Alphabet Faith Stories: Joyful Josie

The joy of the Lord is my strength.

J: Joyful Josie. Psalm 119:2–“Joyful are those who obey his laws and search for them with all their hearts.” (NIV)

Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition of joyful:

  • Experiencing, causing, or showing joy
  • A state of happiness
  • A source or cause of delight
  • To experience great pleasure or delight

Phrases associated with the word joy(ful):

  • A joyful crowd
  • Joyful faces
  • A joyful occasion
  • Joy in the Lord
  • A joyful sound

J: Joyful Josie’s Story:

“Josie smiled as she passed her grandmother’s treadle sewing machine that she kept in a prominent place of honor in her home. After all, she learned to sew on this machine. Even though 45+ years had passed, she could still remember her grandmother telling her–at the age of five–that it was time that Josie learned how to sew so that she would always be able to make her own clothes as well as sew for other people. All she needed was the desire and motivation to learn this highly creative skill. Even though Josie could barely reach the treadle, her grandmother helped her learn to sew a straight line and other stitches that she needed to perfect.

When Josie attended middle school, a home economics class was offered as an elective. Joyfully, she signed up for the class(es) and learned to use an updated model of the treadle sewing machine. She made an apron, dress, hat, soft carryall, a purse, and a blouse during the three years she attended middle school. In high school, Josie learned more advanced sewing techniques on more updated machines as she learned to make more difficult dress patterns. Her classmates noticed that Josie’s garments looked more “store-bought” than homemade and asked Josie for help in their creations.

Since Josie’s family could not afford to send her to college, she decided that she wanted to become a seamstress and to help other young women learn this skill as well. So she volunteered at the local youth center and taught sewing classes after school and on Saturdays. Josie continued to offer her services to friends and family as well. On one such occasion, her younger sister became engaged and had asked Josie if she would make the bridesmaids’ dresses. Josie had never made anything that “fancy” but instead of saying no, she agreed. She helped her sister choose the pattern and material needed for the dresses and several months later, Josie was fitting the bridesmaids with her creations–soft peach halter dresses with a floral cape. At the wedding, everyone complimented Josie on how beautifully the dresses were made.

After Josie was married and as she and her husband had to move out of state several times due to his job, she continued to seek the Lord for His guidance on what she should do with her life. Once again she turned to sewing. She continued to make dresses and clothes for her daughter from an early age on, until she outgrew “handmade” clothes. At the age of 10, however, her daughter asked if her mom could teach her and her friends to sew. But instead of treadle sewing machines, Josie purchased six brand new electric sewing machines at Walmart and set up a studio where her daughter’s friends could learn to sew. They made aprons, hats, skirts, pants, soft purses, and drawstring bags. By the end of two years, they had all learned the basics of hand and machine sewing. Other school activities/sports began to interfere with attending the sewing classes, but Josie could not have been more proud of her daughter and friends’ accomplishments. All of the parents were thankful that their daughters learned how to sew as this would be a creative skill they could enjoy for a lifetime.

Josie began to look for other ways to pass this “dying art” along to others and offered her services whenever anyone needed something special to wear for a “special” occasion. Her younger sister had moved to another State but contacted Josie about a “special project” she needed help with. Would Josie be willing to make a quilt for her grandson’s first birthday? Wait! What? Did she hear her correctly. Her sister said that when her first son was born someone made a special bear quilt for him, and even after 20+ years he still had parts of the quilt that he kept as a special memory.

After discussing what type of material and the design for the quilt, Josie reluctantly agreed. She would definitely need more advice and help doing this project no doubt. Josie’s daughter knew that her mother-in-law had made numerous quilts for baby showers and for friends/family members. So Josie now had a mentor to call on if she needed some help with the quilt.

After four months, the quilt was finished. It was 42″ x 72″ long and had a bear appliqued on the front of it which looked like he was under the covers asleep. On the back bottom corner of the quilt, her friend embroidered the name and birth date of her sister’s grandson. Josie mailed it to her sister in March and then flew out to her sister’s house in April to help celebrate her grandson’s birthday. When the parents took the quilt out of the box, they were so excited. The quilt did look a lot like the one her sister’s son had been given when he was a baby. What a joyful occasion for everyone that day.

