Category: Nooks and Crannies

A Child’s Visit

IMG_7342

LIttle signs of wonder, everywhere

IMG_7478

A book out of place

IMG_2064

Little signs of wonder, everywhere.

IMG_0831 (1)

The lost red crayon, under a seat cushion.

IMG_1221

Three stones on the bottom porch step.

IMG_2052

The leaves from the lilies; a neat pile on the climbing rock.

IMG_7490

A collection of flowers and weeds on the lawn.

IMG_4484

Little signs of wonder everywhere.

IMG_4439

Little shrines unmoved,

IMG_4477

Waiting for little hands to come again.

Share This:

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmailFacebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmail

Your Very Own Superpower!

girl-852617_1920

“We need more sunshiny parents and more sunshiny Christians,

man-984433_1920

We are too much shut up within ourselves.

people-856541_1920

Too often the kindly, encouraging word, the cheery smile, are withheld from our children and from the oppressed and discouraged.”  Ellen White

girl-477019_1920

You have the power to change someone’s day with your smile!

mother-397956_1920

Honestly, I don’t know why smiling is not categorized as a superpower!

jamaica-80749_1920

You can change the most unfriendly looking person into a friend with a smile and a kind word.

child-542038_1920

Try it!

woman-1031000_1920

The next time you are out, make a conscious effort to smile at every person you make eye contact with.

person-768582_1920

Of course some people may think you are a creep, that is because people don’t smile enough.

bali-254074_1920

Others might run away, but in general, it will make your experience brighter, and change the disposition of people around you, including the little people that follow you, copying everything you do.

afghanistan-60662_1920

Smile!

girls-946287_1920

Be a blessing and be blessed!


Alicia St. Hilaire Man

This post was contributed by Alicia St. Hilair Mann. She is the mother of three beautiful little girls and says, “My family is my life. I created a blog, The Modern Biblical Family to share some of my stories as a parent, wife and daughter, and hopefully spread some love and encouragement along the way. God blessed me with a uniquely twisted sense of humor because He knew there was no way I would get through it otherwise!  But I believe that LOVE is the biggest factor in building a Godly family.  My hope is to share the incredible beauty God has shown me throughout my life. Things have not always seemed great from the inside looking out, but even through the tough times, God has always been able to make shining jewels from the wreckage in my life.”

Share This:

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmailFacebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmail

Defenseless ~ Vindicated

Sometimes I feel…

defnesude-876508_1920

Defenseless…

~


peas-580333_1920

Exposed…

~


ethics-947572_1280

Liable…

~


 

158123-400x300-Lonely-woman-crying

Susceptible…

~


caution-642510_1280

Unsafe…

~


desert-tortoise-987972_1280

Weak…

~


skeleton-778069_1920

Naked…

~


virginia-live-oak-440351_1920

Out on a limb…

~


pochard-415969_1920

Like a sitting duck…

~


woman-mental-illness_729-420x0

Thin-skinned…

~


little-girl-974182_1920

Unguarded…

~


egg-583163_1920

Unprotected…

~


desert-1101123_1280

Wide open…

~


alone-971122_1920

Vulnerable,

~


But in Christ, I am…

baby-feet-619533_1920

Protected…

~


boats-1031255_1920

Ensconced…

~


firefighters-756828_1920 (1)

Maintained…

~


arm-wrestling-176645_1280

Strong…

~


dad-663228_1920

Secure…

~


fox-404311_1920

Impervious…

~


sandy-831605_1920

Shielded…

~


boats-1024283_1280

Harbored…

~


eyes-735462_1920

Sitting pretty…

~


syringe-417786_1920

Immune…

~


historical-668989_1280

Defended…

~


german-shepherd-166972_1920

Guarded…

~


mont-st-michel-986320_1920

Fortified…

~


woman-caught-in-adultery-1

Vindicated.

~


“For the Lord will vindicate His people and have compassion on His servants. ” Psalm 135:14 (ESV)

Share This:

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmailFacebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmail

Red Flags

Warning:  Before you read this, I want to say, I am not promoting dismissing people if they do things that are hurtful or if they have character flaws.  We too are hurtful, and our characters are flawed.  Neither am I saying we should keep our hearts closed to those who wound us. On the contrary, love requires trust in the face of vulnerability. I am trying to point out a frailty I see in myself and other women, which is we often rationalize away warning signs without giving them any credence because we do not want to hurt other’s feelings or because we discredit our instincts.

