Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Encouraging Words for Those Who Are Alone at Christmas by Jaye Lewis

Hello friends,

The holidays can be a hard time for those who are missing loved ones.  There are so many sad feelings that are difficult to share.  Thoughts that you might hear, if you listen closely are:

“Christmas is simply not Christmas without Mama’s smile.”

“I miss Daddy’s laugh.”

“My brother always made Christmas special.”

“I miss all of us going caroling and laughing when we hit the sour notes.”

Midnight Mass as a family.”

“Christmas morning church.”

“My heart will not stop breaking for the loss of  the love of my life.”

You may not hear the words spoken from the lips of a friend or loved one, but if you listen with your heart, you will hear.

Christmas is Over  by Jaye Lewis

Christmas is over,
The New Year's almost here.
The tree lights are darkened,
I sure do miss you, dear.

The stockings are empty,
As is my aching heart;
Yet I needed to tell you
Before the New Year's start.

I'll always love you;
You're always in my prayer.
If ever you need me,
My thoughts will be right there.

Although there's a distance
Between us, I still smile,
Because I can hold you
In my heart for just awhile.

I realize God gave me,
A gift I know is true.
The gift that he gave me
Is all my love for you.

I don't know the reason
God gives and takes away.
I just know this season
I turn to him and pray.

"Bless all my loved ones,
The ones for whom I care.
Keep them in safety,
Until I can be there."

I know that God loves me,
And He loves you, too.
So in His season,
I shed my tears for you.

© Jaye Lewis, 1999

With Love to All Those Who Are Alone This Christmas,
Jaye Lewis

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Encouraging Words for the New Year: A Healthy Life by Jaye Lewis

I have never been an athlete.  I’ve never had much interest in sports, ever since I stopped playing touch-football with the boys.  I tried tennis.  I hit the ball too high, too long, and way over into left field.  I’ve tried softball.  I don’t know why it’s called “softball,” because it felt pretty hard when it hit me in the eye.  I tried running, but I couldn’t get serious about it unless someone was chasing me.  I tried swimming, but even though I float like a cork, and have had numerous lessons, I can’t seem to get over the idea, that I’m really going to drown.  Finally, I settled on walking, and for a number of years, I walked three to five miles a day. 

I’m never going to be an athlete, but I make do, especially in my mid-life years.  Which brings a question to my mind.  When did I hit mid-life?  I remember that when I hit thirty, I thought my life was over.  I remember my fortieth birthday, I was suddenly “over the hill.”  However, it was at fifty that I began to discover “me.”  I didn’t have to run, jump, play tennis, or prove myself in any athletic way.  I could just “be.”

Fifty became the beginning of my age of enlightenment.  I figured that as long as I was in fair health, I had another fifty or so years ahead of me.  Then came the life threatening asthma attacks.  A disease that had been merely an annoyance, was now in control of my life.  Within months I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and arthritis.  At fifty-five I found out about my diabetes, and I became fascinated with pharmaceuticals, hoping that they could give me quality of life. 

One day, when I was least expecting it, I became free.  I discovered that God had given me a priceless gift.  Time.  I began by noticing the sunsets, and I had the time to stop and really wonder, at the beauty and magnitude of it all.  I moved on to the sunrises, and I quickly found out that if I wasted the early morning on self-pity, I missed the loveliest part of the day.  I began to notice feelings of gratitude.  I found myself with time to witness the changing of the seasons:  that first whisper of spring, with its tender green shoots; the warmth of summer, with it’s flowers, bees and butterflies; the rustling of copper-colored leaves beneath my feet in the fall; and the hush of that first winter snow.
When illness would hit me, leaving me alone and housebound, I began to enjoy the solitude. I had time to reflect, gather my thoughts, and pray at leisure.  I found that I was experiencing this mid-life season, and I was no longer missing every moment, shackled to the chains of worry and what might have been.  Worrying about tomorrow only served to make me overlook the blessings of today.
It’s not always easy.  A few loads of laundry and a pile of dishes can take an entire day; but then I don’t push myself much.  I often neglect to make the bed, as I watch the rosy glow of dawn meet the rising sun.  I have time to walk our wooded acre with my little dachshund straining at the leash.  I read the signs with him, sniffing the air, and gazing out at whatever takes my fancy.  I spend my time by studying the sky with the same intensity that my little dog studies the ground.
I get to meet the day, every day.  I get to say good-night to the ever deepening sky.  I’ve studied a lot of sunsets, in the last fifteen years, and I’ve never seen two that were exactly alike.  I’ve learned to know my Creator as I never have before, and I’ve made my own mind up about the mysteries of life.  I am quite certain that all of this creation is no mere accident.
I feed the birds, and I take great delight in their multicolored hues.  I drag a chair to stand on, so that I can fill the feeders without help.  I say a prayer as I struggle, thankful to be able to do something for someone besides myself.  I often chuckle at all the pretensions of my former youth.  I take great delight in my life.  I thank God for all the precious little things of every day.  It has take me many years, but I have finally come to understand what real health is.  It is a health of the soul, and when I have real health, then I truly have everything.

© Jaye Lewis, 2000

With Love,
Jaye Lewis

May God Grant You a New Year Filled With Happiness!!!!!

Miracle in a Manger by Jaye Lewis

Hello friends,

Christmas is for children.  Children of all ages.  Everyone who is a child at heart.  So let us not forget the child who started it all.  A little boy, moments old, filled the world with hope and love.  I cannot tell the story better than the Gospel of Luke, in the Bible, but I can give you a peek into my heart at Christmas.  I see four dogs, keeping their watch by night, peeking into a manger where the Son of God and Savior of the World lies sleeping.  I see a night where I would have wanted to be, should I have lived then, just me and my dogs, in a manger.

