Snow Day!

A Grandma's Point of View - Janiece SelfSnow had fallen over night and the darkness had given way to a cold but beautiful winter morning.  The earth, at least from my window, which was brown the day before, was now glazed in shimmering white.  “NO SCHOOL” scrolled on the TV screen. It’s a SNOW DAY! An unexpected holiday and because we all have 4-wheel drive, this small inconvenience stops no one I know.

Suddenly the perfect white carpet of snow turned into 10,000 footprints, sled marks, and shoveled heaps of snow turned into forts to protect the soldiers from in-coming snow bombs. The beautiful and peaceful looking Christmas card picture was now in complete shambles and chaos. Even though I love that Christmas card scene, the joy I felt as the grandchildren made their marks was truly priceless.

How does God view this picture from “On High”?  1 Corinthians 14:33a says, “For God is not the author of confusion but peace…” Chaos was only what I saw. The joy and peace God saw, and that the grandchildren brought us with their presence, was truly a gift. Shalom.

Fishing

A Grandma's Point of View - Janiece SelfLast spring the youth group at our church sponsored a fishing tournament. The team of two paid an entry fee of $25.00 with all proceeds going to their summer work/witness trip to Arizona. My 16 year old grandson willingly agreed to be my partner. That in itself was a BLESSING. Sure, we started with great expectations, it was a beautiful day and we had some great ponds to fish. We walked the pond edges several feet apart, but within talking distance if needed. We encouraged each other, shared lures and helped each other net our catches. We had some valuable one-on-one chat time between locations as we drove from pond to pond. Keith even lifted or pushed down the barb wire fencing as grandma crawled, or rolled through, which led to a few laughs. We were just grandma and grandson spending a day together. What a wonderful young man he is. He is a special gift from God.  It was GRAND!

This is what our Heavenly Father wants from us, our time; and it is our choice. That personal relationship as Father and child. Believe it, it is GRAND! How else will He know who we are and how else will we know who He is? Psalms 100:1-5 say, “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands. Serve the Lord with gladness: come before His presence with singing. Know ye that the Lord He is God: it is He that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people, and the sheep of His pasture. Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise: be thankful unto Him and bless His name. For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting; and His truth endureth to all generations.  AMEN.”

Don’t Eat The Play Dough

A Grandma's Point of View - Janiece SelfAs a child, my mother and I would make our own clay to shape and mold designs. I actually have a recipe: flour, salt, creme of tartar, water, corn oil and food coloring. It was fun to play with and all I had. Our girls played with homemade clay and then purchased play dough (which by the way has the ingredient, wheat). We were all told not to eat it, not that it would kill us, but it was just not a good idea. Why is it that when we are told or asked not to do something, we instantly wonder why it is forbidden and then automatically want to do it? Romans 7:15 says: “For I do not understand my own actions. I do not practice or accomplish what I wish, but I do the very thing that my moral instinct condemns” (AMP).

This is where my story actually begins. My 2 year old grandson was playing with play dough at the kitchen table while my daughter was doing her morning chores around the house. She peeked around the corner of the hallway into the kitchen to see how the little guy was doing and she observed him taking a bite of play dough. She was not quick to scold him, waited a moment to see what he would do and his response was, “Don’t look at me.” Her response then was, “Gus, please don’t eat the play dough,” and again he repeated, “Don’t look at me.” There was no need for an urgent correction, however my daughter, much to my grandson’s dismay did put the play dough away for later, when he was a little older and more understanding of “Don’t eat the play dough!”

The Bible is full of instructions or commands from God on why we should not do some things. It is also full of stories with sad endings when people did not heed God’s directions. Do we ever tell God, “Don’t look at me,” hoping that God won’t see us doing hurtful things to ourselves? God tells us that bitterness is harmful. Hebrews 12:15 says, “Exercise foresight and be on the watch to look after one another, to see that no one falls back from and fails to secure God’s spiritual blessing, in order that no root of resentment shoots forth and causes trouble and bitter torment, and the many become contaminated and defiled by it” (AMP). But do we hold on to bitterness against family members or neighbors? God tells us to not fear. Proverbs 29:25 says, “The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever leans on, trusts in and put his confidence in the Lord is safe and set on high.” God tells us not to worry. Matthew 6:25a says, “Therefore I tell you, stop being anxious and worried about your life;” and Matthew 6:27 says, “And who of you by worrying and being anxious can add one unit of measure to his span of life?” Matthew 6:34 says, “So do not worry or be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will have worries and anxieties of its own. Sufficient for each day is its own trouble” (AMP).  Do we hope that God “will stop looking” so we can have our own way? Did you know that many medical conditions are rooted in bitterness, fear and worry? Jesus, “The Word,” is the answer.

