances, acts others have committed against you or perhaps you are dissatisfied with poor decisions that you have made in the past.  Dissatisfaction should NOT give way to feelings of unworthiness.   Trust that the work which God is performing in you and your life is exactly what he has planned. 

I can recall a situation in my family's life a few years ago that left us feeling disappointed and dissatisfied.  I felt confused as to the direction in which God was leading us.  Because of the dissatisfaction and the fact that I thought our situation should have been going in a different direction, I began to have feelings of low self-esteem and of little worth.   I can tell you from my own experience that if you are telling yourself that you are of little worth, then you begin to be clouded with only those thoughts.   My mind was cluttered because I allowed worldly measures to influence my feelings of worthiness and importance.  When we can have a positive attitude about ourselves and maintain a positive self-worth, we can keep our minds open for self-improvement and to hear what God is asking us to do. 

We must learn to be content in "whose" we are, not who we are.   We are all God's creations.    We are all valuable and should use any feelings of dissatisfaction to improve ourselves and seek God's direction.     

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Self Worth Part 3

Hebrews 13:5      Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he
                            said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you."


New cars, new home, latest fashions, exotic vacations, latest technological gadgets, impressive diamonds-all valuable, yet none of these indicate a person's self worth.   Quite often, the people that seem the happiest with their material possessions are miserable internally.  Measuring self worth by possessions will leave a person feeling unfulfilled.   Insecurities and a lack of self worth can lead to the love of money and many folks find feelings of empowerment by spending money.  The money serves as a substitute for the personal worth that is missing in their minds. 

Media such as television, magazines, store ads and displays advertise "things" in such a light to cause us to believe that our lives will be happier or easier.  The more things we have, the happier we will be.  Right?  Hardly.   Material things will all pass away.  Cars and technological items become outdated quickly. 

We must learn to be content with what we have.  Resenting what we don't have or feel like we are missing out will lessen our perception of self worth.  Your value in this life is measured by who you are in God.  Take inventory and list your personal value.  As a mother or father, your worth to your children is invaluable.  As a daughter, sister, or granddaughter, your worth and importance in a family cannot be measured.  No amount of money nor "things" can ever serve as a substitute for you.  You are of value to your spouse.  You are of value at your job.  Most of all, you are of great value to God.   I leave you with this verse:  Proverbs 22:2  Rich and poor have this in common:  The Lord is the maker of them all.               

 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

A Pink Suit and Identity Negotiation

Matthew 5:14  "You are the light of the world.  A city on a hill cannot be hidden."

A pink linen suit and identity negotiation.  What on earth do these two things have in common?  

Many years ago when I was a Junior in high school, I participated in a program called Junior Miss.  The program was a competition that included academic achievement, talent, self expression, poise and appearance and personal interview.   For around three months, all the participants prepared and practiced together for the program.  We learned dance routines, polished our speaking skills and practiced talent presentations.  

Behind the scenes, I was working on a pink linen suit.  Those of you who know me personally are aware of how much I love to sew and  that creating things with fabric is such a huge part of my identity.  I have been sewing since I was 8 years old (much thanks to my Nana).    In high school, I took all the sewing classes that I could find my way into.  I had a wonderful teacher who shared my passion for sewing (we still discuss techniques and fabrics today!).  I decided that I wanted to make a suit to wear for the interview portion of the program.  I picked out a gorgeous pale pink linen fabric.  The suit had a full, gathered waist and a long sleeved jacket with a stand up collar-quite the fashion in the early 1980's.   I worked many hours on the suit setting sleeves, inserting the zipper, hemming, etc. 

When the day came for my interview, I wore the suit- but only on the outside of my body.  You see, in high school, sewing was not "cool", especially not in the 1980's.  I did not want to be labeled "Becky Home-Ecky".   Therefore, I kept this part of my identity in low profile.  At the interview, I negotiated my identity and only focused on the parts of it that I thought were "cool".  I thought I needed to be like everyone else instead of my self.  I opted to bring into light my involvement in sports, my academic achievements and "cool" interests.  I sat there wearing one of the things that made me unique and never said a word about it. 

The next year of my life, God spent a great deal of time teaching me about my identity and how it is not important to gain the approval of others regarding who we are.  He created us to be unique with our own set of gifts and talents.  He never intended for us to be just like everyone else.    Just for the record, I did not win the program.  However, I feel like I gained many valuable lessons in the couple of years that followed and God used the pink linen suit to teach me. 

