Saturday, March 28, 2015

Special Easter Memory: Easter 1991: Hope for my Family


Special Easter Memory

 
It was Easter 1991 and it had been a rough winter for many in our area and throughout the country. Many in our little town of Mount Vernon, Ohio were ready for spring. In my family there had been many struggles—physical and mental and returning from Germany where my husband I were on military tour for almost five years, my husband and I were ready for civilian life, settling down and looking for other employment. As some will attest to, winters in Germany can be rough, with many hours of darkness and winter weather—a challenge and always unpredictable. Many of us in Germany at that time suffered from depression and loneliness and with Desert Storm always on the horizon, we were often anxious and filled with fear. We missed our families back home but we pulled together and the camaraderie helped bring us through the many fearful days.

And so in 1991 my husband and I had only been back from Germany about a year and  were still adjusting to being home. We soon found ourselves a nice apartment and we began to incorporate ourselves back into our normal lives. We were; however, struggling with financial concerns and the various emotions we had in Germany often gave us nightmares and adjustment problems that sometimes startled and interrupted our lives and adjustments in being home.

Anyway, that Easter we decided that we would take my mom and dad to an Easter Sunday service. It was good to be with them again and we were looking forward to all of us taking communion together. We picked my mom and dad up early that morning and when we arrived, we saw the church was overflowing with people. Everyone was dressed in their Sunday best and there was a wonderful and jubilant feeling of Christ’s resurrection.

The service was wonderful and all during the service I looked at my mom and dad and felt so happy to be with them once again. My parents at that time were struggling with several health issues at the time. My dad was struggling with skin concerns and finding out that he had benign leukemia. My mom was struggling with anxiety and phobia attacks. But, looking back, they looked hopeful and happy that day and that made me feel good.

I looked over at my husband, a man who worked so hard in Germany and all his life—military and civilian. He no longer had that youthful look; he looked tired and worn out. And, to be sure, so did I. But, during the service I could see a look of refreshment on his face and seeing him look renewed and happy, made me feel renewed and happy, too. Once we all received the sacraments of the Holy Communion, we all felt a wonderful feeling of forgiveness, hope and joy. It would be the last time we would be together in church like that, and that is why I treasure that moment in time.

At the end of the service, we began walking out of the church. We shook hands with the priest and as we stepped outside a shower of snow began to fall. The snow came down in large fluffy flakes and it was an awesome sight, to put it mildly. The snow was totally unexpected because the sun had been shinning all morning and the temperature was above freezing—around 40 degrees. It had to be one of the most unexpected, beautiful and refreshing sights I had ever seen! Those beautiful flakes of snow added even more glory and blessing to the day. And, the snow added to the beauty, purity and meaning of the day. What is most blessed and pure than our Lord Jesus Christ?!
 
And, so I say to you, no matter what you've been through, no matter how discouraged or tired you are, no matter how uncertain the future may look for you; there is one truth and one hope that will see you through and that is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. His life is not fable or fiction, but truth and light. Death has no hold on you or me because Jesus has overcome death, has overcome sin and evil and is the one, true hope of everyone who believes and trusts in Him!
 
Copyright Toni Star   2015
 
I chose this picture because it represents to me what it might look like moments before Christ returns. First the cloud and some light and then a brightness that is stunning and beautiful.
 
I would like to add a few words from an article I read by Colin Smith titled, 6 Ways Jesus Experienced Hell When he was on the Cross. Those 6 ways were: He was in conscious suffering, He was in blackest darkness, He was surrounded by demonic powers, He was bearing "our" sin, He was under judgment and He was separated from the knowledge of God's love of God. Read more of this article on http://www.biblestudytools.com/nlt/passage/?q=romans+3:25;+romans+3:1
 
I would also like to add one more note on this Easter Sunday. My husband and I have a clear glass cross that sits on our coffee table. As I looked at the cross this morning two things came to mind. One, the cross that Jesus was placed, it was made of wood and his blood was spilt for all of mankind. It was a rugged looking cross and on it all of the sins of mankind were placed on it. In contrast, a glass cross is pure and full of light and actually, that is what Christ did at the cross. He blocked out--obliterated--all of our sins and transformed that old wooden cross and our sins into a beautiful and clear cross. That cross is no longer ugly, sinful and bloody but a cross that is pure and holy.
God Bless everyone on this Easter and every day hereafter!
 