Miracle in a Manger  by Jaye Lewis

Miracle in a manger
On a midnight clear,
Singing filled the universe
From angels far and near.

Shepherds heard the story
Marveling at the words;
Making haste to see the King
They left their grazing herds.

On the climb up to the manger
Deep within a darkened cave,
They could hear the shushing voices
Telling animals to behave.

And then the shepherds saw the cave
Send forth a golden glow.
The light spilled down the mountainside
And filled the valley below.

Stars that twinkled in the night
Shouted out with silent joy.
To celebrate the miracle
Of Mary’s baby boy.

Around the tiny manger
The animals stood in awe,
And something deep within them
Made them celebrate what they saw.

The ox began it’s lowing
As Donkey began to bray.
“Shout out all you creatures!
Christ is born for us this day.”

Then other creatures, great and small,
Moved forth to take a peep
As Mary held her little one,
Who lay there fast asleep.

Mini-dachshund gazed in wonder,
As mini-schnauzer smiled;
Shepherd dog and Pomeranian
Beheld the little child.

“Rejoice!” Sang angel voices.
“Behold a marvelous thing!
In Bethlehem of David
Is born our Christ the King!”

© Jaye Lewis, December, 2011


With love,
Jaye Lewis

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Encouraging Words for Those Who Are Searching for Answers by Jaye Lewis

When I was a little girl I had a very big faith.   I loved Jesus with all my heart, and I was willing to fight for him and trust in his goodness.  I remember a church service in a cemetery, once, where the soil was so rocky, there was no where to kneel, so I knelt on rocks.  I was glad to do it.  Proud to do it.  And then it started to pour down rain.  In my passionate child’s heart, that made the service even better.  I loved God, and I wanted to serve Him.  That was my way.

As I grew older, especially after being ripped from my childhood home, and everything familiar and loved, that is when the doubts crept in.  How could God allow so much heartache in my life?  Why did my mother spiral down into depression, and later, manic depression?  Why was my father an alcoholic?  Why was my family so poor?  Why were the nuns, the priests, and children whom I did not know, so cruel?  Why did no one like me?  And why was I ridiculed because of my faith?

By the time I was fourteen, I began to doubt the very existence of God.  If there was a God (note how the word “if” crept in) why would He allow so much sorrow?  If there was a God, wouldn’t He have given me a good family?  If there was a God, did He love me?  And if He loved me, why did He not take me away from the people who on a day to day basis made my life miserable?

From doubt and “if,” I moved to certainty, then back to doubt and “if” again.  Then a strange revelation came my way, I began, at the age of fourteen, to read the Ethics of Aristotle.  It was there that I was introduced to logic.  Logic, said Aristotle, proved the existence of God.  Something, or Someone, came first, and that Something or Someone had to have created everything else.  That revelation impacted my life in a profound way.

Now, became the real journey.  Since there is a God, does He love me?  My father often said, “Why should He?”  Then, dear old Dad would launch into all the reasons why it was impossible for God to love me.  I was a little girl, barely in my teens, and I was offered no hope of God’s love.

When I arrived into adulthood, I still struggled with the question, does God love me?  Is there a reason why He could love me?  Was I lovable?  Was I forgettable?  And when I was taught in Sunday School that God loved me as my own father loved me, I thought I had found my answer.  No.  God didn’t love me, just as my father didn’t love me.  I was devastated and cast adrift.

However, instead of leaving me in the dark, God never let go of me.  When He seemed farthest away, as I’ve matured, I have found Him closest to me.  I only wish that I had clung to Him with a stubborn faith, instead of blaming Him for everything bad that ever happened to me.  Through the years — and I have lived quite a few — God has never left me, and He has told me about that whole father/Father confusion:

“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!  See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands…” Isaiah 49:15-16a NIV

So, though my mother accused me of incredibly awful things, whether she was in her right mind or not; though my father made it quite clear with his insults and cruelty that he did not love me; though my brother showed contempt for me, holding himself up as an example; whether my sister spread horrible lies about me; whether any of these things, and worse were said about me, God knew me, and He never forgot me.  I am so special to Him, that He engraved me on the palms of His hands.  God not only tells me that I am special, but He knows me, again I know this from His own words:

“You have searched me, LORD, and you know me.  You know when I sit and when I rise; You perceive my thoughts from afar.   You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.  Before a word is on my tongue You, LORD, know it completely.”  Psalms 139:1-4 NIV

If only I had a Bible teacher when I was young.  If only I had been led to understand just how much God loves me.  However, I went to Catholic School, in the old Catholic Church, where we were taught that reading the Bible for oneself was dangerous.  We were not capable of understanding without the Church’s interpretation, we were told.  I hope that times have changed, and that Roman Catholic children today are taught of God’s love through His Word, the Bible.  Perhaps if more people had been taught about the love story between God and us, we would live in a different world.  God's love for us is the greatest love story of all time.

Searching for Miracles  by Jaye Lewis

Before God spoke the universe into existence He knew my name.

Before He created the atmosphere He held me in His heart.

Before He created the oceans, the land, the plants and creeping things He chose the color of my hair.

Before He created the animals and before He created the first man He loved me.

He placed within Adam’s body all of the DNA of every human being who would ever walk the earth, and within him he placed the color of my eyes.

