Saturday, January 30, 2016

Vaentine's Day: the Greatest Love of all!

It's almost Valentine's Day and that means love. Of course, many will think of their sweetheart on Valentine's Day and that is normal and quite lovely. We all love to express love to our spouse, friend, boyfriend and girlfriend. However, there is one who loves without judgment or conditions and that someone is Jesus!

When I feel unloved or unappreciated, which doesn't happen often, I sometimes forget the one person who loves me no matter what I do or don't do. Of course, He doesn't like it when I disobey but even then, he loves me unconditionally. Now, many people love you and me when we give things to them or treat them well but how many "really" love us when times are tough and life is just plain awful?!

Well, isn't it wonderful that Jesus loves us always. In fact, he loved us even before we were born! As we grew in the womb and came out and lived our lives, He was with us when things got rough and when things went right!

In my darkest hours when I lost my mom and dad, when my husband was ill and I wasn't sure he would make it, it was that still small voice, that knowing that He was there and that I was not alone. That, my friend, is true for you, also! You are loved more than you know or ever will know!

So, when you feel down and out and feel that you are alone and no one loves you, think again! You are not alone and you are loved more than you know! Turn to Jesus, ask Him for help and guidance and He will show you the way!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Copyright Toni Star 2016

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Christianity is Changing: a Commentary by Toni Star


Christianity is changing; however, even though these words have been written before, they are disturbing.  Church attendance has dropped--not just in the U.S. but also in many countries overseas.  However, there is a rise in Christianity in many other parts of the world. In addition, some are looking at the Bible differently. Some are questioning the Old Testament and are trying to interpret its meaning by themselves.

It is important to note that many teachings of Christianity that have been solid for centuries are now being questioned such as the role of women in church, Jesus as the only way to God and changing views on homosexuality. Most importantly, many are no longer following the normal and established Christian way of living such as being married before having sex or teaching their children about God and Jesus and why they are so important in a Christian’s life. Instead, many are now accepting premarital sex, saying also that sexual abuse within the church is merely something that “happens now and then” and being more tolerant of other beliefs; such beliefs are a "slippery slope" and can water down our solid Christian beliefs. 

Keep in mind, too, that other types of faith are being more and more accepted such as alternative worship or an emerging church type of faith.

So, how are we as Christians react to react when we see our faith being watered down in our churches, on TV or in the movies? Do we look the other way and say, “Well, that’s O.K. as long as it doesn’t affect me or my family.” Or, do we say, “No, I don’t agree with this and I will either go to another church or continue stay with my church but follow beliefs that are set by God?

The decision, of course, is up to each person. From reading the Bible and praying, most Christians know and understand the importance of believing and following God and Jesus. I think, too, when we see situations where we feel a need to take a stand and can do it without being harmed, we should. Of course, this is up to the individual and of course, like Jesus we can certainly show our displeasure with how Christianity is presented by switching to another TV station, not watching a movie that degrades human beings and Christianity or staying away from individuals or groups of people who are leading ungodly lives.  Perhaps these ways are more effective.

Most importantly, as Christian writers we can proclaim the word of God and give factual information on the goodness of Christ and the importance of staying close to Him.

Perhaps one very good reason for following Christ and His Father, God comes from the following statement that was written in Revelations:

Revelation 3:15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other!



Revelation 3:17 You say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.”

To conclude, Christian faith and how we proclaim and live it is up to you and me. We can either set the standard of Christianity or we can follow a path that will lead us into eternal darkness.



 

Friday, January 1, 2016

How to make Resolutions for the New Year that will last!


Much of what follows comes from Prevention magazine but I wanted to share part of what was in Prevention Magazine:
 
Instead of making big resolutions this year, begin by making small, positive decisions such as not sitting so much at your computer. For instance, instead of working hour after hour at your computer, get up every hour and walk. Walk for at least 10 minutes. When you return to your computer, sit up straight with feet on the floor and begin to work. In addition, add some exercise to your daily life such as walking to your mailbox instead of driving up to it. When out and about, instead of using the elevator, climb the stairs. Doesn't take long and you are taking small steps to better health.
 
Another small step that will help is to say "so long" to fad diets. Instead of following the latest diet fad, focus more on eating healthy. Stay away from empty calories and focus more on healthy fats and whole foods. Incorporate more salads and cereals into your diet and instead of drinking pop with every meal, drink water or water flavored with a bit of lemon juice. And when preparing food, prepare your own food with fresh ingredients.
 
With everyone using electronics--TV, cellphones, ipads, ipods and other electronics--we are getting a daily overload of these machines which is  increasing our risks for social anxiety, depression, heart disease, cancer and job burnout. There is a solution and that is spend an hour or a full day without these electronic devices. If you continue to do this on a regular basis, you will be less stressed out and you may find that you don't need to be connected to them so often!
 