Joyfully, and without hesitation Josie agreed to make something that she had never made before. Although the quilt was time-consuming and she spent many long hours putting it together, she could not help feel that God had given her this special “joyful occasion” to make her heart glad. The joy of the Lord was truly Josie’s strength as, despite her doubts, He would help her accomplish the task He had given her.”

Josie’s story is my story. Self-doubt and fear of doing something new can result in “never” doing what you were meant and created to do. “Let us rejoice and be glad” in whatever the Lord sets before us. He will give us the strength to accomplish all that He has for us to do despite our shortcomings and self-doubts.

May the Lord richly bless you as you continue to be a blessing to others.

Blessings

Yvonne

Alphabet Faith Stories: Intentional Iris

I can do all things through Christ!

I: Intentional Iris. Galatians 6:9–“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (NIV)

Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition of intentional:

  • What one intends to do or bring about
  • The object for which a prayer (mass or pious act) is offered
  • A determination to act in a certain way
  • Purpose with respect to something (i.e. marriage)

Phrases or quotes associated with the word intentional:

  • Intentional living is the art of making our own choices before others’ choices make us
  • Live your every day extraordinary
  • When your intentions are pure, so too will be your success

I: Intentional Iris’ Story:

“An ‘I can do it’ attitude was instilled in Iris from an early age on. When she first learned to draw a picture or ride a bike, she would tell her mom “I can do that” and she often succeeded. She grew up with two brothers who were involved in various sports activities. Iris was always copying their moves and whenever she missed the baseball or couldn’t throw the basketball through a hoop, she always told herself she could. After all, practice makes perfect. She became very competitive and intentional in everything she tried.

Her classmates always chose Iris to be on their team because they knew she would never give up and would try to bring her team to victory. So it was not surprising when she decided to try out for the gymnastics’ team and ended up being on the team that would eventually be chosen to go to the Olympics. All of her teammates had to put in countless hours after school and on weekends to perfect their performances.

Iris always believed that God had a plan for her and often read and quoted Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” She relied on God’s guidance in every decision she made and He always led her in the direction she was to go.

Did Iris and her teammates win the gold medal their first time? Two of her teammates won silver medals and one teammate won a bronze medal. Iris came close to winning the gold medal but lost to another competitor from another country. She couldn’t have been more proud of herself and her team for their outstanding efforts to do their best even if they didn’t bring home the coveted gold medal.

God continued to show Iris that He had a plan for her life. She and her team won numerous world championships before returning to the Olympics two more times. It was during their last time of competing at the Olympics that they brought home the gold medal as a team. God had blessed Iris and her teammates because they prayed together and sought God with all their hearts and were intentional to reach their goals.”

The scripture in Jeremiah 29 continues on with verses 12-13: “Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” God wants us to seek Him with all our heart, asking Him what He has in mind for our lives, not just when things are going great, but for plans He has for you when life calls for a change in your current position.

Matthew 7:7-8 says, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” If you are desiring to know God’s purpose for your life, call upon Him and seek him, and He will direct your path because He has wonderful plans waiting for you when you do.

Blessings,

Yvonne

Alphabet Faith Stories: Humble Helen

Torn pieces of paper with words “Humility”

H: Humble Helen. James 4:10: “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up.” (NIV)

Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition of humble/humility:

  • Not proud or haughty
  • Reflecting, expressing or offered in a spirit of deference or submission
  • Ranking low in hierarchy–humble positions

Phrases using humble/humility:

  • Humble apology
  • Humble position
  • Selflessness is humility
  • Stay humble
  • Humble like water
  • Knowledgeable but humble

H: Humble Helen’s Story:

“Helen grew up in a very large family (9 sisters and 3 brothers). When Helen’s father was involved in a factory explosion where he worked, Helen’s mother had to rely on getting help from the Salvation Army and other resources in order to feed and clothe her family. It would be months after the explosion before Helen’s father would return to work.

Embarrassed by their situation, Helen often accompanied her mother to the Salvation Army to pick up surplus food supplies such as butter, flour, peanut butter, etc. She never liked to stand in line because she felt she was being judged. Her mother often told her that things would change once her dad would return to work. But, in the meantime, Helen needed to be thankful for the items they received so that her mother could bake homemade rolls and bread. That thought would always bring a smile to Helen’s face because she knew how delicious those would taste.

