Category Archives: Encouragement

Lesson from a Rabbit

I took the back roads to work and as I rounded a bend the cars in front of me stopped abruptly, so I stretched my neck out of the window to find out why. Up ahead I noticed a large indistinct grayish blob in the middle of the road, which I concluded to be an injured cat.

Within moments the driver of the first car jumped out and carefully moved the blob to one side. To my surprise when he lifted it I could see that it was not a cat at all, but a large tortoise. With the tortoise safely placed in the brush, the traffic moved on. Shaking my head, I remembered a similar incident that occurred when I was about 10 years old.

I had a friend who owned 2 large white rabbits. She asked me to care for them while she was on vacation, so we moved their cage to our garage. Other than an occasional and frightful escape from the cage I loved caring for them. I would eagerly wait for school to end so I could rush home to my soft, cuddly friends.

One day however, I opened the garage door and was devastated by what I saw.  My eyes fell on a large, flat, white image smashed across the garage floor where the tire to my father’s truck had been! Oh no, the rabbit escaped again and was hit by dad’s truck. I screamed in panic, dropped the garage door, and ran into the house crying, “Daddy killed a rabbit”! My mom called my dad to give him a heads up, and spent the afternoon consoling me.

My father came home and headed straight for the garage. When he found me shortly thereafter I expected him to be solemn and apologetic, but that was not the case. He said, “Donna everything is fine, both rabbits are in the cage; what you saw was a white rag!”  Wow, was I ever shocked, and at the same time greatly relieved …oh, and solemn, and apologetic.

On this occasion and the day that the tortoise stopped traffic, I was convinced that my observations were correct – I actually believed that I saw an injured cat on the road and a dead rabbit in the garage. My perceptions, though inaccurate, had become my realities.

Putting aside the tortoise and the white rag, I wonder how often I have drawn the wrong conclusion about something important in life, or worse, about another person. The human mind can be duped, dazzled and disillusioned. We have the ability to be wrongly persuaded, and utterly convinced of the inaccurate and even the imaginary.

To our comfort there’s God who calls us to live in a dimension that craves, recognizes, and accepts truth, and he graciously gives us the tools that we need to do it.  – The (1) Bible is full of insightful and relevant guidance; and the (2) Holy Spirit accompanies us through  the journey of life, leading us away from error and toward the purest of reality.

And that’s the truth.

John 16:13 TLB When the Holy Spirit, who is truth, comes, he shall guide you into all truth, for he will not be presenting his own ideas, but will be passing on to you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future.

John 17:17 NIV Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.

John 8:32 ERV You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.

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Your Voice

I did not vote for this President because I did not believe that he was the right person for the job. However, once he was inaugurated, I vowed to pray for him and believe for the best during his time in office. This administration will soon come to an end and America will 15983745_sbe given another opportunity to speak into the matter of the presidency – and we must.

Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter”.  In the last Presidential Election (2008) only 57.1% of eligible Americans went to the polls. That means that more than 40% of our voting population turned their backs on the opportunity to be heard.  Because what we do today impacts tomorrow, such apathy can have an adverse affect on the future interests of our children and grandchildren.

We live in a serious and unpredictable time in world history when we must use our voting power to speak. Voting is a right, a privilege, and is of paramount importance to the welfare of this and future generations. Let us urge one another to examine the facts about the candidates, learn what they stand for, review their qualifications, and eliminate as best we can those who are suspect, or who take positions that oppose our beliefs and values.

Please let your voice be heard on the ballot, and believe with me that in 2016 we will elect the right person for the job.

Peter 2:13-14 NIV Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right.

1 Timothy 2:1-2 NIV I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.

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The Light of Purpose

If you are sailing through life and every day is Christmas, today’s blog may not be for you. This entry speaks to the countless souls who live such distressing lives that they wonder why they were ever born. An unknown author wrote, “If given the opportunity to view the planet before birth, I would have said, no thank you”.

F10475012_ml reversedor some people the multiples of open-ended crisis, empty love buckets and grievous disappointments have lent more credibility to a mind-set of futility than of hope. For these, the measure of success is another week of survival. They feel invalid; they live on the edge of despair, and pray for the strength to endure the fateful passage of time.

A well-known preacher by the name of Charles Spurgeon said, “I am the subject of depression so fearful that I hope none of you ever get to such extremes of wretchedness as I go to.” Preaching to crowds upwards of 23,000 people, God used Charles Spurgeon to affect history, and his teachings are still circulated today. However, this spiritual giant fought the onslaught of despair for a great deal of his adult life.

Reverend Spurgeon struggled sorely through such times, yet, through a resolute faith in God, he was able to live a remarkable life of purpose. I too suffered this anguish for many years, and it is a tribute to God’s faithfulness that it is no longer a part of my life.

The good news is this – what is available to one of us, is available to all of us! It is a revolutionary certainty echoed in Galatians 3:26-29 where the Apostle Paul addresses believers:

For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus.  And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes.  There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you.

So regardless of where we are on the dark path of despair, a minute from now can be brighter. You and I have access to the very same God as Charles Spurgeon; and the principles that leveraged this man beyond the darkness into the light of purpose are as available to us as they were to him.

Yes, Reverend Spurgeon did say, “I am the subject of depression so fearful that I hope none of you ever get to such extremes of wretchedness as I go to”.  However he followed that statement with these words, “But I always get back again by this—I know that I trust Christ. I have no reliance but in Him, and if He falls, I shall fall with Him. But if He does not, I shall not. Because He lives, I shall live also, and I spring to my legs again and fight with my depressions of spirit and get the victory through it. And so may you do, and so you must …”.

John 14:19 NKJV A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also.

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The Deep (Audio Message)

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” (Gen. 1:1-2, NIV).  Biblical scholars say that this is an ancient way of describing chaos. As God brought order from chaos in Genesis, so too he will address the chaos in our personal lives.  This message offers some practical principles to help deal with the chaos that stirs in the lives of people like you and me.

Proverbs 8:27-29 I was there when he set the heavens in place when he marked out the horizon on the face of the deep, when he established the clouds above – and fixed securely the fountains of the deep, when he gave the sea its boundary so the waters would not overstep his command, and when he marked out the foundations of the earth.

Philippians 1:6 And I am sure that God who began the good work within you will keep right on helping you grow in his grace until his task within you is finally finished on that day when Jesus Christ returns.

Matthew 25:21a, His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!

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Never Alone

Eight years ago today our niece gave birth to her second daughter.  After the birth we received a report that something was desperately wrong with the baby.  Little Caydence had been deprived of oxygen due to an extra long umbilical cord, which had been wrapped around her neck.

She could not breathe on her own so she was immediately put on life 15360238_ssupport and rushed to the nearest full-service medical center.  The test results were devastating.  Caydence showed little evidence of brain activity and she could not breathe on her own for any length of time. She was incapable of movement, had not cried, and she was blind.

At times like this our minds nearly burst with gripping questions; does God see the baby’s helpless condition?  What does this precious soul know of her unstable circumstances?  Does she dwell in personal darkness?  It would be incomprehensible to think that she was as alone as she appeared.

