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A Speeding Ticket Lesson

Jack took a long look at his speedometer before slowing down: 73 in a 55 zone. Fourth time in as many months. How could a guy get caught so often?
When his car had slowed to 10 miles an hour, Jack pulled over, but only partially. Let the cop worry about the potential traffic hazard. Maybe some other car will tweak his backside with a mirror. The cop was stepping out of his car, the big pad in hand.

Bob? Bob from Church? Jack sunk farther into his trench coat. This was worse than the coming ticket. A cop catching a guy from his own church. A guy who happened to be a little eager to get home after a long day at the office. A guy he was about to play golf with tomorrow.

Jumping out of the car, he approached a man he saw every Sunday, a man he’d never seen in uniform.

“Hi, Bob. Fancy meeting you like this.”

“Hello, Jack.” No smile.

“Guess you caught me red-handed in a rush to see my wife and kids.”

“Yeah, I guess.” Bob seemed uncertain. Good.

“I’ve seen some long days at the office lately. I’m afraid I bent the rules a bit – just this once.”

Jack toed at a pebble on the pavement. “Diane said something about roast beef and potatoes tonight. Know what I mean?”

“I know what you mean. I also know that you have a reputation in our precinct.” Ouch. This was not going in the right direction. Time to change tactics.

“What’d you clock me at?”

“Seventy. Would you sit back in your car please?”

“Now wait a minute here, Bob. I checked as soon as I saw you. I was barely nudging 65.” The lie seemed to come easier with every ticket.

“Please, Jack, in the car”

Flustered, Jack hunched himself through the still-open door. Slamming it shut, he stared at the dashboard. He was in no rush to open the window.

The minutes ticked by. Bob scribbled away on the pad.

Why hadn’t he asked for a driver’s license?

Whatever the reason, it would be a month of Sundays before Jack ever sat near this cop again. A tap on the door jerked his head to the left. There was Bob, a folded paper in hand. Jack rolled down the window a mere two inches, just enough room for Bob to pass him the slip.

“Thanks.” Jack could not quite keep the sneer out of his voice.

Bob returned to his police car without a word. Jack watched his retreat in the mirror. Jack unfolded the sheet of paper. How much was this one going to cost?

Wait a minute. What was this? Some kind of joke?

Certainly not a ticket. Jack began to read:

“Dear Jack,

Once upon a time, I had a daughter. She was six when killed by a car. You guessed it – a speeding driver. A fine and three months in jail, and the man was free. Free to hug his daughters, all three of them. I had only one, and I’m going to have to wait until Heaven before I can ever hug her again.

A thousand times I’ve tried to forgive that man. A thousand times I thought I had. Maybe I did, but I need to do it again. Even now. Pray for me. And be careful, Jack, my son is all I have left.

-Bob”

Jack turned around in time to see Bob’s car pull away and head down the road. Jack watched until it disappeared. A full 15 minutes later, he too, pulled away and drove slowly home, praying for forgiveness and hugging a surprised wife and kids when he arrived.

~ Author Unknown ~

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Gently Speaking has been more than “gentle” in her speaking lately…. downright silent would be a more apt description.   Shortly after the beginning of the year, I made the big decision to go back to school.  I decided to attend Luther Rice University and Seminary and get my BA in Religious Arts with a minor in biblical counseling.    I’ve always been interested in counseling, and God really just started pushing me in that direction, pushing me to take it seriously.   Being a dog trainer too, I’d like to combine the two and help people train their dogs as Service Dogs for issues such as severe Anxiety, Bipolar, Aspergers and other illnesses like them, as well as help them in terms of counseling.

In addition to getting things in line to start attending school for the summer quarter, there have been tons of other things going on at our house.  It’s been totally crazy!   Good stuff, as well as lots of bad (illnesses and injuries etc..).  Oh and I also ran (umm… actually walked…. lol) with my youngest daughter in our very first 5 k race in April!   We were so excited!   We helped to raise money for wells to be dug in Africa.   It also started a love for walking in us!  We hope to be able to turn the walking into running (for real) one day – God willing 🙂

The summer semester starts this Monday (June 3rd) so I don’t know how crazy my schedule will become, but I hope to be able to get over here more often than I’ve been able to lately!

