|Posted on April 3, 2016 at 10:00 AM|
"Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring?" James 3:10-11
Brooke Schrader walked into my office last week, an eleven-year-old girl with soft blonde hair, a smattering of freckles, pixie-like eyes and a full mouth that easily broke into a grin. She was joined by her mother and pastor. They thought it would be good for her to meet another person who is facing tough limitations. Brooke has juvenile arthritis. I would never have guessed, except that her mother pointed out Brooke's fused ankle. After that, I noticed how she kept squeezing her hands and rubbing her knuckles. I also noticed her stiff gait. She was in a lot of pain. But her smile never showed it.
I asked if Brooke and I could spend some time alone in my art studio. We sat and talked about her friends at school, her hobbies, and her interest in art. Our discussion turned to spiritual things. I asked what her favorite verse was, thinking it might be the typical "Psalm 23" or "Romans 8:28" most kids would choose. I was not prepared for her answer. Brooke proudly quoted our verse for today.
This eleven-year-old girl with the ready smile explained: "I could do a lot of complaining about my arthritis, but I've learned that's not right. I want to trust God." Brooke's eyes held mine, revealing a wisdom far beyond her years. Her gaze burned right through me. I squirmed and privately confessed my disobedience in grumbling over a backache earlier in the day.
When Brooke left, a trail of some fresh scent remained. She had cleared the stuffy air in my office, reminding me I have nothing to complain about. God used a little child to lead me: "'Do you hear what these children are saying?' they asked him. 'Yes,' replied Jesus, 'have you never read, "From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise?"'" (Matthew 21:16).
Lord, show me your wisdom through a child this week.
Joni and Friends
Visit Our Website @joniandfriend.org
|Posted on April 2, 2016 at 4:15 PM|
Pushed by Enemies.
The children of Israel welcomed the day they were freed from slavery. No more endless hours of heavy labor, little food, and battered bodies. Their hearts rejoiced as the packed their belongings to leave Egypt forever. With gleeful anticipation, their heart flooded with anticipation to reach the Promised Land. Little did they realized that within hours, King Pharaoh would change his mind.
Hours later, clouds of dust revealed that Pharaoh and his soldiers were rapidly approaching.
Looking back, the Israelites saw soldiers racing towards them in war armor with chariots and horses. The atmosphere of fear exploded. Doubt engulfed their mind as they began to question their dire destiny. Have we been betrayed? Was Moses wrong? Will be perish before we reach the Promised Land?
As they cried out to Moses, the Israelites soon discovered they were trapped between the Egyptian soldiers and the mighty Red Sea. Defeat looked enviable. Should they fight or swim? The outcome seemed hopeless. Then Moses cried out to God. God swiftly parted the Red Sea
with a mighty wind creating a pathway to their Promised Land and was of escape.
Lesson Learned: Our leaders need to hear from God. And, we must obey and submit to follow God’s guidance. God is faithful to rescue from evil when we ask, seek and trust his divine plan.
Sometimes, we wait until we are backed up against a wall, before we ask for help.
Author: Not My Plan
|Posted on March 26, 2016 at 9:05 PM|
Beaten, bruised, and whipped forty lashes until near death, Jesus suffered. Then they nailed him to a cross. Fighting to breathe, Jesus arched his back to swallow a gulp of air. With wounded hands, Jesus spoke, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34
Condemned without just cause, Jesus paid the price for our sins. Then he asked God to forgive us for our sinful nature. Our afflicted Lord paid the ultimate price for our salvation. His unconditional love and grace conquered death.
The sin barrier was removed. To think of his pain wrenched body causes me to understand my undeserving grace. Sometimes, his suffering causes me to tremble. Jesus, please keep me near the cross so I never forget the price of your salvation.
Good Friday came for you and me.
Author Joyce Yexley
|Posted on March 19, 2016 at 9:55 AM|
Collecting eggs with grandma was my favorite chore. She had four chicken coupes that housed her treasured hens. It took me several visits to the chicken coupes to adjust to the smell of these feathered creatures. Grandpa had placed four dozen boxes along the walls of the chicken coupe .Each box was filled with straw. Grandma said chickens lay more eggs when they are comfortable.
Grandma never named her hens. Yet, she knew which hens were docile and which ones defended their home by pecking her hands. After watching grandma, she gave me the total responsibility to collect the eggs without her help. I felt honored to graduate to this level of trust. Most of the time, I was successful. Yet, grandma’s nasty hen enjoyed flying into my face to frighten me. Sometimes, this resulted in dropping the an egg in my hand. I was afraid to tell grandma, but she was always forgiving. After a couple confrontations with grandma’s mean hen, she said, “I think we will name that hen— Miss Nasty. Grandma always examined my wounds and assisted with washing my hands after chicken chores. With a big smile, grandma always assured me I would grow stronger.
In the fall, I learned the procedure of dressing chickens. It had nothing to do with putting clothes on chickens. When grandpa walked into the chicken coupe with his sharp axe, I realized where fried chicken came from. I became sad. Now I understood why grandma never named her chickens. Before Grandpa started, he looked at me and gave me a wink. Then grandpa picked up the nasty chicken and proceeded to the chopping block. I nodded. I did not watch.