Whether you are 16, 26, 50 or 100, if you feel that you must negotiate your identity in order to gain acceptance and a place of value from others, STOP right now.  Stand strong in your identity.  God gave you a unique identity with gifts and talents to use for his glory.  Look to him to validate who you are.  He is the keeper of all the measurements of a person's value.  He gave each of us a light to shine in this world; not to hide it and shine in the light of others.                         



Monday, November 4, 2013

Self-Worth

Genesis 1:27  So God created human beings in his own image.  In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. 

In the first book of the Bible, we are shown the value that we have in God's eyes.    From the beginning of creation, God valued us so much that he created us in is image, both men and women.  

We are all born with the same worth to God.  From the beginning we are all valued the same.  In the end we will still all have the same value in God's eyes.   As we go through life here on earth, experiences and situations add to or take away from our perception of our self worth as well as our view on the worth of others. God's view of our value never changes.

It seems easy to allow others to affect how important we feel.   The relationships and the communications within those relationships have a strong impact on our perceptions of our self worth.  Negative words cause hurt feelings. Actions that tear down character can cause us to doubt our worth or wonder if we have any value.  Trials and tribulations may leave us feeling insecure and  unimportant.  

When we allow others to have an impact on our self-worth, our relationship with God is diminished. Our relationships with others in our lives will be impacted if our self-worth is low.  Job performance will be affected as well as the goals that we pursue.  How we perceive our self-worth affects everything in which we are involved.  Feeling unimportant can change the course of the rest of a person's life. 

We must remain strong and grounded in the worth that God has for us.  When we allow the words and/or actions of others to have a bearing on our esteem, we forget who holds the yardstick.  God is the keeper of the measurements!  He is the one, the only one, who declares the value of a person's worth.  Guard your self-worth.  Do not look at the value of your worth according to the people on this earth.  Look to God to assign worth to your life and the purpose He has for you.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Super Heroes

Batman, Robin, Superman, Spiderman, Wonder Woman. What do all these have in common? They are super heroes and we hold the memories of their good deeds from decades ago. These super heroes were ordinary people with ordinary lives yet they had the ability to become super heroes and to call upon super strengths and insights. They each had a costume (uniform) that empowered them and they each possessed some unique power or gesture once they engaged in superhero mode. When there was trouble or danger for themselves or others, they donned the "suit" and used the super powers to save or rescue people. Each character craved justice and wanted to see evil defeated. Each hero had their own enemies and usually one arch nemesis.

We should all have the same cravings and desires to see God's ways and word carried out. When we know that people are in trouble, danger or burdened, do we delight in this, walk away in oblivion or do we put on our armour and swoop in to make a difference? Are we willing to go the extra mile to help or rescue people from evil and oppression? Are we willing to take on our enemies and arch nemeses?

I challenge each of you to put the "S" on your chest and become a Superhero for God. Crave justice, peace and to see evil defeated. Look for opportunities to improve mankind, to uplift those in trouble and make a difference in our lost and dying world!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Identity

Proverbs 18:21    The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences. 

Have you ever thought about your identity?  What defines it?  What it includes?  A drivers' license gives a glimpse into the identity of an individual.  Hair and eye color, height, weight and a photo offer a visual image of the person.  A visual image does not give us the complete view of the true identity of anyone.  How do we find out the true identity of someone that we want to get to know. 

Our identities are made up of the things that make us different from others, yet also the things that make us the same as others.  In Building Bridges, Not Walls, John Stewart explains how our identities are shaped by our experiences in life, our beliefs and values and relationships both past and present.  It includes how we view ourselves as well as how others view us.

Identities are expressed mainly by use of  the tongue.  The words we use, how we use them and how others react to our words have a great bearing on our identities.   Through conversations we reveal our true identities and learn of the identities of others.  Reactions and responses reveal characteristics of a person's identity.  

We have a responsibility to accurately represent our identities as well as to accurately interpret the identities of those around us.   It is easy to embellish ourselves or misrepresent who we are, especially when we communicate electronically and miss the nonverbal language of others.  We should use our tongues the way that God intends and that is in a way that brings life into the words that we speak and to represent our identities in reflection of him.  




Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Live in the Moment

Matthew 6:34     "So don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries".

