iBelieve

Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” Mark 9:24

Archive for the category “Gift-Giving”

What’s In Your Wallet?


Scenario 1
An elderly woman turns her house upside down searching for two lost coins. Frantic to find them she is relieved when she does; these two coins are all she has to live on. She goes to church and puts them both in the offering plate.

Scenario 2
Newly divorced, single woman lives in a tiny apartment furnished with lawn chairs and a donated kitchen table. She receives a bonus of $500 from her employer. This money is needed to make ends meet. She goes to church on Sunday and puts $50 in the collection plate.

Scenario 3
A shop-aholic goes to her favorite boutique and finds a dress perfect for a party. It is on the sale rack for ten percent off the price. She does the math in her head and feels that ten percent isn’t much, but at least she can tell her husband she got it on sale, and she makes a purchase.

Out of the three scenarios, who would you guess to be the biggest loser? Let’s break this down.

Scenario 1, it was not uncommon for the elderly woman to give all she had. God blessed her by meeting her needs and she was never without food, clothing or shelter. She lived by faith.

Scenario 2, the newly divorced, single woman went shopping after church. She found a great deal on a new television and had half of the bonus money left over.

Scenario 3, the shop-aholic spied a must-have accessory. It was the ten percent difference she was saving on the dress. The dress ripped and the accessory was lost somewhere between the car and the party.

Scenario 3 comes in as the biggest loser. Selfish motives produce no blessings.

What’s in your wallet? God only asks for ten percent and he promises a great return on your investment.


Give generously to them and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to. (Deuteronomy 15:10 NIV)

April – Child Abuse Awareness Month


I was present at the birth of my great-niece almost eight years ago.  I was standing next to the crib where she was placed within seconds of entering the world.  I watched wide-eyed in amazement at how the nurse cleaned her up, cleared out her nostrils, mouth and eyes.  She was so little and dependent on everyone around her.  This precious child of God will need food, clothing and shelter, I thought, and I knew her needs would be met by the loving family who waited for her arrival. 

Under the veil of protection, some children do not receive the proper food, clothing and shelter they deserve.  Some families do not realize children are a gift from God and so the children are mistreated as objects instead of humans. 

My first encounter with child abuse was by reading the book A Child Called “It”: One Child’s Courage to Survive, written by Dave Pelzer about his own experience.  Dave’s mother was mentally disturbed and an alcoholic.  She mentally and physically abused him with tortuous games only she thought were amusing.  Child abuse is often cyclical.  Once abused, that person will abuse and that person will abuse, and so the ripple effect moves on.  Dave was able to overcome and broke this chain of destruction in his family.

Some children are sexually abused.  Usually the abused knows the abuser.  Sexually abused children are threatened to remain silent and this silence may bring about behavioral changes.  The following is taken from http://www.stopitnow.org/warning_signs_child_behavior   April 9, 2011. 

Behavior you may see in a child or adolescent

       Has nightmares or other sleep problems without an explanation

       Seems distracted or distant at odd times

       Has a sudden change in eating habits

       Refuses to eat

       Loses or drastically increases appetite

       Has trouble swallowing

       Sudden mood swings: rage, fear, insecurity or withdrawal

       Leaves “clues” that seem likely to provoke a discussion about sexual issues

       Writes, draws, plays or dreams of sexual or frightening images

       Develops new or unusual fear of certain people or places

       Refuses to talk about a secret shared with an adult or older child

       Talks about a new older friend

       Suddenly has money, toys or other gifts without reason

       Thinks of self or body as repulsive, dirty or bad

       Exhibits adult-like sexual behaviors, language and knowledge

Signs more typical of younger children

       An older child behaving like a younger child (such as bed-wetting or thumb sucking)

       Has new words for private body parts

       Resists removing clothes when appropriate times (bath, bed, toileting, diapering)

       Asks other children to behave sexually or play sexual games

       Mimics adult-like sexual behaviors with toys or stuffed animal

       Wetting and soiling accidents unrelated to toilet training

Signs more typical in adolescents

       Self-injury (cutting, burning)

       Inadequate personal hygiene

       Drug and alcohol abuse

       Sexual promiscuity

       Running away from home

       Depression, anxiety

       Suicide attempts

       Fear of intimacy or closeness

       Compulsive eating or dieting

You cannot pick a child abuser out of a crowd, but you can pick up on the warning signs listed above.  Reach out to a child or adolescent, they need you to be their silent voice.  

I witnessed my beautiful great-niece coming into the world and I know she is a gift from God.  I would do everything in my power to protect her and her siblings. 

 2 Thessalonians 3:2-3 (New International Version, ©2011)

And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil people, for not everyone has faith. But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.

 

A Birthday to Remember


One day to call your very own.  One day of extra-special treatment, presents, cake and ice-cream.  Yes…the birthday.

My family is big on birthdays.  We like to celebrate them and it is a great excuse to get together.  Extra-special treatment is given on each of our birthdays – no exceptions.  Birthdays entail an assortment of presents and a delicious homemade cake beautifully decorated by my very talented mother.  Our favorite ice-cream waits patiently in the freezer to be invited to the celebration table.