Just as my daughter wanted the best for my grandson, God wants the best for His children. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome” (AMP).

Known By Name

A Grandma's Point of View - Janiece SelfMy granddaughter is almost 12 years old, but as a 3 year old, she had a very interesting conversation with her mother one day… “Mommy, who is that big guy?” “What big guy, where is he at?” my daughter asked.  “The big guy that eats pancakes at grandma’s house,” my little granddaughter answered. (I’m known in the grandchild circle for my homemade buttermilk pancakes).  My daughter’s thoughts were, oh my, who could this be? Maybe one of grandpa’s friends had stopped by at breakfast time and had been invited in for pancakes. “No,” was the answer when asked if it was Ernie. With no other person coming to mind my daughter asked, “Do you mean Grandpa”?  “Yes,” Josey said with excitement, “that big guy!” Funny! We still laugh at this story when it comes to mind.

Have you ever met someone, maybe several times before, but can’t remember their name? It happens to all of us. I even made a phone call one time and before the person answered I forgot their name. I knew the reason for the call, but their name completely left my mind. That was twenty years ago and I am sure it has happened since then, too. This has not happened to me personally, but I know of situations caused by Dementia and Alzheimer where people don’t recognize husbands, wives, children, grandchildren, people they have known for years. These stories listed above are so true and part of being human. But there will be a day, for all of us, that we will want to be recognized and our name known. We will meet Jesus at the end of our life.

I pray that my relationship with Jesus is like a friend. John 15:14 says, “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.”  I pray that Jesus will know my name. Luke 10:20b says, “but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.” I pray that my Jesus will say to me, “…Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord” (Matthew 25:21).

“The Lord bless thee, and keep thee: The Lord make His face to shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The Lord lift up His countenance upon thee, and give thee peace” (Numbers 6:24-26).

Just Wait A Minute

A Grandma's Point of View - Janiece SelfI love for my daughters to text me pictures and stories of what is happening in my grandchildren’s lives on a daily basis. You just never know what it is going to be. One day my oldest daughter sent me a comment that her 22 month old son had just said to her. While in their regular morning routine, mom needing him to do something for her, my grandson suddenly said to his mother: “just wait a minute.” I wonder how many times a day this little guy hears, “just wait a minute,” but how many times is it said to mom? I think mom was a bit stunned, to say the least. At this age, cute would be the word. Of course, his older siblings don’t get the same response. Do we ever say this to God when He needs our help, our obedience? What do we think when God answers a prayer request with “just wait a minute”? Do we think it is cute, are we happy, are we stunned? And how does it make God feel when our response is…s-l-o-w?

No one likes to wait! It tests our faith and there is no guarantee our waiting will end in this lifetime. While waiting, we are tempted to be impatient, discouraged, worried, and really wonder if God cares. The Bible talks about waiting a lot. In fact, Scripture teaches us that God wants us to actively participate in the work He desires to accomplish. Waiting teaches us patience, perseverance, and endurance.  It draws us closers to our Savior.

I would like to share “10 Things to Do While Waiting”:

  1. Micah 7:7: Believe that God who saved you hears your cries;
  2. Psalm 5:3: Watch with expectancy, but be prepared for unexpected answers;
  3. Psalm 130:5-6: Put your hope in His Word;
  4. Proverbs 3:5-6: Trust in the Lord, not in your own understanding;
  5. Psalm 37:7-8: Resist fretting, refrain from anger, be still and choose patience;
  6. Psalm 27:13 and Psalm 31:24: Be strong and take courage;
  7. Lamentations 3:25 and Psalm 27:13: See it as an opportunity to experience God’s goodness; 8. Acts 1:4: Don’t go your own way, instead of waiting for God’s promise;
  8. Colossians 4:2: Continue steadfast in prayer, being watchful with thanksgiving;
  9. Isaiah 30: 18: Remember the blessings yet to come.

