2021 Book Review: “FOCUS”

"Focus" Book Review
“…..but be transformed by the renewing of your mind….” Romans 12:22

To say I have been blessed by reading Cleere Cherry Reaves’ book, “FOCUS”, would be an understatement. This 52-week devotional book, which specifically focuses on one-word weekly, has not only blessed my heart, but hopefully–I am a work in progress–it has changed and transformed my way of thinking about “words” used in the scriptures in a number of ways.

Each week the author would specify the word that you were to concentrate on for an entire seven days. At the beginning of each segment, she wrote a short introductory explanation of that word, along with scripture references for you to look up and focus on for that week.

After four weeks, she included thought-provoking questions to ask yourself about what insights you learned and could apply to your life when you focused on each of those four words.

Since each devotional is “not” dated, I decided to call this a “perpetual word devotional” which you could begin to re-read at the beginning of the new year. So beginning the first week in January 2022, I will begin “anew” to read about the words and scriptures to continue to transform my life in the knowledge of Jesus Christ.

Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing, and perfect will.”

Allow one word a week to begin to transform your life forever. I know I have and will continue to find something that perhaps I missed the first time when I begin re-reading “FOCUS” once again in January, 2022.

May the Lord continue to transform our hearts and minds as we “focus” on His words and apply them to our everyday lives.

Blessings,

Yvonne

Advent 2021

Advent
Four weeks of lighting the Advent wreath candles

Yesterday during church service, we began the celebratory event of lighting the first Advent candle representing hope. Advent is celebrated during a four-week period leading up to December 25. Each Sunday a candle is lit and an Advent reading representing each week’s theme is read.

The First Sunday of Advent Reading is based on HOPE, with a scripture reading found in Isaiah 9:2: “The people walking in darkness have a seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.” Hope signifies a promise which God made to the people of Israel that a child would be born who would be called “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

The Second Sunday of Advent Reading is based on PREPARATION, with a scripture reading found in Isaiah 40:3-5: “A voice of one calling ‘In the wilderness prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all people will see it together. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” This time of preparation is a waiting time for the prophecy to be fulfilled.

The Third Sunday of Advent Reading is based on JOY, with a scripture reading found in Mathew 2:11: “When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of frankincense and myrrh.” Joy signifies peace.

The Fourth Sunday of Advent Reading is based on LOVE, with a scripture reading found in John 3:16-19: “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. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.” LOVE is represented by adoration for the one whom God sent to redeem the world.

The Fifth Sunday (or Christmas Eve service) of Advent Reading is John 1:14: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” The Word represents Jesus Christ who was God’s one and only Son–the Savior of the world.

The lighting of the candles each week, along with the significant readings and scriptures, allows Christians all around the world to “quiet their hearts during a very hectic holiday season and worship Jesus.” This is what the holiday season is about: Jesus is the reason for the season. May we impart this significant event on our children and their children as we worship our Lord and Savior together and meditate on the hope, preparation (faith), joy (peace), and love (adoration) during this blessed time.

May the Lord bless you and yours.

Blessings,

Yvonne

NOTE: For additional information on Advent, go to Crosswalk.com; and for additional Advent devotions, read the Advent devotional book, “Unwrapping the Names of Jesus” by Asheritah Ciuciu this Advent season.

Food For Thought

Food for thought–words of wisdom.

I don’t know about you, but I love to eat–especially the foods that don’t have as much nutrition but taste ever so good! We have often heard that “you are what you eat”–if we eat the right foods that our body needs, then we will feel healthy and strong. But if we eat the wrong foods, then we become unhealthy. But what about our thoughts? Do we fill our minds with thoughts that are encouraging and uplifting or do we fill our minds with thoughts that are defeating and uninspiring?

Recently, I came across a site that talks about “The Other Serenity Prayer”–cPTSD and Me–which I would like to share with all of you:

The Other Serenity Prayer

Please grant me the serenity to stop beating myself up for not doing things perfectly,

The courage to forgive myself because I always try my best,

And the wisdom to know that I am a good person with a kind heart.

So many times we think unpleasant thoughts that cause us to react in negative ways–someone says something that hurts our feelings, etc. Instead of reacting negatively, think positively. Don’t beat yourself up over it; we are only human–we make mistakes–and we are not perfect. Always forgive yourself when you have done your best and feed yourself positive thoughts. We need to be kind to ourselves so that we will be kind to others.

Another food for thought that I found was on “Truthseekers” and it says:

Judas Had

…the best pastor

…the best leader

…the best adviser

…the best counselor

YET he failed.

The problem is not the leadership or the church you go to. If your attitude or character doesn’t change or your heart doesn’t transform, you will always be the same. Apparently, even though Judas knew Jesus, he really didn’t know Him. His heart was not transformed “by the renewing of his mind” and getting to know Him in a real life-changing way. Judas needed to open his mind and heart to Jesus but he allowed sin to take over instead.

The next “food for thought” is taken from a site entitled “WOW I love Christian music.”