When we were younger, we used to celebrate summer birthdays at our family cottage.  A hot and  sunny day drove the kids to swim and play in the lake, while the sun baked the adults during their afternoon game of horse shoes.  Birthdays were not complete until we pulled out the Bingo game.  We played Bingo like it was going out of style.  A line, 4-corners, X, postage stamp…we played them all. The $5.00 pots at the end of each set gave the winner of each final full-card not only a heavier coin purse, but also bragging rights for the day.

Fall and winter birthdays brought the fun indoors.  If we weren’t playing a card game called Tonk, then we were playing Bingo.  Inflation did not touch us as we always played with nickels and dimes and the big pots were usually around $5.00. 

We were always laughing and we were always together.  The laugh I miss the most is my Dad’s.

Dad would have been 84 today.  He celebrated life and his family.  The older he grew, the less he neither needed nor wanted gifts, as the gift of family was present enough. 

We are experiencing a blizzard today, but my family will gather as planned around my father’s earthly resting place at the cemetery.  Today is bittersweet; we continue to mourn his passing.  Extra-special treatment is shown on each of our birthdays – death is no exception, we celebrate this wonderful man.  We know he will be present with us, after all, his memory lives in our hearts.

One day to call your very own.  One day of extra-special treatment, the present of us together once again, and there will be delicious homemade cake beautifully decorated by my very talented mother. 

Yes…the birthday.

Happy Birthday Dad!!!

Love Always,

Kristine

Psalm 118:24 (New American Standard Bible)

    This is the day which the LORD has made;
         Let us rejoice and be glad in it.

New Life Begins at Kidney


Eight years ago, a family was shedding tears at the loss of a woman in Georgia. I never met her yet I want to know everything about her. Did she hold the titles of sister, wife, mother, aunt, and best friend? What was her occupation? Did she know and follow the Lord? How did she die? Who was with her when she took her last breath?

Eight years ago, my family was shedding tears of joy over a telephone call to my husband, Mark, telling him that they have a kidney match for him from Georgia. He was instructed to be at the hospital early in the morning on January 24 to get prepped and ready for a transplant. That evening was the last time he had to use the peritoneal home dialysis machine. We ran around the house in such excitement, making phone calls to family and friends telling the good news and asking for prayers. Understandably, we did not sleep much that night.

My mom and sister sat with me in the waiting room during the surgery. Mark’s parents and twin brother came from the Bay City, Michigan area as did his sister and brother-in-law who live in town. We all waited patiently.

A doctor came through the operating room doors and told us that once the kidney was attached, it started to pink up and Mark was urinating! Urinating? Really? That hadn’t happened in about 2 years since his kidney failed. As his wife, I was the first one who got to see him when he woke from the anesthesia. He looked so good!

We are born to do the work God has planned for us. When our work is done, He calls us to Heaven to be with Him. This woman in Georgia may have completed her work at a young age; however, her kidney was in perfect shape to be used again.

When Mark first told me about his health history, all I could see were God’s fingerprints all over him. I feel blessed to be his wife because I know that God has great plans for him. Why else would God give him three chances at new life?

I take time, especially on this anniversary, to pray for the family and friends of the woman from Georgia who passed away eight years ago. I thank God often for giving me such a great husband. I pray also to remember that every day is a special gift from God.

Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

In college, I took a creative writing class and came up with the following during a writing assignment titled KIDNEY.

Kidney.
Renal failure.
Immediate health care.

Sick at such a young age, he did not once
back down, no, he did not
allow the disease to win: transplant.
Kidney.

Effect.
Renal failure.
Kindhearted cadaver

renewed life in the man I love deeply.
Insist on living, my
sweetheart, I love having you near me.
Be well.

Happy 8th Kidney Anniversary Mark!  I love you!!!

Gift-Giving 101


I went Christmas shopping Friday night. I did not listen to the ads on television or radio and I was not compelled by a coupon; I went on my own free-will and a list.

My list contained the name of my great-nephew. “Maybe I could get him something cool to wear” I thought. Nothing seemed to appeal to me as I passed by the shirts, jeans, underwear, socks…until I found myself in the pajama section. My mind’s eye raced me back to my youth on Christmas Eve…finding a new pair of pajamas under the tree. In my family, pajamas were the number one gift to receive. I loved new footy-pajamas as they kept me snuggly warm. The real treat was being able to twirl around in a nightgown and matching robe that my mother stayed up late at night sewing for me. There is just something about a new pair of pajamas. Snapping back into reality, I remember that my sister usually buys her grandson (my great-nephew) pajamas for Christmas. She has similar memories of receiving a new pair of pajamas for Christmas and feels strongly to continue the family tradition.

As I stood there, my mind’s eye raced me back to my painful memory; the last 18 years. Oh, how I wish I could buy pajamas, or stay up late at night sewing pajamas, for my own children. My eyes welled up as I joined reality and walked out of that particular store.

Gift-giving has special meaning for me because of my childlessness. It allows me to let others know I am thinking about them and cherish our relationship.

Can you imagine God’s list that first Christmas? He did not listen to ads on a television or the radio and he was not compelled by a coupon. He was compelled by eliminating death in the world and replacing it with eternal life. God is the ultimate gift-giver. We all can have great Christmas memories by accepting God’s only son, Jesus Christ, as our Lord and Savior, who was born man and died freely for our sins. We will be able to thank Him in person for this gift since He is preparing a place for us in eternity.

John 3:16 (NIV, ©2010)
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

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