Another resolution that is important is to get your financial house in order. Create an emergency fund of at least $3,000 and lessen the amount you put on your credit card for this year. Also, if you aren't doing it already, pay yourself first--and do this every payday. You will be surprised how fast it adds up.
 
Lastly, contribute to a worthy cause each month. Let your contribution come from the top of what you make each month. When you freely give something of what you make, you will find that what you have left will last a lot longer. So many are in need. However, before contributing, make sure that the organization you contribute to is reputable.
 
To conclude, start this year with resolutions you can live with! Start small, stay consistent throughout the year and if you mess up now and then, don't sweat it. Just get back on it and keep going! And, reach for the stars! God put them there for everyone to see and enjoy!
 
Blessings to everyone in 2016!
 
Copyright Toni Star 2016

Friday, December 18, 2015

The McGreedys Finally had a Real Christmas!


Henry and Harriett knew that their Christmas dinner this year would be like all the others, catered!  In fact, neither one of them could recall their mother, Hazel, ever cooking a real Christmas dinner.  For years, all dinners had been brought in and it looked like once again Christmas dinner would be catered.  However, this year Harriett and Henry decided to go on a “catered food strike.”  Yes, rebellion was in the air!  They wanted a real home cooked meal and that was that!

The children spoke to their father, Harold, about getting a real home cooked meal for Christmas.  Harold shook  his head. Hazel hated cooking and made sure everyone knew it.  Harold tried to explain this to the children but finally advised them to ask their mother.  Maybe, just maybe, she would relent, he thought.

Henry and Harriett thought over their father’s advice.  After thinking the situation through, the children decided that rather than face their mother’s wrath, they would endure another brought-in meal.

Christmas day arrived.  At noon the caterers arrived.  Their mother, Hazel, sat at the head of the dinner table ready to be served while the children and their father sat on either side of the table, attentive to her needs.  The children nibbled some of the food laid out before them.  A huge cooked turkey sat in the middle of the table. It was about  20 pounds, the children guessed.  Dressing, cranberries and desert surrounded the huge turkey.  Soon, the children lost all interest in the dinner and left to watch TV.

In the afternoon, Hazel wanted to go to the Mall to see if any stores might be open so she could exchange some gifts she received.  She often didn’t like what people got her for Christmas.  Harold packed his family into their brand new station wagon and all were on their way.  He used a short cut, going down some side streets.  Henry and Harriett looked through the car windows and realized their father was driving through a bad part of town.  They became frightened and nervous.  What would happen to them if the car broke down?

“Hurry up, father!  Drive faster!” they both cried.

“What are we doing in this part of town anyway?”  Hazel asked.  “You know that this is a dangerous area, don’t you, Harold?” 

“Yes, I do, he answered.  ‘I wanted all of you to see something before we go to the Mall.”

Slowly Harold pulled into a gravel driveway and stopped.  In front of them was an old, one story brick building, all run down.

“I want the children to come with me,” he said getting out of the car. "Where are we going, father?"  Harriett was a bit anxious.  This was something the family had never done before.

“We are going to take the remains of our Christmas dinner to the people who live in this shelter.  Every year your mother orders more than we can eat and every year I bring what’s left here for these people to enjoy.  This year I thought maybe you’d like to help me.”

Hazel sat in the car listening to her husband with an astonished look on her face. She thought out loud, “So that’s where the leftovers go!”

“That’s right, Hazel.  OK kids, let’s go!”

As the children followed their father into the shelter, they saw many people waiting for them.  Never before had the children seen people who had so little to eat.  The people looked tired, poor and hungry.  All of their lives Harriett and Henry had everything they wanted.  Today their father brought them face to face with an entirely different world. 
 
For the first time in their lives, they learned what Christmas and sharing was all about.  For them, Christmas would never be the same.  They would never forget the smiles and joy of the people in the shelter.  Harriett and Henry finally had a wonderful Christmas and so did the people of the shelter!
 
Merry Christmas Everyone!
 
Copyright 2015 Toni Star

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Thanksgiving at Grandma's


November, then and now, signals just one thing to me, Thanksgiving at Grandma’s.  Thanksgiving at her house was paradise!  The atmosphere of food, laughter and love was wonderful and unforgettable. 

Thanksgiving morning at our house was busy.  Mom would prepare a salad or pie; we kids would dress up in our good clothes and then go outside to play. We had to be careful not to get dirty.  Good clothes in our family didn’t come easy.  We weren’t poor but we were very frugal with money and food.  Meanwhile, Dad stayed busy in the garage checking out the old Chevy.  He’d check the oil, water and the battery and then give the tires a kick, for readiness. 