While it is good to plan and think about tomorrow, it is a waste of time to worry about things that might happen tomorrow.  By worrying about tomorrow, next week or next year, we rob ourselves of The Sweet Stuff in the moments of today! 

Worry generates fear and fear is not of God.  Fear interferes with relationships- with God as well as with others.

We cannot live in tomorrow until tomorrow. We can't re-live or redo yesterday.  We should practice living in the moments of today, relishing the joy, love and peace that we are offered in each moment.    

Monday, October 28, 2013

Focused on self

“Anger and bitterness are two noticeable signs of being focused on self and not trusting God’s sovereignty in your life. When you believe that God causes all things to work together for good to those who belong to Him and love Him, you can respond to trials with joy instead of anger or bitterness.” ~ John C. Boger


The largest trial in my life thus far left me with a great deal of anger and bitterness.   Within those emotions, I was constantly asking, "Why did this happen?"  I felt as though since I loved God, was making sacrifices for him, and serving him that he would never have allowed such events to cause me such distress.  

Let us unpack that paragraph.  Why did God allow it to happen?   It was not his fault, nor did he approve of the damaging details.  Humans have free will and they are not afraid to use it!  

Next is the issue of my "feelings".  I was focused on what I felt I was doing right instead of things that God wanted me to improve upon as well as drawing closer to him.  I had some things to learn and until we are ready to commit as students, God will not allow us to move forward in the situation.   The main point within that lesson was that serving at church and "doing" things for God is not the complete relationship that God expects us to have.  I needed  a bit of surgery on my heart to understand that I could not serve away the anger and bitterness.   I was so focused on my feelings and circumstances that I lost sight of God's sovereignty.   I was saying that I trusted him with my mouth and serving him with my hands, but my heart did not reflect that trust. 

Ridding of anger and bitterness requires a sincere desire to be rid of it.  When I reached the point of being so tired of those feelings, only then could I be healed.  I have not experienced a trial of such magnitude since, but believing that God will bring all things together for my good allows me to view trials and struggles in a more positive light.  I know that I am better equipped to deal with any trial that may come my way in the future. 

We must believe that God does not bring about bad things in our lives.  He only wants the best for us.  However, he can bring us out of the bad things in our lives when the free will of others causes us pain and suffering.  He will use those times as opportunities to allow us to grow in our relationship with him and strengthen our inner constitution.  We truly can come out of trials better and stronger than ever before when we completely turn to God for healing and strength. 

Friday, October 25, 2013

This week's cupcake crown goes to a young lady that has taken the high road in a situation where it would have been easy to fall into the "drama" of the issues.  While encountering difficult people, she chose to seek God's counsel instead of reacting from within her emotions.  She has chosen to walk away when that was best.  She has sought what God will have her to do in dealing with what the devil is throwing her way and when character assassination is thrown at you, it can feel as if you are underneath tire tracks in the road.   She is wise beyond her two decades.  May God continue to bless her and may she always realize that the view from the high road is more scenic and breathtaking!   #TSS

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Overwhelmed

Psalm 61:2  From the end of the earth I will cry to You, When my heart is overwhelmed; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

I must admit that I am feeling a bit overwhelmed lately.  Some times in our lives seem more demanding of us both physically and emotionally.    I feel like there needs to be 3 of me and that my brain needs more gigabytes.

In these times we can become so caught up in the busyness and emotional distractions that our relationship with God will suffer.  I have discovered about myself that within these periods of "overload"  I MUST spend more time with God in study, prayer and submission.  By studying and spending time with God first thing every day, I recognize a decrease in the stress level of all the "stuff" that swirls in my mind.  It is like eating your dessert first and enjoying The Sweet Stuff.

How do you deal with feeling overwhelmed?

If you are reading The Sweet Stuff for the first time, welcome!  I invite you to click on LIKE at the top of the page and receive daily notifications/devotions. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Difficult People

Matthew 5:43-45 "You have heard that it is said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.'  But I tell you:  Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.  He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get?

At various times throughout our lives,  people will cross our paths that will tempt us to falter in our love and compassion for others because they are extremely difficult to get along with.  There are just some people that make it seemingly impossible to be around.  When we are in situations that require us to spend a great deal of our days in close proximity with these types of people, discouragement can easily set up housekeeping.  It is easy for our spirits to become dampened and if the door is opened wide enough, insecurities and despair can enter and lead into bitterness.

You have met some of the people that I am referring to. 

Abrasive.  Rough.