God is doing a lot of work on my whole entire family right now, no doubt.  He’s refining us all, one by one.  What I love though, is the being closer to Him and gaining in trust through all the hard times.   He’s there for us, always.   My family and I would greatly appreciate prayers as we are going through this time of new things, old things, beginnings, endings, joy and sadness, hurt and hope.

May the Lord totally bless you and yours daily!

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Which one will you choose to be in life?

Which one will you choose to be in life?

Grandmother says… Carrots, Eggs, or Coffee; “Which are you?”

A young woman went to her grandmother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved a new one arose.

Her grandmother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water. In the first, she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs and the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil without saying a word.

In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl. Turning to her granddaughter, she asked, “Tell me what do you see?”

“Carrots, eggs, and coffee,” she replied.

She brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they got soft.She then asked her to take an egg and break it.

After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg.

Finally, she asked her to sip the coffee. The granddaughter smiled, as she tasted its rich aroma. The granddaughter then asked. “What’s the point,grandmother?”

Her grandmother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity–boiling water–but each reacted differently.

The carrot went in strong, hard and unrelenting. However after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior. But, after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened.

The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water they had changed the water.

“Which are you?” she asked her granddaughter.

“When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?”

Think of this: Which am I?

Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity, do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?

Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff?

Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and a hardened heart?

Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you.

When the hours are the darkest and trials are their greatest do you elevate to another level?

—AUTHOR UNKNOWN —

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I feel so at peace for the first time in my life.  For as long as I can remember I’ve felt this inner unease.  I couldn’t have explained it or come anywhere close to having anyone understand how I was feeling.  I’m not sure I would’ve had the words to use to truly express what was going on inside me; my mind, heart, soul.  Such conflict.  Confusion.  A battle.

I searched and searched for an answer to it all and kept coming up short.   No way to end the war going on inside of me.  At least, none that I could see.

I realized that I was trying to find a fix to the issue on my own and that, quite simply, it was impossible.  Wasn’t going to happen.  I needed help.

So, who or what might help?  I tried all sorts of various things.  None worked.  Nothing.  I tried talking to lots of different people from friends and family to even doctors.   Help me?  Quiet all of it down, please?   They couldn’t.   Tried, sure.   But they couldn’t help me.

Why does it take us so long to find wisdom?  He makes it so easy to find, yet we still look everywhere else first so very often.

I figured it out.  No doubt He helped by shoving me in the right direction.

Prayer.

My Bible.

All I ever needed was Him.

He created me; knit me in my mother’s womb.

He knows me because I am His.  All His.

I wasted so much time.   Time that I’m not sure was even mine to waste, but I know He’ll take care of it.

I found Him, and there is where I found all the answers.  It was always there.

He is always there for us when we’re ready to find Him.

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I used to smoke,  a lot.  I started at the tender age of 14.  My mother smoked and back in the day it was thought to make you look cool, and older.  I was a terribly rebelious teen so smoking seemed like a grand idea.  A good way for me to look cool and rebel parental authority all at the same time.  Everyone knows a teenager of 14 wants more than almost anything else to appear more grown up, so smoking helped me with that too. At least in my mind, if not in reality.  In reality, I’m sure I just looked foolish and silly, if not stupid.

Over the years I deeply regretted having started smoking.  They cost a ton, they stink, they make you stink, and they make you sick.  Even so, I still loved smoking  – so I was in a mess.  I knew they were making me sick, yet I loved them.  I knew I had to go to the Lord and request His help in wanting to quit smoking first.  Without the desire to quit, nothing I did would make any difference.  Sounds silly to want to quit, yet not, but that was me.  My desire to smoke was just larger than my desire to quit.

