Alphabet Faith Stories: Obedient Olivia

Obey God

Scripture on Obedience:

Colossians 3:20: “Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.” (NIV)

Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition of obedience:

  • Submission to the restraint or command of authority; willing to obey
  • An act or instance of obeying
  • The quality or state of being obedient

Phrases pertaining to obedience:

  • The obedient child
  • The obedient dog
  • Obedient to those whom he feared

O: Obedient Olivia’s Story:

“Olivia learned at an early age that it was important to listen to and obey her parents. She knew that it was important to hold your mom’s hand while crossing the street together; playing quietly at the table when they went to a restaurant with friends; sharing toys with her brother and sister and taking turns during play time; and other meaningful lessons to help her grow into a wise and caring woman.

Now that Olivia had children of her own, she practiced teaching them what her parents taught her in a loving and thoughtful way, because she knew that one day they would all have to make the right choices for themselves and learn from those choices.

Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not turn from it.” (NIV) Because Olivia was a caseworker with the Department of Family Services, she processed a number of children who had no idea what it meant to obey their parents because they came from very poor families who, oftentimes, were on welfare and had a poor outlook on life in general.

Olivia met some desperate mothers who wanted to teach their children discipline and exercise control but they did not know how to do it themselves. So, with God’s guidance, Olivia decided to offer a class on discipline and behavior for mothers who reached out for her help. She had 20 mothers sign up for the class to be held in the gymnasium at the local high school. Olivia passed out guidelines and valuable resource information to all in attendance. She even offered babysitting services at the school for the younger children. Local volunteers also taught the children good behavior and lessons while their mothers were in the classes each week.

Several weeks went by, and Olivia began noticing positive attitude changes in both the mothers and their children. One mother told Olivia that she had tried some of the advice that she was given on her own daughter, and she was beginning to see a “light on the other side of the tunnel” with her child’s attitude and behavior toward her. Each week other mothers began to share their own positive experiences and stories with changes in their children’s behavior as well.

In Olivia’s experience as a caseworker, she often told mothers that children needed to be given boundaries, structure, and guidelines regarding what was appropriate and what was not; otherwise, they would not be able to make wise decisions and right choices when necessary. Children would often push the boundaries just to see what they could or could not get away with. The boundaries let them know what was expected of them and they felt safer with them. They also respected those in authority more often than not.

Through Olivia’s obedience at following God’s leading in her life, she felt blessed and knew that the Lord had given her an opportunity to make a difference not only in the lives of children but in their parent’s lives as well.”

Just as children are commanded to obey their parents, God also wants us to obey Him. John 14:15 says, “If you love me, you will obey what I command.” (NIV) Let us obey His leading in our lives as we follow His commands.

Blessings,

Yvonne

Alphabet Faith Stories: Neighborly Nancy

Who is our neighbor?

N: Neighborly Nancy. Luke 10:27–“He answered, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” (NIV)

Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition of neighborly:

  • Of, relating to, or characteristic of congenial (friendly) neighbors
  • Helpful and friendly
  • Familiar and helpful: friendly

Phrases often used with the word neighbor:

  • Neighboring tone
  • Neighbor note
  • Neighborship
  • Neighbor like
  • Neighborly (brotherly) love
  • Love your neighbor as yourself
  • Forgive your neighbor as Christ forgives you
  • Neighborly way

N: Neighborly Nancy’s Story:

“According to Nancy, a weather forecaster for a local TV station, she predicted that severe thunder storms were on the horizon for that afternoon and the next 2-3 days. Since most of the surrounding area where she lived consisted of farms, she had hoped her prediction would help them to prepare beforehand for the severe weather ahead.

After leaving the TV station enroute to her home, she noticed dark clouds hanging low in the distance ahead of her. It looked like the thunder storms were right on schedule and she hoped to reach home before the rain began.

As she passed one of her neighbor’s farms, she noticed that one of his horses had gotten out of the fence–no doubt frightened at hearing the clash of thunder which made him run down the hill toward the road. Nancy immediately stopped her car so she could use her phone to call her neighbor and let him know about the horse, but there was no service.

Since Nancy had experience working with horses–she helped on Saturdays with the children’s horse-riding therapy group at the Bar Ranch near her home–she began talking with the horse and he started to calm down. Within a few minutes, she noticed that her neighbor and one of his hands came riding over the hill to rescue the horse. Puzzled, Nancy wondered how he knew about the run-away horse. He thanked Nancy for helping to keep him calm until they could get there, and told her that another neighbor noticed the frightened horse running off and alerted the farmer. Nancy stopped at the right time to keep the horse calm until he got there.”

In Romans 13:10, it says, “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.” (NIV) Nancy was a prime example of someone who honored her neighbor above herself by stopping to help her neighbor’s horse. She did it without question and wanted to help the frightened animal.

