What Does It Take to Be a Safe Friend?

I answered the phone and the call made me shake and drop to my knees. She is one of my closest friends. She loves me and I love her. We have laughed together countless times. Giggling is fun! We’ve never forced a conversation. I’ve never had to hide behind a smile. She loves me even when I frown. If I let my guard down around her she is a safe friend. I never have to pretend I am someone I’m not. And if I am someone I’m not for a little while, she never holds it against me or brings it up. No “remember when you were grumpy, sad, stubborn, and / or doubtful?” No more remember whens. No more bad yesterdays. Just precious todays. Just anticipation and believing in beautiful tomorrows. No more sorrow. No more pain. No grudges. No judgment. Just wisdom and forgiveness.

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Back to the phone call. Back to the trembling voice on the other end to the phone.

“Helo, I’m scared.”

“Why? What’s going on?”

Nothing but tears intertwined with silence on the other end of the phone.

“Are you okay? I can come over right now.”

“No, I know you’re busy.”

“Not too busy for you.”

More silence between tears.

“Helo, I have stage four cancer. I’m so scared.”

“Would you like me to come over? I can sit and just listen.”

“No, I don’t want you to get off the phone. I just want you to listen to me some more, right now. Besides, my husband will be home soon.”

“What can I do for you, precious one?”

“I just need you to be a safe friend.”

“Beloved, you know everything between us stays between you, me, and God.”

“I know. I just don’t want to go to Heaven. Not yet anyway.”

“I don’t want you to go either. What did the doctor say?”

“It’s spread. Stage four is mean. Part of my colon, liver, and kidney needs to be removed. Then chemotherapy and radiation. Why me, God?”

“I don’t know, beloved. You asked me to be a ‘safe’ friend. I promise you I will be. I won’t bring this up when we talk again, not because I don’t care, but rather because I do. You bring it up with me when you want to. I won’t stop praying about it, but I will stop asking about it.”

“When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness.”

(Proverbs 31:26)

In every conversation since the day my precious friend told me that she has stage four cancer, we only talk about it when she brings it up. And when she doesn’t, we still have quiet, tender, laugh-filled moments. We both need normal ones, as normal as they can be given what we both know. We love each other deeply, even when we hide behind our smiles.

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.”

(Colossians 3:12-13)

Why is being a ‘safe’ friend important?

There are times we need to be a loving friend. “A friend loves at all times.” (Proverbs 17:17). There are also times when being a “loving” friend means being a “safe” one too. When we face something difficult we all need moments of normalcy. It’s not denial. Instead, it’s renewal. You have, are, or will face something that frightens you. Often that’s when you’ll want a “safe” friend. Someone who tells you, “I will keep this between you, me, and God.”

When I faced four miscarriages, attempting to conceive again, I needed a safe friend. I didn’t want to talk about my hope of getting pregnant. I didn’t want to talk about other friends having babies. I was hurting like crazy and just wanted a few safe friends. God surrounded me with them. He is so good at comforting.

When I dealt with that brain tumor diagnosis, I had only six days before I’d lie on a gurney. I needed normal moments. I needed time with my husband and kids. I didn’t want to field questions. Couldn’t handle that. I needed safe friends. God brought them to me, again. Time and time again through every heart-wrenching challenge, God showed me what a safe friend was, and one day He took the lesson He taught me to be a safe friend for someone else.

But sometimes, our safety can only go so far. I will do the best I can to be a safe friend for my friend, but I can’t be everything she needs. Only God can do that. Part of being a safe friend is knowing when to step back and let God sort it out.

Feeling alone? seek Jesus

I now know that my best and safest friend is Jesus. He showed me His love through my safe friends. He is so good at surrounding us with people who can comfort. And when comfort from my friends isn’t enough, I know that God is just a prayer away.

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If Jesus is your best friend, share Him with others. And if He isn’t your best friend yet, ask Him to be. He’s the best and safest friend you’ll ever have. Listen to Him.

I will refresh the weary and satisy

Oh, how Jesus loves you. Remember that.

Hope in Him,

Helo

GET READY FOR CHRISTmas.

I opened the attic door, peeking into the dark. I got down on my knees, held onto a lantern, crawled into the attic, searching for Christmas wrapping paper. This isn’t the first time I’ve done this and hopefully won’t be the last. How many rolls of wrapping paper can you carry at once, Helo? How much ribbon do you need for Christmas? How much time will it take you to wrap the gifts? Is this what Christmas is all about? I don’t think so. I know it’s not. So I sat down, prayed, and wrote this poem titled, The Gift. I wrote it for you.