Father, I praise You for Your goodness to me. Thank You for loving me and may I be obedient to all You ask me to do to advance Your Kingdom. May I be mindful of Your perfect timing and always be obedient to Your requests. May I also heed Your voice when You say: “just wait a minute,” and may I see it as an opportunity to grow in You. In Jesus Name I pray.  Amen.

 

 

Faithful Intercessory Prayer

A Grandma's Point of View - Janiece Self

On one particular Saturday I was praying before my noon meal and I was prompted by the Holy Spirit to pray:  “Please don’t let anyone drown.”  Although I was at home watching football, my youngest daughter and her family were spending the day boating at Lake Rathbun.

At 1:19 pm, I received a text from my daughter that my 4 year old granddaughter had fallen into the water, between two boats without her life jacket on. They had removed it so that she could eat lunch and she was supposed to be sitting. She had been rescued by a family friend, who was part of the group and both were fine. As my emotions eased, the questions began in my mind:  Did my obedience to pray when prompted play a role in saving those involved in the accident? What would have happened had I not responded? What lesson was I to learn? Perhaps the lesson was for others?

I did have great clarity in that satan was not going to gain any ground in the accident; satan would not have any claim to these families. God was in control.

I know that prayer is imperative to an abundant life in this world and in the eternity to come. Why did this accident have a positive outcome and others do not? Only Jesus knows the answer, and one day I will ask Him. As for the prayers that I pray regularly that are not answered immediately, this experience has assured me that God does hear my petitions. I have faith that God will answer my prayers; perhaps not in the very hour, but in His perfect time. Praise God! Hallelujah!

In Genesis 18, Abraham demonstrates the power of intercessory prayer. God is not characterized by rigidity or pre-determined decisions, but by an openness to respond to us according to our obedience and trust in Him. God welcomes intercession; prayer can change God’s mind, because God is a Father who loves His Children. He didn’t perish with us – He died for us. He died so that we could live.

Prayer is us joining with God’s Spirit; His Power is released through prayer. When we fail to pray, we limit God’s blessing by our own weaknesses. Jesus said, “…Yet you do not have because you do not ask” James 4:2 (NKJV).  Let’s use the power of prayer that God has promised us, through His Son, Jesus Christ!

 

Fool’s Gold

A Grandma's Point of View - Janiece Self

My 8 year old grandson was so excited to show me, at a recent visit, his latest find while fossil hunting Sheol Creek south of Centerville. This creek runs through their farm and he and his sister love to fossil hunt while their dad or grandfather is doing field work. They have quite a collection and each item has a special story: day, location, who found it, etc. On this day, my grandson wanted to show me a shiny rock. He was positive it was gold; it looked like gold so it must be gold! My response was, “Yes, it is beautiful, but there is a good chance that it is iron pyrite or fool’s gold.” I know, I burst his bubble, but no need to continue the lie.

Let’s look at and compare the two. In the sun or under shallow, flowing water they look very similar.  But when we take a closer look, gold (Au) glistens and iron pyrite (FeS2) shines, but superficially resembles gold. Gold has soft edges, is malleable and can be shaped without breaking or cracking.  Iron pyrite creates sparks when struck. In the Greek, pyrite means “of fire or in fire.” Gold is a heavy precious metal (19.30g/cm3), resists corrosion and is non-toxic, non-irritating if ingested and is a good conductor of electricity and heat. Iron pyrite is the most common sulfide mineral and is very light in comparison to gold (4.8-5g/cm3). It tarnishes dark and iridescent and is paramagnetic. Today the value of gold per ounce is $1137.00 and iron pyrite per ounce is $1.00.

Let us now compare gold, Jesus, and iron pyrite, satan.  If there is a veil over our eyes because of sin, the two look very similar. But we must take a closer look by reading the Bible, which is the living Word of God. Isaiah 14:12 refers to satan as “sun of the morning” or “day star.” The false light, just as fool’s gold shines but does not glisten. Revelation 22:16 tells us that Jesus is “the Bright and Morning Star.” John 8:12 says that “Jesus is the Light of the World,” the precious Son of God.

Father, Thank You for Your truth, the Word of God. Help us to be aware through Your Word, that satan is out to steal, kill and destroy the light of Jesus, and to recognize the “day star” as a false light, and only accept the true “Light of the World.” Thank You for my precious grandchildren and the lessons they teach me. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.