 

dove-690170_1280

“Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” Matthew 10:16


pink glasses

I’m an eternal optimist.  Looking at life through those rose colored glasses has been risky business.  My desires for the happily ever after has sometimes blinded me to realities that God would have had me see.

pink flirt

I watched as the best friend and ex-husband flirted.  The red flags waved in the pit of my stomach saying, “Something is wrong here!”; but wearing those pink spectacles I believed in their innocence instead.  They professed love to me, why should I assign them evil intent?  I told myself, “I must be misreading the signals”.  And like many incessant optimists, I dismissed the truth, for the desired fantasy.  I am not diminishing their choices or betrayal, but I know what I saw and what I did; rather, what I did not do about it.  At this end of time, it seems to me, I had a responsibility in the situation.  Meaning, I should have followed up on the swaying banners.  I should have taken the warning signs seriously, and acted on them.  But self-doubt silenced the alarm.  I have learned I sometimes dismiss hard facts because I am too quick to act on hope.

I think many Christian women do the same thing.  We believe love calls us to turn a blind eye to things that put others in a disparaging light.  We trust people without first testing them because it feels selfish to protect our interests.  Well, after experiencing the fruit of that paradigm, I have repented.  I now believe the Lord expects me to protect His interests in me.  He wants me “above all else, (to) guard (my) heart, for everything… flows from it.” Proverbs 4:23  And He has given safety instincts for that very purpose.  A safety instinct is that still small voice that says, “What are you doing here..?” 1 Kings 19:12

banner-1165979_1920

The Bible says, “…God speaks in one way, and in two, though man does not perceive it… He opens the ears of men and terrifies them with warnings….”  Job 33:14-16  The Lord warns us.  He communicates to us, signaling that there is a problem.  Yet we often dismiss the warnings because we doubt their veracity.   We think believing and acting on our intuition is delusional.  But dismissing safety instincts in light of evidence is delusional too.  And as women we do that much too often.  We make excuses, we doubt ourselves, we don’t want to hurt other’s feelings or think we are overreacting instead of acknowledging something is amiss in a relationship.

This is not God’s will for us.   He would have us be “sober and vigilant”. 1 Peter 5:8  The Bible says, “Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those… (who are) contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them. For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting.”  Romans 16: 17, 18 These are the same type of people spoken of in 2 Timothy 3:6, “They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over gullible women…”  So when we feel the red flags waving, we should address them; lest we be deceived.

I think we have a pattern in Jesus, “Immediately Jesus, aware in His spirit that they were reasoning that way within themselves, said to them, “Why are you reasoning about these things in your hearts?” Mark 2:8  Jesus was warned and knew what the scribes were thinking. He did not dismiss the alarm, instead He addressed it. Now, we do not have that ability to know what others are thinking, but we know One who does.  Our consciences can be directed and guided by the word of God and the Holy Spirit. The Lord wants us to have such close communion with Him that “Your ears will hear a word behind you, “This is the way, walk in it…” Isaiah 30:21  Christ has promised, “…the Spirit of truth… will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” John 14: 17, 18. He will come to us in our spiritual need and in our relational ones too.  

Next time you begin a relationship with someone and get one of those flags waving in your gut, stop and pay attention to it.  Take the question to the Lord.  Ask Him to reveal the truth about the warning to you.  Pray for yourself and the person you question. Be willing to accept anything the Lord directs you to do and be confident that “…there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.” Luke 8:17

dog-734689_1920

Lastly, change out those rose tinted glasses for safety goggles.  It is a wise thing to do.  

 

Share This:

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmailFacebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmail

Three Shortbread Cookies and a Glass of Soymilk

 

brooklyn-319555_1280

Delores Cuadrado had just moved into our six-story brownstone building. We met because my brothers and I were bored inside our apartment, and we decided to play stickball in the long hallway outside her door.  Delores had beautiful, long white hair that was always tied up in a bun on the top of her head. Her smile showed straight, pearly-white teeth.  How and why we became friends is still a mystery to me, but she was a child evangelist as you will see.