Self-centered.  Things are always someone else's fault.

Emotional bullies.  Instigators.  Confrontational.  

While being in these situations will cause torment on our emotions, we must keep things in perspective and remind ourselves of the truths and strengths that God offers.  I have found that this type of person is usually one or all of the following deep inside themselves:   emotionally wounded, insecure, lacking self confidence, cowardly, rejected, in need of salvation and looking for love and acceptance.  

It is human nature to want to stay away from these people, to seek peace or even think about retaliation.  

To be God centered requires us to show love, compassion, patience, prayer and a genuine burden for their salvation.  Through consistency, kindness and seeking to understand what is deep beneath the surface, the relationship has the opportunity of  becoming smooth instead of rough.  Easy?  No.  Important?  Yes.

God's truths: he will protect you; he will always love you; anyone that hurts you will be accountable for every thought, emotion and action;  you, also, will be held accountable for every thought, emotion and action so pray and guard your reactions.   

Loving our enemies is not easy.  God can help us to love those that seem to be unlovable.  I encourage you to intentionally seek out someone that you know that fits the bill of being difficult to love.  Do something random that involves an expression of love.  Love is exactly what difficult people are in need of.                                
 

Monday, October 21, 2013

Testimonies

Mark 5:19   "Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you."

Each of us has a testimony.  Each testimony is unique to our situations and experiences. 

Each testimony offers us the opportunity to reach others.

 Each testimony contains power and the chance to tell others about what God has done and to show others what he can do. 

Testimonies offer hope, healing and comfort. 

I found that a deeper level of healing comes each time I share my testimony-a deeper level of healing for myself.  It offers a sense of freedom within my heart and strengthens my relationship with the Lord.

I encourage each of you to share your testimony.  It may not be in public, it may only be with one friend or a group of friends, but it is important to do so.  Share and give thanks for all that God has done for you.                             

Friday, October 18, 2013

There are 5 distinct moments/situations in which God spoke to me about my need to rid of the bitterness in my heart.  Those moments will forever be etched in my memory.  This song is one of them:   I Need You Now  by Plumb.    If God is speaking to you about a need to rid of any bitterness in your heart, I urge you to move forward and allow him to heal you. 

Listen to it here:

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Little Things

"Everyone is trying to accomplish something big, not realizing that life is made up of little things."
                                -Frank A. Clark

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Compassion

Romans 12:15   Rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep.

So many people in the world are hurting and dealing with emotional turmoil.  Discouragement, bitterness, depression and deep wounds will cause people to feel isolated-like no one understands what they are feeling. 

Each of us experience different hurts with different depths to our wounds.  We do have in common the feelings produced by the hurts. We understand the emotions that accompany hurts and disappointments.  We share a need to know that we are not alone in feeling the way we do.  We have a desire to feel loved and accepted.

It is difficult to reach out at times to seek comfort from others.  We fear that our friends and family may analyze our situation or pass judgment on our thoughts or actions.  We fear that we might hear the "well you should have done....................." lecture. 

When others come to us for comfort, we should remember that it takes courage for most to share their deep inner hurts and feelings.  It creates vulnerability.   It is important to love and understand others rather than analyze or give advice.   Weep along side those that value your friendship enough to pour their hearts out to you.  Love and acceptance speak louder than any words you might offer.                                            

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Pride

Ecclesiastes 7:8  The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride.

Self-righteous pride is basically the largest obstacle to forgiveness.  Pride doesn't want to  let go of hurts and disagreements.  Pride wants to ruminate, hold on and not move forward. 

Pride wants to always be right.

Pride wants to be smarter or better.

Pride wants to be more righteous. 

It is difficult to admit to one's own pride.  It is equally as difficult to set it aside.   Holding on to pride causes us to miss the sweetness of God's grace, both from him and between us and others.

Setting aside pride, experiencing forgiveness and fore bearing all things in love puts an end to all matters of conflict and exposes us to sweet grace.                                      

Monday, October 14, 2013

Psalm 3 Shadow

Psalm 3:3  But you, O Lord, are a  shield around me; you are my glory, the one who holds my head high. 

Today's devotion was inspired by my 11 year old daughter as I watched her taking pictures a couple of days ago while we were on a little trip.  We were on sand bar of a large river around mid day.  She noticed her shadow and began taking photos of it.  I was amazed at how well they turned out and I complimented her on her work as well as her creativity.  She said to me, "yea, the pictures are good, but my shadow is much larger than I really am".  I suppose the kid in me leaked out and I began to notice my shadow and photograph it as well.  Wherever I was, there was my shadow. 