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THE GIFT

The hurry,
The scurry.
The gifts,
The rifts.
The crowds, the lines,
Do we know the Divine?
The decorations, the celebrations, the cheer,
But do we all realize that Christ is always near?
Yes, He was born in a manger,
He is no stranger.
Three wise men stood by,
As a star lit up the sky.
God brought into this world our beloved child-King,
Time to celebrate, shout-out, and let our praises ring.
A sinless Savior was born,
A King adored and soon to be scorned.
One day He shed His blood while nailed to a cross,
His children now forgiven, He paid the cost.
He entered this world as a vulnerable child,
But He will return with power and authority reconciled.
He came and left in a forgiveness-blanket,
In Him we are new. His gift is no trinket.
Accepting God’s gift makes us flawless in His eyes,
Time to lift up thankfulness with joy-filled cries.
As we prepare for Christmas, let us not forget,
To focus upon God’s perfect Love-gift.
Jesus Christ. Emmanuel. His Son.
Our love benefit. The battle is won.
Yes, Christmas can be merry,
But gifts under that tree are temporary.
Time to get on bended knee to Honor our King,
Celebrating the gift that only Jesus Christ can bring.
He came to give,
That we might live.
In Him our souls are eternally refined,
Because His love is the best gift, ever designed.
Our hearts in Him are always aligned,
Sin inside no longer confined.
His unmerited grace and sacrificial love,
Come only from the Heavens above.
Don’t look for love and truth under that tree,
Because only in Jesus are we authentically free.
So jump into His love-grip and stay right there,
His present of love is the best gift you’ll ever share.

– Helo 

Happy Birthday Jesus. Oh how we love you!

“For unto you is born this day in the City of David a SAVIOR who is Christ the Lord.”    (Luke 2:11).

Now close your eyes and make this moment all about the gift your Heavenly Father gave and gives — His precious Son. Beloved, In Him you are new.

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Prepare your heart to celebrate Christmas every day. Always remember, the greatest gift you’ll ever open is not under that tree. Look up.

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O Holy night, the stars are brightly shining
It is the night of our dear Savior’s birth
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
‘Til He appeared and the soul felt its worth
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn
Fall on your knees
O hear the angel voices
O night divine!
O night when Christ was born
O night divine!
O night, O night divine!
– Placide Cappeau – 1847

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Merry Christmas! Time to praise and shout-out “O HOLY SAVIOR!”

Hope in Him,

Helo

NOT SURE WHEN YOU SHOULD SAY YES? GOD DOES.

Ever wanted to plug your ears and close your eyes for just a minute? Just an hour? Maybe all day long? I admit sometimes I have. You know, the kind of moments when it feels like everyone around you wants something from you. And you feel like you’re facing a need-to-say-YES tsunami! Some people know how to say, “No.” I admit I’m not always good at that.blue-question-mark

Child summons: “Mom, where are my shoes? I can’t find them. Can you help me?”

YES.

Child summons again: “Can you take me to the bagel store after you pick me up from track practice? I love bagels. And then can we go to the grocery store for cream cheese? Bagels aren’t good without them. And besides, I like spending time with you.”

YES.

Email summons: “Hi Helo, this is so-and-so. Could you please send me content for your upcoming talk?”

YES.

Text summons: “Hi Mom, this is your favorite son. Can you bring me my black shoes? I need them for a meeting today and school is keeping me too busy to come home.”

YES.

Phone summons: “Hi friend, can you pray with me right now, I’m struggling.”

YES.

Phone summons again: “Mom, it’s me again… can you?”

YES.

Facebook summons: “Hi Helo, Miss you. Can we talk today?”

YES.

Phone summons again: “Hi beautiful, Could you please look for my wallet, I think I left it at home. If so, can you meet me at work with it?”

YES.

Text summons again: “Hi daughter, haven’t seen you in a while. Can we get together for lunch?”

YES.

Dog summons: Woof woof, wiggle wiggle summons with leash in mouth. “Hi master, it’s your puppy, Buttons. You know the one you haven’t paid much attention to yet today because you’ve been too busy saying ‘yes’ to everyone else. Can you take me for a walk? NOW?” Bark bark. Wiggle wiggle. Jump jump. “Master, I love it outside and I know you do too. Let’s go!”