The family struggled with despair;  would she live?  Then slapping ourselves into reality we thankfully remember the transforming truth that we are really NEVER alone. The Bible is full of promises concerning God’s unfailing love and faithfulness.  He tells us that He will not forsake us – any of us – at any age.

The God of the universe, the Author of life, declared that He had not forsaken little Caydence; God was with her.  Though her fate eluded us, the One who loved her most pledged to comfort, protect and provide for her temporal and eternal needs.

God allowed life to be breathed into this beautiful child for a purpose, and we were given a glorious window of opportunity to exchange love and human touch with her.  These moments are timeless, leaving an indelible Caydence shaped imprint on our hearts.

Caydence abides with God in heaven now.  She is not alone…she never was, and she never ever will be.  Happy Birthday Caydence!

Matthew 19:14 NLV But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me. Do not stop them. The holy nation of heaven is made up of ones like these.”

Deuteronomy 31:6 NLV Be strong and have strength of heart. Do not be afraid or shake with fear because of them. For the Lord your God is the One who goes with you. He will be faithful to you. He will not leave you alone.”

Psalm 131:1 NIV My heart is not proud, O LORD, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me. But I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me.

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Keep Swimming

If you have seen the children’s movie Finding Nemo, you are familiar with one of the main characters in the film, a female fish by the name of Dory. Dory had a mantra which she recited throughout her journey, it was “just keep swimming, just keep swimming, swimming, swimming”.

dreamstime_xs_473663Dori lacked short-term memory skills, and though her handicap made for some hysterically funny scenes, it might have been her demise if she had not found a way to keep herself in the flow of life. Fortunately, Dory kept swimming.

Having struggled with a bad cold for the past few days I woke up after a second restless night and told myself to, “just keep going”. There are times in life when putting one foot in front of the other is all you’ve got.

The same is true when we go through periods of worry or stress. In those times the mind gets clouded and it can be difficult to think. Creativity is stifled, physical strength depleted; again we just keep…

At some point in Dory’s life she must have made a decision to press on despite her limitations. She could have conceded to the fact that the people who make it in this world are the smart and quick-witted ones. She could have succumbed to a wake of popular opinions stating that she would never amount to much. But Dory stayed remarkably optimistic. She was faith-filled and just kept swimming; she chose to make her life count.

A quick internet search would give us a long list of people who, against all odds, kept their faith and overcame what appeared to be the impossible in their lives. The Bible tells us that faith is a belief in what we do not see, and the evidence of that faith is to receive what we have believed for.

Still there are those who lack faith in their purpose for being. Even Job who was a prayerful and holy man said, “Why did I not perish at birth, and die as I came from the womb?”

Our economic, societal, and domestic problems can be tremendous. We can wish even to die, but the fact is every person on earth has been born for a significant purpose. Job ultimately chose not to give up and he was rewarded by God for his faithfulness. So too were Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, David, Esther, Ruth, Nehemiah, Mary, John, and so many others; the list is endless.

Thomas Edison said, “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” Our lives were meant to count. It says in the book of Proverbs that the godly may trip seven times, but he will get up again.

God gives His people divine buoyancy. So, when you face life’s torrents beloved, have faith in the One who made the waters and …keep swimming!

Psalm 95:5 NIV The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land.

Isaiah 43:1-4 NIV But now, O Jacob, listen to the Lord who created you. O Israel, the one who formed you says, “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I gave Egypt as a ransom for your freedom; I gave Ethiopia and Seba in your place. Others were given in exchange for you. I traded their lives for yours because you are precious to me. You are honored, and I love you.

Proverbs 24:16 NLT The godly may trip seven times, but they will get up again.

Orig Posted by Donna M Dougherty at 2/9/2010 11:46 PM

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The Helper

America mourns over the senseless killings at the Sandy Hook Elementary School.  We cry over the loss of 20 young children and 6 adults who were massacred by a 20-year-old male.

Working in a school building I wonder what we will tell our own students concerning this news.  What will parents across our nation tell their little ones?

7977946_sI read a timely quote on Facebook that originated with the late Fred Rogers, the creator of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood. It read, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”  Mr. Rogers said, “To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world”.

We thank God for the helpers, the heroes who sacrificed their own safety to protect the students during the attack at the Sandy Hook school, including the late Dawn Hochsprung, the principal who lunged at the shooter to try to stop him. God bless the teachers who quietly hid and comforted anxious children behind closed doors, the courageous first responders, the medical personnel, counselors, clergy, and others whose vital involvement will continue for months to come.

USAToday quoted one first responder as saying, “Worst tragedy that I’ve seen…” We live in a fallen world where scary things do happen. Mrs. Roger’s gave her son good counsel. But what if there is no time to find help, or what if human intervention is not enough to deliver us?

The Bible tells us that when Jesus was preparing to go to heaven he told his disciples that he would ask God to send them a Helper so that they would not be alone – ever. John 14:16 says, And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper to be with you forever…” This Helper is the Holy Spirit and he is able to be with us at all times so we do not need to face the scary things alone.

Saint Augustine said, “O Holy Spirit, descend plentifully into my heart.  Enlighten the dark corners of this neglected dwelling and scatter there thy cheerful beams”.  The Holy Spirit is omnipresent because he is part of the Trinity; he is God. He is able to be everywhere, he can remove pain, he can bring peace that passes all understanding, and he can spiritually cradle us when we breathe our last earthly breath.

I do not believe that those who died in the Sandy Crook attack died alone. I believe that they looked for a helper and the Holy Spirit was there.  So what do we tell our children? We tell them the most truthful, powerful, and comforting story ever.

It starts with Christmas, when our Father God sent Jesus to earth in the form of an innocent baby. Jesus grew up among us as the perfect combination of God and man for the purpose of one day saving us from sin.  Hence in the most significant display of love ever known, Jesus did that very thing; he died on the cross to give hope and salvation to anyone who believes in him. Then Jesus went to heaven to be with the Father and the Holy Spirit, the Helper, came to earth to be with us forever.

This is what we tell our children. “Look for the Helper – he will always be there”.

Merry Christmas!

I John 14:16-17 NCV I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper to be with you forever—the Spirit of truth.

Orig Posted by Donna M Dougherty at 12/22/2012 7:11 PM

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Tackled by Love

dreamstime_xs_3355830bOur Bible Study ended and families began to congregate in the hallway where the buzz of indistinct chatter filled the air.  I navigated my way through the crowd when a discernible sound drew my attention.

A young girl spotted her friend and called out her name in such a way that I could almost feel the delight in her voice.  It was as if she found something that had been lost. Her spontaneity and affection were so telling that I actually said, “Wow, I wish someone would greet me that way.”

Though my tone was merely conversational, the fact that the words leaped out of my mouth was significant. In the book of Luke we read that what we say flows from what is in our hearts. It was evident that the young girl’s greeting was heartfelt; so too was my statement.

It had been less than two weeks since my sister and dearest friend Cheryl died, leaving a hole in my heart the size of a fist.  She had been ill for several years, but had recently entered the hospital with stage 4 cancer.  She had loved and served the Lord for over 30 years, both on her feet and from her sick bed.  Cheryl’s testimony was so profound that over 1,000 people attended her memorial service. Several of them sought out family members in order to share their stories about how she had impacted their lives.