Helen decided that instead of feeling embarrassed when she went with her mom, that she would try to help another person in some way. On one particular Saturday, she noticed a woman in a wheel chair picking up her food items. The workers tried to put all of the items on the wheel chair but couldn’t do it. Helen kept wondering where her family was but saw no one there to help her. So Helen got out of line and went to help this woman by carrying some of the items for her.

As they walked out of the building, Helen noticed a blue station wagon sitting near the curb. As they approached the vehicle, a much younger woman got out and took the food and put it in the car. She told Helen that she was this woman’s daughter and brought her there every month to pick up the items. The woman saw a puzzled look on Helen’s face, and explained that she was “too embarrassed” to go inside. After all, she didn’t need the food because her husband had a great job and they had the money to buy these things at the grocery store.

The woman thanked Helen for her help and she and her mother left. As Helen thought about this encounter with the mother and daughter, she realized that she did not need to feel embarrassed about her family’s situation. It was because of her father’s near-death experience and not being able to work for several months that brought them to the Salvation Army for help. Helen’s attitude changed that day as she humbled her heart and forgot about her situation when she decided to help someone less fortunate.

Every month that Helen accompanied her mother to pick up the food items, she looked for another person to help and she was reminded that “if we humble ourselves, the Lord will lift us up.” She continued to volunteer at the Salvation Army for two years after her family no longer needed the surplus items and helped countless individuals to feel important by “lifting their spirits” and by being a great role model to everyone she came in contact with. Her selflessness was humility.”

Helen’s story was also my story. I grew up in the projects along with my siblings (9 sisters and 3 brothers) and yes, the accident at the factory was real. My dad had first, second, and third degree burns on his body due to the explosion. Without the help of the surplus foods that we received every month, we would never have made it through our situation. But God knew all about our circumstances, and he humbled my heart to be receptive to His blessings. Along with soups and stews, my mom was able to make homemade rolls and bread which kept our family going until my dad was able to go back to work.

Matthew 23:12 says, “For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” (NIV) Proverbs 22:4 says, “Humility and the fear of the Lord bring wealth and honor and life.” (NIV)

Blessings,

Yvonne

Alphabet Faith Stories: Grateful Gwen

An attitude of gratitude

G: Grateful Gwen. I Thessalonians 5:16-18–“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks (grateful) in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (NIV)

Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition of grateful:

  • Appreciative of benefits received
  • Expressing gratitude
  • Feeling or showing thanks
  • Providing pleasure or comfort (scents of tea or coffee)

Grateful (thankful) phrases:

  • An attitude of gratitude
  • Gratitude; my cup overflows
  • Choose to be grateful no matter what
  • Gratitude turns what we have into enough
  • Thankful with a grateful heart

G: Grateful (Thankful) Gwen’s Story:

“Gwen knew as a little girl that she wanted to become a nurse when she grew up. She was often found playing nurse with a number of her dolls. She would check their temperature, listen for their heartbeat, and cover them in band aids and bandages. Her friends would often call her “Nurse Gwen” whenever they played together.

After graduating from high school, Gwen enrolled in the nursing program at her local college where she diligently studied nursing courses and did her semester at the local hospital before taking her nursing exams to become a registered licensed nurse (RN).

Upon graduation, she got a job at the local hospital and worked in pediatrics. She enjoyed helping and working with her patients every day for several years. When it came time for her to retire, Gwen did so reluctantly. Everyone who knew Nurse Gwen, loved her and wanted to give her a going-away party to show their appreciation for her dedication and caring attitude.

On the last day of work, Gwen was asked to come to the nurses lounge where she was greeted with a special surprise party. She was really overwhelmed by their generosity and was truly grateful that they had given her this gift. They handed her a plaque for her years of service and when she read it, her eyes filled with tears of happiness. It read as follows:

‘To Nurse Gwen for her untiring and compassionate service to her patients and fellow co-workers. We will always be grateful for your dedication.’

Gwen’s spirit of selflessness and nurturing attitude was what her co-workers were going to remember her by. They made it very clear that she would always be welcome at the hospital. At that moment Gwen decided that she would volunteer 1-2 days a week.