YES.

Phone summons: “Hi friend, my son is sick and I have a doctor’s appointment today. I can’t bring him with me. I know this is a lot to ask but could you please watch him for a little while today at 2 o’clock?”

YES.

Phone summons: “It’s me, your plumber, can we reschedule fixing your toilet. I know you need it done, but we have an emergency situation here at work…”

Sigh…. Mumbling under breath. Answer — YES.

Phone summons again: “Mom, I left my lunch at home, can you bring it to me? Maybe you could leave a little earlier than usual to pick me up?”

YES.

Phone summons again. Should I pick it up?

YES.

“Hi beautiful. It’s me again. Say, we’ve both been so busy lately. I really miss spending one on one time with you. Wanna get all dolled up and go out to dinner with me tonight? I just want you to know how much I love you.”

Breathe in breathe out Helo. You can make time to get all dolled up. Answer your beloved husband, right now. “I love you too, handsome. YES, dinner sounds delightful.”

Now the YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. tsunami is making me want to put tape over my mouth. I need an implosion guard. God are you listening?

Helo, listen to me, it is now 11 o’clock in the morning. Thank you for walking the treadmill. Thank you for saying YES to those around you. Now you need to take a shower, eat breakfast, and take care of you. Don’t you agree?

I DON’T KNOW. Because that was me talking to myself and sometimes I don’t know how to answer yes to me.

And the YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. summons doesn’t feel like it’s going to stop. It’s got a grip on me.

Time to start thinking now. The pensive kind. Pensively thinking. Yeah, but Helo, isn’t it a blessing to get to say yes all the time?

NO!

Wow I finally shouted-out, “NO!” Hallelujah! And it’s not even lunch time. But I will say “no” to that ice-cream in the freezer. Hmmmmm… maybe not. WAIT. Focus Helo.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m thankful to get to say YES. Getting to love, help others, and meet deadlines is a blessing. Getting to be busy is joyful. Most of the time. But sometimes you and I need to interrupt the YES downpour with God’s umbrella. Time out. Time out with God. Time to talk with God and ask Him, “God, What do You want me to do with today?”

All those YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. YES. rain responses can cloud your Director’s wisdom and keep it from showering over you.

Pray over what you need to say YES to and let God answer.

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It is okay to say NO to others. Sometimes NO means not yet or not ever. Or it might mean that that someone who asked you for your “yes” may need find someone else to fill in their “yes” gap. You cannot be everything to everyone. Only God can do that.

But it is not okay to say NO to God. Refusal is a choice that you and I can freely make. We can freely refuse His wisdom and direction. But our wisdom is never better than His. Saying YES to God all the time infuses us with direction, strength, discernment, and peace. Now this is authentic wisdom.

Our Father knows how to enable us to accomplish what He wants us to even if we are afraid of the pending result. Always. Trusting Him with our all isn’t always easy. Faith requires letting go and letting God. But who better is there to lift our troubles up to? Answer: No one but God.

Time to trust Him.

Trust His answer.

Trust Him with everything, because God is all you need.

Now how do you do that?

RECOGNIZE THAT GOD RULES. He is sovereign, because He already knows what will happen in advance before it even occurs. It is safe to say that He is the One you should go to first. God reigns above all. “Even from eternity, I am He, And there is no one who can deliver out of My hand; I act and who can reverse it?” (Isaiah 43:13). Answer: No one, because there is only one God.

KEEP TRUSTING. Trusting God to direct us means sometimes putting a halt to our own agenda or agendas imposed upon us. God’s purpose for us is defined by the One who is wise. His wisdom can not be foiled or derailed unless we let the enemy take the wheel. You know what, friend? That rascal doesn’t know how to drive anyhow, so don’t let him take the wheel. Ask God to take it.

“I know that You can do all things, and no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.”          (Job 42:2).

KEEP BELIEVING. Keep your focus on God and keep believing. Do not let the enemy distract you, even though he wants to. Don’t pay any attention to that rascal. Instead, seek God. Beloved, reflect upon Hebrews 11:6, where it is written, “For he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” He knows how to embrace you. He knows how to comfort you. He knows how to direct you. LET HIM!