 

Rocking

A Grandma's Point of View - Janiece SelfI love to rock the grandchildren. When they are small, under 2 maybe, this is possible. Nap time is a great time to cuddle and rock, but can turn into a bit of a competition to see who can stay awake the longest or who goes to sleep first. It can be a challenge to make these little balls of fire sit down, let alone for a little “quiet time” with grandma, but on occasion, if it is their idea, I can sneak in a couple of quick rocks in the old chair. If you are really blessed, there is time for a short, but valuable dialogue. One day, while rocking and talking with my 4 year old grandson, he stroked my hair once and said, “You have a lot of gray hair, Grandma.” Yes, Jason I do; thank you for noticing. I have been around a long time. What a precious child! I guess there aren’t many people in his life that have gray hair, or he was just expressing an observation. I think it was the latter and that was OK.

People who have white hair are old and wise, I thought. Of course, as I approach, or am a part of this group, I’m not so sure. Reality set in and I must ask myself: so if I have white hair, am I wise? For that answer I must look to God’s Word and ask, “Where does wisdom come from,” and “Who am I in Christ”? Proverbs 2:6 says, “For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding,” and Job 28:28 says, “And unto man He said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.” Hum, scripture doesn’t say anything about how I should look, the color of my hair or how old I am. God says wisdom comes from reading His word and turning from evil. God gives the wisdom.

I do know this:  I am a Child of the King, I am in Christ, and 1 John 5:20 says, “And we know that the Son of God is come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him that is true, and we are in Him that is true, even in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.” May I suggest that you look into the mirror…How wise are you?

 

What is Real

A Grandma's Point of View - Janiece Self

“Grandma, will you tell Brenna that Santa Clause isn’t real!” What?!!! I thought to myself. May I say in two seconds, I had at least 4 different answers to this timely question spinning in my mind. This is a job for super-grandma, Lord help me!, because Brenna is not my granddaughter, although she is my grandsons’ cousin on the other side. What did she know, what had been talked about, what would her parents want me to say, wow! I do believe that “honesty is the best policy,” at least you don’t have to remember what you said the first time to cover that lie.

The girls are both 8 and had been in the other room writing a Christmas story. I knew this and thought it was a wonderful way to pass the time, get the creative juices rolling and I was looking forward to reading their thoughts. I was thinking Bible story, little did I know it was not. The character was a young man who didn’t believe in Santa Clause, but by the end of the story was giving back as the original St. Nicholas did. Now I know where the question came from, but….here goes.

I asked her if she knew the story of St. Nicholas, she is an avid reader, so I hoped the answer was yes and it was. She knew that St. Nicholas lived many years ago and was known for helping the needy. Of course, I quickly interjected that Christmas was celebrating Jesus’ birthday and she knew that. Because I didn’t need to explain that any further, I continued my quest to not lie, let her down easy and still respect and appreciate the giving season.

So, the gentlemen, dressed as Santa, are portraying St. Nicholas, because he died over 1700 years ago and they are just bringing the message to the people like St. Nicholas started—the message of giving to the needy and to share our blessings with others. (Man, that is all wishful thinking in our world today, but I believe that it was that way in the beginning). Anyway, I told her that there are many Santas, because one can’t be in all the different places at once and not everyone has a chimney. The thought of delivering presents through the wall or coming in the back door is just way to scary for some children, and me. It was about this time that my grandson spoke up and said, “Santa is like the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy, none of them are real, but you can’t tell your sisters!” Love him! Ok, with the year of seasonal characters taken care of, by the way, she took it all really well (I think she kind of knew, anyway), they headed to the other room to finish the story.

Thank you Father God, for not wearing a red and white suit, but you do listen to our every want and need though prayer, because You are everywhere. Thank you Jesus, for coming as a baby, such a simply precious gift, but dying for my sins so that I can live with You some day in Heaven (the greatest gift of all). Thank you Holy Spirit, for living in me. You don’t come through a wall or door, but into my heart, so show me the way of LOVE, which is what St. Nicholas wanted us to know over 1700 years ago.