As I studied the shadow, God came to mind. 

He is larger than we are.

He is always with us, everywhere we go. 

When we experience disappointments in life, we may be tempted to think that God is not there for us.   A job loss or not being chosen for a job, a financial situation that did not turn out the way we had planned, a broken relationship or any other type of disappointment may lead us to wonder if God is paying attention to the things that are going on. 

Rest assured that God shadows us, shelters us and protects us every where we go and in every situation that we encounter.  Even when things go wrong or "seem" to be going wrong, he is watching over us like a mid day shadow.                                              #TSS

Friday, October 11, 2013

Cupcake Crown


This week's cupcake crown goes to a fellow that has dealt with rejection most of his life.  The flavors of the rejection have varied.   Friends, family, and co-workers have contributed to the rejection. Satan has knocked at the door with bitterness, yet, he holds to these truths:  We have worth.  We have value.  Otherwise, we do not believe what God says.  He has trusted in God's sovereignty, in his promises and has rested in his love.   Much like Daniel, when he faced the lion's den for standing up for God's laws, he has remained steadfast in his beliefs.                                         #TSS

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Rejection Part 4

Proverbs 4:23   Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.

Guard your heart so that rejection does not lead into dejection.  Understanding the potential damage that rejection can do to you emotionally is the key to guarding your heart from bitterness.

The bitterness that accompanies rejection will rob you of your peace.

It will steal your joy.

It will cause you to question your purpose. 

It will cause you to lose faith in people, even people that you love. 

I've been there and experienced all the above.

Within every situation that we encounter, even when rejection is involved, the opportunity to exercise and increase our faith exists.   We must rely fully upon God, and not look to others for personal validation.   This is difficult-it was for me.  It requires practice daily.  It is possible. 

Be still and know God.  He is sufficient!                  #TSS

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Rejection-Part 3

Psalms 7:1  O Lord my God, I take refuge in you; save and deliver me from all who pursue me, or they will tear me like a lion and rip me to pieces with no one to rescue me.

At some point in our lives, we all have felt a form of rejection.  Rejection comes in many flavors and varying degrees.  Whether it was being chosen last for a kickball team at recess during childhood, having an idea rejected from a team member at work, losing a position or job in the hands of subjectivity, betrayal from friends or family, divorce, or not being included in social groups, rejection is not pleasant.

Why does rejection have the potential to cause such deep emotional wounds?  Rejection, whatever the flavor, involves a relationship between two people or a group of people.  Relationships are the core of our existence on earth.  God designed us to have relationships.  His will is for our relationships to be pure and according to his principles.  By nature, human beings are self serving.  Pride and "self" do not yield to the needs of others.  When pride and self centered intentions are in the mix, someone will feel rejected and unimportant.

Rejection brings about distance between people.  It causes chaos, turmoil and discord.   Satan's ultimate goal is to create enough bitterness between people that each will eventually become bitter toward God  (Study Job).  When dealing with rejection, we must separate ourselves from the behaviors and thoughts of others and discard any self defeating thoughts of being unimportant or unlovable.  

The most important relationship we have is with our Heavenly Father.   Even if people that are important to you in this life, or people that are you family reject you, you are still real and you are important to God!                              #TSS

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Don't reject the love that God sends


2 Corinthians 4:9   ....persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.

Rejection creates fertile soil for seeds of bitterness to grow.  However, those seeds do not grow into plants that offer astounding beauty nor ones that are aromatic.  The seeds of rejection are the vilest weeds with large painful thorns. 

Rejection causes feelings and thoughts of unimportance, it causes people to feel of little value and unloved.  Sometimes we get to the point of not liking ourselves because of rejection.  Rejection in our past or present will affect how we behave in future relationships.  

Many people do not recognize the effects that rejection has had on their lives until they reach adulthood or years after an occurrence.  The effects of rejection are often denied, all the while realizing that specific topics and/or events stir negative and fearful emotions.  Negative emotions that will destroy inner peace and joy result from bitterness caused by rejection.


Rejection brings about distance between people.  It causes chaos, turmoil and discord.   Satan's ultimate goal is to create enough bitterness between people that each will eventually become bitter toward God  (Study Job).  When dealing with rejection, we must separate ourselves from the behaviors and thoughts of others and discard any self defeating thoughts of being unimportant or unlovable.