With a grateful heart, Gwen continued volunteering at the hospital for another five years until she could no longer do so. Gwen had so many fond memories of her years as a nurse and then as a volunteer in the hospital gift shop. She was able to use her other talent and artistic creativity to set up gift displays, recommending gifts for patients’ families, and being available to listen to concerned parents of small children placed on the pediatrics ward.

Gwen enjoyed her life. When someone asked if there was one person that helped her in life’s decisions, she said, ‘I give all the praise and glory to my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, the author and finisher of my faith, who helped me run the race, and deepen my faith and walk with him on my journey in life.'”

During this time of uncertainty as many of us face the challenges of “keeping social distance” from everyone due to the virus that has plagued our nation and the world, let us remember all of the first responders and caring nurses and doctors who have served tirelessly during this time to make our lives safer.

God is in control and let us give thanks and praise to Him with a grateful heart as we serve others.

Blessings,

Yvonne

Alphabet Faith Stories: Forgiving Fran

Change in one’s heart leads to forgiveness of others.

F: Forgiving Fran–Ephesians 4:32–“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (NIV)

Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition of forgive(ness):

  • To cease to feel resentment against an offender
  • To give up resentment or claim to requietal
  • To grant forgiveness

Forgiveness phrases/thoughts:

  • Forgiveness makes you stronger
  • Forgiveness takes courage
  • Forgiveness is a gift
  • Forgiveness is freeing
  • Forgiveness changes you
  • Forgiveness helps let go of hate
  • Let it (forgiveness) teach you then “let it go”
  • Forgiveness according to Christianity

F: Forgiving Fran’s Story:

“Fran became a Christian at 15 years of age and accepted Christ into her life while attending a local church in her community. She began attending church regularly and joined the local church youth group and tried to participate in church functions as much as she was allowed. She also brought a number of her siblings to church as well.

Every Sunday one of the families in the church invited people to their home for dinner. They had four children near Fran’s age and asked her to join them for dinner after church. Fran’s parents were reluctant to allow her to go but finally gave in. This began a very long-time friendship with this particular family–but that is a story for another time.

Fran found herself talking more with the mother about her own family’s problems. They were role models and encouraged her to love and pray for her family. She did not have this in her home as her father was an alcoholic and verbally abusive to her brothers and sisters when he was drinking.

As the years went by, Fran fell in love with the oldest son and at the age of 20, they were married in the church where she found the Lord. Her parents attended the wedding, along with all of her siblings, even though there was a lot of tension between herself and her father.

Fran and her husband moved to a mid-western state where he finished his degrees while she worked for a church organization. She kept in contact with her family and many times Fran and her husband helped them with financial difficulties.

When they finally moved back to PA after a number of years, Fran’s family ended up living with them because her mother was diagnosed with lung cancer. They had been living in Nebraska, so Fran and her husband went to bring them back to PA where her mother passed away in their home one month later. Her father continued to live with them and it was definitely a tense relationship between the two of them.

One evening, Fran and her father talked about the “past” and all of the things that had caused their broken relationship. She prayed with her father and asked forgiveness for her attitude toward him and he asked her to forgive him for any hurt he had caused her and everyone in the family. Three weeks later her father passed away.

Forgiveness began in Fran’s heart as she listened to her father’s story of when at the age of 19, he had accepted Jesus into his life but had, over many years, wandered away from his faith. She knew that she had to ask forgiveness not only from her father but also from her heavenly Father. That was the beginning of healing as a heavy weight was lifted off her shoulders.”

All of us have experienced at one time or another hurts caused by others and our first reaction is to “not forgive.” Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:14-15 that “if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (NIV) I believe that Jesus commands all of us to forgive one another.

Fran’s story was my story. I learned to forgive because my heavenly Father forgave me of my sin and wanted me to live my life fully for Him through His mercy and grace.

May the Lord bless you as you forgive others as well as yourself because God has forgiven you!

Blessings,

Yvonne

Alphabet Faith Stories: Effective Emily

A team works together

E: Effective Emily–II Peter 1:8–“For if you possess these qualities (goodness, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love) in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (NIV)

Your Dictionary definition of Effective:

  • Having an effect; producing a result
  • Producing a definite or desired result; efficient
  • In effect; operative; active
  • Actual, not merely potential or theoretical
  • Making a striking impression; impressive
  • Equipped and ready for combat

Phrases often used with the word effective:

  • Effective actions need planning
  • The new policies have been effective
  • The students found the lesson to be effective
  • This is an effective tool to remove weeds
  • Effective teaching can be difficult

Effective Emily”s Story:

“Emily was a sixth grade teacher who taught a variety of subjects to her students. Today, however, she decided to teach them about “teamwork” and how important it is that they all work together as a team in order to achieve the results that were desired.