10 Ways To Love

  • Listen without interrupting (Proverbs 18)
  • Speak without accusing (James 1:19)
  • Give without sparing (Proverbs 21:26)
  • Pray without ceasing (Colossians 1:9)
  • Answer without arguing (Proverbs 17:1)
  • Share without pretending (Ephesians 4:15)
  • Enjoy without complaint (Philippians 2:14)
  • Trust without wavering (I Corinthians 13:7)
  • Forgive without punishing (Colossians 3:13)
  • Promise without forgetting (Proverbs 13:12)

How do we do this? Through prayer and seeking the change necessary. By asking God to help us be used as “an instrument of His peace.” Colossians 1:9 says we are to “pray without ceasing”–not only for ourselves but for others. God can change our attitudes and hearts by trusting in His Word and believing that “all things work together for our good.”

We praise the One who is our Good Shepherd, helper, and friend who is loving and compassionate and gives us the desires of our hearts when we follow Him and listen to and follow His commands.

May the Lord bless you and help all of us to continue to read His Word–our guide, our strength, comfort, and shield–as we follow Him daily.

Blessings,

Yvonne

Come Unto Me

My yoke is easy
Take my yoke upon you and learn of me. Mathew 11:29

The scripture for Sunday’s sermon yesterday was from Matthew 11:28-30: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (NIV)

Before the scripture was read, however, we watched a video created by the Skit Guys entitled, “Baggage”, which used the above-mentioned scripture. It was a powerful video and spoke to our hearts about “the baggage” we carry around with us each and every day–words that cut to the heart from meaningful loved ones–that we take to heart which cause us to become burdened down by negativity.

Jesus said that if we come unto him, He will give us rest. But what does that entail? When we come to someone, it means we have to make a choice. In this case, when we come to Jesus, we are making the choice to leave our “old way of living” and repent and follow Him. We have an open mind and when our hearts are good, we make the choice to have something better in our lives–Jesus as our Saviour.

He also says to “take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle in heart and you will find rest for your souls.” You will notice that I have an image of a yoke. This is used around the necks of oxen when they pull a plow. It is to make their work easier not harder and to take some of the burden off of them as they plow the fields. In the same way Christ is telling us to take His yoke upon ourselves and in doing so we will find rest because His yoke is easy and His burden is light. He is the Good Shepherd who cares for his sheep and He will help us out from under the burden that we carry.

When I read the beginning of this scripture, “come unto me”, I could see Jesus reaching out His hand to me and saying, “take my hand, learn from me, and I will help you find quietness and rest in whatever you are going through at this time.” In the past–our youthful days–whenever my husband and I have gone hiking on a trail towards a waterfall and the path became quite narrow, I always found myself getting fearful from the height. He would tell me to take his hand as he lifted me up. I would then become more relaxed as we continued climbing. That is what Jesus does. He takes our hand and guides us over the “hurdles” that we face in our lives. He makes our burden lighter.

Jesus wants us to come to Him, take His yoke, learn from Him, and find rest in Him.

May the Lord bless you as you continue your walk with Him.

Blessings,

Yvonne

Nana’s Corner: Adapting and Resilience

Adapting
Train up a child in the way he should go and he will never depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6)

Today is Mother’s Day 2021. Over 20 years ago, I lost my mother who suffered and died from lung cancer. Although there were 12 children in the family who needed a lot of attention, my mom tried to take the time to talk and laugh with all of us and I always knew I could talk with her about anything. She always listened. She was resilient and adapted to any situation within the family. She taught me valuable lessons that I have carried throughout my adulthood. Mom was crafty and could turn any piece of material into something special, and she could also fix anything that was broken.

Children can also teach us valuable lessons. Most of the time they can adapt to a new environment and have the ability to recover from or adjust easily to change. This past year children have had to adapt to a new way of learning–virtual classrooms, in person classes for either 1-2 days per week or another schedule that the school district set up, and wearing masks in the classroom as well as grocery stores and other public places. Some businesses have taken advantage of this situation and have thrived financially on this situation by creating “fun” logos on children’s masks and/or for adults to wear.

This past school year, my daughter opted to home school her oldest son who would have been in kindergarten this past year. At the beginning it was a struggle to get him to learn vowels and recognize words. Now, one year later, he is now reading and loves math. He is looking forward to going to first grade and wants to make new friends and experience the school setting. Although he will be placed in a new environment–bigger school and more students–I know after he learns what is expected in this new environment that he will adapt and hopefully adjust to all the new changes. The middle grandchild will be attending a church preschool for the first time and he is excited to attend there as well.

If I look at my own life, I can truly say that adapting and resilience to new situations has been a challenge; yet as a Christian I have learned that God is in control of my life and He works all things out for our good.

As a mother, I can look back at the lessons I learned in raising our daughter who is now a wonderful mother to her three young children. She is expecting baby #4 in only a few more days and the grand children are so excited about welcoming a new baby into their home–boy or girl. I know that she and her husband will continue to impart their values onto their children. Proverbs 22:6 says that we are to “train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” (NIV). Parenting is not an easy-peasy job but with God “all things are possible” and He will help us continue to adapt and be resilient to understanding His will.

May the Lord bless each and every mother today on her special day.

Blessings,

Yvonne