Often, I would go into the garage from time to time to see how he was doing.  Often, he found things for me to do-such as checking the oil and water and inspecting the car battery to see if was clean and water filled to the proper level. I always felt important helping Dad, especially on holidays, when there was much to do. 

Later, around 12 we all piled into the Chevy, eager for Thanksgiving dinner. We would arrive at Grandma’s, all dressed up, gifts in hand, with offerings of a waldorf salad and pie. As we walked through her door the aroma of turkey and onions would fill our senses with the joy of delicious food to come.  That first whiff of turkey and steamed vegetables was delicious!  We walked through the house into her kitchen and put our donations of food and small gifts, (often a bottle of Rum) onto the kitchen table, kiss Grandma and then go into the living room where we would sit and talk.  Later, Mom and I would return to the kitchen and help Grandma with the meal. 

It was my job to help Grandma prepare the dressing, with ingredients of butter, celery, bread, milk, and onion, then help with the progress of the turkey.  Mom would put her donations of food into the already crammed refrigerator and then prepare green beans or another salad for dinner. Inside the oven the turkey was roasting, and occasionally Grandma would let me use her large ladling spoon to baste the turkey.    Later, Grandma and I would finish preparing a pie—often apple or cherry.  I would round out the crust while she prepared the filling.  After that was done, we’d check on the vegetables and then I would set the table.   

I loved that job because she had beautiful crystal and China, with delicate pink and blue patterns on the dishes and matching pink crystal for glasses. She also had beautiful silverware that was kept in a special drawer in the living room.  I would carefully remove the dinnerware from the old ornate cabinet in the dining room and tenderly place each piece in the proper setting.  I loved how it all sparkled on the table.

The meal of Turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes; real green beans, cranberries and pie filled us up till we could eat no more.  We would all sit at the large table, enjoy her traditional Thanksgiving meal and talk about the latest “Uncle Millie” or “Jackie Gleason” shows.  We all loved those shows and each of us tried to “out do” each other, with our imitations of “Uncle Miltie” or “Jackie Gleason.” The adults would later have wine or brandy and we kids would go out and play in the small backyard.  Sometimes I would deliver food Grandma prepared for an old lady across the street.  The old lady lived alone and was often too ill to prepare food for herself.  I loved doing this for Grandma, and the old lady was always happy to receive it. I took pride running this errand because I helped Grandma prepare much of the meal.

Today, I continue Grandma’s Thanksgiving meal.  I have altered some of the foods but I try to prepare most of the foods she prepared; homemade  dressing, mashed potatoes 

and pie.  Many in my family can’t attend because they live too far away.  But, those who do enjoy a Thanksgiving meal of the 50’s.  You see, Grandma’s gone, but her traditions live on in a woman from the 50’s.
Happy Thanksgiving to all and to all a blessed day with family!
Copyright Toni Star 2015
During the holidays, check out my revision edition of Maria's Final Days! End Times are upon us and this book will help! Here is the link   http://www.lulu.com/shop/toni-star/marias-final-days-second-edition/hardcover/product-22462347.html 

 

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Willfulness or Willful: The Choice is Yours!


I was talking with a friend several years ago and we began talking about people and how some are focused on Christ and are willing to do His will; while others are willful and want to do only what is best for them. The more we discussed the many examples of willfulness and willingness, we came to the conclusion that it is the choices we make each that define and illustrate our willingness or willfulness toward Christ and His message.

When you think about these two words—willing and willful—you will see how each word describes clearly Christian acts while the other one describe unchristian acts. As Christians, we’re all guilty from time to time doing things our way but it takes insight and a desire to change in order to get back on track with Christ. Think of times when you wanted to do something and then did it willingly and then recall when you did something in a willful way.

Now, think about when you didn’t want to do something but did it anyway and did it your way, and only when you wanted to do it. You were being willful, right? And, didn’t you most likely, cause problems wanting to do it your way? I know I can remember times when I was willful, like not wanting to help with chores at home and the problems and turmoil that came with it. Actually, when I was willful, it made the project or projects more difficult and time-consuming.

Then there are examples of pop stars, politicians and others who sometimes act willfully, even spitefully –just so they could have it their way! An example might be acting in a movie where they know the message is dark and offending to many but they do it anyway or being unkind or unruly to another actor or actress, when what they need to do is cooperate and help. Family members, myself included, have acted at times, willfully and have caused great frustration and anguish. There have been times when a family member has asked me to do something and willfully, I turned them down simply because I didn’t want to take time out of my life to do so.

When I think about how one acts when being willful I think of several adjectives/body languages that describe that emotion—selfish, self-centered, mean, negative, cruel come to mind--but mostly selfish. The body language would be folded hands in front of the chest, mean look, loud talking, and walking away from a conversation and others.