Before He knit me together within my mother’s womb he cherished the sound of my laugh.

Before I shed my first tear he felt my pain.

Before my sins, my sorrow, and my stubborn disobedience, he chose to carry them to the Cross.  He hung there His blood pouring out for me.

Why he chose to do this I cannot comprehend.  God wanted me to be his own child.  How can that be?

With all of my flaws and character defects He wanted me to believe in Him, and He gave me the grace to believe in myself.

God loves me with a fire that can never be quenched.  I am special to him, even if I am not special to anyone else, including myself.

I have tried to perfect myself, and I have failed.

I have tried to believe the world’s message, but I have found no answers.

I have followed the paths forged by others only to find disaster at every bend in the road.
Only God has given me the answers that I have sought.  Peace.  Love.  Fulfillment.

The change in my life is not a complicated one.

It’s not about how good I am or how I pray or how often I go to church.  It’s not about money or fame or popularity.

I cannot speak for others.  They must decide for themselves.

I only know that the world has given me no happiness.

After searching my entire life, I have only been able to find the answers to my questions, on my knees at the foot of the Cross.

© Jaye Lewis, 2003

So, in spite of me, God pursued me, He caught me up in His arms, and He loves me.  God.  Jesus.  My Redeemer.  My Messiah.  And in this time of Advent, as we prepare for Christmas in so many secular ways, let us not forget to prepare for the celebration of Jesus Christ’s birth.  Our lives may not be perfect.  We may be alone.  We may be surrounded by people who do not love us.  Our dreams may seem far away, but 2000 years ago God so loved the world, each of us, that He sent His One and Only Son who showed us how to live, and who died for our sins, that we may have eternal life and live with Him forever.  In this time of chaos, that is what I cling to.  If that is not an answer, then I don’t know what one is.

With love,
Jaye Lewis

Saturday, November 26, 2011

An Intimate Connection With God by Jaye Lewis

Hello friends,

Yesterday I was able to go outside and garden.  That is one of my passions.  When we moved into our house, fourteen years ago, we inherited a yard of desolation, nothing but  boulders, clay, and weeds.  Rescuing the yard has been a slow, tortoise-like experience.  If you hurry, or try to garden during drought, you merely break the handles on your tools.  It’s been discouraging, to say the least, but thankfully we’ve learned.

At 65, and in poor health, every plant that takes root and flourishes, fills me with the most glorious gratitude that I have a God who cares so much for me.  Jesus said, “See the lilies of the field; they neither sow nor reap; yet not even Solomon, in all his glory was arrayed as one of these.”  So, to me it is obvious that gardening is, after prayer, the most intimate connection I have with God.

I think of Jesus words, when I see a seedling, that I have planted, take root, grow, and bloom.  I know that I only did the easy part.  I place the seed into the ground, water it and God does the rest.  It is difficult to choose my favorite plants, since I love them all, but if I must choose, then I choose my seedling trees.  Eleven years ago, we had two beautiful birch trees, near the house.  They were breathtaking, until they died from the bronze birch borer.  Then, the dogwood, by the road, gave up the ghost.  The only thing left was an overstressed red maple, that we hope to save even this summer.

I began my garden’s rebirth by planting seedling trees from the National Arbor Day Foundation.  Quite miraculously they grew and flourished.  I was stunned.  I felt as though those little trees were shouting “Jaye!  I love you!!”  Silly, huh?  Yet, that experience helped me to see what God wants of all of us.  Perhaps with each plant, with each tree, with each bloom (oh, yes, I must have lots of blooms) God is throwing His arms around me, and He is saying, “Jaye, I love you.”

Gardening in my yard has taught me much.  I’ve learned that there are things I can plant that will live, and there are things that will die.  Tea roses, for instance, will be consumed overnight by silent bugs.  Our roses are Knockout roses. Our trees are disease resistant, just in case I’m not the great gardener that I would like to be.  In our front yard we have two Prairie Fire Crabapples (very disease resistant and a blood red).  Our three Bradford Pears have healthy leathery leaves that turn a deep burgundy in fall.  We also have a host of lilies, junipers, and other tough plants that just take my breath away.  In our back yard it is much the same.  We’re working on water features, and we don’t expect to ever be finished, as long as we live.

Gardening is hard for me.  I have balance issues, and it is always painful, but I do joyfully drag myself around.  My husband and children are such a blessing, planting trees and shrubs and giving me all the credit.  Everything they do is so obviously for my pleasure, whether it is planting seeds or trees or rose bushes.  It warms my heart, and when I think about it, tears spring to my eyes.

There is much to learn in a garden.  Miracles happen.  A lowly seed bursts forth, from the earth.  Gentle rain, or sometimes hauling hoses, gives them life, bringing blossoms of every shade and hue.  So, why did God bless me?  Really, I don’t know.  He will bless   whom He wishes.  In the Bible, God gives us clues.  He wants us to seek Him with all our hearts.  He wants a relationship, where our first thought is of Him. And He wants to bless us.  Now, my own personal clue.  God listens with all His heart, to all the longings of our hearts.

My house, for instance, is a mirror image of a house that I longed for, when I was fifteen years old.  My family is another miracle for me.  Love.  Hope.  Forgiveness.  Happiness.  How loving is the God we serve.  We have had tough times, especially when we were in the Navy.  Poverty was always knocking at our door, but in tough times or abundance, God is still with us, whether we acknowledge Him or not.  He is worth the sacrifice, and He does care about our needs.  I must say, that without God, we would not have survived the lean times.  I do love Him.  God is my constant companion; my hero; my sweet provider, and He listens and answers my prayers.

