The scripture says “Preach the Word--Be instant in season…and out of season!” II Timothy 4:2
What exactly does that mean?
A little ABR—always be ready!
Like at a 10 year old grandson’s birthday party!
Marcus Riley Johnson is our 2nd oldest grandchild—and he just turned 10.
Nano, that would be me, started a tradition that all 9 of our grandkids get, on their 10th birthday—100 $1 bills!
Yes—100 $1 Bills!
I know, I know—that can be expensive!
With 9 grandkids—you betcha!
I did NOT think this through before I said it—but, now I have to keep the tradition going!
And believe it or not—you can’t take your money with you, so…why not make a 10 year old smile ear to ear!
You see-- $100 to a 10 year old is HUGE! To a teenager? Not so much!
So…if you want to impress your grandkids—do it when they are impressionable—like at age 10!
And oh—what a memory you will make! For them—AND for you!
So Nana and Nano put on this party for Marcus—I have always called him MarkyMarc! Nano’s nickname for him!
We themed the party SPIDERMAN! The cake! The plates! The toys—all Spiderman!
And we had games—like water balloons, water guns, skittles n straws and Dodge Ball with the grands!
The kids had a lot of fun!
Nano and Nana were exhausted.
We saved the best for last—the presentation of the Mulah! (Money! 100 clams!)
But wait—back to the scripture.
I ordered a dishwasher for my wife—it’s her birthday on Thursday, so I wanted it delivered before her birthday.
Jay and his coworker showed up with the washer—he had difficulty installing it.
He said “Saturday is my day for blessing people—so I am not leaving til we install this!”
And with a lot of hard work and some ingenuity—it was installed.
I thanked him and shook his hand—something hit me when I did—and I asked “may I pray with you?”
Who does that? Pray with a service provider?
Yeh—that would be me!
So I prayed with him—asked God to bless him big for his commitment to quality and to open doors he didn’t even see there!”
When we finished—he was smiling ear to ear.
He said “this is what you didn’t know. I have been in a deep valley for 3 months—wondering if I would ever feel God’s presence again. I prayed each day for me to feel His presence, but nothing! I asked him to let me feel Him no matter where or when! But nothing—for 3 months—nothing. But today, when you prayed for me—I felt the Lord’s presence for the first time in 3 months! I had to come here to meet you to have you pray for me to feel God’s presence. Thank you for obeying the Lord—He used you to answer my prayer!”
And he hugged me.
Wow!! I didn’t see that coming—in the middle of a 10 year old’s birthday party—but, I have learned ABR!
Always Be Ready!
And wherever and with whomever God wants to use me—I am His to be used as He sees fit!
Is that how you feel? Do you yield to the Lord to be used as He sees fit?
There might be a Jay who needs you to do what God says—when He says it!
You could be His Hands Extended to touch a heart and confirm a prayer—yes--- YOU!
It’s really simple when you no longer think about being embarrassed or being offensive or being wrong!
Trust the Lord who loves you to never cause you embarrassment—He’s not like that—EVER!
ABR—Always Be Ready! For Him to use you!
Back to the party—When I prayed over Marcus and gave him his 100 $1 dollar bills---
He wanted to make it rain! And he did!
Then he said “Nano—I want to roll in the money!”
And he did that too!
It was everything I hoped it would be—for him AND for me!
Memory made by all—and prayers answered to boot!
A-B-R! Just that simple, just that easy—IF you want it to be!
Friendship is the blessing from Heaven that helps you step thru the tough times and sees you to the other side.
My favorite scripture is Proverbs 18:24 “A man who has friends must be friendly; and there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother!”
2 parts to that scripture.
If you are going to have a friend—you must be a friend! Reciprocate the effort of friendship—it is an effort—worthwhile, but still…
Jesus is that friend who sticks closer than a brother would-I have a close brother—and, believe me, that’s pretty close. My brother would do anything for me, and he has always been there anytime I have needed him, so I know—if Jesus is going to be closer than Paul—that’s close!
I don’t take my friendships for granted—I know people my age who do not have any close relationships that they call friend.
Oh sure—they know people—don’t we all? But, to sit and say “I’m having a tough time right now and I just need a friend.” That’s not something they can say to anyone because—they have not cultivated and nurtured an acquaintance relationship into a bond of friendship.
And it takes effort—you have to be a friend to have a friend—you need to work to be the kind of friend that a friend would like to have.
Think about that—the kind of friend that a friend would like to have—someone who is caring, attentive, thoughtful, present when needed.
Are you that to your “friends?”
I really am.
And I am blessed to have my faithful 5, who are 6, who are also that good friend to me.
Butch, Teeto, Suzann, Shawn, Kay and Belinda—are the kind of friend you would love to have.
The guys are guys—but they are tender hearted and loyal and present in my life—tough times, good times, all times—shared!
The ladies are the sisters I never had—they sometimes dote on me, sometimes kick me in the rear end—like a true loving sister would.
You see that picture?
That’s two of the five who are six.
Now see if you can follow me—
The one in the middle is my cousin by blood, but my sister by heart.
Her mom was my Aunt Ciria (pronounced See-Dee—ah!).
