Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Just an Ordinary Day

Today I got up, went downstairs and found most of my little ones awake. My eldest had already loaded the dishwasher because the night before I was just too tired to load it myself. We had breakfast and played a around of Bible "Jeopardy" in preparation for the Bible test they were going to have. (Girls won 6,200 to boys 6,100). Next, we cleaned-Monday is our cleaning day. We started school--little boy was in play time-- little girl was asleep.

When eleven am rolled around I wanted to head to the library to return the dvds and to take a break. We loaded up into the big blue van- everyone helping to get the little ones locked up and off we went. We marched. Return our handful of dvd's we rented and went back to get some more. The kids each got to pick one dvd- I think I got something for Ben and I and out we went. The kids love to run around the walled in tree area- even the littlest wanted to go today-(she really was too scared). After that we loaded up again and off to Sam's Club to hand in a prescription for contact lenses. The guy said I didn't have what he needed to fill it- drats! Back into the van and home.

At home the babies go down for naps and the "big" kids finish school. I tried to get some quiet time to read the Bible. My big girl worked on a children's track to hand out at night of no fear. I'm amazed at her genuine heart for the lost. I am teary-eyed.

Hubby walked in around 2:30pm. We all talked to him and then I ran out with oldest and youngest to the eye Dr. to pick up another prescription and also the Dollar Tree. Home again - I made Chinese for dinner.

After dinner, I was off again to drop oldest at soccer practice.  I took two little ones of mine with me and  went to Ollies to try and find a birthday present and then to Joanne's to find fabric so I could make the girls dresses. I was looking for fall fabric, but actually came across a Nativity fabric- I guess I'll be making Christmas dresses instead of fall dresses.

Home again- put little boy to sleep with books read, Bible songs sung, and oodles of kisses-- listen to big girl talk of her wonderful piano teacher and lesson-worked on a history project with biggest boy- put three more to bed with prayer time and kisses on sweet chubby cheeks and watched a movie with biggest boy and hubby.

Now this--my blog.  Big days--I'm gonna miss them. The simple everyday things-the chores, the outings, being together-it's just an ordinary day-I have had so many of them- nothing great to boast about-just us. us--being together. Can't really imagine a time where we wouldn't all be living together-sharing our day to day lives, but I know it must come. I truly cherish these days.

"This is the day, (albeit- boring or exciting, successful or full of defeat, full of labor or slumber, laughing or crying, changing dirty diapers or not so dirty diapers, quiet time or loud times, school or breaks) the LORD has made and I will rejoice in it." (Psalm 118: 24 NKJV)

For He has given me a day to be me, a wife, a mom and I praise Him for counting me worthy of such a task. thank you Lord for all you have given me -I rejoice in it.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Where Everybody Knows Your Name

I used to watch the show "cheers." That is when it was airing regularly. The show was pretty good-it made me laugh and I love to laugh, but I have to say the thing that got me hooked to the show was the opening song.

"Where everybody knows your name...
and they're always glad you came..
you wanna go where people know
people are all the same
you wanna go where everybody knows your name."

I loved that song. I also loved when "Norm" came into the bar everyone shouted, "Norm!"

When I was in my young twenties I was visiting  Boston and doing what tourists do-sight-seeing. One place I just had to go into was "Cheers" --the real bar. I seriously couldn't wait to walk through the door-I'm not sure what I expected, but it was absolutely nothing like the show. Everyone there was in their own cliques talking - and there was no "Norm!"

But how I used to long for that -to belong to a group- really -to just belong. I remember so many times I wanted to jump into the show and be a part of it- the jokes, the camaraderie, the family. 

In my own family I didn't feel like family. I remember sitting down to dinner. I must have been younger than four years old- I was sitting on a high stool-(I guess that was my chair)-too big for a high chair, too small for a "big" chair...(sounds like the story of the Goldilocks)  Anyways, I remember looking up and staring at alllll the faces around the table. There were soooo many people. I felt shy and scared. Let me paint the picture for you... we were a family of nine, around a smallish table, in a smallish kitchen, in a smallish house. We were also Italian which makes for a loud, boisterous group of people. It was intimidating to say the least. I remember not recognizing all the people at the table-it's odd to be living in a house with your own family and feel like a stranger.