She began by dividing her students into two groups: the bears and the bobcats. The students were eager to see what type of game Miss Emily had for them, and they began to get excited as she explained the rules of soccer.

First, they all had to work together with everyone on their team; second they had to be considerate and kind to one another; and third they had to be happy for the winning team.

Everyone eagerly accepted the rules before they went outside to play soccer which was the one physical activity they all enjoyed playing on the playground. Captains were selected by Miss Emily, and they divided into two teams. Miss Emily had the captains shake hands before she blew the whistle to begin.

After the game began, Miss Emily noticed that two of the players on the same team were arguing with each other. As she approached them, she overheard one loudly say, “You could have made a point, but you slowed down.” The other team mate argued that “there was not enough open space for her to kick the ball toward the goal.” Miss Emily decided to pull the students aside to talk with them as the other students waited on the sidelines.

Miss Emily thought this would be a good time to go over the rules that were discussed and everyone had accepted before the game began. She readily saw that both students were not being kind to one another and not acting like a team player. As soon as she asked them about the rules, it was as though a “light bulb” went off and they both realized that they were not following the rules. They agreed that they could go back in the game and be a team player.

Both teams finished playing a great game and the score was tied. When Miss Emily talked about the outcome with her students, they were all pleased that they played a good game, did their best, and were able to learn about the importance of rules and being a good team player.

That day, Miss Emily felt impressed with her students’ attitudes and prayed that they would all be effective and fruitful not only in their educational endeavors but in living their lives for the Lord. After all, this was a Christian school and she felt herself fortunate that she was able to teach Godly principles as a teacher in her school setting.”

II Timothy 2:15 says, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” (NIV) Let us all do our best and follow God’s commandments wherever He places us by allowing the Spirit to help us be effective in our daily living for Him.

Blessings,

Yvonne

Alphabet Faith Stories: Determined Debbie

Goal setting

D: Determined Debbie–I Corinthians 9:24-25–“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.” (NIV)

Merriam-Webster Dictionary dictionary for determination:

  • The resolving of a question by resolving or reasoning;
  • The act of deciding definitively or firmly;
  • Firm or fixed intention to achieve a desired end (goal)

Common phrases used for the word determination:

  • Where there’s a will, there’s a way;
  • I will not rest until…;
  • There’s no stopping someone;
  • If it’s the last thing I do;
  • Won’t take no for an answer

Determined Debbie’s Story:

“From an early age, Debbie knew that she loved to run. She would run against anyone who would want to compete with her–family members and friends. She got so good at racing and winning that she was the first one everyone chose at school to be on their team.

As the years went by and Debbie was getting ready to graduate from high school, she was given an opportunity for a full athletic scholarship at one of the local colleges. She accepted this wonderful gift and upon graduation applied to be the head athletic director at her former high school. She was immediately hired and began at the beginning of a new school year.

During the number of years that Debbie was athletic director, she never waivered from teaching her students the importance of winning a race. However, she also taught them the importance of having a gracious attitude and doing their best no matter what the outcome. Pursuing a goal and a Godly purpose in their lives, plus a dedication to God’s will for themselves would help them with every decision that they had to make–school to attend, what job to accept, getting married, raising a family, etc.

Determination takes courage in pursuing your dreams. However, we need God’s help in order to reach the goals we have set for ourselves and to pray for his direction.

Romans 8:35-39 says, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: ‘For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (NIV)

Debbie lived out these principles in leading young people to set goals for themselves but with the help of God. She was able to teach them the importance of strength and courage to persevere and being steadfast in all things. God was their number one helper who would cheer them on to win the race for Him.”

Let us all continue to run the race that God has set before us by being an example of living our lives as role models for others to see Christ in us.

Blessings,

Yvonne

Alphabet Faith Stories: Compassionate Charlotte

First blossoms of Spring

C: Compassionate Charlotte. I Peter 3:8–“Finally, all of you live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble.”