She was my second mom.
When she passed—she made me promise to always watch over those she loved—and she adored her only child Belinda.
So…that’s how my cousin became my sister.
And the other one?
That’s my sister-in-law Kay, married to my brother Paul.
She has known me since I was eleven years old—when she sat in my makeshift tent outside in our yard—and I lied and told her that I was adopted.
I felt adopted. I looked adopted(I was blonde, fair skinned and blue eyed; they were olive complexion, dark hair and dark eyes).
She believed me!
She asked my brother “Why didn’t you tell me that Alan was adopted?”
Hmmmm? Because he’s not!
Over the years, she has been my Mom replacement—I was 17 when my mama passed away—so Kay has mothered me over the years.
But now…we are Best friends!
I call her Bestie—she calls me BFF—we call each other often.
Our spouses don’t mind—they know—Kay and I are talkers—and we also are energizer bunnies—we do and go and do and go again!
So…it’s agreed—a Bestie Day once a quarter is required.
This was one of those days—and I invited my sister to join us for lunch.
Get the 3 of us together—and who has time to eat? We talk a mile a minute and still—keep all 3 conversations going without missing a beat.
They know me—and love me as I am.
Not an easy task—I will admit.
And they know—my heart is hurting due to a fractured relationship that I cannot fix—no matter how hard I try—only God can!
So… we don’t have to talk about that—they are just present in my life—for when I need a hug, need a shoulder to cry on.
Until then—we just talk about everything!
And sometimes—we talk about nothing.
Just sharing life and we walk through this meandering path, sometimes it’s hilly, sometimes it’s valley—always, it’s interesting.
And… worth talking about.
Glad I’ve got the kind of friends who love to share their lives.
You take a left, and then a right, and then swing around one exhibit…
You run into someone—almost colliding!
And most times, you would say “excuse me” and then go on your way…
But this time… you strike up a conversation—and you spend about 30 minutes, talking about the obvious—the exhibit.
That’s how I met Miss Ersula Odom.
We were standing in front of her exhibit on Local Black American Heroes.
It is Black American History month—and it is something that I am always keenly interested in learning more about.
You see—of our 9 grandkids, two of them are half black and half white.
And we honor and celebrate both sides of their heritage.
And Miss Odom had a wonderful display of some of our local heroes—people most people didn’t know anything about.
She had a lot of interesting facts that I was not aware of—very educational.
She also does a characterization of Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune, the founder of Bethune-Cookman College, a private African American college over in the Daytona, Fl area. Dr. McLeod Bethune was a civil rights activist and well known educator. Miss Odom does a presentation where Dr. McLeod-Bethune comes alive through Miss Odom.
We had a delightful time, reminiscing about the good ol’ days and about our favorite topic- our kids and grandkids.
Miss Odom had a charismatic personality and a smile that would win millions—quite the entertainer!
As we started to leave, I told her about our Reflections blog and how we are read in over 63 countries each week…
And that I was going to write about her because…she had made an impression on me.
I felt inspired by hearing her story—how she just wanted to make sure the next generation knew about the struggles and victories of the past.
She was a gateway back to a day, not so far away, when not everyone could come and go as they pleased.
I sensed her commitment to being an oracle of history for anyone to hear and learn from.
Miss Odom had a passion for what she was doing—educating and inspiring.
I know that’s what she had done for me—educated and inspired.
There are days that are meant for working hard and getting a lot accomplished…
And…there are days meant for rest, relaxation and rejuvenation of your heart and soul.
Saturday was one of those other days.
My wife and I started out the day on our screened terrace, having breakfast—homemade.
I have to tell you—my sweet Bella makes the BEST breakfast in the world.
I’m not usually a breakfast eater—I usually don’t eat anything until lunch.
I’ll have a cup of coffee in the winter—from November to March, usually.
Then I retire coffee for the spring and summer and… I just go straight to my Dasani water.
I am a water connoisseur – I know my water—and I have determined that Dasani is the BEST—it has a sweet taste to it that I love!
Back to Bella’s breakfast!
On Saturday and Sunday mornings—I am blessed by my wife’s home cooking.
She makes the crispiest bacon, the runniest over medium eggs, the thinnest pancakes, the grittiest grits and the homiest home fries you will ever eat! And it’s all coming out of our humble abode on Peach Avenue.
You should stop by some time.
By…make sure you call ahead—want to make sure someone hasn’t beaten you to the table! LOL!
After breakfast, I forced my Bella to help me in the backyard with some planting and weeding of some new flower beds.
She was NOT a happy camper!
She did NOT want to do this!
She did NOT sing as she worked!
There were NO butterflies dancing as my Snow White frolicked in the garden—nope, not one!
But… we got it done—and it looked great—hoping at least half of the stuff we planted lives!
I have a green thumb—but Bella’s thumb? She makes a wonderful breakfast…but her thumb? Let’s just say it’s not green!
We got ready to head out…
And we went to our favorite beach—Treasure Island.
It was a perfect day- windy, sunny, springy.
And we got to the beach, and…
There was a Kite Festival going on!