On the other hand, when one thinks of someone acting willingly to help out, to give to others, much different adjectives and behaviors come to mind—kind, helpful, happy, positive, giving and loving. The body language when someone is willing is a happy countenance, a smile on one’s face, opened arms, soft conversation and an agreeable and helpful attitude. What a difference in behavior, isn’t it?

The Bible presents many examples of “willingness” and “willfulness.” An example of willfulness from the Bible is when Moses was dealing with the Pharaoh, pleading to let the Israelites leave Egypt. The Pharaoh would not let the Israelites go, and so He and his country endured the plagues which God allowed, hoping to soften his heart and let the people go. .Eventually, he did –after his son died. The Pharaoh, because of his stubbornness allowed himself and his people go through many afflictions—covering of the land with frogs, dust becoming gnats and covering the ground, swarms of flies, swarm of locusts covering the land, venomous snakes and other afflictions.

In contrast examples of willingness show a different way of thinking and acting. Such an example can be found from Genesis 23:8 “He said to them, “If you are willing to let me bury my dead, then listen to me and intercede with Ephron son of Zohar on my behalf.”

And from Exodus 35:21: “and everyone who was willing and whose heart moved him came and brought an offering to the LORD for the work on the Tent of Meeting, for all its service, and for the sacred garments.”

And from Exodus 35:29 : “All the Israelite men and women who were willing brought to the LORD freewill offerings for all the work the Lord through Moses had commanded them to do.

Lastly, from Judges 5:2: “when the princes in Israel take the lead, when the people willingly offer themselves—praise the Lord!

What a difference there is in behavior when it comes to willing and willful. We see with the Pharaoh what happened as a result of his willfullness---death and destruction; while from the Israelites we see a desire and willingness to follow God and do what was right-- but only after they were willful for 40 years—wandering in the wilderness….Too bad it took so long! And in each case, look at the results and aftermath of willfulness….

Then I often think about how I could make my life better and how better to deal with people who are negative and willful. I made up a small list on how I could achieve this. This is what I came up with:

  1. When God wants me to do something, even though I don’t want to do it, I need to be open-minded and willing to do what He wants, for He cares about me and wants the best.
  2. Be aware of areas in my life where I’m willful—such as overeating, wanting to do thinks my own way, being selfish, not giving to others when they need it.
  3. Be more willing—not willful—to pray more, read the Bible more and be aware of areas where the “enemy” might attack—most likely in areas where I’ve had problems/fears before…
  4. Lastly, be willing and eager to love God more than anyone or any “thing” on earth. Keep Him #1 always. By doing that I will stay willing to follow God’s plan and this will keep me free and positive!
So, what can you and I glean from all of this? You might think that it’s “hip” to be willful or cruel; that your friends might find it “cool” to be willful.

But, you know what? Willfulness might be cool and work to your advantage for awhile but in the end, you’ll be all alone, unhappy and without anyone to share your life with. It is wise, I think, to be “willing” to be agreeable, “willing” to help, “willing” to make a difference; for all of this will lead to a better, longer and happier life. And, you will also find that by being willing to help and assist others at home or at work, you will find your life to be more fulfilling, interesting and a life that will consistently more productive, refreshing and Christ-like.

The choice is yours….Which will you choose?

Copyright Toni Star 2015
 
 
 

 

 

 

Thursday, October 1, 2015

What to do when you feel that your life is out of Control?

Every one on this earth, be they woman or man, has times in their life when their lives feel out of control. Feeling out of control or feeling that no one cares, is terrible; however, there are steps you can take that will help get you back on track such as: taking time to read the Bible every day, praying throughout the day, talking with someone you trust. But, more than anything, one of the very first steps to take is to talk with God.

You see, some of us are not sure that there is a God or if He is listening. Of course, this can be dispelled by reading the Bible, particularly the book of John. God word is especially meaningful in the New Testament. His love for us is clear and His love goes deeper than any love you will find on earth.

There is a section in Rick Warren's book, "The Purpose Driven Life," that I would like to share with you. I read this passage every night; especially when I feel alone, fearful and needing God's help. The passage goes like this: "Regardless of circumstances and how you feel, hang on to God's unchanging character. Remind yourself what you know to be eternally true about God: He is good, he loves me, he is with me, he knows what I'm going through, he cares, and he has a good plan for my life." Another passage in the book is about Job and how his life fell apart. Job still found things he could praise God for:

"That he is good and loving.
That he is all-powerful.
That he notices every detail of my life.
That he is in control.
That he has a plan for my life.
That he will save me."

So whenever you feel fearful that your life is out of control, turn to God first, pray to Him and confide in someone you can trust but always remember, you are never alone!

Copyright 2015 Toni Star