I began asking God to please give me the desire to quit the nasty habit and then I picked a date.  I chose to simply give the whole mess over to the Lord and let Him deal with it.   After all, I knew He’d want me to quit and He tells us to ask and He’ll give us our heart’s desires. (Psalm 37:3-5) 

The date I set was November 1 of 2007.  I told everyone I knew that I was going to quit (not one single person believed me either – that’s how much I LOVED smoking at that time of my life – sadly) and that the Lord would help me accomplish it.  I knew He’d help.  I just KNEW it, deep down in my heart.  I didn’t know if He’d make it easy for me, or if He’d just hold my hand and walk me through the process, but I just knew He’d stay with me the whole time.  I was prepared for it to go either way and simply told any and everyone that would listen that I was going to quit on that day and that was that.

And I did.  I was blessed by my complete and total belief in Him and His promises, and He made it much easier than I’d ever dreamt of.  I’ve been extremely thankful ever since.  Thankful enough to know that I can never pick up even one and smoke it…. ever.

Now, it seems like I’m going to have to go to Him again and get His powerful help with another apparent addictiion – anger.  Seems kinda out there to call anger an addiction, but I honestly feel that it fits.  Anger is like a drug, like nicotine.

Now, don’t get me wrong… I’m not running around punching people or anything, but still… I know that anger (and pride) are some serious issues that I need to be delivered from.  I hate the way it makes me feel.   It’s so hard to let it go while in the midst of whatever issue has upset me.  I don’t like that feeling.  I’d much rather be more humble and less concerned about myself.

I had a work issue come up recently and, at first, couldn’t wait to tell one of my close co-workers all about it.  But then I got to thinking that no… I shouldn’t talk about it and fuel that fire.  I felt like I needed to just give it to God instead.  So, I decided to not speak about the issue the next day when I’d see this co-worker.  However, she brings up an issue closely related to the one I was upset over and even though there was a part of me screaming out, “Be quiet!!!!  DO NOT go there and complain or gripe or whatever you wanna call it!  Just don’t!”  Sadly, I found myself doing it anyway….  Ugh!  I hated that!  I felt just like I had in all the many times I’d tried to quit smoking in the past when I was trying to do it all by myself. There was the whole argument going on inside of me of “Tell her!  No!  Don’t, it won’t help anything and will only get her upset too!  Tell her!  No! Don’t…. ”  I felt like I’d failed myself, but mostly like I’d failed my Lord and Savior.

The experience has reminded me though that, just like when I prayed for His help to desire to quit smoking, I first need to go to the Lord and ask Him to give me more of a desire to let go of silly annoyances and the effect that they can have on me,  more of a desire to see His will done, rather than my own.  To be more concerned with loving His people, than what’s “fair” in my own eyes and understanding.   I need His help in desiring to lay down my hurt and pains at His feet, rather than seeking a way to make myself feel better through “making people pay” in any shape form or fashion.  After all, God tells us that vengeance is His.

There are times when anger is appropriate, but often times, our actions when angry aren’t.  I need Christ’s help in knowing what’s what and in choosing appropriate reactions.  The Bible tells us in Matthew 5:22 (the words of Jesus) But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment!  If you call someone an idiot,  you are in danger of being brought before the court.  And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell.”    In Romans 12:14-19 We’re told, Bless those who persecute you.  Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them.  Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep.  Live in harmony with each other.  Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people.  And don’t think you know it all!  Never pay back evil with more evil.  Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable.  Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.  Dear friends, never take revenge.  Leave that to the righteous anger of God.  For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the Lord.

69286_554861371205447_1968733517_nIt’s not nearly as hard once the force of the feelings of the anger have calmed down some.  Once that’s happened, then I’m able to pray for those that have hurt me or angered me.  It’s during that “heat of the moment” that I’m having trouble with.  But I know that I know that I know that I can take this problem to Jesus and lay it at His feet and He’ll give me a strong enough desire to get past my “feelings” no matter how strong they may be at the time.  I KNOW I can trust in Him.  Please, won’t you also pray with me on this?   If this is an issue for you, please feel free to comment and we’ll pray for you too!  Or if you need help with quitting smoking, please feel free to comment and request prayers for help with that too!  With Jesus, we can all quit smoking and giving in to anger!