The sooner that the negative feelings caused by rejection are dealt with and gotten rid of (Eph. 4:31), the better.   The emotions that follow rejection in our lives, prevent us from enjoying all the blessings that God has for us.  Remember that you are loved by God, you are important to him and he will never reject you.  

The most important relationship we have is with our Heavenly Father.   Even if people that are important to you in this life, or people that are you family reject you, you are still real and you are important to God! 

Prayer for today:  Lord, I pray that for every person that deals with rejection and the long term effects of the emotions that accompany rejection.  I pray that each and every person will feel the love that you have to offer.  I pray that each person dealing with rejection will not reject those on this earth that you have sent to provide them with love and comfort.  In Jesus name, Amen.




Monday, October 7, 2013

Rejection

All of this week's posts will focus on rejection.

Psalm 94:14  For the Lord will not reject his people; he will never forsake his inheritance.

One of the greatest seeds of bitterness is rejection.  Rejection leads us to wonder why we are not liked or wanted.  Why aren't we good enough?  Why are we excluded? 

Rejection leads to a great number of emotions that easily turn into bitterness:  anger, discouragement, fear, disappointment, and insecurities. 

Satan loves for us to feel rejected.  He will walk through any open doors and offer us feelings of inadequacy, insignificance or insecurity.  Remember that those feelings are not of God for he promises never to forsake us.                                              #TSS

Friday, October 4, 2013

Cupcake Crown

This week's cupcake crown goes to a lady who has seen and endured many things in her 9 decades of life.  Within the past year she has lost her youngest son (age 53) to cancer and her husband of 75 years, who passed away 8 months later.  

During these times when her heart was ripped into pieces, I have seen a strength within her that is amazing.  In her time of sorrow and grief, I saw her put her own feelings aside and minister to other members of the family.  In her darkest hours alone instead of becoming bitter and blaming God, she seeks him and draws closer to him and her family.  

She is such a strong, solid woman of godly character.  When I grow up, I want to be like her.  I love my Nana-my hero.  As far as I am concerned, she wears the cupcake crown every day!   #TSS

Thursday, October 3, 2013

World politics

Isaiah 41:4  "Who has done such mighty deeds, summoning each new generation from the beginning of time?  It is I, the Lord, the First and the Last.  I alone am he."
Isaiah 41:10  "Do not be afraid, for I am with you.  Don't be discouraged, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you.  I will hold you up with my victorious right hand."

I normally do not enjoy discussing politics, however as I spent time with God yesterday, the present state of our nation was on my mind.  As I read in the Bible (I was actually studying a different matter), Isaiah 41 came into focus.  I encourage you to read the entire chapter of Isaiah 41.

Verse 4 tells us that God's plans embrace all generations.  Each generation of people has its own problems, political issues, fears and sufferings. 

God has been there through all generations. 

He can see 100 years behind us as well as 100 years ahead of us.

He is in control of all world politics and is completely aware of all the details.   He understands how the government shut down affects each and every one of us.  He sees the intent of every politician and political group in existence. 

Isaiah 41:10 is reassurance that we do not need to worry, fear or lose sleep over politics and the state of our nation.  As the young generation says, "God has your back"! 

As Christians we can rest in that peace that passes all understanding and stop worrying over all this.  Go ahead, let God deal with the politics.  The only thing that we can do at our level right this minute to change any of it is to pray and trust in God.   

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Practice makes Perfect

2 Corinthians 12:9   But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

"Practice makes  perfect".  Did you ever hear your mom or coach tell you this?  Practice makes us more efficient, but never will we be perfect.

To say that I love to sew is an understatement.  I would rather sew than eat.  I have had a great amount of sewing practice-over 35 years.   My sewing skills are far from perfect.  Stitches are still sometimes crooked and have to be ripped out and re-done.   Pattern measurements may not always fit accurately and will require alteration.  Trying to finish a project hurriedly causes inattentive mistakes.  Then, there is the matter of zippers- talk about anxiety producing!  Zippers are tedious and require patience and focused attention and if a zipper is inserted improperly, it is extremely difficult to rip out.