Daily Prayer  by Jaye Lewis

I love to watch the drifting clouds,
In the glorious sky, above me.
I love to hold You, in my heart,
And feel how much You love me.

I love to see the breaking day,
With colors rich and true.
I love to hold You in my heart,
And spend the day with You.

I love to see the little birds
That gobble all the seed.
I love to hold You in my heart,
As You see to every need.

I love to, breathlessly, await,
Your answer to my prayer.
I love to hold you in my heart,
And know that You are 'there.'

I love to feel Your sweet caress,
Upon my aching heart.
I love to hold You in my life,
And know we'll never part.

I love to share, with You, my thoughts,
On every, blessed day.
I love to hold You, in my heart,
As You brush my tears away.

And, last of all, I love to share
The way we laugh, together,
Knowing that the day will dawn,
When we will share forever!

© Jaye Lewis, January 29, 2001

With Love,
Jaye Lewis

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Richest Thanksgiving by Jaye Lewis

It was November, 1976. I had just moved back to Jacksonville Florida, with my three young daughters after many years away. We were struggling, and I wondered what kind of a Thanksgiving I was going to be able to make for my children. 

We were living in a small trailer, and I was looking for a job while trying to convince my girls, and myself, that this was all an adventure.

My youngest child, Helen, was barely three years old, but from the beginning of her first lisped words, Helen seemed to have a sense of decency and wisdom way beyond her years. The children were all excited about Thanksgiving. The anticipated feast was all the girls talked about.

Two days before Thanksgiving, there was a flash fire in a nearby home, and a young family lost everything. The entire community became involved in the rescue of the couple and their young daughter. Shelter was donated by a church, and it seemed that everyone was involved in the collection of food, household items, bedding and clothes. I was thankful that even I was able to spare a few things.

Brigades of busy people willingly donated their time, as well as money. I was certain the tragedy was especially hard for the family this close to Thanksgiving, and I was grateful that someone was available to come to our house and pick up our donated items. Helen was very thoughtful for one so young, and I made myself a little crazy imagining what she must be thinking about the fire.

Finally, on the afternoon before Thanksgiving, two lovely women came to our house to collect our donations. How I wished I had more to give, I said, as I helped carry the donations out. They reassured me that the family would be well provided for. The girls and I stood outside chatting, as the ladies climbed back into their station wagon.

All of a sudden Helen shrieked, “ WAIT!! Don’t anybody move!” She streaked into the trailer door, crying aloud, “WE FORGOT SOMETHINGGGG!!!” I looked apologetically at the ladies, but before I could follow her, Helen was back outside, holding onto her favorite teddy bear, the bear that I had made for her birthday, just two months before. Helen held out the bear, her green eyes searching my face.

“Mommy,” Helen implored, “the little girl doesn’t have any toys. She needs this bear! I have to give it to her.” My heart quaked. I thought about the few toys Helen had and how many hours I had spent sewing that little bear. Now she wanted to give it away.

We stood in stunned silence, the ladies staring at me. I struggled with my feelings. All the love I’d put into that bear. All the things we needed and didn’t have. Surely Helen could find another toy. Then I stooped down to face Helen, who was still holding out the bear, worry lines creasing her little forehead. I searched her little heart shaped face, my fingers brushing aside her red-gold hair. My eyes filled as I realized that my heart would never be as big as the heart pounding in that little chest.

My voice broke, as I said, “Of course, Helen, you’re right. We forgot the toy. How thoughtful of you to remember.” Helen, grinning, handed over the beautiful bear.

When the ladies drove away, I took my little girl and held her close. For she had made our Thanksgiving, the richest Thanksgiving of all.


With love,
Jaye Lewis

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Encouraging Words on Veterans' Day: A Prayer for Peace by Jaye Lewis

Hello friends,

On this eve of Veterans' Day, 2011, I was just thinking.  The child of another mother's heart is fighting over in a strange land, for people who hate us, and everything they think we stand for.  At the Thanksgiving meal in 2001, a boy or a girl, eight or nine years old, was starry eyed thinking of future Christmas joys, although we were a country in mourning.  They were children, after all, and children are God's messengers of hope for a better tomorrow.

Today, many of those same children are languishing in military hospitals, or lying in well kept cemeteries, and all their mother's hopes are dashed.  Others are still fighting overseas, while mothers, fathers, wives, husbands, sweethearts, sons and daughters wait, praying that they will come home from their fifth tour, safe and sound.  And then they pray that they will be home for good.

As a Veteran, my heart swells with pride, but as a mother, I weep.  I shed tears as I did when my children were at death's door.  I pray, as I prayed for them, as I prayed for my husband when he was out to sea.  I weep for the mothers.  I weep for all those who will not see another Thanksgiving.  I weep for those who will be at the Thanksgiving table, only to return to duty and fight another day.  I weep, and I pray that these awful wars will end, and each mother's child will come home safe and sound.

God help us!  What are we doing over there?!  If that thought doesn't make you shudder, because you have not walked the floor in agony, waiting for that next phone call to let you know that your son or daughter is alive and well, then take a look.  We live in a precarious world.  None of us are truly safe, except by the grace of God.

So, now I ask you, no matter your situation, no matter where your children are, stop now, and pray for their safety.  Pray for them, for yourself, and for the mothers who are waiting for this world at war to be at peace.  Pray for peace and safety, this night and tomorrow, and may God bring us all a lasting peace, for only He can.