STAY COURAGEOUS. Recognize the one who knows how to lead your battles.”Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6). Let your faith roar like a lion and don’t let your fears trample God’s promises. Always remember He will never leave nor forsake you.

WAIT PATIENTLY. This isn’t always easy because much like people around you want YES right away, you often want a YES right away answer from God. I admit, at times, I do. Beloved, focus and find comfort in knowing that “God acts on behalf of those who wait for Him.” (Isaiah 64:4).

PRAY. Enough said.

SPEND TIME IN HIS DIRECTION MANUAL. Crave it and you’ll see how much you need it. Why? Because the Bible is the best life instruction manual ever written. Meditate upon His words. “You must think about them night and day so that you will faithfully do everything written in them. Only then will you prosper and succeed.” (Joshua 1:8).

And if you are thinking, Helo, I want to say NO to some of the bold directives above; think again. Say NO to the chatter around you. Say YES to God right now. And if you think you are too busy, stop what you’re doing and you won’t be too busy after all.

Putting God first is the best YES decision you’ll ever make.

I need to do the same and listen to Him tell me right now, HELO, IT IS TIME TO GO NOW, STOP CLICKING THE KEYBOARD AND NO, THIS BLOG DOESN’T NEED MORE WORDS ANY LONGER. IT IS FINISHED. YOU’VE GIVEN THE READER ENOUGH TO THINK ABOUT — FOR NOW.

YES Father.

Hope in Him,
Helo

Knock Knock, Who’s There?

Remember the “Knock, knock” game? Let’s play. Right now. Never know who’s going to answer. I hope this puts a smile on your face and love in your heart. At times we all need this, right? When I showed this article to my husband, he said with a smile on his face, “This is a little bit silly, Helo, and aren’t you a bit too old to play this?” I retorted, “God made giggles and smiles. It’s okay for Him to watch us lighten up. And besides we all need to hear how much He loves us every day. Not just on Sunday when we sit in a pew.”

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Okay, Here we go…

KNOCK, KNOCK.

“Who’s there?”

GOD.

“Really?”

YES, REALLY.

“Why did You come to my door?”

BECAUSE I HAVE SOMETHING TO TELL YOU.

“What? I’m kind of busy right now, but I guess I’m the one who started this.”

I LOVE YOU.

“Like I just said, I’m kind of busy right now.”

I STILL LOVE YOU.

“Why?”

BECAUSE I MADE YOU AND I WANT YOU TO KNOW THAT YOU ARE MY BELOVED CHILD.

“Well, sometimes I think You made a mess.”

I FORGAVE AND FORGIVE YOU.

“How?”

I SACRIFICED MY ONE AND ONLY SON TO TAKE UPON HIS SHOULDERS THE SINS OF THE WORLD, AND YOURS. BECAUSE I LOVE YOU. ACCEPT MY SON’S GRACE AND BECOME WHOLE AND COMPLETE.

“Wow.’’

Silence. Striking unfathomable silence. Because I am having a God-conversation. That’s what knocking on the door does. We knock. He answers. We open. We talk. He listens. We listen back. This is prayer time at its finest.

“That’s nice of You, God. But I have to admit, there are times when I think I’ve got it going on just fine and I don’t need You. Okay, maybe not. If I’m honest with You, other times, I don’t have it so good. Perhaps, I might need you then.”

I STILL LOVE YOU.

“Wow, You really are persistent with this love-thing. Maybe I do need You all the time. Through the good and through the bad…. Are You still there?”

STILL HERE. ALWAYS HERE BECAUSE I AM LOVE. I AM GOD.

“Okay, now You have my attention. Thanks for playing this imaginary ‘knock-knock’ game with me. But are You real?”

I WAS REAL YESTERDAY. I AM REAL TODAY, AND I WILL BE REAL TOMORROW.

“Okay, I’m listening now, but I’ve got lots of questions to ask You.”

I’M LISTENING.

Question.

“Why don’t You always give me what I want?”

I AM WISE. I AM WISDOM. I AM GOD.

“Beyond wise. Got me there.”

Next question.

“So, I can keep asking you for things like wisdom, provision, health, safety, and more… and You may not give it me right away?”

I ANSWER IN MY PERFECT TIMING.

Next question.

“Okay, how come it doesn’t always feel like You’re near? And if You’re who You say You are, How come it doesn’t feel like it is always easy to find You? I don’t have time for hide-and-go-seek.”

