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A Simple Life, a Childlike Faith

A Simple Life, a Childlike Faith

A Small Word

posted by Linda G. Howard

I was raised in a denomination that is currently being accused of worshiping the Bible.  Understand, I don’t remember ever being told that the scriptures were co-equal in importance with the Godhead.  What I do remember is a strong emphasis on daily Bible reading.  In my mind, there was an equal emphasis with studying and meditating on passages of the Bible.  I concluded this because I could tell the difference in the teaching of people who were serious about Bible study.  As I approached adulthood, reading and studying the Bible became an important discipline in my life.

Therefore, for more than 40 years, I’ve read through the Bible at least once each year.  Some years, I would read through the New Testament every month and the Old Testament each year.  Yet, during the past four or five years, this daily exercise has been a terrible struggle for me.  At first I wasn’t particularly disturbed, I’ve felt study and reading the scriptures was a part of training that needed to be done and it wasn’t necessary to enjoy it.  Nevertheless, I did miss the joy I’d always had in discovering new and exciting nuggets hidden in some overlooked and obscure portions of the Bible.

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I still understood the benefits of daily reading and study.  However, it seemed that everything was a deterrent to me.  In fact, there was almost a bitterness in my mouth each time I would open up the Scriptures.  This greatly disturbed me and I prayed that the Lord would take it from me.  However, it persisted for at least five years.

Even though a struggle, I consistently read through the Scriptures each year.  Then a most wonderful thing happened last January.  One evening, I thought, “I need to go to bed and read.  This is the most important thing I’ve done all day.”  Without the bitterness or tension, that I’d become accustomed to feeling, I got up, went to bed and read my Bible.

Every night since then, I’ve been able to read my Bible before I go to sleep.  Yes, some nights I fall asleep reading but I continue until I’ve finished.  Some evenings, I tell myself, “I’ll read and then I can get back up and finish my project.”  Then I speak to myself, “This is the most important thing you will do today.”

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Such a simple word has taken away the bitter taste and the hesitancy with which I’d struggled.  For me, it’s a real miracle, giving me back one of the true joys of my life–reading God’s word and hearing Him speak to me with revelations and hidden treasures.

It is hard to recount how many simple words of truth have changed my life by inches.  Most of the time, other people have spoken those simple words of truth to me.  My mother, a Bible teacher, a loving friend, my children.  My first memory of this happening was when I was seven years old, a substitute Sunday school teacher chose me first to give me the new Bible study quarterly.  I was the middle child.  I’d never been first in my life.  It was a thrilling experience and a turning point in my young life.  God used that lady to let me know that I was important to him.  I’m going to find her in heaven some day and thank her.

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In working with people who are developmentally disabled, we are usually working with folks who don’t expect much from God or society.  You can give them simple words of hope, joy and release.  Simple, loving words can change lives.

How many simple things do you do that help to change the lives of your co-worker?  your friends?  your family?  How often are you the vehicle that reaches out and says to a person who never expects to be first, “You are important to God”?

Photos:  Reading the Bible by Micah Boy and Young Woman Reading Bible by J. D. Gregory

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The Perfect Gift for Mom

posted by Linda G. Howard

Are you like me?  My email inbox, Facebook Wall and even today’s Twitter Timeline are full of messages telling me about “The Perfect Gift for Mom.” Frankly, I hope my children read and use a couple of  these suggestions.

Even BeliefNet is promoting mother-friendly suggestions.  There is an aromatherapy kit which appears to be formulated specifically for mothers.  Not sure what that means, unless these oils and herbs have the smell of Johnson’s baby talcum, topped with Vick’s Vapor Rub.  There is the ever-present, always-needed skin care kit to use after washing all those breakfast dishes and toilet bowls–hopefully not together.  My personal favorites are Republic of Tea’s yummy Pink Grapefruit Green Tea and Sweet Earth Chocolate.  Hopefully consumed together.

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There’s the iPad2 and smart phones galore.  Even earth-friendly floral bouquets delivered to her door.  You can send electronic cards and hard-backed books formatted, printed and sent specifically for Mother.  While the Mother’s Day fever is coming to a head as quickly as a teenager’s zit, most mothers are looking forward to gifts that really matter–golden slobbery kisses and silver hugs that last longer than a nano-second.

Of course, almost every mother wants and appreciates gifts.  I’ve received two books designed and made for me with photos of my children and grandchildren.  I cherish them.

In fact, I suggest that you NEVER forget to buy a Mother’s Day gift.

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My children and grandchildren are scattered all over the US, from Alaska to Hawaii to Virginia.  They are not able to be with us on Mother’s Day.  This year, one of my gifts was hand delivered; and it arrived early.  As I sit at my computer, I’m enjoying a stem of 9 cymbidium orchids.  The best part is that they are attached to the orchid plant. I can continue to enjoy the elegant, grassy-leaf foliage long after the blossoms are gone.

