Did You Leave Your First Love?

When we think back over our childhood years and our first love, we still have a sentimental impression left on our hearts.  Sometimes good and sometimes not so good.  But the memory is still there, and once in a while will re-surface to tug at your heart once more.

But do you know who your real first love is and should always be?  Jesus!  He knew us before we were born and designed our every molecule.  And I believe we knew Him too, until we journeyed to earth.  I believe because there are times when I am watching God’s wonderous creations, and a wave of immense homesickness swallows me.  My first love is back where I belong, for I don’t belong to this world, and my heart knows it. And there is this tug to be with Him.

In Revelation 2:3-4 Jesus says, “…and you have persevered and have patience and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary. Never-the-less I have this against you that you have left your first love.”

He does not say we have lost Him, only that we have left Him.  Has your church or family left Jesus?  Have you found it easy to abandon “Jesus First” in all things? Have the whispers of this world made wrong into right for you, even when the bible clearly states it is wrong?

We all find ourselves charging ahead in life and leaving our first love behind.  So caught up in the lights, and shiny things our eyes turn to focus more on them.  All because we are human.  But you know, when we realize we are off track and have wandered away; can we not re-adjust ourselves?

Recently, I started selling Rodan+Fields because I am in love with the skin care line!  One of their suggestions is to make an idea board so that you can visually see exactly what you want to accomplish by being a consultant.  I thought why not?

My vision board has four quadrants with pictures.  Each picture represents four things I would like to do with my earnings.  One picture concerns my husbands retirement.  He has taken care of us and I feel it is time for us to take care of him.  The second picture is of our family’s Disney trip years ago.  The kids, grandkids, and us.  This was a wonderful family vacation.  I would like to be able to go on many more family vacations.  The third picture concerns the dreams of our youngest son.  I would like to be able to help him.  And the fourth picture is a dream I have had for many years. Ever since I saw the abandoned school on highway 200 in South Carolina.  I want to take abandoned schools and redesign them into apartments for families who are struggling and homeless to live.  To give them a chance to breathe without worrying about bills.  And to provide the assistance they need for a brighter future.

Yes, when I dream, I dream big.  Because I have a big God!

Speaking of my big God; at the front and in the very center of my vision board, is a huge white cross.  Because none of my dreams or aspirations would be worth anything if God was not the center and forefront of everything I do!  Jesus is still my first love and will always be, I pray.

It is time for all of us to come back to our first love!  You can start by putting a white cross on everything you do.  A little reminder that God must come first.  Or start by praying to God, once a day.  Go to church. Join a bible study.

Your first love is waiting on you to return to Him!

God Bless You!

WHEN SUMMER PASSES BY SO SLOWLY

Most kids would love for summer to slow down and then be able to stay out of school a little longer.  For the Berry family, we have experienced the slow-moving months of June and July this summer.  Which is unusual for us, because we are usually left with wanting more of summer.

Our beloved older pets, Honey, 17-year-old dog, Cameron, 16-year-old dog, and Tiger, 14-year-old cat, started succumbing to their old age at the beginning of June.  We spent two months of long nights laying beside them as their bodies failed and their time to die drawing near each day.  We went to numerous vet visits, hoping for a simple answer or maybe an antibiotic would keep them with us.  But no, their time to leave us was near.  And we knew it.

The vets were surprised by their ages, but we wanted more time with them.  Honey, Cameron, and Tiger were our family.  When we went on family trips, they would pile into the camper with us.  The stories we have to tell and laugh over, because they were sharing our experiences with us.

During this time, from June to the end of July, time seemed to crawl.  And isn’t that the way it always is when a loved one is sick.  The suffering seems endless and time almost stands still.  Once they are gone, time to grieve is fleeting.  The world has a “just get over it” perspective on death, suffering, and pain.