KEEP KNOCKING. I DON’T PLAY HIDE-AND-GO-SEEK, PRECIOUS CHILD, I AM ALWAYS NEAR. ALWAYS PRESENT.

Next question.

“What if I have moments of doubting that You are near?”

BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD. (Psalm 46:10).

SEEK ME WITH YOUR ALL.

FOCUS.

I AM ALWAYS PRESENT. I LISTEN TO YOUR EVERY PRAYER.

I AM YOUR HEAVENLY FATHER.

I LOVE YOU.

Next question.

“ Do I need to be perfect for You?”

NO, YOU ARE REDEEMED ONCE YOU ACCEPT THE GIFT OF MY SON.

Next question.

“So into my heart He goes, and You love me, I love You, and we know each other?”

THAT’S HOW IT STARTS.

The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and be planted in the sea’; and it would obey you. (Luke 17:5-6).

Next question.

“You sure don’t get tired of questions, do You?’

I AM PATIENT. I AM PATIENCE. I AM GOD.

“Is there a limit to the number of questions I can ask You?”

NO.

“Is there a limit to HOPE found in You?”

NO.

“Is there a limit to Your LOVE?”

NO. ALWAYS REMEMBER I AM LOVE. ETERNAL LOVE. EVERLASTING LOVE.

“Then why is there so much pain in this world?”

REMEMBER THAT MY SON SAID, “IN THIS WORLD YOU WILL HAVE TROUBLE BUT TAKE HEART, I HAVE OVERCOME THE WORLD.”

“God, when can we talk again?”

ANY TIME.

“Anywhere?”

ANYWHERE.

“Really?”

REALLY.

“Thanks God.”

YOU ARE WELCOME.

“I love you, God.”

I LOVE YOU TOO.

This God conversation is over for now. I’m taking a pause-moment. Now I’m talking with you. One on one. But conversations with God don’t ever really stop; they simply take pause, or give us a moment to reflect. Then we simply need to “knock on the door” and start conversing with our Maker again.

“My heart has heard You say, ‘Come and talk with Me.’ And my heart responds, ‘Lord, I am coming.’” (Psalm 27:8).

It’s taken me a while to learn that I need to keep on asking, keep on knocking, because He keeps on listening. Doesn’t mean that God will grant every request exactly as I request it. He doesn’t work like that. Because HE IS GOD. I’ve discovered, time and time again, that His ways are not always our ways, they are simply better. Sometimes He answers prayers in unimaginable ways, making me fall to my knees. Amazed again. Other times, He seemingly doesn’t answer at all. And that can be His answer in and of itself. I think when this happens, He is asking me to be patient, be still, trust Him, and seek His will. He may even be redirecting my course.

And I simply need to keep on searching, because I will find Him. And so will you.

And I need to keep on knocking because He will open the door to His presence. Right before me, I will find Him, and so can you.

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And before we finish with “AMEN” let us all give our Father a shout-out, “We love you, God!”

Keep on knocking.

Hope in Him,
Helo

 

A Mama Bird with an Empty Nest

“Wait, don’t fly, I just want to tell you I love you one more time.” That was me when the first one flew, and will be me again when the second and third ones fly.

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I don’t hear them chirp as often now. I wish I could. Phone calls and texts can fill that void — a little bit.

I cried the day my first child was born. Did it again five years later, when my second baby arrived. I cried again a year and a half later. Third time’s a charm. Each time I gave birth, I cried tears of joy. I had three birds in my nest back then. One left a year ago. One is leaving shortly, and the other one will fly next year.

We moms cry a lot, don’t we? Tears of joy. Tears of sorrow. Tears of worry. Tears of compassion. And we’ve wiped our children’s tears throughout the years. I think I’ve gone through hundreds of tissue boxes.

I look back and cherish the playdough days. I’d make cookies and they always wanted to eat them.

“No, no dear, that’s not a real cookie!”

They’d cry, “Waaaahhh!”

Solution? Real cookies. Sugar cookies. You know, the kind that are made from scratch and make a flour mess all over. I miss those days. A flour-fight sounds like a lot fun right about now. I think I should schedule one. What a sight that would be to see four grown adults making cookies and playing with flour!

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I look back at the baseball games, the ballet practices, the first tricycle rides, the church plays, the track meets, the high school graduations of our first two children, college graduation, law school graduation, and giving away our daughter at her wedding.