Merriam-Webster Dictionary’s definition of the word compassionate:

  • Having or showing compassion
  • Sympathetic
  • Granted to another due to distressing circumstances affecting an individual

Phrases used for compassion:

  • Compassionate friend
  • Compassionate smile
  • Compassionate leave of absence
  • Showed compassion (i.e. kindness, caring, and willingness to help others)

Compassionate Charlotte’s Story:

“Charlotte lived in a quiet neighborhood and knew her neighbors quite well. They had a Neighborhood Watch, yard sales, bake sales, holiday events, and numerous get togethers throughout the year. The neighborhood was always buzzing with the laughter of children playing together in the nearby park.

She knew the children by name, and they would often stop by while she was working in her garden and flowerbeds.

On one such occasion, she noticed that two of the children were not with the normal group. Charlotte asked one of the children where Ken and Judy were on this particular day. One of them said that they had not seen them for almost a week. Charlotte immediately wondered if the children were sick so she decided to stop by their house and check on them.

When her neighbor answered her door, Charlotte noticed that she had been crying but did not want to pry as to why. The neighbor proceeded to tell Charlotte that her husband’s company had cut back on employees and her husband had been laid off as well. They had been struggling to pay bills and put food on the table for the past two weeks.

Stunned, Charlotte asked if there was anything that the neighborhood could do for them. Shyly, the neighbor declined but thanked Charlotte for asking. Charlotte decided until she could think of a plan to help them, she immediately purchased some groceries and left them on the neighbor’s doorstep. Her neighbor opened the door, saw Charlotte, and then waved with a heartfelt gesture.

Since Charlotte was in charge of the Neighborhood Watch program, she decided that the entire neighborhood should get together and have a huge all-family yard sale, with the proceeds going to this family in need. She decided to contact all the neighbors and tell them about her idea. They immediately agreed to participate and decided on the date to have the yard sale.

Charlotte immediately made up flyers and began posting them around the neighborhood and in the downtown area. The response was overwhelming. She received several donations and everyone got busy sorting through things they wanted to donate.

The day of the event, they blocked off the street and people began arriving as early as 8 a.m. Food and drinks were set up under the pavilion and they ended up selling almost everything they had collected. At the end of the day when Charlotte and her friends tallied up the money, they had raised over $3,000 at the yard sale.

Charlotte and two of her neighbors went to Ken and Judy’s home and handed the money to their mother. She and her family had no idea that the yard sale and money they raised was for them. With tears in her eyes, she graciously thanked everyone for their hard work and said that the money would help them through this time until her husband began his new job next week.

As Charlotte and her neighbors walked back to their homes, they felt thankful that they had been able to help out a neighbor who was struggling and were praising God that her husband had found another job so quickly.”

In the Book of Matthew, Jesus uses a number of parables/stories to help his disciples understand various lessons that He wants them to learn. One such story is about the separation of the Sheep (right) and the Goats (left) which reiterates the meaning of compassion towards one another.

Matthew 25:35-36 says, “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 clothing and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.” Matthew 25:40 says, “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'”

For those who did not do these things, Matthew 25:41 says, “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.'” Matthew 25:46, “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

Charlotte showed the compassion for a neighbor in need and did her part with the help of her other neighbors to provide a financial need. When we bless someone else through our actions, God looks down and says, “Well done thou good and faithful/compassionate servant. I am well pleased.”

May we continue to show compassion and give help to those in need as God would have us to do.

Blessings,

Yvonne

Alphabet Faith Stories (Believing Betty)

Believing is faith in action.

B: Believing Betty–Matthew 21:22: “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” (NIV)

Before we get into the story of “believing Betty”, I turned to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary for a definition of the word believe:

  • To consider to be true or honest
  • To accept the word or evidence of
  • To have a firm conviction as to the goodness, efficacy, or ability of something

What do we believe? We believe in:

  • Reports
  • People
  • Weather
  • Scriptures
  • Attitude of believing

Believing Betty is one such character who turned her belief into action by accepting and not doubting what she asked God for.

“Betty was used to going to the store for her mom and dad, but she had to walk a distance to get the things that they asked for. On one such occasion, she decided to browse before asking the manager of the store for the items she needed. Her eyes glanced at a cookie jar sitting alone on the bottom shelf.