My tears stream from a twisted mélange of sorrow and hope. Her death has touched parts of my soul that had been un-stirred until now.  I have prayed for hundreds of people who have lost loved ones.  How had they reconciled their losses?  The sense of unfinished business is intense when someone you love has died. There are things you want to say and do, questions you want to ask, and love you want to give.

At Cheryl’s hospice bedside the family would wait for an opportunity to communicate with her because she really did not have the strength for conversation. As I watched her sleep my thoughts would cycle through heartbreak for the family and contempt for her suffering. I prayed repeatedly, “Lord are we really going to lose her?” It felt truly unbelievable.

I braided her long wavy hair and stroked her face.  Cheryl was leaving earth and I wanted to send her off with the biggest hug ever; as her older sister it just seemed right for both of us. But her body had become too frail for that. I would settle for a kiss on her forehead, and a knowing grin.

Back in the church hallway, just seconds after I spoke, I was literally tackled from behind.  Catching my balance I turned to see a beautiful little girl peering up at me.  She was about 8 years old, African, with lovely braided hair.  I did not know her name, but she had her arms wrapped tightly around my waist.  I looked into her darling little face and said, “You heard me?  I didn’t think anyone heard me…thank you for the hug!”

She gave me a big smile and I knew immediately that God had inspired the child’s purposeful actions. Her hug was strong, affectionate, and greatly comforting. Strangely and wonderfully it was characteristic of the hug that I had hoped to give to my sister; and I was stunned once again by the thoughtful ways that God works in our lives.

We read in Ecclesiastes 11:5, “As you know not what is the way of the wind, or how the spirit comes to the bones in the womb of a pregnant woman, even so you know not the work of God, who does all”.

The child ran off to find her friend and I remained to collect my thoughts. I wondered if God had made Cheryl aware of his intervention.  Could she see what had just happened, and did she know what it represented?  I’ll be sure to ask when I get to heaven … shortly after I tackle her with a great big hug!

Matthew 5:4 NLT God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

Isaiah 55:8-9 NLT “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.  For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts …”

Luke 6:45 NLT A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart.

Orig Posted by Donna M Dougherty at 5/20/2012 8:18 PM

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God Sent

As a snowflake flurries down to fall upon the ground
In hoards of softening, whitening frost it falls with but a sound
To cover up a world with white through whirling turns in flight
To paint a picture through the day or secret in the night

On Christmas morning as I climbed out of bed and headed for coffee I noticed a very slow, soft, and picturesque, snowfall through the kitchen window.  It was brief, but being a native of New England, snow on Christmas brought me back in time.

25417980_sI recalled the day when I saw the largest snowflakes ever.  It was on Christmas Eve; I was about 8 years old, and we were leaving my grandparent’s house to return home. Enormous flakes fell from the sky like wafers and I was in a picture perfect world. To a young girl the experience was enchanting.

Back in my kitchen with coffee in hand …I smiled. I was glad for the nostalgic interlude as it inspired me to write and actually finish a blog for the first time in over a year.  Thank God for the ability to recall the blessed and better days of the past that so helpfully calm and stabilize the present.

Our family had been on a tumultuous journey.  During my writing hiatus my sister faced her third cancer surgery.  My mother and her husband returned to New England to be with the family and we constructed an apartment in our home where they now live.  Shortly after relocating, my mom had a cancer-infected kidney removed.  My father had a heart attack, a stroke, and open-heart surgery, and my husband, already dealing with physical disabilities, broke his neck in an auto accident.

While the years of childhood enchantment have gone, the wondrous gifts that drop from heavenly realms have not.  The Bible tells us in Isaiah 55:10-11:

“Just as rain and snow descend from the skies and don’t go back until they’ve watered the earth, doing their work of making things grow and blossom, producing seed for farmers and food for the hungry, so will the words that come out of My mouth not come back empty-handed. They’ll do the work I sent them to do; they’ll complete the assignment I gave them”.

As our purposeful God commands the rain and snow to fall – so too He sends His Word to bless, comfort and heal (Psalm 107:20).  Happy New Year friends.  Believing for a better 2012!

Psalm 107:20 NLT He sent out his word and healed them, snatching them from the door of death.

Orig Posted by Donna M Dougherty at 1/2/2012 9:57 PM

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Sticks and Stones

As children we recited the popular idiom, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me”.

If only we could have gossip2remained in that state of unscathed innocence. Immature and uncontaminated we launched benign attacks with words like poo poo-head and stinky-feet.

Then we grew up and our naiveté was lost. The sweet youthful banter was replaced by malignant assaults of adult gossip, lies and slander. We learned that names do hurt.

As Christians we are called to submit our hearts, minds and souls to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. When in right relationship with Him, it is not difficult to keep our tongues from evil and our lips from speaking lies (Psalm 34:13). We ought to strive to reflect His character by getting rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander and dirty language (Colossians 3:8).

Then why do such things persist? According to the scriptures, the words that flow from a loose tongue are directly related to evil in the heart. “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45).

The issue of slander has become a serious one for the church. Author John Armstrong  writes, “While Christians currently debate a host of ethical issues that are very important to the life and well-being of the church I fear that too few of us are willing to actually address a sin that destroys the work of the Spirit as fast, if not faster, than almost any other sin. I refer to the sin of slander”.

Truly the wounds from the battering of sticks and stones are more easily treated than the damage caused by a reckless tongue. Whether couched in prayer, whispered in conversation, or openly declared, slanderous words launch a vile attack on the character and well-being of an individual. As Christians we must do better.

George J. Carroll  wrote the following poem.

Those that slander you
with lies and deceit they say,
Show them mercy God

This is my prayer. May God teach us and show us mercy. Putting aside the sticks, stones and name-calling, as Christians we can do better.

James 1:26 NIV If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.

Matthew 12:36-37 NIV But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.

1 John 1:9 NIV If we confess our sins he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Orig Posted by Donna M Dougherty at 8/8/2010 5:36 PM

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Burden Light

Someone told me that allowing one’s self to grieve for 10 minutes a day can be beneficial and even necessary when the cares of life surmount. So I dragged my burdens before God, threw myself on His mercy and let the tears flow. With so much sadness, injustice, and destruction in the world, things can get weighty.

23145013_sWe studied the book of Genesis in our mid-week Bible study last year. Throughout those weeks I gained a deeper understanding of the physical, spiritual, and emotional damage created by the fall of man in the Garden of Eden. The crushing consequences of that first sin resonate into the lives of people even today.

It is mind-boggling to think that Adam and Eve had been given reign over a perfect world where creation flourished in all its glory. But due to their sin, the earth and its inhabitants were set on a 180 degree course for ruin. Man had become subject to death, and the earth subject to physical deterioration, or de-creation.

Science and history attest to such things as environmental disturbances, increased disease, famine, and apathy toward societal atrocities. People continue to shock us with appalling acts of greed, self-interest, and violence. The more advanced the world becomes, it seems the less virtue humanity displays.