Between Here and Forever  by Jaye Lewis

Somewhere between here and forever
Is a place called “hello” and “good-bye.”
My hope dwells somewhere between them
As I brush the tears from my eye.

“Hello, what a pleasure to meet you.”
“Good-bye, I will miss you, my friend.”
My heart breaks with every occurrence.
It always feels like the end.

I am certain, however, that life goes on,
From friendship to friendship, it’s true;
But I carry the memories in my heart
Of all of my moments with you.

You were there from the very beginning.
You were there when I needed you most.
You stayed by my side, just so faithful,
Never leaving your sacred post.

We have been through so much together.
You would never have left my side;
Except that God had to call you away,
My heartbreak has nowhere to hide.

I’m certain I’ll love you forever,
And no one can take your place.
I can never forget all the joy we shared,
And that look on your laughing face.

The distance between “hello" and "good-by,”
Was only a heartbeat or two,
And nothing on earth will make me forget
The love in my heart, for you.

I sat coldly when they told me.
I wanted to keep you, and then,
I remembered your peerless devotion,
So I had to release you from pain.

Good-bye my friend and companion.
I will treasure the moments we’ve shared,
And I’ll know that my last decision
Was the proof that I truly cared.

I’ll see you somewhere in forever,
And I’ll bring a present or two,
Just as I did for you here on earth,
To show my love for you.

© Jaye Lewis, 2005

With love,
Jaye Lewis

Friday, September 30, 2011

Encouraging Words for Those Who Are Discouraged by Jaye Lewis

Hello friends.

I don’t think I’ll ever understand my Mother and Father and why they treated me the way they did.  They seemed to live to discourage me.  I guess I was an easy target.  I was a sensitive child when it came to criticism, but when I was angered, I fought back with a torrent of words.  Yet, some cruel things cannot help but discourage.

I remember when I was about twelve years old, and I started to wonder about my looks.  I had red-gold hair (as a matter of fact I still do) and amber colored eyes.  I had pale skin and lots of freckles.  I had blossomed overnight, and I was very developed for my age.  This made me feel a little like a freak.  I was the only one in my small Catholic School seventh grade, who wore a bra.  That was a big no-no, and I was often accused of flaunting my chest, as though I had a choice about those things.

So, feeling very low in my self-esteem, I went to my mother looking for encouragement.

“Mommy, am I pretty?”  I asked, somehow knowing that she would encourage me.

I was greeted with total silence, and then my mother looked at the ceiling, then hemming and hawing, she finally gave me an answer.

“Well, you know, Marianne (my sister) was always a beauty, but you have a wonderful personality.”  That was her answer.  Okay, that told me that I wasn’t pretty.  I had this great personality.  Sheesh.  Just what child needs to hear.

Then, one day, my father and I were sitting at the table.  He stared at my hands and he said, “You have a man’s hands.” 

I was devastated.  I was twelve years old, and I had a man’s hands.  That was just perfect.  Not only was I not pretty, but now I had a man’s hands.  To this day, when I look at my hands, I see a man’s hands.  Discouragement.  They were experts.

When I was nine, my father screamed at me.  “You are a failure!  You’ll never be anything!  You are nothing!  And you will be a failure all your life!”

It took many years to understand that my father, in some kind of conflict with himself, was talking about himself.  His hurtful words were more about himself than they were about me.  But I was a child, and all it did was hurt.

My mother gave away my meager possessions, a few books that I loved, a doll, pictures, and toys that she said I’d outgrown.  I discovered that she had given them to my seven year old cousin, since I didn’t need them, and the clincher, as my aunt and cousin looked on was, “You never wanted them anyway.”

I was stunned and shaken.  It felt like ice water entered my veins and my scalp felt prickly.  I had no defense, as everyone looked on.  Again it was years before I understood just what was going on.  My mother wanted to impress my aunt, and since she had nothing to give, she took my things and gave them away, so my aunt would think well of her.

I could sit here and write dozens of strange things that I never understood about my childhood, and of course they affected me my entire life, even into adulthood.  Even today, I have a difficult time believing I was ever pretty, and my hands…well, you know.  I find it difficult to acquire things for myself, even the house I live in which is my dream home.  I felt unworthy, because it was so lovely, with a view of the mountains that I’ve wanted my entire life. 

When my pastor heard me say I was unworthy to own this beautiful home, he said, “How dare you tell God how He is allowed to bless you!”  That convinced me.  This house was and is a blessing, and if God thinks I’m worth it, well then so do I.

These are simple things that tell us who we are, whether good or ill.  You probably have similar events in your life, but please don’t let them discourage you.  God has a plan for you, and if you turn to Him, He can heal all wounds.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:11-13

God has a plan for each of us.  We are his cherished treasures.  He wants to prosper us and not to harm us.  He gives us hope and a future.  However, this is not because we are worthy.  It is because He is worthy.  He says to us, “Then you will call on me, come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me WHEN you seek me WITH ALL YOUR HEART.”

It could not be more clear to me.  God is my Father and He loves me.I am special to Him.  I have learned that seeking Him with all my heart is an end in itself.  The feeling of connection with God is like no relationship I will ever have.  He is my first love.  May I never forget that.  I am one of God’s favorites, and, my friend, so are you.  Just remember that the evil someone says about you, says more about them, than it says about you.  God bless and keep you.  Do not be discouraged.  You have a heavenly Father who loves you with a great passion, and as you turn to Him, your life will change.