When she asked the store manager how much it was, he said $1.75. Wow, Betty thought. That is a lot of money. (This, of course, was over 50 years ago when this amount of money was an exorbitant amount to an 11-year old girl.) Since she had wanted to get her mother something extra special for a Christmas gift, she decided that she could save and be able to have the money necessary to pay for this item in time for Christmas. There were only three weeks left so she had to work fast.

She asked if the store manager could save the cookie jar for her, and he agreed that he would set it aside until she had the necessary money. As soon as she got home, she made a plan to do extra chores and ask her neighbors if they had anything she could do for them in order to earn what she needed.

Luckily, Betty had a piggy bank, but when she checked what was inside, there was only $1.00 worth of pennies. She still needed $.75. She thought that getting the rest would be easy and decided to pray and ask God to help her find the rest of the money.

Betty checked with her neighbors and Mr. Simmons said she could take out the garbage for him. After doing so, he gave her a nickel. Mrs. Smith said she could sweep her porch and gave Betty a nickel. Her mom seemed surprised by Betty’s persistence to earn money, although she was not aware of what she wanted to purchase.

After two weeks of helping her neighbors, Betty checked her piggy bank. She had $1.70. She needed five more cents. She continued to pray and believe that by the time she went back for the cookie jar that she would have all the money to pay for it.

Three days before Christmas, Betty still did not have enough money. So she decided to talk with the store manager about her dilemma. She told him how she earned almost the entire amount by helping her neighbors and taking the money from her piggy bank. She also explained that she “believed” that God would answer her prayer and provide the rest so that she could give her mom the “best gift” of all.

Hearing her story, the store manager told her to wait while he went to the back of the store. As Betty watched him return, she noticed that he had the cookie jar in hand and presented it to her. He said, “I will give you the rest since you worked so hard by helping your neighbors.” He was impressed by the way she believed and did not doubt that she would have all the money necessary to purchase this special gift for her mom.

As Betty left the store, she realized that God answered her and provided the last few cents she needed to purchase the cookie jar through the kindness of the store manager.

You can see why Betty was so excited for Christmas morning when she presented her gift to her mom. She was beaming from ear to ear. Her mom loved it and would cherish it.”

I know this story is true because I was “believing Betty” and my mom absolutely loved and cherished the cookie jar so much that she told all of her friends how I earned the money and how I believed that God would provide it in order to give her that special gift.

Little did I know that when my mother was diagnosed with lung cancer several years later that we would talk about the cookie jar for one last time before she passed away. A gift that I will remember for the rest of my life.

So you see, if we believe and not doubt, God will provide what we ask for in faith and by believing that he can do all things.

Blessings,

Yvonne

Alphabet Faith Stories (Awesome Annie)

Alphabet Faith in Action

A few years ago I began the Alphabet Series which included Alphabet Faith Scriptures and Alphabet Faith Hymns. Today I begin a series on Alphabet Faith using stories to discuss important characteristics that we all need in order to grow in our faith.

A: Awesome Annie: Psalm 65:5–“You answer us with awesome deeds of righteousness, O God our Savior…”

One day while Annie was riding her bike, she noticed the new boy, David, from her class, sitting on the curb crying. “Why are you crying?” she asked. “Because I have no friends and no one will play with me,” he said. Annie said, “Well you can be my friend, and I will play with you.” Surprised that Annie wanted to play with him, he asked her, “But aren’t you the girl in class who is always playing tricks on everybody?” Annie shrugged and said, “That is because no one ever plays with me on the playground. So I tease them hoping they will play with me.”

So David and Annie became friends from that day on, and she never played tricks on any of the boys and girls in her class again. Everyone noticed that Annie played with David at recess and instead of saying Annie was “awful”, they began to call her “awesome Annie. She became good friends with a number of boys and girls at school.

Whenever there was a new student, Annie would make them feel right at home. She was always helpful and introduced that person to all of her friends who were happy to include them in all of their activities.

When someone is “awful” to another person, they are actually isolating themselves to the possibility of being friends. But one young girl changed her character from “awful” to “awesome” and ended up with friendships because of it.

May we all be aware of our reaction to meeting new people and making them feel welcome in our homes, schools, and churches.

Blessings,

Yvonne

Reading: “Defined: Who God Says You Are” by Stephen Kendrick and Alex Kendrick. (Your Identity Drives Your Behavior)