Oh how we needed a Savior to help us bear this ever increasing load! I thank God for sending Jesus. He was the sacrifice needed to turn the tables on our despair; Jesus brought hope …with this my tears cease to flow.

While man may still be bound to a day of death, he is no longer destined to a hopeless fate. Through our belief in Jesus’ and His death in our stead, we have received the promise of a glorious forever in heaven! And while we remain on earth, He takes care to share our mortal burdens.

So friend, if you are like me and have a tendency to carry things too heavy for your size, I urge you to look intently to the Savior. He will meet you in those moments of grief, for His yoke is easy and His burden is light!

Matthew 11:28-30 NLT Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

Romans 8:20-21 NLT Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay.

Orig Posted by Donna M Dougherty at 7/26/2010 7:09 AM

 

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More than Coincidence

Albert Einstein said that coincidence was God’s way of remaining anonymous.  Even this esteemed twentieth century brainiac knew that some things in our physical world could not be explained by science, law, or reason.

Throughout my years as a Christian I have observed with awe, God’s considerate and deliberate dealings with man. It is impossible to ignore His purposeful intervention with people and His tenacious endeavors toward accomplishing His will on the earth.

God does nothing haphazardly, so on those occasions when our physical and non-physical worlds function synergistically and deliver uncanny outcomes, it is more than coincidence; it is divine design!

dreamstime_13391381sI recently posted an entry called Place in this World.  It concerned, Bella, our new baby grand-daughter who was adopted by our daughter and husband last month.  Something extraordinary happened shortly after that entry was posted that I would like to share.

Our daughter-in-law, Michelle, told me that she had been searching for a black baby doll to give to Julianna, Bella’s new 4 ½ year-old sister. Bella is African American and her new family members are Caucasian, so this would be a sweet and thoughtful gift for Julianna. Michelle had visited some local stores and had not yet found the doll.

As she spoke, I remembered that I played with a black doll more than 40 years ago; it was special to me so I kept it.  I immediately unpacked the doll from storage.

Similar to Bella, the doll had a beautiful face with dark curly hair, though her outfit was worn and her body needed to be cleaned. I intended to give the doll to Michelle so that she could fix her up as a gift for Julianna, but she said that she would continue her quest for another. She felt that since it was my personal doll I should be the one to pass her on.

So the next day I bought the doll some new clothes, washed her, fixed her hair, and proceeded to dress her, when I noticed the branding that was embossed on her back. I decided to read it and what I saw was undeniably divine design.

The name “Bella” was imprinted in quotes on the doll’s plastic body! I could not believe my eyes! I blinked and stared; I don’t recall for how long.  All I could say was, “Wow …God …you are amazing”!

It didn’t take a genius to recognize the author of this outcome! God set something in motion years ago that He had just brought full circle.  I grew up playing with a beautiful black doll and branded on her back was the name Bella! What a coincidence

Psalm 33:11 NIV But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.

Orig Posted by Donna M Dougherty at 6/12/2010 12:01 PM

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Place in this World

bella5sm2God, the ultimate Father, defines the way of each child’s life. Some children are born into families, while others are born for families. Bella Rose was born for ours!

Our 4 1/2 year old granddaughter held her new baby sister just two days after her birth. Bella was born across the country to a woman who was unable to care for her. She decided to give the baby up for adoption and our daughter and son-in-law were selected by the birth mother, and by God, to be her adoptive parents.

The family received the call at 4:00 p.m. on Monday evening, and they left for the airport at 4:00 a.m. Tuesday morning. After spending a week and half in Bella’s birth state the paperwork was finalized and the new family of four flew home!

How quickly details can fall into place when God calls something into being. We could not have selected a more perfect child for our family, or orchestrated a smoother transition.

He is an amazing God; though imposing and grand, He delights personally in the purpose and placement of Bella’s tiny life.

Psalm 139:13-16 says, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”

God knows us before we even become. He is intimately and passionately aware of us.

  • (Jeremiah 1:4-5 NLT) “The Lord gave me this message: ‘I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.'”
  • (Galatians 1:15-16a NLT) “But even before I was born, God chose me and called me by His marvelous grace. Then it pleased him to reveal His Son to me so that I would proclaim the Good News about Jesus to the Gentiles…”

Before Bella was, God knew her and He had defined her place in this world.  She was born for a purpose and for our family!

Psalm 68:6a NKJ God sets the solitary in families;

Orig Posted by Donna M Dougherty at 5/24/2010 11:27 PM

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Not Going to Live Small

Although I am grateful for the thread of perpetual hope that God has been faithful to weave into the days of my life, the year 2009 was nonetheless a serious one for me. Looking over the events of those 365 days, I felt sad.35941028_s

On New Year’s Eve I almost gave way to self-pity, but remembered the passage in Proverbs 24:10 that says, “If you falter in times of trouble, how small is your strength!” …I’m not going to live small; nope, not going there.

While my problems are real, they are small compared to the sufferings of others. The truth is, I know in a big way that life is not about us. God sees our plight and He cares about every hair on our heads. However, He is likewise concerned about the greater good. It’s about His focal and eternal purposes on the earth. This leads me to my next point.

In the normal course of most days I am drawn to consider the suffering of mankind – a necessary exercise for a deep-feeler like me. Before I learned of the power of prayer, I considered my emotions to be somewhat of a handicap. However, lifting the desperate needs of others up to God, the One who has the desire and power to visit and rescue people in their misery, has become my consummate duty, privilege, and comfort.

In 2009 alone I heard that we experienced close to 250 major disasters worldwide, endangering 58 million people. For example, in January, 200 people were feared dead when a passenger ferry sank off the coast of an Indonesian island during a storm. In February bush-fires in Australia rendered more than 7,000 people homeless and caused death and injury to hundreds. In March, a 28 year old man killed 10 people in the worst mass shooting in Alabama history.

Globally, wars and natural disasters have killed thousands of people and left even more impoverished, in ill health, or separated from loved-ones. The fall-out from such trauma is far reaching.

There is more. Each year in the U.S. alone, almost a million children are victimized, and 1,500 to 2,000 of them die from physical abuse. Worldwide, women and children are kidnapped or sold for exploitation. Over the course of centuries the moral fiber of mankind has degenerated to such a degree that sex trafficking has become a gainful business.

Although disheartening, we must give attention to such realities if we are to function as a society. Human rights advocate, Gary Haugen said, “God has a plan to help bring justice to the world—and His plan is us.”

We prefer to look away from these things because the truth is painful. But as responsible citizens of God’s kingdom and occupants of the earth, we must face and courageously uphold it. The convictions, passions, and love that God has placed inside of us exist for a reason. What are we doing with them?

Hebrews 10:24, says, “Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works”. Diana Scimone has made it her mission to raise the awareness of child sex trafficking. I urge you to visit her website at The Born2Fly Project. Diana does not believe that she can stop the madness overnight because the problem is mammoth. However, she is doing her part to educate and mobilize. If enough people get involved, our efforts can make a difference.

By focusing on something outside of our problems that thread of perpetual hope that God weaves through our lives can be decisively grasped.  At the end of the day we will have spent more time praying for, doing for, and concerned about God’s purposes, than our own.