And as I look back, I see that time flew by so fast, and continues to soar!

They’re not home as much anymore. I’m a mama bird sitting in a nest, often by myself. Sometimes, I want to cry because I miss my kids like crazy. But once a mama, always a mama. I’m not finished yet. And I’m so thankful I got to and get to be called “Mom.”

And when they all finish flying the nest, I know the momma bird in me will worry every now and then. That’s what we moms do, right? And I’ll find myself thinking, I hope I did it right. I know I made my share of mistakes along the way, and I’ll make more today and more tomorrow. There is no perfect mother-bird. There is no perfect child. But we have a perfect Father. He taught us how to love each other and we know that when we pull God in between us, there is always forgiveness, always understanding, and always love. So I will choose to stay under our Heavenly Father’s wings and pray my children will do the same. And then I will trust that they’re okay and will stay strong no matter what life throws their way, because hope is always found above.

Eagle- Isaiah 40:31

At the top of my mother-do-list was, is, and always will be showing my children how much God loves them. I love them too, but He loves them more. I cannot even begin to wrap my mind around that thought… He loves them even more?

God’s love is unfathomable, unmatched, unwavering, and unending. Wow. My children are valued and cherished by God. He loves them — always.

Matthew 6:26 displays God’s affection well. “Look at the birds of the air: They do not sow or reap or gather into barns — and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?

If I did anything right as a mother bird, it was teaching my children that in God’s eyes they are always worthy, always wanted, and always loved.

And as my children fly the nest, I will tell them, “My precious child, don’t ever leave God’s nest. And if you feel like flying away, and do, don’t stay away long. That’s how temptation beckons. That’s what the devil wants. Don’t bow down to that rascal. Fly back to your Father. Fly fast. Don’t look back, and don’t turn around. You see, God’s nest is the only place where you can always find authentic peace, understanding, rest, comfort, and love. It’s the only place where there’s no condemnation — just love. He will accept you just the way you are, because He loves you like no one else can. He forgives. He restores. He will listen to your every prayer. And if you need me to lift prayers up, I’ll be your prayer warrior. Stay under His wings. Know He will hold onto you and don’t let go. The greatest words you will ever hear, are ‘Child, I love you.’ Not just from me. More importantly from your Heavenly Father. So listen to Him. I will miss your chirping like crazy after you fly away, but even when you’re gone, I will always be proud of you. I will always love you. And I will jump out of my nest for you any time. You know where to find me. Please visit and fly back every once in a while, or I will fly your way. Love, Your Mama-bird.”

Living in a nest that’s almost empty isn’t simple, but it does have silver linings.

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I can “be still” now and spend more time with God, without interruption, like never before. I crave living under His wings now all the time. That’s a silver lining.

I get to spend more unbroken, quality time with my husband. Now, I’m falling in love with him all over again. That’s a silver lining.

Missing my kids like crazy reveals how much I loved them and how blessed I am to be called “Mom.” That’s a silver lining.

My children are God’s first, then my husband’s and mine. Our Father loves them like we cannot. Perfectly. And even though it is hard to let them go and watch them fly away, I know Who’s watching over them. All the time. And wow, HE is so good at it!

Hope in Him,
Helo

 

Helping Others

Recently, I ran errands — checking off my long to-do list. Fifth stop. Pick up antibiotics for my son. Ear infections hurt. My next stop — pick him up at track practice. I’m running early. Got time to spare. Relax. Wouldn’t that be nice? Stop complaining, Helo! Perhaps I should make a coffee stop.

But just as I was about to get in my car, I noticed a disheveled woman, clothes tattered, sitting outside on the concrete ground against the wall of the drugstore. Looked like she hadn’t showered for several weeks. All of her belongings crowded a dirty pull cart. Plastic bags, remnants of food, and a dirty yellow shirt splashing out.

We’ve all seen carts like this one. Sometimes we stop. Sometimes we pretend we can’t see it or don’t want to.

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I could have driven off, but felt moved to change my mind. I got out of the car with a fresh bottle of water, granola bar, and hidden copy of Halo Found Hope. I sat down next to her on the cold concrete.

She smiled, revealing broken and missing teeth. “Why are you sitting here with me?”

“I’ve got time — I need a break — and thought I’d join you while you are taking yours.”

Silence.