One day after school, as I exited the elevator and walked by her apartment I noticed her door was slightly open. Delores did it on purpose because she wanted to start a conversation with me. But as a ten-year-old, I just wanted to run home and change, so I could run back out and play on the monkey bars right outside our building. Finally one day, she was outside her door and seemed to be waiting for someone, I politely greeted her. She asked, “Would you like a snack?” I thought to myself, “What kid doesn’t want a snack right after school?”

Delores led me into her small, tidy apartment which was nicely decorated with all sorts of ceramic figures. The dining room table had a beautiful, white, flowery tablecloth set with an empty dessert plate, a drinking glass and colorful felt board with people, animal felt figures, and a flip-chart. The colors mesmerized me, so I pulled out the chair and sat down without being asked. She started telling me a story about a pretty lady, with long brown hair, who was walking through a lovely garden with tall, majestic trees, colorful flowers and lions that allowed her to pet them. A snake in a tree started talking to the lady, and the lady stopped walking and talked back. Of course, I interrupted and reminded her that snakes don’t talk. Thank God, Delores patiently let me interrupt, and answered my questions.

chocolate-702939_1920

As she continued her story, Delores filled my empty drinking glass with soy milk — which I had never heard of before, and placed three shortbread cookies on my dessert plate. She told me to eat the cookies very slowly as she told the story. Those Bible stories came alive enough that I yearned to hear more. With every story she would ask me to lower my head, close my eyes, and fold my hands so we could ask Jesus to be present in our visit. That first story, of Adam, Eve, a snake and a sacrifice, captivated me enough that I needed to learn more.

Our daily after school routine was reading, memorizing and learning about the Bible together, while I slowly ate three shortbread cookies and drank a glass of soy milk. She introduced me to Jesus and taught me that he is my Brother, Friend and Savior. Delores taught me how to pray, keep the Sabbath and eat healthy foods. Christ became so precious to me that I wanted to please him and be like him.  I fell head over heels in love with him, and accepted Him as my personal Friend and Savior.

baptism-lds-593669-wallpaper

Delores began preparing me for baptism for when I became older, but I couldn’t wait. Baptism was my testimony and commitment to my Savior, and I wanted everybody to know. One cold December Sabbath, a week after my 11th birthday, I stood in a warm baptismal tank with my older brother. His eyes were closed tight, but my eyes were wide open as the pastor prayed over me. I had to keep my eyes open because I was sure Jesus was somewhere in the crowd, and I wanted to make sure not to miss him. Jesus, the man on the wooden cross above my bed, was no longer a stranger of whom I should be scared. He died, was buried in a tomb, but he lives — and I can’t wait to see him again.

Whenever I am asked about how I became a Christian, I tell whomever will listen that it simply happened with three shortbread cookies, a glass of soy milk, and a loving neighbor who chose to share her best friend with a ten-year-old girl.


Debbie Perez photo

A mother of three, Debbie experienced the Lord sustain her through a difficult divorce.  God has been her constant companion as she raised three teenagers.  She is now married to Mario Perez, her college sweetheart. Her greatest joy is in the blessing of her children, her husband and her God.  She works at the Human Resources Department at the Illinois Conference of Seventh-Day Adventist.

Share This:

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmailFacebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmail

Spring has Sprung!

As I took a walk this morning the bird songs ascended like prayers.

songbird-425915

The maple trees unfurled their blossoms;

IMG_1653

and the crocus were in bloom.

IMG_3119

 Spring is one of my favorite times of year.  It promises hope.

You may know someone who would benefit from a little hope in her mailbox.  If you do send them a cheerful note on an

Ari Card.

Butterfly and flower copy

If you purchase  Ari Cards in April we will send you an extra butterfly and flower card.

That is eight cards for the price of six.

And remember as part of Keziah’s House desire to encourage future women we have some of Ari’s art for sale in our Market

IMG_4477

As one of our contributors we are developing Ari Cards into an independent small business which Arielle can manage and expand as she grows.

Share This:

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmailFacebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmail

Jesus, Our Health, part 1

tie-216992_1280Jesus, ”Himself took our infirmities, and bare our diseases.”  Matthew 8:17.  He not only took our sin, but He took our sickness too.