So on New Year’s Eve I almost gave way to self-pity, but was reminded to think bigger than myself!  May we all vow to reach well beyond ourselves in the year 2010. The outcome promises to be no small thing!

Proverbs 24:11-12 NIV Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter. If you say, ‘But we knew nothing about this,’ does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who guards your life know it? Will he not repay each person according to what he has done?’

Matthew 25:35-36 NIV For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.

Orig Posted by Donna M Dougherty at 1/2/2010 8:37 PM

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Just like Him

If I had followed in my father’s footsteps I would have become a plumbing contractor, but my dad discouraged it.  I eventually understood his reservations, as I was not wired for the job.

dad and donnaMy father wisely discerned the dichotomy between the raw realities of his job and my developing aptitudes.  It was not unusual for him to forge metal pipes, or to carry a bathtub up a flight of stairs on his back.  I, on the other hand, spent my time riding horses, dancing, and writing poetry.  I just wanted to be like him.

As an adolescent my desire to be like my dad meant taking on his profession and doing the job that he did each day.  I later recognized the things that I most admired about him were character traits.

I observed how he cared for others.  As a result people, even strangers quickly adopted him into their families, and they would rely on him for input or help with decisions or problems. People just seemed to feel better when he was around.

Author Maya Angelou wrote, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”.

It is not the good works that we do for others that matter most in our relationships, though these are both necessary and beneficial; it is our manifest belief in the individual that matters. This is a Godly principle that my dad understood.  We are all created to fulfill a matchless destiny. Knowing that someone believes in our ability to fulfill that destiny is compelling.

Jesus was the absolute Master at this! Consider the sensational change in the life of Mary Magdalene … and what about the 12 disciples?  Jesus’ investment in their lives was so believable, His confidence in them so empowering, that even after He was physically taken away, they went on to revolutionize the entire world!

Following in His footsteps, the apostle Paul wrote this to the Corinthian church. “I have the highest confidence in you, and I take great pride in you. You have greatly encouraged me and made me happy despite all our troubles”.  By caring about and believing in others we validate their personal worth.  These are the sentiments that capture people’s hearts.

He learned this from Jesus … as he sought to be just like HIM!

Colossians 3:10 NLT Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him.

Matthew 4:19 NLT Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!”

Orig Posted by Donna M Dougherty at 11/14/2009 8:40 PM

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Otherworldly, Powerful and Strategic

The time that we spend in the presence of others is meant to be influential.  After all, God created us in His likeness; since He is a relational God, so too are we relational beings.

Watching time passing by

Whether engaged in deep conversation with a close friend, or simply overhearing a comment from a stranger in a checkout line, consciously or not, our minds will actively capture and process what we hear.  And it is the trusted hand-pat on the back, or the sudden stab of an elbow on a crowded train that provoke an immediate response from us… it is natural for people to affect people.

A well-known youth minister by the name of Doug Fields said, “We have souls that thrive in the warmth of kindred spirits…God wired us this way.”  He uses the rub between people to communicate matters of relevance.  And this is not only achieved through our casual contact with one another, but also through a divinely inspired plan that is otherworldly, powerful, and strategic.

God’s primary message concerns His love for people and He counts on a perpetual chain of human influence to convey His love throughout the world. He could have burned an image of His beating heart in the sky, or whispered of His love through sound waves carried by the wind.  But instead, God thoughtfully chose to communicate the most vital message in the universe to us, through us.

Sometime between A.D, 85–95, John the disciple wrote, “God showed how much He loved us by sending His one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through Him”. John walked with Jesus.  In fact, it was John who the Bible tells us laid his head on Jesus’ chest.  He learned firsthand of God’s love.

John had been privileged to listen to the beating heart of Christ …and He was there when it stopped.  He was persuaded through his relationship with the Lord to tell us of this great love. May we adopt this same sense of duty and purpose, because in all our relational endeavors there is no communication more powerful, or more relevant.

John 3:16 NLT 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.

1 John 4:9 NLT God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal lift through him.

Orig Posted by Donna M Dougherty at 10/18/2009 9:01 PM

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Some Things are Final or “Oops”

dreamstime_xs_26038741While lying at the foot of the bed, our puppy, Maggie, sat up twice in response to an unusual sound coming from the kitchen.  I was nursing a stomach ache, so I chose to ignore her.   I later learned that ignoring her was a mistake.

I had placed some eggs on the stove to boil earlier that day and left the kitchen to take a short rest.  Unfortunately I forgot about them.  Sometime later Maggie cried to go outside.  We no sooner reached the front yard when I heard an explosion from inside the house.

Returning, I quickly realized that the water had boiled out of the pan and the eggs had burst throwing their shells and innards not just onto the nearby stove, wall, and cabinets, but also across the room onto the table, under the table, and upon the ceiling.  Maggie started to eat what was on the floor while I opened windows and prepared to clean the mess; not a fun task with an already upset stomach.

As I cleaned I remembered the childhood rhyme about Humpty Dumpty who was also a splattered egg.  The rhyme goes, “Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great fall, and all the king’s horses and all the king’s men could not put Humpty Dumpty together again”!

Spraying pieces of Humpty Dumpty with Windex and wiping his remains into the trash, I contemplated how final the end of a matter really can be.  Humpty Dumpty fell to his death by foolishly sitting his rounded bottom on a high wall. The three eggs in the pan – well they simmered too long under hot and pressurized conditions.  In such extremes, fatality is inevitable.

The rhyme points out that even the resources of kings could not un-scramble the consequences of a poor choice.  If we desire different outcomes, then we should make better choices, and the Word of God is available to guide us.

Here are a few examples:  be self-controlled and alert (1 Peter 5:8), live a godly life (2 Peter 3:11 ), settle matters quickly (Matthew 5:25 ), walk in the truth (3 John 1:4), forgive (Colossians 3:13), esteem wisdom (Proverbs 4:8), seek understanding (Proverbs 2:1-3), be humble (Ephesians 4:2), persevere in trials (James 1:12), love God and our neighbor (Luke 10:27), and put aside works of darkness while there is still time (Romans 13:12).

If you are reading this entry, you still have time!  There is no need to simmer under pressure, or teeter in a precariously high place – come on down!  God’s own Word is there to help, and He is infinitely wise!  After all, He created the egg! Hmmm… or was it the chicken?

Romans 8:12-13 NLT Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. For if you live by its dictates, you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live.

Orig Posted by Donna M Dougherty at 10/3/2009 8:52 PM

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Managing Anxiety and Depression (Audio Message)

This audio recording is a summary of the lessons that I learned over the years concerning the management of anxiety and depression. This particular message was delivered live and was edited on the run, so please forgive any personal references between the speaker and the audience.

A great victory can be won just by understanding the truth about what we fight in the arena of anxiety and depression. By applying our faith, and by using the various tools available to us, we can be free to live a joyful and abundant life. Please click above to listen. I pray that you will be encouraged and changed by God’s power through the truth that you hear!

Psalm 94:19 NIV When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul.

Colossians 1:15-17 MSG He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created; things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

Philippians 4:5-9 MSG Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.