In the city of N.Y. I didn't really feel like I fit in either. For example: alot of my friends and family were a tough crowd-a mean sarcastic group of people- rough all over. (Much like the typical New Yorker is depicted) but I was quiet and liked the funny side of sarcasm. At work, the girls were not married and went out to a bar every Friday after work. But I had a husband to go home to and quite honestly, I had never been in a bar before- I was afraid of going- I would have been the only one ordering a coke and golly, if a guy walked up to me I would have freaked! Also at work, I was the only Christian and it seemed like everyone knew it. Yes, that was a good thing, but so many times I felt like I was under a microscope. It's hard to be placed in a position of  "role model" when you yourself  a) didn't ask for it and b) aren't perfect. I don't know how much I 'fit-in' at work on this level either.

The constant struggle of trying to fit in when I could clearly see that it just wasn't going to happen was frustrating and lonely. I turned to the scriptures. The scripture that I would hold on to was in 2 Corinthians 5:17. "Therefore since we are a new creation. The old has gone. The new has come."  tremendous!  I remember how liberated I felt. I was new- I was a part of the family of God. The "old" was gone- the "old" of trying to fit in and be accepted was gone- I fit into Christ because He made me and made me a part of His family. I was content.

When my hubby and I finally left N.Y. I remember thinking, upon arriving in VA.- "I'm home! this is where I belong- this is where I should have been born. I used to say, "I may be a Northerner, but I got here as fast as I could." but in VA, well, I don't think I really fit in here either.

I remember I wasn't living here long when I had to go to T.J.Maxx to return something. I had my receipt, but it was alittle complicated-I wanted to return two items-one to give back, but the other item to exchange for a smaller size. After I explained to the cashier the two different returns, I handed her my receipt and my driver license. She looked at the receipt and was taking her time to do the return.
I said, "I'm sorry for the confusion."
Her reply--"No, you're not."
I was shocked, I said, "no, I really am."
Again she said,"No you're not."
I asked, 'Why are you saying that?"
She said, "You're from N.Y.-you're not sorry."

I tried to convince her that I was sorry, but she would not hear of it. I was a New Yorker and I was not sorry. I walked out really hurt. I thought wow, I'll never fit in. It was then that I realized that I had much deeper hurts than I ever realized.

In N.Y. I was considered sweet, non aggressive, shy, and some thought me funny-I didn't fit in.
in VA I think I'm looked at as aggressive, loud, a few think I'm funny, not too sure if they think I'm sweet. I don't fit in.

So back to the Scriptures I went. Ephesians 1:13-14 is one that did it. "And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession-to the praise of his glory." ...being "sealed." aaaahhhhh....safety. I finally found where I fit in- in God.

Through the years I have struggled with this time and time again (even last week!)- I don't seem to fit in- and maybe, just maybe, that's how God wants it- you see every time I have tried to find acceptance it was in others- relying on people to make me feel accepted, loved. even my location was a false hope of fitting in and finding safety. But God wants to fill that insecurity in me. He wants me to be filled with Him- the truth of what He sees in me.

So I've learned that no matter who I am with or where I am- I am accepted because I am a new creation and accepted by God. It sounds so simple- but truly, to put our hope in being wholly accepted by any one person or even in a place is a farce. In this world the rejection is constant- but in God we are accepted, forgiven, healed, approved of and sealed.

"See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!" (1 John 3:1)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Prima Famiglia

I am one hundred percent Italian and second generation born in the United States of America. So, like most newcomers or immigrants my grandparents came over in a big ship that landed in New York. They settled in the Bronx. There is a little town known there, or should I say Avenue, "Arthur Avenue" that was/is predominantly Italian and has stayed that way until this very day. (I believe the mafia has some hand in keeping it exactly the same---yikes-you didn't hear that from me).