My time on the farm with grandma taught me the life lessons. They were:
- Responsibility: To feed and protect animals.
- Cleanliness: Keep animals/chickens clean to prevent diseases.
- Health Safety: Wash your hands and wounds to stay germ free.
- The Life Cycle: Raising chickens from eggs to fried chicken.
- Positive Reactions: Accidents will occur —stay calm and supportive.
- Teach by Example.
Thank you grandma.
Grand daughter & Author Joyce Yexley
|Posted on March 13, 2016 at 3:50 PM|
My Sweet Grandma Mae
I loved my Grandma. Her name was Mae Larson.
She was a petite Swedish woman who stood 5 feet and 3 inches. She weighed a constant 130 lb.
She rarely ate a second helping of anything—except fried chicken.
She didn’t have a sweet tooth…like me. One cookie was enough for grandma.
Grandma’s hair was gray, cut short around the ears. Her smile was infectious.
Grandma’s cotton housedress was covered with a faded apron.
Her old leather shoes had a hole where her bunion rested.
Grandma’s garden was arranged with rows of peas, onions, cucumbers, and melons
Raspberry bushes bordered the fence line.
I loved the fragrance of dill weed I never heard her raise her voice or say a mean word--not even when grandpa’s cows trampled her garden.
Grandma’s hands were never idle.
She taught me how to prune raspberries, pick strawberries, and can tomatoes.
Her basement was filled with shelves of fruit jams, stewed tomatoes and a variety of canned pickles
Grandma made chores fun. She smiled a lot. She said, “I was a good girl.”
Grandma had three chicken coupes.She named them: North, South and Swen.
She taught me how to feed the chickens and collect the eggs.
She had two nasty chickens. Grandma never flinched when they bit her hands. She was brave.
I wanted to be fearless like her.
Inside Grandma’s house every drawer had a purpose. A recycled purpose.
They contained: Used foil paper Used plastic bread bags Used wax paper and Old Christmas wrapping paper
Everything she owned…. had “nine lives”
When I turned eight, Grandma taught me how to crochet a simple chain stitch.
Grandma was a patient teacher. I crocheted colored thread around a handkerchief for my first project.
It was fun. I made six more handkerchiefs in colors of: orange, pink, yellow, blue, green and lavender.
At age ten, Grandma taught me how to crochet a set of dollies.
At age eleven, Grandma taught me how to crochet a tablecloth.
Grandpa doubted I would complete my tablecloth within a year. But, he lost our bet.
My tablecloth won first place at the South Dakota State Fair. I love my Grandma.
At Christmas time, I helped Grandma clean her house and set the table for our Christmas meal.
Oyster Stew with lots of butter is the Larson tradition. I learned to eat oyster stew. I couldn’t disappoint Grandma.
When I left for college, my sister took over my Christmas duties.
I knew she would enjoy helping Grandma.I knew Grandma would tell her “she was a good girl, too.”
One day, mom called me at work. Grandma was ill. Grandma had moved into a nursing home.
It was only temporary. I knew she would recover.
When I returned home, Grandma smiled. Yet, she rested in a single bed everyday.
Her face was pale and her hands trembled as I spoke.
Grandma said she would return to the farm in the spring.
Together we’d make my favorite cookies again. Winter lasted too long that year.
In April, Grandma departed for a heavenly adventure
My aunts, uncles and cousins gathered to say Good-Bye to Grandma.
She wore her favorite dress with the ruffled collar. She looked like a queen.
So peaceful. So restful.
I held the handkerchief that Grandma taught me to crochet. .....Tears left my eyes.
I touched her hand. It was cold.
I will miss you Grandma. I hope, I told you I love you.
Bye Grandma Mae. Good Bye.
I promise to be a Good Girl.
By Grand-daughter Joyce Larson Yexley
Speaker & Author of Not My Plan FB: Grief to Gratitude
|Posted on March 13, 2016 at 2:20 PM|
“Tears in a bottle “.
In biblical times when men went off to war to fight, the women who were left behind would weep for them before the Lord. They would call out to God to keep them safe and they would cry because they missed them. They had `tear bottles`, that they would put on their cheeks to catch their tears as they cried. Their tears in the bottles were a sign of how much their women missed their men. A symbol of their love, loyalty and devotion. When the men came back, the women would show them how much the had missed them. They would say ” See my tears for you in this bottle, see how much I cried for you, how much I missed you, how much I love you “. (quote- Matthew McDonald)
God sees our tears. He doesn't need a bottle to remind him of our grief, sorrow or heartaches. When doctors informed me that my precious baby had brain damage, my heartache turned into sorrow. I ached for her future and her challenges. How could my loving God give me this child? After much prayer, I turned my saddness into joy when God filled me with his peace.