Posted by Donna M Dougherty at 8/22/2009 8:02 PM – Played: 226 | Duration: 00:58:27

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Amazing Grace

Reverend Tom Ascol said, “Self-deception is an insidious condition. You will never meet a person who knows he is self-deceived. By definition, those ensnared are completely unaware that they are.”

The self-deceived are often used to defy truth and reason. They employ weapons of absurdity and irrationality, yet they believe in their causes as strongly as the righteous.  But when lies are unshackled from the mouths of the unjust and truth is stomped by gracecorruption, when the innocent are assailed and wickedness is endorsed, when faith is pretentious and God is mocked, sin will abound, and… we grieve.

There is a great uneasiness that comes to God’s true followers in the face of such senselessness.  We shake our heads with wonder.  We pray.  We wait for His intervention and deliverance, but more… we learn.

We look to Jesus and learn of His grace. The Lord wants us all to make it and He is not only thoughtful, but He is proactive about it. Where the law identified and demanded punishment for sin, through our belief in Jesus’ extraordinary sacrifice on the cross, we obtain grace.

Grace is that wholly sustaining quiescent stay between where we are now and God’s unachieved expectation for us. Those who do not cling to vain beliefs or worthless idols will learn of it. God’s amazing grace intensifies against the increase of sin; it powerfully liberates, and it allows endless opportunity for change.

So, while the self-deceived may promote sin in our circles, families, government, and world, we gather our best intentions and our strongest prayers, and we bring our teachable-selves to Jesus.  We go to the One who has given us strength, considered us faithful, and has appointed us to His service (1Timothy 1:12).  We accept His amazing grace and … we believe.  May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

Jonah 2:8 NIV “Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs…”

Romans 5:20-21 NIV The law was added so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Hebrews 4:16 NIV  Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Orig Posted by Donna M Dougherty at 8/8/2009 3:14 PM

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Ready to Live

She sat in a frozen-like position on her couch. Preoccupied and bewildered, she stared at nothing, but fearfully expected anything. Supposition rushed through her mind like frenzied traffic, terrifying and hollow. She was desperate to run anywhere, but stayed in fear of everywhere.

Her hands tingled, and chills and sweats alternately washed over her with every sound that she heard. Her body had become emotionally and physiologically reactionary; sounds were magnified and people were complicated, yet silence was stifling, and aloneness brought dread.

In moments of intense fear she would whisper the name, “Jesus”.  His name was her entire prayer.

The woman described above was me. For some of my adult years I struggled with anxiety, depression, and finally panic attacks. I was in emotional bondage; dying inside, but desperately wanting to live.

heavenly raysEverybody has their own version of happiness. Mine was to understand and liberally embrace the life that Jesus died to give me. So, even in the dark times when I could not see beyond my fears, I fumbled and reached in God’s direction. Thankfully He was there.

The Bible tells us that God would dwell in a dark cloud. So even in our most desperate times, He is with us. He became a very personal help in my time of need. He showed Himself strong when I was weak, and He embraced me with a love that radically transformed my spirit, soul and body.

I still pray the name “Jesus”, but not out of fear, as I am no longer the woman on that couch. One day I looked up and HIS light had undeniably pierced my dark cloud. I was thawed, calm and unafraid; ready to live that life that He died to give me!

2 Chronicles 6:1 NIV Then Solomon said, “The Lord has said that he would dwell in a dark cloud…”

Psalm 46:1 NKJV God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

Orig Posted by Donna M Dougherty at 7/25/2009 11:21 PM

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Attain the Crown

On July 4, 2009 in New York Harbor, after an eight-year hiatus, hundreds of people climbed the stairs to the crown of the Statue of Liberty.  Public access to the crown had been prohibited for nearly a decade after the September 11, 2001 attacks because emergency evacuation down its narrow, double-helix staircases did not meet safety codes.  Additionally, certain areas of the 354-step climb to the crown are so ominous that some visitors have been overcome by claustrophobia, panic attacks, and heat exhaustion.  And for those having such difficulty, the winding and constricted stairs allow no option to turn back.

The English Poet, Francis Quarles wrote, “He that hath no cross deserves no crown”.  The challenging ascent into the statue’s crown is an 25225243_silluminating example of man’s mounting journey through life; the higher the calling, the more arduous the climb.

Some years ago I experienced a personal struggle with anxiety and depression. Unable to change my circumstances, I became impeded and could barely function day to day.  I was emotionally stuck en-route  . . . yet, I knew that I must advance.

Fortunately, the climb is not to the swift, strong, or privileged, and it is not about skill or technique.  So I dragged myself through each second, minute, hour, and day.  My ascent was slow and clumsy, but by wholly believing God’s Word, and by earnestly applying His principles, I was able to make my upward step-by-step journey a triumphant one.

Lady Liberty continues to welcome the tired, poor and homeless, and the huddled masses yearning to breathe free.  Both structurally and symbolically, she represents a hopeful call to all people to come up higher. Regardless of your cross, attain the crown!

James 1:12 NIV Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.

2 Timothy 4:8 NIV Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

Orig Posted by Donna M Dougherty at 7/4/2009 10:42 PM

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A Forever Friend

It felt like my heart cracked when I read the email that Doris died, and I cried over her loss. I met Doris about 15 years ago when she came to work in our business. She was a tall, stately, German lady who always wore a smile, and invested 100 percent of herself into everything she did.

Her personality was loving and refreshingly child-like. Meeting Doris for the first time, she would embrace you as a forever friend, and she would make it a priority to celebrate you whenever dreamstime_m_22710647nsaucerpossible. She had an arthritic condition, but as a skilled seamstress and crafter she would indomitably work her crooked fingers to create amazing gifts for people. Doris’ thoughtful and generous ways were inspiring.

Throughout her bout with cancer she had the support of devoted family and friends. But Doris’ most supreme comfort and strength came from her Savior. Her relationship with Jesus was intimate and ingenuous.

As I began to process her death, I shared her story with others, but it seemed that those who heard barely acknowledged my words. I was disheartened by their lack of emotion, so I examined my expectations.

It did not take long before I realized the obvious. They didn’t know Doris personally, so they simply could not relate or empathize. No matter how much I reminisced I could not bring them to where I was. Hearing was not the same as knowing.

I applied this observation to the most important relationship ever; that of God and man. Again, just hearing about Jesus is not enough; there is no relevance without personal knowledge. We must know Him.

While I can no longer introduce you to our dear Doris, I can introduce you to Jesus. The Bible tells us that He stands at the door of your heart and knocks. If you invite Him in, you will know Him; He will become your Savior, your Comforter, and your Forever Friend!

Revelation 3:20 NLT Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.

Psalm 116:15 NLT The Lord cares deeply, when his loved ones die.

Orig Posted by Donna M Dougherty at 6/20/2009 11:15 AM

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More than Soup

During a five day bout with the flu, on a venture from the bed to the couch, my telephone rang.  It was a friend calling to tell me that she was on my front porch. When I opened the door she greeted me with a large container soup4of homemade chicken soup; still warm. She heard that I was sick, so she made me soup to help me heal.