“Christ alone was able to bear the afflictions of the many. In all their affliction He was afflicted (Isaiah 63:9). He never bore disease in His own flesh but He carried the sickness of others. With tenderest sympathy He looked upon the suffering ones who pressed about Him. He groaned in spirit as He saw the work of Satan revealed in all their woe and He made every case of need and of sorrow His own. No multiplicity of numbers distracted Him, no anguish overwhelmed Him, with a power that never quailed he cast out the evil spirits that possessed mind and body while the pain of the sufferers thrilled through his whole being. The power of love was in all his healing, he identified his interests with suffering humanity…” That I May Know Him p. 48.

Is it only sickness relieved by miraculous healing that Jesus bears?  Of course not; reason tells us that He “heals all your diseases”. (Psalm 103:3)  But do we believe that promise when a household epidemic of rhinovirus, steals our rest?  Do we praise God because Jesus feels our suffering when we can’t breathe and our joints are throbbing? In the middle of the night, when choked awake by a coughing fit are we confident He is bearing our sickness?  Where is health then?  Is it something we wait for while our white blood cell count returns to normal?

I propose that Health is with us, feeling the pain of our little annoyance, (because after all a cold is just a small thing).  “Christ feels the woes of every sufferer, when fever is burning up the life current He feels the agony.” The Desire of Ages p. 823.   He is with us, groaning in spirit as He sees the work sickness provokes in our bodies.  He says, “I am right here, and I will heal you.”  Whether in an instant, or over the course of a week, health is a miracle given us by Christ.  “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities…”  Hebrews 4:14, 15

Share This:

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmailFacebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmail

Serenade

Serenade, title page.001

It may be that the noise generated by the mundane drowns out the silent screams from your empty heart. It may be that like me you have startled from sleep because you were crying – not weeping tears from the fictional drama of dreams – but crying guttural sobs without explanation. In that darkness, you cannot deny that you would give up everything to have the soft crooning of a voice that would die for you. But here is the thing, the song has been sung and the life has been given. Its just that the melody has gotten lost in the noise of the day.

So, I’ll repeat the lyrics. Read them slowly and let the silent tune flow deep into your heart. Believe the words and test the author. Let Him convince you of His love through these songs.

“Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth; break forth, O mountains, into singing!

For the Lord has comforted His people and will have compassion upon His afflicted.” Isaiah 49:13

“The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty;

He will save, He will rejoice over thee with joy;

He will rest in His love,

He will joy over thee with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17

Read the rest of the lyrics in your own copy of this free ebook.  Get it here:

Scroll to the bottom of the page for the download.
Share This:

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmailFacebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmail

God Invented Day Spas

beach-tent-spa-party-caboAnd if a woman have an issue, and her issue in her flesh be blood, she shall be put apart seven days…” Leviticus 15:19

For years this verse made me feel as if the Lord considered our natural cycles dirty. But in reality this verse actually gave women something we all wish we could have.  Stop and think about it, what would happen when the Israelite women were banished from normal society seven days a month?  At first little groups of women would band together for company and support. Eventually the numbers would grow and large women’s tents would develop.  The social dynamics would be similar to those today. At first there would be the “getting to know you” phase where everyone would tell a little about themselves and their lives.  But after developing friendships, things would change.  Conversations would deepen and they would shift into “counseling” sessions with older women encouraging young ones.  Maidens would listen and wonder if their futures had husbands and children in them. The women would minister to each other physically too.  If there were some with difficult menstrual symptoms friends would make hot poultices.  They would brew teas and natural remedies.   They would give back rubs when others felt weak and facials when they felt better.  Women put apart for seven days would not only become friends, they would become sisters.

spaEventually, someone might say, “You know this tent could use a little color, maybe a new rug!”  Then the women would begin “nesting” and the tent would become…beautiful.  It would change into a place to rest, recuperate and revitalize.  It would become… a spa.  The beauty in this law is that God knew that sequestered away from their responsibilities women would develop the “day spa”  I believe that is what He intended us to do.  His pitying heart knows our trials and sees we are prone to weariness.  What a wonderful friend He is.  He legislated spa days that we might rest.  Like Martha, (“Martha was cumbered about much serving…” Luke 10:40),  we become absorbed in ministering to our families and others, but God wants us to take time to come apart and visit His spa.  He wants to bathe us in His energizing presence and give us that peace that passes understanding.