All sizes and shapes: a crab, a sports car, a circle in constant motion (the pic I included)—so many people, so many kites!
And it was perfect!
We remembered that we had brought Jett one time to see the kites—and my heart smiled at the memory.
So, I had brought our camp chairs, and my sweet Bella and I sat at the shore, with the waves beating against the shore.
It was rejuvenating.
Just basking in God’s beauty—His nature—His handiwork!
I took a walk along the shore, and I found this lady, sitting in a frog like position—like my brother Joe used to sit when I was growing up.
I stopped and talked to her for a moment because—I am THAT guy who stops and talks to strangers—Bella is NOT that guy! Lol!
As we are talking, I see this beautiful mosaic that she has been working on.
She said it was just this morning when she started, but---WOW!
It was beautiful!
And it was so detailed!
And it must have had over 500 shells—small, medium, large!
All that she collected and assembled and put in place—all so it could be admired by the passersby along the shore.
She said “my husband and I went for lunch, and when I got back, someone had damaged it, but…I just took the time to restore it back!”
And restore it back she did—it was breathtaking!
And I just paused and said “Thank you Lord—just to see this handiwork, just to feel this weather, just to take this time…to rejuvenate!”
Maybe life has been kicking your butt lately?
I know it has been kicking mine!
But… I trust the plans God has for me; plans to prosper and for an expected end! Jeremiah 29:11
Understanding that—His plan for you is to prosper and to get to the end that HE planned for you—that HE expects of you…
Sometimes, you just have to take a break, rest a little while, have a great breakfast, work in your garden, walk along the shore…
The Bible says to “give honor where due!” Romans 13:7
And today, I celebrate a wonderful moment in my life.
It was 6 years ago this weekend, at the end of my 21 day fast…
That My Lord and Savior healed my heart!
And I have medical proof to back that up.
And it was after He asked me “if I never heal your heart, will you still serve me?”
And I remember so solemnly soberly saying “though He slay me, still I will serve Him!” Daniel 3:15-18
After 19 months of an elephant standing on my heart, day in and day out, I was resolved—this pain was not going away, and…
I was just going to have to find a way to “live again” and not just survive a heart attack!
I am not someone who likes to give into a situation or circumstance—I always think “how can I make this better?”
But…I had tried everything in those 19 months, and except when I spent time with my young grandson Jett—the pain never ceased.
So that day…I just made up my mind—I was going to name my elephant and learn to love my life with Evan in it.
Evan—that’s the name of my elephant!
But instead—all God needed to hear was—I would be willing to live with my infirmity and still “LIVE” for HIM!
You see—sometimes, He is just testing you to see—will you quit complaining and begging and just go on with life and make it the best you can!
Will you CHOOSE to LIVE in whatever state you’re in?
Even if it’s Florida?
Seriously—contentment is not resignation.
You are not resigning to anything.
When you are content—you are at peace.
With an elephant; without an elephant...
Still—at peace with your life and desiring to live and not just survive.
It’s all in your attitude.
Remember that line “I complained of having no shoes until I met the man who had no feet!”
I was telling someone the other day---it’s all about perspective.
All you need to know what “good” is…is to have had “bad!”
It’s all relative.
And you decide—how you will handle no shoes or no feet—complain because your feet hurt or learn to walk on your hands?
Now there’s a man who has turned lemons into lemonade.
Back to my celebration—I recall the nights I would put myself to bed at 8pm because the pain was so present.
I would just lie there, hoping that, if I didn’t move—the pain would dissipate and not increase.
I would break out into a cold sweat, all the while—I was having pains in my left arm.
It felt like I was having another heart attack—night after night.
And I’m not making any of this up.
My healing is documented in my book “Put Feet To Your Faith!” which you can find on this website—free of charge—documenting the miraculous healing God gave me, that I still walk in 6 years later—that was attested to by a Hindu Cardiologist who admitted that “something must have happened because you had a damaged heart and now—it’s like you never ever had a heart attack! I can’t explain it, but I can see it with my own two eyes!”
Dr. “K” passed away last May 2016—I don’t know if he ever made peace with Jesus Christ, but I DO know that Dr. K knew that Jesus healed my heart because I told him so repeatedly. Each time, he shook his head and just said “I don’t know about that—but I do know—your heart is perfect!”
And I am about to go see my original cardiologist—who put my stent in and who told my wife “you should have been a widow today! He had 100% occlusion in his LAD artery—that kills most people—your husband got lucky today—and so did you because he should be dead!”
Dr. Singh will also hear about how Jesus healed my heart—and with the transferred medical records from Dr. “K”, he will also read about it!
Who knows? Maybe I can witness about Jesus to another Hindu doctor.
Maybe God just wants to see—will you tell somebody what I’ve done for you?
I’m reminded of the 10 lepers who were healed by Jesus and went on their way.
2 returned to give thanks. Jesus said “weren’t there 10 that I healed? And only 2 come back to give thanks?” Luke 17: 11-19
What has He done for you that you need to stop and just say “thank you” for?
Oh yeah—and He loves it when you brag on Him to others!
Talk Jesus Up today—He really has been good to me!