My Father’s Heart  by Jaye Lewis

There's a feeling deep inside me
That I, somehow, can't express.
It chokes me to my very soul,
With utter loneliness.

How must my Father feel, each day;
As I cast His hand aside?
His gentle hand, that comforts me
Like the gently, rolling tide.

Sometimes I get so busy,
As I race from place to place;
I forget that I can rest in Him
And contemplate His face.

For I see His face in everything,
And in all I hope to do.
I, even, see His precious face,
Each time I look at you.

I wonder how He feels, when I
Spend days without a care,
And does He shed a tear, when I
Forget to kneel in prayer?

Perhaps when I feel lonely,
And I don't know where to start,
I could bend my knees, and bow my head
And learn my Father's heart.

© Jaye Lewis, 2001

With love,
Jaye Lewis

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Encouraging Words When Friends Desert You by Jaye Lewis

Hello friends,

It’s a disappointment.  It’s confusing.  It’s a heartache.  When friends desert you it is like someone has stolen a part of you, and you’ll never get it back.  But remember, I said “it is like.”  I did not say, “it is.”

When I was young and pregnant with my third child, I belonged to a church which had a very active women’s organization.  Of course all these women were my “friends.”  Two by two, the ladies were sent out to homes of women who were too ill to go to church.  The purpose was to teach and to heal broken hearts.  However, many visiting teachers ran through their duties as fast as their legs could carry them.  Their hearts were simply not in healing or teaching.  Their hearts were in themselves.

I was very pregnant and very ill.  I was not expected to make it through the birth of my precious baby.  So, I really needed someone to befriend me, and to give me comfort.  I needed to hear the words, “God is with you, and so are we.  We will help you come through this.”  But these ladies were not my friends, as I was soon to find out.

One day, the doorbell rang, and I staggered to the door.  Leaning against the door frame, I opened the door.

“Come in!” I cried.  “Will you pray with me?”

“Oh no,” they responded in a cheerful tone.

“Please.  I really need to talk to someone.”

“Well, there’s always prayer, and we have these pamphlets to give you.”

They pushed the pamphlets through a crack in the door.  Then they left.  I stood at the door, sobbing.  Many years later, I still have to wonder what those women were thinking.  I thought, at first, that those ladies were an answer to the prayers of my lonely heart.  I was wrong.  God was the answer, not them.  And they were definitely not my friends.  But they did me a favor.  Yes, they did.  My relationship with God, from that time forth, grew richer and deeper.

I suppose there are people whose close, personal friendships flow from cradle to grave.  I just have never known anyone who had that kind of friendship.  What I have seen and experienced is what I call “friendship bondage.”  There is always the stronger, more overbearing friend.  Filled with love bombs in the beginning, and continuing with perfectly timed guilt in the end.

“Give me a call later,” but you receive no calls from them.

“Why didn’t you call me?” They ask later.

“Well, why didn’t you call me, instead?” You may ask.

“I meant to.  I thought of you.  But I got so busy….”

The bondage is where you are caught up in the life of another, and things are expected of you, such as, lunch on Thursdays, brunch on Sunday, Tuesday night movies.  All of which you can never escape.  Should you want to read a book on Thursday, take a family trip on Sunday, and just stay home on Tuesday, you immediately are made to feel guilty for letting your friend down.  That’s not friendship.  That’s bondage.

I cannot count the number of people who have deserted me, because of my health.  I have a strong personality.  I’m funny, loyal, and easy to confide in.  I keep confidences, and you can count on me to “be there,” wherever “be there” might lead.

In church, where most friendships are forged, almost anything can strain the relationship. The death of a spouse or parent or child can leave friends uncomfortable.  What should they say?  When is grieving too much for them?  Will she never stop talking about it?  And, should you ever change denominations, or even congregations, well, that means you’ve left your faith.  Being a military family, we were often accused of having no faith, simply because we moved.

In friendship, there is always one of the parties who gives, and one who takes.  Should the “giver” stop giving, then the “receiver” feels abandoned, and the friendship usually ends.  I’ve lost friends, because we moved, or they did.  I’ve lost friends, because they found a new friend.  I’ve seen that a subtle change or, sometimes, it would be quite blatant.

I’ve lost a friend, because I got a divorce, or they did.  I’ve lost friends, because their lifestyle has changed.  They’re now single and dating.  I’ve lost friends, because their spouse died.  Because I no longer showed up at club meetings.  And, I’ve lost friends, because I became sick.  That’s the loss of a friendship that hurts the most.

Friendship is illusive, fleeting, and disappointing.  True friendship is rare.  Whether we maintain it or we let it go, it can hurt.  Sometimes we pursue it, racing to catch up before it’s gone, and sometimes it goes away, and we never know why.  If you are hurting from the loss of a friendship.  If your heart aches, and you don’t know where to go, I cannot advise you on how to bring it back.

I can only tell you where I go when my heart aches.  I go to the foot of the Cross.I believe that He who calmed the stormy sea can calm the tempest within my heart.  Jesus is the rock to which I cling, my hiding place, and my first love.  He is the only one who can calm my heart. 

God has given me a wise and humble husband, whose love never falters.  My husband looks at this sixty-five year old woman, and he sees the girl who stole his heart.  Oh, how I could go on about the love of my life.  He is the finest man I’ve ever known, and the only man I’ve trusted with all my heart.  I have two daughters who are the best friends a mother could have.  Their devotion is unequaled, and their sacrificial love is a shining example of what true friendship is.  This is not something I’ve done for myself.  I’m not that wise.  They, my husband and my daughters, are God’s most precious gifts.