God knows what is inside us. He created us for his purpose. God gives us a compassionate heart to love and hurt. Yet, he expects us to trust his plan and follow his will--not our desires of the flesh. I am thankful he didn't give up on me. He molded me into a better mother, a faithful caregiver and a forgiving person. I don't understand his plan, but I trust him.
The Bible says, "Before you were formed in your mother's womb, I knew you, before you were boron I set you apart and appointed you" Jeremiah 1:5 God says in Psalm 56 v 8 ( KJV ) ” Put thou my tears into thy bottle ” ( NIV ) ” Record my lament; list my tears on your scroll ( my tears in a bottle ) are they not in your record? “
Author, Joyce Yexley
FB: Grief to Gratitude
|Posted on March 12, 2016 at 8:40 PM|
Greatest Show on Earth
Headmaster John Ringling of the famous Ringling Brothers Circus opened every performance with the words, “Ladies, Gentlemen and Children of all ages.” As a young child, I enjoyed car pooling with our neighbors to attend the Shrine circus. The excitement of seeing three ton elephants, fierce tigers, horses and colorful clowns kept a smile on every child—including mine. The circus became an annual event for our small town from 1893 to the 1966.
Although the circus was once my favorite events, one day when I leave this earth, I will enter a place filled with beauty, awe, peace and endless joy. It is called Heaven. It will be my “Greatest Home-Forever.” I am so thankful God saved me.
Revelation 21:4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
|Posted on March 8, 2016 at 5:40 PM|
Trying to be a leading Fashion Designer is like trying to be the MVP quarterback for the NFL football industry. You might have some talent, but, you still need a great coach, special advocates and the tenacity to discipline yourself to remain focused. If you study the fashion journeys of Diane Von Furstenberg, Coco Chanel or Levi Strauss, you will learn how their success was built in overcoming endless obstacles, failures and competition. Yet, they still remained positive to achieve their goal of establishing their best.
Chanel was credited with liberating women from the corseted silhouette. Although she suffered many set backs during World War I and World War II, she didn’t accept failure. With perseverance Chanel continued to reinvent her fashion with knit fabrics popularizing the new casual chic.
After World War II, Chanel extended her influence beyond couture clothing, sharing her aesthetic creations in jewelry, handbags, and fragrance. Chanel No. 5, has become her iconic Cologne product. Chanel became one of the 100th most influential women in the Twentieth Century. She was known for her lifelong determination, ambition, and energy.
Lessons Learned: Do I have perseverance? Can I rebound from setbacks and recognize new opportunities? Lord, help me find my path and my passion to become all I can be.
In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different.
-Quote by Coco Chanel, French Fashion Designer
|Posted on March 8, 2016 at 4:20 PM|
Is Life Confusing?
Are you trying to figure out the meaning of life? Can you remember the last time you felt the presence of God? If you are feeling overwhelmed, you may feel you are too busy to have a genuine sense of God’s closeness. My neighbor has been struggling with challenges while raising her family without a father. Her teenage daughter became a single mother. Then, her son was injured in a car accident. I have been praying for her to press into Jesus and attend a Bible study. Yet, today I received sad news. Last weekend, she attended a spiritual medium who gives advice by reading tarot cards. My heart wept. What can I do? Why do people seek false teachings instead of seeking the one true Savior? How can we explain the difference between truth and evil? God says, “When you know the truth — the truth will set you free”. It means free from worry, fear, lust, self destruction and false teachings.
God knows our heart and our challenges. Yet, he gives us the power to overcome temptation when we stay connected to him. God tells us, "Not by power, not by might, but by the spirit." In Jeremiah 1:19 he says, "They will fight against you, but they will not overcome you." God wants to lead us to victory. He is our refuge. Stay connected to him and be battle ready.
Lesson Learned: My job is not to judge. My job is to love, encourage and pray for my neighbors to find God’s truth.
|Posted on March 6, 2016 at 5:05 PM|
Our new door bell plays a happy melody whenever someone visits our home. Our mailman also rings the door bell when he leaves a package. For a brief moment, I get excited expecting a gift even if it is something I ordered on line. I hope it is everything I imagined it to be whether it is a new dress, a pair of gloves or a replacement part for dishwasher.
Throughout the year, we often receive packages filled with advertising gimmicks. Yet, whenever I hear the door bell, I still become excited that a package has arrived. December is favorite month. My husband usually receives a box of fruit or some delicious dark chocolates and a funky calendar. Of course, he shares them with me. I savor every bite.
In the Bible, God asks us to knock on his door. I believe our heavenly father gets excited when we knock on his door. He wants us to seek him and know him. Matthew 7: 7 says, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receiveth;" When we knock on God’s door, it represents our need to know him. He wants us to become more than someone who admires him. He wants us to join him in fellowship and love. He wants us to acknowledge that we need to have him in our life. He is waiting for us to discover our need for him as our Lord and Savior.
Remember God cares about you. Jeremiah 29:13 says, “Seek him with all your heart.” He is not surprised by your past or your questions. When we knock on God’s door, he will fill you will overflowing love and peace.
Knock, Seek and Find.