I grew up making monthly pilgrimages with my family back to the old place. Walking down the street as a child it was like we had landed in Italy itself. The people, the language, the shops-it was amazing. Every time we visited, my father would take us to all of the same shops-one being the poultry shop. As we approached it we could see all the live chickens in the store front window. It was kind of like a pet store, but only for selling chickens and yes, we got to take a chicken home, but not as a pet.

 I remember the very first time I ever entered. I was very excited thinking that we were going to have a pet chicken and take it back to Queens, New York. My father said, "Go ahead Ellie, go pick out the best and biggest chicken." I took the choosing very seriously- I studied them, watched them, talked with them, petted them, and when I found the chicken that was going to be my life long pet my father said, "Good job." The owner of the shop quickly grabbed the chicken by it's legs and carried it upside down to the other end of the store. I thought that wasn't very nice to do to my new friend. My father said to me, "Follow the man and watch." Watch what? I thought. Are they going to put a pretty pink bow around her neck? Put her in a cage so I could carry her home? Nope, that was not the plan. I watched as they lowered my screaming, cackling, new chicken friend into scalding hot water-into, what became, a silent grave. She came out not moving. She was dead. In complete fear, sadness, and shock tears began to roll down my cheeks. My father, on the other hand, seemed quite delighted with his new purchase of dead chicken and we briskly walked out of the store to join the rest of the family.

After that, we continued down the street popping in and out of shops. We would go into the bakery-all goods within it were Italian-(Didn't really need to mention that did I?) Anyway, entering the bakery was better than burning any yankee candle. If I try hard enough I can still smell that sweet aroma of fresh baked breads and cookies. I would stare at all the varied cookies and say to myself, ' If you could have any cookies which would you choose?" I would always choose one hundred canoles, a least fifty of the different almond cookies, and beg for a slice of Napoleon cake.

Next was the meat shop. ummm, no good memories there- moving on.

We would take a break and have lunch. I tell you in no other time in my life did I ever see my father get excited and smile more than when he was choosing the lunch for all of us. Who knows what he was saying to the waiter, but boy, when the food arrived there were massive amounts of it and all delicious. Pasta, meatballs, broccoli-rabe, breads, sauce, olives, artichokes, wine--delicious!

We were italian. We were family. And I knew my heritage.

'Prima familigia' translates: family is always first.  Growing up Italian, although I was of the Roman Catholic faith--family was my religion. God and family were equal. I'm serious-if you think i'm kidding just watch any clip of the Godfather movies-one, two or three. Yup, to Italians family is a religion. Also, I'd like to mention and to further prove my point- 'prima familigia' doesn't just mean 'family first' it is understood 'family is always first.' Italians do not have a phrase-family first- the way they would say it is 'prima famiglia' which to them means-family is always first--I ask you, how crazy is that!!??

Honestly, I never realized how much my family had a hold on me until a few short years ago. In the past, my family could abuse me, make fun of me, threaten my very life, and yet I was taught--you forgive, forget, and move on. Walking into the house where family was waiting- you came in smiling, hugging, kissing hello, and being joyous. Happy, happy-all the time.

So, when a few years ago, six to be exact, I was threatened with being 'cut-off,' (an Italian phrase which means a family member is disowned by another family member).  I felt like a whole part of me was dying. My family, like knowing Jesus today, was everything to me. I don't know if expressing myself in words will ever really convey the hardship I have gone through. It felt like I was being cut in half- a cutting- properly phrased- a cutting-off. My family was in my mannerisms. My family was in my voice, my hair, my face, my thoughts, my memories. Even my blood was family-that was drilled into my head over and over again-"We're blood, we're family"-(If you say it in a deep, Marlon Brando, maffia type voice-then you've got it). With great fear I knew being cut-off was inevitable.

You see, the things my family had been doing over that last year together, the choices they were making, were getting too difficult to just 'smile' away anymore. I had to confront. I had to be different. I had to stand for what was right. I had to stand up for my true God- I had chosen to follow Him, and Him only. The choice made my knees buckle. Made me tremble. Made me loose sleep. I was a wreck.

In that choosing- my family felt betrayed. they warned me to submit- I could not.