In reality, the thing a mother will recall at the end of the year, won’t be the gift you give her (unless it’s chocolate or a very expensive gold necklace). It will be the tender words you share as the two of you linger at her front door at the end of the day.  It will be when you reach over and touch her hand for no reason at Sunday lunch.  She’ll cherish that knowing wink and delight in one-too-many “Thank you’s.”

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After being a mother for a few decades, my expectation of Mother’s Day has changed.  I want an early morning call from one of our children and another one in the afternoon after church.  A greeting on FaceBook or a text message is a delight from our almost-adult grandchild.

Additionally, because I’m the area director of The Special Gathering, a ministry within the intellectually disabled community, the Lord has blessed me with some wonderful friends who have special needs.  Some of them will come to church with computer-generated Birthday cards for me.  Because they don’t read, they think it’s a Mother’s Day greeting.  Others will have small tokens or gifts that they purchased from the dollar store or local CVS Drugstore.  Together we will smile appreciating their gifts.

Their enthusiasm will escape into my heart and smear love all over my day.  It will be a good day.  After all, love is the reason for Mother’s Day, especially if your children are living godly, productive lives and they’ve scattered themselves all over the world.

Photo:  Young Mother with Child by epSos.de

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Usama Bin Laden – dead

posted by Linda G. Howard

President Barack Obama announced to the nation in somber tones, “Justice has been done.”  Sitting in a house located in Abbottabad, Pakistan which is a suburb of Islamabad, the planner of multiple terrorist attacks, Usama Bin Laden, was attacked by a small cadre of American forces.   A fire fight broke out and Bin Laden was killed.  Bin Laden, the head of Al-Qaida, masterminded the 9-11 attacks which killed more than 3,000 people in New York City.

With surgical precision, the US team was only on the ground for 40 minutes, using four US helicopters. One of the helicopters had mechanical failure and was destroyed on the scene.   According to President Obama, they took great care to avoid civilian casualties.

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Over the years, most intelligence reports have positioned Bin Laden hiding in a cave.  But this was not the case.  He was hiding in plain view, almost under the noses of the Pakistani officials.

For decades, this evil man has waged war on Christians, Jews and Muslims.  Anyone, even Muslims, who did not agree with his belief in fundamental Sharia law were in danger of falling under one of the terrorist attacks he planned and financed. President Obama affirmed, “He was not a Muslim leader.  He was a killer of Muslims.”  He continued to say, “We are not at war with Islam.”

“The American people did not choose this war.   It came to our shores,”  President Obama said.

This was a level of terrorist covert operations that could have gone bad quickly.  Our troops were in the country of Pakistan.  However, this highly-skilled group of men performed their operation; and it appears that only Bin Laden and four other Al-Qaida leaders were killed, including a son of Bin Laden.  Al-Qaida, which Bin Laden headed, is a fanatical movement based on radical ideology.

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As Christians, Jesus told us that we should not rejoice in the difficulties and death of our enemies.  Therefore, the death of Bin Laden is not a joyful event.  It is a solomn time.  Engaging in war means the death of our best and finest men.  President Obama should be congratulated not only for the victory but for the proper tone he took in his televised announcement.  We must continue to pray for the peace in the Middle East and for the peace of Jerusalem.


  • To read about the death of a Christian Pakistani in retaliation CLICK HERECLICK HERE to read how Christians in Nigeria and Pakistan are worriedHow should Christians react to bin Laden’s death? CLICK HERE to read several thoughtsTo watch the video of the President’s statement, CLICK HEREREAD HERE as Beliefnet’s Jim Fletcher asks if all Muslims are evilTo consider the heart-felt thoughts of Debbie Lee, mom of the first Navy SEAL killed in Iraq, CLICK HERETo consider the thoughts of Beliefnet’s Kirsten Jackson, CLICK HERECLICK HERE to watch the reaction of New Yorkers at Ground ZeroCLICK HERE for photos and the text of the President’s statementTo read the reaction of Beliefnet’s Ryan Gaffney CLICK HERECLICK HERE to read Beliefnet writer Donna Calvin’s reaction
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    Changes of the Season

    posted by Linda G. Howard

    The Changes of the Seasons

    by Shelly Demeree

    We look at the meaning of spring.

    We know that spring can mean that change is here.

    Spring means we will have fun in the sun.

    We being to feel things around us with fresh hope.

    That is good.

    Good to be with our family.

    Good to be with our friends.

    So ENJOY the feeling and changes of spring.

    Michelle Demeree is a member of Melbourne Special Gathering.  She serves as a deacon and on the Board of Directors for The Special Gathering of Indian River.  Her poetry appears in several venues.

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