Sure, I’d love to have a woman friend who is my age, who remembers bobbysox and saddle shoes.  I’d love to share memories of a gentler time and who’d laugh with me over scratchy crinolines that were all the rage, who remembers a time of innocence that is long past. But I can live without that.  I can laugh without that.  And I can love without that.

This time of aloneness is a time to reflect on the blessings that I do have.  Solitude during the day, gives me the opportunity to write on my novel and share with you the things that are on my heart.  I have three little dogs, one big dog, and three cats.  They need love, food, and protection.  I hide them beneath my wings, just as a mother bird hides her chicks.  And when this chick needs to hide, I run to my Jesus and hide beneath His wings.

Life is not perfect.  In our aloneness, we need not be lonely.  How can we reach out, without surrendering our dignity?  How can we show God that we are willing to serve, if only to pray for others?  Those are questions that only you can answer.

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me.  Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.”  Psalm 23  Those are the words of King David, whom God called “Beloved friend.”  David had every false friend desert him.  He had a wife who ridiculed him, because He dared to worship God with abandon.  He had a child who betrayed him, and who did evil towards him.  So have I, and that was the greatest heartbreak of my life.  But, you know what?  I survived, and so did David.  David turned to His best friend, God.

My friends, I can’t promise you a lifelong friendship that never falters.  It will always hurt when friends desert you; however, God will never desert you.  Let me repeat that.  God will never desert you.  He loves you.  You are His most precious creation.  If you doubt that, read Psalm 139.  Then read Isaiah 49:  "Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands…” 

I have been betrayed by my parents, my siblings, and one child who has hated me her whole life, and I never knew why.  I have friends desert me for no good reason.  But God has given me a wonderful husband and two devoted, selfless daughters.  He has given me a faith that I could never have given to myself.  He has given me a conviction that even now, as I write, He is here beside me.  He walks with me, and when I stumble, He picks me up in His arms and He carries me.  If you let Him, He will carry you also.

With love,
Jaye Lewis

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Encouraging Words for People With Type 2 Diabetes and Asthma by Jaye Lewis

Hello friends,

Sometimes it seems as though all hope is lost, and encouragement is a yesterday thing, especially for people with Type 2 diabetes and asthma.  The asthma/diabetes connection is a subject that is rarely addressed by the medical community, because of an unwillingness or ignorance to acknowledge that Type 2 diabetes is often caused by the life saving asthma medicine prednisone.  I am one of those lucky people who have prednisone induced Type 2 diabetes.  However, there is hope, even for me.

Prednisone induced Type 2 diabetes is not as rare as many believe.  One of prednisone's side effects is an elevation in blood sugar.  If you are a diabetic, it can raise your blood sugar to life threatening levels.  Most people who go on prednisone and experience higher blood sugar levels, find that their glucose returns to normal after their course of prednisone is over.  However, for those of us who have a family history of diabetes, or who may be glucose intolerant or borderline diabetics, we will undoubtedly be thrown into full blown diabetes, which is a lifelong battle.

Now, how do I control my blood sugar while on the asthma necessity of prednisone?  This is not medical advice.  I am not an expert.  I'm merely striving to survive myself.  Here is what I've discovered works for me.

At the first sign of an imminent asthma attack, e.g. chest tightness, low peak flow, coughing up discolored phlegm in the morning, waking up with difficulty breathing, wheezing...you know those first symptoms...I immediately go on a low dose, seven day course of prednisone.  Starting with 5 milligram tablets, on the first day, I take 6 tablets, which equals 30 mg.  So, my tablet course goes like this:  6-5-4-4-3-2-1 and then I'm off of prednisone until the next time.  This way, I stay off of antibiotics, and I do very well.  My husband and I even celebrated our anniversary trip while I was on prednisone, and I had no problem.  Other corticosteroids are not as effective as prednisone, and even the short course throws my sugar out of whack, so I'm sticking with prednisone.

Now, how do I control my blood sugar during this time?  Well, first day, I go up on my Lantus insulin, 45 to 50 units, then during the day I check my blood sugar up to six times, and I portion my Glumetza out by halves or whole, as my blood sugar rises.  I stick to a low carb diet, and when I can breathe pretty well, I get on my incline bike and do about 2 miles, if my blood sugar peaks dramatically.  I keep checking my blood glucose to make sure that the exercise, or anything else, does not send me into hypoglycemia.  This is not an easy process, in that there are many variables.  If diet is not included, then this will not work.  As I taper down on prednisone, I must taper down on insulin.  I can have very low glucose numbers toward the end of the course, so I test immediately upon waking, and I keep my orange juice close.

I've never fully recovered from H1N1, and recently, due to low sodium, I was admitted to the hospital, through the emergency room in a semi-coma.  As a result, I've had four of these low courses of prednisone in the last three months.  Any illness can effect the diseases you already have, so make certain your doctor keeps up with your regular blood tests.  Low sodium is a life threatening condition, especially for those of us over 65 crowd.

So, my friends, take care of yourself.  If you are not getting the care that you need, change your doctor, or check with your hospital for diabetes programs.  I'm certain that you will get real medical advice there.

I hope you will continue to diet, carefully, and even if you have gained more weight, as I did through the terrible time with H1N1, you can lose weight, healthfully again.  I'm losing weight again, very slowly.  Exercise is key, along with reasonable diet, and good check-ups.  Diabetes is not a death sentence, and neither is the complication of asthma, if you are smart and know your diseases, and you follow a program.  Remember, our lives are in God's hands, but He expects us to honor Him with our obedience in health.