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Quotes 448I think that perhaps the fear of not mattering is one of our biggest all time fears.  It’s the root of many of our problems and the way we attempt to deal with it, well… it only makes it worse.  The following is from Max Lucado’s book, Fearless, which is available on Amazon for Kindle for only $1.99.  (Don’t you just love all the free or, at least cheap, books you can get now that we have devices like Kindles?? Yesss!!!)

Perhaps you don’t know,
then, maybe you do,
about Stiltsville, and the Village,
(so strange but so true)

where people like we,
some tiny, some tall,
with jobs and kids
and clocks on the wall

keep an eye on the time,
For each evening at six,
they meet in the square
for the purpose of sticks,
tall stilts upon which

Stiltsvillians can strut
and be lifted above
those down in the rut:

the less and the least,
the Tribe of Too Smalls,
the not cools and have-nots
who want to be tall

but can’t, because
in the giving of sticks,
their name was not called.
The didn’t get picked.

Yet still they come
when villagers gather;
they press to the front
to see if they Matter

to the clique of the cool,
the court of high clout,
that decides who is special
and declares with a shout,

You’re classy! You’re pretty!
You’re clever or Funny!
And bequeath a prize,
not of medals or money,

not a freshly baked pie
or a house someone built,
but the oddest of gifts–
a gift of some stilts.

Moving up is their mission,
going higher their aim.
Elevate your position
is the name the their game.

The higher-ups of Stilsville
(you know if you’ve been there)
make the biggest to-do
of the sweetness of this air.

They relish the chance
on their high apparatus
to strut on their stilts,
the ultimate status.

For isn’t life best
when viewed from the top?
Unless you stumble
and suddenly are not

so sure of your footing.
You tilt and then sway,
Look out bel-o-o-o-w!
and you fall straightaway

into the Too Smalls,
hoi polloi of the earth.
You land on your pride-
oh boy how it hurts

when the chic police
in the jilt of all jilts,
don’t offer to help
but instead take your stilts.

Who made you king?
you start to complain
but then notice the hour
and forget your refrain

It’s almost six!
No time for chatter.
It’s back to the crowd
to see if you matter.

– Max Lucado, Fearless

Wow.  Doesn’t that just nail it, especially here in the U.S.?  Obviously, God doesn’t want us to fear anything remotely like this, but so often we find ourselves right there anyway.

If fear is a big problem for you in your life, then perhaps you’ll want to go take a peek at Mr. Lucado’s book – Fearless.

And no, this isn’t a paid advertisement. It’s just me sharing something I felt others might be interested in 🙂

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I can’t begin to tell you all how very much I liked this post. It’s come at a perfect time in my life for reasons I won’t get all into right now. Suffice it to say that I have a hole to go dig.
If this post speaks to you in some way, please share it in the comments section. I’d love to hear about the necessary holes in your life and how the Lord blesses you with a brand new shovel.

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Last night I simply could not fall asleep.  You know what I’m talking about, right?  The kind of night where no matter what you do, you just can’t shut the brain off.  Somehow, your very own brain declares a mutiny against you and, in some sort of strange overdrive, begins taking all sorts of inventory of your life – the past, the present, and the ever so elusive future.

My brain seemed determined to torture me with thoughts of all my past failures, shortcomings, faults, and lost dreams.

I finally sailed into the land of “Fed Up” with it all and got out of the bed, hoping to find something to help me fall asleep. I refuse to drink milk- cold, warm, or otherwise- so instead… maybe an old movie, reading a book, playing a Kindle Fire game (Triple Town is a mighty little game that’s sure to drive your family crazy), perhaps boring myself to sleep by checking out Facebook in the middle of the night?

I ended up trying it all, with the exception of an old movie and the yucky milk thing.  (Well, I mean really…. vomiting up disgusting milk is not the way I wanted to end the mental gymnastics meet my mind had in full swing.)

In addition to the bout of insomnia that I was having, I was also enduring some pretty horrific tooth ache pain – which wasn’t helping one tiny bit.