The same can be said about Christian living.  As much as we practice, we will never live perfect lives.  Some things we will mess up on and have to repent and "re-do".  Areas in our lives that do not "fit properly" into God's will, require alterations.  Just like zippers, there are areas of Christian living that require a great amount of patience and detailed attention.  

In those areas of weakness in our lives, as we recognize our limitations, we have the opportunity to rely on God for our effectiveness and not on our own energy, efforts or talents.  Our limitations and dependence upon God will strengthen our Christian character, deepen our worship and affirm God's strength. 

The only way that we will reach perfection is through Christ.   Accepting Christ as our Lord and Savior will offer us a promise of eternal perfection.  (John 3:16) 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Psalm 139:14  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

My eleven year old has recently discovered re-runs of the Twilight Zone.  She loves them!  A recent episode that we watched began with a patient in the hospital whose face was completely covered with bandages.  The doctor spent quite some time talking with her about removing the bandages and that if the surgery had not gone according to his liking, she would look unacceptable and would be an outcast.  He talked with her about places that she might find to live where she would fit in.  

If you have ever watched The Twilight Zone, you know that there is some twist to the story and the themes are usually a bit backwards from reality.  This episode was no exception.  The doctor's face was never shown and as he continued to talk to the patient about her surgery and how he had attempted to make her look like everyone else, the suspense and emotion was mounting.  You know, the music that is played on the show helps that out!

My eleven year old figured it out before the bandages were removed.  She said, " I think the doctor looks like something other than a human the woman will be normal".  She was right!  When the bandage was removed, the patient was a beautiful young lady with flawless skin, beautiful eyes and hair while the doctor and nurses all looked like pigs in the face.  The doctor and his people had defined beauty and had made this young woman feel unaccepted and of little value. 

I know that the Twilight Zone is not a yardstick for reality, however our society uses yardsticks other than God's measuring devices to define and describe beauty and what is "acceptable"

This message is for ladies young, old and in anywhere in between.  Do not allow magazines, television nor society in general to define your beauty.  God made you in his perfect image to accomplish his divine purpose.                       #TSS
                                                                                                                                                 

Monday, September 30, 2013

Proverbs 14:10

Proverbs 14:10     Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can share its joy.

Each of us knows or has known our own bitterness, however great or small.  The circumstances that cause bitterness within people vary and the mechanisms of injury that cause the hurts may be different.  However, the consequences and by-products of bitterness as well as the damages to our hearts are UNIVERSAL. 

I do not know the trials and tragedies that each of you has endured.  I do not know the levels of betrayal, the depth of the injustices, the magnitude of your sorrow, nor the acts that have occurred in each of your lives.

I do know the thoughts and questions that have gone through your minds.

I have experienced the feelings that consume you at times and some that have haunted you for long enough.

I know how Satan can trample all over your inner self.  He can even cause you to dislike others as well as yourself.

I remember the anger, fear and frustration that accompanies bitterness.

I also know that God stands ready to heal you and take away all the negatives that bitterness presents.

I KNOW that healing!  I have in my mind the memories of experiencing the accompaniments of bitterness and I now have in my presence the enjoyment of "The Sweet Stuff" of life every day.  I am so thankful that the bitterness is only a memory!!

There is no time like the present to rid of any bitterness in your heart.   I encourage you to seek the healing, make the bitterness a by-gone.   Fill your life with the presence of "The Sweet Stuff"  that God has for you.                        



Friday, September 27, 2013

Live for the future

Matthew 6:33   But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.       

Bitterness will grow when we live only for the present and in the past.  Constantly wallowing in "what happened to me" and "why me" is a recipe for bitterness.

We must live for the future, trusting in God's sovereignty and have faith in his promises.  Seek his kingdom first and all his promises will be fulfilled unto you. 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

This weeks cupcake crown goes to a lady who has put on her "big girl panties" and moved beyond bitterness, offered forgiveness, sorted and put things into their places.  While on her way to restoring her joy and inner peace, she was thrown a major curve ball this summer.  She did not allow the curve ball to strike her out.  Instead, she hit it head on and is now running toward home plate.   Knowing how to sort, sieve, learn and leave allows us a high batting average and offers us The Sweet Stuff!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Trust

"Forgiveness does not come easily to us, especially when someone we have trusted betrays our trust.  And yet if we do not learn to forgive, we will discover that we can never really rebuild trust."  - Billy Graham

Trust issues are by-products of hurt and bitterness.  The issues not only affect the relationship between us and the person that caused the hurt, but also between us and other relationships old and new.  We begin to believe and wonder if everyone that we encounter will treat us the same way as the person (s) that hurt us.  We wonder if they all feel and think the same way.