With love,
Jaye Lewis

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Encouraging Words in Times of Turmoil

Hello friends,

Sometimes I simply can't find encouraging words.  Sometimes I wish someone would speak encouraging words to me.  There are so few things to celebrate.  We live in a world of conflict, many which go back hundreds of years into the distant past.  This is very difficult for people in my country to understand, since our Nation goes back only a little over 200 years.  I have difficulty maintaining a grudge for more than twenty minutes, and hatred is just not worth the effort.

I have many other things to concern myself about.  In October of 2010, my husband had a heart attack, yet God brought him through, even stronger than before.  In that same month, one of our daughters had emergency spinal surgery, from which she is recovering quite well.  On June 6, 2011, on the same day that our other daughter was having emergency surgery, I was admitted into the hospital in a semi-coma.  All of us survived, and though we all still have medical problems, God brought us through each crisis.  In fact, I find it very difficult to be anything except grateful, ecstatic even!  GOD BROUGHT US THROUGH!!!  THANK YOU GOD!!!

I know what it feels like to have an empty stomach for days at a time.  Yet God fed my hunger of both body and soul.  I know what it feels like to wear shabby clothes.  I remember sifting through the ragbag.  It hurts to be hungry.  It hurts to be poor.  It hurts to be called lazy when you can't find a job. It hurts to be powerless within a world without mercy.  All these things, and more, beat down the human spirit and numb the soul, but in all of these things, we must believe that God will bring us through.

With all the things that I have surrendered in life, this is the one thing that I will not surrender. Mercy.  A cup of water.  A loaf of bread.  A kind word.  A smile.  Encouragement.  I will not surrender mercy to a merciless world!

I have no wisdom, my friends.  I don't know all the answers.  I only know one answer, the only answer that has ever worked for me.  I cling to the Cross of Jesus.  I tell Him my needs, and then I do all in my power to be obedient to His words, to His example, to be true to Him.  I fail.  All the time.  But I don't stop trying to be like Him.  I'm unworthy, but I know that He is worthy, so, for Him, I keep trying, and one day, I know that I will spend an eternity in heaven, with Him.  In Him do I place my hope.

With love,
Jaye Lewis

Monday, August 01, 2011

Encouraging Words of A Mother's Love by Jaye Lewis

A Heart So Loved  by Jaye Lewis

It was our second winter on the farm.  I was a nineteen year old college drop-out, and the only one bringing home a paycheck.  Even in 1965 fifty dollars a week did not stretch very far.  Between my father’s unemployment and my meager salary, we could barely make our mortgage payments, utilities, and car payment.  We struggled valiantly, and to tell you the truth, it was just plain hard.

Thankfully, someone had given us some egg-laying chickens the summer before, and we were able to scrape by with a poorly planned stockpile of home canned and frozen vegetables and eggs.  We had plenty of eggs.  We had eggs for breakfast.  I took eggs for lunch.  And, of course, there were eggs for supper.  Winter in Michigan begins early, and by mid-February, I was certain I would never see the ground again.  I hoped to never see another egg.

I dreaded that first step into the house every evening after work.  I dreaded the smell of fried eggs, and I was pretty certain that I would live in bondage, forever, merely existing from paycheck to paycheck.  Surely I’d never see a penny to call my own.  I could not see the bottom of our poverty, and I could not stand another day of that cold and endless winter.

One evening, at what I perceived was the bottom of my life, I wearily dragged myself from the car, through the snow, and up to the front door of our house.  God, would this depression I felt never end?  Reluctantly, I opened the front door, and a sudden appetizing smell assaulted my nostrils.  What was that delicious odor?  Had I died and gone to heaven?  Had we killed the fatted calf?  Did we even have a fatted calf?

Suddenly, my mother swung into the living room, a brilliant smile lighting up her features.  Waltzing up to me, she slipped a clean dish towel around my neck, and she led me to an easy chair, right by the fire.  She pulled over the old piano stool, for an impromptu table, and she motioned me to sit down.

“I’ll just bring you your eggs.”  Gulp!  Eggs!  Not again!  Mysteriously my mother hurried to the kitchen, insisting that I close my eyes.  With eyes tightly shut I tried to imagine just what was going on with this strange and wonderful woman who was my mother.  My mouth watered at the tantalizing smells that assaulted my senses.

“Okay.  Open! “My mother commanded, merrily.  I opened my eyes as my mother placed a giant cheddar cheese soufflĂ© on the makeshift table before me.  It was beautiful!  Perfect!  Heavenly!  Happiness and peace flooded through me, as I realized that my mother did this great thing just for me.  Just to make me feel appreciated and loved.

We both dove into that luscious cheese soufflĂ©, smiling and sharing moments that shone far greater than wealth or substance.  One small kindness.  A moving picture that said more than a thousand words.

“I thought that you might be tired of eggs,” my mother grinned, acknowledging my struggle and despair in a way that transcended any ordinary spoken platitudes.

I don’t remember when my father finally found a job or when we ate meat again.  After all, it’s been more than forty years since that day.  However, I can honestly say that I’ve never tasted any dish that has eclipsed the flavor of my mother’s thoughtful kindness.  Bathed in the warmth of her surprise, I doubt that my stomach has since felt so satisfied nor my heart so loved.

© Jaye Lewis, 2006

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Thank you, friends.

With love,
Jaye Lewis

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