The words, "You're cut-off from the family," never actually were said. nothing was ever said. The phone just stopped ringing. My parents were gone and I was dead to them.

My sisters, well, they cut me off in the usual Italian way with the shouting, arguing, and ugly e-mails. I think they finally worn themselves out and then they were as silent as my wet chicken. I have lost my parents, four sisters, their husbands, seven nieces and eight nephews.

I remember when reading through the gospels for the first time, twenty or so years ago, coming across the scripture in Luke 12:51-53.

"Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law."

I didn't like that at all.  Jesus didn't come to bring division, He came to bring peace-happy, happiness all the time. He was meek and mild and a child that never grew up. Right? Well, that's what I wanted to believe and honestly, every time I came across that scripture, because I didn't understand it nor did I like it, I would skip over it (!) I really didn't like hearing that my mother might come against me one day and I didn't understand why He would say He came to bring division-why would He say such things?

I understand now. Taking a stand for Christ will bring division. People don't want to die to self. People are selfish. People are prideful. People are their own gods. People are sinners and like sin.  People don't like the Ten Commandments. People don't like change.  People want to hate. People want to feel superior to others- to gossip.  People want to do what they want to do and that's that. And everything about Jesus goes contrary to what comes natural to humans. So to take a stand will bring division, not peace.

After the final call had been made, and I knew they were all really gone, I mourned. I mourned for about three months. They were dead to me because I knew I was dead to them. I knew that I would never hear my father call me 'Ellie' again, my mother say, 'How's my girl?', my sisters and I laugh over stupid things and laugh because we just 'got' each other or have those inside jokes that really only sisters have, and I would never see my nieces and nephews grow up. It was over.

End of part 1-the prima famiglia saga.   

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Energizer 'Christian' Bunny

So here is my third tribute to an amazing Godly woman -Maggie.  A woman of God that I met eleven years ago. She was in her eighties than- white, beautiful hair and a smile that shone even brighter. She reminded me of my grandma- little, petite and lots of energy. I bonded to her immediately because of that, but I was soon to meet her and be amazed.

I met Maggie in a woman's Bible study hosted at my church. I remember when I saw her I thought, "Oh, praise God, that lady met Jesus late in life, but she met Him." I thought it was awesome how this woman in her eighties met Jesus and was coming to a Bible study to learn more about God. I could not have gotten the story more wrong.

Maggie has known Jesus for most of her life and here I was thinking she was a new Christian. why did I automatically think that she was a new Christian? Well, it goes back to my mother's fortieth birthday- my mother made some speech about how half her life was over and it would be all down hill from there. How she'd only get fatter, uglier, more wrinkled and there wasn't anything she could do about it. Her attitude about life pretty much matched the attitude of her appearance. She saw herself as an old lady at forty and gave up trying. I was only ten at the time.

So, when I met Maggie, (I didn't realize it), but I had had this thought that life was over at forty-no trying to better yourself, no trying to learn anything new- life was over. So how could Maggie at eighty be at a Bible study to better herself unless she was a new Christian? An "old" Christian would say, "Been there, done that."  or "What's the point? I'm not going to change this late in life-life is over." (Completely horrible I know-but I was raised under this philosophy-so don't shoot me).

Maggie, a Christian in her eighties studying the Bible. A Bible study, I might add, that was about 'Breaking Free.'  I sat back each week and wondered about her. She'd come in, Bible in hand with work-book and homework completed. I loved it. She was living life. Still going. Still seeking God.

Since then I see her come to church every Sunday. She comes- no one would judge her if she said she was too tired to come to church. No one would blame her if she said, 'I've heard it all.' She probably could even give a great sermon, but she listens to the preacher with no judgement. I think one of the most amazing thing is when I see her singing along to a loud, electric guitar, drums banging, worship song. She could complain that it's too loud. She could say, "Why don't we sing the old songs." But not Maggi. She is not stuck in the past- never has been. She has been marching forward since the day I met her. She is still marching in her nineties.