 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

For Those who Suffer from Fear

Be Not Afraid of Anything or Anyone!

There are things in life that when you look or think about them, dispel all thoughts of fear. For me, it is thinking and praying to Jesus and God and looking at this picture. Read on for more information and help on fear:

“Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?”
Matthew 6: 25 KJV

How many times I have read this passage and didn’t understand the full meaning of the message. The first time I read this—many years ago—I just didn’t appreciate those words about life—that I shouldn’t think too much about my life, what I should eat or drink or worry about my body and so forth. I mean, for years I have worried, struggled, pondered and sometimes didn’t know what to eat, what to put on or sometimes what to say. And, there are times, when I still don’t know. But, when you really think about this----really think about these words-- there is a truth here that takes away the meaningless worry and stress we often have about our daily lives. How many times have you and I worried about what to prepare for a meal, or what to wear at work or what to say to a rude or disinterested person? If you’re like me, many times!

However, in almost every case of deciding what to eat, what to wear, how to handle a difficult person, didn’t you and I get through these situations as they occurred? Maybe not well, but we got through them and made decisions. And, how many times when you worried about something, did anything bad actually happen? If you’re like me, very few times! For example, there are several people in my family who are divisive and who show little concern for me, my husband and other family members. This attitude from them used to bother me because like some, I wanted the best for my family and have worked hard to cooperate so that those in my family are well and happy. However, like others who are divisive and self-oriented, they continued to be divisive and cruel; without compassion for those in pain. For a long time it bothered me and sometimes it still does. But, instead of getting angry and upset, I do what I can to solve the problems at hand and then give Christ the rest. I help them when I can and when I feel I have done enough, I give the rest of the problem to Him. He is the answer to all problems and He knows what should be done. I now feel much better and know that Christ will intervene and bring a peaceful solution—no matter what the problem or crisis I face because He has a plan for me, my family and friends and for you.

As I get older and read and pray more often, I find that I worry less about what to eat, what to wear or what to say. Lately, I say to myself, “I will give my best in whatever situation faces me and give the rest to Jesus!” And you know what? When I give my very best and then pray to God for His guidance and help, He takes away the worry and wonder and I am left with a more peaceful mind—a mind that Christ and his Father want for me. God didn’t create us so that we would worry and fret about life situations. No indeed! He created us to be happy, fulfilled and to live a life of abundance and most importantly, to be free from fear.

So, if you have ever felt like me or are feeling this way now, know that your Heavenly Father cares for you and always will. Don’t worry about what you will eat, what you will wear or what to say to a relative who is crass or uncaring. Your Father in Heaven will provide for you and give you what you need. I can say this because after many years I have finally found the peace that He’s been wanting for me since the day I was born!

Thank you, Father, for revealing to me that I have no need to worry or be afraid about  what to do, what to say, what to think or eat and or how to handle difficult people and situations. You know exactly what I need before I do! Thank you Jesus and thank you  for revealing your words to me and let my faith in you always be strong so that I can reach up to you, give thanks and know that I am never alone!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

The Most Effective Pathway to Christ


This blog, pathways to Christ, has presented many ways to find and obey Christ. For this New Year—2015—I would like to present one other pathway to Christ. This pathway is easy, accessible and many have used it but have turned away from it; simply because they are too busy, too involved in what is going on in the world or perhaps have not spent enough time reading the Bible.

I can relate to all of the above reasons; I am guilty of the all. But, the real truth of the matter is that the pathway I’m going to mention is not only easy and accessible, it is the best way to find Christ and to stay close to Him.

I don’t know about you but with what is going on in the world, I need and want to stay closer to Christ and his Father and our Father, more than ever. Look around you—look at the TV and online and what do you see? I see dissention, stupidity, forms of anarchy and wickedness that reminds me of Sodom and Gomorrah!

It is time for all Christians and those who want to be Christians to put aside their differences, divisions, ignorance or anything else that is keeping them from Christ because in my opinion, Christ is at the door, knocking to come in. He wants to help us, He wants to save us.

The pathway I present to you today is one many of us do or don’t do every day and it is a pathway that is so easy! Prayer! I’m talking about “get on your knees and pray—prayer!” It only takes a few minutes or longer a day and the results are salvation, safety, peace, freedom from worry, negativity, anything harmful and most importantly, it offers love from God.  
And, if you're interested in reading something decent and interesting, check out Maria's Final Days.
Copyright 2014 Toni Star
 


 

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Freelance Writing Offer


I am a freelance writer and would like to advertise my writing. I write about business and finance subjects, health and wellness; as well as subjects that deal with mental illness and the many treatments that can help. You can contact me at tstar22@columbus.rr.com (After reading this sample, be sure to read the McGreedy article below it....)

Here is a sample of my work:


A driving school website should have at least 10 elements. Keep in mind, a driving school homepage is one of the most important pages on a website. The homepage of any website, especially a driving homepage, gets most of the traffic. That is why it is important to transfer most of the traffic to the areas students and others click on for more information.

#1 Headline: the Most Important Part of a Driving School Website

In a very short time, a driving school website needs to answer, “What does this driving school website offer?” It is important to keep your headline clear and simple. Online users want a clear and attractive headline; one that will tell them exactly where they are at and what they need to do.

#2 Sub-headline: Should explain what the Website will do

A sub-headline is needed and should give a brief explanation of what the driving school website will offer for those clicking on the site. Language should be clear and concise. Show the value of the website and how the website can help those who clicked on to it.

#3 Benefits—What Benefits will an online user get from this Website?

Here you need to describe what the driving school does, why it matters to those who seek information on this site and what benefits and advantages the driving school website can give to me or my friends.

The McGreedy Family Finally has a Nice Christmas


This is a favorite of mine; one that I hold dear to my heart because more and more I see a need in our society to put away the materialism--at least for awhile--and think about what really matters in the world--which is peace, love and sharing with others. Hope you like this story, too.
 
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 nothing but catered, for the future.  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 shoke his head, knowing his wife never cooked anything bigger than bacon and eggs or a quick mix pizza.  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!
Copyright Toni Star 2014

Saturday, October 11, 2014

God works for the Good of Those who Love Him


In all things God works for the good of those who love Him. Romans 8:28
 
Sometimes we may think and feel that God is absent from our lives; especially when trouble comes our way in the form of sickness, stress or problems with others. When things are going smoothly, we say we are happy with God and all is well in our world. But, let adversity come and often we say, "Why me?"
 
I know because this happens to me and I'm sure it happens to you, too. In fact, trouble came my way today in the form of disappointment and lies. Disappointment and lies happens to everyone; be they Christian or non-Christian. But, just because disappointment and lies knock on the doors of our hearts and minds, doesn't mean that God has forsaken us. Actually, it is just the opposite. Looking back on the day's events when I thought everything was just awful, I now, at the end of the day, can see that it wasn't so bad and that God was with me and my husband; even though at the time we felt abandoned.
 
It seems that there often is a reason for when bad or negative things happen. I'm learning to see God as a God who sometimes says, "No. It's not the right time. Or, no this would not be good for you." In this case, if my husband and I would have pursued this venture, we would have been out of a lot of money and would have received a product that would have been dangerous or disastrous. So, sometimes it's good to get a "red" light.
 
God is a Heavenly Father who wants the best for us and like a good father, there is often discipline that He doles out but it is discipline that comes with love; a love that goes beyond our understanding and comprehension. So, indeed, God works for the good of those who love Him and I am grateful for His discipline and love!
 
At the end of the day, it is God's goodness that keeps us safe and protected. Thank you and praise you God for your discipline, love and goodness!
 
May God's goodness, discipline and love be yours, each and every day.
 
Copyright Toni Star 2014

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

My Take on C.S. Lewis and "The Screwtape Letters"


 

 



If the great author C.S. Lewis were alive today, I wonder what he might add to his famous “The Screwtape Letters?”  As an avid fan of his work I would like to make a feeble attempt on what he might write about the fictional “Wormwood” and “Uncle Screwtape.”  Their dialogues in “Screwtape” were fascinating and entertaining.   I would like to present the following examples of a fictional 21st dialogue between the evil pair that might appear in an epilogue for The Screwtape Letters.  It might go something like this…

“My dear Wormwood, I want to congratulate you on keeping the family unit divided, disorganized and poor.  Good job on holding the family down in such abject poverty!  Without money, the squalid families will have no desire in life except to “survive” and then waste what little money they have left on fast food, cigarettes, lottery tickets etc.  They will have no time for education and dreams.”

“Congratulations on bringing the morals of the country and family down.  The low moral climate, aided by the media and key educational systems--have helped to keep everyone indifferent to the degradation and increasing immorality of their cities and nation.  Because many are indifferent to the morals of their leaders—state, local and federal-- they care little about their families or themselves. I’ve noticed that the lowly human is increasingly feeling superior to those who are in charge--especially when the elite—government officials, movie stars and such—are succumbing to lawsuits and other juicy sidelines of life. Why look at the politicians! It seems that most of them will do anything—promise anything—to keep their political lives alive and working!  They care nothing about their fellow man or woman! But that is good news!  Much good can come from their indifference and greed!

I want to commend you also, Wormwood, on keeping the lowly human in a busy state of  activity.  By keeping him or her busy in various activities, they have little time to think; and therefore will neglect family and friends.  By the time he or she reaches the end of their life, it will be too late to do the really good and decent things. And, that’s exactly what makes our line of work, wonderful and so fulfilling!

Wormwood, my dearest nephew, even though you’ve done splendid work in so many areas, you must do more about “rudeness.”  Yes, I know that rudeness has reached an all time high but your efforts are not consistent or persistent, enough.  The rudeness must be of a quality where it brings despair and a touch of anarchy for it to be effective and pleasing.  Rudeness must be more “personal” in nature.  Bring back the “glare” in a person’s eyes when he or she feels offended.  Let the rudeness come from someone they know and love, preferably a family member. Oh, that is so delightful when that happens!

Mediocrity, my dear Wormwood is doing much for our side but it must be in all areas of life not just the “customer service” areas.  Mediocrity must be especially prevalent among family and friends.  Let the lowly human only do what is necessary to sustain a friendship or family situation.  Indifference, that wonderful companion of ours, has helped exceedingly in destroying the family and friendship!  Keep it going, good buddy.

I also want to commend you, my dear nephew, on the wonderful job you are doing with our best ally.  I’m speaking of course about selfishness!  Here is where we shine, my lowly Wormwood!  Selfishness is at an all-time high, especially with the young and the very old.  The young and the old are thinking of only themselves these days and is helping to discourage and alienate families and friends. Keep this going by telling the lowly human that it’s only right and fair that they focus on themselves first—and everyone else—last. After all, these days it’s survival of the fittest and the little human does want to survive at all costs, doesn’t he? Yes, selfishness, my lowly fiend, must stay high on our list of obstructions!

Now, to a different but more disturbing topic….What has happened my dear Wormwood with the “return of front porches?”  You know that this will only help the other side!  Porches are bringing back the neighborhood and neighbors are sharing and caring again. We cannot have this!  However, we can use the porches by whispering into the lowly human’s ear that it would be fun and not harmful to once in awhile—on their own porch—poke fun at their neighbors.  This will cause separation and hostility, “cousins” toward those wonderful feelings of loneliness and separation.  Keep your eyes on this potential “fireworks” situation…Could prove very beneficial and I might add, extremely entertaining!

Wormwood, again I must commend you on the affluence you are having with TV Sitcoms.  Most of them make adults, children and the elderly look totally moronic, stupid and selfish.  The old saying “monkey see, monkey do” is causing great harm, division and such a plus factor for our side!  Keep it up but be careful; some of the sitcoms are actually becoming “decent” and “interesting.”  We must not allow this!  I’ll be monitoring you on this, rest assured!
(More on Screwtape, next month)
Copyright Toni Star 2014