But maybe if we paused long enough to wail from the belly, sob until our tears run dry, and shout our indignation at losing a loved one so loud it echoes within the earthly barriers; maybe then we would carry the laughter, the love, and the good memories longer in our hearts.

Now as July comes to an end, we only have Daisy (7-year-old dog) left, and our other baby’s ashes, along with wonderful memories and an immense love for each of them.  As for us, we still tear up when we talk of our pets and will for awhile.  And even though they are gone from our earthly lives, they always live within our hearts!

 

HOW TO SYNCHRONIZE YOUR LIFE.

As George charged forward in his effort to vanquish the enemy, his horse was shot out from under him.  Amid the chaos of bullets whizzing by, swords fiercely clanging, and arrows piercing the air, he found another horse! Quickly mounting this horse, George rushed back into the fray of battle.  Again, down went his horse and again another horse was found. By now General Braddock had been killed and the troops where in chaos, but the young Colonel was able to gain control of the British regiments and ensued an effective retreat!  His coat would later show he had survived four different bullets, with only a hole to display their departure.  George Washington was the only officer to come away unhurt during the battle on July 9, 1775 with the French and their Indian allies.

Later, when it was time for George to become the commander of Continental Army and fight against the British; George Washington wrote this in a letter to Martha.

Dear Martha:

It has been determined in Congress, that the whole army raised for the defense of the American cause shall be put under my care…I shall rely, therefore, confidently on that Providence (God) which has heretofore preserved and been bountiful to me,  not doubting that I shall return safe to you in the fall.

Because of the old school wording, I substituted the word Providence for the word God.  You see, George Washington did not rely on good fortune or luck. George relied on God and in his relationship with God.  Everyday he prayed for an hour in the morning and an hour at night, no matter what was going on around him even the Revolutionary War.  And, George left  his men with strict instructions that he was not to be disturbed  during his time of prayer.

The men who served with George were amazed at the way he went into battle, boldly and confidently leading the charge and in full view of the enemy.  You see, during those days of war, the enemy tried to kill the commanding officers first, thus creating a possibility of retreat from the opposition.  So here is a man with the enemy’s target honed in on him yet, George Washington steps out boldly and confidently.  I bet some of the men thought he was a raving lunatic while others borrowed some of his courage to help them through.

 

I believe when you are in direct communication with God each day, your life changes dramatically.  You find yourself bowing to God’s will for your life and not to this world’s view of how you should live your life. And there is nothing in this world which can stop God’s will for you from being fulfilled when you are in sync with God.  And yes, I believe God meant for George Washington to lead America to victory over the British and then for him to become the first President of the USA.
What does your prayer life resemble?  Do you feel so overwhelmed by your day you believe you cannot find time to pray?  If you do, then you must find the time to pray! To learn to be totally dependent on Him for your every need.  All God wants from you is a relationship between Father and child.   Because the only way to get through the hard times is with God. And then when the good times come around, the feeling resembles flying through the air unencumbered…free!
My challenge to you for one month is to pray for an hour in the morning and an hour at night. First buy a daily devotional and bible (if you don’t have one.)  Find an area of your home where you can go, close the door and pray.  Tell your family this is your time and not to bother you.  Some of you may have to get up an hour earlier each morning.
This is how I pray in the mornings.
  1.  I read my devotion for the day.
  2. Then I read the selected bible verses with the devotional.
  3. Next I pull out the bible and read a section of it.  I suggests starting in John.
  4. I pray by starting with asking forgiveness, and then praise and thank God for everything He has done and continues to do for my family.
  5. The last part is my own petitions for my family, friends, and strangers.

In Jesus Name Amen.

This is how I pray at night.

  1. Read some more of my bible.
  2. Thanking and praising God for the day.
  3. Ask God to help me to be a better and kinder person.
  4. Bring any new revelations or frustrations from the day to Him.

In Jesus Name Amen.

Do you accept my challenge? I pray so.

DEUTERONOMY 6:5

“YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH.”

 

God Bless You!