She completely shocked me last winter on a cold, dark, Wednesday night when she simply walked through the door. I had thought of not going to church that night due to the weather, but there was Maggie-driving alone, coming in to pray. Today Maggie is still going to Bible studies. On Monday she attends one and on Thursday she leads one. Nothing stops her. she is living for Jesus and nothing is going to slow her down or stop her. Not the weather, the darkness, not her age.

Maggie, through the years, has been there for me. I run to her and tell her the latest update on either the ridiculous minutia of my life or for the things that weigh down my heart. She is there- ready to listen-ready to pray- ready to advise. She is my little energizer Christian bunny.

Maggie has taught me that as long as God has you on this earth you are to live for Him. I haven't asked her, but I would guess one of her life verses is:

"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." Galatians 6:9

Because of her example, Galatians 6:9 is one of my life verses. Thank you Maggie for being the example I never had. For being there for me. For teaching me to forge ahead no matter what. To never give up. To never give an excuse as to why I shouldn't follow Jesus.

True story-a few years ago I was asked to teach the girls cheer leading for our VBS-I didn't think I should do it.  My excuse: I was eight months pregnant. I had never cheered before. I had absolutely no idea how to teach it. Maggie said, "Is God asking you to do it?"  I said, 'I think He is.' Her response, "Well I guess you're the cheerleader teacher."  If God is asking you to do something, well then, you better do it no matter what your age, situation, problems- if He asks- then He has a plan and He will make you able. By the way, I taught the cheer leading classes that summer and had a blast. If you really love Jesus you'll serve Him no matter what.

Lord, I want to be like Maggie. I want to never tire of doing good. I want to study your Word over and over again until I can breathe it. I want to be there for people. I want to serve people. I want to be in your house- old with white hair, -until you take me home.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A Woman Who was Ready

as i read the Bible i allow my eyes to slow down whenever i see a woman's name mentioned. i'm looking for a role model-someone to emulate.

so--women in the Bible-who do i like?  i like mary. (all the marys actually-they all followed Jesus with abandonment-when all others had run and hid they didn't -they were at the cross!).  Elizabeth is pretty cool too-she happily receives a baby in her old age, she's filled with the Holy Spirit and has a prophesy. this is what is said of her, "...his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. Both of them were upright in the sight of God, observing all the Lord's commandments and regulations blamelessly." (Luke 1:6) and i just love what she says to mary, "Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished." (Luke 1:45)  Abigail, she's another one-i like her too. Now Esther-wow-she really tops them all, (i guess). she was a nobody, brought into royalty, becomes queen, but remains humble. still remembers who she is and where she comes from. she listens to her cousin mordecai. she prays on it. she fasts. she gets others to pray and fast. she is calm. she isn't running, crying, complaining, worrying. you never hear her say, "why does this have to happen to me?"  "why can't someone else do the job?" 

esther gets a plan. she carries it out-slowly. finds favor with her king and saves the Israelites. man, she was amazing.

 i've never actually met any of these women, of course-but through my life i have come across three other amazing women of faith. i have mentioned anne in an earlier post,-she taught me to follow Jesus no matter what the cost.  today i'd like to talk about another woman- who taught me to be ready-mother howard. just the mention of her name brings tears to my eyes. a woman completely sold out for Jesus. so at peace. so in love with Him. so, 'i'll, 'do whatever He says.'  she taught me to be ready. be ready in season and out of season." Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage--with great patience and careful instruction." (2 Timothy 4:2)

she saw me hours before i ever met her.

one morning, twenty years ago, she woke up and while lying in bed she had a vision of me. she had no idea why she had a picture of me in her head. she had never met me before. never heard of me. but there i was in her mind. she went about her morning getting ready. she was recovering from a recent heart attack and was moving considerably slower. all morning - me. she would close her eyes-me. her heart was excited. she knew or believed i was coming and she was getting ready.

mother howard. she - well, i really don't know many facts about her, but i sure do know some of her stories. she had a heart for God. raised in the south- daddy was a preacher-she loved church, the Bible and the things of God. she eventually got married and had children. her love for the things of God never stopped. she would say to me that she would talk to God like He was standing in the room. she never heard His voice audibly, but his voice was so clear to her heart and mind that He might as well have been standin' there.