I handed her that granola bar and the bottle of water. I began to munch on my own bar. Now we were talking and eating.

“Thank you so much,” she remarked. “Most people look at me and keep going — like I’m not even here. I don’t think anyone wants to know me.”

A frown and sorrow crowded her face.

Looking her right in the eyes, I remarked, “I’m sorry. People shouldn’t do that. You are loved, you know?”

A twinkle. A smile. Belief expressed.

“Yes, I know God loves me. I just don’t understand how I ended up this way.”

I didn’t ask her how she got to this place — homeless, I gathered. I thought to myself, Father, why do some people end up this way? Help me love this child.

Up until this point, I hadn’t mentioned God. Yet, this tender lady brought up our Comforter. Authentically unashamed. Knowing who He is.

“Do you like to pray?” I questioned.

“Yep. But I’m not sure if He listens. I’m not sure if I say the right words.”

“Praying is talking. Just talk to Him. He already knows what you are going to say or ask.”

“You make it sound so simple,” she snickered.

“Yeah, isn’t God is awesome? He understands us like no one else can.”

We closed our eyes, held hands, and talked with God. She couldn’t stop telling me how thankful she was that I took the time to visit.

I told her how thankful I was that she took time to spend with me. See, she blessed me. She made me realize that the things I complain about, or take for granted at times I need to set aside. Complaining is contagious — but so is the opposite, including appreciation and gratitude. And serving others.

God reminded me that focusing on the need of someone else, rather than my own, brings out the blessings He provides me, day in, day out. Often blessings are disregarded or we don’t pay close attention to them. One day, like days gone by, I will feel broken. And what a blessing it will be if someone sits next to me, reminding me how much God loves me.

This woman was in a dark and lonely place. I told her how much God loves her. She responded, “I see that, because He made you, Helo. And you sat down with someone who is alone. He used you to show me His love.”

I looked her straight in the eyes and said, “Thanks for your time.” I was just about to get up to run errand number six, when I remembered that I had a hidden copy of Halo Found Hope in my purse.

“Say, do you like to read?”

“Yes, I love to!”

I signed her name in the book and handed it to her. She reached out with dirty hands and clasped onto the gift. So thankful — as if I’d given her so much, when in fact it was just words on paper, bound into a book. With a twinkle in her eye and a radiating smile, she reminded me to smile more often, thank God more often, and praise Him more — even during dark moments.

My heart has a tender spot for the homeless. The hopeless. The overwhelmed. The sick. Perhaps because I’ve been through my share of heartache and trials, likely so have you, and came out of it with a greater appreciation, greater gratitude, and new perspective. Every day is a gift.

We all need mercy. We all need grace. We all need comfort. We all need strength. We all need fortitude. We all need resilience. We all need forgiveness.

We all need love.

We all need God.

And Jesus told us, “Do unto others as you would have them do to you.” (Luke 6:31).

There’s a story behind everyone’s challenge. I don’t know why God allows certain folks to end up on the street. Or end up sick. Or lonely. Or challenged. And until their story is told, we should not judge. Instead we should love. They need Christ and hope found in Him just as much as we do. We all have or will face dark hours. Life isn’t always easy. Neither is faith. But God promises to never leave nor forsake us. All of His children need to hear that. He also never told us we wouldn’t face trouble in this life.

So how should we help others?

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Don’t walk by a person in need.
Don’t just talk the talk. Walk the walk. Let God’s love saturating your own heart and soul soak someone else’s. If you have a job, a roof over your head, transportation, food in the fridge, and a closet with a change of clothing, God has provided well for you. Therefore you can help someone else. “If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?” (1 John 3:17).

Be God’s vessel.
Let Him use you to love others. And remember, “Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and He will reward them for what they have done.” (Proverbs 19:17). Give love without expecting it in return. This is generosity defined. And refined.

Choose generosity.
Looking beyond ourselves and setting our eyes on the hearts and needs of others dissolves our own complaining spirit. Remember, complaining is contagious — but so is the opposite including appreciation and gratitude. Don’t hold on so tight to the things of this world, the blessings God has given you. “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” (Philippians 2:3-4).

Often, the things we complain about pale in comparison to what others are going through. Not always. Sometimes. Don’t get me wrong. This doesn’t mean that what we are going through should be minimized by what someone else is going through. I’ve learned that when I feel like complaining, and do something kind for someone else, it erases my grumbling heart and replaces it with a happy one.