Trust issues are based upon how others have treated us, not on how others might treat us.  The future must be based upon faith-a faith that God will never hurt us and also a faith that allows us to open our hearts to relationships that we risk missing.  I have PRECIOUS relationships in my life that I would otherwise have never known if I had not relied upon God to help me trust.

When faced with the need to forgive someone or a group of people, it is easy enough for us to read what the Bible says about forgiveness and to understand what is expected of us.  However, it is not always easy for our hearts to "want" to forgive or to know how to forgive completely and what that means. 

As Billy Graham says, we will have to learn to forgive.  That begins with a desire "want" to forgive and God is willing to prepare our hearts for that and to teach us how.               

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Self Esteem

Romans 12:2  "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind".

Allowing bitterness to take root within us affects our self esteem.  When others say things and act in ways that hurt us or treat us with little value, we begin to question our self worth.  Low self esteem will steal our joy, our daily happiness and affects our decisions and may lead us to question our purpose. 

We must not view ourselves through the eyes of the world.  Instead, we MUST view ourselves through the lens of scripture.  This includes renewing our minds about ourselves.

God says:
     -you are important
    -you are fearfully and wonderfully made
    -you have a valuable purpose

I have used the following to improve and rebuild my self esteem:
    -read the Bible
    -make everyday meaningful by identifying the positives
    -surround yourself with positive people that love you
    -find activities that allow you to use your gifts and talents (this gives you purpose)
     

A healthy self esteem allows The Sweet Stuff in life to taste even better.          



 

Monday, September 23, 2013

This morning's post is in honor of a 12 year little fellow, from the next town over, that lost his battle with cancer yesterday. As parents, we cannot wrap our minds around enduring such an event in our lives.  It can also be difficult to offer condolences and love to families because we have a difficult time finding the right words to say or enough words to say. 

 His mother is a dear friend of a dear friend of mine.  When I talked with my friend about it this morning that is what we discussed.  She said, "I can't begin to know what to say to his mother."

In times such as these, it is important to offer support to grieving family members.  That support can be as simple as your physical presence without any words.  While it is not easy, it is important to be in their presence and allow the unspoken language of love to fill their hearts. 

Let us all be in prayer for this family.  Let us pray for comfort, peace and healing that only God can offer.  After you pray, hug up your sweet babies and grand babies and thank God for each and every one for they are The Sweetest Stuff that we have on this earth!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Cupcake Crown

Today I wish to give a Cupcake Crown.  It goes to a young lady that has faced her fears, in order to seek God's will in her life.  She has shown a level of maturity that has required her to step out and at times to stand alone in what she stands for.   She has been rewarded for doing so and is tasting some of life's Sweet Stuff. 

I encourage each of you to allow this testimony to be an encouragement.  Conquer those fears, draw near to God, stand alone when required and do so with confidence.  Enjoy the Sweet Stuff and treat yourself to a huge cupcake!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Proverbs 14:10

Proverbs 14:10   Each heart knows its own bitterness and no one else can share its joy.

We have all tasted something bitter:  candies, a green apple, lemons, etc.   We have all tasted of things that are sweet.  I love sweet stuff!!!  But what if all that we had to eat tasted bitter?  Sour fruits and candies that make us pucker and our jaws tingle.  What if that was the only flavor that we could taste? 

We would soon be tired of tasting such bitterness and crave a sweet piece of pie or cake.  Yet, many of us harbor bitterness within our hearts.  

Sour grapes that are there because of some injustice that we have experienced. 

Nagging, negative feelings that steal our joy and rob us of the sweet stuff in our lives. The bitterness overpowers the sweet enjoyment of even the small things in our lives.  

There is no peace alongside bitterness.  When we lose that inner peace, we are vulnerable to many negative emotions; susceptible to distancing ourselves from our relationship with God. 
  
Bitterness is directly related to unforgiveness.  The lack of letting go of that injustice and enjoying the "peace that passes all understanding".  Offenses and injustices will come because we live in a fallen world.  Hurts will happen because we fail one another as human beings. 

Forgiveness is commanded!  (Matthew 6:14-15)  Getting rid of bitterness begins with forgiveness which in turn will allow us to enjoy the "Sweet Stuff".