one story i remember-she was poor-married-with children. one day she heard the Lord say, "get on the 1pm bus to a specific town."  (i can't remember the name of the town)  she spoke up-, "but Lord you know i don't have money for a bus ticket- where am i going to get the money?"  He told her, "look in the linen closet for a large, outdoor light bulb." she looked and found it. He told her to return it to the store -that will be enough money for the ticket.

she got her family to watch the children, grabbed her suitcase that was always packed, ready and waiting in the closet  and went to the store. she had no trouble returning the bulb and it was the exact price of the bus ticket. she got on the bus and sat down. she got off the bus at the town she was told to go to and sat down on the bench at the bus stop. she had not gotten instructions on what to do next so she just waited. it had been a couple of hours, but then the Lord said to her, "there he is, go and speak to him."

she got up and started following a complete stranger. she had no idea what she was going to say when and if he ever did stop. but the Lord said, "follow him" so she did. after a block or so the man realizes that there was a woman following him. he stopped and asked, "can i help you?"  at that moment the Lord revealed to her what she was to say. "you are a married man, and yet the home you are going to is not your own".  he tried to explain it away- she told him that the Lord sent her to him and how the Lord sees his adultery and wants him to turn from his sinful ways. the man cried and walked on.

((((CAN you believe this story??? Can you believe her boldness????
back to the story--
the place where they happened to stop was in front of the mistress' house. it was revealed to mother howard. she then knocked on the woman's door and told the woman how she was sent to stop her affair with the married man. mother howard then left the woman, went back to the bench at the bus stop and thought that was all she was to do. minutes later she heard singing at a church. it was an evening service in the middle of the week. she went in and sat down. a lady dressed in black, and shawl (that covered over her head and most of her face), came in sat down and was crying. mother howard put her arm around her. the woman looked up and it was the very woman she had met that afternoon-the mistress. mother howard prayed for her to accept Jesus in her heart and be her Lord and Savior, to forgive her of her sins and be saved.

the next time mother howard returned to the bus stop it was to go home.

i would literally sit at mother howard's feet every day and ask for more stories of her walk with Jesus. she told me that the hardest thing about her heart attack was that she could no longer get up and go where ever  God wanted her to go. one day she took me into her bedroom, opened the closet door and pointed to a suitcase. I took it for her and put it on the bed. she told me to open it. i couldn't wait to see what was inside. inside was a set of clothes, pajamas, toothpaste, toothbrush and a Bible. there was no literature, tracks, or written out sermons- this woman was just plain ready in season and out. she was not only ready, not only willing, but out right excited to follow Jesus where ever He would go.  but that morning when she saw me in her mind, knowing that she could no longer travel for Him, Jesus said to her, "I am bringing my lost ones to you now."

i lived with mother howard for forty days. our goodbye was painful for me, but her stories still live with me. she is now in heaven i am sure being crowned with many jewels and rejoicing with her King.

Lord, may my heart be willing and help me get my feet ready for the work you have for me. i want to be ready to go in season and out.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Night of No Fear

When I was young my church did not turn Halloween into a  "night of no fear" with the inflatables and games and lots of free candy as the church I attend today does. When I was young, it was just plain ole' Halloween, but I will say as a kid I loved it anyway.

There are two things I remember about Halloween- two things that made the night really special. The first thing was the candy of course. The other thing that made Halloween special was the simple fact that my neighbors opened their door. I'd knock and they would open the door!  Now that may not sound like much to get excited about, but for me it was. I grew up in NYC and you see normally people just don't open their doors-- except on Halloween.

I remember two times a year I would get dressed up in my girl scout uniform-my beret, dress, sash, green socks pulled up to my knees and I'd have my clip board in hand. I'd go door-to-door selling girl scout cookies.  I would knock and no one would open the door. House after house no one would open the door. Now, you might think, "Well, no one was home" and that might have been the case for some, but not all. I remember knocking on neighbor's door and actually see the curtain of the window by the door move- they looked out, saw it was me and would not open the door. I even remember hearing the chain lock on the door sliding across and yet no one opened the door--not even to open the door and say, "I'm sorry dear" or something like that.