In Romans 15:2, it says, “Each of us should please his neighbor for his good to build him up.” (NIV) Nancy was willing to take the time at the end of her busy, tired day to stop and help her neighbor’s animal.

We may or may not have an opportunity to help our neighbor with a frightened horse, but God gives us other ways in which to help our neighbors–by being kind, showing love to one another in our words and actions, and forgiving one another as Christ has done to us.

Let us be the kind of neighbor that shows love in our “actions and deeds” so that others can depend on us for help and support whenever they need a helping hand.

Blessings,

Yvonne

Alphabet Faith Stories: Mature Martha

Maturity and wisdom go hand in hand.

M: Mature Martha. Hebrews 6:1-3–“Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And God permitting, we will do so.” (NIV)

Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition of maturity:

  • The quality or state of being mature
  • Having completed natural growth and development
  • Having attained a final or desired state
  • Of, or relating to, being an older adult
  • Characteristic of or suitable to a mature individual

Phrases/quotes pertaining to maturity:

  • Maturity comes with experience, not age
  • Maturity is when we live by the truths that are in our heart and soul
  • Be the person you are. Never try to be another, and you will become mature
  • Our maturity will be judged by how well we are able to agree to disagree and yet continue to love one another

M: Mature Martha’s Story:

“As the matriarch and current President of the Christian Women’s Association, Martha often found herself in situations where she had to be mature and wise in leading the group of charitable women volunteers in the community.

Martha was responsible for, and in charge of, initiating many of the community’s fundraisers: tickets for the local charity ball to benefit the pediatrics ward at the local hospital; learning-to-read books for kids in first to third grade at Porter Elementary School; funds for the soup kitchens and Salvation Army in two counties; Middle and High School fundraisers to support the PTO; obtaining volunteers to help with the Christmas Shop at the elementary school (students were able to purchase inexpensive items for their family and friends); and many more.

As a former high school teacher, Martha tutored high school students two days a week in math and English to help prepare them for college preparatory entrance exams. Martha’s knowledge and experience over the years helped a number of students to pass their exams and prepared them to write letters of interest and fill out applications to numerous colleges.

Although Martha never married, her heart and soul was in her community and she shared her maturity and wisdom by living out the truths that were in her heart and soul to both her students and friends.

When Martha retired from teaching, she was awarded a monetary gift and plaque for her years of service not only to her students but to the faculty and friends that appreciated and valued her in high esteem. The plaque stated:

‘To Our Distinguished Martha who has served Smithville High School for 30 years, and for her untiring devotion and attention to all of its students, we wanted to personally thank you for all that you have contributed–with maturity and wisdom–that you imparted to the students that you have taught and to the faculty who came to love and respect you as a teacher.

Ephesians 2:10 says: “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Martha, you certainly have exemplified this scripture in your life and our school was so very fortunate to have you as one of our faculty members. We wish you all the best in your continued journey to ‘do good works.’

At the retirement party, Martha’s heart was full of praise and thanksgiving that she was able to live her life to the fullest every day because she truly believed that “she was God’s workmanship, created to do good works” and others felt her commitment and love.

Martha then became the President of the Christian Women’s Association and continues to do what God had prepared her to do.”

Like Martha, may we all have the maturity and wisdom to share our life’s experiences with others who need to be shown the love of God by helping with whatever God has prepared us to do because we truly are “God’s workmanship and were created to do good works.”

Blessings,

Yvonne

Alphabet Faith Stories: Loving Lily

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God is love

L: Loving Lily. I Corinthians 13:13–“And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.” (NIV)

Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition of love:

  • A strong affection for another
  • Warm attachment, enthusiasm, or devotion
  • The object of attachment, devotion, or admiration
  • Unselfish loyalty and benevolent concern for the good of another

Phrases associated with love/loving:

  • Love never fails
  • Our family grows on love
  • Faith…Hope…Love
  • God is love; do everything in love
  • Love is a friendship set to music
  • Better to have lost and loved than never to have loved at all
  • A friend is someone who knows all about you, but loves you anyway

L: Loving Lily’s Story:

“Lily was so excited to begin sixth grade and she couldn’t wait until music class. Ever since she learned to play a guitar in elementary school, she had wanted to learn how to play the violin. So at the beginning of middle school, she hurriedly signed up to take violin lessons from the school’s music director. She noticed that there was also one other student in her class that signed up for violin lessons on the same evening after school. Her name was Anne and both of the girls were very excited to begin taking lessons and became very good friends in school that year.

As the year progressed and after the girls learned two difficult songs, the music director told the girls that they were ready to play with the school band during the school’s spring concert which was to be held in two weeks. Although nervous, they both agreed that they would be able to participate. However, Lily noticed that Anne seemed especially anxious about the concert but thought it was just nerves. Lily decided to ask Anne about it, and Anne confided that she wasn’t sure if she could play in the concert because her mother was ill. It was during their conversation that Lily learned of Anne’s situation at home.