Agape Love

A Grandma's Point of View - Janiece Self

Much to grandpa’s dismay, the grandchildren refer to our home as Grandma’s House.  He wonders why it is never Grandpa’s House, because it’s his home too.  I have my theory, but grandpa does, from time to time, attempt to get the attention directed to him.  Grandpa can be quite a tease and is tolerated by his little sweeties better at times than others.  One day, when the teasing went on a little longer than the 5 year old grandson thought it should, he asked, “Why did you marry Grandpa?” Not only was the fun lasting too long in the 5 year old’s mind, but he was wondering what good I saw in him.  Of course, my answer was an easy one, “because I love him.”  A look of dismay appeared on the little guy’s face, no more was said and the day continued with grandson and I doing the things we (he) likes to do.

The answer about my love for grandpa seemed to be enough, but my human love is nothing like the awesome love God has for each one of us. He loves even when we do and say wrong things.  There is even a name for God’s love;  “Agape” is the Greek word for this perfect love.  God’s Love is Self-Giving;  God’s Love is Sacrificial;  God’s Love is Unconditional, it transcends;  God’s love is Eternal; God’s Love is Holy.  John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”   God does not merely love, as I love grandpa; God is love, it is His nature.  The Bible says we are undeserving recipients of His lavish agape love (1 John 3:1).  God’s demonstration of agape love led to the sacrifice of the Son of God, Jesus, for those He loves.  Father, I praise You and thank You for the wondrous love You have for me.  I am so unworthy, but You love me anyway.  Because of Your example of unconditional love, may I learn to love others.  Thank you, Jesus, for Your ultimate sacrifice so that I can be saved. May I look to You for all my help.  In Jesus name I pray.  Amen.

Disney World Spectacular

A Grandma's Point of View - Janiece Self

With suitcase packed, and pen and paper ready and waiting, I left for a week’s vacation with my youngest daughter, son in-law, and 3 grandchildren. A Grandma’s Point of View spectacular! My first of several life applications came as we were in line for the Safari ride at Animal Kingdom at Disney World. While passing a TV (one of many mounted to the ceiling), which was continually playing information about the ride and the purpose for conservation and saving the animal environment, etc., I heard a man’s voice say, “the only way to keep something in your heart is to see it.” WELL, the gears in my brain began to roll! Now I understand where he was coming from, he was referring to the animals in the wild and preserving the way they are meant to live. Seeing them, in this way, I’m sure makes a lasting impression and a willingness to be a part of saving our planet. But I immediately thought about the other people that heard this, including my grandchildren, and do they apply this thought: “the only way to keep something in your heart is to see it,” to all aspects of their lives? Hebrews 11:6a says, “But without faith it is impossible to please God.” Faith comes by hearing God’s Word and Hebrews 1:1 says, “faith is the substance (assurance) of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Faith is seeing the invisible and faith is not a feeling. Certainly, the feeling of concern for life is important, but our eternal life is more important. We must have faith to please God. Father, help me to walk by faith in the Word of God and not by sight. Help me to grow in faith, and may I be moved by what I believe, not by what I feel. I ask this in Jesus Name. Amen.

Special Communication

A Grandma's Point of View - Janiece Self

My youngest grandson is 17 months old and beginning to talk. He has two older siblings, so there is never a time in each day that he does not observe or hear adult conversation or interaction. He knows and says the word for many body parts. He knows all the farm animals and the sounds they make. Some of his sounds are better than the real thing, at least Grandma thinks so. He has not developed selective hearing yet and can instantly repeat your words, whether he actually knows what they mean or not. Some words he knows what they mean and he can apply them to a given situation and we say to ourselves, “where did that come from?” This newly achieved ability to communicate with us is great. We now know when he is thirsty, without groaning; we know when he is hungry, without crying. We know when he needs help, because he can tell us and he doesn’t have to whine anymore. From time to time, someone does need to guess or translate what he says, but for the most part everyone is catching on. However, it has not always been this way. Four short months ago we couldn’t understand a thing he said. Communication was strictly by whines, crying, and groaning. Let’s put God in the adult position of this story. God does hear this form of communication from us through the Holy Spirit. When we need God in a certain way and we just don’t know how to say the words, the Holy Spirit does. The Holy Spirit knows what we are trying to say and says it for us. Romans 8:26-27 says, “Likewise the Spirit also helpth our infirmities:  for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit Himself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And He that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because He maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.” Thank you, Father, for giving us the Holy Spirit. Thank you, Holy Spirit, for living in us and knowing us so well that You can speak for us even when we don’t know the words to say. Help us to feel Your presence and know that You are always with us, and that You want to intercede in our time of need. In Jesus Name I pray. Amen.