Our culture does not allow women the rest that the Lord ordained we should have.  Society drives women to work in and out of the home, never taking time to rejuvenate.  But we must make the time.  God created us and knows what we need.  All His words are law and He ordered women to spend routine time apart from their cares.  Decide today to implement His commands in your life.  Find a time and place to replicate Foot-Spa-Treatment 2the experience the Hebrew women must have shared.  Set yourself apart, give your body rest, lay your burdens in His arms and find respite in His love.

I am interested in ways in which you have carved out time for just you and God.  Please comment and let me know how you make that spa-time a reality.

Share This:

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmailFacebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmail

If Martin were here…

us kids and cousins

Me, second from left with my siblings and two cousins on the far right; Bronx, NY circa 1963

I grew up in the South Bronx in the 1960’s.  In my childhood I heard adults discuss  MLK, busing, strikes, civil rights and much more.  The 1960’s changed the world and shaped me too. I wonder what Dr. King would say if he were here today?  I wonder what he would think about human trafficking, child abuse, homelessness and political correctness.  I will presume to paraphrase him as I believe today he would say something like this.

mlk-jrOver 50 years after the I Have a Dream speech,  we are “still… not free. (Over 50 years later, man) “is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. (Over 50) years later, (many live) on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity.” (Over 50) years later, the (homeless) is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land….”

Today, multitudes live “great trials and tribulations.”  The fetus’ quest for life leaves him “battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of (legal) brutality.”  Children and the weak are “veterans of creative suffering,”  often perpetrated by their own kin.  A society dedicated to protecting civil rights tramples upon mans greatest need, freedom in Christ.

We have also come to this (day) to remind (ourselves) of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of (post-modernism). Now is the time to make real the promises of (salvation)… Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.”

Yet, “let us not wallow in the valley of despair…. And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream…”

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; “and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope, and… faith…”

With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for (our God given) freedom (in Christ) together, knowing that we will be free one day….And this will be the day — this will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing…”

“Great and marvelous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints. Who shall not fear Thee, O Lord, and glorify Thy name? for Thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before Thee; for Thy judgments are made manifest.” Revelation 15:3, 4

Share This:

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmailFacebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmail

Lavender Sky

I woke filled with apprehension.  My cup has been too full since October.  I’ve had speaking engagements, which unravel an introvert like me.  My daughter began working out of the home.  So the house work, which she used to do, has reverted to me. My father passed away and although divorced since I was 9 years old, my mother on learning the news of his passing was shaken and ended up falling and breaking her ankle.  I am now going to Florida to help with her recovery. Besides this I am in the middle of two huge writing deadlines. 

During breakfast today my son mentioned Earnest Shackleton.  I told the family, “I feel like his ship, the Endurance.”  “What do you mean,” Pat asked, “Do you feel trapped?”  “No,” I said, “I feel pressure from all sides.”  We finished eating and I went on with my chores.  While washing the dishes I looked out and saw a lavender sky.  It drew my attention because the winter sky in Michigan is usually gray.   It made me think of the herb.

Lavender is known to be an antiseptic and anti-inflammatory but anyone who has ever smelled it knows that it is a soothing agent.  Medical News Today says:  “Research has revealed that the essential oil of lavender may be useful for treating anxiety, insomnia, depression, and restlessness.”  (http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/265922.php)  The application of a lavender sky to my mind is perfect.  I need the calming assurance of God’s power to sustain me through the tasks ahead.  The sky also reminded me of Jesus, whose Father ordained that He be anointed with oil of spikenard  before His crucifixion.

Spikenard has calming properties like lavender. When Mary opened the jar and the perfume was carried through the room it must have wafted peace. The scent must have reminded Jesus that He need not be anxious for anything.  And as I sit here typing, a little bottle of lavender oil open by my side, I thank the Lord for the lavender sky.  My mind was apprehended by it and it gave me pause to think about God and how he sends remedies to sooth our weary souls.

IMG_6251

Lavender Sky. (This photo has no filters or adjustments. The sky was really this color.)

Share This:

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmailFacebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmail