A young, single mother of two sits in her car and prays. She is afraid. She fears that she will not be able to feed her kids. She can't take the looks of pity and disgust she receives from family members when she asks for help. Their giving is more harmful to her soul than what she receives in return. She prays but her tears keep her voice silent.
Her eyes open and immediately connect with the two angels in her backseat. She wipe away her tears and she smiles at them. The mother now feels at peace. Her situation has not changed but she has.
Anne sat on her porch, drawing the sky. She was an aspiring artist that had a fascination for nature and most importantly, the sky. She often sat on the porch alone, creating from the inspiration from above. There was nothing more enjoyable to her than drawing. However, her love for it was not admired by the ones she loved. Her mother wanted her to focus on her chores and homework, so Anne would rush and get them done so she could get to her porch. Her father wanted her to be a musician like him, so she took lessons every week to please him. No one saw her as an artist. They liked her drawings but didn’t see a future in it. Despite her lack of support, Anne knew in her heart, no matter the odds, that she was going to be an artist.
A neighbor was walking by one day and saw Anne as she looked up at the sky. The old man was amused by her awe. He had not looked up at the sky like that in a long time, nor seen anyone marvel it the way she did. He remembered that he used to count the stars while lying in the grass as a child. He would dream of traveling the world. His dream actually became his reality as he traveled across the world, meeting wonderful people along the way. He looked at Anne and knew she was different; her joy made him want to dream again. He walked up to her determined to find out more about this girl.
He asked, “What do you see?”
She was startled; no one usually speaks to her when she is drawing. She looked at the old man.
“I see… I see Love. I see beauty. Everyday I sit here, trying to capture the beauty but it escapes me,” she responded.
“May I take a look?” the old man asked, as he noticed her notebook.
She gave him the pad and as he opened it, his eyes widened. He was blown away by her talent. In all of his traveling, he had never seen such beautiful art.
“This is amazing.”
Anne was surprised; she wasn’t used to getting a reaction from anyone.
“Thank you, I am trying to become an artist but I don’t know if I can,” Anne said.
“What do you mean?” the old man replied.
“My parents want me to be someone else. They don’t understand how much I love drawing and they don’t see it in my future,” said Anne.
The old man stopped her, “Young lady, you can’t be anything other than who you are; and you are definitely an artist. You are the greatest artist I have ever seen. Regardless of what others say, you still draw. I can tell, you can’t escape it and I believe in you.”
The words cause tears to fill Anne’s eyes. He noticed her and she felt loved; the feeling was wonderful. The old man was emotional too as his heart was moved by her gift. He pulled out his checkbook, signed a check and handed it to Anne, “This is for you.” He continued, “Promise me one thing; that you will never stop using your gift. Carry this wherever you go; if you ever need it, you can cash it for whatever amount.” The old man remembered a time when he was her age, “Many years ago, I was given a similar check when a gentleman saw my gift of writing. He instructed me to do the same thing and I have traveled the world ever since. I have been writing in many beautiful cities and I still have the check he gave to me; I have not needed it yet.” He said, pulling out the check to show her. “Young lady, the world is yours, now go and discover it.” He turned and walked away, smiling and admiring the sky all the way home.
Anne held the check and a burst of confidence filled her. She put the check in her pocket and decided at that moment, that she was an artist; and the world, her canvas.
The Thief comes to steal, kill and destroy but Jesus came that we would have life and life more abundantly.
Satan is not a one-trick pony; he has many ways of distracting and keeping us from living an abundant life. One is being a thief. A thief doesn’t come into your house while you are there; they watch and wait for the perfect opportunity to take your possessions without you knowing. Thieves don’t just use the front door; they use a cracked window, a backdoor, a spare key, whatever advantage they can get to, they use. Thieves are at their best when you are distracted. They take what you have while you are focused and busy doing something. Your prized possession, your treasure, is taken and you suffer a loss.
Satan wants to steal your promise. He acts like he has your best intentions in mind, all the while, planting seeds of doubt and fear in you. You begin to think about the “what ifs” and worry starts to set in. You lose trust that God is leading you and you begin to take matters – your life – into your own hands. Satan wants you believe that God is speaking to you but the whole time you are not hearing God, you are hearing him. Jesus said, "My sheep know my voice." Your thoughts are becoming simultaneous with the thoughts of the enemy and you begin to destroy yourself. Satan plants the “seeds” and we water them. We feed into those negative thoughts, ignorant to the fact that we are enslaved to them. We believe the negativity, we believe the lies and when things start to fall apart, we blame God because He didn’t help us.