 

 

I Tried To Write At First, But Could Not Do It Without Jesus.

I tried to write a note to the Martinez family concerning their loss of their beloved child Jonathan.  My own mother and grandmother’s heart is shattered into pieces for what they are going through.  A child should never, never go through the shooting which happened in their classroom on Monday! And a parent should not have to bury their child!

Off to my prayer closet I went this morning, to discuss it over with Jesus before I began to write.

At first my tears and words were hot with anger.  Angry at every adult who has let evil take a child away from their earthly home and family.  I proclaimed to Jesus that if I were head of education in America, I would fight like a lioness against every local, state, and national representative in America for the money they waste. I would blast my disgust every day and in every way I could, over the mere pennies they spend on the children of America in comparison to the millions they spend on their own self-serving agendas. And in their pruned up faces, I would plaster the children’s faces who have lost their lives, not because of a gun but because of them and their greed!

“Read your devotion, Joni.” I heard Him say.

My devotion book is called Mornings with the Holy Spirit by Jennifer LeClaire.

April 11 is titled “Be Quick to Forgive.”

When you are angry and frustrated, you have to ask yourself an honest question: Have you let resentment build up in your heart? Unless you are intentional about forgiving and are quick to forgive – a residue of resentment will build up over your heart the way dirt builds up on a windshield. Over time it will sink down into your heart and form a root of bitterness. Anger and frustration are often rooted in a failure to forgive the little annoyances as they occur.  Eventually, the resentment pot boils over.  Be quick to forgive – every time you get slightly annoyed.  Be quick to forgive.

Suggested reading…Hebrews 12:15; Colossians 3:13; 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7.

Wow! God came in loud and clear!

I serve a mighty God.  One who loves me and the whole world! Even if you don’t believe in Him, He believes in you!

After God set me straight, it took awhile before I was composed enough to exit my prayer closet.

I was ready to write the Martinez family a note…

 

Dear Martinez Family,

I will be praying for you and you will become a part of my permanent daily prayer list.  Jesus is the only one who can get you through this over whelming grief and heal your heart until you are with Jonathan again.

Today Jesus gave me this bible verse and I believe it is for you…

Matthew 18: 1-5

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

He called a little child and had him stand among them.  And He said:

“I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven,”

“And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me.”

Jonathan is that child with Jesus and I know the angels are rejoicing because one of their own angels has returned home.

May God hold you in His loving arms always!

All my love and prayers,  Joni

 

Now, I ask you to join me in praying for the Martinez family.  Prayer is the greatest blessing we can do for one another on this earth!

God Bless You!  God Bless the families affected by Monday’s classroom shooting.

 

Can The Christian Band Mercy Me Get Any Better?

OH YES THEY CAN!  Their new album, Lifer, is amazing, incredible and so uplifting!  Having a bad day? Then go to YouTube and listen to the audio versions, or better yet go to iTunes and just buy it.  I pre-ordered Lifer and received teaser songs one at a time and then bam! The whole album.

Most of the time, when I get a new album, there are maybe 5 or 6 songs I really like.  Rarely do I like all of the songs on an album.  Lifer is one album that I love all of the songs.

The song “Even If” is a good reminder that Pastors, Praise Leaders, and Church teachers, get up on stage every Sunday and lift us up.  It does not matter what has been happening in their lives or the struggles they may be going through.  Have you looked at your Pastor as a human being with the same temptations as the rest of us fallen beings? We are men and women, male and female traveling through this time together for God’s reason.

OK, I won’t tease you too much.  The song I am putting on my site is called “Grace Got You.”  Now, I am going to stop writing so I can start dancing to the song.

God Bless You!

Westminster Terror Attacks (You Go British Prime Minister Theresa May!)

Accolades to British Prime Minister Theresa May after the Westminster attack on March 22.  She is a class act with a firm resolute about how her country will respond to terror.