As I took hold of the container, I had to force away the tears of gratitude that pressed against the back of my eyes. I was privy to my friend’s hectic schedule, her personal health problems, and her family’s financial difficulties. I recognized the real value of her gesture, and I was truly stunned by her thoughtfulness.

She rushed off to work and I closed myself in with the quiet and solitude of my condition again. I expected to drag myself through the remainder of the day, but that was not the case. While my body was achy and tired, my spirit had been lifted and encouraged. Because of my friend’s gesture I felt better; she had brought me more than soup!

Proverbs 15:30 NLT A cheerful look brings joy to the heart; good news makes for good health.

Posted by Donna M Dougherty at 6/10/2009 10:36 PM

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The Value of You

You have a matchless, purpose driven, divinely appointed place and calling in this world. Without you the world would be lacking. Without you the exact spot on earth where you are right now would be empty, and all the people who you have touched throughout your years on earth would be different.

dreamstime_8170822In fact, you are so important that God himself made it a point to become familiar with you even before you were born. He has distinguished the number of hairs on your head. His love for you is distinctive.

Sadly, people will fail you, but Jesus will not. On the contrary, as the embodiment of love He showers you with affection and fidelity; the essence of who He is protects and nurtures you as His beloved.

Put aside life’s disappointments and focus on the Lord’s rightful consideration of you today. Let the truth of the scriptures that follow find a place in your heart, and embrace your calling. Your unique imprint and unrivaled destiny cannot be fulfilled by another.

Matthew 10:29-31 NIV Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?  Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father.  And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

2 Timothy 1:9 NIV … who has saved us and called us to a holy life–not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace.  This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time…

Orig Posted by Donna M Dougherty at 6/3/2009 6:45 AM

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Evidence

God thoughtfully created earth, a visible kingdom for our pleasure and habitation. And He generously spread evidence of Himself throughout, in order to compel us toward Him. May we not take these gestures for granted.

dreamstimefree_199252 600How often do we disappoint or insult our Creator by looking upon a sunset, a waterfall, or a blossoming flower without recognizing their divine significance. God’s intricate and sustaining handiwork upon the earth is a living depiction of His creativity and love.

He has placed us in a picture full of beauty; our world is bountiful in things that are pleasant to our senses. We see His great glory through the upholding of time and the endurance of nature. What attention to detail He has illustrated in His care for us. We are warmed by the sun, and nourished by the rain; by daylight we see, and by twilight we rest.

Martin Luther said, “God writes the gospel not in the Bible alone, but on trees and flowers and clouds and stars”. Yet we still have the ability to disregard the passionate and graphic evidence of God that dances from rain to sea, and seed to plant.

I wonder what our world would be like if God decided to roll up earth’s canvas. Suppose He chose to remove the light? Without wind or rain, would the earth be clean; how would it smell? If the rivers were stilled and vegetation withered, how would we be sustained? Suppose that there was no more sound, no breaking waves or brushing leaves, no music; what if God was no longer creative, generous, playful and loving?

Such devastation cannot be imagined from One so faithful. Our God has truly given us all things to enjoy! Thank Jesus today for the touch of time, the scent of life, the vista of expectancy, and the sound of heaven.

Oh beloved, taste and see that the Lord is good! Behold the evidence!

Romans 1:19-20 NLT They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them. For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.

Orig Posted by Donna M Dougherty at 5/16/2009 10:31 PM

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Doesn’t Get Better Than That

pic of grandmat 200My grandmother’s death was not equal to her life on this earth. Grandma was a sweet little Italian lady who arrived at Ellis Island by boat on December 2, 1912, at the age of 12. She eventually married in America and raised 6 children through the great depression.

Grandma was tiny in stature but considerable in character. She had learned to be entirely satisfied with the simple life; she was passionate about people, not things. She loved with organic sincerity and meekness. As a compassionate woman it was not unusual to see her eyes wet with tears over someone’s family crisis, or the latest news report.

Because grandma was special I expected the moment of her death to be imposing or angelic. It seemed terribly anticlimactic and out of balance for her to simply expire like everyone else. I expected it to be better for her! Since she had lived so remarkably I assumed that her passing would be distinctive. But it was not. There was no symphony playing, and no visible light beams shone from heaven to usher her from this life to the next. The wonderful lady just stopped breathing and was no longer here.

I wrestled with confusion about the experience until God graciously put it in perspective for me. The lack of ceremonial display at her death should not be a reflection of her life in any way. Life is relevant only for as long as we are here, but eternity is forever! The real action, what truly matters at the end of an individual’s life, resides on the other side of death, so of course what we see when the soul leaves earth lacks totality.

Grandma died at age 96 of heart failure; the only time that I ever saw her ill. Several days before her death, grandma had a spiritual visitation. The incident frightened her so much that the hospital staff moved her to another room in an attempt to comfort her. She said that two women entered her room and mocked her. They told her that she would die in the hospital and that she would never see her home again. She said that they ridiculed her repeatedly until the voice of a man from outside her door demanded that they leave. She never saw the man.

I received a call regarding the incident and rushed to the hospital. On the way, I asked God for wisdom so that I would know what to do when I saw her. God was faithful. He conveyed to me that grandma did not have the assurance of salvation, and that her life was literally hanging in the balance between heaven and hell. I was surprised, as I had thought for years that she was a Christian.

When I arrived at the hospital I leaned over grandma’s frail body and asked her if she believed that she would go to heaven when she died. With minimal strength she whispered that she had not been a good enough person. Wow what a statement! All her life, she gave and gave and gave to others; she WAS a good person! But in the hours before death, when she was closest to facing her Maker, she was confronted by her unworthiness. What a beautiful example of why we need a Savior. Even the best among us cannot reach God without accepting the cleansing blood of Jesus Christ.

I said, “Oh grandma, it is not about that; nobody is good enough. Jesus is not looking for your goodness; He is looking for your heart! He will cleanse you from your sin and make you ready for heaven”. I was privileged to share God’s great love and gift of salvation with grandma, and she accepted Jesus as her Savior.

She continued to have visions until her death; however after that day they were encouraging manifestations of beautiful white horses, and friendly faces that brought her comfort. Then, one night her heart stopped beating and she quietly left.

So it is true; grandma’s death was not equal to the way that she lived. However, her time in eternity will far surpass any desires or expectations that I had for her! She lives eternally, in her eternal home, with the eternal God! It doesn’t get better than that!

Psalm 116:15 NIV Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His saints.

2 Peter 1:11 NLT Then God will give you a grand entrance into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Orig Posted by Donna M Dougherty at 5/10/2009 10:26 PM

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Looking Beyond the Jacket

How often have we misjudged people by assessing them based on susan-boyle-pic-itv-113257880-300x216what we see on the outside?  Writer Baltasar Gracian said, “Things do not pass for what they are, but for what they seem.  Most things are judged by their jackets.”

Gracian’s statement is so true. We use an eye-balling standard of judgment with people.  We myopically size them up based on a narrow list of criteria. Then, without consideration of the whole person, we mindlessly slap an invisible label on them and carelessly move on.  It is shameful how systematically we do this, overlooking the fact that every person is made up of body, soul and spirit. Oh, what substance and richness lay within people, unheard and unappreciated if we settle only for what they seem… as opposed to who they are.