We have been fooled. The bible says to bring every thought to the obedience of Christ. Jesus simplifies the process for us. Every thought must be filtered through the voice of love; if our thoughts do not feed us love and peace, it is not meant to be apart of us. We must lock our “doors,” shut our “windows” and turn the “alarm system” on. Shut down every negative thought of inadequacy, fear, hate and doubt. When we do, the life Jesus has promised us will manifest right before us.
When Hope Finds a Way
A young couple sits in darkness in their living room. The electricity was turned off today. Despite both of them working, they have been struggling to pay their bills. The money isn’t enough to maintain the lives they chose to live, so, they reflect in the darkness. They can’t watch television or check their social media accounts, nor do they have money to go to a hotel. They are stuck with each other and their thoughts. Alec wanted to blame his wife for their situation. Rachel had maxed out her credit cards shopping with her friends. She was trying to keep up the appearances with them, knowing she knew she didn’t have the means to pay it back. Even still, in her mind, her husband is the one that should have managed their finances better. Her thoughts were on the two expensive cars Alec bought them. Unable to reconcile their thoughts, darkness wins.
As shame begins to rest on both of them, they hear a knock at the door. Alec opens the door but sees no one. When he looks down, he sees a package on the ground. Rachel anxiously waits as he opens it and at the bottom of this package, they find two scented candles and a lighter inside. There is also a fresh baked loaf of bread and water in the package as well. A small note reads: "I saw that your electricity got turned off and I made this package for you. My husband and I have been in your shoes. Years ago, I remember sitting in the darkness of our home, wondering how it got so bad. I wanted to blame my husband until we received a package like the one I am giving you. It is the package of ‘hope.’ When we wanted to give up, the package came and brought us together. We realized we made mistakes but those mistakes didn’t have to define our life. We knew we could make better choices and learn to handle life better. It was put on my heart to give you this package and encourage you. Blessings, Your Neighbor."
Tears filled both of their eyes as they embraced each other and shut the door. In spite of the shame and guilt that was on them, hope found a place in their hearts. They sat together in their living room, now under the warm glow of candles and began getting to know each other once again. As the sun began to shine, the light brightened, not only in their room but in their hearts. Hope had come and changed their lives forever.
The Perfect Train
Annabelle is excited. Today is the day she gets to travel to the “big city.” She has dreamt of being a star her whole life. She bought her train ticket and is trying to patiently wait for her train at the station. Annabelle is watching as people of all ages get onto their scheduled trains. She sees their smiles and it makes her even more anxious to get to the “big city.” A small, simple train stops right in front of her; it’s called the Train of Patience. She doesn’t recall needing to board that train so she tells the conductor it’s not her train. Not much longer after, another train comes: the Train of Hope. Annabelle is not looking for hope, she wants fame and fortune, so she tells the conductor, again, that it’s not her train and she continues to wait. As she waits, Annabelle imagines her Train of Fame and Fortune; large, flashy, exciting and nothing like the plain trains she’s seen so far. Four more trains come through, the Train of Love, Determination, Compassion, and Good Will. Each train comes through the station for all who are in need of its destination. Annabelle rejects every single train because she is still waiting for her train of Fame and Fortune. She can’t imagine why people would want to get aboard these small, rusted, boring trains. She has waited long enough for her time to shine; what are a few more hours?
Annabelle sits and daydreams on the bench of expectation about her train. It is plush, comfortable and it serves the finest of foods and beverages. There are dancers, singers, comedians, entertainers and other public figures. She can’t wait; she knows her train is going to be perfect. As Annabelle adjusts her legs to keep them from falling asleep, she notices that she is alone. The once, busy, loud and exciting train station, is now quiet and barren. Everyone had found a train but her. The sun has passed, now giving way to darkness. Annabelle looks at her ticket, broken but still holding out hope that her train will come. Suddenly, she sees a light coming down the train tracks. A loud, majestic horn blows as it approaches the station. She bursts with excitement, the train is getting closer and all she can notice is how breathtaking it looks. It is better than she could have ever imagined. The beautiful train stops in front of her. As she smiles at the conductor, he announces, “This is the final train dear, please board.” Annabelle reads her ticket and she looks at the train’s name. Her heart sinks as the conductor takes her ticket, closes the doors behind her and pulls off. The train leaves the station, taking Annabelle and her dreams to their final destination. The conductor announces, “We hope you had a chance to take advantage of every train that was presented to you. You are now aboard your final train, destination: Death.”