“We will move forward together. Never giving in to terror. And never allowing the voices of hate and evil to drive us apart.”

And isn’t that all terror can do anyway is to divide a country? Because to divide is to conquer, at least that is how they view it. But what could happen if the countries under attack from terror come together? Not only the leaders, but the people. We are the ones who have the eyes, and the ears on the streets of our countries. We are the ones who can prepare and be aware when faced with an attack, to counter and defeat this evil! There are around 184,000 terrorists world-wide, and we have 325,838,705 Americans, 64,938,716 French, and 65,511,098 Great Britain citizens.

(If you want to view population by country…http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/population-by-country/)

As Christians, God has given us some strong promises concerning our enemies.  We need to know them, to pray them, and to follow God’s will. Do you not think that by standing with God, any evil can be defeated? I do.

God tells us, “no weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and this is their vindication from me,” declares the LORD. Isaiah 54:17

 “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”               2 Timothy 1:7

If we read God words and believe God’s words, change will happen!

Another impressive statement by British Prime Minister Theresa May, which I feel is a truthful representation of the attack.

“The location of this attack was no accident. The terrorists chose to strike at the heart of our Capital City, where people of all nationalities, religions and cultures come together to celebrate the values of liberty, democracy and freedom of speech.   These streets of Westminster – home to the world’s oldest Parliament – are engrained with a spirit of freedom that echoes in some of the furthest corners of the globe. And the values our Parliament represents – democracy, freedom, human rights, the rule of law – command the admiration and respect of free people everywhere.   That is why it is a target for those who reject those values.   But let me make it clear today, as I have had cause to do before: any attempt to defeat those values through violence and terror is doomed to failure.”

Democracy, freedom, human rights and the rule of law are the values which America was established.  We have come too far and fight hard every day to maintain theses values, to allow a spirit of terror defeat us!

Remember fighting terrorism is first being alert of your surroundings and reporting anything which looks out-of-place.  Even if it turns out to be a goose chase, because one of those times the person or situation might be the real deal.

God Bless You!

God Bless Great Britain!

God Bless America!

HAPPY 25TH ANNIVERSARY DISNEY LAND PARIS!

I love the travel page on my site One Retail Therapy (oneretailtherapy.com)! We have some of the best travel companies with amazing offers, on the internet! If you are single and don’t want to do bars and dating sites, we have a travel company just for singles. Some of the companies are specific to one area like Disney World, Orlando, or even Israel.

There is one company which has adventures going on around the world almost 24/7. The company is called ISANGO. They keep me updated with what is trending in the world of travel each week.  And that is how I found out Disneyland Paris is having its’ 25th Anniversary.  Wow, if Walt Disney could see his dream now!

You know I read somewhere, Walt bankrupted 7 times and he would not sell his mouse design.  Even when his future outlook was pretty bleak. I guess you know which design I am talking about. Yep, Mickey Mouse himself.

When I think about Walt Disney, I think about a dreamer and his perseverance. To all of us dreamers, he is an inspiration in never giving up on a dream! I wonder if Walt envisioned his company becoming the mega media outlet it is today?  Maybe that is why I love Disney World so much, because it is full of magic and dreams which just keep on blossoming.  Dreams that were and are achieved.

I believe God gives us dreams and buries them within our hearts.  Some people live out their dreams as teachers, doctors, pastors, and artists.  While others forget their dreams and buy into the world’s declared dreams they should do instead.  And don’t fool yourself into thinking that if a dream is from God, it will be achieved over night.  Sometimes God gives us dreams to teach us things like perseverance, patience, kindness, and respect along the way.

What is your dream?  Maybe a trip to Disneyland Paris for their 25th anniversary? Or maybe a life changing adventure to a third world country to assist them with their every day difficulties and share your knowledge with them.

Whatever your dream is, keep pursuing it! Maybe you will be the next Walt Disney, Mother Teresa, or Steve Jobs.

God Bless You!