Every now and then, by the grace of God, we are eclipsed by something wonderful that causes us to take a second look and hopefully lend an ear. At the time of this writing much of the free world gave that courtesy to Susan Boyle.

Susan was a 47 year old Scottish woman with a dream of becoming a professional singer.  She auditioned on the show, “Britain’s Got Talent”, and the video of her performance had circled the globe through the Internet.  The video was so stunning that it had been viewed more than 40 million times on YouTube alone.  I watched it myself a dozen times with torrential tears.

Susan’s appearance and mannerisms were unassuming and slightly peculiar.  She was an atypical contestant, because she was not outwardly glamorous or hip.  It was evident that the judges and audience were dubious about her singing ability, as she was quietly scorned up to the second that she opened her mouth.

Then came Susan’s moment; this dear lady sang, “I Dreamed a Dream” from “Les Misérables”, and her very first words caused the auditorium to literally erupt with cheers!  Her humble presence and magnificent voice sent an undeniable message of beauty and grace to every ear. Her voice opened the door for us to know her.  She was more than she had seemed!

The Bible says in James chapter 2. “… If a man enters your church wearing an expensive suit, and a street person wearing rags comes in right after him, and you say to the man in the suit, ‘Sit here, sir; this is the best seat in the house!’ and either ignore the street person or say, ‘Better sit here in the back row,’ haven’t you segregated God’s children and proved that you are judges who can’t be trusted?”

I believe that God used the fulfillment of Susan Boyle’s dream to get our attention. He expects us to care equally about all people.  He wants us to look beyond the jacket of those we meet.  It is His desire that all would have opportunity to sing!

1 Timothy 1:5 NIV The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.

Orig Posted by Donna M Dougherty at 4/22/2009 12:29 AM

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Up Where We Belong

Last spring a bird built a nest under the roof of our front porch where she laid her eggs.  Soon after, two baby birds were born.  We listened to their tiny chirps, and watched them stretch there little necks toward mama when she flew in the groceries. They seemed like a happy bird family.

40883033_sThen one day as I passed by the porch door, something caught my eye. One of the babies had fallen several feet to the concrete floor below and he was barely moving.  I alerted my husband who went out and gently lifted the little fuzz-covered guy back into the nest.

We wondered if baby had much hope of living after falling so far, and having been touched by human hands.   But thankfully after work that evening we noticed mama bird comfortably perched over both babies.  The bird emergency had passed… or so we thought.

Early the next day I checked the porch and there was baby again, limply plopped on the cement. At this point we assumed that mama must have reason to push him from the nest, but we did not have the heart to leave him for prey. So my husband returned him to the nest a second time.

Three days after the second rescue we heard a raucous on the porch.  Both mama and papa were present and flying around the nest, and the two babies were straining their necks high to watch.  They were alert, curious, and strong.  Hurray!  Baby was meant to live!

Jesus says, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”  He points out that birds do not process the necessary human activities of life, but they are still tended to. They simply trust their Maker for their care.  Jesus wants us to understand and apply this same principle; it is God’s provision, not our own abilities that sustain us.

Baby bird fell from great heights twice in a short period of time.  Without someone providentially appointed to lift him, he would have died.  In a similar manner people also fall.  We fall into sin and sometimes also from great heights.  Family, reputation, careers; so much is at stake when we sin that we feel hopeless and wonder if there really is a way back.

The Bible tells us that if we humble ourselves before the Lord, He will lift us up.  Like baby who needed a rescuer, we too need someone greater than ourselves.  We need Jesus!  He has been providentially appointed to lift us up where we belong!

Psalm 30:1 NIV I will exalt you, O LORD, for you lifted me out of the depths and did not let my enemies gloat over me.

James 4:10 NIV Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

Orig Posted by Donna M Dougherty at 4/11/2009 10:16 PM

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It Takes Just a Flicker

The sun peeked through the trees onto my face as I sat on my porch.  Something so bright, beautiful and powerful must have been created by One more brilliant, exquisite and extreme!

God created light for our benefit.  He gave us physical light in the sun, and He gave us spiritual light in the “Son” – His Son Jesus Christ who came to earth as the Light of the World.

12960288_sYet, we miss the impact of His coming? He shines bright and warm, and He lights our path. So often we do not see, feel, or follow. Our world is cloaked in a deceptive darkness so pervasive that we succumb to its numbing effect. We fall into spiritual slumber; impervious to the evil that surrounds us.

Jesus warned His disciples in Mark, chapter 8 to be careful of sin.  They walked with God Himself, yet He pointed out that they had eyes that failed to see, and ears that failed to hear. As a remedy, Jesus urged them to remember what they had witnessed of Him in the past.  He encouraged them to look back; to remember a time when they had seen the light.  The flicker of light from one such memory will pierce and dispel darkness.

What do you remember of God’s goodness to you?  How have you witnessed His impact in your life?

Sitting on my porch, I remembered what God had done for me.  He has brought soothing warmth during frigid times, and He has rescued, touched and healed. He has been my strength in weakness, my teacher, my champion, and my greatest love.

Remember what He has done for you, and dispel the darkness… it takes just a flicker….

John 1:5 NLT The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.

Orig Posted by Donna M Dougherty at 3/29/2009 11:02 PM

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He Watches and Waits

These words dropped into my heart today.  “Do not frolic in Solomon’s garden with someone else and expect to marry Jesus”.  The Lord watches the adulterous tendencies of mankind.  He sees all, yet, because of who He is, He continues to long for fellowship with us, for our most sincere adoration; He  desires to embrace us utterly.

14054179_seditWho or what draws us from our greatest love? Has something taken His place? Jesus is the bridegroom who watches us affectionately, waiting for His bride to come to Him. Yet we frolic with false gods, we satisfy our fleshly appetites and chase selfish goals.  We indulge in thoughts and activities that keep us from investing in the most important relationship of our lives.

Jesus waits for us to repent. He was waiting and watching yesterday, and He will do the same today!  He is the most faithful of all loves. In the book of Song of Solomon, chapter 5 it reads, “His eyes are like doves, soft and bright, but deep-set, brimming with meaning, like wells of water.”

Jesus looks on us with the gentleness of a dove, seeing through eyes that are untainted; His vision is unveiled, so He sees us in the purest sense. His gift of salvation presents us as faultless before the Father. His eyes are deep-set; the depth of His character beckons for our attention. His deep calls to our deep. He cries from His essence, “Come”.

Lock eyes with Jesus and let the wells of water that spring from Him cleanse and renew your human soul. Like waterfalls that rush over stone, soil, and flora, everything is washed, and your relationship with Him is refreshed once again.

Frolic with Jesus and lack no good thing. Respond, engage, and prepare for the privilege of being His bride.

Song of Solomon 4:9 NIV You have stolen my heart, my sister, my bride; you have stolen my heart with one glance of your eyes, with one jewel of your necklace.

Orig Posted by Donna M Dougherty at 3/21/2009 9:10 PM

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