Anne lived with her mother and little sister and her mother always worked the day shift at the local hospital as a nurse’s aide. She was always available to pick them up after school but a neighbor would pick up Anne on the days she had her lessons. Her mother had been sick for the past several months but managed to continue working. Because of the costs for her mother’s treatments, Anne’s mother wasn’t sure how much longer she could afford to pay for her daughter’s music lessons and thought that she might have to drop out before the end of the school year.

Lily felt heartbroken for her friend and told her mother Anne’s story. What if they could help Anne so she could continue taking lessons? What if they could raise the necessary funds for both Anne and her mother’s treatments? After all, Lily had learned that “God is love” in Sunday School class and that they were supposed to do “all things in love” for one another. Lily’s mother told her to pray and then write down any ideas that she could do to help raise the necessary funds for Anne and that she would also talk with her friends at the PTA meeting that evening.

When Lily’s mom returned from her meeting, she told Lily that God had answered their prayers. When the PTA heard Anne’s story, they all agreed to take the money from the PTA benevolent fund to help pay for the rest of Anne’s lessons until the end of the school year as well as some of the costs for her mother’s treatments.

The next day after school, Lily and her mother drove to Anne’s home and presented this loving gift to her mother. With thankful hearts and tears of joy from both Anne and her mother, Lily and her mom left thanking God for allowing them to make a difference in someone else’s life.

Lily and her mother showed unselfish concern for the good of another individual and the outcome was an “outpouring of God’s love” and a blessing that Anne and her mother received by their generosity.”

John 15:12 says, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” Showing love to another is how God shows his love toward us and that “we will remain in his love if we obey his commands.”

Romans 12:9-10 also tells us that our “love must be sincere and to hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love.”

In closing, let us think about the words from I John 4:12: “No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” This is what we need to let others see in our lives: God’s love in us.

Blessings,

Yvonne

Alphabet Faith Stories: Kindhearted Kathryn

Show kindness one to another.

K: Kindhearted Kathryn. Proverbs 11:16–“A kindhearted woman gains respect…” (NIV)

Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition of kindness/kindhearted:

  • The quality or state of being kind
  • A kind deed; kind act
  • The quality of being warm-hearted
  • Tendency to be kind and forgiving

Phrases/quotes for kindness:

  • Kindness is our power, even when fondness is not
  • Kindness is the language the deaf can hear and the blind can see
  • Real kindness seeks nothing in return
  • Be kind, always if you have a choice, be kind
  • Kindness is everything in life
  • Be kind whenever possible; it is always possible

K: Kindhearted Kathryn’s Story:

“Kathryn was smaller in stature than most young girls her age, but she was gifted with having a “great big heart.” She was taught at an early age by her parents and in Sunday School that Jesus loved her and that she should show this to everyone by being kind. Her kindness was evident in kindergarten when she shared her toys and played with her classmates during recess and this behavior carried throughout her middle and high school years.

She often invited friends to her house after school–with mom’s permission of course–and played until their parents’ picked them up. She enjoyed talking and listening to her friends’ ideas and dreams for their lives. It was on one such occasion that Kathryn decided that she wanted to be a veterinarian and began looking into colleges to get her degree.

Kathryn volunteered at the the local Humane Society after school and spent her summers learning as much as she could about taking care of animals and watching the Vet administer various shots and medications to sick animals. She even got to ride along on emergency calls to nearby farms to assist with horses and cows in distress.

The Vet told Kathryn that she had a “kind” talking voice and it helped calm the animals whenever they had to have a vaccine. Kathryn became known as the “animal whisperer” and her calm demeanor was seen by all who knew her.

After Kathryn graduated from college, she became a resident at a prestigious Veterinarian Hospital and assisted her mentors with several animal operations. She loved what she felt she was “born” to do and everyone saw her enthusiasm and love for her profession.

Kathryn finally graduated with high honors and went on to open her own practice in the small community where she grew up. She worked with some very thoughtful and caring individuals who appreciated Kathryn’s kindness not only with the animals but to all of her employees. She felt truly blessed by all that God had given her and continues to do amazing work at her clinic today.”

Kindness has been viewed as compassion–doing something nice for someone. This is how we can connect with our communities and people from all walks of life. We can make a difference by being an example of kindness with our families, friends, and neighbors.

A survey taken by researchers at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine (June 2020 First Magazine article) actually found that “kindness activates that part of the brain that relates to feelings of closeness with others.”

Kindness can be shown in a “kind deed or kind act”. Ephesians 4:32 tells us that we should “be kind and compassionate to one another” just as Christ has shown to us. Our actions are “the windows that someone can look into and see the love of God within our souls.”

We pray that we show kindness to one another even if we do not get anything in return. God is love and let our lives show that to the rest of the world.

Blessings,

Yvonne

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