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Share God’s love with someone else today.

Hope in Him,

Helo 

The Sweetest Love Letter

Did you know that the Bible is the sweetest love letter ever written? It captivates, it directs, it comforts, it unleashes hope, it validates, it defines redemption, it uncovers grace, and it reveals a love like no other. 

God.

God is love. (1 John 4:8).

BIble with Flower and cross

How is His love revealed? “For God loved the world so much that He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16).

Now that is amazing love!

Want to get to know God better? I promise, He wants you to. And the more you spend time with Him, the more you’ll fall in love with Him. And the more you fall in love with Him, the more you’ll stand in awe, understanding how much He loves you.

One way to get to know God better is by spending time in His Word. His love letter is written for you!

Remember this song? Jesus loves me this I know / for the Bible tells me so / Little ones to Him belong / they are weak but He is strong / Yes, Jesus loves me, Yes Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me the Bible tells me so…

jesus loves me

But sometimes, we all get too busy to hold the Bible, open it, crave it, follow it, and spend time in it with others or by ourselves. With God and uninterrupted. I admit, sometimes I skip through its pages.

That approach has its place. While in rehabilitation following brain tumor removal, I remember experiencing odd reactions. Surgical brain tumor removal, life support and eight weeks hospitalization was an ordeal. Returning home to twenty continued weeks of rehab was not fun. Nor was it easy. I’d experience “conversion reactions” where my legs felt like they shut down and did not want to move. It was discouraging and bizarre. Apparently my brain was exhausted and not communicating well. I remember my dad (a retired rehabilitation medicine physician) telling me, “Helo, tell your legs to walk.” I thought, You’ve got to be kidding me! 

This was me then. “Hi Helo’s legs, move!” Didn’t work. So I’d sit and rest. At times for 30 to 45 minutes.

I tried the futile “talk to my legs” approach, but it lacked incentive and didn’t work. Then one day, I placed my Bible on a table six feet away from my chair. My goal: get to the table, open the Bible, read a verse at random, turn around, sit back down, and then do it again. Getting into the Word was my incentive. My reward was getting to read soothing, directive, amazing scripture. And it worked!

As time progressed, over several months, I learned the importance of spending “real time” with God. It’s a gift. Unbridled. Unmatched. Uninterrupted. Just me and Him.

And when I did, I began to learn what it means to love God. Really, truly love Him. And how much He truly loves His children. Each and every one of us.

This verse strikes a chord in my soul. It strengthens me. I invite you to let it strike a chord in you.

I love you, LORD, my strength.” (Psalm 18:1).

Time to break it down. It grips us better when we do. Don’t simply glance over it.

Stop and read each word slowly. One word at a time, until you get to His name — LORD. I recently did, and when I reached His name, with tear-filled eyes, I realized how much I love Him and why.

I repeated, “I love you, LORD, my strength.” Then I continued and expanded what I thought.

I need You, LORD, my Comfort.

I seek You, LORD, my Hope.

I want You, LORD, my Soul-keeper.

I lean on You, LORD, my Tower.

I crave You, LORD, my Sustenance.

I hide beneath Your wings, LORD, my Shelter.

I behold You, LORD, my Glory.

I trust You, LORD, my Assurance.

I believe in You, LORD, my Truth.

I applaud You, LORD, my King.

I embrace You, LORD, my Best Friend.

I wait patiently for You, LORD, my Provider.

I ask for Your hand, LORD, my Healer.

I confess to You, LORD, my Confidant.

I praise You, LORD, my Blessing.

I lift up prayers to you, LORD, my Listener.

I will share Your promise, LORD, because we all need to know how much You love.

– Helo 

But my love accolades for You don’t stop there. Perhaps because Your love never ends and neither should ours for You.

Dear God, Thank You for loving us.

Cherished friend, I invite you to take a piece of paper and write, “I love You, LORD, because ________.” Fill in the blank. Once, twice, three times, or more… until it becomes a habit. You can also fill in the blanks when you talk to Him in prayer. “I love You, LORD, because _______.”

Telling God why you love Him will reinforce your faith and strengthen the love-bond between Him and you. That’s beautiful! 

Tell yourself, “I am God’s and He is mine.”

Beloved, HE LOVES YOU! Love Him back.

Hope in Him,

Helo