So you see, Halloween was pretty special to me- I knocked and my neighbors opened the door. and I will say that they not only opened the door, but when they did open the door they were kind. They were welcoming. they said things like, "So, what are you all dressed up as?" and talked sweetly to me. Yup, Halloween was different then all other days of the year for me and my neighbors.

Well, as time went on- I remember being 13 years old and still trying to get away with dressing up and going trick or treating. It was more like begging for candy because I knew I was too old to be going around, but I wanted to give it one last try. My very last year of trick-or-treating I grabbed a black garbage bag and pushed my feet through, pulled it up- poked my arms through--stuffed it with newspaper and pretended I was a bag of garbage!

Well, that was pretty much the last year I saw my neighbors, the door to Halloween was closed and life for me continued to have doors closing on me. The door of happiness, and the door of hope- life began getting more and more hard. When I turned eighteen years old i thought very seriously about giving up God's greatest gift- my life. Life was that hard.

One day I happened to be in a place that had a chapel. I stood in the middle of the room- it was empty- and stared at what I knew was a Bible. I had never opened a Bible before or read it's pages- but there it was- opened and sitting on a little table. I went over to it and glanced at the words. It was opened to Matthew 7.  "Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be open to you. For everyone who asks receives, he who seeks finds and to him who knocks the door will be open to him."

I read those verses for four days- it took me four days for me to come close to believing it. I had knocked on my neighbors doors and they wouldn't open them - why would this be different?  I wasn't sure I could trust it- but on the fourth day I said, "Lord, if you are there, I'm knocking- come in and be with me." I believe the Lord Jesus did come into my heart that day. The door of hope was opened and I began following Him.

After that, well, I wanted a Bible of my own. I wanted to know Jesus. I read the book of Matthew first and read clear to the end to the book of Revelation. And do you know what I found? In Revelation 3:20 it says Jesus is doing some knocking. It says, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock if anyone hears my voice and opens the door I will come in. And will sup with him and him with me."

I think it is absolutely amazing to me that Jesus is knocking - and what is so neat is 23 years ago when I read that scripture- Jesus was knocking- and today if you read it - Jesus is knocking and tomorrow if you read it --Jesus will be knocking. You see- Jesus' heart is to have a relationship with you --and He will wait and knock until you make the decision to open the door and let Him in. He loves you that much.

He is waiting for you- to make a decision to want a relationship with Him. are you ready?  You have a choice.
We all do.
I did too.

I think, in my case, God had been knocking on the door of my heart since I was a little girl, but it took me about 18 years to get the courage to open that door.  I was afraid for Jesus to come into my heart. I was afraid of letting go of my life to Him and having Him change me. I was afraid of Him seeing all my sin-afraid of getting in trouble.  But all that fear wasn't from Jesus.  Jesus is standing at the door of your heart knocking. Waiting. hoping to know you. Jesus created you and wants to know you.  All we have to do is open the door- ask Him.

On this unholy night of Halloween- let's make it holy
on this night of fear- let's make it a night of no fear
on this night where people are knocking on doors- let us knock on the door of heaven and receive the free gift from Jesus which is a relationship with Him.

--If you you have never prayed a prayer to ask Jesus to come into your life-
--or you think you prayed a prayer when you were just a kid, but can't remember-- it never hurts to prayer it again.
--or you are a follower of Jesus, but know that you are not really living for Him- still have rage, bitterness, unforgiveness, gossip, judgement, Jesus is knocking on your heart too.

Let's knock and let's open the door.

I wrote a prayer below-if it is something you would like to pray-take a moment and pray it. Jesus hears your prayers, He will come.

Dear Jesus,

Thank you for knocking on the door of my heart.
Thank you for loving me so much that you would wait for me.
I hear you knocking and I open the door of my heart for you to come in.
Come into my heart Lord Jesus and make me your own.
Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins.
And thank you for the gift of eternal life.
In Jesus' precious and holy name I pray.
Amen.

If you prayed this prayer and would like to tell me or have any questions please contact me: joy.in.jesus@cox.net.