So anyhow, there I was… it’s like after 2 am (Sorry, but I so do not see what Taylor Swift sees in the whole “2 am thing”… Seemed like a pretty miserable time of night to be up to me, at least at this stage of my life and not at all the dramatic and romantic time she sings of so very often – my daughters are fans – of her music – not so much the 2 am itself…) and I’m not only wide awake, but in a whole heaping lot of pain.  I thought for a little while that perhaps I was birthing a baby tooth!  Labor pains in the mouth – oh yeah…. Ouch doesn’t cover it.

The thought of counting sheep crossed my mind and got me to thinking.  Why do people count sheep in order to help lull themselves to sleep in the first place?  Which led me to Wikipedia to find out the answer to that very question – which frankly… wasn’t all that interesting. You can look it up and decide for yourself whether you think it’s an interesting tidbit of knowledge to have.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Counting_sheep

Right in the middle of all of this – insomnia, pain, sheep and more….  I felt a little tug from my Creator.  In the very center of it all, I realized that I had even more to be thankful for than I did to keep me up at night.  I realized that no matter how much pain I felt because of the tooth, that I am blessed because I was born in a country where dental care is possible.  There are so many that have no choice but to suffer with things as seemingly simple as a toothache.

Counting Blessings GSSimply put, my blessings far outweigh the rest in my life.  Out of that thought came the idea that instead of counting silly sheep to try to lull myself to sleep, that I would count my many blessings from the Lord and let Him rock me to sleep with His never ending, all consuming, amazing, love.

So – Late in the night, when you find you cannot sleep, count your many blessings, instead of silly sheep!

*** You can also write a really dorky short poem too.

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The following is a post from a friend of mine on Facebook (Pastor Ken Smith). To me, it’s about God’s incredible power and how He knows exactly how the story needs to go, if only we’ll follow Him.

In Kroger I was meandering around the bakery working my way to the back of the store. Heard whistling an old song I haven’t heard in years coming from the aisle over… Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine! O what a foretaste of glory divine! I then started to sing.. not stupid loud but in a normal tone.. Heir of salvation, purchase of God, born of his Spirit, washed in his blood. This is my story, this is my song, praising my Savior all the day long; This is my story, this is my song, praising my Savior all the day long.

Then an old black man walks around the corner and he stops whistling and we just sing…

Perfect submission, perfect delight,
visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
angels descending bring from above
echoes of mercy, whispers of love.

THIS IS MY STORY!!!! …..

Perfect submission, all is at rest;
I in my Savior am happy and blest,
watching and waiting, looking above,
filled with his goodness, lost in his love.

THIS IS MY STORY!!!! THIS IS MY SONG! PRAISING MY SAVIOR ALL THE DAY LONG!

By the end we had most the folks in Kroger over by the bakery and deli. When done I simply told them… If you don’t know God, seek Him. He will let you find him. I hugged the old black man who had tears running down his face. Come to find out… he just buried his mamma who was 97 a few days ago. She had them sing that song at her funeral and it was stuck in his head. He used to be all about God but life, business success, well known,… all that sort of got in the way and God was now far away from his life. A while later, standing in the produce section… that old man found that blessed assurance now Jesus is his.

Look y’all… there is no recipe for witnessing to another about our Savior. Many times you just go where it goes. An old man whistling… a song being sung… even though it an odd place for that to happen… the kingdom grows by one. You don’t have to be fearless… it can be a scary thing. You just have to be willing to overcome the fear and open your mouth at any time. God still does strange things in very strange ways. I really didn’t even want anything in Kroger… just went in looking. Wasn’t a revelation… no voice of God saying go into Kroger… to be honest I wasn’t even particularly looking for the opportunity. He knew though… He knew.

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68652_518307411520808_437702153_nWe need to all pray for the victims in the shootings in Newtown, Connecticut and their hurting families.  I don’t know about any of you, but this is such a horrible thing and it is so hard to imagine going through anything like it.  How do you send your baby to school and only hours later hear about their horrific death?  My heart breaks for all involved.  My prayers will be with them. I hope yours will be too.

May the Lord comfort them and give them the strength they need to live and breathe every second of every day.

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